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Thursday, November 4, 2021

Getting More Servings of Fruits and Vegetables Into Each Day

spinach, carrot, and beetroot powders

A while ago I mentioned I was working at getting more servings of fruits and vegetables in each day. I think this is a challenge for many of us. And yet, as I get older, it seems more important than ever to try really hard to eat more produce for health and digestive benefits. So I thought I'd share what I've been doing that is really helping with this challenge.

I've been doing this for the last couple of years, with the past six months finally reaching what I think is a good amount for my body. I estimate that I consume about 6 full servings of fruits and vegetables each day. To get there, I have 2 key moments every day that help put me over this threshold.

The first key moment comes with my first meal of the day. I eat 3 small to medium servings of fruits and vegetables with breakfast each morning. I'm not a huge breakfast eater. If this meal looks small, keep in mind that I eat small to begin the day then add a snack mid-morning if I'm working physically. 

typical breakfast: carrot yogurt, prunes, canned tomatoes

So, this is a typical breakfast for me. The yogurt has 1 tablespoon of carrot powder stirred in, plus vanilla extract and honey for flavor. Those are home-dried prunes equivalent to 3 full plums. And the small dish of tomatoes is a few tablespoons of canned diced tomatoes doctored up with dried herbs and onion flakes. This is a sample meal. I switch up the produce depending on mood and availability, eating fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh berries or plums, frozen berries, carrot sticks, pumpkin puree, or other dried fruit. I have yogurt with breakfast almost every day. I rarely eat grains for breakfast. But when I do, it's something like Cream of Wheat or oatmeal and I stir in some fruit, grated carrot, or pumpkin puree. In one of the shows I watched on WWII in Britain, they were making muesli and adding a lot of grated carrot, chopped apples, and raisins to the oats. This is the sort of way I eat grains at breakfast, with a lot of fruits and veg mixed in. Breakfast done, and I've had 3 different fruits/vegetables in about 2 1/2 servings.

The other key moment where I sneak in extra fruits and veggies is my afternoon drink snack. I use this as a work-out recharge and endurance drink. It's fruit juice with vegetable powders mixed in. Beets have been shown to increase endurance in athletes, so I always add beet powder. I also add spinach powder, and depending on the juice, I sometimes add some carrot powder as well. My two favorite combinations are orange juice spiked with beet and spinach powders and apple juice with beet, spinach, and carrot powder mixed in. 

orange juice with beetroot and spinach powder

I drink a small juice glass of this as I work out each afternoon. Each glass contains about 5 ounces of pure fruit juice and 1 teaspoon of beet powder, 1/2 teaspoon of spinach powder, and 1-2 teaspoons of carrot powder when using apple juice as the base. I top this juice-powder combination with a little water to thin the taste. And I save myself some time by making a large glass bottle full, enough for several days of the week. If you're curious, the juice with veggie powder mixed in is not as sweet as plain fruit juice and has a mild fruit and vegetable flavor.

So, for your information, 1 teaspoon of beetroot powder is roughly equivalent in nutrition to 1 whole beet, 1/2 teaspoon of spinach powder is roughly equal to 2  1/2 tablespoons of fresh, chopped spinach leaves, and 1 tablespoon of carrot powder is equivalent to 1 large carrot. So, in my juice drink, I am getting 1+ servings of fruits and vegetables in a quick and easy refreshment. I could just drink a large glass of fruit juice, but by mixing in the veggie powders, I am getting more vegetables and greater variety than I might otherwise eat.

With these 2 moments in each day providing about 4 servings of fruits and vegetables, whatever else I eat at lunch and dinner puts me way over the 5-a-day that's recommended and into the 6 plus territory. I typically eat 1 small to medium serving each of fruit and vegetables at lunch and about 2 servings of produce with dinner. Like everyone else, I have "off" days where I just don't eat as much produce at lunch and dinner, but I do try very hard to eat my 4 at breakfast and afternoon snack.

a cup of frozen blackberries,
good thawed with a honey drizzle

We all know that fruits and vegetables can be expensive in the grocery store. My garden really helps with these foods. In winter I grow lentil sprouts and this year am growing radishes and other greens under lights indoors to supplement our usual purchases of celery, cabbage and carrots, veggies that are always on the less expensive side. I also buy bananas, fruit juice, and sometimes oranges (in season) and apples to provide variety when we're getting tired of frozen garden and foraged fruit in the off season. Remember all of those blackberries we foraged and froze? We're definitely eating a lot of those now.

So, these are the 2 things I am doing to make sure I eat more fruits and vegetables each day, produce-heavy breakfasts and super-charged juice in the afternoon.


  1. Even though I like veggies and fruits, this is an area that I could use improvement on. Maybe it's time to explore vegetable powders. In the meantime, a big pot of vegetable soup is on the menu for today.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Vegetable powders really do help me up my produce intake, as they can be mixed in to a lot of other foods that I was planning on eating anyway. But a good pot of vegetable soup is also a great way to increase vegetable consumption, as well as yummy!


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