In honor of June being ’Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Month,’ I thought I’d get you excited about the incredible health and wellness benefits of these food groups, as well as how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your everyday meals – easily!
I think people can sometimes be hesitant to commit to eating healthier and incorporating fruits and vegetables into their diets due to the cost associated with purchasing them.
Before you continue reading, think about this next statement: If you are going to invest in something, you will never go poor investing in your health. I read that statement recently as I was browsing online and couldn’t agree more. The costs associated with the potential doctor visits, lab work, health care, etc. could become a much greater burden on your wallet and lead to a more stressful life than picking up a grocery bag full of fruits and vegetables. Think about the potential cost of prescriptions per month. Wouldn’t you want to spend that money on delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables?
So, what are some of the health benefits of incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet? The list can go on and on, but here are a few things that come to my mind when I think about the benefits to eating fruits and veggies: heart health, fetal development, reversing hypertension, electrolyte replenishment, bone and joint health, detoxification, cholesterol health, antibiotic properties, not to mention lower caloric in-take. You get all of these benefits without a single trip to the doctor, therapy treatment, or concoction of pills.
Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your everyday routine is easier than you think.
- Let’s start with breakfast – the most important meal of the day. If you are a fan of oatmeal, you can add strawberries, blueberries, or bananas. Heck, why not add all three?
- Are you more of an egg person? Chop up some onion and a little garlic, sauté until slightly cooked; add your scrambled eggs, cook, and top with chopped tomatoes and fresh avocado, and voila!
- Enjoy a green smoothie… fill half of a blender with spinach or kale and the rest with your favorite fresh fruits and vegetables, then top with water. Blend away! My last suggestion for breakfast is to add fresh fruits to some yogurt. Want to get protein? Greek yogurt has double the amount of protein as regular yogurt!
Now how about lunch?
- You can stuff a whole wheat wrap full of fresh veggies, a few slices of avocado, and some hummus.
- Try a salad, jam packed with vegetables and topped with some mandarin slices. Even some dried cranberries will really get those taste buds going.
- If you are ordering a slice or two of pizza, opt for the veggie lovers instead of meat lovers.
- If veggie burgers are on the menu, they
are a great way to get not one, but TWO servings of vegetables (not to mention a decent amount of protein.)
Dinner is my absolute favorite meal of the day. Cooking is therapeutic for me. After a long day of work there is no other place I would rather be but in my kitchen cooking dinner with my wife.
- I love to shred down carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, etc. into a pasta sauce. It not only thickens the sauce, but also brightens it up. Freshen up the sauce or any meal by adding some chopped herbs. Basil is my favorite herb to use.
- Speaking of basil, make your own pesto to add to chicken, pastas, sandwiches, wraps, etc. If basil is over your budget, substitute peas! You may need to add a little bit of water to the mixture to get the consistency of regular pesto. Trust me; using peas is just as tasty!
- Making homemade veggie patties or black bean burgers is my favorite way to get vegetables into my dinner. Just steam your favorite vegetables and process in a food processor. Add the veggies to a bowl, one egg, ¾ cup of bread crumbs and your favorite spices and herbs. Form the patties and grill! Enjoy these veggie burgers with a side of homemade sweet potato fries and grilled asparagus!
- Steam cauliflower or broccoli; add some vegetable stock, a little unsweetened almond milk and mash together as a healthy substitute for mashed potatoes.
- One of my favorite ways to eat vegetables for dinner is coating them in a little extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkling them with my favorite herbs and spices and getting them on the grill or roasting them in the oven. Broccoli and zucchini are incredible when grilled.
Try to keep fruit on hand for when you need a snack during the day. Fruit salad is a staple to my refrigerator must-haves. Sliced apple topped with any nut butter and sprinkled with chopped peanuts and coconut is one of my favorite desserts.
A fun way to serve fruit is by way of “fruit kabobs.” Serve them as is or dip them in melted chocolate and chopped nuts or hazelnuts. I know there are a lot of hazelnut spread fans out there, myself included. Try coring a strawberry and filling them with the hazelnut spread. For a quick way to fill them, place the hazelnut spread in a zip-lock, cut the corner of the bag and inject them like an icing bag.
These are just a few easy ways to start incorporating fruits and veggies into your diet. Like I said earlier, the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables really do out-weigh the cost. We’re talking about your health here: Could you make a better investment?