For people who say they don’t have time for fruits and vegetables, we’ve assembled 20 tips requiring almost zero extra time or effort. If you incorporate just a few of them into your daily diet, you’ll meet your produce needs.
1. Heating canned soup in a microwave? Add to the bowl a cup of frozen peas, string beans or carrot slices. You instantly boost veggie content.
2. Keep single-serving (6-ounce) cans of low-sodium tomato juice or vegetable-juice cocktail in your desk at work, in the car, in your tote or briefcase. They count as 1 instant serving.
3. Add more veggies than your casserole recipe calls for. You’re already investing time in slicing up something — celery, onions, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, whatever. It takes just seconds more to slice twice as much.
4. Serving pasta sauce? Doctor it up with extra chunks of zucchini, onions, mushrooms, peppers or shredded carrots.
5. Making chicken salad? Make it magnificent with chopped apples, grape halves, pineapple cubes or diced mango. Think in terms of half chicken, half fruit.
6. Making tuna salad? Add lots of chopped celery and onion. Or, add crunch with chopped jicama — a mild, slightly sweet-tasting vegetable similar to a water chestnut. Aim for half tuna, half veggies.
7. Indulge your salsa cravings. Each half-cup counts as one serving (most are tomato based). Try new varieties like mango salsa.
8. For instant grapefruit in the morning, keep on hand a jar of grapefruit sections.
9. Instead of candy, reach for the bowl of dried fruit: only 2 tablespoons gets you 1 serving. Beyond raisins, consider dried cranberries, cherries or papayas.
10. Making macaroni and cheese? Cook a box of frozen mixed vegetables to add to your recipe. If you’re in a cafeteria, take small side dishes of mac and cheese, steamed broccoli and carrot slices. Mix together for an instant casserole.
11. Grab an apple to munch in the car. They’re perfect for dashboard dining–no drips or crumbs.
12. No fresh fruit to pack for lunch? Keep single serving cans of fruit cocktail on hand. Or open a can of tropical fruit cocktail and transfer some to a single-serving container.
13. Look for Just Veggies snack mix of freeze-dried corn, peas, and pieces of tomato, carrots and bell pepper. It’s lightly crunchy, lightly sweet, preservative-free and addictive. Also super: Fruit Crunchies, a tart-sweet mix of freeze-dried apples, raisins, blueberries, sour cherries, mango, pineapple and raspberries. Available in natural-food stores, or call Just Tomatoes, 1-800-537-1985 for local stores or to order.
14. Order every pizza with lots of “double” veggies. If you don’t order double, sometimes what you get is a token sprinkle.
15. When eating out at a restaurant, ask whether your entrée comes with a vegetable side dish. If it doesn’t, make sure you order a vegetable as an extra.
16. Another restaurant tip: If your entree includes a salad, ask if it’s mostly iceberg lettuce, which isn’t as nutrient-rich as most leafy greens. If it’s mostly iceberg, ask to trade it in for a vegetable, applesauce or fruit cup.
17. Fine restaurants usually offer wonderful fresh fruits for dessert, no matter what season of the year it is. But why enjoy these delicacies only for dessert? Relish them as a luxurious appetizer. Another appetizer idea: Order one of the vegetables of the day.
18. Use salad bars to make a vegetable sandwich. Fill a sandwich roll or pita half with your choice of shredded carrots, chopped peppers, tomato wedges, sprouts and more. Top with a splash of olive oil or balsamic vinegar if available.
19. When you’re asked to bring a contribution to parties or family dinners, become famous for the beautiful crudite trays you bring, complete with low-fat dip.
20. This one is so obvious we bet it’s overlooked a lot: Instead of 1/2 cup serving of veggies, take a full cup. It’s only a few more bites, but you’ve racked up 2 servings.