Fruit and Vegetable: Easy Ways to Get 9 Servings (cont.)

Spaghetti is one example of a dish that can be secretly supplemented with veggies. Just add finely chopped zucchini, mushroom, onions, eggplant, or yellow squash to a flavorful spaghetti sauce. The smaller you chop the veggies, the less likely you are to notice they're there.

A few more examples:

  • Layer zucchini slices into your lasagna.
  • Stir broccoli florets into macaroni and cheese.
  • Toss a few chopped vegetables into an omelet.
  • Slide some veggies into a cheese quesadilla.

9. Spoon up some soup.

Have soup as a snack or with a meal, at home or in a restaurant. Choose soups that are bursting with vegetables. You can embellish canned soups with extra veggies, too. Just stir them in while you're heating or cooking the soup.

10. Drink your vegetables (and fruits).

Some people are just more likely to drink their fruits and vegetables. V-8 or carrot juice equals a serving of vegetables. Or try blending some carrot juice with a fruit juice you enjoy (maybe orange or tangerine juice) and you've got a fruit AND a vegetable serving.

11. Vegi-fy your pizza.

If you like pizza, top it with some vegetables. Try any combination of tomato, onion, bell pepper, mushroom, zucchini, and artichoke hearts.

12. Toss some on the grill.

After you take your meat or fish off the grill, don't waste the hot coals. Throw some fruits and/or veggies on the grill while you're at it. You might be surprised at how great they taste!

Often, you can use the same marinade you're using for your meat. (Just marinate your fruits or veggies separately from the meat or baste them with marinade that hasn't touched the meat, so they're not exposed to raw meat juices.)

You can make a veggie kabob with chunks of vegetables (eggplant, carrot, bell pepper, mushrooms, zucchini and other squash). Soft vegetables won't need precooking, but firm vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, or broccoli, will benefit from steam or microwave cooking before they hit the grill.

13. Get them at the drive-through.

You can even get your vegetables at many fast-food chains, as long as you like salads. Wendy's, for example, offers a Caesar side salad (with 70 calories and 4 grams of fat, not including dressing) or a side salad (35 calories, 0 grams fat, not including dressing). Ask for the fat-free French, low-fat honey mustard, or reduced-fat creamy ranch dressing. Use half the packet and you'll add around 50 calories and from 0-4 grams of fat, depending on which dressing you choose.

14. Dress up your dinner plate with fruit.

Borrow a trick from restaurants, and add a beautiful fruit garnish to your dinner plate. It adds color and texture to your meal. Try orange wheels or wedges, sliced kiwi, a small branch of grapes, or a wedge of melon.

15. Drizzle on some cheese sauce.

Pour a little cheese sauce or grated cheese over a pile of broccoli spears or cauliflower, and suddenly it's a whole different ballgame. You can make a lower-fat cheese sauce using reduced-fat cheese, fat-free half-and-half, and no butter or margarine.

16. Serve your veggies raw.

Raw vegetables are sometimes more appealing than their cooked counterparts. When you have a platter of assorted raw vegetables and some delicious low-fat dip in front of you, the vegetables just seem to disappear! Try raw cauliflower or broccoli florets, cabbage, or spinach, along with the usual carrots and celery. Use a light ranch or Italian dressing as a dip, or make your own and keep it ready to go in your refrigerator.

17. Keep fruit in heavy rotation.

TV chef and radio show host Bridget Kelly says that as a mother of two, she's no longer interested in "sneaking" fruits and vegetables into her family's diet -- she goes for the all-out attack! To make sure fruit is appealing to her family, she has a trick: She serves the most perishable types soon after she returns from the grocery store and saves the hardier types for later. That means oranges and strawberries today (strawberries first because they have the shortest shelf life), bananas and grapes tomorrow, apples and mango the next.

18. Have prepared fruits and veggies ready to go in the fridge.

As soon as Kelly gets home from the store, she rinses all the fruit and puts some out for immediate consumption. The rest goes into easy-access clear plastic bags or containers. Then, when her family shows up hungry, she can toss them the fruit before they go rummaging around for chips.

19. Try a little salt.

Kelly encourages folks, if they've never done this, to boil their fresh vegetables in lightly salted water. "I can't believe how many people aren't aware of this simple flavor enhancement trick -- it can make the difference between your child hating and loving broccoli," she says.

9-a-Day Recipes

If you're one of those folks who's not sure you know how to prepare fruits and vegetables, here are a few simple recipes to get you started.

50/50 Fruit Salad (or Fruit Dip)

Journal as: 2 medium pieces of fresh fruit

Remember those 50/50 orange-and-cream bars? They were the inspiration for this recipe.

1 package (1.4 ounces) sugar-free and fat-free instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
5 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
2 cups melon cubes or balls (honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, etc.)
2 bananas, sliced
2 apples, cored and sliced
2 oranges, peeled and broken into segments
2 peaches, nectarines or pears, cored and sliced

  • Put pudding mix, milk, and orange juice concentrate in mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Beat in or mix in sour cream.
  • Serve the orange dip with prepared fruit. Or, make a dressed fruit salad by adding all the fruits to a large serving bowl. Pour orange dressing over the top and toss gently to blend. Serve immediately, or cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Yield: 8-10 cups of fruit salad.

Per cup of fruit salad and dip (if 8 cups per recipe): 162 calories, 4 g protein, 37 g carbohydrate, 1 g fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 3.5 g fiber, 35 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 6%.

Tropical Fruit Salad

Journal as: 1/2 cup canned fruit in juice + 1 medium piece of fruit

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