We all want to work more fruit and vegetables into our diet, but achieving this can be difficult.
Life is busy, time is short, and it’s often tempting to favor convenience over nutrition!
To help get you on the right track, we’ve put together some easy tips that will help you increase your intake of both these vital food types.
(My guide to juicing and blending at home contains plenty more tutorials and buying tips!)
#1 Start the day right
Can’t quite stomach the idea of eating a whole piece of fruit first thing in the morning? Work a little something extra into your usual breakfast routine instead.
Dried or fresh fruit is easy to add to your cereal, giving you an extra shot of vitamins alongside your usual meal.
This doesn’t just get a portion ticked off the list quickly. It’’ll also help set up a good habit for eating more fruit throughout the day.
#2 Try healthy snacking
If you need something to keep you topped up throughout the working day, a classic combo is hummus combined with carrot or cucumber sticks.
Dried fruit is readily available too, although some people find these a little bit chewy and quite hard work.
If that’s the case for you, try the kind of dried fruit crisps that are readily available at supermarkets these days.
#3 Become a soup supremo
There’s no easier way of increasing your vegetable intake then by brushing up on your soup-making skills.
Not only that, if you make a big batch at the weekend you’ll set yourself up with a healthy and convenient lunch for the rest of the working week.
There are countless recipes available online. Food Network has a fantastic selection that focus on healthy vegetable soups.
This approach is great if you’re not a fan of the texture of vegetables. By the time you’ve blended and combined everything, you’ll have a tasty meal that’s packed full of goodness.
If you haven’t got the time to make your own soup, there are plenty of pre-prepared options on the store shelves.
Check the salt content carefully first though, as these often contain a high amount.
#4 Embrace convenience
Fresh, organic fruit and vegetables will usually provide the best flavor experience. That said, the more convenient alternatives are perfectly fine.
Frozen or canned vegetables still contain high nutritional content. They also provide a more convenient way of getting more of both foods inside you.
It’s all about the preparation here. This stuff lasts for ages, so start building up a reserve of the staples in your cupboard and freezer. That way you’ve always got plenty of them on hand.
#5 Explore vegetarian alternatives
I’ve slowly worked more vegetarian options into my family’s diet over the last few years.
It’s an obvious starting point if you want to both reduce your meat consumption, and improve your overall nutrition at the same time.
Pushed for time? Rest assured that pre-prepared vegetarian food has come a long way since its emergence in the early 80s.
Tasty, healthier vegetarian sausages and burgers are all easy to buy these days. Don’t knock them until you’ve tried them!
#6 Make potatoes count
Potatoes are everywhere in our national diet, but sadly they don’t count towards our vegetable portion goals.
That doesn’t mean you can’t liven them up with a few extra qualifying ingredients though.
For mash, consider adding valid vegetables like suede, parsnip or celeriac to the pan you cook the potatoes in.
Once mashed together you’ll have a tastier potato dish that also helps you reach your nutritional target.
If you’re making fries, try using alternative vegetables like parsnips or sweet potatoes. The latter do count towards your goals, so it’s well worth trying them out.
#7 Try a spiralizer
I had mixed results when the spiralizer craze kicked off a few years ago, but that’s mainly because I adore pasta!
There’s no denying they offer a convenient way of transforming the Italian staple into a much healthier alternative though.
Zucchini (or courgettes), sweet potato and carrots are common ingredients used in the process. There are plenty of other options to explore as well.
Once passed through the spiralizer, you’ll have a plate of noodle-like vegetables. You can use these as a pasta substitute, and dramatically increase your vegetable intake in the process.
(If you’re short on clean pots and pans, you can even cook that pasta in the microwave if you follow a few crucial tips)
#8 Sneak something into your sauce
If you’re making something like a bolognese, try finely chopping some carrot, red peppers or courgettes, and adding them into the sauce.
By the time it’s finished cooking with the meat, you’ll have a much tastier sauce and the extra veggies will barely be noticeable.
If you have kids, this is a particularly good way of increasing their vegetable intake.
#9 Juice and smoothies – but not too much
You might think an easy way to up your fruit intake is to glug your way through a carton of juice, but unfortunately it’s not as simple as that.
When fruit is crushed for the purpose of making juice or a smoothie, a huge amount of sugar is released in the process.
As you might imagine, this isn’t great for your teeth. Do this often enough and you’re just replacing one problem with another.
You can absolutely achieve one of your daily portions with a single drink of this type though. Just make sure you’re consuming no more than 150ml of freshly prepared or carton fruit drink each day.
BONUS TIP: If you’re buying carton juice or smoothies, go for ones that include the pulp. This is an extra source of fiber which is essential for a healthy diet.
(Check out our Juicing vs Blending guide for more information.)
#10 Eat the rainbow
The advice that we should “eat the rainbow” has become increasingly popular in recent years. The term comes from the correlation between produce colors and vitamin type.
The American Heart Association has a great infographic which lists the different common fruits and vegetables that fall under each color. Aim to eat something from each of these groups every day.
If you’re struggling to find flavors that you like, keep experimenting until you find a selection from each category you both enjoy and will provide you with a balanced intake.