Thirty heart-healthy ways to love your veggies (and fruit!)

by Carolyn Thomas

We’re supposed to eat 2-4 servings of fruit plus 3-5 servings of vegetables every day. It’s a full-time job, especially for those of us raised in Ukrainian families where dill pickles were considered an ideal veggie serving. Fewer than one third of us eat even those lower limits.

And we’re fussy eaters.

Potatoes, for example, represent 44% of our fresh vegetable diet here in Canada. That doesn’t includes a significant increase, according to Statistics Canada, in our consumption of processed potatoes in the form of potato chips and frozen potato products. But carrots, lettuce, onions and tomatoes represent just 27% of the Canadian diet of fresh vegetables, a decrease of 9% compared to 2005 numbers. On the other hand, we’re apparently eating three times more sweet potatoes now compared to 20 years ago. Wonder if that’s entirely due to the growing popularity of sweet potato fries . . .

The editors of Consumer Reports Healthasked:How exactly are you supposed to get healthy produce servings into your life?” and then came up with these 30 great tips.   For example, did you know that just 1/2 cup of tomato sauce for your pasta actually counts as one serving of vegetables? Or that thickening your soup with puréed cooked carrots makes one additional serving?

Here are more of their suggestions:

Breakfast: Get off to a good start.

1. Start with real juice. Just 6 ounces of 100% juice (not fruit “drink”) counts as one serving.

2. Add some sliced banana, berries, prunes, raisins, or other fruit to your cereal, hot or cold. It takes only a quarter cup of dried fruit, a half cup of berries, or one medium piece of fruit like a banana to make a full serving.

3. Mix berries or sliced apples or bananas into whole grain pancake waffles, and then top with extra fruit.

4. Create a vegetable omelette with lots of chopped spinach, peppers, asparagus and tomatoes – or any other combination that appeals to you. Half a cup of chopped vegetables equals one serving.

5. If you like bread or toast for breakfast, try an open-faced sandwich of low-fat cottage cheese and fresh fruit (banana, melon, blueberries, or strawberries) or vegetables (onion, summer squash, or green or red peppers).

Lunch: How to build a better salad – or sandwich.

6. Build a salad on romaine or spinach. One cup of a raw leafy vegetable makes one serving.

7. That salad becomes two servings with the addition of just half a cup of any combination of such ingredients as broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumber, mushrooms, peppers, or tomatoes.

8. Turn plain yogurt into a full serving of fruit by adding a half-cup of berries or a chopped piece of fruit.

9. If you make your soup thick with vegetables, every cup of soup could easily hold a half-cup serving.

10. Use vegetables like broccoli, celery, and green and red peppers to add texture and color to pasta and rice salads.

11. Add tomatoes, shredded carrots, or bean sprouts to sandwiches.

Read all 30 fruit and veggie tips for dinner, desserts, appetizers, snacks, or eating on the run from Consumer Reports Health.

Do you have a favourite way of getting more produce into your daily life?

3 thoughts on “Thirty heart-healthy ways to love your veggies (and fruit!)

  1. This list is great – it reminds us to start our meal planning with the veggies/fruit, and then build onto that. Normally, my meals are planned like this: chicken tonight, baked salmon tomorrow night – with the veggies thrown in afterwards as a minor afterthought. Instead, we could think “veggie stir fry with some chicken added” or “big veggie salad with some baked salmon added”. Much healthier way to live.

    PS Please run some more of your “favourite heart-healthy recipes” again here.


  2. Great tips! I love that you’ve included suggestions for breakfast and lunch! I’m a huge fan of vegetable sandwiches. Things like eggplant, zucchini, onions, and cucumbers make for an awesome veggie sub!


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