The Unwrapped Fruit and Vegetable Challenge is well underway! Perhaps the first week was a breeze and you quickly adapted to a serving of fruit at breakfast, plate full of veggies at lunch and dinner, and a few servings as snacks, too. Or, perhaps you did very well at achieving your daily servings of fruit, but are struggling with vegetables. If you are finding that you, or your family, are simply not veggie fans this post is for you!
Here are 5 quick tips to get to 5 servings of vegetables per day!
- Choose recipes where vegetables are sneaky additions.
Chili, meatloaf, casseroles, and pasta are great entrees that allow for a serving or two of vegetables with little notice. For example, shredding a zucchini or carrot into pasta, chili or meatloaf is a great way to add both fiber and another serving of vegetables. Or, consider tossing frozen peas or green beans into your latest casserole.
- Make stock from your trimmings.
If soup or stew is on the menu, don’t toss away the tops of carrots, spinach or broccoli stems, or even the wilted lettuce. Instead, save them to make a delicious stock or broth. Save these trimmings in a large container in the freezer. When the container is full, pour the contents into a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and let it cook away for up to 12 hours, adding water as needed. You will be left with a savory and aromatic broth for a variety of uses.
- Create a vegetable buffet.
People, especially kids, love to have a choice in what they eat. When serving pizza, kebabs, tacos, sandwiches, or salads lay out an assortment of vegetable toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, colorful bell peppers, zucchini and summer squash, and fresh herbs. Check out more family-friendly recipes from UW Health or KidsEatRight.org.
- Make it fun!
Create vegetable recipes with colorful and fun shapes. Consider using cookie cutters to slice cucumbers, squash and peppers in creative shapes. Try to find a vegetable of every color of the rainbow to keep mealtime appealing. Or, consider a container garden with summer vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and fresh herbs.
- Add friendly flavors!
Remember that it takes 10 to 15 tries of a new food or vegetable to learn to like it. So, hang in there if you have only tried a certain vegetable 2 or 3 times. In the mean time, pair new vegetables with flavors that you enjoy.
- Shred cheddar cheese over broccoli and cauliflower
- Dip Carrots and Celery in peanut butter
- Create a ranch or dill flavored dip for other raw vegetables with plain Greek yogurt and a flavoring packet.
If you have tried all of these tips, perhaps all you need is a little motivation. Seek out some friendly competition at home or at the office and share your progress. The Unwrapped Challenge tracker is available online in the Library. Looking for more family-friendly trackers? Try the UW Health 5210 tracking sheet or one from Fruit & Veggies More Matters.
For suggestions on what to count as one serving of fruit or vegetable consider the following:
1 Serving of Fruit equals:
- 1 Cup 100% Fruit Juice (Try not to exceed 1 cup per day)
- 1 Cup Fresh Fruit
- ½ cup Frozen or Canned Fruit
- ¼ Cup Dried Fruit
1 Serving of Vegetables equals:
- 1 Cup 100% Vegetable Juice (Try not to exceed 1 cup per day)
- ½ cup Cooked (Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes and Corn do not count)
- 1 Cup Raw Vegetables, including Raw Leafy Greens