Eating healthier doesn’t have to mean major and painful changes to our diets (give up ice cream… forever? Never eat white potatoes again?). In fact, some of the most beneficial changes are the seemingly small ones we make as a habit in our daily lives.
Here are 31 (yes, I like to go big!) easy and fun ideas to help you consume more fruits and vegetables every day.
Break the Fast
1. Top your toast with nut butter and bananas or berries. I also love a carrot cake-inspired version with grated raw carrot, raisins, cinnamon, chopped pecans or coconut.
2. When making omelets or quiches, add as many veggies as you can get your hands on: leafy greens, green onions, mushrooms, sweet peppers…the list is endless. Whatever you have in your fridge, toss it in there.
3. Mix puréed carrots, squash or pumpkin into waffle or pancake batters for a touch of natural, whole-food sweetness.
Attack Snacks at Midday
4. Use high-protein hummus or homemade guacamole as a dunking station for raw carrots, cucumber and celery (hey, I hear it’s one of Meghan Telpner’s favourites!).
5. Pick up a bag of veggie chips (or make your own) and enjoy with homemade tomato salsa.
7. Your kids might go crazy for apple and pear slices when they’re dipped in a sugar-free coconut yogurt.
8. Always on the go? Double up on dried fruit like dates or dried apricots, toasted nuts or coconut for a portable trail mix that will curb your cravings until lunchtime.
Pack a Lunch
9. Stuff your lunch wraps, rolls and sandwiches with shredded cabbage (green or purple cabbage are both A-OK), fresh herbs and lettuce.
10. Banish the bread and use lettuce as your “sandwich”. Romaine lettuce, Belgian endives and buttercrunch lettuce are some of my favourites.
11. Use avocado in place of butter or peanut butter for a healthy and creamy dairy-free sandwich spread.
12. Never brown bag a lunch again without a generous handful of raw vegetables. Chopped cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and carrots are all perfectly portable.
13. Skip the juice boxes and pack kids’ lunches with fresh fruit like whole organic strawberries or chopped pineapple instead.
Sip on a Smoothie
14. You can hide 1-2 cups of leafy greens (spinach and romaine are the mildest) in an average smoothie. Add plant-based milk plus 1-2 cups of fruit to sweeten. Indulge your creativity and try different combinations!
15. Add avocados, mangoes, bananas, cooked carrots or sweet potatoes to smoothies for ultra creaminess.
16. Did you buy too many greens at the farmer’s market? Purée them with a bit of water in a food processor and spoon into ice cube trays. Easy to add these to smoothies later!
Boost Main Meals
17. Keep raw veggies on the table during all main meals.
18. Stuff your stir-fries with as many veggies as you like. Chop them all roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
19. Cozy up to spaghetti squash and serve the same way as pasta: with a flavourful sauce, choice of protein and extra diced veggies.
20. Add zucchini, kale, boy choy and broccoli to soups, stews or pasta. Purée them first if you need to keep their existence a secret from picky palates!
21. Making a casserole? Blend up some cooked squash or sweet potato with a bit of water, spices and sea salt for an instant creamy, non-dairy sauce.
22. Trade your grain-based pastas for vegetable noodles like carrot or zucchini. A spiralizer or Julienne peeler can make quick work of these.
23. Supersize your salad: you can throw just about anything on a salad and it will work! Add grated veggies, fresh herbs, hard-boiled eggs or your favourite protein with a drizzle of dressing. The key is variety so you don’t get bored and your body doesn’t become intolerant of any particular food.
24. Skip the gluten-fest of most commercial pizza dough and try a cauliflower crust pizza. Google it and be amazed! Top as your normally would.
Roast for Extra Flavour
25. Many vegetables get a bad rap when they’re raw, but they can be tamed into delectable submission with a little oven time. I adore cauliflower! Toss veggies with a little coconut oil or ghee, sprinkle with spices, salt and/or pepper and roast at 400° F 30 minutes or until tender.
Indulge in Dessert
26. Make sorbet! Blend frozen fruit with coconut water or fresh fruit/vegetable juice to make an easy sorbet.
27. Grill fruit like peaches or pineapple and top with sugar-free coconut yogurt, nuts and cinnamon for a fast and healthy dessert.
28. In baked goods like cakes and muffins, you can sub some of the oil for applesauce or puréed pumpkin. Muffins are especially tender this way.
29. Leftover smoothies from your midday or afternoon snack attack can be frozen into popsicles for a cool and creamy treat.
30. Blend ripe avocados with raw cacao or cocoa, vanilla, honey or maple syrup, and a touch of salt (to cut any bitterness). What you’ll get is a luxuriously creamy pudding that kids and adults alike will go wild for.
31. Freeze a banana, coat it in melted chocolate, and top with shredded coconut or crushed nuts. ‘Nuff said.