This article was co-authored by Claudia Carberry, RD, MS. Claudia Carberry is a Registered Dietitian specializing in kidney transplants and counseling patients for weight loss at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is a member of the Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Claudia received her MS in Nutrition from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2010.
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Whether you are trying to lose weight or simply eat healthy, adding produce to your diet is a great choice to make. Start by taking your standard recipes and adding more produce into them. You can also incorporate produce into pancakes, omelets, and smoothies. Do most of your produce prep early in the week to stay on track. Also, don’t be afraid to try new vegetables and fruits.
Method 1Method 1 of 3:Incorporating Produce into Main Dishes
- 1Add produce to pancakes. You can mix a variety of fruits straight into the batter, such as blueberries, strawberries, or even peaches. It is a common misconception that pancakes must be sweet. You could also stir in finely chopped vegetables and crumbled meat to make a more savory pancake.XResearch source
- 2Mix produce into meatballs. Grate vegetables or puree them using a food processor. Then, add this mixture into your meatball base. Once you cook the meatballs fully, you will barely be able to notice the changes. In fact, it may lead to a moister final product.XResearch source
- Carrots, squash, apples, and even potatoes are all good options to add into meat mixtures. This step would also work for a meatloaf or meat patties.
- 3Make omelets or scrambles. Vegetables and savory botanical fruits such as tomatoes and peppers both go well with eggs. Chop up a variety and then toss them into some scrambled eggs. Experiment with different combinations until you find a few recipes that you prefer. This makes a healthy, filling, and creative breakfast or snack.XResearch source
- The standard southwest omelet with eggs, cheese, mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions is always a good option.
- 4Try out various salads. Salads get a bad rap for being boring, but that doesn’t have to be the case. You can experiment with various types of greens, such as kale. You can top the salad with fresh vegetables or fruits, such as strawberries or even cucumbers. For an extra flourish, try out different nuts as toppings.XResearch source
- 5Cut out meat once a week. Going meatless for one particular day each week could cut down on your expenses, while also giving you a great chance to boost your produce consumption. Use this as an opportunity to get creative with a main dish. Look for vegetarian recipes online for guidance.XResearch source
- Veggie pizzas and egg dishes are great meat-free options.
- 6Double the amount of veggies specified in a recipe. Read through the recipe, looking at the vegetable amounts suggested. Take this suggestion and increase it by at least twice as much. It may change the texture and flavor of the dish, but the health benefits will be worth it. Try this with your favorite recipes, such as marinara or chili, in order to make it more appetizing.XResearch source
- Soup recipes are a great way to increase your veggie intake. In a white bean soup, for example, you could add double the kale and other chopped vegetables, such as zucchini or peppers.XResearch source
- 7Replace carbs with veggies. Whenever a recipe calls for a carb, put a veggie in its place. Make veggie pasta by cutting down large strips of zucchini or squash. You can also use spaghetti squash as a long pasta substitute. Mash cauliflower to make a mashed potato substitute. You can even form mashed veggies into cakes and grill them with a bit of olive oil.XResearch source
- Use lettuce or cabbage leaves as a substitute for bread, filling them with something like chicken salad.XResearch source
Method 2Method 2 of 3:Including More Produce in Snacks
- 1Make some chips. Potato chips are often labeled as a junk food. However, you can make your own chips using healthier ingredients and methods. Try slicing sweet potatoes and baking them with a touch of olive oil. Or, use a mandoline to slice a zucchini, toss these with olive oil, and then bake.XResearch source
- Most of these chips can be stored for up to a week. Therefore, they make a great snack.
- You can also make healthy chips using plantains, kale, greens, or even apples.XResearch source
- 2Use dips. Every few days, chop up a number of fruits and vegetable and store the slices in airtight containers. You can then dip these slices into Greek yogurt, ranch dip, or even hummus for a quick snack. For something sweeter, try fruits, such as mango or pineapple, paired with a caramel sauce.XResearch source
- Taking this approach can also save you time as most of these dips, and fresh produce slices, are also sold in grocery stores.XResearch source
- Dips that are high in salt, fat, or sugar, such as caramel sauce, should be used sparingly in accordance with the portion size suggested on the packaging. Dips such as hummus and yogurt may be used more liberally.
- 3Make a smoothie. Using a blender or food processor, add in milk or yogurt and then a handful of fruit or vegetable slices. Pulse until the mixture is smooth and drinkable. A basic concoction of yogurt, banana, and ice is always nice. Or, you could mix together yogurt, protein powder, and a vegetable, such as kale or spinach.XResearch source
- For extra crunchiness, toss in a handful of ice.
- 4Eat a fruity dessert. If you are adding produce to your diet and trying to lose weight, you may be tempted to cut out dessert entirely. Instead, replace a high-fat, high calorie dessert with something healthier made primarily from fruits. You could freeze grapes for a quick snack. Or, you could slice a banana and dip it into yogurt.XResearch source
- 5Carry snack-sized portions of produce. Pack a small container of applesauce. Place a handful of baby carrots into a plastic lunch bag. Or, just grab an apple or banana to take with you. Dried fruit is another convenient snack option, although be careful of the sugar content.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Cancer SocietyNonprofit devoted to promoting cancer research, education, and supportGo to sourceAdvertisement
Method 3Method 3 of 3:Making Eating Produce Exciting and Easy
- 1Set aside one hour a week for produce prep. Vegetable and fruits can require a bit of work before they are ready to be consumed. It may help to spend some time each Sunday afternoon chopping, slicing, and grating all of the produce that you’ll need for that week. You can then store these foods in containers until they need to be used.XResearch source
- To make food prep even easier, try buying pre-cut produce at at your store. It typically costs a little more, but may be worth it if you feel you don't have time to prep too many pieces of produce yourself.
- 2Look at appetizing produce photos. Print out pictures of tasty looking produce and place these around your cooking space, such as on the fridge with magnets. Clip photos out of cooking magazines and look at them while cooking or prepping. This will keep you motivated to spend the extra energy working with produce.XResearch source
- 3Try one new piece of produce a week. Make it a goal to select one new type of produce to cook with each week. You can browse the grocery store for your new findings or even search online and shop with a mission. This will keep you from getting bored eating the same recipes and produce.XResearch source
- 4Sign up for a produce delivery. Join a community supported agriculture (CSA) group. They will either send, or allow you to pick up, certain in-season produce. You could also sign up for an online delivery service that guarantees organic or fresh produce delivery. These services will encourage you to cook all pieces to avoid waste.
- Some people can save as much as 30% on their grocery bills by signing up for a service.XResearch source
- 5Exchange recipes with friends. Tell your friends and family that you are trying to add more produce into your diet and ask for their help. See if they have particular recipes that they would suggest. In exchange, give them some of yours that have worked well. Keep doing this and you can try to keep food boredom at bay.XResearch source
- 6Go to a "you pick" farm. Search online for a "you pick" farm by entering your location and "pick your own produce" into a search engine. Most farms usually specialize in a certain type of produce. They may also have certain regulations about picking and visitors. Going to a farm like this will make you more invested in your food choices.XResearch source
- 7Grow your own garden. Growing vegetables or herbs in a garden or box is a great way to get yourself more excited about eating produce. You'll be eager to try your own harvest, and more inclined to eat fresh, seasonal produce, even if it's just from one plant you grow in the window.XTrustworthy SourceProduce for Better Health FoundationNonprofit organization focused on promoting plant-based diet information to help consumers live healthier lives.Go to source
- Look up what types of plants are well suited for your area. Different veggies will require different water, sunlight, temperature, and soil conditions, so it is important to pick a plant that can grow healthfully where you live.
- If you don’t have the time for fresh produce, don’t forget that frozen produce can be a great, quick option.XResearch source
- Sometimes it helps to mix produce in with a moderate amount of a more indulgent food, such as bacon.XResearch source