We know getting more fruits and vegetables in our diet is important for so many reasons. Plants are rich in fiber which helps keep our digestive tract moving. These plant fibers, known as prebiotics, feed the organisms living in our large intestine. These organisms, also known as probiotics, keep our gut and immune system balanced and healthy.
Besides fiber, plants offer other benefits. Deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables like purple/red berries and dark leafy greens are full of antioxidant-rich compounds that can help prevent some kinds of cancer.
Wow! With so much to gain from adding plants into our diet, why do we find it so hard to fit them in? Busy lives and limited time to shop and prepare food make it hard for most people, especially during the work week. Having a plan and buying a few easy-to-throw-together items can help make eating healthy a cinch.
Plant-powered Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Frozen fruits and veggies like berries and kale are a great addition to smoothies. We love the Sunrise Growers antioxidant blend which we found at Costco. It’s got cherries, berries, and pomegranate, plus it’s organic.
Add diced apples or a couple prunes to oatmeal while it’s cooking; top with a chopped date instead of sugar for a hint of sweetness.
Eggs in a cup - add spinach, peppers, or whatever vegetables you like with a couple eggs in a microwave-safe bowl or mug. Heat on high for a min. You’ll need to stir and zap it for another 30 seconds or so. Super easy.
Stuff wrap sandwiches with pre-washed fresh spinach, roasted peppers (from a jar), chopped artichoke hearts (from can or jar), sliced avocado and hummus.
The Instant pot is such a great way to get vegetables into the diet. I often make beans or lentils in the Instant pot for dinner. The leftovers go in the kids’ thermoses for a hot lunch and later, they can be used to make huevos rancheros or a healthy topping for nachos or baked potatoes. Use your food processor and chop onions, peppers, zucchini, and garlic very fine. Saute in the Instant pot with olive oil and add a chopped sweet potato. After the vegetables have softened, add your lentils or beans, spices, and water or broth. I usually select the beans/chili button and pressure cook for 50 minutes. When it’s finished, I use an immersion blender or mash the vegetables and beans a bit. Note - soak dried beans the night before so they turn out soft and tender.
Need Snack ideas?
Celery and nut butter are a classic combination. We’ve fallen in love with NuttZo Power Fuel. It’s a nut butter made from cashews, almonds, brazil nuts and seeds like chia, pumpkin, and flax. It’s also peanut-free.
Kale chips - chop and toss 1 bunch of curly kale with 2 Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake for 15 min in a 300° oven. Flip kale over and bake for another 5-10 minutes. Voila! Kale chips. You can sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top for added protein and B-vitamins.
Dried fruits and nuts
Baby carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and persian cucumbers are my go-tos because they don’t need chopping. Just rinse and serve with hummus.
Adding plant-based foods into your diet doesn’t have to be complicated. What are your favorite ways of adding fruits and vegetables into your diet? Please share in the comments below.