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Simple Ways To Boost Your Fruit and Vegetable Intake

One aspect of a diet program that people find challenging is getting enough fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t have to be nearly as challenging if you know some quick tricks that allow you to get these nutritional powerhouses in without hardly any effort at all.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Bake Blueberries Into Muffins
If you’re someone who enjoys baking your morning meal, consider tossing in some blueberries to muffins, pancakes or waffles. There are plenty high-protein waffle and pancake recipes out there, so with the addition of the fruit, you will just have created a well balanced meal to start your day.

Having frozen fruit on hand makes it very easy to add these into your recipe whenever you’re baking without having to worry about the fruit going bad if not used soon enough.

Toss Berries Into Cereal
If you’re not much of a baker and prefer cereal for your morning meal, you can add fresh raspberries to your cold or hot cereal. Many cereal manufacturers are starting to add freeze dried fruit for extra flavour, but nothing beats the real thing.

The addition of raspberries, blueberries or blackberries will provide you with both fiber and antioxidants, kicking your overall health level up a notch.

Slice A Banana On Your Peanut Butter Sandwich
A tablespoon or two of natural peanut butter on a slice of whole grain bread makes for a very quick and nutritious mid-morning snack if you’re trying to build muscle. It’s full of healthy fat, a small amount of protein, and is a source of carbohydrates.

To increase the vitamin level further, toss some banana slices over the peanut butter before you fold it over and create your snack. Bananas are rich sources of potassium and magnesium, making this a very good snack when you plan to workout later that day.

Add Frozen Vegetables To Canned Soup
Lower sodium varieties of canned soups make for a quick meal, especially in the colder winter weather if you’re looking for something to heat you up. Many of these soups are lacking in the vegetable department, but by tossing in some frozen vegetables it’s a quick fix.

Your best option for this will be frozen peas, corn, carrots, green beans or cauliflower. If you are using broccoli, you’ll want to toss in at the very end of the cooking process to ensure it doesn’t get soggy.

Blend Your Vegetables With Your Pasta Sauce
For some people, it isn’t lack of convenience that stops them from eating enough vegetables, it’s that they downright just do not like the taste. If this is the case, consider blending the vegetables into the sauce you are using for the meal.

For example, add some carrots, onions, peppers and celery in with a cup of tomato sauce and blend for thirty seconds. You’ll have no traces of vegetables left and as long as you’re not using huge vegetable quantities, the taste should not be impacted all that much since tomato-based sauces are quite strong tasting themselves.

The nutritional content of the sauce however will be dramatically improved with added fiber and antioxidants, while still being lower in calories.

Mince Vegetables And Add Into Turkey Burgers
If you’re a fan of preparing turkey, tuna, or lean beef burgers, another way to add more vegetables to your meal is to mince them up very small and mix them right into the patties. This is a very good trick for those who are following low-carbohydrate diets as it will add additional fiber to the burgers -- helping keep you satisfied as well as help to fill out the burger itself.

Be sure you are including enough egg whites when doing so though to make the burgers stick together well and cook properly. Good vegetables for this option include celery, shredded carrots, onions and peppers.

Purchase Pre-Chopped Vegetables
When convenience is the problem you’re facing – you simply do not have time to buy, wash, and chop vegetables, the simple solution is to purchase them already pre-washed and cut for you. You will pay a higher price, but the payback in the nutritional improvement of your diet will be well worth it. Plus, if eating the vegetables helps you avoid eating other foods that are much more nutrient devoid, thus improving your rate of weight loss, think of the money you will be able to save in personal trainer and potential health care costs. Besides, purchasing the pre-chopped vegetables to prepare with your own meals will still be half the price of eating out.

Come Up With Creative Dip Ideas

Most dips are filled with fat and calories, so make sure you are preparing your own. The classic spinach dip is something that many people enjoy with a bread bowl, but nothing says you cannot have it with chopped up cauliflower, broccoli and carrots as well.

Opting for low-fat mayonnaise, low-fat sour cream, or even cottage cheese (to really get a boost in protein) to prepare your dips will be the smartest way to save on calories but still keep taste levels high.

Opt For A Pita Over Sliced Bread
Making a lunchtime sandwich is a good way to avoid the fast food burger situation, but sandwiches unfortunately can’t hold much more than meat, condiments, and some lettuce. To help really pack your noon meal with vegetables, consider replacing your bread with a pita instead. The open pocket design of the pita allows you to add in mushrooms, cucumbers, alpha-alpha sprouts or whatever other vegetables you desire without it ending up on a mess all over your plate.

Most pitas range around the 200 calorie mark themselves, so that’s the equivalent of two slices of bread.

Make Your Own Salsa

Salsa is one of the healthiest condiments you can consume as it is packed with antioxidant rich tomatoes, peppers and onions. Try and incorporate this more often into your meals for added flavouring or even added to your sauce.  If you really want to be creative, you can even prepare your own salsas using either vegetables or fruits, or a combination of both.

There are plenty of different options for salsas and they will work great in the summer months to top burgers, salads, or just eaten as a side dish to the ribs you made on the barbeque.

Have a look over your standard daily meals and see where you might be able to fit some vegetables in. If you get yourself in the creative mindset, you’ll find that it’s really not as difficult as you once thought -- and once you’re used to adding a vegetable or fruit with each meal, it becomes a habit you do automatically.

There’s no better way to increase your consumption chances than being sure you always have fruits and vegetables, whether frozen, canned, or fresh on hand, because if they aren’t in the house, you aren’t going to be eating them. Take the time to experiment with seasonal produce also because breaking up the boredom from the traditional broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, apples, oranges, and bananas is important.

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