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Creative Ways to Sneak More Fruits and Veggies into Your Diet

Posted 5 months ago by April S

Kid eating veggies

The journey, or quest as you will, to get kids to eat more veggies can be arduous, difficult, challenging, formidable and at times down right painful. It often seems like children have the uncanny ability to hold out indefinitely when it comes to refusing to eat healthy foods. You may find yourself saying things like ... "you're going to be hungry" or "you can't have a treat if you don't eat your veggies."

Sound familiar?

There just has to be a way to get kids to eat healthier. And if you're reading this blog post - it is quite possible you're interested in finding creative ways to integrate more fruits and veggies into your family meals.

Did you know June is National Fruit and Vegetable Month? - Who knew?

Most likely you found this blog post while searching the internet for ways to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet (and perhaps get your kids to eat more veggies too).

Maybe you found yourself asking this - Why do we need to eat fruits and vegetables in the first place?

The answer is fairly simple - they provide essential vitamins, nutrients and of course fiber.

According to the World Health Organization, fruits and vegetables may also reduce the risk of developing certain diseases (like cardiovascular disease). And if you're not used to eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, then educating yourself on ways to gradually increase fiber intake may be a good idea. And it goes without saying that if you're thinking about changing your diet drastically - it is always best to consult a medical professional first.

In this blog post, you'll find fun facts about fruits and vegetables; books with tips on growing your own fruits and vegetables; and recipes to make yummy veggie dishes. We hope you find the information helpful and the resources informative.

Fun Facts about Fruits and Vegetables

Below, are a handful of interesting/fun facts about fruits and vegetables you may enjoy (provided by Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County).

Apples

Image of a hand holding an apple

Apples can be traced back to the Romans and Egyptians who in turn introduced them to Britain, which later led to the pilgrims planting the first apple trees in North America in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Currently, there are about 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the United States and Americans eat about 120 apples apiece each year. They provide a good source of fiber and vitamin C.


Broccoli

Image of broccoli crowns

Broccoli has been around for more than 2,000 years and was first grown in Italy. Did you know Broccoli has as much calcium per ounce as milk? This hearty vegetable is also a good source of vitamin A, folate, iron, calcium and fiber.


Cabbage

Image of a head of cabbage

Cabbage originated nearly 2,000 years ago in the Mediterranean region. There are at least 100 types of cabbage grown around the world. It’s cheap, widely used and rich in vitamin C.


Grapes

Image of grapes on a vine

Grapes are one of the oldest fruits to be grown and can be traced back to Biblical times. There are more than 50 varieties and are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium.


Greens

Image of collard greens

Greens date back to ancient times and are believed to be descended from wild cabbage, which originated in the Mediterranean region and Asia Minor. There are many varieties of greens, but the ones available in the majority of supermarkets include collard, mustard, kale, swiss chard and broccoli rabe. They provide a good source of vitamins A & C.


Potatoes

Image of Potatoes

Potatoes were first grown in South America over 7,000 years ago. There are thousands of varieties of potatoes, which provide a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C.


Strawberries

Image of strawberries in a bucket

Strawberries date back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. There are more than 70 varieties of strawberries and are a good source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber.


Sweet Potatoes

Image of sweet potatoes

Sweet Potatoes originated in the tropical Americas as least 5,000 years ago and provide a good source of vitamins A & C, calcium, potassium and fiber.

Veggie dishes - image from Pixabay

5 Creative Ways to Sneak in More Veggies

Now let's explore easy ways to get more fruits and veggies into our diets. I'm still working on finding dishes with veggies my kids will actually eat (and not make faces at or throw on the floor). Let's just say -- I'm holding out hope we will turn a corner soon.

Try adding fresh herbs and veggies to:

1. Pasta Dishes

Casseroles and plain spaghetti are vastly improved by a little fresh basil, peppers, mushrooms and even spinach.

2. Dressings and Sauces

Make a dressing with fresh basil. Saute onions, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and other fresh veggies to make a hearty spaghetti sauce.

3. Soups, Stews and Chili

Add carrots, root vegetables, herbs and peppers to your favorite soup, stew or chili recipe.

4. Smoothies

The possibilities are endless - avocados, spinach, berries - get creative.

5. Eggs

Broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and many other veggies make great additions to breakfast casseroles, frittatas and omelettes.

Seedlings - growing plants - gardening

Growing Fruits and Vegetables

So, you want to integrate more fruits and veggies into your diet, but you're not sure where to start.

Have you ever thought about starting a home garden?

Picture this - fresh garden tomatoes, raspberries, cucumbers, peppers and herbs - what could be better? Most definitely cheesecake, but you can't grow that in your backyard. And everyone knows homegrown fruits and vegetables beat most grocery produce available in supermarkets today.

In recent years, our family created a small garden in our backyard. My oldest loves digging in the dirt, helping to pick veggies and water the plants. By involving your kids with things like gardening they are more likely to try the veggies you spent so much time cultivating in your backyard.

So, whether you're new to gardening or are simply looking for new ideas ... the books below can help inspire your next gardening project ... and hopefully yield lots of fruits and veggies in the process.

Books and eBooks

Grow what you love : 12 food plant families to change your life / Emily Murphy
Indoor kitchen gardening : turn your home into a year-round vegetable garden: microgreens - sprouts - herbs - mushrooms - tomatoes, peppers & more / Elizabeth Millard
New Vegetable Garden Techniques : Essential skills and projects for tastier, healthier crops by Joyce Russell
The Grow Your Own Food Handbook : A Back to Basics Guide to Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Fruits and Vegetables by Monte Burch
The Fruit gardener's bible : a complete guide to growing fruits and nuts in the home garden / Lewis Hill and Leonard Perry
The new vegetables, herbs & fruit : an illustrated encyclopedia / Matthew Biggs, Jekka McVicar and Bob Flowerdew The postage stamp vegetable garden : grow tons of organic vegetables in tiny spaces and containers / Karen Newcomb Plants from pits : pots of plants for the whole family to enjoy / Holly Farrell Grow for flavor : [tips and tricks to supercharge the flavor of homegrown harvests] / James Wong ; photography by Jason Ingram ; illustrations by Tobatron Homegrown vegetables, fruits, and herbs : a bountiful, healthful garden for lean times / Jim Wilson ; photography by Walter Chandoha

Vegetable Cookbooks

Some people think veggies are boring (like my kids), but I would argue they don't have to be that way. By learning how to properly prepare them, and integrate more of them into tasty dishes, eating veggies will no longer seem like a chore (at least that's the hope). By following the tips, tricks and delectable recipes featured in the cookbooks below, hopefully you and your family will look forward to veggie-filled dinners instead of dreading them. And don't forget to get the kids involved with prep work (and cooking when possible).

Books and eBooks

Vegetables illustrated : an inspiring guide with 700+ kitchen-tested recipes / America's Test Kitchen
Adventures in veggieland : help your kids learn to love vegetables with 100 easy activities and recipes / Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP
The Fresh & green table : delicious ideas for bringing vegetables into every meal / by Susie Middleton
Mr. Wilkinson's vegetables : a cookbook to celebrate the garden / Matt Wilkinson
The vegetable butcher : how to select, prep, slice, dice, and masterfully cook vegetables from artichokes to zucchini / Cara Mangini
Greens 24/7 : more than 100 quick, easy, and delicious recipes for eating leafy greens and other green vegetables at every meal / Jessica Nadel
Ferment your vegetables : A Fun and Flavorful Guide to Making Your Own Pickles, Kimchi, Kraut, and More by Amanda Feifer
V Is for vegetables : inspired recipes & techniques for home cooks: from artichokes to zucchini / Michael Anthony with Dorothy Kalins, photographs by Maura McEvoy
The Roasted Vegetable by Andrea Chesman
A girl and her greens : hearty meals from the garden / April Bloomfield with JJ Goode ; photographs by David Loftus ; illustrations by Sun Young Park

Juices and Smoothies

Drinking juices and smoothies is yet another way to integrate more fruits and veggies into our diets. Of course, it's important to only consume them in moderation due to the sugar content in most juices and smoothies. Personally, I enjoy adding oatmeal, protein powder, avocado, spinach, almond milk and a little frozen fruit to my smoothies. And if you've been told to take in more fiber - consuming smoothies may help.

Books and eBooks

Raw energy in a glass : 126 nutrition-packed smoothies, green drinks, and other satisfying raw beverages to boost your well-being / Stephanie Tourles Superjuicing : [more than 100 nutritious vegetable & fruit recipes] / Tonia Reinhard and John Reinhard The ultimate book of modern juicing : more than 200 fresh recipes to cleanse, cure, and keep you healthy / Mimi Kirk ; photographs by Mike Mendell The Juice generation : 100 recipes for fresh juices and superfood smoothies / Eric Helms with Amely Greeven ; foreword by Salma Hayek Green smoothies for life / J.J. Smith
201 healthy smoothies & juices for kids : fresh, wholesome, no sugar-added drinks your child will love / Amy Roskelley, founder of SuperHealthyKids.com. ; with Nicole Cormier A Rainbow of Smoothie Bowls - 100 Wholesome and Vibrant Blended Creations by Leigh Weingus Superfood Juices, Smoothies & Drinks - Advice and Recipes to Lose Weight, Prevent Illness, and Improve Your Emotional and Physical Health by Jason Manheim Juice Manifesto - More than 120 Flavor-Packed Juices, Smoothies and Healthful Meals for the Whole Family by Andrew Cooper Juice + Nourish - 100 Refreshing Juices and Smoothies to Promote Health, Energy, and Beauty by Rosemary Ferguson
Articles Designed to Help You and Your Family Get More Fruits and Veggies into Your Diet

Tips To Help You Eat VegetablesChooseMyPlate.gov

How To Eat More Fruit and VegBBC Good Food

Easy Ways to Add Fruits and Veggies To Your DayFruits and Veggies More Matters

Get Your Kids To Eat More Veggies the Easy Way! – Super Healthy Kids

How to Get Your Child to Eat More Fruits & VeggiesHealthyChildren.org

20 Kid-Friendly VeggiesParents.com

Related Toledo Library Blog Posts

Put Up and Eat Up: Canning and Food Preservation

Plant-Based Diet

How Does Your Garden Grow?


Featured Image Credit: Image by Dominik & Frederike Schneider from Pixabay.

Disclaimer: This blog provides information for educational purposes only. Always consult a physician before starting any diet or exercise plan.

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