Adding More Color (& Nutrition!) To Family Favorite Dishes

Changing any behavior takes time and practice. Which new behaviors stick the most? One’s that are easy and enjoyable.

If you know eating more fruits and vegetables is a must nutrition goal for you to work on — and honestly, who wouldn’t benefit with most Americans falling short on meeting Fruit and Vegetable Food Group recommendations[1] — here’s an easy AND enjoyable solution for you: Add more color to dishes you already love eating!

Color-It-Up Tip #1: Tantalizing Tacos

There’s just something scrumptious about tacos, any day of the week — not just Tuesdays. At your next taco adventure, add shreds of deep green colored spinach, slices of black olives, the sweet pop of yellow corn and delicate flavor of thinly sliced red onion. When you’re at it, sweeten up the deal and invite a fruit-based salsa, like pineapple salsa, to dinner.

Color-It-Up Tip #2: Super Spaghetti & Meatballs

Whip up this popular mid-week dinner with creativity in mind. Bright green broccoli and vibrant white cauliflower add texture to tomato sauce, as do slices of green zucchini and yellow summer squash. Making your own meatballs? Consider mixing in vegetables like diced, sautéed mushrooms for moisture and umami flavor or shredded carrots for a speckle of sweetness and bright color.

What’s a spaghetti dinner without dessert, right? Let fresh, frozen and/or canned fruit take center stage. Whether it’s shortcake topped with fresh strawberries, mashed frozen banana ice cream or canned peaches atop Greek yogurt, fruit provides the perfect sweet stop to this comforting, savory meal.

Color-It-Up Tip #3: A Better Burger

Dressing up your basic burger can truly be where the boldest of taste buds shine. Whether you’re adding vegetables like diced onion, bell peppers and mushrooms to ground meat or simply choosing to make vegetables the base with options like portabella mushroom caps, black beans and a mixture of plant-powered ingredients like brown rice, lentils, shaved carrots and chopped celery, the addition of color to burgers can go deeper than your toppings.

That said, layering your burger with the likes of traditional toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes and onions may be any easy win, but imagine the possibilities you can tap into! Add unique flavor with pickled vegetables such as kimchi and onions, fresh combinations like bell peppers, avocados and bean sprouts or plant-based spreads such as hummus, pesto and tapenade.

What goes better with burgers than French Fries? A lot! Get roasting with seasonal veggies like parsnips and beets or asparagus and radishes. Grill up sweet treats such as peaches, nectarines, plums and watermelon during grilling season.

Color-It-Up Tip #4: New Noodles

Though not much may compare to a fresh semolina pasta noodles, sometimes allergies and simple cravings have you wanting more. Opting for spiralized vegetables, or simply spaghetti squash, as the base of your next “noodle” meal is a fantastic way to expand your taste buds while adding texture and nutrition to your plate. Sauté or toss with your favorite sauce and you’ve made eating an extra serving (or two!) of vegetables an easy gain.

Fruit can be enjoyed spiralized, too! Hardy fresh apples will become a piece of art when sautéed with the likings of brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins and vanilla. Don’t have a spiralizer? Topping ice cream with grated pear and mango can turn plain ol’ vanilla ice cream into a flavorful, craveable delight.

Color-It-Up Tip #5: Breakfast for Dinner

Pancakes, waffles and French Toast make for a fun change up at dinner time. Adding sliced bananas and fresh berries to batter will take any breakfast dinner to a higher level. Topping with a variety of berries or warm spiced apples, or mashed pumpkin, will help give seasonal produce the spotlight.

Savory crepes or waffles anyone? Sautéed onions and mushrooms complimented with a spoon of fresh herb-infused chèvre may just change the way you look at (and enjoy!) these homemade delicacies going forward.

When it comes down to it, eating more fruits and veggies doesn’t need to feel like a feat. Seeing the opportunities to add more color to the meals your family already loves is the easiest and most enjoyable way to make meeting daily fruits and vegetables goals a daily habit.


[1] U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at

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