Instead of trick OR treat this spooky season, how about trick AND treat! Let’s talk about ways to sneak those delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables into more of our meals for better health.
Finding ways to get adequate fruits and vegetables can be hard for busy families. Between work, sports, school and life, finding the time to get in those five servings can a challenge to say the least. Did you know that 9 out of 10 Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables? This means that our bodies are not getting the variety of vitamins and minerals needed to help promote good health. As adults, this is challenging enough but getting kids to eat enough variety can be even more of a challenge. Kids tend to gravitate more towards fruit, often leaving vegetables behind.
Why is it important to have a regular intake of fruits and vegetables? By increasing produce in our diets, we not only are promoting overall good nutrition in our bodies but also helping to:
- Support our immune system with antioxidants
- Support our heart with more fiber to help lower cholesterol
- Improve our gut health
- Manage blood sugar control with the slower absorption of carbohydrates
- Lower blood pressure with increased potassium, magnesium and calcium
- Manage our weight by helping us to feel full
Learning to have a good relationship with these nutritious “treats” from a young age can help benefit your overall health over time in many ways. For those that may be thinking of ways to “trick” yourself, kids and/or family into eating more fruits and vegetables, here are some great suggestions and recipes you could try today:
Try blending in both fruits and vegetables into smoothies for an on-the-go snack or meal. Ever wanted to try a green smoothie but not sure how? Try sticking with fruits and vegetables of lighter color to help get that beautiful green glow.
Soups and stews
Try adding in frozen vegetables that you may have on hand as an easy way to quickly make a soup, stew or chili even more nutritious. Tip: try blending mild tasting vegetables such as cauliflower or butternut squash as a great way to thicken a soup and get more veggies.
Adding puréed vegetables to a variety of sauces can be a great way to sneak in some extra nutrients without losing flavor.
Mac and cheese, yes please! This delicious dish is loved by kids and adults alike. Try riced vegetables or puréed varieties mixed into that yummy cheese sauce and you now have a dish that’s sure to trick your senses. See Hidden Veggie Mac & Cheese recipe below.
Did you know that you could add fruits and vegetables into water? Infusing your drink with everything from cucumbers and mint to berries and lemons is sure to provide you some refreshing nutrition. Tip: when your drink is done, eat the fruits and vegetables for even more of a treat! See Water Infusion Recipes below.
Hidden Veggie Mac & Cheese
- 1c. Frozen Butternut Squash
- 1/2c. Frozen Cauliflower
- 1/4c. Water
- 1 box Mac and Cheese
- 1/2c. 2% Milk
- 4T Plant-based butter
- 1c. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, add macaroni and cook for time listed on box.
- While macaroni is boiling, place butternut squash and cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl with ¼ cup water. Cook in microwave for 2 minutes or until slightly tender.
- Drain water from vegetables. Place in blender with ¼ cup milk. Blend until smooth.
- Drain macaroni. Add butter, cheese packet and ¼ cup milk to saucepan. Stir until creamy.
- Add macaroni back into saucepan. Stir in vegetable purée until macaroni is covered.
- Add in 1 cup cheddar cheese. Mix in well. Cover pan and let sit for several minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Water Infusion Recipes
Cucumber + Lemon
Strawberry + Blueberry
Cucumber + Lemon + Lime + Mint
Strawberry + Lemon + Basil
Strawberry + Kiwi + Lime
Carrot + Orange + Ginger
Watermelon + Mint
Pineapple + Mango + Orange
Grapefruit + Rosemary
Blueberry + Lavender
Strawberry + Pineapple + Sage
Celery + Cucumber + Lemon + Lime
Apple + Cinnamon
Carrot + Pineapple + Apple
Blueberry + Peach