The road to better health: Just add vegetables!

Make what you are already eating healthier by adding specific kinds of vegetables.

We’ve all heard about the importance of fruits and vegetables from the time we were children. But are you getting what you need? According to the USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines, most Americans are in fact not meeting their daily requirements (for a 2000 calorie diet, 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables). The newest guidelines focus on specific vegetables to increase; orange, red and dark green vegetables and beans and peas. So how do you get what you need? It can be as simple as making what you are already eating healthier by adding vegetables!

  • One quick and easy way to increase dark green vegetables is to add a salad to your meal, whether you’re picking up a pizza or cooking dinner at home. Instead of the iceberg lettuce you usually buy? Switch it to romaine lettuce or spinach. You will be getting more of those nutrients your body craves.
  • You can increase your red vegetables by adding tomatoes to just about everything, from mixing a can of diced tomatoes with chiles to your taco meat, adding sliced tomatoes to sandwiches or salads, or including cherry tomatoes with your cheese and cracker snacks.
  • Orange vegetables are high in Vitamin A, but are you sick of eating so many carrots!? Add sliced orange peppers to salads and pasta dishes, homemade pizza or with hummus dip. Mix in pureed pumpkin to vanilla yogurt or your morning oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon. Create an interesting bagel spread by adding pumpkin to your low fat cream cheese (this also makes a delicious apple dip!). Switch your traditional white baked potato for a sweet potato or mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Beans and peas are high in proteinand fiber but low in fat, making them the perfect ingredient to many dishes. Keep canned beans on hand to throw in salads, soups and pasta dishes to increase your fiber. Instead of potato or rice as a side, how about a yummy and easy bean salad. Choose your three favorite beans, chop a red onion and toss with some oil and vinegar or light Italian dressing! Adding pinto beans to your salsa or taco meat, lentils and red beans to rice or peas to your tuna or chicken salad will vary your dinner choices!

Look for colors, like orange, red and green and mix it up! Your body will thank you!

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