Now that summer is here and many local markets and grocery stores carry more fresh, in-season vegetables, it’s a good time to take a look at your current eating habits and determine if you could use a few extra veggies and fruits throughout your day.

The dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate Nutrition Guide are recommending to follow 2 simple suggestions:

  • Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits at every eating occasion (including snacks).

  • Fresh, frozen, canned, and dried can all count towards your daily count. Do be careful with added sugars and sauces.

Check out some of these top reasons to eat more fruits and veggies:

  • Reduces Risk of Disease: Consuming more fruits and vegetables is associated with reduced risk of developing many chronic diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

  • Packed with Vitamins & Minerals: They are filled with many nutrients that are under consumed in the U.S. (Vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, magnesium). These nutrients help you feel healthy and energized!

  • Full of Fiber: They are high in fiber which helps to keep you full and keeps a healthy digestive system. Aim for 25-30 grams of fiber daily.

  • Convenient: Fruits and veggies are easy to grab and are nutritious in just about any form (fresh, frozen, canned).

  • Low in Calories: They can help replace higher calorie foods that can lead to weight gain. Check out some of these common vegetables that are only 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrates for ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw:

      • Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Mushrooms, Onions, Pea Pods, Peppers, Salad Greens, Spinach, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Zucchini

Planning and prepping in advance is the key for staying on track with healthy food selections. Here are some helpful tips for increasing your daily intake of fruits and vegetables.

  • Have crunchy vegetables in the place of chips. Pair along with your favorite low-fat salad dressings or dips.

  • Make your own thin crust pizza with a variety of toppings such as: green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, mushrooms and zucchini. You can even make your crust using cauliflower instead of flour!

  • Keep cut up vegetables and fruits in sealed containers in your refrigerator. Grab those for snacks, side dishes, or as a quick bite prior to a meal.

  • Stuff sandwiches with extra fruits and veggies. Add sliced pineapple, tomatoes, spinach leaves, cucumbers, peppers, apples, onions.

  • Load up your omelet with a variety of veggies. Try broccoli, peppers, carrots, spinach, onions, or squash as add ins.

  • Add grated vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and zucchini to meat loaf, pasta sauce, lasagna, mashed potatoes, and rice dishes.

  • Load up your freezer with a variety of frozen vegetables to steam, toss in a stir-fry, or for a quick side dish.

  • Choose fruit for your dessert. Pair with vanilla yogurt dip or sprinkle with cinnamon and chopped nuts.

With over 200 varieties of fruits and vegetables we have to choose from, switch your selections up and try some new types! Every step you take to add more fruits and vegetables will help you to ultimately feel your best. For additional ideas and recipes that include fruits and vegetables check out the Blue Sky MD Pinterest page.