One of the saddest times for me as a dietitian is when someone tells me they don't like vegetables or they don't like fruits. I've heard this a number of times in the past five years. I find it very confusing, that's an entire food group (two if you don't like both) you've cast out! There are so many different fruits and vegetables, is it really possible to dislike all of them? I like to think it isn't. I like to think if people experiment they can find ways to eat some fruits and vegetables that they enjoy (or at least tolerate).
There's a reason the USDA went from 5-A-Day to More Matters. Fruits and vegetables are a key part of a nutritious, well balanced diet. They are rich in antioxidants and many of the vitamins and minerals we need for a healthy life. How many fruit and vegetables servings you need can be fairly individualized. The reason the USDA got away from 5-A-Day is because it's generally agreed that for most people 5 servings a day isn't enough. The Mediterranean follows 9 servings a day, which most Americans find overwhelming. So, I think it's just best to shoot for as many servings as you can in a day. If you currently get few to no servings, start with a goal of 5 servings and work up from there. That's five servings of fruits & vegetables total, not 5 servings of fruit and another 5 servings of vegetables.
(Aside - if you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease your needs for fruits and vegetables and the types you eat are going to be different from the general population and you should definitely work with a RD to figure it out. /aside)
In general, most Americans do not get enough fruits and vegetables, but increasing your fruit and vegetable servings doesn't mean you have to eat salad and a plain apple everyday. There are as many recipe options as there are fruits and vegetables, maybe more!
Here are a few examples and a recipe for you to try.
- Oven roast broccoli and cauliflower and mix it in with some whole wheat pasta
- Sauté tomatoes, garlic, and bell peppers and add it as a side on your meal
- Throw some fruit into your morning cereal or yogurts
- Sprinkle half a peach with cinnamon and oven roast it until it's soft for dessert
Or make this bread and have a couple slices for breakfast.
Fig, Date, & Nut Whole Wheat Bread
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped fresh figs
1 cup chopped dried dates
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350
Mix milk, eggs, sugar and oil with whisk until well mixed. Add half of the flour, mix, then add the rest of the flour as well as the baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Once well mixed add in figs, dates, and pecans. Once mixed in pour into greased bread pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Note: If fresh figs aren't something you have available to you, dried figs would work just as well.
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.