Doable Challenge: Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

As I mentioned here last week, for this month’s Doable Challenge, I interviewed nutritionist Ellie Krieger about small dietary changes that deliver big results, whether you’re looking to generally eat healthier or lose weight. We focused on five tips from Krieger’s book Small Changes, Big Results, and I’ll be hitting each of those over the course of the month, starting with this week’s challenge to eat more fruits and vegetables. Eating plenty of plants supplies your body with key vitamins and nutrients, and may also help with weight loss, thanks to what Krieger calls “the displacement factor,” the idea that you crowd out less healthy—and likely, more caloric—foods when you consume healthier produce. Here are five specific strategies, plus recipes, to help you with this week’s challenge. Upgrade Your Side Dishes: While french fries and potato chips may technically qualify as vegetables, choosing a nonfried green (or red or purple) side is obviously a better bet health-wise. Whenever I make veggie, turkey, or beef burgers I love to also grill vegetables, such as asparagus, zucchini, corn, mushrooms, and eggplant alongside. Lately my favorite veggie side is grilled zucchini dressed with tahini sauce (I use straight tahini paste, or tahini paste mixed with yogurt, chopped mint, and a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice). Try: Grilled Vegetables with Lemon, Thyme, and Mustard Basting Sauce Make Smart Swaps: Whatever meal you’re making, think about where you can use vegetables or fruit instead of another ingredient like meat or cheese (or in place of some of it, if not all). Add vegetables and herbs to your eggs instead of bacon; garnish your salad with dried or fresh fruit instead of cheese; grill portobello mushrooms and use them in place of some of the steak in your salad; or use a vegetable (such as zucchini cut into ribbons) in place of pasta. Try: Cauliflower and Feta Omelet and Seared Asian Steak and Mushrooms Sneak in Produce: I was intrigued by Kerry’s recent blog that indicated that you don’t necessarily have to be sneaky to get kids to eat healthy foods, but nonetheless, sometimes hiding fruits and vegetables in other dishes can up produce consumption for children and adults. Krieger likes to work vegetable purees into dishes like lasagna, mashed potatoes, and mac ‘n’ cheese, while it’s a common spa trick to sub fruit purees (even baby food!) for some of the oil or butter and in baked goods. Try: Skillet Mac and Cheese and Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling Go Meatless: As Meatless Monday followers know, going without meat one day (or more) per week is a simple way to work more produce into your diet. Just concentrate on healthy vegetarian recipes rather than veggie dishes that are centered around refined carbs or cheese. Try: Vegetable and Chickpea Ragout (pictured) Snack on Fruit and Vegetables: When you’re really hungry or are fueling up for a major workout, you might need a substantial snack, but if you’re just trying to take the edge off your…

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