I love pasta. Like seriously love pasta. I have an eat-it-seven-days-a-week type of love for pasta, and I especially love that on a busy weeknight I can have dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes. I also know I need to eat vegetables; a pasta-only diet just won’t cut it nutritionally. Until recently, I had never clued into the fact that marinara sauce is like 95% vegetables (well, fruit, but let’s not get technical.) Maybe the rest of the world already knew that and they can roll their eyes at me, but this realization has been universe altering in our home. If I keep a light hand with the parmesan, and maybe choose whole wheat pasta, I can claim full servings of vegetables (1/2 cup sauce = 1 serving) along with my penne and declare dinner a nutritional success! The American Heart Association recommends for the average woman 3 – 4 servings of vegetables and 4 servings of fruit per day, so we have a healthy hill to climb. Eating more marinara is just one way of upping your daily servings of fruits and vegetables; here are 19 more of my favorite ideas for doing just that.
- On your way out the door in the morning, toss a banana in your bag along with a granola bar for breakfast. Whole banana = 1 serving
- Use real avocado and fresh salsa in your homemade guacamole. ½ cup = 1 serving
- Pile your turkey and cheddar high with romaine and arugula. 1 cup of dark leafy greens = 1 serving
- Whip up a smoothie for a vitamin packed mid-morning snack. 1 smoothie = 2 – 3 servings
- Request mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, and fresh tomato along with your pepperoni; a slice of pizza can help you pack in another serving for the day.
- Wilt fresh spinach into your penne rosa (here’s my hands down favorite recipe!). 1 cup fresh spinach = 1 serving
- Reach for an apple instead of the chips for a crunchy late night snack. 1 apple = 1 serving
- Request avocado at the sandwich counter. ¼ of a fresh avocado = 1 serving and a hearty dose of healthy fats
- Pour yourself a glass of 100% juice. 4oz juice = 1 serving
- Don’t shy away from convenience foods if they’re fruits and veggies. Pre-sliced apples, chopped celery and baby carrots, cubed melon, or fruit bowls can be the simple solution to eating what you need. ½ cup = 1 serving
- Revisit your grade school days and make ants-on-a-log to fulfill your afternoon munchies. ½ cup chopped celery = 1 serving
- Try dried cranberries, cherries, raisins, apricot, apple, pineapple, or banana chips. ¼ cup dried fruit = 1 serving
- Whip up a veggie packed breakfast burrito; wrap fresh scrambled eggs, black beans, avocado, and salsa in a whole wheat tortilla. 1 burrito = 1 – 2 servings
- Make Hamburger Helper more helpful nutritionally by stirring in corn, fresh-cut green beans, peas, or fresh spinach before serving. ½ cup veggies = 1 serving
- These vegetarian enchiladas are super yummy! 1 enchilada = 1 – 2 servings
- Top your breakfast cereal or oatmeal with fresh berries or sliced banana. ½ cup berries or banana = 1 serving
- Participate in Meatless Mondays. This spinach and bacon quiche is delicious, and while it isn’t the leanest dish it is so worth the calories. 1 slice = 1 serving
- Stir fry (vegetarian or not) is a great way to eat 1 – 2 servings of veggies per bowl.
- If all else fails, a slice of carrot cake, zucchini bread, or a blueberry muffin will earn you ½ a serving. Yumm!
How do you fit all those veggies and vitamin-packed fruits into your day?