By Michelle Cullen RDN, LDN
Welcome to National Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month! The timing couldn’t be better, given that your local farmer’s market is probably now in full swing and rife with fresh, in-season produce. Whether you pick it up at the local market or stop by your regular grocery store, this produce only pulls its nutritional weight if you actually eat it. And sometimes when you’re busy, it can be hard to fit in your daily servings of fruits and veggies—the USDA recommends two cups of fruit and two-and-a-half cups of veggies for the average adult.
If you’re vowing to eat more produce in honor of National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, here are a few fun ways to do it.
You’ve probably seen them at the store, or maybe even spotted them on the menu at your favorite restaurant. Vegetable “noodles” are all the rage. If you have a spiralizer at home, you can make them out of everything from zucchini to butternut squash, or you can go old-school and simply scoop out the innards of a spaghetti squash. You can also pick up fresh or frozen versions at the grocery store. Either way, these “noodles” offer a higher fiber, lower carb alternative to traditional pasta with an added boost of vitamins and minerals.
Cauliflower is having a real moment right now in the world of healthy eating, and for good reason. It’s relatively bland, which is actually a good thing. Due to its mild flavor, cauliflower can stand in for lots of grains, which is why you’ll find riced cauliflower (probably in the frozen section) and even cauliflower pizza crusts at the grocery store. Again, swapping a standard grain for a vegetable cuts down the carbs, adds some fiber, and gives you a good boost of antioxidants! You can even make your own cauliflower crust if you’re feeling extra adventurous.
Fruits for dessert
Instead of skipping dessert, rethink the way you view it. When berries are in season, they’re super sweet. Make strawberries or blueberries the basis of your dessert instead of something loaded with added sugar. The berries’ natural sugar should satisfy your sweet tooth, especially if you pair them with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla Greek yogurt.
Smoothies (or smoothie ice pops)
One of the quickest ways to slurp down your daily servings of fruits and veggies? Toss all (or some) of them into a green smoothie! Using a base like kale or spinach and a naturally sweet ingredient, like a banana, you can instantly create something satisfying and healthy. A fun way to enjoy smoothies in the summertime is to freeze them in ice pop molds—it’s easy to enjoy your smoothie to-go when it’s on a ice pop stick! Try these lightly sweetened green smoothie ice pops with mango and banana, and feel free to skip the honey for a little less sugar.
Avocado ice cream
Obsessed with all thing s avocado? You’re not alone. Packed with healthy fats, avocado has quickly risen to a place of prominence in pop culture. Its mild flavor also makes avocado surprisingly versatile—you can even create chocolate ice cream out of it! Just add a few other ingredients to the avocado, including maple syrup and milk, then blend everything to creamy and freeze the concoction. While avocado ice cream isn’t necessarily lower calorie than traditional ice cream, it does provide more nutrients. Give this recipe a go.
Armed with these creative ideas, infuse your diet with more produce this National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month!
Michelle Cullen, RDN, LDN is a writer and outpatient dietitian located in the suburbs of Philadelphia.