Get your eight servings a day
Consuming at least 8 servings of fruits and vegetables every day is a great investment in your health. Fruits and vegetables add variety, texture, flavor, and color to your meals and snacks. Whole fruits and vegetables are low in calories, and high in nutrients and fiber. They are considered nature’s first convenience foods—very easy to pack and go!
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of certain diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers.
In addition, eating a diet that is high in whole fruits and vegetables is a great way to help maintain bowel regularity and control your weight (they help you feel satisfied without weighing you down).
Aim for 8 servings a day
Remember the fruit and vegetable
zip code for good health:
2 2 2 1 1.
2 servings for breakfast
2 servings for lunch
2 servings for dinner
1 serving at mid-morning snack
1 serving at mid-afternoon snack
Choose mostly fresh and/or frozen fruits and vegetables without added sugars or fat!
What counts as 1 serving?
Knowing how much a serving size is will make it easier to get your eight servings of fruits and vegetables.
Single servings of fruits
1 medium (size of a baseball)|
1 small banana|
Diced fresh fruit||
Fruit juice (100%)||
Single servings of vegetables
1 small (size of a computer mouse)|
12 baby carrots|
1 medium whole pepper|
How can I creatively increase my fruit and vegetable intake?
- Add chopped vegetables to omelets (onions, spinach, peppers, mushrooms)
- Add vegetables to pizza (fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli)
- Make mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower (½ potato and ½ cauliflower)
- Add pureed butternut squash to macaroni and cheese
- Use spaghetti squash instead of pasta noodles
- Keep a fruit bowl on your counter
Be adventurous – try something new
Orange/yellow star fruit, Asian pear, ugli fruit, mango, yam, pummelo, apricots, spaghetti squash
Red lychee, Chinese strawberry, pomegranate, beets, cherries, rhubarb
Blue/purple eggplant, purple carrot, dragon fruit, purple sweet potato, purple cabbage, dulse
Green/white kale, collards, spinach, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, okra, kiwi, garlic scapes, broccoli rabe, parsnips, jicama, white nectarines
Use smoothies to get your 8 servings
Build the perfect smoothie
Makes 32 oz. (4 cups). Freeze or refrigerate leftovers. Cut recipe in ½ if desired.
Step 1. Blend leafy greens and liquid base together
2 cups leafy greens
2 cups liquid base
- Swiss chard
- Coconut water
- Low-fat milk
- Coconut milk
- Almond milk
- Diluted 100% juice (equal parts water + equal parts juice)
Step 2. Add fruits and blend again
3 cups fruit (mix and match/frozen or fresh)
Is that the right color?
Some smoothies are darker in color—almost brown-like. The color of a smoothie depends on the combination of fruits and vegetables used. The cranberry kale and strawberry fields smoothie on the following page comes out a brownish color. A smoothie with blue berries as an ingredient will turn a purple color. Be creative with your fruits and vegetables. See what different colors you can create.
Storing left-over smoothies
Store your left-over smoothie in a glass container with an airtight lid. The 24 – 32 oz. glass mason jars work very well.
In the refrigerator: Fill the container to the very top to prevent nutrient loss. If you don’t have enough leftovers to fill the jar, use plastic wrap and push it down until you make contact with the top of the smoothie. Store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
In the freezer: Leave about an inch of room at the top. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow a frozen smoothie to thaw in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
Tips to make veggies taste better
Don’t like vegetables? It can be pretty hard to, “eat your vegetables”, if they just don’t taste good to you. Follow these tips and tricks to get the best flavor out of your veggies.
Cook just until tender crisp. When overcooked, their texture suffers and they can lose a lot of their fresh flavor.
Add a little healthy fat. Sauté your veggies in a teaspoon of olive oil or drizzle some sesame or walnut oil over your steamed veggies. Add a sprinkle of nuts or seeds to add more crunch and flavor to your salad.
Try them roasted. The dry heat of the oven caramelizes the natural sugars in the vegetables which enhances their flavor.
Use the right seasoning to take them from drab to fab! Add fresh or dried herbs, spices, garlic, onion, lemon, spray butter, or vinegar. Or, take them for a dip (try dipping fresh veggies in low-fat dressing or hummus).
Eat your vegetables raw
Try dipping them in:
- Low-fat veggie dip
- Lite/Low-fat dressing
- Nut butter
Try sprinkling them with fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.
Try making your own veggie dip with greek yogurt:
- 2 cups fat-free greek yogurt
- 1 envelope ranch dip mix
- ½ cup skim milk
- Mix all ingredients together in a storage container.
- Cover and refrigerate.
- Cut recipe in half if desired.
Roast your vegetables
Dry oven heat caramelizes the natural sugars in vegetables which enhances their flavor.
Wash and prep your favorite vegetables:
- If using fresh broccoli or cauliflower, cut them into florets.
- If using Brussels sprouts, remove the outermost layer of each sprout, and then cut each sprout in half.
Pre-heat: oven to 425°F.
Season: While the oven is heating, toss the vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and/or other herbs/spices of your choice. Spread them out in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet. You can also line the baking sheet with aluminum foil and then spray it with cooking spray for easier clean-up.
Roast: Roast for approximately 30 minutes, turning once halfway through, until they’re browned and tender. Try this method with other vegetables like roasted beets, asparagus, or green beans.
Steam your favorite fresh vegetables
All vegetables will have different steaming times depending on their size and thickness.
Below you will find some of the more commonly steamed vegetables and their cooking times for both stove-top and microwave:
Steaming instructions for vegetables
4 minutes for thin spears|
5-6 minutes for thick spears
4 – 6 minutes|
3 – 5 minutes|
6 – 8 minutes||
3 – 4 minutes|
1 – 2 minutes|
6 – 7 minutes||
6 – 8 minutes|
- Use a medium-large sized pot and a vegetable steamer basket or metal colander that fits inside the pot.
- Fill the pot with enough water to reach the bottom of the colander or steamer basket.
- Once the water comes to a boil, add your vegetables to the colander or steamer basket.
- Place a loose fitting lid to cover and cook. Position the lid so that one side hangs over the colander (just enough to let the steam escape).
- Place vegetables in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Add just a little cold water.
- Cover with a lid or use microwave-safe plastic wrap (leaving one corner of the wrap open to vent) and cook on HIGH as directed above.