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Creative ways to sneak more fruits and vegetables into your family's meals

October 15, 2015

Do you feel like it is a constant challenge to eat enough fruits and vegetables every day to meet nutritional needs?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans, individuals should consume about 5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day depending on gender, age, health and activity level. To make meeting these recommendations easier, USDA recommends filling half of our plate with fruits and vegetables. Even for adults and children who enjoy eating them regularly, this still can be a difficult task.

One creative way to start is to take a look at your family’s normal eating habits and try to spruce them up. If your child enjoys eating a turkey sandwich every day for lunch, adding lettuce or sliced tomatoes can easily boost their intake. The best part is that they are still eating their normal meal, but with an added healthy touch. When we make small changes in our diet, we are more likely to stick with them in the future.

Try these tips below and see how many different ways you can add extra fruits and vegetables into your family’s meals.


  • Top pancakes, cereal or waffles with blueberries, bananas or strawberries
  • Sprinkle raisins, chopped apples, or dried cranberries on top of oatmeal
  • Add onions, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, or zucchini to an omelet
  • Make a fruit smoothie with various fruits and low-fat Greek yogurt
  • Try adding ground carrot to a bran muffin recipe
  • Add peppers or onions to hash browns or sautéed breakfast potatoes
  • Add pumpkin puree to waffles or pancakes

Lunch & Dinner:

  • Add spinach, zucchini, broccoli, or eggplant to a homemade lasagna
  • Mix apples, grapes, dried cranberries or raisins into a homemade chicken or tuna salad
  • Add spinach, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, or pineapple to a thin crust pizza
  • Add tomato and onion slices to a grilled cheese sandwich
  • Blend mashed cauliflower with mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese
  • Add spinach, onions, or green peppers to your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • Add extra vegetables such as carrots, celery, onions, zucchini, and tomatoes to homemade soups
  • Add lettuce, sliced tomato, or onion to sandwiches
  • Use V-8 juice as the broth for various soups
  • Turn green beans, sweet potatoes, and zucchini into oven baked fries
  • Spice up chili by adding sweet potatoes or butternut squash
  • Make zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead of regular pasta
  • Mix shredded carrots into a meatballs


  • Replace cookies or brownies with homemade pumpkin or banana bread
  • Use applesauce to replace half of the oil in any recipe
  • Choose a 100% fruit sorbet instead of ice cream
  • Add shredded zucchini to brownie or bake batter
  • Add “no-sugar added” fruit cocktail to Jell-O
  • Try apples or celery with peanut butter
  • Mix fresh fruit with plain yogurt to make a delicious yogurt parfait
  • Buy (100% fruit) frozen fruit bars instead of regular popsicles
  • Replace jelly on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with sliced bananas
By thinking outside the box and planning ahead, adding fruits and vegetables to your family’s diet can be easy and fun.