Are you still struggling to eat your five daily servings of fruits and vegetables? It is hard to keep produce fresh between visits to the market, and the preparation time required can discourage even the most zealous vegetable lover. The President’s nutrition panel released its updated dietary guidelines in 2015, and it is clear that increasing plant-based foods in your diet is critical to good health. These quick, delicious techniques will ensure that you stay on track.

1. Freeze

When temperatures rise, nothing tastes better than a frozen treat. Rinse your grapes, peel your bananas, and snap the stems off your blueberries. Pop them into the freezer in sealed single-serving bags. When you want a snack, your fruit will be cold, delicious, and ready to go. Remember, a single serving of berries is approximately one cup; you can consume an entire serving of fruit by eating just one small banana.

2. Shred

Your least favorite veggies will be virtually undetectable when you shred them with a box grater or food processor. These veggie bits can be tossed into many dishes, adding a bit of bulk and texture, as well as a lot of nutrition. Having pasta tonight? Shred mushrooms, carrots, and zucchini into the sauce. In the mood to bake? Shredded sweet potato is shockingly delicious in both sweet and savory baked goods. Start with half a cup for a standard cookie or muffin recipe, bearing in mind that the vegetable will add some moisture to your batter.

3. Double

As long as you are already washing, peeling, and chopping, take the opportunity to double your vegetable intake. Nearly every recipe can handle twice as many vegetables as listed, making a single meal a marvelous opportunity to get in most of your five-a-day servings. Do you plan to scramble breakfast eggs? Anything goes. Throw in twice as many tomato slices, broccoli, and mushrooms as usual, and you have a garden bonanza that satisfies your breakfast craving.

4. Spice

Herbs can be counted as leafy greens, and many are perfect substitutes for salt in your favorite dishes. Basil, dill weed, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme are just a small sample of flavor-boosting herbs that can be added to salads, soups, vegetables, fish, and chicken. It takes two cups of leafy greens to make a full serving. Remember that a handful of basil leaves here and there adds up quickly.

The bottom line, as your physician will tell you, is that good nutrition is critical for controlling both acute and chronic illness and pain. Increasing fruits and vegetables in the diet has shown promise in reducing pain, and certain plants have pain and inflammation-fighting properties. Consult your local healthcare provider for more information on the best way to support your health through better nutrition.

Sources:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/overcoming-pain/201104/nutrition-and-chronic-pain

http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/healthieryou/contents.htm

http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/PDFs/Scientific-Report-of-the-2015-Dietary-Guidelines-Advisory-Committee.pdf

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables-counts.html