What healthy eating really comes down to is having a lifestyle of good food and drink choices. Even simple changes, one at a time, are powerful for creating new health habits that can build into lasting change for the better.
Eating more fruits and veggies is one of those lifestyle changes that can seem like a daunting task, but if this is one of your health goals for you and your family, some simple strategies like these might help get the ball rolling. Many moms find that incorporating fruits and vegetables into already “accepted” foods is a great place to start and helps make this nutrition goal more doable. (Booyah!)
Here are some ideas (kids often like these options too, so bonus win):
Veggie spaghetti sauce
If you and your family are spaghetti fans, this can be a super easy way to hide extra vegetables in a meal. Whether you make your own sauce from scratch or just pop open a jar from the store (shout out to all my “spaghetti is what I make when I realize it’s 4:30pm and I haven’t planned dinner yet” people), consider adding some thinly chopped or grated vegetables to the sauce and let it simmer long enough for the veggies to soften. I’ve done varying combinations of chopped spinach leaves, finely shredded carrots, bell peppers, onion, yellow squash, and zucchini. With all the seasoning and tomato goodness, the flavors tend to blend in quite well.
Fruit “ice cream”
If you have a blender, this is an easy way to make a treat that’s almost entirely fruit. Anything from chopped bananas, to peaches, to berries should work, as long as they’re frozen. Fresh fruits can be sliced and thrown in a ziplock bag to freeze, or of course you can find a lot of fruits pre-frozen at the store. Just blend some of the frozen fruit on high until it’s all ground up, then add a little milk (regular or non-dairy both work) and stir it together until it’s a smooth, ice-cream type consistency. You can scoop it into a bowl or cone, or heck, just eat it right out of the blender; it’s good stuff!
Muffins are wonderful. The end. These take a bit more planning to make, but they’re just so darn good and can make an easy breakfast or snack that’s a big step-up from the standard sugar-filled cake muffin. Pumpkin, carrots and zucchini in particular have the amazing capacity to be ridiculously delicious when baked into muffins, even in combination with each other and when mixed with various fruits. There are tons of recipes out there, but if you’re looking for one, make sure the vegetable(s) really is a main ingredient, not just a little additive, and that the sugar is minimal. Here’s one of our favorite recipes:
Healthy Pumpkin Muffins
Mix in a large bowl:
1 cup flour
½ cup wheat flour
¼ cup ground flax seed
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ (or more to taste) tsp nutmeg
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup honey
½ cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup grated carrots
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until mixed. Fold in any extras (optional: blueberries, chopped nuts, etc). Fill 12 greased or papered muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean.
Smoothies have quickly become one of my favorite ways to get everyone in the family a blast of fruits and veggies, mostly because they’re quick to make, everyone likes them, and all we need is a blender and some basic ingredients. We use them regularly for breakfast or lunch as a convenient, healthy, go-to. There are plenty of recipes available; here’s one of our main combinations.
Favorite Smoothie: ½ banana, scoop of plain yogurt, large handful of fresh or frozen spinach, handful of shredded carrot (or 1 medium carrot chopped up), handful of frozen strawberries, whole orange (peeled), about 2 cups of water (more or less as needed)
I hope these prove helpful to you! Good health changes are doable, even in the midst of busy mom life, and simple things can go a long way in building better habits. Hang in there, precious mothers! You’re amazing!