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Tips for Including More Delicious Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet

Just about everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are a very important part of a healthy diet. Even though we know this to be true, many of us still find it hard to include the recommended 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit per day in our diets. Once you learn a few easy tricks, soon you'll have no trouble eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day.

First, you'll want to become generally familiar with serving sizes. They are not as big as you might think. Here are the some guidelines for one serving of fruits or vegetables:

1 cup of raw leafy vegetables (such as lettuce or spinach)
1/2 cup of other vegetables, cooked or chopped raw
1/2 cup cooked or canned legumes (beans and peas)
3/4 cup of vegetable juice
1 medium apple, banana, orange
1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
3/4 cup of fruit juice
1/4 cup dried fruit
Here are some practical tips anyone can use:

Be sure to include at least one fruit serving at breakfast, preferably two. Try a glass of orange juice and a whole piece of fruit, or a smoothie using both juice and whole fruit.
Use snacktime to add a serving or two of fruits or vegetables to your daily diet, such as raw vegetables with some light dip or dressing, or a bowl of chopped fruit topped with some fat-free yogurt.

Include at least two servings of vegetables with both lunch and dinner. A lunch example would be to add both lettuce and tomato to a sandwich, and some raw vegetables on the side. For dinner, try serving 2 sides of steamed vegetables. Or, eat a bowl of tomato or vegetable soup or gazpacho as an appetizer. Try a pizza with lots of veggie toppings.
Before you prepare dinner, fix a bowl of fresh veggies to munch on and then place it on the table with dinner. You'd be surprised how easy it is to down a 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes or sliced cucumbers when you're munching away.

Fill half your dinner plate with vegetables, and go for seconds on veggies before you'll allow yourself seconds of the entrée. If you don't have any fresh vegetables or fruit, keep frozen and canned on hand - they are surprisingly comparable in terms of nutrition.
Drink an ice-cold glass of vegetable juice with a meal or for a snack.
Make it a point to try a new fruit or vegetable as often as you can - it's a great way to discover wonderful new favorites!

Include fruit in your dessert selections. You can serve it with angel food cake, yogurt, light whipping topping, chocolate syrup, light ice cream, or all by itself!
If you use all of the suggestions in this list, you'd get 5-6 servings of vegetables and 3-4 servings of fruit in a day. That doesn't seem so hard, does it? Happy eating!

© Health-E-Meals.com, 2002

Erin Rogers, a work-at-home mom of two, is the founder of Health-E-Meals.com, providing practical healthy living resources for busy people. Visit her website to sign up for the FREE newsletter, 'Dinners on the Double' - offering a quick and healthy, no-recipe dinner idea each week. Other available services include quick and healthy recipes, healthy cooking articles, fitness and motivation tips, healthy living web links, and lots more! Erin can be reached via email at erin@health-e-meals.com.

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