Extreme Produce! 

This went viral.

Well, it’s got a lot going for it. There’s a very handsome, in reasonably good shape, man whose body is painted in fruits and vegetables. I’m pretty sure there was a surge in fruit and vegetable purchases that day at the market.

All joking aside, as a registered dietitian, sometimes we go to extreme lengths to get our clients to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in their diets. It takes a lot of creativity and inspiration, both of which the produce-painted hot guy achieved!

So, let’s go extreme today. Here are 6 creative, easy ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet. (And I bet your kids won’t even notice!)

  • cauliflower Move over rice, bring on the cruciferous craze! In Cauliflower is the New Kale I discuss the benefits of eating cauliflower and interesting ways to incorporate this lumpy, classic vegetable into our meals. It is replacing kale as the “new” sweetheart vegetable because of its ability to substitute for rice and potatoes in recipes. (Yes. We like our lumps.) You can also make cauliflower pizza crust, risotto, even mac and cheese (using pureed cauliflower mixed with cream for the cheesy part). Cauliflower substitutes are beneficial for people who live with conditions that prevent them from eating too many carbs like diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and obesity.
  • Where’s the fruit? Fruit isn’t just for breakfast! Find ways to mix fruit in … everything. Grapes, pineapple chunks and apples are a perfect complement to tuna and chicken salads. Cut up fruit to put in your morning yogurt. Make fruit purees for pancake and French toast sauce – who needs syrup? Keep frozen fruit handy to throw in a blender for a morning smoothie. Grill fruit kebobs to go with your barbecue – pineapple, peaches, bananas. Make fruit your go-to dessert. And every muffin you make can have reduced sugar and a bit of fruit puree. Really, there’s no place that fruit doesn’t belong!
  • Who says you have to see it? Just as our produce guy was invisible-in-sight, so, too, can our veggies be. Grate zucchini, carrots, and pumpkin in lasagna sauce, meatloaf, even mashed potatoes and rice. Creative muffin recipes – savory and sweet – can benefit from shredded veggies. Flavors blend nicely. And your family still gets the benefits of a vitamin-packed, powerful punch of vegetables. And you get the benefit of not having to hear them grumble. (Soon, they’ll ask for it, but take it slow!)
  • supersandwichIncrease portion sizes slowly. Day-by-day, start to add fruits and vegetables to family meals, increasing portion size and options. Instead of being a one-vegetable family, create meals that use two or more vegetables, same with fruits. With the exception of children with strong taste sensitivity, positive reactions to new foods can take anywhere between 8 and 15 tries before a child is likely to dig in and relish new flavors. Feeding toddlers can be challenging. Just take it one bite at a time!
  • Make a sandwich a meal. Who says sandwiches aren’t a complete meal? Add crunch and flavor to sandwiches with sliced fruit, peppers, and cucumbers. Instead of mayonnaise, spread bread or pita slices with avocado and drizzle with olive oil. Speaking of olives – add pops of flavor to the boring sandwich with green olives and jalapenos. Instead of peanut butter and jelly, try peanut butter and apple slices. A great combo. Cut up celery and add to shredded chicken or tuna fish. Creative sandwiches can be incredibly healthy and delicious.
  • Turn a potato into a meal with chicken chunks, broccoli, shredded zucchini, and spicy salsa. Try a creamy cauliflower sauce instead of sour cream. Take the same concept to your omelet – pack it with broccoli, spinach, kale (See, we’re not giving up on kale. We LOVE kale!).

Every time you cook or prepare a meal, there’s an opportunity waiting to add more fruits and vegetables. And we don’t even need a hot painted guy at the market to convince us.

Sure. It helps. But a little creativity can go a long, long way. And since every bite counts, why not find ways to pack each bite with a little more power.