According to the MyPlate Method, one-quarter of your plate should be filled with fruit at every meal. It may seem like a tall order, but fruits provide a host of beneficial vitamins and minerals. According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, “people who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases.” Not to mention, fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories, which makes them a smart addition to any diet.
The problem is many people struggle to get enough of nature’s candy on their plate – especially at every meal. So what are some easy ways to eat more fruit?
Anna Smith, registered dietitian nutritionist with the Kroger Co., has provided a few unique ideas to make sure you and your family are hitting those daily recommendations for fruit.
5 Easy Ways to Eat More Fruit in Your Everyday Diet
Believe it or not, a good old-fashioned peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich can help you reach the right serving of fruit for the day. The trick is to swap processed jelly made with high-fructose corn syrup for fresh raspberries.
Using a fork or food processor, smash the berries until pulverized. Spoon the “jam” onto a piece of whole-grain bread or waffle. The whole grains pack B vitamins and fiber, which will help keep you full. On another piece of bread or waffle, spread a thin layer of natural peanut butter.
Of course, you can use blueberries or strawberries for the jam and any kind of nut or seed butter you like. Just be sure the nut butter is made with pure, simple ingredients – nuts and salt only!
Pro tip: When you’re meal prepping for the week, try making your own strawberry freezer jam without pectin. That way you always have a fresh – and nutritious – option on hand.
2. Broccoli salad 2.0
Fruit is an easy ingredient to incorporate into salads and side dishes. Certain fruits add an extra bit of crunch, while others simply provide a refreshingly sweet punch.
If you’re not sure exactly how to pair your produce, try adding crisp red apples to a low-fat broccoli salad. The end result is a harmonious blend of sweet, savory and salty. Plus, you get bonus points for eating fruits and vegetables in one dish.
Pro tip: No matter what dish you’re whipping up, choose fruits currently in season, and you’ll enjoy their maximum flavor potential.
3. Yogurt parfait
Yogurt and fruit are as classic a combination as PB&J. Not to mention, yogurt is a prominent member of another important food group: the dairy group. Putting these two together for breakfast or a midday snack is a guaranteed success. Not only do you get vital micronutrients (vitamin C, vitamin D and calcium), but you’ll be filling up on the macronutrients that provide energy for your day.
To build the perfect parfait, start with a half-cup of berries. Add one cup of plain Greek yogurt. Its natural tartness will be offset by the natural sugars found in fruit. Finally, finish it off by sprinkling slivered almonds on top. They pack healthy unsaturated fats, so you have a balanced breakfast that will fuel your brain and satisfy your appetite for hours.
Pro tip: If using frozen berries, heat in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds, first.
4. Avocado chicken salad
All you avocado fans are in luck. Avocado is, in fact, considered a fruit. The green, fleshy pulp and central seed are what botanically qualify this creamy favorite as a berry. Yes, that means avocado toast is a viable way to get your fruits for the day. But if you’re looking to jazz up your lunch options, avocado chicken salad is the way to go.
Simply mash an avocado as if to make guacamole. Fold in cooked, shredded chicken, add spices or finely chopped celery and onion. Stir it all together until well incorporated. The best part is you won’t need any mayonnaise. Just wrap up your avocado-chicken salad in a flour tortilla, toss it on a bed of mixed greens or scoop it onto multigrain rice crackers. Any way you like it, you’ll have a meal that quickly quells those hunger cues.
Pro tip: Add a splash of lime juice to keep the avocado from browning before noon.
5. Banana ice cream
Did you know that the average half-cup serving of ice cream contains 7 grams of total fat, with 5 of those grams coming from saturated fats (aka the ones that are hard on heart health)? Next time you’re craving ice cream, swap it out for frozen bananas, which contain zero fat per serving – and will help boost your fruit consumption!
A day or two before you plan on having dessert, you’ll need to peel and freeze a fresh banana. Once the banana is completely frozen, place it in a blender with some liquid, such as unsweetened almond milk or cow’s milk of your choice. Blend until thick and creamy. Toss in a tablespoon of chocolate chips and enjoy your delicious frozen treat!
Pro tip: Slice the fresh banana into half-inch-thick coins and add to a zip-top plastic bag before placing in the freezer. Like ice cubes in a smoothie, the banana coins will blend into a smoother consistency. Plus, the pieces are easier on your blender blades than a whole banana.
What is a Serving of Fruit?
The MyPlate Method recommends a serving of fruit at each meal, but what does a serving of fruit look like? The total amount consumed each day will vary from person-to-person, based on specific nutrient and energy needs. For example, someone who is very physically active may want to consume more than one serving at a time to maintain their high-energy output. Meanwhile, a more sedentary individual may consider eating less fruit to meet their lower caloric requirements.
That said, one cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice is considered one serving for the general population. You may also enjoy dried fruit, which is tasty on top of oatmeal. However, one serving of dried fruit is only one-half cup. For more guidance on serving sizes for chopped, pureed and whole fruit, refer to the MyPlate Fruit Table.