September is National Fruits & Veggies Month! Your role is important because we are right in the middle of a fruit and vegetable consumption crisis. Close to 9 in 10 Americans still do not eat enough of them!

In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, only 12.2% of adults meet the recommended fruit intake and 9.3% of adults meet the recommended vegetable intake. Share on X

It’s the perfect time to set goals to change that. That’s why I’ve volunteered to join the Produce for Better Health Foundation to celebrate National Fruits & Veggies Month by posting about it here, and across my social media channels during the month of September (look for the hashtag #haveaplant).

Learn more by checking out Produce for Better Health Foundation’s (PBH) newly released State of the Plate: America’s Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Trends research.

Get Happy – Eat an Apple or a Salad!

Everyone knows fruits and veggies are good for health. What’s cool is that we are starting to understand and appreciate how good they can make us feel! They are good-mood-food!

A growing global body of evidence is showing that eating fruits and veggies is predictive of increased happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being.

Research from PBH indicates that Americans who eat fruits and veggies most days per week report physical, emotional, and social benefits. Think about simple way to get an extra veggie or two into your dinner meals, and get your happy on!

I’m not talking “eat salad FOR dinner”, but rather adding more salads to your whole meal. Growing up, my mom always added a simple salad to the table for dinner. It was often just lettuce and tomatoes, maybe a cucumber, but it was ever present. You can create one that you enjoy, fits your budget, and is easy to make. You may find it’s an easy way to add more fruits and veggies to your daily routine.

Tips and Tricks

Believe it or not, even dietitians need inspiration once in a while! Many of us need new tips or encouragement to actually make eating more fruits and veggies happen. (Yes, keeping a bowl of friut on the counter works!)

Here are some tips and tricks from PBH to get you started:

  • Think of how many times you eat per day. What if you worked fruits and/or veggies in just 1-2 of those times? Note how great you feel, then repeat!
  • Find what works for you and create new fruit and veggie habits. Everyone is different and what works for you may not work for your best friend, partner, parents, coworker, or neighbor. So, the first step is doing a trial and error experiment to figure out what works for you. Can you add a fruit in the morning? To a snack? Can you batch cook some veggies to make them easy to pack for lunch or dinner? Is a grab-and-go option in your budget? A weekly farmer’s market trip (if available)? Will stocking up on canned fruit or veggies make life easier? Find the easiest route for you, then keep up the good work!

There’s no right or wrong way to Have A Plant®!

Fresh is great, for sure, but, it’s not the only way to score some fruit and veggie cred! Here are more ideas to try:

  • Add some dried fruit to your day. Dried fruit has a great shelf life and is a great way to add flavor and nutrition. Try raisins on oatmeal for breakfast (it’ll also keep you full and satisfied a little longer) or add some dried cranberries to your salad or trail mix. You can even add dried fruit to a muffin or cookie mix.
  • Cereal is a fabulous way to get some fiber into your diet and is a great way to enjoy more fruit! My grandfather, who climbed trees into his 80s and lived to 91, ate cereal with a sliced banana on it at least 5 days a week. Consider pairing fresh fruit with dry cereal for a quick and easy, plant-packed breakfast or snack. No shame in enjoying a big ole bowl for dinner too!  I love sliced bananas, sliced peaches (fresh or canned), or berries on my cereal – but you do you!
  • Think salads are just about fresh veggies? Canned fruit makes for a sweet complement to your favorite greens and pickled veggies can add a twist you won’t forget. Peaches, pears, pickled green beans, beets – go for it!

Don’t Forget About Juice and Canned/Frozen Options

  • Need some quick energy? Grab a quick 6-ounce glass of 100% fruit juice to quench your thirst and hold you over until dinner.
  • Keep frozen berries on hand (no worries of going bad in the freezer!). Add them to your yogurt for a snack. Or, whip up a smoothie with yogurt and berries.
  • Throw a handful of frozen veggies into a Sunday morning omelet.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes add texture and a fabulous, bold flavor to your favorite pasta or slow cooker recipes. They are shelf stable too – bonus!
  • Using 100% vegetable juice as the liquid in your smoothies add nutrients and save calories (and yes, you are consuming a vegetable when you enjoy a Bloody Mary at Brunch).
  • Low on time for dinner prep? Canned veggies for the win. Throw some canned tomatoes, beans, ground meat, and your go-to spices into a slow cooker or Instapot and come home to a house that smells great and dinner that’s ready for the table.

Have A Plant®! For more information visit www.fruitsandveggies.org.