This guest blog post on how to eat more fruits and vegetables was written by our Clean Cuisine marketing coordinator, Cassandra Greaves. A wife and working mom with three children (ages 2, 4 and 6), Cassandra is well aware of the importance of prioritizing nutrition, but her hectic lifestyle leaves her very little spare time to cook elaborate meals. Because I work closely with Cassandra we often end up discussing far more than just business and not surprisingly nutrition is a topic that frequently pops up. Cassandra is very knowledgeable about clean eating but she sometimes feels the more she learns the more overwhelmed she gets. I’m sure many of you can relate.
The idea for this blog post came about one day when I was chatting with Cassandra and she asked me what I thought she could do to overcome food cravings. If you have our Clean Cuisine nutrition book, you probably already know the answer: the number one thing you can do to improve your diet (and consequently overcome food cravings) is to find a way to eat more fruits and vegetables. And that is exactly what Cassandra set out to do. This is how she did it…
Have you ever paid attention to how many fruits and vegetables you eat in a day? Have you ever paid attention to how FEW fruits and vegetables you eat in a day? When Ivy first suggested I increase my intake of fruits and vegetables as the most important first step to overcoming food cravings, my initial thoughts were that I already ate plenty of fruits and vegetables. However, before I made an attempt to make any changes, I decided to start a 3 day diet diary just to get a baseline and an honest assessment of what I was really eating…
My Baseline 3 Day Diet Diary
Believe it or not, I actually consider myself a fruit and vegetable lover. However, in jotting down my initial baseline 3-day diet I could see a clear-cut pattern that my food cravings often led me down a path of looking for something crunchy or savory….and by the time I satisfied my crunchy/savory food craving I had missed the boat on eating fruits and vegetables. Your stomach can only hold so much food, you know?
Although I thought I was eating clean, I am actually embarrassed to share what I had eaten the weekend leading up to Ivy’s eat-more-fruits -and-vegetables challenge. After all, we did have a football season kick off celebration that included homemade pizza, pulled pork and more!
After reviewing my initial baseline 3-day diet it was very easy to see how FEW fruits and vegetables I was really eating. When I tallied up the total number of fruits and vegetables I was consuming on my typical daily diet I was shocked that the number of servings hoovered around just 5 a day. It became obvious that the only way I could possibly reach the 9 to 12 servings of fruits and vegetables Ivy suggested I eat daily would be to make a conscious effort to do so.
In other words, I needed a plan…
How to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables in 4 Easy Steps
In order to come up with a solid plan, I decided to reference Ivy’s blog post on the #1 biggest diet mistake people make (which is not eating anywhere near the optimal amount of fruits and vegetables.) These were Ivy’s following 5 tips for how to eat more fruits and vegetables:
- Start the day by adding fruit and/ or vegetables to your breakfast.
- Make sure to eat a large salad with either lunch or dinner.
- Make a big pot of vegetable soup on Sunday–leftovers will last all week! Have a bowl with lunch or dinner. Vegetable soup also makes a great snack and you can even eat it for breakfast. Ivy has lots of vegetable soup recipes on the blog but since I am so crunched for time I decided to go with the “Easiest Ever 3-Step Thai Cauliflower Soup” as my “vegetable soup of the week”
- Have a Green OR White (Cauliflower) Smoothie that combines fruits and vegetables everyday (check out Simple Green Smoothies for hundreds of Green Smoothie recipes). Thanks to Ivy’s recent Brain-Fog Busting/ Hormone Balancing Smoothie Recipe, I have also started experimenting with substituting frozen cauliflower for greens in my smoothies. I admit I was a bit skeptical that the cauliflower would work, but it blends in surprisingly well—and it doesn’t turn your smoothie green either 😉
My Fruit & Vegetable-Rich 3 Day Clean Eating Diet Diary
So this was what my 3 day clean diet diary looked like:
- Breakfast: Blackberry Smoothie Recipe (with Hidden Cauliflower!) and a scrambled pasture-raised egg
- Lunch: Large green salad with avocado, chopped tomato, black beans and canned sockeye salmon (by the way, sockeye salmon is always wild and is lower in mercury than tuna)
- Snack: A big bowl of organic strawberries topped with some granola (I like Go Raw brand “Coco Crunch Sprouted Granola”), a drizzle of “whole” almond milk and a sprinkling of chia seeds
- Dinner: Slow Cooker Chicken Recipe with Turmeric and Vegetables and brown rice (to save time I bought frozen brown rice that I then just thawed before dinner.)
- Breakfast: Pasture-raised egg scramble with tomato and mushrooms and a side of sliced oranges
- Lunch: Large salad with tomato, red pepper, green pepper, chickpeas, walnuts & homemade “clean” Ranch Dressing
- Snack: “Easiest Ever 3-Step Thai Cauliflower Soup”
- Dinner: Broccoli pasta (I like Ancient Harvest brand “Organic Supergrain Pasta”) with basil and parmesan
- Breakfast: Red Velvet Smoothie recipe (with beets and cherries)
- Lunch: Black bean tostada on sprouted corn tortillas with avocado and a spinach salad drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and lemon
- Dinner: Grilled grass-fed steak with green beans, carrots and a bowl of the “Easiest Ever 3-Step Thai Cauliflower Soup“
- After Dinner snack: Banana “Nice Cream” (I used this recipe for Pumpkin Banana “Nice Cream”)
The Nity Gritty
I also wanted to share some of the practical details on how I made some of my food choices…
On breakfast of day one of my 3- day clean eating diet diary I had a super busy morning getting my kids off to school, and the last one to feed is usually myself! I typically have some eggs or oatmeal for breakfast, but even the idea of boiling water for myself for oatmeal can sometimes seem like too much of a task. After reading Ivy’s blog post on the #1 diet mistake people make, I decided to start the day with a smoothie made with fruits and vegetables. For me and my lifestyle, a smoothie truly is a terrific option to get my daily dose of nutrition right from the start of the day. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, I think most moms would agree that it can be an incredible challenge to not only make a healthy meal but also sit down and take the time to actually eat it. When it comes to figuring out the quickest, easiest and most time-efficient way to eat more fruits and vegetables, making a smoothie with so many nutrient rich ingredients is a small (but doable!) step in the right direction.
For lunch on day 1 I really wanted to add both anti-inflammatory omega-3’s and plant protein to my lunch, so I opted for a combination of canned wild salmon and canned black beans (after reading Ivy’s blog post on the prevalence of estrogen dominance from environmental factors, I am now taking extra care to only buy BPA-free canned beans.) Instead of dousing my salad in tons of oil, I went with the avocado as a very tasty way to get a more nutrient-dense “whole” fat . I remember from reading the Clean Cuisine nutrition book that “whole fats” are more nutrient-dense than oil of any type and that the more nutrients you can work into your diet the less food cravings you have. I have found this to definitely be true by the way. I was astonished that making a serious effort to eat more fruits and vegetables (and nutrient dense foods!) really did make a big difference on curbing my food cravings.
I don’t want to bore you with every detail of how I made every single food choice over the last 3 days, but I do want to say that making an effort to eat more fruits and vegetables is actually not nearly as difficult as you might think. And it really does make a difference. Long term I am sure I will be healthier, but in the short term I am just so grateful to have gotten a handle on my food cravings.