Fruit salad made with banana, strawberries, kiwi and oranges

Adding fruits and vegetables to your diet

Fruit and vegetables are some of nature’s wonder foods. Naturally low in calories, fat and salt but rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals, fruit and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy and well-balanced diet.

So, the healthy eating guideline states to eat 2 servings of fruit and 2 servings of vegetables daily. Here are some tips to do that:

Related: Plan Your Meals with My Healthy Plate

1. Be the Fruit and Vegetable Champion at Home

Mother and daughter preparing a salad together

If you are the main meal preparer in your house, it starts with you! Find ways to ensure that your family members eat sufficient servings of fruit and vegetables daily (see tip #3).

Even if you are not the family chef, you can set an example at home by eating more fruit and vegetables, and encourage your family to do the same.

Related: Eat Your Veggies!

2. Buy Enough

Healthy food for clean eating

Buy enough fruit and vegetables so that your family gets to consume the daily recommended servings. Here is a guide on the size per serving of fruit and vegetable:

One Serving of Fruit

  • 1 small apple, orange, pear or mango (130g)
  • 1 wedge papaya, pineapple or watermelon (130g)
  • 10 grapes or longans (50g)
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup dried fruits (40g)

One Serving of Vegetables

  • 100g raw non-leafy vegetables
  • mug cooked vegetables (100g)
  • plate* cooked vegetables (100g)

*plate = 25cm

You may have seen pre-packaged raw leafy vegetables at our local supermarkets. Each pack would provide about 2 servings of vegetables.

Related: Shopping for Fruit and Veggies

3. Take Action

Healthy vegetable stir fry with chicken

If your family is not in the habit of eating sufficient fruit and vegetable, it might be a challenge to get them to change their habits. They might find the quantity daunting and be put off by the amount of greens they see on the table. Some suggestions on introducing them into your meals include:

Vegetables

  • Vary the cooking methods. Change the cuisine style to create interest. For example, carrots can be eaten fresh, boiled or grilled in a Western meal; stir-fried with meat or boiled in a soup as part of a Chinese meal; cooked with herbs and spices in a Malay meal; or prepared with lentils, spices and a dash of coconut in an Indian meal.
  • Serve up a salad to complement the menu. Change the dressings to make the taste interesting.
  • Offer a variety of vegetable dishes this will make the portion to be eaten less daunting and more appetising.

Fruit

  • Serve up a portion of fruit with breakfast.
  • Mid-meal snacks can also include fresh or dried fruit.
  • Jazz up a family meal by serving up a fresh fruit salad as dessert.
  • A glass of fresh juice can be the occasional treat.

Related: A Quarter is the Wholemeal

4. Sneak It in, If You Have To

Continental breakfast on a wooden table

If you have tried your best but yet your family refuses to touch fruit and vegetables, here are some clever ways to sneak fruit and vegetables into family meals:

Vegetables

  • Cut vegetables a little smaller and cook them a little softer to encourage children and the elderly to eat them.
  • Blend up vegetables and serve them up as juice or make it the base of a delicious soup.
  • Add vegetables to meat-based soups.
  • Toss in some hardy vegetables into stews and curries. Once they absorb the meaty flavours, they may be more acceptable.
  • Add a little extra vegetable into favourite dishes like stir-fried noodles and rice.
  • Pasta sauce is a clever way to hide tomatoes. Most hard-core vegetable haters eat up tomatoes served up as spaghetti or smeared on a pizza base.
  • Mince up vegetables and hide them in patties to attract young kids to eat up the greens.

Fruit

  • Blend fruit with milk or yoghurt to create delicious milkshakes and smoothies.
  • Chill pureed fruit or juices to make lollies.
  • Add fruit to stir-fried meat dishes. Pineapples go well with sweet and sour dishes. Mangoes are delicious with poultry.
  • Add dried fruit like raisins, dates and apricots to bakes such as breads and buns.
  • Steam or stew fruits to make delectable desserts.
  • Blend fruit and add to desserts such as homemade souffles and ice creams.

Related: Sneak Tweaks for Healthy Baked Treats


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