Liven up your meals with fruits and vegetables

By Tulalip Tribes SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator, AnneCherise Jensen 

Sadly, fruits and vegetables often get a bad rap. For some, they aren’t the most popular foods on the menu. However they contain extremely high amounts of vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health and immunity. They are low in fat and calories, and contain lots of fiber and other key nutrients. Most Americans should eat more than 3 cups — and for some, up to 6 cups — of vegetables and fruits each day. Vegetables and fruits don’t just add nutrition to meals, they also add color, flavor, and texture, bringing the meal to life. When cooked and paired together properly, fruits and veggies create unique and exquisite flavor combinations.  Here are some fun and creative ways to bring healthy foods to your table. 

Fire up the Grill. Summertime is finally here! Now is the perfect time to fire up the grill to cook vegetables and fruits. Try grilling mushrooms, carrots, peppers, or onions on a kabob skewer. Brush with oil to keep them from drying out. Grilled fruits like peaches, pineapple, or mangoes add great flavor to a cookout. 

Expand Flavor of Casseroles. Mix vegetables such as sautéed onions, peas, garlic, broccoli, spinach, or tomatoes into your favorite dish for that extra flavor. If you dice them up small enough, you can even get away with sneaking them into the dish without anyone knowing. 

Planning something Italian? Add extra vegetables to your pasta dish. Slip some peppers, spinach, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic or cherry tomatoes into your traditional tomato sauce. Vegetables provide texture and low-calorie bulk that satisfies.

Get Creative with Salad. Toss in shredded carrots, strawberries, spinach, watercress, orange segments, or sweet peas for a flavorful, fun salad. With the summer heat upon us, a crisp and refreshing salad is both healthy and satisfying! One of my favorite summer salads is an ‘Apple Walnut Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette’. Check out the recipe provided below!

Substitute Fruit for Dessert. Try a fruit based dessert instead of processed or overly sweetened dessert. Fruit based dessert will provide you with more nutrients while also preventing you from consuming excess calories throughout the day. Options could include a fruit smoothie, berry parfait, fresh whole fruit, or fruit based popsicles. These are great options to satisfy the sweet tooth in the summer heat! 

Get in on the Stir-Frying Fun. Try something new! Stir-fry your veggies — like broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, bok choy, peppers, mushrooms, onions or green beans — for a quick-and-easy addition to any meal. Add a lean source of protein and some whole grain rice to make the meal complete! 

Add to Sandwiches. Whether it is a sandwich or wrap, vegetables make great additions to both. Try sliced tomatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, or avocado on your everyday sandwich or wrap for extra flavor. These are great to bring to lunches for work, hiking, or any other outdoor activity. 

Be Creative with Baked Goods. Add apples, bananas, blueberries, or pears to your favorite muffin recipe for a treat. Doing so gives some extra flavor and nutrients, all while being creative in the kitchen! 

Veggie and Fruit Trays: I’ve learned the best way to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables, is to prepare it in a fun and eye appealing manner. Make some fruit and veggie trays that have a wide variety of options. This is a great way to get individuals to try new foods they may not have originally tried on their own. Some of my favorite summer choices include watermelon, honeydew, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cherries, grapes, celery and cherry tomatoes. Add a few healthy dipping options like low fat ranch, hummus or Greek yogurt to compliment the assortment. 

Liven up Breakfast. Boost the color and flavor of your morning omelet or egg scramble with a variety of vegetables. Simply chop, sauté, and add them to the egg as it cooks. Try combining different vegetables, such as mushrooms, spinach, onions, or bell peppers. This is the perfect way to fuel for the day! 

Want local, organic fresh produce delivered to your front door? Check out Klesick farms online produce department at They have a wide variety of produce you and your family would love. 

With Covid-19 on the rise, it is comforting knowing healthy produce can be delivered to your door without having to leave the house. You can create your own assortment of goods, or you can sign up for specific box packages/sizes that include, “Family on the Go” “Harvest Box” “Fruits” or “Veg /Salad” options. If interested, you may also purchase local meats, eggs and grain products. Check out the following steps to get your family signed up for your own Klesick Box of fresh produce! 

**This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP.  This institution is an equal opportunity provider.