Five Ways to Fruit and Vegetable-ize your Family Meals

by Together Counts Partner | November 10, 2016 at 8:31 am | comments


As a Together Counts™ partner and as your Hometown Proud grocery store, we recognize that no matter the size of your household, spending time together around a good, healthful meal can be fun and simple when you focus on the season.

Here are five ways to make your fall meals tastier, healthier and more memorable. Best of all, these tips are easy enough that the kids can help!

  1. Reinvent your recipes. We all have our favorite dishes we make year-round. Why not give them a small tweak? Simple, balanced and budget friendly changes can boost nutrition, and flavor, too. Sandwiches at lunch? Add bell pepper strips instead of just lettuce for color and crunch. Mashed potatoes at dinner? Leave the skins on for added fiber (be sure to wash thoroughly before cooking and mashing). Casserole? Lessen the amount of oil used in the dish, try reduced-fat versions of favorite ingredients like cheese or milk, and/or choose a different meat to slice a few calories, while preserving the familiarity of the dish. And don’t forget to make an effort to challenge your kids to think of creative ways to tweak their favorites.
  2. Focus on Fruit. Fall favorites like apples and pears are juicy and versatile! From appetizers to desserts, fruit fits in. Try slicing a pear and adding it to a salad with blue cheese, nuts and a simple olive oil/vinegar dressing. Serve applesauce as a pork side dish, or try butternut squash soup with apples or pears. For dessert, try a delicious apple crisp. Leave the skins on the apple for a fiber bonus that saves time, too.
  3. Vary your Vegetables. It’s easy—take a casserole and add in more vegetables than the recipe calls for. Start by doubling the items already in there. Starting with a dish with no veggies? No problem. Go by color! For example, add a bright pop of green with broccoli or green beans in macaroni and cheese. Pasta? Chop some onion, bell pepper and cauliflower to add into the sauce. Try sautéing first for more flavor.
  4. Keep it simple. One dish meals like chilistew or a hearty soup can make meal prep and clean up quick and easy. These are also great options to incorporate budget friendly, nutrient rich options like beans, too! Cook up large batches on the weekends, then freeze into family sized portions for busy weeks. This is a great option for small and large households alike. Vary sides such as a hearty bread, whole grain crackers with cheese, salad or sandwiches to keep that one bowl interesting while mixing the nutrient rich choices served up each week.
  5. Salad-ify your choices. Salads work well for easy and nutritious meals year round. When the cool weather comes, warm up by roasting all your favorites and adding to crisp salad greens while still warm. Try wedges of sweet potato with arugula and parmesan cheese, or cauliflower over mixed greens along with beans, cheese and salsa for dressing. Top with shredded cheese, olives and other taco fixings for a fun taco salad. Find fun new dressings that work well warm or cold. Use leftover salad in a wrap or top on a toasted sandwich for lunch the next day in place typical salad condiments and plain raw veggies. Pack bread separately to toast before eating if a toaster is available, if not, use a Panini press at home and pack it for a cold version.

What’s your new twist on fall family favorites?

By: Kim Kirchherr, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, FAND

IGA Health & Wellness Advisor Kim Kirchherr, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE, FAND (@KimKirchherr) is a Registered Dietitian and the Vice President of National Dairy Council. Kim completed both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees at Eastern Illinois University, where she was a graduate assistant for the Dining Services Department. For nearly ten years, Kim was the dietitian/nutrition spokesperson for Jewel-Osco (and SuperValu’s Midwest region 2006-2012). Prior to working in the supermarket industry, she worked in hospital-based health and fitness centers and in an outpatient education program, providing one-on-one sessions as well as community outreach.

Check out these blogs from Together Counts for more fall recipes and activities!