The current USDA MyPlate recommendation is to make half your plate fruits and veggies. When you look at your plate, do you get plenty of vegetables?

The current USDA MyPlate recommendation is to make half your plate fruits and veggies. When you look at your plate, do you get plenty of vegetables?

Seasonal vegetables will be the best prices and best quality. Bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, green beans, okra, onions, potatoes, summer squash, sweet corn, and tomatoes are in season. Stock up on those veggies and add them to your recipes for fresh taste and many nutrients.

The amount of vegetables needed in one day varies by age and gender. In general, guidelines for daily vegetable intake are:

2-3 year olds – 1 cup

4-8 year olds – 1 ½ cups

Girls 9-13 years old – 2 cups

Girls 14-18 years old – 2 ½ cups

Boys 9-13 years old – 2 ½ cups

Boys 14-18 years old – 3 cups

Women 19-50 years old – 2 ½ cups

Women 51+ - 2 cups

Men 19-50 years old – 3 cups

Men 51+ - 2 ½ cups

These are general guidelines; those who are more physically active may need more than this amount. One cup of cooked, raw, or vegetable juice will count as one cup from this group. The only difference is that you need 2 cups of raw, leafy greens to count as one cup of vegetables.

Here are some tips to help you get more vegetables at breakfast, snacks, lunch, or dinner:

Make a veggie omelet or frittata made with veggies for breakfast

Enjoy a breakfast pizza with lots of seasonal veggies

Eat some of last night’s leftovers and add some raw veggies

Snack on raw veggies with homemade Greek yogurt Ranch dip

Load up your crockpot with your choice of veggies and meat

Spray veggies with olive oil and parmesan cheese and roast in the oven or grill outdoors

Keep leafy greens and other veggies you like to make a quick salad for any meal

Add veggies to pasta sauces, meatloaf, casseroles, lasagna, or rice dishes

Add shredded carrots, lentils, beans, or onions to your meat to stretch it further

Choose a vegetable as your side dish instead of a starch

Add more beans to your recipes

If you have questions or ideas for future articles, please contact Melissa Bess, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist with University of Missouri Extension. Call the Camden County Extension Center at 573-346-2644 or email Melissa at bessmm@missouri.edu.

Melissa Bess is a health specialist with the University of Missouri Extension. She is also the author of a health and wellness blog on www.LakeNewsOnline.com.