September is Fruits & Veggies – More Matters Month. More than 90 percent of adults and children do not eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables This startling fact is from Fruits & Veggies – More Matters, a health initiative focused on helping Americans eat more produce to improve their health (fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org). The latest U.S. dietary guidelines recommend 1 to 2 cups of fruits and 1 to 3 cups of vegetables per day (depending on age).

According to Sarah O’Blenes, a health and wellness coach at Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital, it is easier than it seems to add more fruits and vegetables to one's diet. Here are some of O'Blenes' favorite ways to eat more fruits and veggies:

Hide them. Try adding shredded carrots and zucchini to pasta sauce or butternut squash puree to a chili or stew. O'Blenes also suggests adding cauliflower to mashed potatoes; simply steam the cauliflower until soft and mash it into the potatoes.

Turn them into noodles. Make veggie noodles using a spiralizer or vegetable peeler. Use them in place of pasta in your favorite recipes.

Make fries. Potatoes aren’t the only food that taste good in fry form. Try making oven baked fries out of carrots, parsnips, green beans or sweet potato.

Try something new. Try a new recipe or a new vegetable and see how you like it. Better yet, try a new recipe and a new vegetable! O'Blenes recommends the casserole below as the perfect place to start.

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole

Ingredients:

1 large spaghetti squash

1 pound lean meat, like chicken sausage or ground turkey

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 tsp dried basil

1 cup pizza sauce

3 eggs, whisked

1 cup of pizza-topping veggies

Optional: add cheese

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place squash cut side down on a baking sheet; bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the skin of the squash gives when pressed. Remove squash and reduce heat to 350 degrees.

2. Remove threads from squash and place in a greased 8 X 8-inch casserole dish.

3. In a large skillet, cook onion and meat over medium heat. When meat is cooked through, add pizza sauce, basil and remaining veggies. Mix well.

4. Add skillet mixture to the casserole dish and mix well with the squash threads. Stir in cheese if desired. Add whisked eggs and mix until eggs are thoroughly combined.

5. Bake for 1 hour or until the top of the mixture forms a slight crust. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serves 5.

O'Blenes and the rest of the Community Health & Wellness team will be on hand Saturday, Sept. 17, from 8 a.m. to noon for a Family Fun Field Day at Pen Bay Medical Center, to make fruit-filled healthy snacks and compete in classic field day events like a water balloon toss and a three-legged race.

Learn more at journeytohealth.coursestorm.com.