How often do you hear the recommendation to eat your veggies, eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day? Health and nutrition experts recommend eating 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day. Although this seems to be a lot to some people, it is actually only 2 servings of fruit and 3 – 5 servings of vegetables! However, for some people this is still a daunting amount.
Fruits and vegetables are essentially fat free, low calorie, high fiber foods packed with vitamins, minerals, anti- oxidants, and the nutrition to aid in preventing and decreasing the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and a host of other ailments. They are sweet or savory, crunchy or smooth and creamy, and consuming more servings actually decreases cravings for sweets and a snack foods! My clients know it’s desirable to eat this much to lose weight and maintain weight, to lower their cholesterol and blood pressure, to have more energy and fuel their workouts, and to have heightened satiety from meals and snacks. However they are often challenged on how to make it happen in their busy lives. Following are tips to help you add more color and excitement into your meals in the form of healthful fruits and vegetables.
- Check out the local farmers markets for the seasons freshest choices in fruits and vegetables.
- Visit a farm where you can pick your own fruits and/or vegetables. You not only get the benefit of the “harvest”, but you will get exercise and a ½ days worth of fun!
- Pack a piece of fruit in your briefcase, tote, or lunch bag. Try bananas, apples, plums, peaches, nectarines, oranges, fruit cups …
- Make a low fat, low calorie smoothie with frozen berries, a small amount of chilled 100% fruit juice, banana, and ice. Blend until smooth and enjoy! (You can also use low fat yogurt for a creamy smoothie.)
- Substitute carrots, cucumbers, spinach, kale, and similar for an exhilarating drink with even less calories and still packed with nutrients.
- Add fresh berries, sliced peaches or bananas to your cereal or yogurt at breakfast. Top waffles, pancakes, and French toast with sliced seasonal fruit for a sweet alternative to syrup.
- If you bake, replace 1/2 of the fat with an equal amount of applesauce or dried plum (prune) puree for a moist and more nutritious baked good. (Mind you, still a desert and not the healthiest choice.)
- Grate carrots, squash, or other vegetables and add to casseroles. No one has to know!
- Add dried cranberries, raisins, peaches, or similar to salads for an added zing!
- Purchase the salads in a bag for easy preparation. Pack with lunch and/or enjoy at dinner to accompany your entree.
- Use fresh tomatoes, green or red peppers, and extra onions and mushrooms when making your marinara sauce to spread over whole wheat pasta or whole grain bread.
- Plan an afternoon energizing snack of low fat yogurt, fresh fruit and top with high fiber, crunchy cereal. Sprinkle with cinnamon and you’ve got a powerhouse snack!
- Plan at least one serving of fruit and or vegetable at each meal and one snack. The additional servings will easily follow!
- Purchase frozen vegetables in a bag. Cook them in the microwave for a quick and easy addition to any meal.
- Add a low sodium vegetable juice in between meals as a snack.