Lovin' Your Fruits & Veggies for Better Nutrition

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March is National Nutrition Month. Fruits and vegetables contain important vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants and are usually low in calories. Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits can help you ward off heart disease, stroke, control blood pressure, prevent some types of cancer, protect against autoimmune diseases and depression, avoid intestinal ailments, as well as guard against cataract and macular degeneration, not to mention make you FEEL GOOD!!! In today's post I've compiled many great ways to eat delicious fruits & veggies.

Dietitians and nutritionists say to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, but, what does that mean and what's a serving size? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and American Cancer Society set a serving size for fruit or vegetables to be equal to about one-half cup. Greens like spinach and lettuce have a serving size equal to one full cup. In other words, a person that maintains a 2,000 calorie diet for healthy weight, needs at least 2½ cups of fruits and vegetables each day. In general, those with the most color – dark green, red, yellow, and orange – have the most nutrients.

You may be surprised to learn that only 20 percent of Americans get the recommended daily allowance. But eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits is not that hard to do when you add it up during your day:

• At each meal, at least half of the meal should consist of fruits and vegetables

• Snacks should also primarily consist of fruits and vegetables

For a visual, initially measure out quantities or pack lunches in containers that you know the estimated measurement (i.e. Laptop Lunches provides a guide on their web site of their waste-free, reusable containers). To help you achieve your daily 2 ½ cups, each of the following fruits and vegetables add up to a ½ cup portion.


Fruits (1/2 cup portion)

one banana

six strawberries

two plums

fifteen grapes

one apple

one peach

one-half cup of orange or other fruit juice

¼ cup of dried fruit

½ cup of berries

½ cup apple or mango sauce


Vegetables (1/2 cup portion)

five broccoli or cauliflower florets

five Brussels Sprouts

six-seven baby carrots or one regular size carrot

one Roma tomato

half of a baked sweet potato

one ear of corn

four slices of an onion

one cup of greens/lettuce/coleslaw

3/4 cup tomato juice

3/4 cup vegetable juice



To help you kick-start National Nutrition Month, I’ve compiled some of our favorite meals packed with veggies & fruits featured on the blog.

Breakfast:

Granola Topped with Yogurt and Fruit

Steel Cut Oats with Berries and Carmelized Bananas

Mixed Grain Waffles Topped with Fruit - the photo shows fresh fruit but in the winter I heat frozen berries, making a syrup and use for my no-sugar topping

Oatmeal with Frozen Blueberries

Swiss Chard Frittata, Zucchini Frittata or whatever Veggies you like Frittata

Roasted Cauliflower Frittata

Kool Kale Energy Shake


Breakfast Burritos

Prepare Pico de Gallo:*

1-2 Tomatoes, seeded and chopped (depending on size)

½ Onion, chopped

4 T Cilantro, chopped

1 Jalapeno, chopped (or more/less to your taste)

Juice of one lime (or a little more to your taste)

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

*Can be made ahead

Prepare Guacamole

3 Ripe Avocados**

1 T Onion or Red Onion, Minced

1 Garlic Clove, Minced

1 Jalapeno or ½ Serrano, Seeded & Minced

1/3 c. Cilantro, Chopped

Pinch Salt

½ t Cumin

2 T Lime Juice

Assemble - Scramble Eggs, Heat Choice of Tortillas, top with Pico de Gallo, Salsa, & Guacamole



Snacks

Over the last couple of years we’ve made changes to our snacks. Most of our snacks now consist of raw fruits and vegetables with a dip on the side at times. But the following are a few other options.

Hummus & Veggie Dip

Strawberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins

Vegan, Gluten-Free Banana Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins

Zucchini Muffins

Any of the muffins can be made gluten-free by using Gluten-Free Girl’s Whole-Grain Flour Mix http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/02/gluten-free-wheat-egg-milk-fr...

Blueberry Scones

10 minute Apple Sauce

Mango Lassi

Bubbly Water with Fruit Juice

Kale Chips



Lunch

Monster Slaw

Over 40 Lunch Ideas



Dinner (All of Our Dinners Feature Vegetables or Fruits but these are some of our favorites)

Over 20 Brassy Brassica Recipes

Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Chicken Pot Pie with Roasted Veggies

Black-Bean Burgers

Tamale Pie (can be adapted for Vegetarian meal)

Squash Soup

Squash Risotto

Arepas with Tangy Coleslaw

Sopas

Cheese & Bean Quesadillas

Cheese, Bean & Spinach Tostados

Rice & Beans

Tacos de Carnitas with Pico de Gallo & Coleslaw, served with Guacomole & Chips

Mexican Salad

Vegetarian Enchilada Suizas

Vietnamese Lemongrass, Green Beans & Tofu Stirfry

Bee-Bim Bop

Beef Broccoli Stir-fry

Korean Style Flank Steak in Lettuce Wraps

Spinach Spanakopita

Greek Salad

Greek Salad Pitas

Fried Zucchini Spaghetti

Baked Cauliflower Pasta

Amatriciana Pasta Sauce

Mozzarella, Tomato & Basil on Fococcia

Chicken Salad with Zing Salsa Dressing

Quinoa Pasta with Broccoli

Black Bean & Tomato Quinoa

Tortellini Salad

Chickpea & Couscous Salad

Cumin Scented Quinoa with Black Rice and Avocado

Veggie Summer Rolls

Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Pears with Pureed Cauliflower

Butternut Squash & Sage Wontons

Tomato Pie



Desserts

Berry Frozen Yogurt

Berry Delicious Crisp

Blueberry Popsicles



A few ways to help make fruits and vegetables fresh & affordable:

Pick local berries and freeze or buy frozen berries on sale and stock your freezer

I buy fruit and veggies that are slightly bruised and discounted and use in sauces or bananas become “sugar” in muffin, waffle, pancake recipes

Join a CSA

Visit your Farmer’s Market

Grow a garden

Try canning

Resources:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetabl...

http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/EatHealthyGetActive/EatHealthy/fruits-and-...

http://nutrition.about.com/od/fruitsandvegetables/f/servingfruit.htm

http://vaden.stanford.edu/pdf/NNMHowamIsupposetoeatallfruitsveggies_000.pdf

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