Fruits and vegetables are not only delicious, they are good for you! Because they are low in calories they are helpful in controlling weight, and on top of that they are linked to reducing the risk of some diseases, including cancer. Yet, despite the benefits, only 6% of adults are meeting their daily requirement of 2 cups of fruit and 2-1/2 cups of vegetables. This is a key research finding of the 2010 Fruit and Vegetable National Action Plan. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), your kids aren’t eating them either.
Why do you think Americans are getting a failing grade when it comes to fruit and vegetable consumption? The biggest reason lies with accessibility. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are asking schools, workplaces, and restaurants to increase Americans’ access to fruits and vegetables. Last week there was some good news for our children, as Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilscak announced the first major overhaul of the school lunch which will include a wider selection of fruits and vegetables. Students will also be provided with larger servings of both, as specifications for portions are now double previous requirements.
Yay! School lunch “gets it”. But when will our workplaces and restaurants “get it”? Don’t wait. Now is the time to take control of your fruit and vegetable consumption, and you don’t have to spend all day washing and peeling them either! This is precisely what today’s post is about. Easy and convenient ways to add more produce to your diet without breaking your budget!
Are you looking for simple at home ideas? These tips are for you:
• Buy seasonal produce. It is less expensive.
• Shop the specials.
• Use frozen vegetables. They are just as nutritious as fresh and offer the convenience of keeping for longer periods.
• Add veggies to sauces, soups, stews, casseroles and crock pot creations. This way you can reduce the overall calories of the meal while boosting the nutritional value!
• Keep fruits and vegetables conveniently located on counter tops or on refrigerator shelves to encourage healthy snacking.
• If you rely on the convenience of frozen dinners, add a peice of fruit and a salad. These dinners offer ease but are skimpy in the fruit and vegetable area.
Are you dependent on restaurant/cafeteria meals? These tips are for you:
• When ordering a sandwich, don’t forget the veggies!
• Replace fries or chips with fruit, a side salad or baked potato.
• Order vegetable toppings on pizza instead of sausage and extra cheese.
• Order menu items that include lots of veggies such as a stir fry or try a vegetarian entree, if available.
• Split an entree with someone and add a vegetable and a side salad.
• Have salad as a main dish.
Are you the type that is alway on the go? These tips are for you:
• Take fruits and vegetables with you. Apples, bananas, baby carrots and celery sticks are mess-free in the car.
• Stash portable nonperishable items in your purse, briefcase, backpac, gym bag, etc. Fruits and vegetables don’t seem practical enough to tote? Try these ideas: V-8 or tomato juice, apples, bananas, raisins, and individual servings of applesauce or other fruits.
You can’t eat fruits and vegetables if they are not available. Don’t be caught saying, “I wanted to eat a piece of fruit, but I couldn’t find one. I had oreos instead.”
Diane Boyd, M.B.A., R.D., L.D.N.