Did you know September is National Fruit and Veggies- More Matters Month? We all know that we likely need to increase our servings of fruits and vegetables each day. However, sometimes it’s harder than we think. Studies show 90% of adults and children do not eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables each day. Finding ways to add produce into your favorite dishes can certainly be an effective way to increase the amount you consume each day.
How much fruits and vegetables should we eat each day?
MyPlate recommends we make half our plate fruits and veggies. This is any easy way to picture the recommended intake of fruits and veggies without focusing on numbers. However, some people tend to be more “numbers people.” So, the American Heart Association recommends four servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables each day. The serving size varies based on the food we are consuming. For example, a serving of fruit is equivalent to a medium-sized apple, which is about the size of your fist. Also, ½ a cup of frozen, fresh or canned fruit and ¼ cup of fruit juice equals one serving. On the other hand, one cup of raw leafy veggies is equivalent to a serving. In addition, ½ cup frozen, canned or raw veggies and ½ cup of vegetable juice is one serving. Knowing the recommendations, whether you prefer to focus on numbers or are more visual, is a great first step to increasing your intake.
What specific fruits and vegetables should we be eating?
No single fruit or vegetable provides all the nutrients you need to be healthy. The various colors of our produce have different vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Each color indicates an abundance of specific nutrients. So, we need to eat a variety each day to consume a plentiful amount of nutrients. If we eat a rainbow of colors from produce each day, then we are giving our bodies the mix of nutrients we need.
How do you add more fruits and vegetables in?
The great news about these foods is they are very versatile! Finding ways to add them to each meal and snacks throughout the day can help to increase your intake.
Try adding your favorite berries or even dried fruit to cold or hot cereals (see recipe below)
Top your standard peanut butter toast with strawberries instead of jelly
Add bananas to your oatmeal, (You can even get daring and add a scoop of peanut butter, too. Trust me, it’s a game changer!)
Sautee a few servings of mixed veggies, (mushrooms, onions, bell peppers), and add then to your eggs in the morning
Try out the ever-popular avocado toast
Lunch and Dinner:
Add butternut squash to macaroni and cheese
Combine zoodles, (zucchini noodles), and pasta noodles to switch up your traditional spaghetti dish
Layer vegetables on your sandwiches, in your wrap or even on your pizza
Top your lettuce salads with fresh berries, dried fruit or apples, (because who says lettuce salads are only for veggies?)
Make homemade trail mix by combining your favorite nuts, popcorn and dried fruit
Be a kid again and make ants on a log (celery sticks topped with peanut butter and raisins)
Prepare! Having fruits and veggies washed, cut up and in baggies or plastic containers can drastically increase the likelihood that you will grab them, instead of the chip bag, the next time you are looking for a snack.
1 (5.3 oz) container plain Greek yogurt
⅔ c. old-fashioned rolled oats
⅔ c. skim milk
½ c. chopped or sliced fruit or whole pecans
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
Additional fruit or pecans, for garnish
In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, oats, milk, fruit or pecans and brown sugar.
Transfer to a pint jar or two half-pint jars. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.
To serve, remove jar lids and, if desired, top with additional fruit or pecans.
Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Magazine
This blog post was written by
Allysa Ballantini, RD, LD.