Susan Russo, Fit Fare – Last month, I explained how eating fruits and vegetables from 5 different color groups can help protect you against cancer. Convincing you that fruits and vegetables are good for you was the easy part. The hard part is helping you incorporate the recommended daily allowance of 5-9 servings.
Here are 20 ways to include more brightly colored fruits and vegetables into you and your family’s diets. To start with, you have to know what one serving size is: 1 medium piece of fruit, 1 cup of raw leafy greens, ½ cup cooked veggies, and 1/4 cup of dried fruit. That’s not a lot. But thinking of how to incorporate them into a meal, prepare them and actually get them all eaten can be daunting. Try some of these tips to make that process easier and, sometimes, even fun.
- Prepare a weekly grocery list with at least one fruit or vegetable that you don’t usually buy. You might try kale instead of spinach or Roma tomatoes instead of beefsteak.
- Check out your cart before checking out. Make sure you see lots of different colors such as green kiwi, yellow corn, and red strawberries.
- Get your children involved by having them search for specific colored fruits and vegetables at the supermarket. For example, they might select tomatoes, cherries, or raspberries for a “red day.”
- Shop at a local farmers’ market for seasonal produce, which has the highest nutrient levels.
- If you don’t live near a farmers’ market, then consider home delivery of organic produce.
- Get inspired to cook by checking out the internet, cooking magazines, or cookbooks for some ideas, and resolve to make a new recipe at least once a month.
- Fill a pretty bowl with fresh fruit and leave it on your counter for a fast, high-fiber, low-cal snack.
- Freeze seasonal fruits and vegetables such as berries and sweet corn so you can enjoy them year-round.
- When fresh fruits and veggies aren’t available, try canned or frozen produce which can actually have a higher nutritional value than produce that is no longer fresh. Just be sure to look for low-sodium and no-sugar-added versions.
- Try dried fruit such as bananas, figs, and peaches. Just be sure to limit yourself to a ¼ cup serving at a time since dried fruit has a naturally high sugar content.
- Be real. Buy only 100% fruit juice.
- Avoid the temptation of vending machines by preparing your own healthful snacks for work, school, or road trips. For instance, make serving size bags of mixed dried fruit and nuts such as raisins, cherries, almonds, and walnuts.
- When eating, fill 2/3 of your plate with plant-based food (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes) and 1/3 with lean protein such as fish and poultry.
- Have a little fun with your salads by tossing in some fruit (blackberries, currants, and mangoes) or unusual veggies (jicama, sugar snap peas, and zucchini).
- Kick the salt habit by seasoning your food with fresh herbs.
- Try fruit juice in place of oil in salad dressings to boost flavor and cut fat.
- Start off the day right by incorporating 2-3 servings of fruits and veggies to your breakfast. For instance, add ½ cup of fresh berries to your cereal or yogurt, add some red bell peppers and onions to your eggs, or add fresh or frozen fruit to a smoothie.
- With the warm weather approaching, stay cool by snacking on a frozen banana or frozen grapes for a snack.
- Swap ho-hum iceberg lettuce and tomato slices on your sandwich for some spicy arugula, crisp fresh spinach, or creamy avocado wedges.
- Lighten up with fruity desserts such as fresh berries or stone fruit topped with low-calorie dairy-free whipped topping or dairy-free crème fraiche. Or try parfaits made with low-cal pudding or yogurt and fresh fruit.
Want even more? Check out the Mayo Clinic’s suggestions for adding more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet.