from Harvard Medical School Newsletter, 08 July 2012
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
is a cornerstone of good health
Many of us have trouble putting that knowledge into practice and getting five or more (with emphasis on "more") servings a day. One reason you might not be tapping into the power of produce is that you think fruits and vegetables are too expensive, but that's not necessarily so. You can buy three servings of fruits and four servings of vegetables for well under $2 a day according to a survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Preparation time, unfamiliarity and old habits are other obstacles to eating more fruits and vegetables which is why Harvard Medical School has provided this baker's dozen list of suggestions for removing these barriers and enjoying delicious and nutritious foods.
1. KNOW YOUR NEEDS. The guidelines recommend a minimum of 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/4 cups of vegetables a day. More is better. To calulate your fruit and veggie needs, go to www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov
2. SET A GOAL. If fruits and vegetables are minor items in your menu, start by eating one extra fruit or vegetable a day. When you're used to that, add another and keep going. (It is really better to add one green vegetable carbohydrate instead of a fruit carbohydrate for nutritious reasons. fh)
3. BE SNEAKY. Adding finely grated carrots or zucchini to pasta sauce, meatloaf, chili or stew is one way to get an extra serving of vegetables. Cookbooks like "Deceptively Delicious" or "The Sneaky Chef" offer ways to slip vergetables and fruits into all sorts of recipes.
4. TRY SOMETHING NEW. It's easy to get tired of apples, bananas and grapes. Try a kiwi, mango, fresh pineapple or some of the more exotic choices now found in grocery stores.
5. BLENDING IN A FRUIT SMOOTHIE, made from nutritious ingredients is a healthy way to start the day or tide you over until dinner.
6. BE A BIG DIPPER. Try dipping vegetables into hummus or another bean spread, some spiced yogurt or a bit of ranch dressing (not too heavy on the ranch. fh) You can also slather some organic peanut butter on a banana or slices of apple.
7. SPREAD IT ON. Try mashed avocado as a dip with diced tomatoes and onions. Pureed cooked spinach is also a delicious dip, and either can be used as a sandwich spread. (You don't have to tell anyone what the ingredients are. fh)
8. START OFF RIGHT. Ditch your morning donut for an omelet with onions, peppers and mushrooms. Top it off with some salsa to wake up your palate. Another suggestion is to boost your morning cereal or oatmeal with a handful of strawberries, blueberries or dried fruit (dried fruit is high in calories fh).
9. DRINK UP. Having a six ounce glass of low-sodium vegetable juice instead of a soda gives you a serving of vegetables and spares you 10 teaspoons or more of sugar. (Vegetable juice has a notorious amount of salt, so if you must drink canned juice, make it low-sodium. fh)
10. GIVE THEM THE HEAT TREATMENT. Cut up onions, carrots, zucchini, asparagus, turnips or whatever you have on hand and coat them with olive oil. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar and roast them at 350 degrees until done. Grilling is another way to bring out the taste of vegetables. Use roasted or grilled veggies as a side dish or put them on sandwiches, or you even add them to salads.
11. LET SOMEONE ELSE DO THE WORK. Food companies and grocers offer an ever-expanding selection of prepared produce from ready-made salads to frozen stir-fry mixes and take-along sliced apples and dip. (Always read the ingredients on prepared packages to be sure you are not defeating your purpose with processed produce. fh)
12. IMPROVE ON NATURE. Jazz up vegetables with spices, chopped nuts, balsamic vinegar, olive oil or specialty oil like walnut or sesame oil. Even a dash of grated Parmesan cheese can liven up the blandest green beans.
13. GET HELP FROM WILLY WONKA. Try any type of fruit dipped in dark chocolate. What could be tastier? In addition to a delectable dessert, you get plenty of heart-healthy antioxidants, some fiber and a host of vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients.
IN CONCLUSION: When fruits and vegetables are new to your table, you should probably be introducing them slowly and be as creative as you can. I hope these suggestions from Harvard will help. fh.