Sunday, November 3, 2013

Are You Getting Enough Fruits and Vegetables? Your Body Needs Them!

No seriously, are you?

Think about it. You may initially think you are. Then you may realize you aren't. The USDA states you need between 2-3 cups of fruits AND vegetables per day, depending on your age and activity level. I personally think we need more than that. Where do you stand? Are you getting the recommended 2-3 cups of produce per day? If not, let's get you there. If you are getting that amount, can you fit in more?
At least half of your plate at every meal should be produce. I also try to get in more than what the USDA recommends because sadly in today's world, conventional produce may not be as healthful as it once was. Our food is genetically modified, sprayed with chemicals, and picked before ready so it can be shipped hundreds of miles away and then "gassed" to ripen just before you purchase it. There is no way possible that a tomato of this caliber can be as nutritious, or even flavorful, as a homegrown, organic tomato that was the norm so many years ago.

So how can you squeeze more in without feeling like you just had Thanksgiving dinner? It's easy!

Smoothies are a wonderful breakfast, even if you eat something else with it (they also make great snacks). Add fresh or frozen fruit to any other smoothie ingredients you would like. You can even add vegetables! Carrots and pumpkin taste wonderful, and spinach and kale, while they may color your smoothie a bright green color, are completely covered up by the fruit you pair it with (pineapple is a great one).

Juice! Juicing is an easy way to get in extra vegetables. Be careful with too much fruit juice, though; although it's natural sugar, it's still a concentrated source of sugar. The best juice would be mostly vegetables with a little fruit for flavor. Apples are wonderful. Make sure when juicing that you use organic produce for at least "The Dirty Dozen", since you will be concentrating your fruits and veggies -

Add fruit to cereals, salads and desserts. I love to have mixed berries on top of my frozen yogurt. Chopped fruit makes a great addition to many savory dishes as well, such as a mango salsa on salmon or dried fruit in a couscous dish.

Add chopped veggies to almost any dish! Soups, stews, pastas and many other main dishes can all benefit from added vegetables. Try having salad with your dinner; not only will you get in more veggies, the fiber will help to fill you up so you eat less of the other foods. Throw extra toppings on your burger or sandwiches - instead of a thin slice of tomato, some pickles and one iceberg lettuce leaf, try a thick slice of tomato, onion, cucumber, bell pepper and a few leaves of a dark leafy green like romaine or spinach. Dining out? Ask for extra vegetables to be added to any dish.

Snacks are a wonderful way to get in these extra foods - a piece of fresh, ripe juicy fruit is a wonderful break from your day. Cut up raw vegetables are fun to munch - try dipping in plain Greek yogurt seasoned with herbs or in hummus.

As you can see, it's very easy to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Your body and brain will thank you!

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