Nutrition

10 secrets to eating enough fruits and veggies

Author: Canadian Living

Nutrition

10 secrets to eating enough fruits and veggies

To maximize your intake of health-enhancing nutrients like vitamin C, carotenoids (beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin), folate, potassium, fibre, and antioxidant-rich plant compounds like flavonoids, you need to reach for at least seven, ideally closer to 10, servings of fruits and vegetables each day. One serving consists of:

• 1 medium-size fruit or vegetable (an apple, orange, carrot or pear)
• 1/2 cup (125 mL) raw, cooked or frozen fruit or vegetable (a scoop of cooked peas or a small bowl of sliced peaches)
• 1/2 cup (125 mL) juice (a small glass of orange or tomato juice)
• 1 cup (250 mL) salad (a small side salad)
• 1/4 cup (60 mL) dried fruit (a medium-size handful of raisins)

For those of you who think this sounds like a truckload of fruits and vegetables, let me assure you it's only a wheelbarrow full (just kidding!). It's easier than you think:

1. Never miss a meal. Include at least one to two servings of fruits or veggies at every meal and at snack times. This is so important! Most people simply can't meet their daily quota any other way.

2. Don't leave home without them. Never (and I mean never!) leave home without packing some portable fruits or vegetables in your knapsack, purse, briefcase, or the glove compartment of your car. You'll get hungry, and rather than play vending-machine roulette or stopping at a convenience store (that only makes it convenient to eat poorly), reach for your personal stash of veggies or fruit. Easy-to-carry options include apples, pears, bananas, mandarin oranges or clementines, canned fruit cups, baby carrots, cherry or grape tomatoes, dried fruits, and grapes. Carrying a small pack of wet wipes with you is also a good idea -- it makes cleanup a breeze.

3. Eliminate the competition. The more cookies, chips, and candy you have in your cupboards or your desk at work, the less likely you are to reach for fruits or vegetables (sad, but true). Keep unhealthy but tempting goodies out of sight and out of reach (better yet, don't keep them around at all!). Then make the good stuff easy to see -- and reach for. Keep a bowl filled with fruit on your kitchen counter at home and on your desk at work. Your family and coworkers will thank you for it. Always have baby carrots or cut-up veggies in your fridge. Make them the first thing you see when you (or your kids) open the fridge door.

4. Make room for frozen and canned. Who said canned or frozen fruits and vegetables aren't quality nutritional choices? On the contrary, these vegetables and fruits are harvested at their peak of ripeness and prepared for canning or freezing within hours of being picked. This guarantees great nutrition as well as great taste. In contrast, fresh produce -- especially during the winter months -- can lose valuable nutrients during travel and storage time. In one study, frozen spinach, after one year, was found to retain more than twice the vitamin C of fresh spinach from the same crop that had been in the refrigerator for just seven days. Because most frozen vegetables are made with no added salt, they're a better choice than canned vegetables.

5. Put on your chef hat. Who likes soggy, overcooked, unseasoned vegetables? Yuck. So don't eat them that way. In the traditional Mediterranean diet, vegetables are considered tasty and delicious (even by children!). That's because they're served using herbs, spices, and other seasonings to create a variety of flavours and colours. Vegetables should look and taste great. Help your veggies come alive with garlic, ginger, or onions. Nutmeg or cinnamon complement squash, carrots and sweet potatoes.
 

Page 1 of 2 – Discover five easy ways to get more fruits and veggies in our diet on page 2!


Excerpted from Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health...and Don't Forget the Chocolate! by Liz Pearson and Mairlyn Smith. Copyright 2007 by Liz Pearson and Mairlyn Smith. Excerpted with permission from Whitecap Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.

 

6. Order right when dining out. Research shows that people who dine out eat significantly less fruits and vegetables -- especially at fast-food restaurants. To prevent this from happening:

• Order a salad as an appetizer or even as a main course. Ask for low-fat or light dressing on the side so you can control how much you consume.

• Ask whether the entree comes with vegetables. If not, order extra veggies on the side (french fries don't count!).

• Supplement take-out dinners with vegetables and fruit from home. Microwaved veggies are fast and easy, and canned fruit like mandarin orange sections makes a quick dessert.

7. Sensational smoothies. They're great for kids and adults alike. All you need is a blender and your imagination. Mix 1/2 cup (125 mL) of your favourite fresh or frozen fruits with 1 cup (250 mL) low-fat milk, soy milk, yogurt, or fruit juice. Use more fruit for a thicker smoothie. Beware of store-bought smoothies: they often contain only small amounts of real fruit and lots of added sugar.

8. Go for convenience. Prewashed, prebagged salads make it easy to enjoy salad every single day of the year. Ready-to-serve veggie trays and fruit platters, as well as prechopped or preshredded veggies and fruits, are widely available at most supermarkets. Don't let cleaning and chopping come between you and your produce.

9. Double up. If you normally take one scoop of peas, take two. Instead of four spears of asparagus, have eight. It doesn't get any easier than this!

10. Dip and dunk. Raw veggies were born to be dipped (most kids would agree!). Go wild with carrot sticks, red pepper strips, and broccoli or cauliflower florets and serve them with a creamy light or low-fat salad dressing. Fresh fruit such as bananas, berries, or orange sections tastes great dipped in low-fat, fruit-flavoured yogurt or low-fat chocolate pudding.
 

Page 2 of 2


Excerpted from Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health...and Don't Forget the Chocolate! by Liz Pearson and Mairlyn Smith. Copyright 2007 by Liz Pearson and Mairlyn Smith. Excerpted with permission from Whitecap Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.

 

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Nutrition

10 secrets to eating enough fruits and veggies

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