Color Your Way to a Healthy DayJune 23, 2022
Since last month’s blog was about gardening, it feels like the perfect time to start talking about HOW to incorporate more fruits and veggies into meal a plan since I talked about how to grow them. It would be ideal to get 5-9 servings a day per the American Cancer Society for cancer prevention. Here are some tips at each time of the day:
It is great to start the day with a fruit or vegetable in the morning. Oatmeal is a filling and high fiber option with nuts and something like berries, cooked apples or canned pumpkin. A fiber rich cereal with berries or ½ sliced banana would be perfect. If you need a grab and go breakfast, a piece of fruit with a protein shake on the way out the door would be much better than skipping breakfast or getting a breakfast sandwich from a fast food restaurant. Smoothies seem to be a popular choice for the morning, but sometimes people add way too many fruits which can add up to be a lot of carbohydrates. I would recommend up to 2 servings of fruits and as many different vegetable as you want, as many different colors of vegetables can provide different antioxidants. A vegetable omelet can add great flavor, color and nutrition to plain eggs with adding onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach or tomatoes….or all of the above!
Two servings of fruits and veggies would be a good goal for lunchtime with one fruit and one vegetable serving. Many people think that fruit should be an apple and the vegetable should be the traditional baby carrots, but variety can prevent boredom. Creative ways to eat raw veggies at lunch would be cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, sliced peppers, pea pods, sugar snap peas, jicama, fresh broccoli, or cauliflower. The perfect fruit to pair with lunch that is still portable could be an orange, pear, plum, peach or nectarine.
At dinner, aim for ½ of your plate to be covered in vegetables. They can be the same vegetable or two different vegetables. It can also be a ½ plate of a salad with low-fat dressing. Frozen veggies work really well for a quick dinner. Make sure that the frozen veggies do not have any added sauces as those can be high in sodium. Plain vegetables can be boring so adding a salt free seasoning, olive oil or a light cheese can really jazz them up. If you are making a homemade pizza, top it with as many veggies as possible such as mushrooms, spinach, peppers, onions or olives. Bulking up pasta with veggies can help with portion sizes so some sauteed zucchini, squash or broccoli would work. Cauliflower rice can be a low-carb option for rice as a side or in a stir fry and creamy mashed cauliflower can taste like the real thing while providing an extra serving of veggies.
We always want to think of ways to incorporate fruits or vegetables as a snack. Peanut butter (or any nut butter) with celery, apples or banana seems to be a hit for most people. Fresh vegetables work well with flavorful roasted red pepper or sun-dried tomato hummus. Grapes or apples with cheese make a good combination snack option as well or simply 2 cuties could be a refreshing snack all year around.
Why not get an extra fruit serving in as a dessert to round out an extra healthy day! Try a fruit juice bar in the summer months or a bowl of berries with whipped topping. If you take an apple and cut it into pieces and put it in the microwave for 90 seconds while adding cinnamon and a little bit of sweetener, this can taste like the inside of an apple pie without all the calories! If you have a bit of a chocolate craving, dip some strawberries or bananas in chocolate and freeze them. Freezing grapes can also be a refreshing treat for a snack when you are trying to cool off.