Fruits and Veggies – More Matters Month
National Dietary Guidelines are updated every several years with a number of recommendations often undergoing change or modification, but the one nutrition principle that has continued to hold strong is the recommendation to make fruits and vegetables a cornerstone of your daily diet. That guiding principle remains steady regardless of age and health condition, and the current updated goal is to aim for about five servings of primarily non-starchy vegetables daily (corn, peas and potatoes are considered starchy vegetables) and about four servings of fruit daily. Obviously, the starchy vegetables are quite beneficial but should be counted as servings of grain because portions tend to be higher in calories. A wonderful resource, that has a variety of vegetable and fruit recipes, is the MYPlate Recipe Book.
One of the ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet is to load your plate at breakfast, lunch and dinner with vegetables, and then add a portion of healthy protein and a small side of whole grain. Have a piece of fruit as dessert at lunch and dinner, and then aim for one or two fruit servings as part of a healthy snack. If you use the MyPlate guide, it will show you how to set up a standard plate at each meal with portion size as the focus. Remember that these guidelines apply to kids and adults, though serving sizes for kids should be smaller. Kids should still aim for the five vegetable servings and three to four fruit servings daily.
If you are wondering which fruits are in season during the fall months, consider: Acorn squash, Asian pear, Belgian endive, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Guava, grapes of all kinds, pumpkins, crab apples and more. It’s also important to remember that frozen fruits and vegetables are captured at peak ripeness and may be more affordable.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are also perfect for smoothies, soups and chili recipes. Canned vegetables are also affordable options, just remember to rinse off the salt water that is usually used to maintain freshness and extend shelf life. Dried fruit is another way to meet daily fruit guidelines. Just remember that much smaller portions are appropriate because of the concentrated natural sugars in dried fruit. A good shopping rule is to shop the perimeter of the supermarket first, where fruits and vegetables feature prominently.
Some tips to get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables:
• Use healthy dipping sauces since kids love to dip foods. Bean dip, hummus, and yogurt-based dips are good choices.
• Set up taste-testing “games” so your kids try new fruits and vegetables in the context of a fun experience.
• Bring your kids to the supermarket and play color and counting games in the produce section. Let them help to select produce and fill bags.
• Encourage your kids to select recipes that incorporate fruits and vegetables and involve them in the preparation.
• Serve a salad and fruit on the table family-style, so that produce is front-and-center at every meal.
• Make fruit a regular go-to dessert by sometimes adding very dark chocolate dipping sauce.
Check out our recipe finder online for more recipe ideas.
Source: Produce for Better Health PBH