Fruits and Vegetables in the Spotlight

May 17, 2011

Shopping in the produce section

Fruits and vegetables are important to good health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. They have vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may protect you from getting sick. People who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower chance of illnesses. This includes stroke, heart disease, and some cancers. Fruits and vegetables give you energy to help keep you going strong all day long.

It's easy to pack more fruits and vegetables into your day.

Busy lives can benefit from food that's healthy, yet easy to eat on-the-go. Fresh fruits and vegetables fit the bill perfectly. Here are some tips from the CDC. They can help you add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet.

  • Stir low-fat or fat-free granola into a bowl of low-fat or fat-free yogurt. Top with sliced apples or berries.
  • Have fruit as a mid-morning snack.
  • Add strawberries, blueberries, or bananas to your waffles, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal, or toast.
  • Add vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, or tomatoes to your eggs.

Strawberry Yogurt Shake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened pinapple juice
  • 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen, unsweetened strawberries

Directions

  • Add ingredients, in order listed, to blender. Blend at medium speed, until thick and smooth.

Lunch and dinner

  • Place a box of raisins in your child's backpack, and pack one for yourself, too.
  • Ask for more vegetable toppings like mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions on your pizza.
  • Add broccoli, green beans, corn, or peas to a casserole or pasta.

Very Vegetable Lasagna

Take your favorite lasagna recipe and try adding some of your favorite vegetables. Layer in mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, onions, or eggplant. Be creative.

Vegetable Primavera

  • Choose vegetables such as mushrooms, tomatoes, cauliflower, or bell peppers. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
  • Cook in a skillet pan on the stovetop. Use a small amount of cooking oil or non-stick cooking spray. Cook until the vegetables are tender, but still crisp.
  • Toss with your favorite pasta and add garlic and basil to taste.
  • Top with low-fat or fat-free Parmesan cheese.

Snacks

  • Enjoy hummus and whole-wheat pitas.
  • Snack on vegetables like bell pepper strips and broccoli with a low-fat dip.
  • Try baked tortilla chips with black bean and corn salsa.
  • Stash bags of dried fruit at your desk for an easy snack.
  • Keep a bowl of fruit on your desk or counter.
  • Pick up ready-packed salad greens for a quick salad any time.
  • Encourage your child to choose his or her own fruit when shopping.
  • Store cleaned, cut-up vegetables in the fridge at eye level. Keep a low-fat or fat-free dip on hand.

Sweet Potato Fries

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Cut uncooked sweet potatoes into thin slices.
  3. Dip slices in a mixture of egg substitute and nutmeg.
  4. Spray a baking pan lightly with a non-stick cooking spray. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the baking pan.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until slices are tender.

Turn vegetables into a main meal event.

Vegetables can easily become the star of any meal. Here are a few main dishes that offer ways to add four or more daily servings of vegetables. This is the amount recommended by the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid.

  1. Asparagus, tomato and red pepper French bread pizza. Arrange French bread slices on a baking sheet. Add pizza sauce and a mixture of diced asparagus, Roma tomatoes, red bell peppers and minced garlic. Sprinkle lightly with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400° F until the cheese is lightly browned and the vegetables are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Grilled vegetable kebabs. Brush cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, zucchini slices, red onions, and bell peppers with Italian dressing. Place onto skewers and grill over medium heat. Turn often until the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Fresh vegetable soup. In a large pot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and chopped vegetables. Some ideas are onions, carrots, green beans and celery. Sauté until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, 3 cups water, and sliced, peeled potatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. Vegetable pita pockets. In a small bowl, add cauliflower and broccoli florets, sliced green onions, diced tomatoes, and cucumbers. Then add 1-1/2 teaspoons of low-fat buttermilk or cucumber ranch salad dressing. Cut 1 whole-wheat pita bread in half. Fill each half with the vegetable mix and 1 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese. Warm in the microwave about 40 seconds.

Now you've learned some new ways to add healthy fruits and vegetables to your diet. Enjoy! Be creative! Your body will thank you for it.

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