We all know fruits and vegetables are essential to our nutrition but eating healthy these days isn’t always easy and when you’re busy. Don’t feel defeated! Let’s talk about adorning your diet with a rainbow fruit salad or vegetable medley for nutritious eye candy on your plate. Here are 5 easy and fun ideas to help you enhance your nutrition with vegetables…just in time for National Nutrition Month.
Add More Fruits and Vegetables to Your Meals
Eat fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors — green, red, yellow, orange, white, to provide eye candy and a broad range of nutrients. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and think about variety and color. Have you gone astray? One of the most important and simplest things to keep in mind about produce is that if it’s not there then you can’t add it. Always stay stocked on your favorite fresh and frozen produce. Always have fresh produce in easy-to-grab places such as a fruit and vegetable bowl or a sliced mix in the fridge. Add extra servings of vegetables to dishes for dinner. Instead of making fruits and veggies an afterthought for meals and snacks, plan those meals and snacks around your produce. Do you enjoy salads with dinner? Have your salad before your main course to make sure you get those nutrients. And finally, add a nutritious vegetable or fruit that you don’t normally eat. Shed your inhibitions and experiment!
Avoid The ‘Dirty Dozen’ and Go For The ‘Clean 15’
Today’s current agricultural techniques leave our produce riddled with pesticides. This is why it is important to always buy “certified organic” foods whenever you can. A test done by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found a total of 146 different pesticides on thousands of fruits and veggie samples examined in 2014. It’s important to understand that these pesticides cannot be washed away and are ingrained in the composition of the produce. Each of the foods that were tested actually tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and displayed higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce. Here is the ‘dirty dozen‘ list to avoid if going conventional and not organic: strawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber.
If you’re going for the conventional produce reach for the ‘clean 15‘. This list of produce is the least likely to hold pesticide residues: avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onion, asparagus, mango, papaya, kiwi, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower.
Purchase Organic Foods
Although eating organic can be a bit more costly than conventional produce, you will find that it is worth the extra cost. Organic foods have higher nutritional value than conventional food. Organic crops are grown without synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilizers or irradiation (a form of radiation that kills bacteria). Animals on organic farms eat organically grown feed and are raised without antibiotics or synthetic hormones. You won’t have to worry about consuming pesticides in your produce when you go organic, which may lead to all types of health problems, even cancer. Make sure you don’t mistake GMO-free for organic foods since they are not necessarily free of pesticide residues. Always look for the “certified organic foods” label which means they are also not genetically modified (Non-GMO). Come visit our Produce Department Manager Terry who can help you select the best and most nutritious organic produce. Terry focuses on local in-season produce each week and deals with several local farmers directly. She even offers samples to taste.
Take A Cooking Class
There are so many benefits to cooking at home. It can save you money if you’re accustomed to dining out. If you’re always on the go, believe it or not cooking does save you time if you plan and prepare ahead of time and if you have a good system of storing food. You are also able to incorporate healthier ingredients since dining out or eating processed foods and frozen entrees deteriorate the quality of nutrients, fiber and strips away vital antioxidants that support your health. By cooking at home you can control what and how much you eat. Cooking is a skill that one gains through practice and technique. One solution to consider when you can’t master cooking is to sign up for a cooking class. Cooking classes can take very little time and provide great ideas, hands-on experience and can even be therapeutic. You can learn new cooking techniques and how to apply them to your own style of cooking. And best of all it will give you a chance to show off those new skills to your friends and family.
Find Healthy Recipes
When you’re tired of the same old, same old, then you know it’s time to make a change. Instead of reaching for that frozen entree that will only fill you up without the needed nutrients, find a recipe that will make cooking at home more exciting and interesting. There are numerous avenues you can take to find recipes that will work with your lifestyle. The internet is full of so many ideas and websites but you can always ask friends and relatives for their recipes for proven menus. You can order a cookbook to your style of eating and nowadays you can find pretty much any cookbook with any style of food out there. Once you do find new recipes, take your time, go go easy on yourself, and don’t be afraid to mess up or ruin a dish or two in the process. By doing this you will soon begin to see how much fun cooking at home will be.
Here’s a recipe you may like to add to your repertoire:
Super Easy Roasted Vegetables
2 potatoes (This recipe is made with Yukon Gold, but any kind will work!)
2 red peppers
1 red onion
1 cup Brussels sprouts
3 stalks asparagus
1 cup summer squash
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Italian seasoning to taste
1. Cut the veggies into bite-sized pieces and preheat oven to 400F.
2. Arrange veggies and garlic on baking sheet lined with parchment. Some overlap is fine, but you want the vegetables to all touch the baking sheet if possible.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add Italian seasoning to taste. Bake for 30 minutes, then flip the veggies and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until all is tender.
Have a happy and healthy National Nutrition Month!