Let’s face it, most of us don't (and no, French fries don’t count). In 2009, the CDC reported that less than 1/3 of Americans consumed 2 or more servings of fruit per day. Fewer than 20% of Oklahomans met this goal. Only 26.3% of Americans consumed 3 or more servings of vegetables per day*.
We all know that fruits and vegetables are full of valuable nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, and cancer fighting antioxidants. Improving fruit and veggie intake can help with weight loss too, helping you feel full and satisfied without many calories. Here are some suggestions on how to bump up your intake of these valuable and tasty foods.
Improving your fruit intake is easy. Fruits are the very BEST fast foods. Most require little or no preparation, just rinse and eat. Try adding a half cup of fresh berries to a cup of fat free Greek yogurt for your breakfast. Have a piece of fruit as a snack, or with your lunch. Voila!! that's 2 fruits today!
Like fruits, many vegetables can be consumed with minimal preparation. Start with a big, colorful salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers, onions, black beans or chick peas, and a home-made vinaigrette. Add two ounces of grilled chicken or steak to the top, and an apple on the side, and you have a healthy and satisfying lunch or dinner. Change it up to suit your taste. Try different ingredients like almonds, walnuts, fruits and berries (fresh or dried). The possibilities are limitless.
Try some meatless meals for dinner. Vegetarian cookbooks, magazines, and websites are excellent resources for new and interesting recipes. I have several favorites including this vegetarian stuffed bell pepper.
1) In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, beans, rice, 1-1/2 cups cheese, corn, onion, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, pepper and salt; mix well. Remove and discard tops and seeds of green peppers. Fill each pepper with about 1 cup of the vegetable mixture. Place in a 5-qt. slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
2) Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover and cook 15 minutes longer or until peppers are tender and cheese is melted.
Recipe obtained from allrecipes.com; modified by Amber Carson, RD/LD
Remember that the USDA recommendations of 2 fruits and 3 vegetables per day is a minimum. This dietitian believes that 5 of each daily will make up a very healthy diet.
*State-Specific Trends in Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Adults --- United States, 2000—2009 Weekly; September 10, 2010 / 59(35);1125-1130KA Grimm, MPH, HM Blanck, PhD, KS Scanlon, PhD, LV Moore, PhD, LM Grummer-Strawn, PhD, Div of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; JL Foltz, MD, EIS Officer, CDC.