By Nancy Boudreau
You hear it all the time – Eat more fruits and vegetables! Why? Fruits and vegetables are some of the most nutrient dense foods around. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, all the good things you need for vibrant health. Not only are they delicious, but eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can also help you lose weight, protect you against certain types of cancers and reduce your risk for heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
The USDA recommends at least 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Now you may be thinking that 9 servings sounds like a lot. So what exactly constitutes a serving?
As you can see, 9 servings is not that much, but it will require some planning. First things first…
In order to eat them, you’ve got to buy them. Since produce is highly perishable, plan on picking up the majority of what you’ll need on the weekend , with a quick mid-week grocery store stop to replenish your inventory.
When you get home, wash whole fruits like apples, grapes and pears so they are ready to grab and go. Cut up berries, melons or pineapple and store in clear bowls front and center in the fridge .
Wash and chop vegetables so they are ready to steam, roast or stir fry. Wash and prep a huge bowl of salad that can make an appearance at lunch and dinner for a few days.
Don’t shy away from frozen fruits and veggies either. They are picked and frozen at their peak of freshness. Frozen fruits are economical and frozen vegetables are great for soups and adding to sauces. Read the bags though and choose organic whenever possible.
So how do you work these 9 servings into your day?
1 to 2 servings of fruit in a day is easy. Eat a piece of whole fruit or add a ½ cup of berries to your yogurt, steel cut oats or smoothie for breakfast. Have another piece of whole fruit as part of your mid-morning or afternoon snack.
Vegetables are nutritional superstars and a couple of servings can be worked into every meal and snack, simply and deliciously. For example:
Add some protein like leftover chicken, tuna fish or beans, top with some raw nuts for a little crunch and you’ve got a complete and satisfying meal.
If you’re bringing your salad to work, bring your salad dressing in a separate container and toss when you’re ready to eat. Or you can top your salad with ½ an avocado, a pinch of sea salt, freshly ground pepper and the juice of half a lemon. Mix until the avocado turns into a creamy, delicious dressing.
Drop the veggies on a large sheet pan taking care not to overcrowd them so the veggies will roast, not steam. Drizzle with some olive oil, mixed well, sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper and roast in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes for softer vegetables, 20 -30 minutes for harder ones. Prick with a fork to test for doneness. You don’t want them completely soft (there should be a little give). Make a lot of these because the leftovers are great reheated or turned into a vegetable soup.
And there you have it. Nine servings doesn’t sound so difficult after all now does it? Try new vegetables, or revisit one you thought you didn’t like. Tastes change and evolve so experiment and enjoy.
About the Author
Nancy Boudreau is a Certified Health Coach and yoga enthusiast, who believes in progress, not perfection. She works with women who want to lose weight, manage stress and reclaim their vitality by making small, incremental changes to their diet and lifestyle that add up to big changes in weight, energy and overall health.
Connect with Nancy on her website.
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Image Credit: The Medical Center of Plano
Disclaimer: The techniques, strategies, and suggestions expressed here are intended to be used for educational purposes only.
The author, Drew Canole, and the associated www.fitlife.tv are not rendering medical advice, nor to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, condition, illness, or injury. It is imperative that before beginning any nutrition or exercise program you receive full medical clearance from a licensed physician.
Drew Canole and Fitlife.tv claim no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented here.
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