National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month
June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month! That means it’s time to kick it up a notch with your healthy eating habits. Some of us already get plenty of fruits and vegetables in our diet, but for others I know it can be a struggle to meet the recommended daily values, especially if you have a hectic schedule, a family of picky eaters, or you’re not exactly a contender for America’s next Top Chef. Have no fear, that’s why I’m here! I love fruits and veggies so I’m going to help you embrace them with a smile now too!
First things first, try to plan for three servings of fruit every day and four servings of vegetables. Trust me, this is very easy to achieve. Think about it, you only need three fruit servings per day so add one to breakfast, one to lunch, and one to dessert after dinner. Vegetables can be tackled with a similar approach; add one vegetable to breakfast, one to lunch, and have two with dinner, or even have one as a snack.
Here are some great meal options sure to please even your pickiest eaters:
- Smoothie: toss your favorite fruits in the blender with some ice, spinach (or veggie of choice), and a thickening agent, whether that be protein powder, milk, almond milk, keifer (liquid or frozen), or just water
-Egg Scramble: in a pan, heat some eggs or egg whites, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, and even some lean ground turkey sausage or veggie protein substitute if desired. Then have a side of fresh cut melon, berries, or grapefruit.
-Eggs on the Go: scramble some eggs and veggies then wrap it up in a tortilla and add some fresh salsa for a bonus vegetable serving or place it between a whole grain English muffin or toast. Grapes make a good on the go side of fruit to go with this one! [This one can even be made the night before and reheated on your way out the door in the morning if you’re crunched for time!]
-Cereal: a bowl of low sugar cereal (or oatmeal) with milk or milk substitute topped with fresh berries or a sliced banana is quick, simple, and delicious! Veggies don’t mix as well with this option but have a glass of OJ to get an extra serving of fruit and just swap that for an extra serving of greens at lunch.
-Yogurt: a bowl of yogurt mixed with your favorite fruits is delicious and will keep you satisfied longer than you’d imagine. Feel free to sprinkle on some granola or a handful of cereal if desired. This is another option where doubling up on fruit is easy, just remember to have an additional veggie later on.
-Salad: toss your favorite lettuce with a variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, snap peas, corn, peas, bell peppers, etc. then add your protein of choice: chicken breast, canned tuna, nuts, and drizzle some dressing over the colorful bowl. Just be careful not to ruin the healthiness of your meal with dressing; avoid thick or creamy options, your best bet is a light vinaigrette or a homemade concoction like vinegar, pepper, lemon, and your favorite all-purpose spice. An apple goes great on the side or even chopped up within.
-Sandwich: whole grain bread layered with your favorites, such as lean turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, sprouts, avocado, cucumbers, etc. Mustard is fine to add but leave off the mayo; if you need a little extra something, add a dash of pepper, cayenne, vinegar, or season-all. Pair it with your favorite in-season fruit.
-Leftovers: if packing your lunch sounds like too much work for your busy life, then make a little extra when you cook your healthy dinner each night and slip some into a Tupperware to grab on your way out the door.
-BBQ: it’s summer after all, so fire up that grill! Marinate some chicken (when you get home from work, or even toss it in a Ziploc the night before to speed up the process) and toss it on the grill. Then pick some of your favorite vegetables and stick them on skewers or lay asparagus, zucchini slices, large Portobello mushrooms, or corn on the cob (wrapped in foil) on the other BBQ rack. Even fruit tastes great on the grill! Slice a pineapple or some peaches and set those on for a couple minutes. Make the most use of your BBQ this summer because it is your best all-around cooking tool plus it lets you enjoy those awesome warm summer nights outside!
-Stir Fry: in a large pan cook some chicken, tofu, or shrimp in your favorite sauce (my absolute favorite is San J Szechuan, its gluten free and only has 15 calories per serving) then add in whatever veggies you desire, I typically go with an assortment of snap peas, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, broccoli slaw, mushrooms, broccoli, or cauliflower. If you need rice you can put this over a bed of rice but the stir fry itself is more than filling.
-Taco Night: make a batch fresh salsa and guacamole to avoid unnecessary salt and preservatives found in packaged varieties. Then grill some pollo asada or carne asada with bell peppers. Warm your favorite tortillas then fill them with the asada mixture, lettuce, cilantro, and your fresh salsa and guacamole. To sneak a serving of fruit into this meal, try a mango or pineapple salsa!
-Homemade Pizza: either make your own crust or buy pre-made, then slather on some sauce and a thin layer of cheese, then decorate it with sliced olives, peppers, mushrooms, pineapple, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, chicken breast, turkey pepperoni, or whatever else your heart desires. It’s a fun and easy meal that the whole family can help make!
-fresh cut fruit
-berries—if desired, you can use these as a topping to yogurt or frozen yogurt
-celery, carrot, and/or pepper sticks as is or with a side of salsa or hummus to dip them in
-an apple, alone or with a side of nut butter to dip
-a cup of grapes, or any fruit for that matter
-a cup of cottage cheese topped with fruit
-celery sticks filled with nut butter and topped with raisins—“ants on a log” great for kids
-fruit and/or veggie smoothie
Photo credit: Featured Image was taken from Flickr by Global Jet.