The Nutrition Challenge

It seems everyone is always looking for the latest, greatest health fad, craze, or new super food. We forget that staying with simple basics can have great benefit. Why does eating more fruits and vegetables seem boring and why is it so hard to actually do it each day?

Want to try an "all-you-can-eat" plan? Go ahead and try eating all the fruit and vegetables you want each day. It won't pack on the pounds. Instead the fiber, nutrients, and high water content will fill you up without a lot of calories. Most adults should be eating 9 servings of fruits and vegetables (about 4 1/2 cups) each day. Use some of these tips for fresh inspiration and eat more fruits and vegetables every day!

  • Add fruit and veggies to the foods you are already eating. If you normally eat cereal for breakfast, lessen the cereal by adding fruit to fill up your bowl. By adding frozen blueberries and cinnamon to plain quick oats, you won't even feel the need to add sugar to the oatmeal.
  • Add chopped or pureed veggies to eggs, meatloaf, sauces, casseroles, and soups. This practice will often lesson the calories and boost the nutrition per serving. You can often double the amount of vegetables called for in an original recipe especially in soups and casseroles.
  • Whip up smoothies using fruits and vegetables. There are endless combinations to try using yogurt, juice, milk, or ice. Vegetables practically disappear into smoothies. They will change the color but not the taste much. So instead of just fruit try also adding a ½ cup greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, cucumber, carrots, etc). You will feel healthy just drinking a green smoothie!
  • If time is holding you back, buy pre-chopped, pre-peeled, or pre-made salads. Also, frozen and canned fruits and veggies can be excellent options in place of fresh. Frozen may be cheaper if that particular produce is out of season.
  • Keep your fruit and vegetables out in the open. This may be on a counter or in a visible area inside the refrigerator. We are more likely to eat things we see often. At work keep some fruit at your desk rather than going to the vending machine.
  • On the weekend prepare Ziploc bags of cut up veggies or fruit so you have them ready to go for packing lunches and snacks. Cut up apples will turn less brown if immediately dipped in orange or lemon juice.
  • Dip veggies in salsa, hummus, or guacamole to provide variety. Fruit can be dipped in yogurt. Kids especially enjoy dipping!
  • Be creative and try new ideas. Slice up a banana and put flavored yogurt (Greek or regular) on the slices and sprinkle with dark chocolate chips. Freeze them for a few hours. Enjoy as a snack or frozen dessert. Other fruits like grapes also taste great frozen. Or try using the already frozen fruit mixes liked mixed berries or a blend of pineapple, mango, peaches, and strawberries for sweet treats.
  • Roast vegetables while preparing the rest of meal. Make extra for leftovers to be used the next day. Cut up peppers, carrots, onions, snow peas, broccoli, eggplant, etc. Rub them with some olive oil and seasonings. Bake on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Toss occasionally.
  • Remember try to fill up half of your plate with vegetables, salad, and fruit at most meals 

 

Here is a recipe for chili that includes canned pumpkin to boost nutrition. No one will know there is pumpkin in the chili!

Bean 'n' pumpkin chili

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 sweet colored pepper chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (15oz) solid-pack pumpkin
2 cans (15oz) beans (kidney, black, or northern), rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5oz) petite diced tomatoes, un-drained
3 cups chicken broth
2 ½ cups cubed cooked turkey or chicken or even lean ground beef
2 -3 tsp chili powder
1 ½ tsp- 2 tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt if desired
Cubed avocado if desired

Saute onion, pepper and garlic in hot olive oil until tender. Transfer to slow cooker and add rest of ingredients. Cook covered on low for 4-5 hours. Top with avocado if desired when serving. If short on time skip the sautéing step and just put the chopped veggies in crock pot and cook soup longer. I have also added frozen corn to this recipe for more veggies! Servings 10. Per serving: 192 calories, 5g fat (1g sat), 21 g carb, 7 g fiber, 16 g protein, 658mg sodium. Note: If you have a large crock pot double the recipe and freeze extras for another meal.