5 Delicious Ways to Eat More Fruits and Veggies Everyday
By Barb Cronin, YMCA of Greater Brandywine Valley
It’s no secret that eating a healthy diet helps to prevent the risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers.
Part of a healthy diet includes consuming fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Did you know that in January 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines increased the recommended daily servings of fruits and veggies?
It is now suggested that adults consume a minimum of 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day. While this may seem a daunting goal, there are a few simple tips that will not only help you reach that goal but surpass it – and love every bite!
- Sip on Smoothies
Smoothies are good anytime of the day. Try one first thing in the morning to kick start your body and get a head start on the day’s fruit and veggie requirements. Or have one as an afternoon or post work treat. There are many options for smoothies but some of the most popular include strawberries, blueberries, bananas, spinach, kale, wheat grass and more. There are smoothies for energy, to boost your immune system and even to fight aging.
- Make Desert Count
Often when it comes to desert we think of sweets that aren’t so healthy. Consider opting for fresh fruit instead. There are many options like fruit salad, fruit kabobs, strawberries or bananas dipped in dark chocolate and more. You can also choose cobblers and crisps as well as yogurt parfaits with fresh fruits and granola.
- Get Creative when Cooking
Think out of the box when it comes to the dinners you prepare. Sneak vegetables into sauces and add to certain dishes for a change. Add veggies to spaghetti, mac and cheese and other pasta dishes or throw some on quesadillas, pizzas and in quiches.
Make snacks count and munch on fresh vegetables and fruits. One of the keys is to have them ready to grab and go. Keep cut carrots, celery, peppers and cucumbers on hand to dip in your favorite dip. Keep a fruit salad in the fridge divided into portions to grab and go. It’s also good to have hummus, trail mix, cheese and dried fruits and popcorn ready to go for snacks.
- Expand your Vegetable Knowledge
It’s easy to get stuck in a food rut eating the same foods every week. When it comes to veggies many have a limited menu. Try to pick a different vegetable each week. Take turns having a family member select a new veggie and corresponding recipe each week. Encourage them to prepare the dish themselves – if they’re too young, work together to make it. This will keep dinner time interesting and you may discover a favorite new food.
When it comes to healthy eating often it’s about convenience and accessibility. Check out local farmer’s markets, community supported agriculture groups and mobile produce like Nourish Mobile Markets. The YMCA of Greater Brandywine is now partnered with Nourish Mobile-a mobile food market, offering local healthy fresh food for sale to those struggling with food insecurity or limited transportation. Nourish will visit six of the Y’s branches on an every other week basis to make fresh, locally-sourced foods available to all community members. Check out http://www.ymcagbw.org/nourishmobile for more details.
The YMCA of Greater Brandywine is a leading Chester County non-profit charity dedicated to strengthening community through programs that support youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. With more than 80,000 members at nine facilities, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine invites all people to participate in membership and programs, regardless of their ability to pay. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. www.ymcagbw.org
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