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My Nutritarian Diary: Tips to Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Part 2

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I have a feeling that writing out these tips on how to eat more fruits and vegetables in our diets have benefited me more than you, since I followed my own advice this week! There were a couple meals that I purposely added frozen green beans to (after they were microwaved, of course) to pump up my veggie intake. I also ate several large salads this week, as well as increased the amount of veggies I used in a pasta salad of mine.

So as much as for me as for you, listed below are 10 more tiny inspirations to help you eat more fruits and vegetables every day. These are in addition to the 10 I wrote up in last week’s blog.

1. When needing a quick meal, cook up a rice noodle soup bowl, and load it with at least a cup or two of any variety of frozen veggies.

2. If you eat a lot of healthy frozen meals for lunch, add another cup (or two) of frozen vegetables to microwave with the meal.

3. Add about ¼ cup of Grapenuts or similar cereal (with five or fewer ingredients) to your cut up cantaloupe for an excellent sweet and crunchy snack (or dessert).

4. Replace chips or crackers with raw carrots and/or apple slices for a side to your sandwich, veggie burger, etc.

5. Find a low-fat, bean dip recipe you love and make it once a week to use as a dip for raw vegetables. (This Tuscan White Bean Dip is a great recipe to try.)

6. Use applesauce or spotted bananas instead of oil in your baking. (See Banana-Chocolate Chip Scones.)

7. Eat fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors. This maximizes the nutritional benefits you receive from eating healthy.

8. Shop for fruits and veggies every 3-5 days or so, to keep your produce fresh and to help make sure what you are buying doesn’t spoil.

9. Clean and cut up your fresh vegetables when you come home from the store to ensure you will add them to your meals. (I do this for, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower, for example, and this makes cooking with them or adding them to salads quick and accessible.) The same for fruit. Rinse fruit like cherries and grapes right away and place them in a container in the fridge so that you have quick access to eating them.

10. Cook around two vegetable-heavy meals a week (this could be a vegetable chili or soup, a spaghetti squash pasta dish, etc.) that have a lot of leftovers, so you don’t burn out in the kitchen. Soon you will build a repertoire of several recipes to keep your family healthy and satisfied. There are lots of books available in our local libraries that can help you discover meals that are easy for you to make and that taste great. And of course, peruse “My Nutritarian Diary” recipes to see if one of these dishes could be one of the ones you want to try.

See also: My Nutritarian Diary: Tips to Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Part 1

My Nutritarian Diary: Tips to Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Part 1

Nutritarian HeaderAs a returned Peace Corps volunteer and an occasional world traveler (emphasis on occasional), I am very much aware of the blessings I have in America in the abundance of food choices I have every day. When I examine just the amount of produce I can choose from in any grocery store, I am in awe of my blessings here and just how easy it is to have access to foods that nourish my body in all seasons. I am tremendously thankful for the bounty of food I experience in America, and I think eating healthy can be one way I show my gratitude.

Another way I can show my gratitude is to pass along to you some tips on how to increase your own intake of fruits and vegetables.

Most of us have no trouble eating grains, protein sources, healthy fat, and so on. But what most of us don’t eat enough of are our fruits and vegetables, and what we are probably lacking most in our diets are vegetables.

We are learning more and more in the media that these foods are so very good for us, and not only do they have the ability to keep us healthy, they also have the ability to make us healthier. Also, the more fruits and vegetables we eat, the less room we’ll have for the junk food that is hurting us.

So, listed below are 10 tips I’ve learned on my plant-based eating journey about how to eat more fruits and vegetables. Next week, I’ll provide you with 10 more! If you have any suggestions, let me know them in the comments below, and you may be mentioned in next week’s post.

Photo by Liz West, Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Liz West, Wikimedia Commons

  1. Try to eat one pound of raw veggies and one pound of cooked veggies a day (Dr. Joel Fuhrman). This will ensure you receive the diversity of nutrients that come only when the vegetable is eaten raw and only when it is eaten cooked. Just for guidance four to five raw carrots weighs a pound and often store-bought, frozen vegetables are sold in pound-sized packages.
  1. Try to eat one large salad a day topped with a healthy low-fat or non-fat dressing (Dr. Joel Fuhrman). And by large, I mean at least four to six ounces of greens. That amount would probably fit the size of a medium bag of popcorn you get at a theater. Top your chosen salad greens with more veggies, about a cup of a legume or combination of legumes of your choice (flavored tofu, edamame, lentils, chickpeas, or other beans), and a tablespoon or two of raw nuts.
  1. Experiment with cooked veggies (and yes, they can be cold!) as a topping for your salad.
  1. Try to eat three pieces of fruit a day. And one of those fruits should be a banana. They are amazingly good for you and help your mood.
    1. Don’t discount smoothies that are full of veggies and fruit as part of your plan to eat more fruits and veggies. But don’t rest totally on smoothies to try and take in more fruits and veggies either. (See my Super Easy Blended Salad.)
Photo by Ionutzmovie, Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Ionutzmovie, Wikimedia Commons

  1. Don’t get weighed down by buying the “perfect” food item. There are some rules that may be non-negotiable for your family, but try and keep them simple and try not to have too many. Buying organic can be expensive, especially when the produce you are buying isn’t in season locally. So, if your family likes cherries, and the organic ones are just too cost prohibitive at this time, buy the non-organic and enjoy them—after a diligent rinsing, of course.
  1. Don’t use any sweeteners to sweeten your oatmeal/morning cereal. Instead, use raisins or other dried fruit, frozen berries (I prefer blueberries!), sweet apples, cut in cubes, or any other sweet fruit. That way you’re not only sweetening your breakfast, but you’re adding more fiber and nutrition to your meal, as well as working toward your fruit requirement.
  1. Have a dessert salad for your after-dinner sweet tooth. My favorite is lettuce topped with granny smith apple slices, drizzled lightly with a sweet, no-fat dressing.
  1. When making a pasta salad, halve the amount of pasta the recipe calls for and double the veggies. (And raw zucchini is an amazing added vegetable to almost any pasta salad.) (This tip could be applied to my Savory ‘Herb d’Vour’ Pasta Salad recipe.)
  1. Don’t be afraid of corn or peas. I know they get a bad rap as “starchy” vegetables, but they are better to eat than no vegetables at all. Besides, these sweeter veggies may be easier for kids to enjoy as you transition them to eating more vegetables.

My Nutritarian Diary: Tuscan White Bean Dip

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We all know we are supposed to eat more fruits and vegetables every day. Even the United States Department of Agriculture recommends a significant portion of both on its now three-year-old MyPlate nutritional info graphic.

However, most of us, including me prior to going mostly plant-based in my own eating, actually eat a very small portion of fruits and vegetables as part of our daily diet. Our consumption probably looks something like this: a small cup of juice during breakfast, maybe an apple as part of lunch, and a side salad with our dinner. Instead, we get calories from less than desirable sources and we suffer as a result. We not only deplete our bodies of its nutrients, we don’t even replenish them.

In the plant-based community, there are many suggestions as to how to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption. There are also many ideas about what a plant-based diet should look like.1 But all agree. We should eat more fruits and vegetables and we should all start now.

The best advice I’ve read so far, for myself, has been Joel Fuhrman’s suggestion to try and eat at least one pound of raw vegetables and one pound of cooked vegetables daily, as well as try to eat three fresh fruits a day.

That is not as easy as it may seem, which is why I wanted to give you a recipe this week that will help assist you in eating vegetables—the incredibly healthy and nutrient dense Tuscan White Bean Dip, from Fuhrman’s Eat to Live Cookbook.

1For an excellent comparison of different plant-based diet philosophy’s, I recommend Dr. John McDougall’s August 2012 McDougall Newsletter article, “The Diet Wars: The Time for Unification is Now.” The comparison chart is on the second page of this link. (Accessed online: 6-6-14)

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Tuscan White Bean Dip
(Adapted from Eat to Live Cookbook by Joel Fuhrman / with low-sodium references removed)

INGREDIENTS:
• 1½ cups cooked great northern beans or 1 (15-ounce) can of great northern beans, drained
• ¼ cup pine nuts (I used cashews)
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• seasonings, to taste (could be a no-salt seasoning blend or other seasoning blend of your choice)
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 1 tablespoon fresh, minced rosemary
• ¼ cup rehydrated dried tomatoes, minced

Makes 2½ cups.

DIRECTIONS:
“Place all ingredients, except the dried tomatoes, in a high-powered blender or food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. Adjust seasonings to taste. Stir in the dried tomatoes. Chill for 1 hour before serving” (Fuhrman).

MY NOTES:
Fuhrman says to soak the dried tomatoes in lukewarm water until soft (about 1 to 2 hours). I rehydrated mine with boiling water for 10-15 minutes. His way probably leaves more nutrients in the tomatoes, but I didn’t have that time. I also added some of the tomato soaking water in my dip to help achieve my desired consistency.