Fun ways to add more fruits and vegetables to you diet!

Barbara Moschitta, Registered Dietitian, The Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center

Using fruits and vegetables to add volume to your meal or snack is a simple way boost your energy, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, as well as add variety and color to your plate.

Produce is lower in calories than most snack foods and provides a variety of antioxidants that may be protective against certain cancers and support heart health, healthy bones, teeth, skin, memory, and aging. Vegetables and fruits can make you feel full and even help you with weight loss! For example:

-Vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, and peppers contain approximately 25-35 calories per cup.
-Fruits and starchy vegetables (e.g. potatoes) are slightly higher in calories and contain around 80 calories for ½ cup.

Meal Ideas:
Take advantage of the fresh local produce this fall season, including: carrots, sweet potatoes, eggplant, beets, pumpkin, squashes, peaches, pears, and applies. There are many ways to prepare produce, such as grilling, oven roasting, “spiralizing” (method to create curly noodles out of vegetables), or sautéing. Here are a few ideas to increase your produce consumption during a meal:
-Try replacing your traditional pasta with vegetable noodles to decrease the amount of starch and calories you consume. To make the healthier pasta, sauté vegetables with olive oil and garlic and then add your favorite tomato sauce and grated cheese.
-To create a sweet treat, try baking apples, plums, and/or peaches and then add a topping of oatmeal and cinnamon.
-Stuff acorn squash or peppers with ground turkey, tomato, and a choice of grain (e.g. brown rice, quinoa or barley).
-Replace white potatoes in recipes with sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of energy, fiber, and Vitamin A and can be used in any potato recipe.
-Add sliced peaches and apples to your yogurt or granola in the morning.

Focus on creating meals that contain lean protein, produce, and grains (e.g. brown rice, barley, or quinoa) to reduce the amount of starch on your plate and to add volume to your meal.

Snack Ideas:
Boost your overall health and immunity by getting more nutrition in every snack and meal. Here are a few snack ideas to incorporate more produce into your diet:
-hummus or salsa with carrots, baby bell peppers, and broccoli;
-yogurt with apples and cinnamon; and
-celery with nut butter and raisins.

Helpful Tip!
To keep your fresh vegetables from spoiling, blanch them by washing the produce and then quickly immersing it in boiling water for one minute. After removing the vegetable from the water, allow the produce to cool and place in a storage container and freeze for later use. This method removes bacteria from the produce.

What about frozen and canned produce?
A great alternative to fresh fruits and vegetables is frozen produce. Frozen produce actually provides equal if not higher levels of nutrients compared with fresh, as the fruits and vegetables are harvested and frozen immediately. Here are a few ideas on how to utilize frozen produce:
-Add frozen vegetables to your soups and stews, omelets, and even tomato sauces.
-Add mashed cauliflower and broccoli to pasta dishes, such as mac and cheese and lasagna.
-Puree frozen vegetables and add them to meatloaf, ground beef, or turkey patties.
-Shred carrots and zucchini and add to muffins.
-Freeze fruits, such as bananas and berries for later use in smoothies, muffins, and waffles.

Canned varieties are another convenient way to keep fruits and vegetables on hand. When preparing canned varieties, rinse the vegetables to remove excess salt and drain fruit canned in syrup.

If you have questions about your nutrition and diet, schedule an appointment at The Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center today by calling (845) 563-8000.

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