• Have at least one serving of vegetables and fruit at each meal. Try taking carrots for lunch, or a fruit crisp as a dessert at supper.
• Make sure that your snack choices also include a vegetable or fruit. It’s easy to grab an apple instead of a bag of chips.
• Try adding vegetables to your sandwiches. Put onions, mushrooms, and green peppers on a sandwich for a new treat.
• Try a dip. Kids of all ages love to dip vegetables and fruit. A low fat ranch dressing is great for vegetables. How about chocolate or caramel dip for fruit? It’s a fondue treat without the work.
• Experiment! Once a month try a new vegetable or fruit you have never tried before. Your local grocery store’s produce staff can give you ideas on how to prepare and eat it. Try new ways to cook your not-so-liked vegetables. You might find a new favourite.
• Flavour foods. Try adding pureed vegetables to soups, stews, and sauces. Even people who say they dislike vegetables and fruits don’t complain about this one.
• Look at new recipes. Try something wild and different. As a child one of my favourite recipes was for tomato soup cake. It sounds weird but tastes great.
• Cold soup? Fruit soups and cold
vegetable soups are in style. Try a chilled
blueberry soup on a hot summer evening.
• Turn old favourites into healthy new treats. For example, instead of frying potatoes for french fries, try oven baking them. All you have to do is cut up a potato, add a light coating of oil, and bake. You can use sweet potato for a new twist.
• Make it fun! Be creative. Eating healthy
doesn’t have to be boring. Have a potluck with your friends and pick a theme vegetable or fruit.
This vegetable or fruit would then be creatively included in all the dishes served. Or try a colour theme where all the vegetables and fruit in the dishes need to be one colour but can’t be the same.
Many people are confused about the size of a serving of the vegetable and fruit food group. Most servings are the size of a fist or a half a cup. This would be about the size of a small orange.
A half a cup of juice is one serving but if you were to have a juice box, which is a cup of juice, then you would be having two servings.
Vegetables and fruits have many health benefits. They have been found to reduce the risk of heart and stroke disease as well as certain cancers. Vegetables and fruit contain various nutrients found to be an excellent source of carbohydrates, fibre, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and vitamins. When choosing vegetables and fruits to eat, go for a variety of colours and types. This will help you to get a variety of vitamins and nutrients to keep you healthy.
Grains, vegetables and fruits are the main sources of carbohydrates in foods. Carbohydrates change to glucose in the body. Glucose is the most common source of energy for the body’s cells. These food groups give you the energy to run, walk, dance and do the things you love.
Vegetables and fruit are also an excellent source of dietary fibre. You should have between 25 and 30 grams of fibre in a day, which is hard to do without eating enough vegetables and fruit. Eating your fruit is also better than drinking it because that way you’ll get more fibre. That doesn’t mean never having juice, but eating fruit makes it easier to get the recommended grams of fibre each day. Fibre is also found in whole grain products, and in dried beans, peas, and lentils.
Phytochemicals and antioxidants are found naturally in vegetables and fruits. It’s these nutrients, and fibre, that may actually protect artery walls from heart and stroke disease as well as stop the cells from becoming cancerous.
Many vegetables and fruit are high in vitamins A and C including asparagus and tomatoes, apricots and mangos. Bananas are high in potassium and they also have vitamin C. Kiwi fruit are also a good source of these.
Research has shown that in most cases, if you eat a healthy diet according to Canada’s Food Guide and are eating enough vegetables and fruit in a day, you will not need a vitamin or mineral supplement. It is still unknown how antioxidants and phytochemicals react naturally in foods, and whether they are as effective in the pill form as they are in food.
Vitamin and mineral pills should be treated like all other drugs. In high doses they can be toxic to the body and do more harm than good. The vitamins and minerals found naturally in foods are always at safe levels. It would be very difficult to overdose on vitamins and minerals found in food. The only way to ensure that you are getting enough vitamins and minerals is to eat a healthy diet. If you really must take a vitamin and mineral supplement, it’s best to use a multivitamin rather than a single mega dose. This way you don’t run the risk of harming your body.
It can often seem too expensive to buy fresh vegetables and fruits. Bananas, oranges, and apples are always inexpensive all year round. However, cauliflower, broccoli and mushrooms rarely increase in price. It doesn’t just have to be fresh vegetables and fruit. Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables also rarely change their prices through the year and are included as part of the vegetable and fruit group. Remember to help reduce the cost of foods by buying vegetables and fruits when they’re in season. It’s also usually cheaper to buy local produce.
Some consumers are concerned about pesticides on vegetables and fruits in Canada. Canada has very strict guidelines regarding the levels and types of pesticides allowed on the produce for sale. It’s still a good idea to wash your vegetables and fruit well before eating. If you are still unsure you can always use an approved vegetable and fruit wash.
The best way to increase vegetables and fruits in your healthy eating is to make it a habit. Take small steps. Try adding a fruit at breakfast for a week. The next week keep that fruit at breakfast and add a vegetable to lunch. Soon you will be in the elite 30 per cent of Canadians who meet the minimum recommended daily intake of five to 10 vegetables and fruits a day.