Category Archives: Fruits and Veggies

Celebrate the Season with Fruits & Veggies

A guest post from Produce for Better Health Foundation.

imageThe arrival of the holiday season means it’s time for celebration. At this festive time of year a person can find themselves eating on the run, skipping meals, eating too much, or too often. Don’t neglect your health! Fill your belly with the fruits and vegetables of the season for a happy, healthy holiday.

Here are some tips for incorporating delicious and healthy fruit and vegetables dishes into your holiday.

  • Start every meal with a festive salad; top mixed greens with your favorite veggies, then add sliced apples or pears, dried cranberries, mandarin orange segments, or shiny pomegranate seeds. Delight your palette with unexpected salad ingredients like jicama or avocado. For another beautiful salad option, slice a variety of citrus fruits such as tangerines, grapefruits and naval oranges, top with torn fresh basil leaves, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Soup makes a great beginning for a meal and it’s a wonderful way to fill up without adding many calories, as long as you stay away from the cream-based type. A broth-based soup containing red bell peppers, orange carrots, yellow corn and green peas is warm, satisfying, and colorful.
  • Vegetable medleys make an attractive side dish expanding the meal’s flavor. Try adding a small amount of chopped nuts or fun shaped pasta to mixed veggies to make them more special than your average weeknight dinner fare.
  • Fruit can serve as the centerpiece at mealtime and then be passed around when it’s time for dessert. Slice off the leafy pineapple top, place it in the center of a platter and surround it with a combination of pineapple chunks, strawberries, grapes, kiwifruit, orange sections, apple slices or other fruit. Sprinkle with lemon or lime juice and toss on a handful of dried fruit or your favorite nuts.

There are other ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your holiday celebrations besides just on the menu.

  • Put out festive baskets or bowls filled with a beautiful arrangement of seasonal fruits & veggies as decorations at your next holiday get-together. Unlike flowers or other decorative displays, they can be eaten as part of post-party meals saving you the trouble of disposing of flowers.
  • Teach your child the spirit of giving by helping you donate non-perishable fruits & veggies to a local food pantry or homeless shelter. You can also suggest that they donate old clothes or toys they no longer play with as a way to make room for anticipated holiday gifts. This helps others while teaching your child a valuable lesson by letting them feel the joy of giving.

There are many wonderful recipes that feature winter fruits and vegetables. Balsamic Citrus Carrots and Crazy Curly Broccoli Bake are two festive side-dishes that will add a beautiful combination of colors and fun to the holiday table. If you’re looking for a few fun, yet educational gift ideas, surf over to www.pbhcatalog.com for some inexpensive items that make great stocking stuffers or gift exchange presents for all the young children and teachers on your list. More seasonal fruit & vegetable inspiration can be found online at www.FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org.

Happy Holidays to you and your families.

Healthy Holidays and Honey Roasted Parsnips

A guest post from Produce for Better Health Foundation.

ParsnipsNovember is here and winter celebrations are on their way. No matter what the holiday, the dining room table always seems to be the center of festivities. While everyone enjoys their traditional family recipes, it can be fun to incorporate new dishes to the meal and the options for delicious, healthy dishes are endless.

Some of the season’s best, like parsnips (pictured), turnips, and winter squash, are prefect additions to stews, soups and roasts. Other in-season items, like sweet potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin, are traditionally associated with celebratory meals.

Even if your families’ favorite fruits & veggies aren’t in season you can still enjoy them for the holiday because All Forms Count! Canned, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables can be less expensive than their fresh counterparts and are just as nutritious because they are processed immediately after harvest.

Fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers. They are naturally low in calories and they provide fiber that helps keep your digestive system working well. Fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals that your body needs to feel healthy and energized. Everyone can benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables, so pledge to fill at least half of your plate with them!

Make the season come alive with the vibrant colors of fruits and vegetables. Before the meal, offer a vegetable tray that includes blanched asparagus or green beans, red and green bell pepper strips and your favorite colorful raw veggies. Serve a couple different flavors of low-fat dressing, hummus, or guacamole as dips. A variety of dips to choose from keeps everyone happy. Keep seasonal fruit on hand for delicious and nutritious snacks.

There are many wonderful recipes calling for autumn produce that can make an appearance on the holiday table. Sweet Potato and Pear Soup makes a delicious meal starter, and Honey-Roasted Parsnips are a great seasonal side dish. If you’re in search of help for hosting that big meal, look at our autumn entertaining hints, and check out our other recipes online at www.FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org too!

Meal Planning Can Help Ease Crunched Schedules

A guest post from Produce for Better Health Foundation.

image Autumn is officially here. School has started and our schedules are tight. Some evenings it’s difficult to gather the entire family for a meal, much less find the time to prepare one! How do you ensure that healthy eating stays on top of your priority list?

Serving healthy meals and snacks can be easier than it seems – even for the busiest household. With a just a little planning, you can stay prepared for those last-minute meals and snack attacks that might otherwise send you running for the drive-thru. Planning ahead for snacks and meals that are both nutritious and delicious is the key to success.

Making a weekly menu and shopping list is the best way to plan for healthy meals that include fruits and vegetables. Before heading to the store, plan out and write down what you and your family will be eating for the next week. It’s helpful to have the calendar with all the family member’s activity schedules within reach because this will dictate which day’s meals need to be made (and eaten) quickly.

imageWrite out a menu plan of what you want to eat and when. Then write down any  ingredients for those dishes that you don’t already have at home and you’ve just filled out your shopping list! Choosing all the meals and snacks in advance will enable you to make sure that everything you need to fix these dishes is purchased, saving you time by avoiding extra trips later in the week.

Don’t forget about all the work that the store can do for you to save you time on meal prep at home. A fresh cut veggie tray can be reapportioned into smaller containers once home to go in packed lunches for the whole family. A fresh cut fruit salad makes a great addition to breakfast, or buy a bag of assorted whole fruits for grab-and-go enjoyment. A bagged salad is quick to portion out. Add a rotisserie chicken and dinner’s almost complete!

Take advantage of extra time when you have it. Make a double batch of a veggie-packed casserole recipe or lasagna, then freeze half for a quick meal another day. Cook more ground beef or turkey than your recipe calls for, and then use the surplus to save time the next day.

If you’re looking for some new (and healthy) recipes to spice up your routine, check out the recipe section of www.FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org. Beef StroganoffThere is even a special section of recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less! Here are two great recipes calling for autumn produce to get your meal planning started, Apple Chicken Stir-Fry and Beef Stroganoff.

Visit www.FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org for user-friendly advice on adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet; including, recipes, nutrition information, tips for getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables, and even videos. Follow Fruits & Veggies—More Matters on Facebook or Twitter to get the latest fruit and veggie news.

Get Your Kid’s Lunchbox Ready for Back-to-School!

A Guest Post from Produce for Better Health Foundationimage

  It’s August. This means that, even though your kids are still thinking about sleeping in and hitting the pool, you’re thinking about fitting school supplies and new shoes into the budget. There are several things you will need to remember to pick up to ensure your child has a successful first day of class; pencils and paper, maybe a new calculator, and lots of fruits & veggies! Back-to-school time is the perfect time to think about adding more fruits & vegetables to your family’s meals and snacks.

Taking care of your child’s nutritional needs is important. Your best bet to ensure that healthy items in their lunch get eaten, not traded for high-calorie, less nutritious foods, is to pack fun fruits & veggies in their lunchbox. Typically, food that can be eaten with their hands is fun for kids. Think baby carrots, grape tomatoes, sugar snap peas and celery sticks. Send along low-fat salad dressing to use as a dip or, for a change of pace, give them salsa, guacamole or humus as dips. Fruit can be dipped in low-fat yogurt or peanut butter.

Bananas are another great lunch option. They don’t need to be washed sliced and kids can peal them themselves. Grapes, cherries and berries already come in kid-friendly sizes, and don’t forget about dried fruits like raisins, apricots, cranberries and plums. You can even find dried papaya and pineapple for a tasty tropical treat. None of these options need refrigerated so they will be safe and delicious even after a few hours in a locker or cubby.

imageTry cutting food into fun shapes using small cookie cutters or just a paring knife.  Red bell peppers make pretty hearts or butterflies, and try turning yellow ones into stars. Several pre-cut and portion-packaged fruit & veggie items can also be found in your favorite supermarket. They provide a quick and convenient alternative to cleaning and trimming things yourself when packing lunch in a hurry.

A Thermos of vegetable soup can also pack quite a punch of nutrition and will warm your child up on a cold day. Even if you don’t have time to make soup from scratch, you can always improve on canned soups by adding additional frozen or canned veggies. This trick helps stretch soup farther and adds a boost of flavor and nutrition too.

imagePack lunchbox items in fun, kid-sized containers. Colorful small plastic bowls with lids are just perfect for toting child-friendly amounts of food. Put lettuce, tomato slices and pickles in a separate plastic baggie and let the kids add these items to their sandwiches right before they eat them. This keeps the sandwich from getting soggy. Toss your child’s juice box in the freezer before packing it. It will thaw enough to drink by lunchtime and help keep other items in their lunchbox cool until then. Make sure that the juice box you choose is 100 percent juice, not all of them are.

image  Like New Year’s Day, the first day of school is a time to begin again, a time to  set new goals and commit to small changes for the better. One of those changes should be eating more fruits and vegetables. Raisin Waldorf Salad (pictured above) and Carrot Tuna Vegetable Dip (pictured right) are two delicious, lunchbox friendly recipes that will help you fit more fruits and veggies into meals and snacks.

Visit www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org for user-friendly advice on how to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet; including, recipes, nutrition information, tips for getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables, and even videos.