Welcome back to the Real Food Experience where we are working on ways to improve your diet. Last week, we challenged you to clean up your kitchen and start reading food labels. This week we will be talking about 2 more ways to improve your diet by adding more fruit and vegetables.
Clean Up Your Diet
Last week’s challenge was to clean up your kitchen and look at the foods you’ve been eating. How did that go? If you missed it, you can find it here. I know I found a few interesting things; like 4 large bags of chia seeds and baking potatoes that had turned into science experiments on decomposition.
We encouraged you to start looking at the foods you eat by reading the labels and looking at the ingredients. A healthy diet begins with healthy ingredients and without reading those labels, you may not know what you are actually eating.
This week I want you to continue reading those labels. Remember that moving forward you want to replenish food with healthier options that contain real food ingredients, like we talked about.
Add More Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet
The challenge this week is to add 2 fruits and vegetables to every meal.
Much of your daily nutrition needs comes from fruits and vegetables. They are loaded with vitamins minerals, and key nutrients that your body needs. Experts recommend that you get 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The USDA MyPlate program recommends that you fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.
One serving or fruit or vegetables equals to:
- One medium piece of fruit; apple, orange, banana, etc.
- ½ cup raw or cooked fruit/vegetable; broccoli, carrots, etc.
- 1 cup leafy greens; kale, lettuce, spinach, chard, etc.
- 1/4 cup dried fruit/vegetable
- 4 ounces of 100% juice
If you add 2 fruits or vegetables to every meal, you’ll get at 6 servings per day. Add in 2 fruit or vegetable snacks a day and you’ll easily reach 8 servings per day.
Here are 2 easy ways to add more fruits and vegetables, especially if you have kids
- Always have fresh fruit & vegetable in the kitchen
- Always keep fresh produce in the house to eat and cook with. You can’t cook healthy meals without the right ingredients.
- Prep fruits and vegetables ahead of time.
- Prep foods for the week after you return from a shopping trip. Cut up carrots, chop onions, bell peppers, etc. Store them in the amounts you need for upcoming recipes and to make snacks more convenient.
- Keep fruit and vegetables where you can see them. Creating a healthy snack basket in the pantry and another in the refrigerator are really great ways to encourage healthy eating.
- When foods are easily accessible, they are more likely to be chosen. Kids can go in and choose a snack from the basket. You are given them choices and promoting healthy habits.
- Create recipes that use more vegetables or fruits.
- Choose recipes that can benefit from added vegetables of fruit. Smoothies, soups, stews, and salads are all great choices for meals. Take a look at this week's meal plan that has at least 2 fruits/vegetables for each dinner.
- Make simple swaps in recipes
- You can substitute equal amounts of applesauce for oil in baking (except cookies).
- Instead of buying flavored yogurt or oatmeal, buy plain and add fresh fruit and granola
- On a sandwich, use lettuce or kale instead of bread
- In pasta dishes, substitute zucchini or carrot noodles
- Instead of potato chips, bake beet or banana slices into crisps
These ways to improve your diet are small changes you can make. Combined with reading labels, you are well on your way to eating healthier and feeling better. This year, we want you to be the healthiest you can be. With a healthy family, you have the energy to get out and explore more. This year, join us for the Real Food Challenge Facebook Group and make this the start of your own healthy family adventure!