Pile On Those Fruits and Vegetables!

By Mary Sowa, MS, RD, clinical dietitian at CHOC Children’s

Just in time for National Fruit and Vegetable Month, check out these helpful guidelines on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your family’s diet. One focus of the USDA’s new “MyPlate” guide is to make half of our plate, fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and vegetables are delicious, crunchy, easy to prepare, low in fat and full of vitamins, minerals and fiber.  They are also rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients that provide the color to many fruit and vegetables and are being linked to boosting the immune system, prostate and eye health.

Lycopene and anthocyanins give fruit and vegetables their pink and red colors. Foods to include in your diet from this group include beets, cherries, pink grapefruit, red grapes and peppers, pomegranates, strawberries and tomatoes.

Carotenoids give fruits and vegetables their yellow and orange coloring. Foods from this group include apricots, squash, cantaloupe, carrots, pumpkins, corn, sweet potatoes and mangoes.

Lutein gives food like spinach, kale, green peppers, peas and cucumbers their green color.

Anthocyanins provide color to blue and purple fruits and vegetables.  Some of these foods include blueberries, eggplants, plums, prunes and purple grapes.

Some easy ways to include more vegetables and fruits, as recommended by the USDA, are:

  • Get creative with your salad – Toss in shredded carrots, strawberries, spinach, watercress, orange segments, or sweet pease for a falvorful salad. 
  • Salad bars aren’t just for salads – Try eating sliced fruit from the salad bar as your dessert when dining out.
  • Be creative with your baked goods – Add apples, bananas, blueberries, or pears to your favorite muffin recipe.
  • Make a tasty fruit smoothie – For dessert, blend strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries with frozen bananas and 100 % fruit juice for a delicious frozen fruit smoothie.
  • Liven up an omelet – Boost the color and flavor of your morning omelet with vegetables. Simply chop, saute, and add them to the egg as it cooks.

Needing more inspiration to make half your plate full of fruit and vegetables? Click on these links to the some of the USDA “Choosemyplate” website tip sheets.

1.  “Add More Vegetables To Your Day”

2. “Smart Shopping for Veggies and Fruit”

3. “Kid Friendly Veggies and Fruits”

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