The weather is warming up across the country and that means that we’re seeing a wider assortment of fruits and veggies at grocery stores and farmers markets. If you’ve struggled with fitting in your recommended servings of fruits and veggies during the winter, then it’s time to ramp up your intake. Fruits and veggies are not only packed with nutrients and antioxidants, but they’re also filled with fiber and water, which means they help you feel more full, satisfied and hydrated. Are you up for a fruit and veggie challenge?
Your Challenge this Month: Eat at least 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of veggies every day.
How many servings is the “recommended intake”? You hear the term “recommended intake” all the time, but what is it? While the specific answer depends on your age, height, weight, how much you exercise, and what your health/weight loss goals are (visit www.choosemyplate.gov and input your info for your personalized goal), the recommendation that fits most individuals is 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 2.5-3 cups of veggies per day.
What counts as a 1 cup? The latest recommendations are given in cups, which makes it much easier to keep track since we’re all familiar with a measuring cup. But, how do you measure whole pieces of fruit, fruit juice, dried fruit, leafy greens, raw veggies and cooked veggies? In general, here’s what counts as a 1 cup serving (for specific fruit, head to the My Plate website).
Fruit: 1/2 a large piece of fruit or 1 cup sliced fruit; 32 seedless grapes; 1/2 cup dried fruit; 1 cup 100% fruit juice
Veggies: 1 cup raw or cooked non-leafy veggies; 2 cups raw or 1 cup cooked leafy veggies (kale, spinach, arugula, etc.); 1 cup veggie juice or soup
How to fit ‘em in: Changing up some of the ways that you incorporate fruits and veggies into your daily routine can make them feel fresh and fun. Here are four new ideas to try!
Orange-slices: Peel an orange and separate each segment. Put all the segments into a plastic bag and freeze overnight (or make a bunch and keep them in the freezer). Nosh on the frozen orange segments as a tasty snack that is reminiscent of an orange popsicle or sorbet.
Carrot slaw: Grate 2 large carrots (about a cup, grated) and toss with 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp chopped walnuts, 1 Tbsp golden raisins, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Stuffed tomatoes: Whip up your favorite salmon, tuna, crab, or egg salad recipe and stuff it into a hollowed tomato or bell pepper.
Sweet ‘n savory melt: Add sliced apple or pear to your next grilled cheese sandwich for a perfect flavor combo of sweet/savory.
Is there a certain time of year you find it easiest to get your fruit and veggie servings in? A time that’s most challenging?