Self reported data from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention indicate only 13.1% of US adults eat the daily recommended amount of fruit and only 8.9% meet vegetable intake recommendations. While some nutrition research is controversial and inconclusive, the studies on fruit and vegetable intake are more solid. Research repeatedly shows that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has numerous health benefits.
When I tell people they need to eat at least nine servings of assorted fruits and vegetables per day, the response is “You must be kidding – no way I can do that”. My reply is “Oh yes you can”.
Here are some ideas on how to do it:
- Smoothies: A Smoothie made with 2 cups greens (Spinach, kale, beet greens, Swiss Chard), ½ cup berries, 1 banana, ½ cup beets, plus yogurt, kefir and/or animal or plant based milk gives you 5 fruit and vegetable servings.
- Sautéed Greens: Greens such as spinach, Swiss Chard, turnip, beet or collard greens are delicious sautéed in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper. Add a squeeze of lemon if you like. It works best to use fresh when sautéing. You can eat greens as a side dish or serve over pasta with some Parmesan cheese grated on top. Four cups of fresh spinach sautéed yields a very reasonable sized portion and gives you 4 vegetable servings.
- Pizza: You can pile all kinds of vegetables on a pizza crust. spinach, kale, Swiss chard, tomatoes (roasted cherry tomatoes are especially good), mushrooms, all types of squash, eggplant and even roasted beets.
- Massaged Kale salads: Massaging the kale with olive oil takes out the bitterness and reduces a large amount of kale to a reasonable serving size.
Challenge yourself to up your fruit and vegetable intake and see how many servings per day you can eat.
Photo used with permission from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Photo taken by Samantha Osterhaus
posted on 3/18/2020