Happy New Year to all my followers near and far! Many of you have set your New Year’s Resolutions and I bet for a lot of you those resolutions are health-related. This month I am writing blog entries about healthy habits that will help you obtain any health-related goal from weight loss to stress reduction, from improving heart health to gaining more energy.
And so I begin with probably the most important habit—eat more fruit and veggies! For optimal health, it’s imperative that you eat at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables every day. I hear ya; this is hard to do!
Fruit and veggies are low in calories, virtually fat-free, high in fiber and antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals. They are also hydrating! And get this; most even have protein! Fruits and veggies will help you lose weight, beat heart disease, and will help prevent cancer and numerous chronic diseases.
Here are some tips to make sure you get enough fruits and veggies.
- Preparation is key
The next time you do your weekly grocery shopping, hit up the produce section and shop the rainbow. The more colors you get, the more antioxidants! For example, get some red, yellow and green bell peppers, some broccoli and cauliflower, a couple red onions, mixed greens, maybe a butternut squash for veggies and for fruit, grab some grapes, apples, oranges, bananas and berry of your choice.
Be realistic, don’t buy more fruits and veggies than you and your family will consume. You don’t want to waste food. Also visit the frozen section and stock your freezer with frozen fruits and veggies—they are just as healthy as fresh!
Now that you have fruits and veggies at home, do some prep work for the week. Slice up those peppers and shred some carrots so that you can mix them in with a salad. Make a big fruit salad with melons and pineapple. Chop broccoli and cauliflower heads so that they are easy to work with for a busy week-night dinner.
- Fruits and Veggies at Breakfast
Need some ideas? I love tossing berries into my morning oatmeal or Greek yogurt and granola. Take some of those sliced peppers, some pre-sliced mushrooms and some onion and sauté them together; add a couple of eggs; and voila you have an omelet. You can also blend some frozen fruit with some flaxseed (or nut butter) and skim milk (or milk alternative) for a delicious breakfast smoothie.
- Fruit and Veggie Snacks
Snacks are an easy way to get in 1-2 of your servings of fruits and vegetables and the more you consume these for your snacks, the less you will even want junky chips or wanna-be nutritious snacks like “natural” granola bars. Keep a fruit bowl at home and work and grab an apple, orange, banana, pear or other fruit with a truly natural peel! Dip veggies in hummus, Have a whole-grain piece of toast with sliced avocado. Turn to that fruit salad I mentioned early. And I love pineapple or strawberries with cottage cheese. The options are endless.
- Fruit and Veggies at Lunch and Dinner
I know you are busy! Stir-fries are a quick and easy way to get veggies in. Make big colorful salads with veggies and fruit; add beans, nuts, or lean meats (like chicken breast or tuna) for some protein. Condiments make veggie sides fun. Experiment with spices instead of salt on your veggies and don’t overcook them. I recommend steaming them or lightly sautéing them. They are also healthy and delicious marinated in balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil and then thrown on a grill!
How are you going to use fruits and veggies in the New Year? Tell us in th