Recently, the USDA made it clear it wants you to eat your fruits and vegetables: They should take up half your plate at every meal. Fruits and veggies are low-cal, high fiber, and a very important part of the No. 1-ranked DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet. They can also help prevent an array of diseases and protect against daily pains and aches.
Start early. At breakfast time an 8-ounce glass of orange or grapefruit juice and banana slices, berries, or raisins on your cereal give you a delicious, mineral-rich, low-fat, high-fiber head start.You can take it with you. Fruits and vegetables are portable and give you a quick boost of flavor and energy anytime. Pack an apple, an orange, or a bag of carrot sticks, raisins, or dried apricots in your glove compartment, purse, or briefcase.
Belly up to the bar. Find a good salad bar in your neighborhood and close to where you work for times when you don’t feel like preparing something yourself. Learn to make appropriate selections. If your workplace has a canteen without a salad bar, get together with a few colleagues and ask your employer to install one. And make sure the salad bar items offer plenty of what you need — in particular, appropriate leafy green vegetables in place of iceberg lettuce, and low-fat salad dressings in place of full-fat ones.
See-food diet. Put fruits and vegetables where you can see them and within easy reach. Keep a bowl of fruit on the counter in the kitchen. Make sure fruits and vegetables are clearly visible when you open the refrigerator. Cut up your favorite vegetables and store them in resealable plastic bags. You’re more likely to eat what you see.
Stock up. Go shopping on the weekend and buy plenty of fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables for you to eat through the week.
When you’re all alone. Are you shooting for three vegetables with dinner? That much food preparation can be a challenge, especially if you’re just cooking for yourself or if other household members aren’t interested in eating the DASH diet. Some tips for getting in that “third” vegetable without a lot of extra trouble:
• Don’t forget about salad.
• Keep family-size bags of frozen peas, beans, and carrots in your freezer so you can microwave a handful for yourself at dinnertime.
• Check out our vegetable recipes. Several of them are suitable for freezing and reheating. Make a big enough batch to freeze several individual servings to enjoy later — with almost no extra work!
Night moves. At the end of the day, the microwave is a quick, convenient way to prepare vegetables that preserves their nutrient contents. Pop a potato in the microwave at dinnertime and top it with your favorite salsa for a quick meal. Add microwaved broccoli and corn to your tasty tater and you’ve got a colorful, tasty, and nutritious meal. For dessert, top a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt with fresh berries or sliced peaches.
If you’re a a fan of organic produce, get more easy-to-decipher guidelines from The Healthy Wholefoods Counter.
- Buy a copy of The DASH* Diet
- Read the Introduction to The DASH* Diet
- Read Chapter 1 of The DASH* Diet
- Browse more books about healthy living