Fruits and vegetables can help out a lot with low calorie cooking as ingredients or eaten by themselves (to keep from indulging too much on higher calorie foods!) Plus we are should be trying to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables for optimal health. But sometimes the planning and preparation of fruits and veggies can be time-consuming to the point that we forego them altogether. Here's a few tips to help assure that you are including plenty of fruits and vegetables in your cooking and diet.
First of all, start out the day with with fruits and veggies! Keep low sodium tomato or vegetable juice on hand to drink in the morning. Try a dish of fresh or thawed frozen berries topped with a little bit of low-fat yogurt and granola. If you are eating ceral, be sure to choose a low sugar variety and top with lots of sweet raisins, dates, sliced bananas, or berries. If you are eating on the go, grab a banana as you run out the door. They are healthy, easy to eat on the go, and don't make a big mess.
When lunch rolls around, be sure to include sliced carrots, cucumbers, parsnips, radishes, or celery as a crunchy side dish. Or choose a large salad loaded with lettuces and greens, sliced peppers and tomatoes, or any other type of fresh veggies you like. If you are going the sandwich or wrap route, pile on a small amount of low-fat sliced meat and cheese, and load it up with crispy lettuce, juicey tomatoes, sliced onions, bean sprouts, or cucumbers.
This all becomes eaiser if you have the veggies sliced a prepped ahead of time. Consider taking a half hour per week to prechop lots of fresh veggies that can easily be grabbed for snacks or piled into sandwiches and salads. Store the in airtight containers in the fridge.
Here comes the afternoon munchies. Grab some of those pre-cut veggies and dip in a low-fat house dressing or hummus, or eat by themselves. Easy peel baby oranges, fresh apples and pears make for easy afternoon snacking as well. Roll these tips over to the late afternoon when you are tempted to nibble on whatevery you are making for dinner. Keep fresh cut up veggies on hand to munch on while you are cooking. That way you haven't nibbled yourself and entire meal before you even sit down to the dinner table, and you've upped your fruit and veggie intake. As you are cooking dinner, look for easy places to toss in extra veggies and frutis. Chop peppers and onions into tiny pieces and add to meatloaf, meatballs, hamburger patties, and chili. Toss in extra veggies to soups, stews, and casseroles, or slice up sweet potatoes and make an easy sweet potato fry side dish.
Even small efforts to include more fruits and veggies in your diet can have a big payoff. Try a few of these tip to make sure you are getting your five servings of fruits and veggies per day for terrific health and a healthy waistline!