Week 14 countdown: Fruits and Vegetables

According to the “14 steps to unprocessed foods” challenge I am participating in, I am to include two different fruits and/or vegetables at every meal.

Breakfast

First of all, I chose some of my already established breakfast choices and asked how I could add more fruits and vegetables to them. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Scrambled eggs or omelets: these are easy choices to add vegetables to. For convenience, I purchased frozen (usually organic for personal preference) vegetables and tossed them into the skillet first with olive or canola oil and then added my eggs, as desired. I stick with the general rule of a serving of vegetables as 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked.
  • Hot or cold cereal: another choices that made it easy to add fresh fruit to; strawberries, blueberries, and peaches are my top choices. I also like to add a little cinnamon for blood glucose control (see a post about this later) and taste.
  • Of course, if I didn’t feel like I could get enough in with what I was eating, other options included a yogurt with fruit added (I usually buy a large tub and add my own fruit), I could have a small glass of fruit/vegetable juice, or I could throw in whatever I felt like into a smoothie and take it with me to sip on throughout my morning.
  • Now, for my simple tastes, I could eat the cereal and/or eggs every other day for each day of the week and be satisfied. However, if you’re craving more adventure, I suggest that since we’re talking about fruits and vegetables, you take a visit to VegetarianTimes.com Breakfast Recipe Section or any recipe website/book you enjoy that will encourage you to add in more fruits and vegetables.

Lunch/Dinner

For lunch and/or dinner, I suggest falling back on “The Plate Method” because it allows you to pick the protein, vegetable, starch, and fat of your choices which is convenient when you’re at home or dining out. It’s also perfect if you’re a visual person. Now, The Plate Method is often something used for diabetics but even though I don’t have diabetes, I find it to be a very effective visual aid to remind people, including myself, of what a balanced meal consists of.

The Plate Method

The typical guidelines are:

  • Fill 1/2 of your plate with non-starchy vegetables
  • Fill 1/4 of your plate with lean protein
  • Fill 1/4 of your plate with starches (grains, breads, starchy vegetables)
  • Add a serving of fruit, if appropriate/desired
  • Use heart-healthy fats/oils for preparation
  • Add seasonings and spices with minimal sodium for flavor
  • For more details, check out the images linked above

I actually use this method when grocery shopping- sometimes I draw the plate out on a sheet of paper a few times and write in the different proteins, starches, etc. that I want in my meals for that week or I use the hand-drawn plates to come up with my meals. This method works great for simple meals. For combination meals and recipes, I like to use a variety of websites that give me the nutritional information such as http://www.eatingwell.com/.  As I mentioned above, there are some wonderful plant-based or vegetarian recipes out there that will help you figure out what fruits and vegetables to add to your meals- you can simply swap out their recommended meatless choices, such as soy, for your own meat of choice in the recipes.

Share with us! What are some tips or recipes you use to get more fruits and vegetables into your meals? Did any of my tips spark any ideas? Please share so that others may also benefit from your experiences. Also, keep an eye out as I will try to update this post with more tips, pictures of some of my meals, and recipe inspirations.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. Statements made here have not been evaluated by the FDA.  This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet or exercise routine.

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