Nutrition: Produce a healthier you this New Year
Check out these tips for incorporating more veggies in your diet.
The holidays are over, and we’ve begun the New Year by recollecting our thoughts and getting back into our regular daily rhythms. Now is considered the time of fresh starts, blank pages and unwritten words that we will begin to forge this coming year. Along with a new beginning often comes new goals and aspirations. Some goals may be geared toward our jobs; maybe they’re specific to our family. Very commonly people tend to set goals toward bettering their health.
Whether you're making healthy changes to better a medical condition, to improve your energy levels when playing with your kids, or just to become more active in the kitchen; there are bountiful goals that can be made to benefit our health.
The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines of America recommends adults consume around 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit a day. Based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2015-2016 study, “Average Intakes: Analysis of What We Eat in America,” adult Americans as a whole fall below the recommended intake goals of fruit and vegetables and exceed recommendations for saturated fat, sodium and added sugars.
Fruits and vegetables offer endless health properties such as containing essential vitamins and nutrients including Vitamin A, C, folate, potassium and dietary fiber. Another added bonus is that they’re naturally lower in calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium.
Below you’ll find tips to help increase your fruit and vegetable intake this year along with my favorite recipe to increase veggie intake with breakfast: vegetable quiche.
Keep them on hand. To make this goal a reality, make sure to keep fruits and vegetables easily accessible. Whether they are fresh, frozen or canned they all offer the nutrition we need. Take a peek at your grocery list and see where these foods may be lacking. Pro tip: When buying canned fruit, look for those kept in 100% fruit juice versus in syrups to avoid added sugars. Most canned vegetables have reduced-sodium options, however; you can also give regular canned veggies a quick rinse in a strainer to get rid of added sodium, too.
Prep, save and serve. Often those who take the time to prepare their fruit and vegetables to their liking for the upcoming few days are more likely to eat them. Once you get home from the grocery store, wash and cut your produce to keep on hand for snacking or even for later meals you have yet to prepare. You’re more likely to munch on these in a pinch if they're already waiting for you ready in the fridge.
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Incorporate vegetables at each meal. Whether you throw a handful of peppers or spinach in with your eggs in the morning, add a few leaves of lettuce and tomato on your sandwich at lunch, or even add extra veggies (or fruit) to your pizza at dinner, making an effort to get these in at meal times quickly helps us reach those daily intake goals.
Find your favorite snack pairings that keep you full. Snacking can be tedious and unfulfilling if we’re not eating satiating foods. Pairing a fiber rich fruit or vegetable with a lean protein source or a healthy fat is sure to do the trick. For example, the classic “ants on the log” snack (celery, nut butter and raisins) is easy to assemble and more likely to keep you satisfied longer than only eating the celery. Other satiating combos may include fresh veggies with hummus, and berries with cottage cheese or Greek yogurt.
Lastly, switch up your cooking methods and recipes. There are tons of ways to cook, season and serve both fruit and vegetables. With all the new fun gadgets we keep in the kitchen such as air fryers and pressure cookers, you ought to investigate how you can use your produce with them. From air-fried veggies to dehydrated fruit and pressure-cooked soups, switch up your day to day produce preparation.
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
- 6 large eggs
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 medium red bell pepper
- ½ cup broccoli
- 10 medium cherry tomatoes, halved
- ⅔ cup shredded cheese
- Salt and pepper, to desired taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a 10-inch pie pan with pastry dough. Make sure there are no air bubbles.
- Line the pastry with foil and add baking beads or uncooked rice, blind bake for 10 minutes or until pastry is golden.
- Cook diced vegetables on medium-high heat on stove top, cook until tender.
- Remove foil from pastry. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Arrange veggies in the pie pan, top with shredded cheese and poor egg mixture on top.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until filling is set and no longer jiggles. Cool and enjoy!
Kaddie Lombard is a clinical dietitian at St. Luke's.