Easy Ways to Eat 5 Fruits and Veggies Each Day

Easy Ways to Eat 5 Fruits & Veggies Each Day images
Easy Ways to Eat 5 Fruits & Veggies Each Day images

Tricks for Healthy Treats

Easy Ways to Eat 5 Fruits and Veggies Each Day, “Eat your fruits and vegetables.” We’ve heard it all of our lives. If only it were so simple.

Our bodies crave fruits and vegetables more than just about any other food because we tend to get far fewer of them than we need. We often think we’d survive just fine on 2-3 servings a day – or less. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the USDA both recommend at least 5 servings per day! What you’re missing could be the difference between just surviving and all out thriving.

With just a little thought and a tiny bit of effort in snack preparation, you can make these nutritious foods more convenient and accessible.

Tips and Tricks

Add fruit to your cereal, oatmeal, waffles or pancakes at breakfast.
Create your own yogurt flavors with plain yogurt and different combinations of fresh fruit.
Snack on raw vegetables or fruits instead of chips or pretzels. Keep sugar snap peas, raisins or carrot sticks in your car, your office or your backpack.
Use chunky salsa instead of thick, creamy snack dips.
Drink 100% juice instead of addictive coffee, tea, or soda.
Going out to lunch? Take a trip to the grocery salad bar. Use lots of dark green leaves and other vegetables instead of piling on all of the extras like eggs, bacon and cheese.
Add frozen veggies to any pasta dish. It’s an easy way to get in another serving of the good stuff.
Keep fruits and vegetables in line of sight. Grapes, oranges, bananas, and apples make a colorful bowl arrangement on the table. If you see them, you will eat them.
Dried fruit is just as portable as potato chips — and less messy. It tastes especially good when added to basic trail mix.
When cooking vegetables, makes 2-3 times more than you need and immdiately store the extra away for tomorrow. It’ll save you time later on.
Add your own beans and vegetables (tomatoes, spinach, peppers, cabbage) to canned and quick-serve soups.
If you must have pizza, load on extra veggies and pineapple instead of fatty meats and extra cheese.
Try berries, melons or dates for a naturally sweet dessert rather than the usual candy bar, cookie, or ice cream sandwich.
Frozen fruit and veggies are nearly as healthy as the fresh stuff, and only take minutes to prepare.
Combine fruit with your main meal courses. Raisins, apples and tangerine slices add sweet, crunchy variety to a salad. Apples complement pork, pineapple is great with fish, and orange slices are perfect with chicken.
Besides being packed full of nutrients, fruits and vegetables can also be quite filling. They may even ward off any empty calorie snacking that might follow! Don’t be discouraged by the recommended 5 servings a day. The guide below shows that one serving is less than what you might think.

One serving equals:
1 medium piece of fruit
1/2 cup fruit (raw, canned, or frozen)
1/2 cup cooked vegetables (canned or frozen)
1 cup raw vegetables
1/4 cup dried fruit
4-6 oz. of 100% juice (serving size depends on the type of juice)
1/2 cup cooked peas or beans

7 Great Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables

7 Great Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables images
7 Great Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables images

How to Cook Fresh Vegetables

Are you a creature of habit in the kitchen and at the grocery store? Do you reach for the same carrots and celery for snacks, bagged greens for salads, and frozen veggies for dinnertime sides? It’s time to break out of your food rut. Learn a few basic cooking techniques, then head to the produce aisle and pick out something new. With very little time and effort, you can create crave-worthy veggie side dishes every night of the week.
 
Note: The smaller you cut your vegetables, the faster they will cook. Aim for bite-size pieces unless noted below. No matter how large or small your pieces are, be sure they are the same size to avoid uneven cooking.
 
For each cooking technique, you’ll need four cups prepared vegetables to yield four servings. If you’re cooking for fewer people, you can adjust the amounts or save extras for future meals.
 
Stir-fry

How to: Add 2 teaspoons olive oil to a skillet set over medium-high heat.
When the pan is hot, add the chopped veggies.
Cook, stirring often, until the veggies are tender yet crisp.
For flavor add one of the following:
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt-free seasoning blend
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic or ginger
  • low-sodium soy sauce or
  • miso paste
Good for: bell peppers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, snow peas, celery, green beans, cabbage and carrots
Tip: Add “harder” vegetables such as broccoli and green beans first, then softer veggies like onions and peppers.

 
Roast

How to: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Cut your vegetables into uniform pieces.
Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Drizzle on 2 teaspoons oil, sprinkle with pinch of salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon dried herbs.
Roast, stirring halfway through the cooking process:
  • 10-20 minutes for quick-cooking veggies
  • 20-30 minutes for long-cooking veggies
Good for: 
Quick-cooking vegetables:  mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli
Long-cooking vegetables:  sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, turnips, butternut squash, and parsnips, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts

 
Veggie Casserole

How to: 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid with cooking spray.
Add your vegetables, chopped into uniform pieces.
Add flavor with:
  • 2 teaspoons purchased pesto or
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil, oregano, parsley, thyme or rosemary
Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Good for: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, green beans, onions, celery, cabbage
 

Faux Fry

How to: 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.

Slice your vegetables into long, thin strips and pat them dry with paper towels.
Assemble a dipping station. You’ll need two shallow with flat dishes, such as pie pans.

  • To the first, add 2 beaten egg whites
  • To the other, add 1 cup fine breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon dried parsley and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
Spritz the vegetables with cooking spray, dip in the egg whites, then the bread crumb mixture.
Place vegetables in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the vegetables once, until the crust is golden brown.
Serve with a dipping sauce such as salsa, hummus, pesto or tomato sauce.
Good for: green beans (no need to slice), eggplant, squash, onions, mushrooms or asparagus

 
Steam (Microwave or Stove)

How to: 
Slice the vegetables.
For the microwave: Place veggies in a microwave-safe dish with a tight-fitting lid. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook on high for 3-5 minutes.
For stove top steaming: Place veggies in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, using a steamer basket if you have one. Add 1/4 cup water and cover. Cook on medium-high for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp and bright yet slightly tender.
To add flavor, add 1 bay leaf or 2 lemon slices to the cooking water.
Good for: green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, snow pea pods, zucchini and summer squash

 
Grill

How to: 
Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill to medium.
Slice vegetables into 1/2 inch thick slices or strips.
Brush with reduced-fat Italian salad dressing or balsamic vinegar.
Grill for 5 minutes until the vegetables are crisp yet tender.
Good for: asparagus, eggplant, spring onions, bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, mushrooms
Note: Use a grill basket or skewers for small vegetables on an outdoor grill to prevent them from falling through the grates.

 
Parchment or Foil Packets

How to: 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place your chopped veggies on a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment.
Add flavor by:
  • Sprinkling with 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil, oregano or parsley
  • Layering 4 lemon slices on top veggies or
  • Adding 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Fold and seal the foil or parchment around the veggies to form a packet. 
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender yet crisp.
Good for: sugar snap peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery and mushrooms

Save Money Without Sacrificing You Food Quality

Save Money Without Sacrificing You Food Quality images
When you’re on a tight budget, the thought of preparing tasty, healthy meals on a regular basis can seem daunting. Not only is it easy to get sucked in by grocery merchandising tricks, but it’s also normal for most of us to fall into a mealtime rut, eating the same foods over and over. But you’re in control of your kitchen—and if you cook smart, you can enjoy the first-class meals you deserve.

You can save money and still have quality. If you’ve been using cost as an excuse to eat junk, you can kiss that excuse goodbye! With a little organization and creativity, you can have the proverbial champagne when cooking on a beer budget. To start, here’s a quick review of basic tips of healthy eating:

  • Limit your intake of junk food and alcohol
  • Drink lots of water (at least 8 cups a day)
  • Limit salty and sugary foods
  • Avoid eating many foods that are high in saturated fats
  • Make “variety” the watchword of your eating

Next, set aside regular blocks of time for planning meals, making your grocery list, and shopping—tasks that are most often shortchanged in food prep. Include healthy snack ideas, as well as main menu items. Think about the time of day, day of week, and even week in the month that you shop. Generally, the grocery is the least busy early in the morning, in the middle of the week, and on any day but the first day or two of the month (when many people receive pension or paychecks).

Don’t be afraid to surf the internet for recipes that use specific ingredients (plug the ingredient in as a keyword of your search), since you can often get good buys on breads, meats, and other items marked for quick sale before they go bad.

Stock your fridge and cupboards with items that are quick and easy to cook (yet kind to your wallet):

  • Beans and lentils, whether canned or dried, make nutritious, hearty soups, and can be a main course with the addition of fresh vegetables or rice.
  • Brown Rice is a great addition to leftover meat and veggies. Although brown rice is slightly more expensive than white, the nutritional payoff is well worth it. Another inexpensive, easy-to-fix grain, millet, is best when bought fresh. Simply rinse and toast before using it in recipes.
  • Pasta, likewise, is quick and easy to prepare, and can be paired with veggies, meat, or a fresh salad. Have fun adding your own embellishments (mushrooms, spices, and herbs.) Choose whole-wheat pasta whenever available.
  • Soups can’t be beat for nutrition and convenience, especially since you can use canned or packet soups as your base, then add your own veggies and leftover meat. Again, try to experiment, adding your own herbs and spices.
  • Fresh vegetables and fruit should be bought at least once or twice each week, preferably in season, to ensure optimal taste and nutrition. You can also rely on canned/frozen varieties as handy additions to last-minute meals. Veggies make great stir-fries and vegetable patties, while fruit is good for a quick nutritious snack.
  • Meat and fish can be kept on hand also for last-minute meals— try the newer tuna and salmon pouches, and shop for inexpensive cuts of meat that work well in stews and casseroles.
  • Condiments add flavor and interest to your dishes. Keep a selection of dried herbs, spices, curry powder, marinades, vinegars, tomato and soy sauces, along with stock cubes, in your cupboard. Experiment with the new, such as Japanese miso, an aged salty condiment made from soybeans and various other ingredients (found in the natural foods section, usually refrigerated).

Finally, a few more hints that can help you save a little green:

  • When cooking a big meal, make extra to freeze, or use later in the week for lunches or quick suppers. Double recipes, then freeze half.
  • Save your vegetable trimmings to make your own vegetable stock. Not only do you save money, but vegetable stock also makes a nutritious base for casseroles, soups, and Crockpot cooking.
  • Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper; you can freeze perishable items (such as meat, milk, and even bread) in smaller portions to use as needed. It’s always a good idea to buy non-perishable items in bulk (canned foods, dried beans and grains, etc.).
  • Use less expensive cuts of meat for casseroles that you slow cook; add extra vegetables and beans to make the meal go further.
  • Capitalize on one-pot dishes, which generally save prep time, money, and dishwashing, and often make great leftovers.
  • Look high and low (literally) to find the less expensive generic or store brands on grocery shelves, often very similar to higher-priced brand names though packaged under different labels. Stores deliberately place the highest-priced brand-name items at eye level, but if you compare the cost per unit, you’ll be able to figure out the most cost-effective purchase. You can even try your own taste tests— blind, of course— to see where you can save money without sacrificing flavor.
  • Take advantage of specials on staples—broth, soups, pasta, rice, canned veggies, even bread and meat. Many of these items have a long shelf life or can be frozen for short periods of time.
  • Limit your dining out, especially when it comes to fast food, since you’ll find yourself spending unnecessarily on items that are high in fat, salt, and calories, which short-change you in the nutrition department.

There’s no magic formula to cooking on a budget. Like anything else worthwhile in life, it takes a little planning, creativity, and work. But if you think of the rewards—better health and more money—you’ll find it’s worth the effort. No doubt you’ll still have days when you fall back on that quick-fix packaged food or the local burger drive-thru. But if you look at cooking as an adventure, you’ll also have days when you find yourself pleased at what you’ve accomplished—as you serve dinner to rave reviews from family and friends!

Chicken Noodle Soup

The perfect soup to warm your belly on a cold night or soothe you when you’re sick.

Minutes to Prepare: 10
Minutes to Cook: 90
Number of Servings: 12

Ingredients

Stock:
1 white or yellow onion, chopped into a large dice
2 stalks celery, chopped into a large dice
2 carrots, chopped into a large dice
3 pound whole chicken, skin removed
1 gallon cold water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
1 onion, diced fine
2 stalks celery, diced fine
4 ounces whole wheat pasta (cooked)
1 tsp thyme, dried
1/2 tsp oregano, dried
1 tsp basil, dried (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Tips

This is a slow-cooking dish, but you’ll get 12 servings from the soup, plus a quart of stock. This entire recipe cost just $8.41, about 70 cents a serving. That’s less than a can of soup!

My 11-year-old son helped prep the carrots. He created curls using a Y-shaped peeler.

I recommend freezing single portions of soup in freezer bags laid flat so you have some on hand the next time someone gets the sniffles or has a bad day. Nothing warms the soul like homemade chicken soup.

I used a kosher chicken, which cost a bit more. If you wait for chicken to go on sale, you can save more money.

I used farfalle (bowtie) pasta, but you could use penne, elbow macaroni or another bite-size shape.

You’re getting multiple meals from this versatile chicken soup recipe. That’s why we need two sets of vegetables: one set cut into a large dice for the stock part of the soup that you’ll use for another meal, and a second chopped into a small dice for the soup.

Directions

Remove the skin from the chicken.

Place the whole chicken in a large stock pot or saucepan that will hold at least one gallon of cold water.

Add the diced onion, celery, and carrots to the stock pot. Pour one gallon of cold water over the mixture and add the bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a boil and then immediately reduce to a simmer.

Allow the mixture to simmer for 45 minutes. Place a strainer over another large saucepan and strain the hot chicken mixture.

Strain the mixture a second time into the first pot using a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Reserve one quart of the stock for the freezer, and use the remaining for the soup. (Allow stock to cool to room temperature before freezing.)

In one of the stock pots, heat the oil and add the second batch of vegetables cut into the small dice. Sweat vegetables over low moderate heat for 5 to 8 minutes. While the vegetables are sweating, pull all the meat off the bones of the chicken.

Add the pasta, dried seasonings, and the pulled chicken meat to the pot simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Recipe yields 3 quarts: 12 one cup servings.

Nutritional Info:
Servings Per Recipe: 12
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 152.8
Total Fat: 3.7 g
Cholesterol: 51.2 mg
Sodium: 76.1 mg
Total Carbs: 13.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.5 g
Protein: 17.4 g