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Mix Up Your Fruits and Vegetables

fruits, vegetables, National Nutrition Month

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

 

Do you find that incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet is hard to do?

You aren’t alone. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the typical American only eats 59 percent of the recommended vegetables and 42 percent of the fruits recommended. In North Dakota, about 39 percent of adults consume fruit less than once a day, and 27 percent of adults consume vegetables less than once a day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

March, National Nutrition Month, is a good time to discover the many benefits of adding fruits and vegetables to your meals. A balanced diet includes all the food groups.

First, fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and certain types of cancer. Second, fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories while providing fiber and other key nutrients.

Most Americans should eat more than 3 cups - and for some, up to 6 cups - of fruits and vegetables each day. However, vegetables and fruit don’t just add nutrition to meals. They also can add color, flavor and texture.

Explore these creative ways from ChooseMyPlate.gov to bring more fruits and vegetables to your table:

  • Fire up the grill. Use the grill to cook vegetables and fruits. Try grilling mushrooms, carrots, peppers or potatoes on a kabob skewer. Brush with oil to keep them from drying out. Grilled fruits such as peaches, pineapple or mangos also add flavor to a cookout.
  • Expand the flavor of your casseroles. Mix vegetables such as sautéed onions, peas, pinto beans or tomatoes into your favorite dish for extra flavor.
  • Planning something Italian? Add extra vegetables to your pasta dish. Slip some peppers, spinach, red beans, onions or cherry tomatoes into your traditional tomato sauce. Vegetables provide texture and low-calorie bulk that satisfies your hunger.
  • Get creative with your salad. Toss in shredded carrots, strawberries, spinach, watercress, orange segments or sweet peas for a flavorful, fun salad.
  • Get in on the stir-frying fun. Stir-fry veggies such as broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, mushrooms or green beans for a quick and easy addition to any meal.
  • Add veggies to your sandwiches. Whether it is a sandwich or wrap, vegetables make great additions. Try sliced tomatoes, romaine lettuce or avocado on your everyday sandwich or wrap for extra flavor.
  • Be creative with your baked goods. Add apples, bananas, blueberries or pears to your favorite muffin recipe for a treat.
  • Make a tasty fruit smoothie. For dessert, blend strawberries, blueberries or raspberries with frozen bananas and 100 percent fruit juice for a delicious frozen fruit smoothie.
  • Liven up an omelet. Boost the color and flavor of your morning omelet with vegetables. Simply chop, sauté and add them to the egg as it cooks.

Visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/food for more information about nutrition and healthy recipes.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Food and Nutrition Specialist

 

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