By: Emily Barr, MS, RD, CNSC
V.P of Nutrition Services and Co-creator of Ignite Your Skinny Gene Program
The crisper – A helpful addition to our favorite kitchen appliance or a slightly “misleading” use of space?
You know what I’m talking about, right? The two special drawers in the bottom of your refrigerator are ideal for storing fruits and vegetables to help prevent them from losing their moisture, but is the size preventing us from filling up on our fruits and vegetables?
Here is the million dollar question….
Why are we limited to two small drawers when the recommendation is to eat 7-11 servings of fruits and vegetables per day?
That’s 49-77 servings of fruits and vegetables per week – for ONE person in your household. How could we possibly store that many servings of fruits and vegetables in those two small drawers?
Well, unfortunately, changing the type of refrigerator we have may be an expensive ordeal, but let’s brainstorm some ways to capitalize on our intake of fruits and vegetables with what means we have.
IDEAS TO INCREASE OUR INTAKE OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
1) Shop With A Purpose: When meal planning and grocery shopping, focus on fruits and vegetables. Choose enough servings for the household for the week by capitalizing on the three available categories:
2) Have An Attack Plan: Plan to eat the fresh vegetables with a shorter shelf life first, then move onto the frozen. Canned vegetables are a great back up for the cabinet raid just before your next shopping trip.
Just a disclaimer or two: When using canned vegetable, choose low sodium and rinse under tap water prior to preparing to reduce the sodium content.
3) Go For The Bargains: When choosing fruits, try to pick the seasonal varieties that are on sale. The great thing about the standard fruits – such as apples, oranges, pears, and bananas – is that they usually keep well over the course of the week. So in theory, you can buy 7 apples and eat 1 each day of the week.
4) Mix It Up: Alternatives to the fresh fruit are frozen, canned, or jarred. Frozen berries and mixed fruit blends are perfect to add to smoothies or on top of yogurt or oatmeal. Canned fruits in their own juice or light syrup can be a nice back up as well.
5) Make the Substitution: Jarred fruit, specifically speaking about applesauce, is a very handy thing to have in the cupboard to use as a fat replacement when baking, an add-in to your light jell-o, or just a plain and simple cup of applesauce for a snack.
6) Shop Around: If you feel the fresh fruits and vegetables at your neighborhood grocery store are too expensive, look to your local farmer’s market to provide you with the seasonal produce for a lower price. To locate a local farmer’s market near you, check out: http://apps.ams.usda.gov/FarmersMarkets/
Once you have purchased your fruits and vegetables, the next step is to eat them!
Here are some meal and snack ideas to meet your daily intake goal of 7 to 11 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
- Include a piece of fruit with your toast or cereal
- Add banana or blueberries to hot or cold cereal
- Add fruit to yogurt
- Egg whites with spinach, mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes, and onions
- Include a piece of fruit for your dessert
- Try salad as main entrée with added baked chicken or tuna
- Add lettuce and tomato to your sandwich
- Eat carrots or red and green pepper sticks
- Serve every dinner with a vegetable and/or a salad
- Prepare stir-fry vegetables as part of main dish
- Add vegetables to pasta and rice dishes
- Dip sliced celery, mushrooms, carrots, red pepper slices in low fat ranch dressing or hummus
- Top pudding with fruits
- Eat any piece of fruit (such as orange, apple slices, grapes, strawberries) or cottage cheese with cucumber slices, green pepper scoopers, or spinach
- Add blueberries to vanilla yogurt
- Spread peanut butter on apple slices or bananas
Remember- if you want to be lean, you’ve got to start eating green!
These are just a few tips to get you started. Experiment and try some of your own, then share them with us.