The current guidelines are to make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal. As we look at each meal, we should try to make half of what we eat fruits and vegetables. As we explore the store we can find fruits and vegetables as fresh, frozen and canned. Different seasons also offer us new choices.
We often consider fresh best and if we grow our own or purchase at farmer's markets we are definitely getting the full nutritional benefit of fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce sent to the stores often are picked green so they will last until they get to market. They often have less flavor and nutrients. My challenge with our crazy lifestyle, is getting the fresh vegetables prepared for a meal before they go bad. Here are my tips.
- When you bring vegetables home wash and prep as much as you can. This way if you want a quick snack, you can grab some raw vegetables.
- Wash fruit and place in a pretty bowl for every one to grab for a snack.
- Purchase a large plastic salad bowl with lid. Place a small plate upside down in the bottom prior to preparing a salad. The moisture that seeps out of the salad, will collect under the plate and your salad will last longer. An already prepared salad is handy for a quick weekday supper.
- Weekly plan a clean out the frige night by making a stir fry or soup for dinner from the vegetables that need to be used. Nothing is easier than a soup. Cut up the vegetables, add some broth, a can of tomatoes, and your favorite herbs. Potatoes, barley, rice or pasta can be added for filler. If you want you can add browned hamburger, cubed meat or chicken.
- Are your bananas getting old? Freeze them for a smoothie or bread later
- Too much zucchini? Shred it and freeze it to add to casseroles, breads or fritters
Make use of the freezer section at the store. In the freezer section you can find frozen berries and other fruits. You have options that have been frozen without added sugar. The advantage is frozen fruit was ripened on the vine, so has a lot of flavor. You only need to get out what you want to eat when topping your cereal with some berries or making a smoothie. This can be an affordable way to get those flavors you want.
Vegetables are the same, they are packed with nutrients and flavor and do not have the added salt that canned vegetables have. When they are on sale stock up. Just like fruit you do not have to cook the whole package. You can cook them on the stove or in the microwave. They are perfect additions to casseroles. Be sure to rotate the bags, so eat them before they get freezer burned.
Canned fruits and vegetables are quick choices and easy to store. They have a long shelf life. Choose fruits canned in their own juices and low-sodium canned vegetables.
We can savor the flavor with our New Mexico traditions. Make a big batch of Calabicitas:, corn, squash, and chile delish!