Make healthy eating an adventure

January 20, 2020 Joe Brady

The average large supermarket has over 55,000 food items in it and most of those are healthy. Yet the average American diet has only 24 different food items in their shopping cart. Haven’t you noticed that we tend to put the same things in the shopping cart each week?

Healthy eating can be a hardship and a chore, or we can make it an adventure. Here are some tips from the Harvard Medical School on 13 easy ways to add fruits and vegetables to your diet. Make healthy eating an adventure for the next few months and try one tip each week when you go shopping. If you do this by springtime you will have a healthy diet happening in your life without depriving yourself of any of the other foods that you enjoy. Simply include more healthy stuff and unhealthy foods become a smaller percentage of your overall diet.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is a cornerstone of good health. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help you:

  1. Keep blood pressure under control.
  2. Reach and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
  3. Keep your arteries flexible.
  4. Protect your bones.
  5. Keep the eyes, brain, digestive system, and just about every other part of the body healthy.

Get your copy of The Harvard Medical School 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating

This week-by-week plan, The Harvard Medical School 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating, will help you transform your eating habits into a program of nutritious and delicious food choices that can last a lifetime. Applying the latest results from nutrition science, Harvard experts take you by the hand and guide you to create an eating plan to improve heart health, longevity, energy, and vitality.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/promotions/harvard-health-publications/the-harvard-medical-school-6-week-plan-for-healthy-eating?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=focuson-nutrition-3&utm_id=1375368&dlv-ga-memberid=75947322&mid=75947322&ml=1375368

But many of us have trouble putting that knowledge into practice and getting five or more (emphasis on the “more”) servings a day.

One reason you might not be tapping into the power of produce is that you think fruits and vegetables are too expensive. That’s not necessarily so. You can buy three servings of fruits and four servings of vegetables for well under $2 a day, according to a survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Preparation time, unfamiliarity, and old habits are other obstacles to eating more fruits and vegetables. Here are a baker’s dozen of suggestions for tipping aside these barriers and enjoying delicious and nutritious foods.

1. Know your needs.

The guidelines recommend a minimum of 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables a day. More is better. To calculate your fruit and vegetable needs, go towww.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.

2. Set a goal.

If fruits and vegetables are minor items in your menu, start by eating one extra fruit or vegetable a day. When you’re used to that, add another, and keep going.

3. Be sneaky.

Adding finely grated carrots or zucchini to pasta sauce, meatloaf, chili, or a stew is one way to get an extra serving of vegetables. Cookbooks like Deceptively Delicious or The Sneaky Chef offer ways to slip vegetables and fruits into all sorts of recipes.

4. Try something new.

It’s easy to get tired of apples, bananas, and grapes. Try a kiwi, mango, fresh pineapple, or some of the more exotic choices now found in many grocery stores.

5. Blend in.

A fruit smoothie (recipe below) is a delicious way to start the day or tide you over until dinner.

6. Be a big dipper.

Try dipping vegetables into hummus or another bean spread, some spiced yogurt, or a bit of ranch dressing. Or slather some peanut butter on a banana or slices of apple.

7. Spread it on.

 Try mashed avocado as a dip with diced tomatoes and onions. Puréed cooked spinach is also a delicious dip. Either can also be used as a sandwich spread.

8. Start off right.

Ditch your morning donut for an omelet with onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Top it with some salsa to wake up your palate. Or boost your morning cereal or oatmeal with a handful of strawberries, blueberries, or dried fruit.

9. Drink up.

Having a 6-ounce glass of low-sodium vegetable juice instead of a soda gives you a full serving of vegetables and spares you 10 teaspoons or more of sugar.

10. Give them the heat treatment.

Cut up onions, carrots, zucchini, asparagus, turnips — whatever you have on hand — coat with olive oil, add a dash of balsamic vinegar, and roast at 350° until done. Grilling is another way to bring out the taste of vegetables. Use roasted or grilled veggies as a side dish, put them on sandwiches, or add them to salads.

11. Let someone else do the work.

Food companies and grocers offer an ever-expanding selection of prepared produce, from ready-made salads to frozen stir-fry mixes and take-along sliced apples and dip.

12. Improve on nature.

Jazz up vegetables with spices, chopped nuts, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, or a specialty oil like walnut or sesame oil. Even a dash of grated Parmesan cheese can liven up the blandest green beans.

13. Get help from Willy Wonka.

Try any type of fruit dipped in dark chocolate: what could be a tastier twofer? In addition to a delectable dessert, you get plenty of heart-healthy antioxidants, some fiber, and a host of vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients.

Simple fruit smoothie

This is a great way to use bananas that are beginning to get too ripe. (You can always cut ripe bananas into thick slices, freeze in a plastic bag, and thaw when you’re ready to make another smoothie.)

Makes 1 serving

¾ cup plain yogurt

½ cup berries (fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, or other berries of your choice)

½ ripe banana

½ cup pineapple juice

Get your copy of The 6 Week Plan for Healthy Eating

This week-by-week plan, The Harvard Medical School 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating, will help you transform your eating habits into a program of nutritious and delicious food choices that can last a lifetime. Applying the latest results from nutrition science, Harvard experts take you by the hand and guide you to create an eating plan to improve heart health, longevity, energy, and vitality.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/promotions/harvard-health-publications/the-harvard-medical-school-6-week-plan-for-healthy-eating?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=focuson-nutrition-3&utm_id=1375368&dlv-ga-memberid=75947322&mid=75947322&ml=1375368