It cannot be ignored that fruits and vegetables are such a vital part of our diet. They provide us with a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. And they are so colorful and delicious!
Phytonutrients (also known as phytochemicals) are compounds produced in plants. They are found in all edible parts of a fruit or vegetable but are often concentrated in the skin. Each phytonutrient has “different proposed effects on and benefits for the body.” Research suggests that there are thousands of phytonutrients!
Fruits and vegetables give us energy, keep our bodies working properly, and help us feel healthy. They also may reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
Most people know the importance of including a variety of fruits and vegetables in our daily diets. A rule of thumb is to make half your plate fruits and vegetables at every meal or snack. Also, try to eat a variety of colors. But, what do you do if you don’t like fruits or vegetables? (a question asked by my husband!)
The nutritional value of plants is hard to replace. Yes, there are multivitamins and daily greens pills, but our bodies prefer real, whole foods and supplements are not a replacement. For optimal health, these foods are a necessity!
If you don’t like fruits or vegetables, here are some helpful tips:
Keep trying different types. There is always something new to try as the variety of fruits and vegetables is endless. You aren’t limited to apples, bananas, and carrots. Go to your local farmer’s market or grocery store and pick out something new to you and give it a try. Have a goal to try something new each week.
Hide them. Remember the cookbooks “Sneaky Chef” or “Deceptively Delicious?” You can puree fruits or vegetables and “hide” them in certain dishes. You can blend them in soups, sauces, chili’s, or casseroles. In the past, I’ve added shredded carrots to spaghetti sauce or shredded zucchini to lasagna.
Bake them. Who doesn’t love a good banana or pumpkin bread? You can bake shredded carrots, apples, or zucchini into muffins or bread. I’ve made Green Monster Muffins that have spinach in them and are delicious!
Smoothies. Add greens or just about any fruit to a smoothie. In most cases, you can’t even taste the greens.
Find the right texture. There are many ways to cook vegetables. Grill, roast, sauté, bake, stir fry. You can even make veggie “chips” or “fries.” Using different cooking methods will bring out different flavors. I love just about any vegetable roasted!
Add flavor. There is no reason to eat bland veggies. Add some spices, olive oil, garlic, lemon, fresh herbs, or balsamic vinegar. Add some fruit to your cereal or yogurt.
There are endless ways to prepare fruits and vegetables and chances are you will find one that you like. Don’t give up! Knowing the health benefits of plants should be reason enough to find a way to get them into your daily diet.
I’ve slacked off lately, but it’s time for me to be a “sneaky chef” and include more phytonutrients in my husband’s (and kids) daily meals!
What’s your favorite fruit and vegetable?
Do you ever “sneak” plants into your family’s meals?