No Excuses: Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables

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What’s your excuse? We all know that eyes? It’s a “use it or lose it” situation. In my experience (with the exception of apples kept in the crisper) you’re more likely to use fresh produce within two to three days. After that, you either forget you have it or it goes bad.

How to overcome this excuse:

  • Dried fruit is ready when you are. It doesn’t go bad. And dried fruit isn’t just about raisins anymore. You can select from dried mango, cherries, blueberries, flavored cranberries, strawberries, apricots, and peaches. Remember that 1/4 cup of dried fruit is equal to a serving of fruit.
  • 100% fruit or vegetable juice is only a glass away. Some types of fruit and vegetable juices will spoil if you don’t use them by the recommended date on the container. But there are also packaged and canned 100% fruit and vegetable juices that have a long shelf life.
  • Shop for fresh produce a few days at a time. If you just bought the fruits and vegetables, they are more likely to be in your consciousness so you’ll plan them into your meals and snacks. It’s a good idea to make a fruit salad or green salad right when you get home from the grocery store. Store it in a covered plastic container, and a fresh salad is only a minute away
  • Frozen, frozen, frozen. Always have some frozen fruits and vegetables on hand. Start looking for recipes that call for frozen fruits and vegetables so you will be more likely to use the bags sitting in your freezer.

Excuse No. 8: Other snacks are more convenient.

A lot of people think it’s easier to buy a bag of chips or to go to the vending machine and grab a candy bar. But with a little forethought, fruits and vegetables can be just as convenient.

How to overcome this excuse:

  • 100% fruit juice couldn’t be easier. Pack a frozen 100% juice box to keep your lunch cool, and it will be refreshingly slushy by high noon. Instead of buying a soda or chips from a snack bar, buy a bottle of 100% fruit or vegetable juice instead.
  • Try single-serving veggie packets. In some grocery stores, you can find single-serving veggie packets, like carrot and dip packs, celery and peanut butter, and sugar snap peas and dip. Pop one of these in your lunch or grab one on your way out in the afternoon. Remember, 6-8 carrot sticks (about 3-inch long) equals a serving of vegetables.

Excuse No. 9: Fruits and vegetables cost too much.

Thaete says many of her patients have the erroneous idea that fruits and vegetables are too expensive.

How to overcome this excuse:

  • Buy in-season producewhenever possible. The prices are usually more reasonable.
  • Buy frozen (or canned) fruits and vegetables. They’re often less expensive than fresh produce – and they’re available year round.
  • Find stores that have great prices on fresh or frozen produce. Some stores offer better prices than others. It could be your local farmer’s market, or a specialty chain like Trader Joe’s. Spend a little time researching this, and you’ll know where to get the best deals on fresh and frozen produce, dried fruit, and 100% juice.
  • Buy a little fresh produce at a time. Don’t waste money throwing out spoiled fruits and vegetables. Be sure to choose items that you really want to eat.

Fruit and Vegetable Recipes

Here are three simple recipes using fruits and vegetables to add to your repertoire.

Black Bean Vegetable Stir Fry

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 1/2 cups vegetables without added fat

16-ounce bag frozen Oriental Style vegetables

2 tablespoons bottled black bean sauce

2 tablespoons water, chicken broth or beer

Garnish:

1 tablespoon toasted sliced almonds or

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds or thinly sliced green onions (just the green part)

  • Begin heating a nonstick wok or large skillet over high heat. When it’s good and hot, add the frozen vegetables and let cook over high heat for about 4 minutes, stirring often.
  • Meanwhile, blend the black bean sauce with water, broth, or beer in a small cup and stir until smooth. When vegetables are just lightly cooked, stir in the black bean sauce and turn off heat. Let sit for about a minute to warm the sauce.
  • Sprinkle toasted almonds, sesame seeds or green onions over the top and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Per serving (with almond garnish): 89 calories, 4 g protein, 16.5 g carbohydrate, 1.7 g fat, .2 g saturated fat, 0.7 g monounsaturated fat, 0.6 g polyunsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6.4 g fiber, 136 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 16%.

Spinach Egg White Omelet

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 2 eggs without added fat + 1 cup vegetables without fat + 1 ounce low-fat cheese (even if you use whole milk cheese)

Canola cooking spray

1 cup loose frozen chopped spinach (found in bags, not boxes)

1/2 cup Egg Beaters (or other egg substitute)

A few sprinkles freshly ground pepper

Two pinches dried oregano flakes

1 ounce thinly sliced or shredded cheese of choice

1/2 whole tomato, thinly sliced or chopped

  • Start heating 9-inch nonstick frying pan or omelet pan over medium-high heat. Coat the inside of pan with canola cooking spray. Spread frozen spinach out in the pan and let it heat up for about a minute. Stir to continue cooking for about a minute more.
  • Spread spinach out evenly in the bottom of the pan, then pour 1/2 cup of egg substitute over spinach to form an omelet. Sprinkle pepper and oregano over the top. When the bottom is nicely browned, flip omelet over to cook other side.
  • Lay thinly sliced cheese over the top of half of the omelet. When bottom side is cooked and cheese is melted, fold one-half of omelet over the half topped with cheese. Garnish the top with fresh tomato and serve.

Yield: 1 serving

Per serving: 225 calories, 24 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat, 6 g , 2.7 g monounsaturated fat, 0.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 5.3 g fiber, 497 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 39%.

Mixed Berry Cobbler

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 medium dessert OR 2 portions fresh fruit + 1 slice bread

This recipe can be made in individual portions in the microwave, or can be baked in the oven.

4 cups frozen unsweetened mixed berries (or use 2 cups frozen blueberries and 2 cups frozen raspberries)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur (or substitute 2 tablespoons fruit juice)

4 reduced-fat Crescent Rolls (4 ounces), unwrapped

1/2 teaspoon ground

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • If using oven, preheat to 375 degrees. Add frozen berries to a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, flour, and amaretto and stir to blend.
  • If using microwave, divide berry mixture into 4 custard cups. Top each with a crescent roll that has been cut in half, to cover the berries well. If using an oven, spread berry mixture in 9-x 5-inch loaf dish and arrange 4 rolled-out crescent rolls to cover berry mixture well.
  • In small cup, blend ground cinnamon with 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar. Sprinkle some of the cinnamon sugar evenly over the top of the crescent rolls.
  • If using microwave, microwave each individual cobbler for about 3 minutes (time may vary depending on your microwave). If using an oven, bake dish for about 20-25 minutes or until top is golden and berry mixture is bubbling.

Yield: 4 servings

Per serving: 209 calories, 3 g protein, 38 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 1.6 g monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 220 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21%.