Today’s blog will address the challenger of adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Recently there has been more and more emphasis on following a plant-based diet for cancer prevention. If this is not an option for you, there are strategies you can adopt to add more of these antioxidant rich foods to your daily routine.
According to a recent Harvard Study (2020):
The latest dietary guidelines call for five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables a day (2½ to 6½ cups per day), depending on one’s caloric intake. For a person who needs 2,000 calories a day to maintain weight and health, this translates into nine servings, or 4½ cups per day (2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables).
This can seem overwhelming at first, but once you understand the serving size they recommend, it doesn’t seem so challenging. What is the actual recommended serving size? A simple strategy for measuring a serving size is to visually estimate the amount of fruit or vegetable that would fit in the palm of your hand. The following portions are examples of single serving sizes:
Ø One small (3/4 cup or 6 oz) glass of 100% fruit or vegetable juice
Ø One medium-size piece of fruit (an orange, small banana, medium-size apple)
Ø One cup of raw salad greens
Ø 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables
Ø 1/2 cup of cut-up fruit or vegetables
Ø 1/4 cup of dried fruit
Ø 1/2 cup of cooked beans or peas
How can this be accomplished on a busy schedule? Here are some simple strategies I have adopted to easily achieve the daily recommendations.
o Snack on fresh fruit throughout the day. Grab an apple or banana on your way out the door in the morning. I make a smoothie with one cup of frozen organic mixed berries for breakfast to which I add a handful of organic spinach, some fresh ginger and turmeric. If smoothies are not your thing, simply have a cup of mixed fruit. This starts your day with two servings.
o For morning snack, I have apple peanut or almond butter.
o I try to eat a big salad at lunch, and if I have a sandwich, I always add lettuce and tomato on your sandwich. Another option is to make a grilled veggie sandwich on whole wheat flat bread or Ezekiel pocket bread. I stir fry mushrooms, green and red peppers and onions – delicious. If I eat out, I go for a veggie on whole wheat or honey oat. Use mustard often, it has turmeric in it. My salad additions include all organic ingredients including: romaine, spinach, kale, cranberries, walnuts, avocado, beans and goat cheese. Since salad preparation can be time consuming, I make a huge rectangular container on Sundays and it’s easily available throughout the week. In lieu of salad dressing, I drizzle organic olive oil and balsamic vinegar (reduction). The olive oil insures I will absorb the nutrients from the veggies and the balsamic adds flavor as well as alkalinity. There are many good organic dressings available at whole foods or you may choose to make your own.
o Snack on raw veggies instead of chips or candy or on raw nuts and dried fruit. Make sure the dried fruit you are buying is not preserved with Sulfur and is not processed with sugar.
o Keep trail mix made with dried fruit on hand for a quick snack.
o Eat at least two vegetables with dinner. I try to eat sweet potatoes whenever possible with dinner. They are a super food and I love sweet potato fries that I bake in the oven. I merely toss them with organic unrefined coconut oil and sea salt. Add some pepper if you want to spice them up.
o Choose fruit or whole grain baked goods. I make my own banana bread, cranberry bread, blueberry baked donuts and whole grain low sugar muffins. Store purchased muffins are loaded with sugar and preservatives so it’s worth taking a little time to make your own.
o Snack on raw tomatoes. For men, tomatoes help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, and for women, tomatoes have lycopene in them and function much like Tamoxifen in blocking estrogen metabolism. Organic mini tomatoes are sweet and will satisfy hunger.
o If possible, purchase a juicer or purchase fresh vegetable juice. I love my juicer. I use the pulp extracted to make soups, muffins and breads. My choice was a Green Star juicer model 2000 but there several affordable models. One of my favorite juice recipes is carrots, kale, celery, cucumber and beet.
The takeaway from today’s message is baby steps. Once you get started, you’ll be amazed how easy it will become and how much better you will feel.