Tips to get the whole family to eat enough fruit this summer

10 Fun Ways to Eat Enough Fruit This Summer

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the blog here.

USE THESE TIPS TO GET THE WHOLE FAMILY TO EAT ENOUGH FRUIT FROM THE SUMMER BOUNTY

I love fruit and eat plenty of it, but most people do not eat enough fruit to get the minimum 2 servings a day recommended in the Dietary Guidelines. That’s too bad because fruit is an important part of a balanced diet, right along with its side-kick, vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables are routinely grouped together in government issued food plans, pyramids and plates, yet some people think vegetables have higher status. Maybe it’s because they have a permanent place on dinner menus, while fruit is relegated to snacks and dessert? Whatever the reason, fruit deserves to be counted on its own merits.

Fruit contains essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber that are not available in plentiful amounts in other foods. The nutrients in fruit help protect us against cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer disease, cataracts, and many other chronic diseases.

Taste is high on the list of reasons why people don’t eat all of the vegetables they should, but that’s no excuse for not eating enough fruit. It can be sweet or sour, juicy or dry, soft or firm, chewy or crisp – something to please any palate. And you can eat it fresh, frozen, cooked, juiced or dried.

One of the easiest ways to make sure teens and adults eat enough fruit is to get them started young. Summer is the perfect time to introduce your little ones to the abundant variety of fruit that is in season and ready for sampling. You can include fun lessons on colors, shapes, and sizes, too, as you shop for an assortment of berries, melons and more.

10 Fun Ways to Eat Enough Fruit This Summer

  1. Melon Bowl Soup Most children don’t like their soup too hot, so make a cold fruit soup and ladle it into carved out half-cantaloupe as a bowl.
  2. Rainbow Pizza Spread cream cheese on toasted English muffins or whole wheat pita bread and top with colorful sliced plums, apricots, and kiwi.
  3. Honey-Grilled Fruit Place pitted and halved peaches and nectarines and sliced pineapple on the barbecue grill for a sizzling fruit platter you can top with a drizzle of honey.
  4. Tropical Dip Cut chunks of banana, mango, and papaya for dipping into lemon yogurt then sprinkling with toasted coconut or crushed cereal.
  5. Green Slushies Puree kiwi, green grapes and honeydew melon together, freeze in ice cube trays, then process again in blender until a slushy consistency.
  6. Fruit Dunkers Easier than fondue, just dunk fruit chunks into caramel or chocolate sauce thinned with hot water or use maple syrup, honey, or whipped topping.
  7. Asian Fruit Salad Combine mandarin orange segments, boysenberries, and cubed Asian pears, top with Chinese noodles, and let everyone eat it with chop sticks.
  8. Crazy Quesadillas Spread shredded mozzarella cheese over a one half of a flour tortilla, top with sliced strawberries, then fold other half over and heat until the cheese has melted.
  9. Parfait Cones Layer yogurt and berries in an ice cream cone for a portable snack filled with summer’s best.
  10. Melon Stick Cube watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and/or Crenshaw and thread onto popsicle sticks.

What’s your favorite fruit of the season?

For more ways to increase the fruit in your diet check these blogs:

  • 11 Ways to Get Kids to Eat More Vegetables
  • Getting More Fruit in Your Diet is Easy with Dried Fruit

 

It’s not just what you eat on the Mediterranean Diet plan, but how you eat it

The Mediterranean Diet Plan is About More Than the Food

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original blog here.

IT’S NOT JUST WHAT YOU EAT ON THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET PLAN BUT HOW YOU EAT IT

What makes the Mediterranean diet plan so special? The cuisines of Spain, France, Italy, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Malta, Tunisia, Turkey, Algeria, Albania, Greece, Israel, Croatia, Libya and Lebanon – all countries that have a border on the Mediterranean – certainly are not all the same. Some use rice as a staple, others rely on wheat. Some feature pork, while for others it’s forbidden. Some drink wine every day, yet some abstain completely.

Could the health benefits be due to something other than the food?

What Foods Make the Mediterranean Diet Special?

In the 1960s researchers first reported longer lifespans and less chronic disease among people in Spain, southern Italy, and Greece compared to the US, Japan and several European countries. The scientists attributed the health and longevity of the people living along the Mediterranean to their diet.

After 50 years of continuing study into what they were eating, a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was published in 1995 (we had Food Pyramids before we got My Plate), then updated in 2008.

The current version includes foods recommended for every meal in the first tier: fruits, vegetables, grains (mostly whole), nuts, legumes, seeds, olives, olive oil, herbs and spices. The next level adds fish and seafood, to be eaten at least twice a week. The third tier introduces moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt, either daily or weekly. Then the top and final space is for sweets and meats, both to be eaten sparingly. Water and wine are the only beverages called for.

The major distinctions from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the emphasis on foods from plant sources at every meal, using olive oil as the primary fat, choosing minimally processed food, and eating very little red meat. But that’s not all that’s different.

What Else Makes the Mediterranean Diet Special?

As it turns out, the way people eat is as important as what they eat. For folks living the good life along the Mediterranean, mealtimes are social occasions enjoyed in the company of family and friends. That does not mean they eat off their best china at every meal, but rather, they spend time at the table savoring their food without the distractions of their jobs or beeping electronic gadgets.

And that just might be the best way to begin your journey towards a more Mediterranean diet. Yes, the whole wheat couscous, Kalamata olives and fresh fish are important, but who knows what else might happen if you come to the table ready to sit down, log off, and tune in to one another?

How are you going to celebrate National Mediterranean Diet Month this May?

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National Peanut Butter and Jelly day is not the only time we enjoy peanut butter

What Food is in 90% of US Households? Peanut Butter!

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you read the blog here.

NATIONAL PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY DAY IS NOT THE ONLY TIME WE ENJOY PEANUT BUTTER

This morning I smeared chunky peanut butter and wild blueberry preserves on a toasted whole wheat English muffin for my breakfast. Like many Americans, I make some version of this popular sandwich many times throughout the year. One reason that’s possible is because the main ingredient is something 90 percent of us always have in our kitchens.

Other little known facts about pb&j are that the average child will eat 1,500 of them before he/she graduates from high school, although adults consume more of them than school kids. And for a whopping 96 percent of all pb&j sandwiches made, the chunky or creamy is spread on the bread before the jam, jelly or preserves.

Since today is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, I’d like to honor this infamous combination between two slices of bread by sharing the top reasons why I think it’s so good.

Great Taste!

Millions of Americans like the taste of peanuts and anything made with them. Some of us even think they make candy taste better since four of the top 10 candy bars made in the US contain peanuts or peanut butter. That taste is also found in ice cream, cookies, ready-to-eat cereals, granola bars, pretzel snacks, smoothies, sauces, and dressings to name just a few of the most popular pairings.

Totally Convenient

Easy to use and easy to store are what make peanut butter a household staple. It can be made into a sandwich by a 3 year old if you’re willing to put up with a little mess or used as a ready-to-go dip for fruit slices. An unopened jar has a shelf life of 9-12 months, and an opened jar can be on the shelf for 3 months. If you put an opened jar of peanut butter in the refrigerator you can use for up to 6 months.

Always Affordable

No matter what your budget, a jar of peanut butter will be a good investment. The average price of a pound of creamy was $2.23 as of November 2011. There are 14 servings (2 tablespoons) in a pound of peanut butter, which comes to $0.16 per serving. You can’t find a less expensive way to replace meat or other sources of protein on a sandwich.

Nutritional Winner

Though not really a nut (peanuts are a legume, like beans and lentils), peanuts have more protein than any nut by weight. They also contain over 30 other essential nutrients and phytonutrients and have a higher antioxidant capacity than grapes, green tea, and tomatoes according to the National Peanut Board. A 2 tablespoon serving of creamy peanut butter has 190 calories, of which 150 calories come from the fat. Fortunately, most of that fat is made up of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and is completely cholesterol free.

What are your reasons for loving peanut butter?

One of the best values in the frozen food section of your grocery store is the vegetables.

It’s Frozen Food Month: Got Vegetables?

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the post here.

ONE OF THE BEST VALUES IN THE FROZEN FOOD SECTION OF YOUR GROCERY STORE IS THE VEGETABLES.

What’s the one frozen food I always have on hand? Frozen vegetables! They are my go-to staple that allow me to prepare nutritious and varied meals no matter how sparse the rest of my pantry. Right now I have cubed butternut squash, petite peas, broccoli florets, edamame in the pod, and baby lima beans.

I was first introduced to frozen vegetables as a child when my parents bought a chest freezer. Every three months a delivery of frozen food arrived on our back porch. The carefully labeled brown corrugated boxes packed in dry ice were filled with every cut of beef imaginable, cylinders of frozen orange juice concentrate, and tidy square boxes of frozen vegetables.

My sisters and I had the privilege of taking turns to pick out what vegetable our family would have for dinner each night. Thus began my exposure to an international assortment of frozen vegetables that included everything from French cut green beans Brussels sprouts!

What’s new in the frozen food aisle?

If you think Americans don’t like frozen vegetables, think again. The freezer cases in grocery stores now devote as much space to vegetables as they do ice cream!

Frozen vegetables are now available in single-serving containers and family-sized bags as well as those same tidy 10 ounce boxes. As if it weren’t convenient enough not having to clean, peel, or chop frozen vegetables, you can now also steam them right in the bag or box in your microwave oven.

The assortment of individual vegetables has expanded beyond the classic green beans, carrots, peas, and corn, and so have the medleys. They come with embellishments, too, to win over the fussiest eaters. You can find frozen vegetables with butter, cheese, or teriyaki sauce, and creamed. Some are combined with rice, potatoes, or pasta while others just need the addition of chicken, beef or shrimp to make a complete meal.

Why pick a frozen food over fresh?

When it comes to vegetables, buying them frozen insures you are getting the best quality at the best price all year round. The varieties grown are selected for their flavor, not their durability, and can be harvested at their nutritional peak since they don’t have to withstand the long shipping and storage times necessary for fresh vegetables. And remember, the longer a fresh vegetable spends in your refrigerator, the less nutritious it is by the time you eat it.

What frozen vegetables do you have in your freezer?