How to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Did you know there are two food groups that can help you maintain a healthy weight, fight cancer, protect your heart, and help reduce the appearance of wrinkles? Unfortunately, most people only eat about half the recommended servings per day of these “magical” foods. I am taking about fruits and vegetables, nature’s powerful disease fighters.

If you are like most people, you are looking to help increase your fruit and vegetable intake, but may not be sure how without hours in the kitchen or breaking the bank. The recommended amount is 2 servings of fruit per day and 5 servings of vegetables daily. That amount can sometimes seem quite overwhelming, especially if you are not sure what a serving is and if you are getting enough.

A serving of fruit is about 150g of fruit, which equals:

  • 1 medium whole fruit: apple, banana, orange, peach, pear (about the size of a tennis ball)
  • 2 small whole fruits: kiwis, plums, apricots
  • 1 cup diced or canned fruit without any additional sugar.
  • 30g of dried fruits

A serving of vegetables is about 75g of vegetables, which equals:

  • ½ cup of cooked green or orange vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, or carrots.
  • ½ cup cooked or canned beans or other legumes
  • 1 cup raw vegetables
  • ½ of a medium size starchy vegetable, such as a potato or cassava
  • 1 whole tomato

Tips for Getting More Fruit & Vegetables into Your Diet

Not sure how to get in all those servings? Here are some helpful tips for those of us who want to eat healthier by adding more fruits and vegetables to their diets.

  1. Eat fruit as your primary go-to snack. An apple, pear, banana, or other whole piece of fruit is easy, portable, and takes no time to prepare.
  2. Choose fruits and vegetables in-season. These fruits and veggies will taste better, cost less, and possibly contain more nutrients than those that are not in season. If you are not sure which fruits or vegetables are currently in season, you can check out this Seasonal Food Guide.
  3. Sneak fruits and veggies into your breakfast. Sometimes we tend to rely on traditional breakfast foods such as cereals or breads for breakfast. But, breakfast is a great time to add in some additional fruit and vegetables. Top your cereal with colourful berries or make an omelette with a variety of your favourite vegetables. It is easy to get in a serving or two before your day even begins!
  4. Sneak veggies into your favourite meals. Love pizza or sandwiches? These are great places to add a few servings of vegetables. Don’t just add meat or cheese to the pizza, get creative and top the pizza with peppers, tomatoes, artichokes, olives, or any vegetable of your choice. Add spinach, tomatoes, onions, peppers, avocados, or any other favourite veggies to a sandwich. Vegetables will make your favourite foods more nutritious and more filling.
  5. Learn to love soup. Vegetable soup is a great way to add a ton of vegetables to your diet and is easy to prepare. You can even freeze some of the leftovers for later. Try one of my favourite soup recipes.

Be sure to check back regularly for even more delicious recipes with tons of fruits and vegetables.

Chicken and Spinach Soup with Pesto

Soups are a great way to not only warm up in the winter, but also to help you re-set your digestion and health after a any period of time of less than perfect eating. For me, it was a cruise I went on with my family recently where it was sometimes difficult to eat as healthy as I would like! My digestion definitely felt it when I returned. So, I decided to make some healthy soups full of vegetables and fibre, this one and a Minestrone, to help me re-set.

This particular soup is Italian-flavored and takes advantage of quick cooking ingredients, such as chicken breast and bagged spinach. It would be great to make on a week night as it doesn’t take much prep time. It is low in calories and fat. It also gives you a significant amount of fibre and iron due to the beans and spinach. Carrots help add vitamin A(in the form of Beta Carotene) and the capsicum is very high in Vitamin C, both great for fighting off those winter colds.

Chicken and Spinach Soup with Pesto (adapted from Eatingwell.com)chicken pesto

Makes: 5 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each
Prep Time: 
Total Time: 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup each of carrots and diced capsicum
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 460g total) cut into large pieces
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 whole onion
  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
  • 3/4 cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 2- 450g cans of cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

PREPARATION

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrots, capsicum and chicken; cook, turning the chicken and stirring frequently, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in broth and Italian herbs; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  2. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to a clean cutting board to cool. Add spinach and beans to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
  3. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, Parmesan and basil in a food processor (a mini processor works well). Process until a coarse paste forms, adding a little water and scraping down the sides as necessary. You can also use bottled pesto if you don’t want to make your own.
  4. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir the chicken and pesto into the pot. Season with pepper. Heat until hot. Garnish with croutons, if desired.

Nutrition: great source of Vitamin A, Folate, Fiber, and Vitamin C.

Gluten-free, low calorie, low fat.  

Healthy Easy Lunches…and a Competition!

…PLUS…COMPETITION TIME….KEEP READING…!

Days at work can sometimes get so busy that many of us forget to stop for lunch or just eat at our desks. This results in being overly hungry at night or to a 3pm blood sugar slump which leads us to choose sugary snacks to get our energy back up. Taking a lunch break is not just important for our diets, but is also a critical part of stress management at work. Taking a break away from your desk, even if it’s just for 15 minutes can help reduce daily strain quinoa saladand will actually make you more productive and focused for the afternoon. The ideal work day lunch provides lean protein, a high fiber carbohydrate, and a healthy fat. It is best to bring your lunch to work if you can, so you can control exactly what you are eating and are less likely to be tempted by high fat, high calorie restaurant choices.  Here are some lunch ideas to keep you productive and healthy during a busy day at work:

1. Salmon salad. Canned salmon is an easy, nutritious source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Mix together 1 small can of salmon (approximately 100 grams), 3 cups of greens such as lettuce, baby spinach, kale etc (your choice), ½ cup beetroot,  a whole grapefruit or orange in sections, and ¼ cup of nuts (your choice).  Add a small can of four bean mix or chickpeas for some low GI carbohydrates. Drizzle with olive oil, white wine vinegar, and chili powder for dressing.

2. Leftovers. Leftovers from the night before always make a great lunch the next day. If you are cooking chicken or fish, make a little extra for lunch. Rice and beans or a bean soup keeps for about 5 days in the fridge and makes a filling-high fiber lunch. Make a large batch on a Sunday and eat it all week.

3. Wholemeal pita sandwiches. Pita bread is a great pocket for just about any lean meat, vegetable, or healthy fat. Pita can get soggy easily, so pack the bread separately from the fillers and make your sandwich when you are ready to eat. Some suggested toppings: hummus with roasted red peppers and cucumber slices, the salmon salad above, or turkey with tomato slices, lettuce, and olives.

4. Frozen or pre-packaged meals. Although it may be tempting to just throw a pre-packaged or frozen meal into your lunch bag, be careful with what you choose. These choices can be high in sodium and low in nutrition. Look for choices that have less than 500mg sodium per serving. Choose those that include whole grains and vegetables. Avoid frozen pizzas, pastas, or fried choices. If you do find a healthy option that is low in calories and sodium add a side salad, fruit, or low fat yoghurt to balance out your meal.

5. Quirky quinoa salad. Quinoa is a great whole grain that provides a significant amount of protein and fiber. Our recipe has chickpeas for additional protein and a ton of vegetables. It can be made ahead of time and tastes even better the next day. Get creative with quinoa, toss in leftover chicken and vegetables along with your favorite dressing.  The combinations are endless!

Lunch can give you more energy, help you save money, and make you a more productive worker. Remember lunch doesn’t have to be a traditional sandwich, it can be whatever makes you feel healthy and well-nourished to make your work day more productive. Feel free to start with these ideas and create your own energy boosting lunch.

 

 COMPETITION TIME!

We love food…and we also love quinoa!  To celebrate our love for both of these things, New Life Nutrition has teamed up with a new wholefoods business in Brisbane to bring you a great giveaway.

Andes Mills is a Brisbane based family owned business who source and sell natural products and superfoods traditionally used in South America for their health benefits. Their products currently include maca and amaranth however they have announced that they will be launching their quinoa product at Brisbane’s Good Food and Wine Show in November!  The most awesome thing about this product is that the Andes Mills family actually grown their own quinoa on their farm in South America and  import it for sale.  I love that not only do they know where it came from, they have actually grown it themselves!

Andesquinoa_launching_small-01

To celebrate the launch of their quinoa, Andes Mills and New Life Nutrition are giving you the opportunity to win a double pass to the Good Food and Wine Show in Brisbane (8-10 November).  The winner will receive both a double pass as well as a 500g bag of quinoa (so you can whip up our Quinoa Salad for your lunches!).  Two runners up will each receive a 500g bag of quinoa.

 

good food and wine

To win, tell us what your favourite family food memory is.  Please comment either below or on our Andes Mills competition facebook post .

Competition closes Wednesday 30th October at 10pm (Brisbane time)

 Please also show the love by checking out the Andes Mills facebook page! I love a family business so please support this great business!