Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

Inspiration for National Fruits & Veggies Month™: Have A Plant™—Food Rooted in a Better Mood

Take the #haveaplantpledge!

As a working mom I get it – life can be crazy. Between my full-time job, raising three kids, teaching group fitness classes, and trying to enjoy time with family and friends, I understand just how difficult it can be to juggle a demanding routine as well as make sure you and your family are eating healthy, delicious meals on a regular basis.

The good news is that healthy eating really can be easy, convenient and affordable. The solution: Simply feed your family more fruits and vegetables. This can be any fruit or vegetable; I’m talking ALL forms of these fabulous and flavorful foods—apples, oranges, berries, carrots, zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, dried fruits, canned fruit and salsa cups, 100% fruit juice…the list goes on. Yet, the statistics remain alarming — nine out of 10 Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.[1],[2]

In my roles as the President and CEO of the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH)—an organization whose purpose is to increase Americans’ daily fruit and vegetable consumption for better health and happiness—as well as CMO—Chief Mom Officer of my household, I am on a mission to help busy Americans experience just how easy (and dare I say, delicious) it can be to eat and enjoy more fruits and vegetables every day.

To that end, PBH launched a new movement, Have A Plant™, which marks an end to “prescriptive recommendations.” We are turning a new leaf and motivating Americans with actionable and realistic steps to connect eating fruits and vegetables with feeling happier and healthier.

September is National Fruits & Veggies Month™ (NFVM), and there’s no better time to take action together. The 2019 NFVM theme is Have A Plant—Food Rooted In A Better Mood, to really bring this new movement to life. We’ve got to do this.

This movement is rooted in science too. PBH’s acting chief food and nutrition scientist, Taylor Wallace, PhD along with 13 nutrition scientists, recently examined nearly 100 systematic reviews looking at the effects of fruits and vegetables on cardiovascular disease, 17 different types of cancer, immunity, infection, lung health, mental health and cognition, bone health, eye health, gut health, and other diseases. The review was published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition last month.

Overall, the research confirms that eating at least five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day has benefits far beyond providing basic nutrition needs. For example, eating more fruits and vegetables was found to extend both life expectancy and quality – who doesn’t want that?

The bottom line: Fruits and vegetables have unique, synergistic health-promoting properties that are key to overall health and well-being. If fact, eating fruits and vegetables may be the single most important decision we can make to support happier, healthier lives.

To commemorate NFVM, we’re asking everyone to take the Have A Plant™ Pledge. The challenge is simple. Simply add one extra serving of fruits and/or vegetables to your daily routine for 30 consecutive days. Be sure to visit the “Take the Pledge” section of the www.fruitsandveggies.org website for more details, and post the Have A PlantPledge graphic in social media.

Need additional motivation to get started? Here are my top tips:

Stock Up for Convenience

Great intentions to go to the grocery store and/or prepare that perfectly-plated, plant-based recipe you found on Pinterest? But…then life got in the way, right? Here’s a simple tip. Always keep frozen, canned and dried fruits and veggies in the house. You can easily whip up a delicious stir-fry, whole-grain pasta primavera or entree salad with dried fruit and bagged greens for dinner in a flash. You’ll feel confident knowing you prepared a home-cooked meal, chock-full of good nutrition. Studies show that all fruits and vegetables – fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice – can build and support healthy bodies at any age. Research also shows that people who have all forms or types of fruits and veggies available in the home are likely to consume them more often. #winning

Transform Fruits & Veggies from Just OK to Gourmet

While balsamic-drizzled, roasted cauliflower might not be a hit with everyone, we guarantee your kids will flip for this Cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese from registered dietitian and PBH Fruit & Vegetable Ambassador in Action, Kristina LaRue. It’s comfort food for your kiddos without any of the mom guilt. Check out more plant-powered recipes featuring your favorite fruits and vegetables at https://fruitsandveggies.org/recipes/.

Jazz Up Everyday Favorites

Spice up classic go-to dishes in fun ways. For example, serve baked potatoes with a handful of broccoli and low-fat cheddar cheese on top to amp up the nutrition…and the flavor. Bulk up burgers with veggie puree or chopped mushrooms; add canned pumpkin puree to marinara sauce; incorporate dark leafy greens and dark-colored berries into smoothies; place some finely grated zucchini into pancake mix; or enjoy dates stuffed with almond butter or grilled peaches for dessert. From simple snacks to special sides to memorable meals, there are so many ways to serve and savor fruits and vegetables every day.

Try Making Small Changes. One. Day. At. A. Time.

Seriously. Just try your best. Or just try. No need to get the measuring cups out. This month, we invite you to make one quick and easy addition to your day. Just one. Simply add one fruit and/or veggie to your everyday routine. It doesn’t matter what it is – whether it’s apples, broccoli, fruit or salsa cups, a handful of dried fruit on the run, or another fruit or veggie you’ve been meaning to try like zucchini noodles or frozen cauliflower rice. You’ll feel the joy and sweet satisfaction that you are one step closer in your quest to eat fruits and vegetables for a happier, healthier life.

In need of more inspiration and tips? Get to know PBH’s FVAA members, an elite expert network of food, nutrition & lifestyle influencers. Consider them your go-to resource for NFVM. They will be providing fun tips and tricks throughout the month and showcasing real-life examples of how to eat more plants, every day, on our series page. Be sure to follow them on social!

We also encourage you to donate to the cause and give back to the only purpose-driven organization that aims to help Americans eat more fruits and vegetables for happy, healthy and active lives every single day. To show your support, we hope you’ll consider purchasing a Have A Plant™ t-shirt by clicking here. Your purchase includes a tax-deductible donation to the Produce for Better Health Foundation to fund research to better understand how fruits and vegetables help create happier, healthier lives.

Finally, be sure to connect with us on Facebook @fruitsandveggies; on Twitter @fruits_veggies; on Instagram @fruitsandveggies; on Pinterest @fruits_veggies; and on LinkedIn at Produce for Better Health Foundation.

So…here’s the plan this September: #haveaplant and take the #haveaplantpledge. Let’s do this!

[1] DGAC. 2015. Scientific report of the 2015 Dietary Gudelines Advisory Committee: Advisory report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the secretary of agriculture. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service.
[2] USDA. 2018a. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Accessed May 4, 2018. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015

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