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Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

Big Ideas for the Big Game!

If the Big Game party is at your house this year, don’t settle for just the “expected” menu! Serve up fan favorites, but get the guests talking about more than just the commercials by serving up some tasty new snacks! We all sink into the rut of serving food in team colored bowls and tablecloths, but this year – take it a step further (and healthier) by giving a nod to the teams ON the plate! Fruits and vegetables come in every color of the rainbow, so whether you want to go head to head with the actual teams in the Game, or you want to give a nod to the team you wish were playing (Go Bears!), have some fun while sneaking necessary nutrients into the festivities by choosing team colored produce!

Chili is a huge fan favorite – make sure there are beans in the party version for a fiber and nutrient boost. Did you know that legumes like kidney beans are one of the most economical and nutrient dense foods available? A mere half cup of legumes counts as an ounce of protein – so toss them in! Beans provide nutrients like fiber, folate that may help prevent cancer and heart disease, potassium for heart and blood pressure health, magnesium for a healthy immune system, plus protein and complex carbohydrates! Who said feeding a crowd has to be expensive or tasteless! Here are some more SUPER ways to score big with your guests.

First and ten – do it again! Did you know the average American needs five cups of produce a day? This means that even at a party, offering fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to help meet necessary nutrient requirements. The great news is, fruits and vegetables are a party friendly way to serve up snacks to guests. Easy to prepare and even easier to eat, fruits and vegetables can go from appetizer to dessert easily. Encourage potluck guests to bring a dish featuring a team color fruit or vegetable and see what happens!

Pregame preparations. Enlist the help of kids (with age appropriate activities) and loved ones to help wash and slice vegetables for dipping. At about 25 calories per serving, vegetables score big with guests trying to watch their waistlines while providing nutrients in those team colors! Serve up MVP’s like baby carrots, bell pepper strips, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, cauliflower/broccoli florets, snow peas, jicama, and cucumber slices for colorful dipping.

Avoid a penalty flag by providing a sweet alternative to high fat desserts. Cut up pineapple, apple, melons, pears, and kiwi for a super simple topper for light ice cream, or simply for dipping in a low fat yogurt. For even more team fun, slice fruit thinly then use mini cookie cutters in football shapes for a theme and portion controlled presentation that is easy to execute. Use fancy toothpicks for stabbing with team colored fringe for more football friendly presentation.

Quarterback (vegetable) sack. An easy way to add veggies to the main event is to brush with a little olive oil, sprinkle on some herbs, and package up in foil for the grill. Too cold to grill? Instead of a foil sack, simply line cut up veggies on a tray and roast in the oven. Try asparagus spears, bell pepper, tomato slices, sweet potato wedges, mushrooms, and other favorites for a delicious way to warm up the veggie offerings! Side benefit? Adding a little heart smart oil actually aids with the absorption of fat soluble nutrients found in favorite veggies.

Touchdown! As delicious as fruits and veggies are on their own, nothing says party more than dips. Keep it easy in the end zone and offer up dips with some nutritional reason for being on the table. Yogurt offers calcium and acts as a great base for both sweet and savory dips (perfect for fruits OR veggies), and salsa, [made of veggies, of course], is a fat free, cholesterol free fan favorite.

Team-colored party friendly produce (add other favorites for team colored treats):

ORANGE
Carrots
Bell pepper
Cantaloupe
Oranges
Tangerines
Clementines

GREEN
Salad/spinach
Broccoli
Bell pepper
Snow peas
Celery
Green beans
Asparagus
Kiwi
Honeydew melon
Granny smith apples
Green grapes

YELLOW
Summer squash
Bell pepper
Pineapple
Lemon

RED
Tomatoes (cherry and grape)
Radish
Bell pepper
Beets
Kidney beans
Watermelon
Strawberries
Cherries
Pink grapefruit
Red apples
Red grapes

WHITE
Banana
Mushroom
Jicama
Cabbage
Onion
Cauliflower

BLUE/PURPLE
Blueberries
Blackberries

 

Super Easy Fruit Dip
Servings: 32
Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (8 ounce) container yogurt
Directions:
In a medium bowl, blend the whipped topping and yogurt. Chill in the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

 

 

Pineapple Salsa
Servings: 8
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 2 green Chile peppers, chopped
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
In a large bowl, toss together pineapple, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, corn, black beans, onions, green Chile peppers, orange juice, and cilantro. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator until serving.

 

 

Kim Kirchherr, MS, RD, CDE
Dietitian
Jewel-Osco

 

 

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