Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

Insider's Viewpoint: Expert Supermarket Advice: Simple, Healthy Meals for Hectic Times. Hope Danielson, Niemann Foods. Fruits And Veggies More Matters.org

With the weather starting to get warmer and schedules getting busier, it’s easy for many of us to turn to takeout and drive-thru restaurants. And while healthier options are becoming more available in these locations, when people eat at home, they usually eat more healthfully.

Warmer weather doesn’t mean you should forget about trying to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. And with so many fruits and vegetables being at their peak, spring is a great time to incorporate more produce into your menus.

Simple, Healthy Meals & Tips

    • Grill. When it’s warm outside, use the grill instead of your oven. This will help keep your kitchen cool and … grilling is a low-fat cooking method.
    • Precut Veggies. Buy precut vegetables to keep on hand for snacks and side dishes.
    • Hardboiled Eggs. Hardboiled eggs are easy and a great source of protein. Eat them for a quick snack or in salads.
    • Fresh Herbs. Using fresh herbs is a great way to flavor your food without adding fat, salt or sugar. Try basil, thyme, rosemary and cilantro.
    • Bagged Salads. Buy packaged salad mixes and add a handful of vegetables and some lean protein like tuna or chicken.
    • Beans. Beans are a great way to add some fiber to any meal. You can buy canned beans (rinse and drain before use) and add them to rice, salads or wraps.
    • Dips & Salsas. Use your food processor to make healthy dips like salsa, hummus and guacamole.
    • Pasta. Pasta is a quick and easy dish. Just boil water, cook, drain and toss with your favorite sauce. Add a salad and some fresh fruit and you have a well-balanced meal.
    • Leftovers for Later. Cook extra meals on the weekends (when you have more time) and store in the freezer for later use.
    • Slow Cook. Crock pots are great to use even in warmer weather. Fill with lean pork, beef or chicken and your favorite vegetables. Prep in the morning and it will be ready by the time you’re home for dinner!

Staying Healthy On the Run

    • Plan Ahead. When you know you’re going to be away from home, plan to bring healthy snacks. Foods like cut up vegetables and fruits, sliced lean meats, whole grain crackers, string cheese and peanut butter are great choices. Keep them in a small cooler in the car to have on hand when hunger strikes.
    • Simple & Quick Meals. Keep plenty of easy foods on hand for last-minute meals. Leftover pasta is great to use in cold pasta salads. Toss it with some salmon, diced carrots, asparagus, roasted red peppers and low-fat balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Put it in the cooler and you’re ready to go.
    • Wraps in a Snap. Wraps are a great way to get a nutritious meal. Take whole wheat tortilla and top with Dijon mustard, lean lunchmeat, assorted vegetables and reduced-fat cheese. Add a serving of fruit and some whole grain crackers or chips.
    • Light Desserts. Ice cream may taste great in warmer weather but it can be high in saturated fat. Try frozen yogurt or freeze your favorite sugar-free pudding. Fresh fruit is also great with a little non-fat whipped topping. S’Mores can also be made a little healthier by using dark chocolate squares and whole grain graham crackers.
    • Stay Hydrated. Water is best, but 100% juice and sparkling water also work to stay hydrated. Try some iced green tea, or sugar-free mixes that you can add to your bottled water.

Hope Danielson
Health and Wellness Advisor
Niemann Foods

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Video Center: Selection, Storage, and Preparation of Fruits & Vegetables.

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