We Can all Use More Fruits and Vegetables
By: Libby Christensen, Extension Agent 4-H Youth Development/Family & Consumer Science, Routt County
The majority of Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults eat 1 to 1.5 cups of fruit per day, and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day. However, most of us are not meeting this goal. Eating more fruits and vegetables reduces your risk of devel-ping heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer and you are more likely to sustain a healthy weight.
Be a role model for children by eating and enjoying more fruits and vegetables. Visiting a local farmers market, farm stand, or signing up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share, are all great ways to make it easier for your family to improve their health, by buying and eating more fruits and vegetables.
The Colorado Double Up Food Bucks program doubles the value of federal nutrition (SNAP or food stamps) benefits spent at participating farmers markets. When SNAP qualified customers spend a $1 on any SNAP eligible item (meat, bread, eggs, milk, etc.), they receive $1 for Colorado grown, fresh fruits and vegetables. It is a one-to-one match so if you spend $5, you get $5. To find participating markets in your neighborhood check out: https://doubleupcolorado.org/where-its-at/. The Double Up Program is a win-win-win: more families have access to affordable fruits and vegetables, local farmers get new customers, and more food dollars stay in the local economy.
So what can you do to increase your family’s consumption of fruits and vegetables?
- Visit a farmers’ market to find fresh, in season produce, watch a cooking demonstration, learn about nutrition and meet farmers/growers. See and buy what is in season. Buying in season helps save money and ensures you are getting the most delicious produce at the peak of their freshness.
- Grow a garden. It increases scientific knowledge, as well as exposes children to a variety of fruits and vegetables. Children who are exposed to a wide variety of foods are more likely to have a healthy and varied eating pattern. The whole family can do this great activity together.
- Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at meals.
- Try something new. Look for recipes featuring a new ingredient like kohlrabi, radishes, jicama, kiwis or other interesting fruits and vegetables.
- Add vegetables to recipes. Add zucchini, squash or grated carrots to a recipe for stew, chili, soup, or a pasta sauce.
- Take your show on the road. When you leave for work or school, make sure to add a healthy snack to your bag. A small container of grapes, cucumber slices, jicama, or carrot sticks make a great snack and add another serving of fruit and vegetables to your day.
If you follow healthy eating habits, your children are more likely to follow your lead. Keep offering fruit and vegetables in a variety of ways, and make sure to involve them in food preparation and plan-ning, including the shopping. When going through the farmers’ mar-ket, the grocery store or garden, point out and talk about fruits and vegetables.
Recipe for Health
- 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 green bell pepper, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 red bell pepper, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 large pineapple, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 red onion, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
Teriyaki Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 clove of garlic peeled and minced
- 1/3 cup of soy sauce
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoon vinegar
- ½ inch of fresh ginger peeled and minced
- Wash hands, counters and cutting boards before preparing food.
- Whisk teriyaki sauce ingredients together and set aside.
- Combine chicken and half of teriyaki sauce in a large zip-lock bag. Toss until chicken is evenly coated. Seal and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
- Wash hands, counter, cutting board, knife and other surfaces and that may have come in contact with raw chicken, and before handling other food ingredients.
- Cut and coat peppers and pineapple in olive oil.
- Thread peppers, pineapple and chicken on skewers. Season with salt and pepper.
- Discard sauce that was in contact with raw chicken.
- Wash hands and surfaces.
- Heat grill and brush grates with olive oil.
- Place skewers on grill and cook for 4- 5 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through (165° F) inside.
- Brush skewers with remaining teriyaki sauce.