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Feature Article: 5 Tips to Reach That 5 a Day Goal

Are you having trouble fitting 5 fruits and veggies into your daily diet? Below are 5 tips to make it easy.

1. HAVE A FRUIT/JUICE AT BREAKFAST DAILY

  • Wake up to a cold glass of 100% orange, grapefruit, cranberry, or tomato juice.
  • Slice a banana, juicy peaches, strawberries, blueberries, or raisins into a bowl of cold cereal.
  • Sprinkle a handful of soft golden raisins or dried apricots and cranberries into a bowl of hot oatmeal with cinnamon.
  • Top pancakes or toaster waffles with frozen and fresh berries or canned fruit.
  • Sprinkle frozen (thawed) or fresh berries on low-fat, vanilla-flavored yogurt (these are available in larger containers).

If you're on the run, grab an extra piece of fruit or a 100% fruit or vegetable juice box for when you do get the munchies later on.

2. HAVE FRUIT/VEGETABLE SNACK DAILY

  • Bake a potato with plain non-fat yogurt or buttermilk. Add chives and garlic powder; salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mid-morning or afternoon, open up a bag of ready to eat, crunchy carrots, pack of cherry tomatoes, or snack on a big bunch of grapes.
  • Keep extra pieces of fresh fruit, ready to eat carrots or cherry tomatoes, or some of those individual servings of fruit canned in juice available for quick, between meal, energy pick-me ups.
  • Sliced peaches, pineapple or pears are only a can opener away! Look for those packed in 100% juice.
  • Try portable, energy-packed dried fruits or bananas for sustained energy if you hike, cycle, run or walk long distances!
  • Keep apples, pears, or oranges in your gym bag or backpack. Carry them on your bicycle or keep them handy with your gear!
  • For a quick, handy snack, try dried dates, figs, prunes, raisins, apricots or add fruit bits into trail mix.
  • Refresh yourself with a glass of spicy vegetable juice on the rocks with a splash of lemon.
  • Getting 1 of your 5 is as easy as grabbing an individual serving of 100% juice instead of soda.
  • To boost your fruit and vegetable intake midday -- finish the leftover vegetables from dinner last night, along with your usual lunch meal.

3. STOCK UP ON DRIED, FROZEN, CANNED FRUITS/VEGETABLES

  • Stock up on dried, frozen, and canned varieties of fruits and vegetables so that they're available when the fresh run out. This works especially well for end-of- the-week lunches for school and work.
  • When out of season, buy frozen or canned vegetables--cheaper than fresh, just as nutritious!
  • Plain, frozen vegetables are often less expensive than those topped with butter and/or sauces and are also healthier choices.
  • Check supermarket ads for what's on special and watch for the "buy one, get one free" sales on fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Don't forget your shopping list and coupons!
  • Add chopped broccoli, carrots, or frozen mixed veggies to cooked rice or pasta. Serve hot or cold.
  • Garnish your fish or chicken with a slice of canned pineapple and canned mandarin orange slices.
  • Thaw out some frozen berries and serve 'em with a vanilla wafer.

4. MAKE IT VISIBLE

  • Place cut and washed vegetables, like carrot and celery sticks and pepper rings, in see through, air tight, containers or plastic bags on the top shelf of the refrigerator within easy reach of hungry nibblers.
  • Put cleaned fruits, like bananas, apples, and pears, on counter tops and tables so they're the first thing everyone sees.

5. MICROWAVE VEGETABLES FOR DINNER

Whether you're making a serving for one or more, your microwave can make it fast and easy to prepare vegetables.

Some tips for success:

  • use only microwavable containers when microwaving foods
  • for even cooking, cut the vegetables into same-size pieces
  • stir or rotate a 1/2 turn halfway through cooking
  • loosely cover food so that steam can escape, use wax paper, microwavable wrap, or the cooking container's lid
  • use a fork to pierce whole, unpeeled vegetables or fruits, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, or apples, to keep them from bursting while cooking.
  • follow package directions for cooking frozen vegetables
  • remove vegetables from oven when they are barely tender; let stand 3-5 minutes to finish cooking. Be careful when removing covers-microwaved foods produce hot steam.

Source: 5 A Day Program