National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month
June is the month of warmer weather, picnics, beach days, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Make a goal this month to add more color to your plate! As well as being delicious, versatile, convenient, and affordable fruits and vegetables are the key to an overall healthy eating lifestyle.
Here are some tips for adding color to every meal and snack:
- Pack portable, easy-to-eat fruits and veggies in your work or school bag to avoid vending machine temptations
- Have a meatless meal once a week, such as “Meatless Monday”. Think about recipes such as vegetable lasagna, portabella burgers, or grilled veggie kabobs
- Make a sandwich more filling by adding sliced vegetables like beets, carrots, cucumbers, onion, tomatoes, and peppers
- Add spinach, mushrooms, and peppers to an omelet
- Top yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal with berries or sliced fruit
- When out to eat, substitute French fries for a cup of fruit or a side salad
- For snacking, keep fresh fruit and pre-chopped or no-shop veggies (baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas) stocked in single serve portions
- Keep a bowl of whole fruit handy on your desk, table, or countertop
- Get into the habit of stashing a fresh snack in your purse or backpack each time you leave the house.
Shop for produce that is in season to get the best flavors and deals. Follow these tips on your next shopping trip:
- Fresh foods are often less expensive during their harvest season. You may save even more money by buying in bulk
- Freeze fresh produce at the peak of its season so you can add it to smoothies, soups, and breads to enjoy throughout the year
- Make casseroles, soups, and other seasonal produce recipes when the ingredients are at their freshest, then freeze the dishes. This will keep the meal tasting its best and give you a quick dinner on a busy night
There are many different ways to prepare your fruits and vegetables that allow you to have better control over the nutritional content and the overall healthfulness of the foods you eat. Some healthier preparation methods include:
- Baking: Bake foods slowly in the oven in covered cookware with a little extra liquid.
- Blanching: After boiling 30 seconds in water, plunge the food into ice water to stop the cooking process. This keeps it tender-crisp.
- Boiling: Cook food in water or broth that bubbling vigorously.
- Braising or Stewing: Cook food slowly in the oven or on the stovetop with a little liquid.
- Broiling: Place food directly under a heat source at a high temperature.
- Grilling: Cook food on a rack or skewers directly over a heat source.
- Poaching: Immerse food in a simmering liquid.
- Roasting: Cook food uncovered in the oven.
- Sauteing: Use a nonstick pan so you will need little to no oil and cook over medium heat.
- Steaming: Steam food in a covered basket over simmering water.
- Stir-frying: Use a wok to cook food quickly over high heat in vegetable stock, wine, or a small amount of a healthy oil.