This is my all-time favorite food group! We have so much to choose from, and the methods to prepare them are endless.
Luckily, this is the food group we can pretty much eat as much as we want from; unfortunately, most of us don't eat enough of them. If you're hungry, reach for some fruit or vegetables. Your body will thank you.
Today, we focus on Fruits and Vegetables.
First, why worry about it?
Fruits and vegetables provide a plethora of beneficial vitamins and minerals. They are naturally low in fat, high in fiber, relatively low in calories, and have no added sugar- and for all that they are nutrient dense, the perfect kind of snack or basis for your meals.
The key to this food group, like others, is variety. No single fruit or vegetable contains exactly the same kind of nutrition, so your best bet is to change them up, and change them often.
Fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of developing certain kinds of cancers and heart disease, can assist in maintaining healthy vision, and can help assist with weight loss.
The Canada Food Guide determination for servings of Fruits and Vegetables is age dependent. From 2-3 years old, both boys and girls need 4 serving of fruits/vegetables per day. From 4-8, that jumps to 5 servings per day for both sexes. From 9-13, they recommend 6.
From 14-18, girls need 7 and boys need 8, and while it varies slightly with adults, it basically hovers around the same as you age, with an extra serving or two for men until age 50, and drops to an equal 7 per day for both sexes after that.
What constitutes a serving?
Simply put, a medium fruit or a half cup of fresh, frozen, or canned is considered 1 serving. For those times of life when you don't have much fresh in your fridge, it's good to know that canned or frozen counts, right? Just try to buy food that's not canned in syrup- fruit juice or water- and watch for added sodium on canned vegetables. I find frozen fruit works best in smoothies, and frozen vegetables taste best if they're steamed before serving.
Some specific examples include:
One thing to note about dried fruit- because it's been dehydrated, it's very calorie dense, for a fruit. Try to eat dried fruit with some protein to help lessen blood sugar spikes. Sometimes commercially prepared dried fruit also contain added sugar, so do keep an eye on the labels.
In this picture, 1 peach, half the bowl of cubed watermelon, 2 plums, half that huge gala apple, the strips of bell pepper, all those green grapes, 1 banana, all the cucumber or zucchini, grape tomatoes, or carrots, or all that cantaloupe equals one serving of fruit.
For your school lunches, pick one fruit and one vegetable. Serve fruit and vegetables with every snack and meal, and make it easy and quick to eat when it comes to school lunches- remember, if they don't have time to eat it, they'll likely throw it out. When I was a lunch supervisor at school, I used to see all sorts of food hit the trash can.
Well friends, that's it for the school lunch series. What do you think? What do you want to see more of? There will be some blogging later in October on how you can pack multiple food groups into school lunches. In the meantime, I wish you healthy and happy lunches, and look forward to hearing how lunches are making a healthier shift.
Please like and share! Peace, friends.