By Maureen Connolly
Ten delicious ways to sneak fruits and vegetables into your diet.
You've heard it a gazillion times: If you want to be healthy, you'd better eat your fruits and veggies. Yet more than 90 percent of adults still don't get the daily amounts the government recommends: about 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables. "This is a real health concern," says Larry Cohen, M.D., an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Studies show that a produce-rich diet is one of the best ways to manage your weight and to avoid heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes." Some hard proof: Women in one study who ate produce and other high-fiber foods lost 2 to 3 pounds more than those on a low-fiber diet. The good news is, it's easy to get your fill now that fresh, tasty produce is available everywhere.
Smart Strategies: Shop, Prep, Plan
Think seasonal. You may have found tomatoes or blueberries bland, sour, or disappointing in the past, but before you reject them forever, try them in peak season, when their flavors are at their best. Fresh-picked for August: green beans, corn, peaches, plums, tomatoes, summer squash, berries, and watermelon. (For a complete list of in-season produce for your region, check out http://www.fieldtoplate.com/guide.php.)
Buy local. The fruits and veggies at your farmers' market will be some of the freshest you can find because they're grown locally — which means they haven't spent time being shipped to stores, becoming vulnerable to flavor and freshness loss along the way. To find markets in your area, check out http://www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets
Plan for prep time. Spend 30 minutes on Sunday night washing, peeling, and prepping vegetables and fruit: Snacking on red peppers instead of potato chips or cooking a stir-fry for dinner rather than ordering pizza is more appealing (and way easier) when the ingredients are ready and waiting.
Try one of these delicious, easy tips from Chad Luethje, executive chef at the Red Mountain Spa in Ivins, UT.