NUTRITION CORNER: Get more fruits and vegetables into your day

Summer is such an easy time to add an extra serving of fresh fruits and vegetables to your day. Produce is plentiful in grocery stores and local gardens. For maximum health benefits, medical experts recommend 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Eating more produce has been linked to a lower risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Along with exercise, make this a high priority for your health!

Here are a few tips:

  1. Make it convenient. Y Have a mixture of fresh, frozen and canned fruit and vegetables on hand. This makes it easy to add them to sandwiches, soups, stir-fries, pizzas, yogurt or salads.
  2. Shop locally. There’s nothing like the local farmer’s market or fruit stand to get out of your produce comfort zone! Signing up for a produce box is another good way to experiment with new flavors. Need a recipe? Search the USDA My Plate Kitchen site.
  3. Sign up for a cooking class. Learning new ways to cook produce can help you discover what appeals most to you and inspire you to cook more fruits and vegetables after the class. Try a local cooking class through Living Well AllianceYMCAPCC or Cancer lifeline.
  4. Swap vegetables in place of grains. Have you heard about zoodles (zucchini noodles) or spaghetti squash taking the place of pasta? You can also try using cauliflower for rice. Another trick? Hiding vegetables in plain sight: shredded carrots in muffins, frozen spinach in smoothies, pureed canned beans in brownies.
  5. Fire up the grill. Grilling produce adds flare to a summer meal. Try vegetable kababs or experiment with grilled fruit like pineapple, pluots or peaches.