Did you know that June is National Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month?
According to the National Gardening Association, one in three Americans households now grow their own food. In the past five years, the number of Americans with some type of garden increased by 17%. The largest increase came from those in the 18-to-34 year old bracket. Reasons given for gardening included: the produce tasted better and cost less than at the supermarket, it was healthier and of better quality, and it enabled individuals to spend time outdoors and feel productive. Many parents also noted that they enjoyed teaching their children how to garden.
The top 10 garden-grown vegetables in the United States are:
2.) Sweet peppers
4.) Hot peppers
8.) Summer squash
Farmers’ markets are a popular alternative for individuals who don’t have the time or space to garden. They have increased in popularity throughout the last five years: in 2009, there were around 5,000 registered farmers’ markets in the United States; today, there are over 8,000.
Despite the growing popularity of gardening and shopping at farmers’ markets, however, Americans are still not eating the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. ABCNews.com found that only 11% of Americans consume the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables.
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your meals, follow these tips from Cooking Light:
1.) Eat More Fruits for Breakfast
* Stir berries (fresh or frozen), dried fruit, or banana slices into yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal.
* Eat a fruit salad or drink fruit juice.
* Cut up a banana and eat it with peanut butter toast.
* Make a fruit smoothie. There are thousands of great smoothie recipes. You can whip them up in a matter of minutes. They’re a healthy and delicious breakfast alternative! You can find lots of great smoothie recipes in Taste of Home magazine.
2.) Add More Vegetables to Each Dish
* Add extra vegetables to a pizza, casserole, or sandwich. If you’re making Eggplant Parmesan, double the amount of eggplant. If you’re making Chicken Pot Pie, double the amount of vegetables in the dish.
* Add extra vegetables to your sandwich. Switch up traditional sandwich toppings such as lettuce and tomatoes with unique alternatives like cucumbers, zucchini, or apples.
3.) Sneak Fruits/Vegetables into Meals
* Add mushrooms, eggplant, onions, peppers, and squash to your spaghetti sauce recipe. Add grated vegetables to your meatloaf or soup. For more recipes ideas, check out Taste of Home!
* Make carrot cake, pumpkin bread, corn muffins, blueberry coffee cake, and other healthier options.
4.) Make Meatless Meals
* Make meatless meals one day a week. You can make meatless salads, omelets, pizzas, soups, wraps, sandwiches, and other recipes. Make Eggplant Parmesan, Broccoli Cheddar Soup, and other hearty, healthy recipes. If you need ideas, peruse Vegetarian Times for inspiration!
5.) Try a New Fruit or Vegetable Each Week
* Try a new seasonal fruit or vegetable each week. Check out your local farmers’ market for ideas. Let your kids pick out a new fruit or vegetable that they want to try.
6.) Choose Healthy Snacks
* Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter at home or at work.
* Eat dried fruit or pre-cut fruits and veggies for an afternoon snack.
* Drink fruit juice instead of soda. Half a cup of 100% fruit juice is equivalent to an entire serving.
7.) Make Fruity Desserts
* Dip bananas in antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and freeze them for a delicious dessert option.
* Top ice cream or frozen yogurt with fresh fruit.