Easily add more fruits, veggies to your diet

By Chef Dez | Nov 24, 2010

   The food guide published by the Canadian government recommends that we, as adults, should be eating an average of 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

Children should be eating 4-8 servings, depending on their age. This is an ongoing challenge for some people, so to assist you I have gathered some helpful ways to fulfill your intake requirements for healthy eating.

    The Canada Food Guide describes a single serving of fruit or vegetables as one half cup of fresh, frozen or canned or one half cup of 100 percent juice.

Alternatively, one cup of raw leafy vegetables or salads counts as a single serving, as well as a single piece of fruit.

    The first and most important direction to lead you in is to ensure that you are buying fruits and vegetables in the first place. Chances are if you don’t have them available at your fingertips, you will miss many opportunities to introduce them into your diet: out of sight, out of mind.

One helpful tip is to buy the recommended serving amounts for each member of your family for number of days you are shopping for.

For example, if you are a family of four and shopping to get you through the next three days, you would need to buy a total of 84 servings of fruit and vegetables combined, based on an average of seven servings each.

Purchase these before proceeding to the other departments and isles and build your meals based on these initial produce selections.

    An easy way to incorporate fresh spinach with every meal is to serve every piece of chicken or fish on a bed of sautéed spinach leaves.

Simply heat a pan over medium heat with a very small amount of olive oil, add a large handful of clean, fresh spinach leaves and season with salt and pepper. They will cook and wilt very quickly as you toss with tongs. Plate and serve immediately.

    If sandwiches are a meal item that you have regularly, then make sure you always have fresh lettuce, tomato and onions on hand at all times.

A Mediterranean flair can also be added to your sandwiches by including roasted bell peppers or a spread of roasted garlic.

    Fruit can become an easily accessible snack item by always having containers of washed berries and grapes in your refrigerator at all times. Try not to pre-wash too much ahead of time however, as they tend to deteriorate faster after washing.

    Vegetable skewers on the grill are another low fat way to get your daily servings. Although barbequing during the cold weather is not as popular as the spring and summer months, it does continue to offer low fat cooking if you can rearrange your grill to make it easily accessible.

    Even if there is a member of your family that is somewhat fussy when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables, the produce departments seem to always be expanding in selection of imported/exotic goods.

Buy something completely new to your family at least once per month. The Internet and libraries are filled with an abundance of information on preparing and serving almost any ingredient. Happy cooking!
Dear Chef Dez:
    I am on a diet and looking for ways to add flavour to my meals without adding fat or too many calories. Any suggestions?
Dawn W.
Langley, BC
Dear Dawn:

    Herbs and spices are the way to go. Dry spice rubs and fresh herbs add a ton of flavour without adding a number of calories. Try cooking with fat-free broths. Wine and juices are great to cook with for flavour, but remember they loaded with natural sugars.

Stay away from condiments like ketchup and barbeque sauce, as they are also loaded with sugar.

Send your food/cooking questions to dez@chefdez.com or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4.

Chef Dez is a Food Columnist, Culinary Instructor & Cooking Show Performer. Visit him at  HYPERLINK "http://www.chefdez.com" www.chefdez.com.

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