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When my kids are pestering me ‘what’s for dinner?’ and I’m not done preparing dinner, I give them carrot or celery sticks, or dried fruit to hold them over. I find that when the kids are so hungry that they are asking when dinner is, they’ll eat just about anything.

 

As many forum participants know, our schools need some help when it comes to providing healthy meals for kids. Congress is considering School Nutrition promotion legislation (H.R. 1363 and S. 771), which you can learn more about at www.opencongress.org. If you want to send an e-mail to legislators on this issue, you can do so through www.congress.org. Also, the Produce Marketing Association has some great information on this at http://www.pma.com/cig/gov/grow.cfm

 

Eating the recommended amounts of fruits and veggies is easy since all product forms count: fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice.  This page on our website will give you many examples of how much a cup or half cup of fruits and veggies actually is—check it out.  http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/?page_id=63

 

 

 

When making grilled cheese for my 3 kids, I grate fresh carrot between 2 slices of cheese – about 1/2 a carrot per sandwich. The kids have no idea because the color of the carrot and cheese all blends together.

 

Recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake have changed over time as new scientific literature is published about the relationship of eating fruits and vegetables to health.  There are a number of recent studies suggesting that the current recommendations are associated with lower risk of certain diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and some cancers.  The previous recommendation for 5 servings a day was based on what was known at that time. With the release of the Dietary Guidelines in 2005, people now need to eat between 2 and 6-1/2 cups (or 4 and 13 servings) a day, depending on their gender, age, and activity level. To find out how many fruits and veggies you need, go to: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/?page_id=58 and for tips and ideas on how to get more fruits and veggies. 

 

One of the more common ways to prepare whole artichokes is to first cut off the stem, remove the outermost leaves and trim the sharp barbs off the ends of the remaining leaves with scissors; open the flower and spread the leaves out. Cook them in boiling water; you can add a little bit of lemon juice, salt or herbs, if desired. Simmer, covered for 30 to 40 minutes (depending on size) or until leaves pull out easily. Whole artichokes are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and folate, yet many people prefer to eat just the heart. Once the heart is separated from the rest of the artichoke, you can prepare them in many ways and they add a wonderful flavor and texture to many dishes. Try adding artichoke hearts to a pizza. Separate the heart from the rest of the artichoke, slice into quarters or eighths, depending on size, then place around a pizza crust along with other vegetables, then bake and enjoy! Remember, you can also find artichokes in jars and cans.

 

Juicing is definitely another way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet.  As you point out however, the pulp is not in the juice, so you will be missing out on fiber.  Because of this, I would caution you not to strive for all or most of your vegetable servings as juice, but rather to limit the total amount of juice you drink daily.  for adults, the receommendation is for 8 to 12 ounces a day. Other forms of fruits and vegetables, such as fresh, frozen, canned and dried—in their “whole” state— will offer you the fiber you are missing from the juice, so be sure to “fill-up” with those as well.  USDA’s definition of a serving size for 100% juice is 4 ounces (½ cup), so I would calculate the servings of juice you are actually drinking based on that. 

 

 

 

There are several resources on the web that are specifically for individuals with gluten intolerance.  Two of them are www.gluten.net and www.celiac.com.   They have, information, recipes and resources to purchase food items.  Some health food stores may also carry gluten free products.  A registered dietitian can help with meal planning and weight maintenance issues, and may be able to recommend specific products that have received good reviews from others.  To locate a dietitian in your area, check www.eatright.org.   

 

4 ounces (½ cup) of 100% juice is considered a serving per USDA.

 

It’s great that you include fruits and vegetables in your meals.  Keep up the good work!  For weight loss, I suggest that you consult one of the reputable commercial weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers or a registered dietitian.  You can locate a dietitian in your area at www.eatright.org.   

 

 
The Expert: Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, a mother of two and a registered dietitian, shares years of experience in getting people to eat more fruits and veggies.
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