We all like to feel our best, right? It’s important for us to eat foods that are rich in nutrients and fruit and vegetables are wonderful sources for specific nutrients your body needs to help it function at its best. Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has pulled together a list of these nutrients and a list of the fruits and/or veggies that carry the label of “high” or “good” sources for them.
- Calcium: Essential for healthy bones and teeth. It is also needed for the normal functioning of muscles, nerves, and some glands.
- Fiber: Diets rich in fiber have been shown to have a number of benefits including decreased risk of coronary disease.
- Folate: Diets with adequate folate may reduce a woman’s risk of having a child with a brain or spinal cord defect.
- Iron: Needed for healthy blood and normal functioning of all cells.
- Magnesium: Necessary for healthy bones and involved with more than 300 enzymes in your body. Inadequate levels may result in muscle cramps and high blood pressure.
- Potassium: Diets rich in potassium may help maintain a healthy blood pressure.
- Sodium: Needed for normal cell function, although most diets contain too much sodium, which is associated with high blood pressure.
- Vitamin A: Keeps your eyes and skin healthy and protects against infections.
- Vitamin C: Helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy.
The best way to ensure you’re eating a well balanced diet that is packed with all the healthy nutrients your body requires is by following the USDA MyPlate concept. You’ll fill half your plate with fruit and veggies, grains and protein each represent a quarter and dairy represents a circle outside the plate.
Courtesy of USDA
Fruits & Veggies–More Matters makes it even easier with their featured healthy plates–a collection of dishes based on the MyPlate concept. Here you’ll find a wide variety of entrees, snacks, breakfast ideas, and side dishes. Get the recipe, nutrition info, cost analysis, and a shopping list for each plate. I’m featuring a Salmon, Strawberry, and Avocado Rice Bowl, which comes in at 590 calories a serving. It’s a great one dish meal that has a combination of textures, colors, and flavors. You’ll use brown rice, grilled salmon, sliced avocado, sliced strawberries, steamed, fresh spinach, sliced green onions, and toasted sesame seeds. A sweet/savory teriyaki sauce made with garlic, soy sauce, honey, water, and ground ginger is drizzled on top.
Courtesy of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters
I’m back next Monday with some delicious asparagus recipes for this spring.
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If you love having homegrown fruit and veggies, now is the time to put forth the work that will reap you a season filled with plentiful produce. April is ideal to begin your garden as this is when the last frost occurs in most parts of the country. According to Fruits & Veggies–More Matters, the last frost is important because if the soil is too cold, germination (early growth of the seeds) is slowed, which makes the seeds vulnerable fungus and other disease. In order to have the best possible garden, follow three simple steps:
- Planning – Consider the amount of space you have for planting and the types of fruit/veggies you want to plant. Some fruit and veggies need more space (peas, beans, squash), than others.
- Preparation – Loosen the soil with a garden rake and add some kind of organic matter such as a composted manure.
- Planting – Different plants have different needs, but generally speaking you want to plant seeds that are at a depth twice their diameter. For more detail on seedlings, tomatoes, beans, and peas, visit the Fruits & Veggies–More Matters Planting Guide
After you’ve got your garden started, there are regular maintenance activities you’ll need to do to keep your plants healthy. This includes watering, fertilizing, and harvesting specific fruit and vegetables at specific times. Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has a monthly reminder that will provide you with specific information on what you should be doing depending on your region. And, if you have children, make sure you get them involved! Here are some terrific ideas how your kids can help you in your garden, which might also help them eat those fruit and veggies you’ll be growing.
I’ll return next week with some helpful information about the abundance of nutrition found in fruit and veggies.
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Easter is this Sunday and if you’re like many families who celebrate the holiday, you’re probably planning a special meal. This year, instead of serving the traditional mashed potato side dish, why not impress your guests with something a little extra special? I’ve collected a few recipes that are perfect for a spring celebration. An extra bonus is they’re pretty simple to make.
Garlic Herb Roasted Potatoes use baby or fingerling potatoes and other flavorful ingredients like fresh lemon juice, olive oil, melted butter, heads of garlic, fresh parsley, fresh thyme, salt and pepper to taste. You’ll cut slits in the potatoes and brush them with the butter and olive oil. Add the remaining ingredients in between the potatoes and roast them at 350 degrees, basting them at 30 minute intervals.
Courtesy of Rasa Malaysia
Lemon Butter Green Beans with Garlic and Parmesan adds some “zip” to the old standard. Fresh green beans, butter, minced garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, grated Parmesan cheese, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and salt/pepper to taste is what you’ll need for this recipe. Boil your green beans until crisp-tender and then immerse in ice water after cooking to stop the cooking process. Melt butter in a skillet and add garlic, cook until fragrant. Add lemon juice and cook one minute. Add green beans and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and add zest and Parmesan. Season with red pepper, salt, and pepper.
Courtesy of Mother Thyme
Spring Quinoa Salad with Honey Lemon Vinaigrette is a delicious side option for your Easter table. You can actually cook the quinoa the night before and chill in the refrigerator. The next day add cooked frozen peas, feta cheese, crumbled bacon, fresh basil, fresh cilantro, and crushed almonds. You’ll create a homemade dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and honey. Serve this salad with baby spinach.
Courtesy of Pinch of Yum
I hope everyone has a very happy Easter and I’m back next week with some tips on starting your home garden.
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April is National Soyfoods Month. Soybeans (edamame) have long been a popular substitute for meat and they provide a source for protein, iron, and calcium–something many people who avoid meat and/or dairy may lack. Soybeans are made into a number of different food products, making them quite versatile. These include:
- Miso (a sweet, flavorful paste)
- Soy flour
- Soy meat alternative (think “garden burgers”)
- Soy milk
- Soy dairy free products
- Soy nut butter
- Soy protein isolate (a dry powder food ingredient)
- Tempeh (a tender white cake of cooked soybeans)
- Textured soy protein
- Tofu (soybean curd that is like a soft cheese)
- Edamame (immature soybeans in their pods)
If you’ve never had soyfoods other than a “veggie” or “soyburger,” I’ve got some great recipes that will have you rethinking your idea of what soyfoods look like. Let’s start with Kale and Couscous Tofu Bowls with Orange Tahini Dressing. These bowls are a colorful and hearty meal. The tofu is marinated and then roasted in the oven. Couscous, wilted kale, tomatoes, and diced avocado complete the contents of your bowl. A zesty dressing is made from tahini, orange juice, honey, sesame oil, white wine vinegar, sriracha, and salt/pepper to taste.
Courtesy of Cooking and Beer
You’ll never miss the meat in these Black Bean Tempeh Tacos. You’ll crumble the tempeh and mix with taco seasoning, diced onion, and garlic. Saute in a heated pan for about 8-10 minutes and then add your black beans and cook until heated through. Assemble your tacos and top with pico de gallo, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado.
Courtesy of The Garden Grazer
Edamame Mango Salad is ideal for the Summer months. Mangos, edamame, red onion, corn, black beans, basil, avocado, garlic, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper are combined together for this sweet and savory salad.
Courtesy of Running on Real Food
Enjoy and I’ll be back next week with some tips to get your spring garden started.
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