Fruit & Veggies—More Matters Month (Plus Recipes!)

shutterstock_144537737Are you getting enough fruit and vegetables in your daily diet? How about the rest of your family? September is the perfect month to take a good look at what we’re putting on our plates and think about making a few simple changes for lifelong health.

Fruit & Veggies—More Matters® is a nationwide health initiative aimed at helping families and individuals eat more fresh produce for optimal nutrition and wellness. Not only are fruit and vegetables loaded with vitamins and minerals, but most are naturally low in sugar and calories, chock full of fiber, and provide endless possibilities for nutritious meals and snacks! Here are two of our favorite recipes to help you get started:

Greens-on-the-Go Juice
Serves 1
⅓ small cucumber
2 ribs celery
1 cup trimmed kale
1 cup baby spinach
3 sprigs parsley
Juice from 1 lemon wedge
¼ Granny Smith apple

Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender or juicer. Blend until smooth; pour and enjoy!

Rise and Shine Fruit & Nut Parfait
Serves 1
Ingredients:
¼ cup fresh strawberries, sliced
¼ cup fresh blueberries
1 Granny Smith apple with skin, cored and chopped
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup raw almonds,* chopped
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
2 mint leaves

Directions: In a medium mixing bowl, gently fold fruit, nuts, and cinnamon into yogurt. Transfer to an individual serving dish; garnish with mint leaves and serve.

*All nuts should be soaked overnight.

Simple End-of-Summer Veggie Soup
Serves 8
Ingredients:
2 tbsp. coconut oil
2 cups chopped onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 cup chopped green beans
½ cup sliced carrots
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
5 fresh basil leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried rosemary
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups purified water
One 15-ounce can light kidney beans, drained
Two 16-ounce cans chopped tomatoes
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in celery, vegetables, and herbs. Add broth, water, beans, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add cabbage, salt, and pepper; cook 5 minutes (or until cabbage is wilted). Serve hot.

Sources:
http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/
http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/

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Study: Healthy Eating Habits Begin Early

shutterstock_170755439Childhood obesity rates in the United States are still rising, and right now nearly a third of American children and teens are overweight or obese. As experts look for ways to advocate a healthier diet and lifestyle, researchers in Australia believe they may have found an important piece to the puzzle: exposing kids to a range of healthy foods right from the start.

In a study published online last month in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, scientists from the Queensland University of Technology revealed that children who eat more fruits and vegetables as babies are more likely to enjoy those foods as adolescents and adults.

Researchers looked at data for nearly 350 children from birth to nearly four years of age. Specifically, they wanted to know what types of food they ate and how often they consumed “noncore” foods—those not considered essential for daily nutrition (e.g. sweets and salty snacks). They also took into account other factors such as gender, whether or not babies had been breast fed, and when they started eating solid foods.

At the end of the study, researchers were able to determine that, on average, kids who regularly ate nutrient-rich fruits and veggies continued to enjoy those foods as they grew older. In addition, they tended to be less fussy about what they ate and more open to trying different foods.

Lead author Kimberley Mallan, PhD and her colleagues point out that a child’s food preferences develop fairly early, often in the first two years of life. For this reason, providing healthful, nutrient-rich foods and snacks (including plenty of low-sugar fruits and non-starchy veggies) is important when it comes to shaping healthy eating habits for life.

Sources:
http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(15)00657-7/abstract
https://searching.qut.edu.au/search/search.cgi?collection=researchmeta2&query=toddler+fruits+vegetables
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/06/us-health-infantnutrition-fruit-vegetabl-idUSKCN0QB2FG20150806
http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm
http://www.nutrition.gov/life-stages/children
https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/childnutrition.html

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