Looking at how many fruits and vegetables I eat and working towards eating more. Sharing some tips, tricks, recipes and strategies to get there!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Zehrs™. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting brands that support Seasons and Suppers.
As part of my continuing partnership with Zehrs, I recently had the opportunity to take advantage of its in-store dietitian service.
I met with registered dietitian Becka Orgill Toner at the Zehrs in Orillia, Ontario, for a one-hour initial consultation. As part of this meeting, I was asked to come with some food goals I might have. For me, I zeroed in on one goal - eating more fruits and vegetables!
Becka and I started by discussing my goals and I shared with her how and what I am eating now, in terms of fruits and vegetables. She quickly grasped that, while I am mindful of nutrition, weight and portion control, when it comes to food, I am first and foremost motivated by taste. She gave me some great strategies that would work for me!
She assured me that, as a food lover, there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking ways to bump up the flavour and enjoyment of my food with flavours I enjoy. There are no bad foods! Healthy diets also include fats, cheese and carbs. It's all about finding the right, healthy balance.
We finished off our session with a helpful walk through the produce section at the Zehrs store, where we talked about the various options and how I could incorporate them into my diet.
About Loblaws Registered Dietitian Services
Registered Dietitians have a university degree and specialize in working with clients to create tailored nutrition programs according to their food goals and/or health needs.
Loblaws Dieticians are located right in their stores and are available to help plan and shop for meals.
Dietitians are available to help with any and all diet-related issues, including weight management, preventative nutrition, using diet to manage health issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure or cholesterol, digestive concerns, energy levels, eating more plant-based foods, feeding babies and children or simply looking for strategies to eat less take-out/processed food and cooking more often at home.
Dieticians can also work directly with your other health care professionals directly, if you like, to help coordinate and manage your specific nutritional needs.
I must say, I loved this conversation about food and taking this time to really examine my food goals. And I came away with not only increased clarity, but some solid and useful strategies to use at home to work towards those goals. I would highly recommend it for everyone!
Learn more about Zehrs Dietitian Services and locate a store close to you, if you're interested in trying it for yourself.
My plan for eating more vegetables and fruits
So as I mentioned above, I came away from the meeting with the Zehrs dietitian with some great strategies and a clearer mindset when it comes to eating more fruits and vegetables. Here are some strategies I plan to incorporate.
Take stock of my fruit and vegetable consumption! While I felt like I maybe wasn't eating enough fruits and vegetables, I couldn't honestly say how many I was eating, since I had never really stopped to take stock. I'll be keeping track for the next couple of weeks, just so I can really judge where I'm at.
Including a fruit or vegetables every time I sit down to eat! So instead of toast and peanut butter, it's toast and peanut butter and a banana. Instead of a fried egg sandwich, it's a fried egg sandwich with sautéed spinach or tomato. Instead of a plain sandwich, it's a sandwich with tomato, cucumber and sprouts. And when it comes to dinner, I'll work towards the goal that "half my plate" is vegetables when I start planning my meal.
Looking for ways to sneak in more! I obviously cook a lot and so there are tons of opportunities for me to sneak one more vegetable into the soup or one more fruit into the smoothie, for example.
Make better use of frozen fruits and vegetables! There are so many great frozen fruits and vegetables available now. They are great for when the fresh options are unavailable, out of season or expensive. And they have the same nutrients as fresh. Having a good supply in the freezer means there are always fruits and vegetables on hand.
Reminding myself that there are no bad foods! I have to confess, when it comes to things like salads, I rarely celebrated my wins for eating my greens and vegetables, because I tend to prefer them with creamy poppy seed dressing and goat cheese :) I was often left feeling like I'd probably undone all the good of the salad with what I was putting on top. Not true, I was assured! There are no bad foods! And even though I sort of knew that, it's always good when a dietitian tells you that.
There is nothing wrong with creamy poppy seed dressing and goat cheese in moderation and if it fits within my overall diet and health needs. Healthy diets include fats and cheese, in moderation. If I'm mindful of the "in moderation" part, I need to let go of the guilt and celebrate the win of eating the salad :)
Keeping fruits and vegetables out where I can see them! I don't plan to keep all my fruits and vegetables out, but maybe one of each, in a big bowl on my kitchen island. Out of sight is out of mind, at least it is for me. Seeing what I have in terms of vegetables will encourage me to include more as I'm cooking. Having fruit in view and ready to eat will just get eaten more.
Figuring out exactly what a "serving" is! When we first started talking about increasing my servings of fruits and vegetables, it quickly became clear that I really had no idea exactly what constitutes a "serving". So, if I was going to track my servings, I obviously needed to figure that out :)
I thought it might be useful for others to share a little about what I learned.
What is a "Serving" of Fruits and Vegetables?
A great rule of thumb for figuring out how much is a "serving" is fist-size. This works well for most fruits and vegetables. If you'd like more specific guidelines, here's a handy guide ...
Carrots - 10 baby carrots or 1 whole medium
Potato - 1/2 medium
Zucchini - 1/2 medium
Sweet Potato - 1/2 medium
Broccoli or Cauliflower - 5 florets
Tomatoes - 1 small or 7 cherry tomatoes
Cucumber - 1/2 cup sliced
Corn - 1 ear
Sweet Potatoes - 1/2 medium
Avocado - 1/2
Asparagus - 5 spears
Vegetable Juice - 2/3 cup
Fresh greens - 1 cup packed
Apples, Pears, Peaches - 1 small
Oranges - 1 large
Bananas - 1 medium
Small berries or grapes - 1/2 cup
Peppers - 1/2 large
Strawberries - 8 medium
Cook's Notes for Eating More Vegetables: Two Ways
With my new focus and food goals in hand, I thought I'd share one example of ways to incorporate more vegetables in a tasty way. I started with a simple goal of 3 servings of vegetables I liked, in 3 different colours and gave them a "tasty" spin.
Roasting the sweet potatoes and red peppers is easy and makes both these vegetables into delicious little flavour bombs! Once roasted, I tossed them warm with baby spinach and feta cheese and dressed them in a simple olive oil and balsamic dressing for a great warm salad.
For an alternative way to enjoy them, I took those same roasted vegetables and combined them with eggs for a delicious, warm and nutritious frittata. Two options, both easy, delicious and vegetable-rich. Win. Win. Win.
Roast extra! If you are roasting vegetables for the warm salad, roast extra and keep them in the fridge to make the frittata later in the week. You'll already have the roasting part done!
Roasted Vegetable Salad or Frittata
- 1/2 sweet potato (unpeeled and diced)
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1 cup baby spinach (packed)
- 3 Tbsp feta cheese (crumbled)
- 3 Tbsp pecans (roughly chopped)
Dressing for the Warm Salad:
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Make it a Frittata:
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup milk (or water)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Roasted vegetables (spinach and feta cheese from above)
- Preheat oven to 425F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Arrange the diced sweet potatoes and red pepper slices (skin side up) in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, stirring the sweet potatoes once, or until tender.
- For the Warm Salad: Slice red peppers into strips, then into pieces about 1 1/2-inch long. Add to a large bowl with the warm sweet potatoes. Toss with baby spinach, pecans and feta. Drizzle dressing overtop and toss to coat evenly (you may not need all the dressing). Serve warm.
- For the Frittata: Preheat oven to 375F. Add the roasted sweet potatoes to the bottom of a small, oven-safe skillet. Top with diced roasted red peppers. (Skip the pecans :) Top with baby spinach. Combine eggs, milk and salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Pour over vegetables. Use a fork to stir a bit, allowing the egg to get to the bottom, moistening up the spinach on top and bringing some of the sweet potatoes and red pepper to the top. Top with feta cheese. Bake in a preheated 400F. for about 25- 30 minutes, or until set and starting to turn golden a bit around the edges.