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Productive Produce

Timeless Nutrition Tips...

Whether fresh, frozen or canned, we can't go wrong with fruits and vegetables. Often the thought of some limp vegetable with your dinner or a piece of fruit for dessert is not very appealing or desirable. If this is the case with you, you can make produce an integral part of a recipe. Following are some suggestions you could try.

Productive Produce

Toss fruit into a lettuce salad. Dried cranberries, mandarin orange slices or chunks of fresh pear or avocado are good choices.

Puree canned fruits such as apricots, and use as a sauce over low to non-fat ice cream.

Puree fresh or frozen fruit such as mango or raspberries into pudding or yogurt - preferably non or low fat varieties.

Disguise vegetables by pureeing or grating them first. Add these to soups, sauces or casseroles. You can sneak pureed cauliflower into mashed potatoes or finely chopped spinach into pesto sauce.

For very intense flavor, roast vegetables such as asparagus, peppers or portobello mushrooms on the grill or in the oven.

Oven roasting root vegetables such as sweet potatoes will intensify flavors.

Liven Up Meals with Productive Produce

  • Good Grilling. Use your grill to cook vegetables and fruits. Try grilling mushrooms, carrots, peppers or potatoes on a kabob skewer. Brush with oil to keep them from drying out. Grilled fruits such as peaches, pineapple, or mango’s add great flavor to a cookout.
  • Expand Your Casseroles. Mix vegetables such as sauteed onions, peas, pinto beans, or tomatoes into your favorite dish for that extra flavor.
  • Go Italian. Add extra vegetables to your pasta dish. Slip some peppers, spinach, red beans, onions, or cherry tomatoes into your traditional tomato sauce. Vegetables provide texture and low-calorie bulk that satisfies.
  • Creative Salads. Toss in shredded carrots, strawberries, spinach,
    watercress, orange segments, or sweet peas for a flavorful, fun salad.
  • Savor Salad Bars. Try eating sliced fruit from the salad bar as your
    dessert when dining out. This will help you avoid any baked desserts that are high in calories.
  • Stir-Fry Sensations. Try something new! Stir-fry your veggies like broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, or green beans. This makes for a quick and easy addition to any meal.
  • Sandwich Wraps. Make a sandwich in a whole-wheat wrap. Vegetables make great additions! Try sliced tomatoes, romaine lettuce, or avocado for extra flavor.
  • Baked Goods. Add apples, bananas, blueberries, or pears to your favorite muffin recipe for a treat.
  • Dessert Fruit Smoothies. For dessert, blend strawberries, blueberries or raspberries with frozen bananas and 100 percent fruit juice for a delicious frozen fruit smoothie.
  • Omelets. Boost the color and flavor of your morning omelet with vegetables. Simply chop, saute, and add them to the egg as it cooks. Try combining different vegetables, such as mushrooms, spinach, onions, or bell peppers.

Quick Fruit Fixes

  • Put slices of banana or peaches on cold cereal.
  • Add dry fruit (such as, raisins, apricots, or apples) when cooking hot cereal.
  • Keep a plastic container full of cut up fruit -- have some at breakfast or for a snack topped with plain or fruited yogurt (to get a bit more calcium).
  • Take one or two pieces of fruit from home each day to eat with lunch and as an afternoon snack or on your way home to knock the edge off your ravenous appetite. Select easy-to-eat fresh fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, plums, peaches and grapes.
  • Keep dried fruit, raisins, figs, apricots, peaches, pears, etc., around -- use it for a snack, try it as fuel for long hikes or bike rides, or stash in your desk or locker. But do not empty the bag as the calories and carbohydrate in dried fruit add up quickly because they are concentrated. Single-serve containers of 100 percent fruit juice are good options, too.
  • Toss a few raisins, pieces of apple, dried apricot, or pineapple chunks on a salad. This can make a great mid-afternoon snack, or mid-evening snack, too!
  • Have canned or jarred fruit in the pantry -- applesauce, peaches, pears and pineapple for starters.
  • Try frozen 100% fruit juice bars for a refreshing dessert.
  • Toss fruit into entrees -- pineapple in stir-fry or on make-your-own-pizza; fresh or dried cranberries or peaches in chicken, or apricots or apples in pork dishes.
  • Combine fruit with vegetables -- crushed pineapple in coleslaw, raisins in carrot salad, make a Waldorf salad with apples, raisins, walnut and celery.
  • Serve fruit with the main course -- applesauce with pork chops or roast, pineapple with ham, low-sugar cranberry sauce with chicken.
  • Grill fruit on skewers and serve as dessert with a few ginger snaps or vanilla wafers or serve as part of the main course.

Adding Vegetables to Your Cookouts

In addition to the above suggestions, if you enjoy cooking out there are an abundance of ways you can add vegetables to your cookouts. You could even try making productive produce the focus of a grilled meal instead of meat. For example, grill a whole red pepper, cooking until the skin begins to get dark and loosen. Then, seal it in a plastic bag for 15 minutes. Peel off the skin, remove the seeds and cut into strips. You may enjoy serving the pepper with balsamic vinegar or raw garlic and olive oil. This can be good hot or cold.

If you are a bit more adventurous, you might try slicing zucchini, yellow squash or eggplant, lightly sprinkling with olive oil and grilling. Alternatively, make vegetable kebabs with bell pepper chunks and onions. A lightly oiled grilling basket makes a handy cooking container for sliced vegetables.

Whether you are cooking at home, eating at a restaurant or work or on the road a lot, it is still possible for you to get your daily requirement of fruits and vegetables. A little planning and ingenuity can go a long way!

Tips for Budget Friendly Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables

With a little knowledge and ingenuity, you can easily fit healthful budget friendly fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. In the long run, you could help promote better health, which can reduce your risk of certain diseases. There are many low-cost ways to meet your dietary fruit and vegetable requirements. We’ll list the top ten.

  • Seasonal Fruit. Know what fruits are in season and buy mostly those. They easy to get when in season, taste better and are usually less expensive.
  • Find Sales, Coupons and Specials. Check your local newspaper, store flyers or online sites for sales, coupons and specials. Larger grocery stores often sell more for less. Or purchase at discount grocers if available in your area.
  • Make a List. Plan your meals, desserts and snacks ahead of time. make out a list of what you will need and stick to that list when shopping. And that well-known suggestion not to shop when you’re hungry is true. Shop after eating.
  • Canned and Frozen Fruits and Vegetables. Do some price-comparison between fresh, canned and frozen varieties of the same vegetables or fruit. Sometimes the canned or frozen is less expensive than fresh. When purchasing canned items, choose fruit canned in 100 percent fruit juice and vegetables. Make sure they are low sodium or no salt added.
  • Purchase Small Quantities. Some fresh fruits and vegetables don’t last very long. Purchase small amounts more often to avoid waste.
  • Frequently Used Items. If there are fruits and vegetables you use a lot of, purchase the larger size packages. If possible, buy in bulk. For example, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables can be purchased in large quantities when they’re on sale. They will last longer than fresh.
  • Opt For Store Brands. Buy the store brand version of your fruits and vegetables. If your grocery store has a membership card, sign up for even more savings. Store brands are just as healthy, maybe even more so than brand names.
  • Keep it Simple. Buy your fruits and vegetables in their simplest form. Pre-cut, pre-washed, ready-to-eat and processed foods may be convenient, but you pay more for that convenience, too.
  • Plant a Garden. Grow your own fruits and vegetables! Can’t get better priced that picking from your own back yard! Herbs, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes etc., are good options for beginners. Browse the internet or check out some gardening books from your local library for more information on starting a garden.
  • Smart Home Cooking. Cook up and freeze vegetable soups, stews, or other dishes in advance. This saves time and money. You can add leftover vegetables to casseroles or blend them to make soup. Over-ripe soup works great in smoothies or baked goods. In addition, pre-chop and freeze vegetables like onions, celery, carrots to have on hand and save cooking time. You save money, too if you purchased them on sale!

Resource: USDA

Get the Most From Fruits and Vegetables

Get the Most From Fruits and Vegetables

Get the most bang for you grocery buck from your fruits and vegetables -- both nutritionally and financially! Just follow these suggestions...

1.  Buy the freshest productive produce you can find. Pass over produce bruised, cracked, punctured or soft fruit. Such blemishes harbor germs and soft produce is overripe.

2.  Check all produce before storing it. Pick through berries, discarding any that are mushy, fuzzy or wet. Cut grapes into clusters, removing shriveled fruit. Discard the outer leaves of vegetables if they are wilted and remove parts that are discolored.

3.  Do not wash produce before you store it. Moist produce molds quickly.

4.  Refrigerate produce loose or in perforated plastic bags. Fruits and vegetables breathe, taking in oxygen and giving off carbon dioxide just as humans do. Do not seal them in plastic bags. As temperature drops, the respiration rate falls, so refrigerated produce lasts longer. The exceptions: tomatoes, tropical fruits (bananas, avocados, mangoes) and hardier vegetables (potatoes, onions, winter squashes), which prefer warmer temperatures.

5.  Store fruits and vegetables in separate stacking bin. Many fruits including apples, pears and tomatoes, produce ethylene, a ripening gas that changes the taste and texture of vegetables. In general, vegetables like moister air than fruits. If produce gets limp, boost the humidity; if you see mold, lower it.

6.  Handle productive produce sparingly until you use it. As soon as you start cutting into it and removing seeds, it becomes more vulnerable to spoilage.

7.  Wash produce before you bite or cut into it. All fruits and vegetables sport bacteria on outer surfaces.

8.  When in doubt, throw it out. You cannot salvage some produce; it is better off in your compost heap than in your stomach.

9.  To test fruit for ripeness, stick a toothpick in the fruit at the stem end. If it goes in and out clean and with ease, the fruit is ripe and can be eaten.

Don't Peel Away the Nutrients

There are great fiber and nutritional advantages and almost no risk of chemical residues in eating unpeeled fruit. The FDA reports that, during annual random produce testing, 99 percent of the produce is either residue-free or well below EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) limits.

In general, a fruit serving is 60 calories and a vegetable serving is 25 calories.

One fruit serving consists of:

  • 1 small to medium piece of fruit
  • 1 cup raw (cut-up) fruit
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) fruit juice
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup canned fruit
  • 1/2 of a banana

One vegetables serving consists of:

  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) vegetable juice

Fresh Fruits

The following examples count as 1 cup:

  • 1 small apple
  • 1 large banana
  • 2 medium cantaloupe wedges
  • 1 medium grapefruit
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 large peach
  • 1 medium pear
  • 2 large or 3 small plums
  • 8 large strawberries
  • 1 small watermelon wedge
  • 2 small boxes of raisins or other dried fruit
  • 3 spears of broccoli
  • 1 cup of cooked greens or 2 cups raw
  • 2 medium carrots or 12 baby carrots
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 large ear of corn
  • 1 medium potato
  • 2 large stalks of celery
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1/2 can of beans

Woman at Salad Bar

Organic Produce?

It's worth it. Conventional fruits and vegetables are often grown in low nutrient soil and may come in contact with pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and sewage sludge. Here are just a few ways eating organic is worth your hard-earned money.

  • Reduce exposure to cadmium, a toxic metal in fertilizer, by up to 48 percent when you choose organic. (Source: British Journal of Nutrition)
  • Get up to 40 percent more antioxidants eating organic produce than conventional. An all organic diet delivers the equivalent of two extra servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Lower pesticide levels by up to 65 percent - that's how much higher levels of a pesticide breakdown product were in the urine of people who regularly ate conventional produce, according to a recent study in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Did you know? You can reduce insecticide from your urine by up to 65 percent if you eat organic produce often. It's new incentive to reach for cleaner apples, peaches and strawberries, which top the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list of pesticide-heavy produce. (Source: Environmental Health Perspectives)

Classifying Fruits and Vegetables

In addition to being low in calories and fat, fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber. Best of all, they both taste great. So next time you're picking out your favorites, know precisely which are fruits and which are vegetables.

What actually classifies a fruit as a fruit and a vegetable as a vegetable? Since fruits and vegetables both come from plants, what's the difference between the two?

According to botanists, a fruit is the part of the plant that develops from a flower. It is also the part of the plant that contains the seeds. Beans, nuts, tomatoes, and green bell peppers are all, surprisingly, examples of fruits.

Botony definition of a fruit: "The developed ovary of a seed plant with its contents and accessory parts, as the pea pod, nut, tomato or pineapple."

Botony definition of a vegetable: "Any plant whose fruit, seeds, roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, leaves or flower parts are used as food."

The other parts of the plant, including the stem, leaves, and roots, are classified as vegetables - cabbage, turnip, potato, bean, dandelion, etc.

Six Top Rated Vegetables Anyone Can Grow

  • Broccoli - The best source of sulforaphanes, which may help fight cancer. Broccoli leaves are similar to collard greens. Young, tender leaves are the best to eat as older, tougher leaves can develop a bitter taste.
  • Carrots - Eaten two or three times a week, carrots may help lower risk for certain cancers. In addition, drinking carrot juice lowers LDL, the "bad" cholesterol. Beta-Carotene gives carrots their vivid orange color.
  • Celery - Can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol due to a component called phthalides. Celery belongs to the same family of plants as carrots, parsley, fennel, caraway and anise.
  • Lettuce - Two cups of romaine supply 45-percent of the Daily Value for vitamin C. A cinch to grow from seed, even an inexperienced gardener can enjoy success.
  • Onions and Scallions - Onions have been linked to the reduction of cancer risk and asthma symptoms in certain individuals. As these plants get older and more mature, they get spicer and more pungent.
  • Peppers, Sweet - Red and yellow peppers are extra-rich in vitamin C. Let peppers mature fully on the vine for deep, intense flavor.

Healthy Foods with Vegetables and Fruits

Does Fruit Give You Indigestion? Read this!

Eating fruit on an empty stomach benefits you with cleansing properties and helps you avoid digestive discomfort.

If you believe you cannot tolerate fruit because it gives you indigestion, you may be eating it at the wrong time. Fruit is rapidly digested and does not need to be digested in the stomach like other foods. If you eat fruit after eating other foods, all the food, including the fruit, will sit together and begin to ferment. This will cause digestive troubles. However, if you eat fruit on an empty stomach, you will likely be able to tolerate it without any discomfort.

Fruits are optimum detoxifiers when eaten on an empty stomach. Fruit starts to be digested in the mouth so it is critical that you chew it well. This allows it to mingle with digestive juices secreted in the mouth. Then it travels through the digestive tract. Typically within half an hour, fruit leaves the stomach and enters the intestines, where it offers its natural sugars, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals for cleansing and healing. Many people complain that fruit gives them gas or indigestion. The primary reasons are inadequate chewing to break and eating fruit after other foods that take significantly longer to digest. Eating fruit with or after other types of foods causes everything to sit in the stomach and begin to putrefy. This putrefaction causes gas, bloating, and indigestion.

Freebie! Why are Fruits and Vegetables Important?

This is a free PDF document you can download right now (no strings) to learn more about how to get the most from fruits and vegetables. This document is six pages long and includes valuable information, a '5 A Day' score sheet, tips, an action plan and an activity sheet. All aimed toward helping you and your loved ones get more fruits and vegetables in your daily diets! Simply click the picture below to download.

Why are Fruits and Vegetables Important Thumbnail