Jacqueline Marcus, MS, RD, LD, FADA, Nutrition Consultant in Northfield, Illinois, has shared these tips to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet without spending more time preparing food.
With only a few minutes to shop, prepare and serve dinner, you can still your daily allotment of 4-4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day with the help of pre-cut fresh or frozen vegetables. They can be lightly steamed, microwaved, roasted, or dry-pan fried and added to bread, pie shells, tortillas or pitas to create quick pizza or calzone. They can be mixed with beans or leftover lean poultry or fish to “beef up” canned or frozen low-fat broths for fresh-tasting minestrone, chili, curry or stew. Serve them cold with garlic sauce, hummus or yogurt, or hot over pasta, rice, couscous or potatoes. Use them to save time in stir fry dishes, fajitas, or tacos or added to main course poultry or fish salads. Toss them into a low-fat quiche
You’ll find pre-cut broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots, red or green cabbage, quick-cooking beans & kettle vegetables, baby sun chokes, zucchini or crookneck squash perfect for quick meals with little waste. Some pre-cut salads are pre-washed, ready-to-eat and free of preservatives or sulfites. Salad kids offer convenience and include all of the ingredients from greens to toppings to dressing. Decrease the fat by using half the dressing or substitute fat free dressing, balsamic vinegar or salsa in its place. Add more pre-cut veggies for more fiber, nutrients, color, taste and texture.
Frozen meal kits found near the frozen vegetable section of your grocery store, are more substantial. Stir fry dishes, pasta meals, and other ready-made kits in bags can be used with or without added protein in the form of beans, lean poultry or fish. Reduce the sauce by half to lower fat and sodium and add more vegetables or fruits to further increase the amount of fruits and vegetables to get you to 4 or more cups a day.
Be creative.Use pineapple to liven stir fry dishes or main course salads; fresh or dried figs or dried apricots add excellent flavor to grain and bean dishes. Fresh-frozen peaches are a nutritious addition to fruit compotes or chutneys, perfect with egg white omelets.
While prepackaged meals and salads save you time, making your own one dish meals from pasta, vegetables and fat-free salad dressing cuts your cost in half on the average. Consider the grocery store salad bar to help you save time and money, too.
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Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.