Tag Archives: fruits

Minimizing food waste

Perfection is in taste, not appearance

I admit to not being the most “green” person. While I try to recycle and take other small steps to be environmentally friendly, it isn’t my highest priority. However, I recently saw some alarming statistics: about 40% of all food produced in the Unites States is thrown away and that the average American throws out 20% of their vegetables and 15% of their fruit. Unlike the two articles reporting these, my first thought wasn’t related to how much that adds to the landfills and greenhouse gas production.

My first thought was in the wasted money. Much of that discarded produce was purchased and then thrown away without eating it, often due to spoilage. If you think you can’t afford fruits and vegetables, you definitely can’t afford to just throw them away. I hate when something spoils before I use it, because all I see is money going into the trash can. Here are some tips to reduce how much produce you throw away:

1. Take inventory at home before you go to the store. This reduces double-buying an item.

2. Make a detailed list and stick to it. Know how much you need of a particular item so you don’t overbuy. For example, I needed tomatoes this last week for a few recipes. I forgot to right down how many I needed, so I purchased several extra tomatoes that I need to quickly find a use for. Also, don’t buy an item just because it is on sale. I often get excited to see berries or melons on sale, but if you don’t have a plan for how it will get eaten, it will just go bad.

3. Rotate your produce. Make sure if you buy new items, they go behind or below the older ones already at home. That way the produce most likely to spoil is getting used first.

4. Store your produce wisely. Here is a handy graphic with some great tips on where to store different types of produce as well as foods to keep separated. Another great tip: separate your bananas when you get home. They will ripen more slowly this way.

While I have admitted to not be very “green”, I do agree with the article talking about the ugly vegetables. Don’t be afraid of a vegetable just because it doesn’t look perfect. Remember, you don’t look perfect either, but the vegetable is willing to take a chance on you. Happy eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Beyond vitamins

Salads are a great way to incorporate a rainbow of colors.

Salads are a great way to incorporate a rainbow of colors.

People often wonder if they can just take a multi-vitamin and skip eating their fruits and vegetables. I always say no! A pill does not contain all the phytochemicals your foods do, among the many other benefits of foods over supplements.

Phytochemicals are substances that naturally occur in plant foods. They can contribute to the color, flavor, or odor of the plant. The difference between a phytochemical and a vitamin is that phytochemicals are not known to be essential. A phytochemical can have health benefits, though. You might be more familiar with the names of some of the common phytochemicals than the term phytochemical itself: flavonoid, carotenoid, isoflavones, phytonutrient.

There are many health claims out there for phytochemicals. Some are thought to help fight cancer, such as lutein and isoflavones. Resveratrol, a phytochemical in grapes and red wine, may help slow the effects of aging. Beta-carotene may boost the immune system and help with vision. Research is ongoing on how these substances effect the body and in what amounts.

How do you get enough phytochemicals? By eating a variety of different fruits and vegetables. The color of the plant can correspond with different phytochemicals. For example, beta-carotene is found in dark orange or dark green leafy vegetables. Lycopene is found in red foods, particularly tomatoes, watermelon, and grapefruit. Anthocyanidins are found in red and purple berries. By consuming a balanced diet with many different colors of fruits and vegetables, you will get a variety of phytochemicals and all of their health benefits.

So make sure you are getting not only your recommended number of fruits and veggies each day, but also make sure there are a rainbow of colors in there, too.  Happy eating!

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Back to School: Lunches

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With school starting soon, many of your lives will become busier and full of scheduled activities.  Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be sharing some tips to help you keep feeding your families nutritious foods during this time.

First stop:  lunch.  Packing a balanced, healthy, and interesting lunch for your kids can be a huge challenge, especially getting them prepared in the morning while serving breakfast and getting everyone out the door.  Here are some tips to help get more fruits and vegetables in your kids’ lunches that hopefully get eaten, too.

-Vary up the sides.  Even the same sandwich seems more interesting if the sides you send are different.  There are tons of different fruits and vegetables you can send.

-Prepare in advance.  I buy big bags of carrots and bunches of celery every week and get them all prepped that same day.  It takes me 15 minutes, start to finish on grocery day.  (See picture above for my finished product.) Then, I only have to grab portions out every morning. As an added bonus, I can serve these veggies in a pinch with dinner, too.

-Try convenience produce if needed.  In the produce section, apples, carrots, blueberries, and many other fruits and vegetables come packed into individual portions already.  You’ll pay more for these items than buying and prepping yourself.  But if that is the only way you can get them into the lunch box, it is worth the price.

-Add a sauce.  Many kids love to dip foods into a sauce.  You can buy individual packages of salad dressing or peanut butter to throw in lunch boxes.  Or buy little reusable containers to send little portions for your tike.  The few extra calories for the dip are not as important as all the nutrients they would miss out on if you skip the produce.

-Try dried fruits and vegetables.  Dried fruits are often sweeter, making them more appealing to kiddos.  Veggie sticks, crisps, and chips abound on the market.  Many of these contain quite a bit of sodium and are not as healthy as regular vegetables.  But they can be a good way to mix up lunch time while still focusing your child’s taste buds on vegetables.

-If you must, try juice.  Juice is not the best way to get your kids fruits and vegetables.  But if that is the only way they’ll eat them, it is better than nothing.  Just make sure it doesn’t have added sugars.  If it is a vegetable juice, check the sodium content.  And again, using juice for variety can make lunch time more interesting for you kids.

Hope this helps!  Happy lunches everyone!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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What food will help me lose weight?

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A client recently asked me this, and it is definitely not the first time I have heard this question.  People always want a miracle food or diet to help them lose weight.  While not possessing magical weight loss powers, I usually tell people to focus on eating more fruits and vegetables.  Fruits and veggies are high in fiber which can help us feel full without overloading us with calories.

Does our emphasis on fruits and vegetables work?  A recent study showed that Americans eat 25-30 pounds more of fruits and vegetables per year now than they did in the 1970s.  This seems like a healthier diet, and yet obesity has been increasing at an alarming rate in that same time period.  How is that possible?

The study also found that Americans are eating at least 400 more calories each day than in the 1970s.  We have embraced eating more salad.  But that salad has become an addition to our meal, rather than a replacement for a higher calorie food.  Even too many fruits and vegetables are just extra calories that can lead to weight gain.

Once again, we see that there is no miracle food or diet.  Decreasing calories in and increasing calories out is the only way to successfully lose weight.  Eating fruits and vegetables as a replacement for higher calorie foods can be helpful.  But even too much of a good thing is bad.

Read more about the study here.

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

 

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