Eat more fruits and veggies this year

The new year always brings with it a sense of renewal, making many of us look back at our bad habits and make an honest effort to change them. One resolution that often gets made is to eat more fruits and vegetables, especially since we all know that eating a minimum of five servings a day can help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other diseases. One piece of fruit, 3/4 cup (6 ounces) 100 percent fruit juice, 1/2 cup chopped vegetables, one cup leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup peas or beans, and 1/4 cup dried fruit each count as a serving.

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Black Bean Vegetable Soup

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups vegetable stock
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 8.75-ounce can whole kernel corn
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, garlic, and carrots, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add stock, 1 can of the beans, corn, and pepper; bring to boil.

Meanwhile, in food processor or blender, puree together tomatoes and remaining can of beans; add to pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until carrots are tender. Makes 8 servings.

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Pasta and Walnut Fruit Salad

8 uncooked shells or rotini pasta
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 11-ounce can juice-packed mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
1 apple, chopped
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain. In a small bowl, blend yogurt, honey and orange juice concentrate. In a large bowl, combine pasta and remaining ingredients. Add yogurt mixture; toss to coat. Cover and chill thoroughly. Makes 6 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

For flavor and nutrition, add fruit to pancakes and cereal and vegetables to pizza and sandwiches. Add apples, raisins, or pineapple chunks to salads.

Drink your fruit by combining fresh or frozen berries with ice and yogurt in a blender to create a quick smoothie.
Keep low-fat dips and clean, cut-up vegetables in the refrigerator and a bowl of fruit on the counter for easy, healthy snacks.

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