75% of people don’t get enough servings and fruits and veggies a day. Which is silly, because if you asked me what the most important part of you daily food needs were, I’d tell you fruits and veggies. Maybe it’s that daunting “7-8” servings I was taught as a kid. Maybe it’s wondering how you’re supposed to work them all in in a day. I have news for you: It’s easy.
MYTH NUMBER 1: You need 7-8 servings of fruits and veggies a day…
And 7-8 servings is 7-8 cups. But in reality you need 4 1/2 cups of fruits and veggies a day. Or, more specifically you need 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of veggies a day.
MYTH NUMBER TWO: Fruit juices count.
NO. Sure, some lists will count fruit juice (1 cup) as a serving of fruit, but that’s not actually true. The thing about fruit juice is that it lacks fiber, which is part of the reason that you need fruit in the first place. Great sources of fiber for fruits are apples, pears, and plums. But make sure you keep the skin on! The skin of these fruits contains pectin, which is the naturally occurring fiber in fruit and frankly, the entire reason you want to bother eating them (I mean, other than pears are one of the tastiest things on the planet).
MYTH NUMBER THREE: All fruits and veggies go in the fridge.
Most but not some is the rule here. Onions, potatoes and tomatoes all need to be kept away from the fridge. Refrigerating tomatoes makes them lose taste, potatoes discolour and develop a sweetness (that’s just… wrong. I can’t describe it another way), and onions should be kept in some place where they get airflow (out of a plastic bag).
MYTH NUMBER FOUR: Ice Berg lettuce has no nutritional value.
Haha, mum! No, ice berg isn’t the powerhouse of nutritional value that say kale or spinach is, but it’s certainly not a slouch, either. Ice berg has a healthy dose of Vitamins A, C, K, and B6! Plus it’s full of water, meaning it’s pretty helpful in detoxing, and fills you up without gaining inches on your waist.
MYTH NUMBER FIVE: Vegetarian diets are not complete diets
With any diet at all, vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore, including variety is key to getting what your body needs in the way of nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. There are plenty of sources of proteins outside of the more carnivorous side of the world.
MYTH NUMBER SIX: Sugar in fruits is bad for you
Yes, fruits contain sugar, but this sugar is naturally occurring and loaded with phenols, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
MYTH NUMBER SEVEN: It’s hard to get your fruits and veggies requirement.
Incorrect. Two cups of fruit (which is, essentially, a snack between meals) and a salad for lunch and asparagus with baby carrots for dinner is all you need. But what does that look like?
- A large banana,
- A decent sized apple (a medium sized fist),
- A grapefruit,
- A cup of berries in your oatmeal.
- About 8 large strawberries
- A salad (two cups of lettuce is a serving, a single cup only counts as half)
- A cup of melon
- 3.5″ of a cucumber (maybe the length of your middle finger)
- A single stick of celery
- A cup of applesauce (no added sugar)
- A whole red pepper
- 1/2 cup of any dried fruit (cherries, raisins, apricots, peaches…)
- Or two or three strips of dried mango
- If you choose dried fruit, know that half a cup counts as a full cup to account for water reduction, but remember: dried fruit has a much higher sugar content and diabetics need to be careful.
- 1/2 cup of apple chips (mmm… apple chips)
- A cup of asparagus (about five spears)
- A cup of broccoli florets
- About 10 crimini mushrooms
- A cup of cherry tomatoes.
Tricks for meeting your fruity-veggie needs.
Cut your fruits or veggies up and leave them in your fridge. Fruits only last a day after they’re washed, but veggies can handle being in the fridge for a week at a time. They make excellent snacking foods.
You can also pack a sandwich container of fruits and veggies and bring it to work and leave it open on your desk. Don’t wait till lunch to bring them out. If you’re anything like me, snacking is just a habit. I can go through a bag of chips on my own if it’s near me, just because I keep snacking. But I’ve discovered I’ll do the same thing with fruits and veggies. I like doing a hybrid, packing a cup and a half of veggies (I like half a red pepper and cucumbers!) and a little over a cup of those big, green grapes (hey, I like my grapes a little sour). This also works at my house when I’m camped out with Netflix.
I also like to throw my fruit into some Greek yogurt and pretend it’s frozen yogurt too. (You can find that recipe here. Each recipe makes enough for 2 1/2 servings of dairy and one serving of fruit or veggies.)
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