Like many of you, when the weather turns warmer, I start thinking about shedding a few pounds. As I grow older, getting rid of my extra winter weight becomes more of a challenge. I’ve found that adding more of the right foods in smaller portions to my daily diet all year long is the best method for me to weigh less.
Elizabeth Pivonka is a registered dietitian and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation, the nonprofit behind the national public-health campaign Fruits & Veggies — More Matters.
Pivonka says that most adults don’t get the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables each day: “Eating more fruits and vegetables in place of options that are higher in fat and calories is an important step in losing weight and keeping it off.
“Fruits and vegetables play important roles in the process of weight loss and weight maintenance,” Pivonka added. “Not only because they are low in calories, but also because they provide a wide range of valuable nutrients like vitamins and potassium. They are also high in fiber and water, so eating them will keep you feeling full longer.
“Fruits and vegetables are the cheapest form of health insurance you can buy, since eating them may help reduce the risk of obesity and many diseases. Everyone can benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables, so fill at least half of your plate with them at every meal,” Pivonka said. “They provide the unrivaled combination of great taste, nutrition, abundant variety and multiple product forms. There is no need to eat the same thing day after day when there are so many delicious fruits and veggies from which to choose.”
Here are some ways you can easily increase the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat each day:
• Don’t forget about dried fruits and veggies! Keep a bag of your favorites available for those times when a craving strikes while you’re on the go.
• Use a smaller plate, like an 8- or 9-inch luncheon plate, not a 10-12 inch dinner plate, and make sure to fill at least half of it with fruits and veggies at every meal.
• Keep a variety of low-sugar canned fruits and low-sodium vegetables on hand. They are precooked as part of the canning process and can be eaten immediately, or just need just a few seconds in the microwave or on the stove to heat up. Healthy and fast!
• Add frozen vegetables to your meals to boost their flavor, color and nutrition! They won’t add to the cooking time, will make the meal go further, and you won’t have to fix an extra side dish.
• When shopping, let kids select a new fruit or vegetable for the whole family to try — remember, all forms count; fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% juice!
Too tired or too hot to cook? Try this easy recipe for Roast Chicken With Strawberries. It’s a simple way to provide you with a well-balanced, healthy and delicious meal guaranteed not to “weigh” you down!
ROAST CHICKEN AND STRAWBERRY SALAD
You can prepare and store all the ingredients except the salad greens in a covered container and add them to the greens separately. This will prevent them from wilting if you’re making only one salad at a time or prepping lunch or dinner ahead of time.
1/2 small purple onion, chopped
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dried poultry seasoning
1/3 teaspoon honey or agave
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
One (2 1/2 to 3-pound) rotisserie chicken
1 large tomato, chopped
2 medium cucumbers, chopped
1 cup strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (6-8 ounce) bag prewashed lettuce greens with carrots and radishes
1/4 cup salted, toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds
1. In a large bowl, toss the onion with both vinegars and let stand for 10 minutes to soften and sweeten. Whisk in the olive oil, poultry seasoning, honey or agave, salt and pepper.
2. Pick the meat from the bones of the chicken and shred it or chop it into bite-sized pieces.
3. Add the tomato, cucumbers, strawberries, chickpeas or beans, and the chicken to the dressing and toss well.
4. Place the salad greens on individual serving plates. Top with equal portions of the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with the pumpkin or sunflower seeds and serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.