June 1 marks the start of Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month.
All fruits and vegetables, whether they come fresh, frozen or canned, are essential for an overall healthy diet. Fruits and veggies are packed full of natural vitamins, minerals and fiber and can help prevent cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Did you know that the average person needs four servings of fruit and five servings of veggies each day? That may sound like a lot at first, but if you understand exactly what a serving is, it’s not quite as intimidating.
One serving of fruit is equivalent to ½ cup of fresh, frozen, or canned fruit, ¼ cup of dried fruit, ½ cup of 100 percent fruit juice, or one medium size piece of fruit (about the size of your fist).
One serving of vegetables is equivalent to 1 cup of raw leafy greens or ½ cup of cooked leafy greens, ½ cup of fresh, frozen or canned vegetables, or ½ cup of vegetable juice.
Like I mentioned, all forms of fruit and vegetables can be part of a healthy and balanced diet but June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. And what better timing to celebrate as the weather is warming up, growing season is in full swing, and there is an abundance of fresh produce right here in our very own community.
Buying fresh produce that is in season and grown locally is far superior than purchasing the same items from a large grocery store. By buying locally, whether that’s at the farmers market or a roadside stand, supports both the community and local economy. In addition, fresh produce costs less when it is in season. And the best part? Fresh produce has so much more flavor!
If you are wondering how you can incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your daily routine, here are a few simple tips:
• Add sliced veggies to your sandwich, scrambled eggs, or pair with cheese and crackers.
• Dip vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, carrots or celery into hummus or homemade ranch using plain low-fat greek style yogurt.
• Enjoy a bowl of fruit for dessert. Sprinkle cinnamon on top or add a dollop of whipped cream for extra flavor.
• Top your yogurt with fresh berries.
• Add veggies to soups, stews, or casseroles.
• Slice and dice your veggies and store them in air-tight containers so they are ready to be used at a moment’s notice.
• Keep a bowl of whole fruit (apples, oranges, bananas) on the counter in plain sight. These are great grab ’n go items when you’re headed out the door.
As you plan out your next grocery shopping list, don’t forget to add fresh fruits and vegetables!
To learn more about Nebraska farmers and families that are growing your food and to find out what produce is in season, visit buylocalnebraska.org.
Jordan Luxa is a Food, Nutrition and Health educator for Nebraska Extension in Washington County. She can be contacted at 402-426-9455, email@example.com, or visit the Washington County Extension website at www.washington.unl.edu.