As a society, we are missing the mark when it comes to the nutritional guidelines recommended by the USDA. A study entitled State of the Plate conducted by the Produce for Better Health Foundation shows that less than 10% of us are eating the vegetables we need every day. On Sunday, June 17, people across Arizona and the country will be celebrating National Eat Your Vegetables Day which seeks to remind all of us about the importance of eating the vegetables we need for a healthy diet.
Here in Arizona, we are blessed with a long growing season that provides easy, every day access to fresh produce all year round. From our farmer’s markets to the grocery store aisles, there are so many delicious, healthy, locally grown options perfect for filling up your family’s plates. To celebrate National Eat Your Vegetables Day, make a commitment to eat the number of vegetable servings your body needs to be healthy today and every day. Here are some tips to help you keep that commitment.
1. Frequent Farmer’s Markets
Farmer’s markets and farm stands are a great source of fresh vegetables that boost both your health and the local economy. To find a farmer’s market near you, visit the Arizona Farm Bureau’s Farmer’s Market Information section.
2. Know What You Need
Many people think they are eating healthy but they are actually missing the mark. According to the CDC, although your individual dietary needs in terms of vegetables varies based on your caloric intake, on average, an adult who consumes 2,000 calories a day needs 2.5 cups of vegetables each day. Find out how many you need with the CDC’s Fruit and Vegetable Calculator.
3. Understand that Size Matters
Serving sizes are often the downfall of any dietary change and when it comes to vegetables, we generally estimate high. This means we think we have eaten an entire serving of vegetables when in reality our serving is actually undersize. Here are some examples of a one cup serving of vegetables:
- 1 full medium sized bell pepper
- 4 spears of asparagus
- 2 medium sized carrots
- 1 ear of corn
- ½ a cucumber
- 1 large baked potato
4. Vary your Vegetables
Many of us get stuck in a rut with our eating habits. We have the same breakfast, the same lunch, and the same 6 or 7 dinners over and over. This means our vegetable intake is pretty stagnant which makes it hard to get the nutrition we need and easy to get bored because we are eating the same thing over and over. Try changing things up and adding some new vegetables to your regular meals.
5. Be Creative
Try tossing some new and different vegetables into your omelet tomorrow morning or in the salad you have for lunch. Pick dinner recipes that feature vegetables as a core component like stir fry and pasta. Make more than one vegetable at dinner and fill more than half your plate with delicious and nutritious healthy options.
It’s easy to get the vegetables you need for a healthy diet. Making a commitment to eating the right amount of servings each day is a great first step in making that happen.
6. Use Fill Your Plate’s Vegetable Recipe Section
We believe Arizona Farm Bureau’s Fill Your Plate has one of the most comprehensive list of vegetable recipes from our Arizona farmers and ranchers! Handy to access as all our vegetable recipes have been categorized for your convenience, this will help you make sure you keep fresh vegetables in the mix when cooking.
- Grocery Store Lifeline: How to Choose From All The Food Options Today (fillyourplate.org)
- Tips for Better Nutrition on a Tight Budget (fillyourplate.org)
- Going Gluten Free Ain’t Always Easy (fillyourplate.org)