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Remember the old food pyramid? When I was growing up, that was the visual aid they used to teach us about healthy eating. Well it turns out that as you age, your nutritional needs change, and eating according to the food pyramid may not be the best way to go. Who knew?
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I recently learned that the AARP Foundation teamed up with Tufts University to develop a new-and-improved diet recommendation for us “older adults.” :-) It’s called MyPlate for Older Adults, and it breaks down the optimal diet in an easy to understand way. I’ve put together a free downloadable printable of MyPlate, so you can print it out and hang it up in your kitchen as a reminder to eat healthy! (Use the green button below to download.)
But don’t just take it from me! One of my favorite people, “Top Chef” Carla Hall, explains the MyPlate recommendations much better than I ever could in this short video! I had the honor of meeting her a couple of years ago year at a conference and believe me, she knows her stuff!
And when you opt to dine out rather than cook at home, remember that for every purchase you make at restaurants with your AARP Credit Card from Chase, $0.10 will be donated to AARP Foundation in support of the Drive To End Hunger. So far $995,531 has been raised toward the goal of $1 million. More than 10 million Americans aged 50+ are affected by hunger every day and the Drive To End Hunger campaign has been raising awareness about this problem – and meeting the immediate daily food needs of hungry seniors – since 2011.
The first thing I noticed about MyPlate is that about half of the plate is devoted to fruits and vegetables. That’s right, half! I obviously have quite a bit of work to do to get my diet into shape, so I thought I’d put together this post for anyone like me who’s looking for ways to eat more fresh fruits and veggies. Here are 4 simple tips that will help you get more fruits and veggies in your diet!
4 Ways To Eat More Fruits & Veggies
1. Start Your Day With A Fruit & Veggie Smoothie
Starting your day with a homemade smoothie is an easy way to get a jump start on your daily fruit and veggie intake. You can make smoothies even easier by prepping several single-use smoothie packs at once. Use in-season fruits and vegetables for a simple, affordable, and nutritious breakfast.
If you’re making a lot of smoothies, it may be worthwhile to invest in a high-powered blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix. They can break down frozen fruits and veggies in seconds, and they’re great for making soups, sauces, dips, and other foods, too!
2. Keep Healthy, Veggie-Packed Meals On Hand
Keep a several servings of a healthy recipe, like vegetable soup, in your fridge or freezer for quick and nutritious meals. I’ve spent the past few weeks mastering my veggie soup recipe, and now it’s one of my favorite things to eat! Here’s the recipe:
Jillee’s Perfect Veggie Soup
3 yellow onions, diced
4-5 stalks celery, diced (including leaves)
4-5 carrots, sliced into rounds
4-5 red potatoes, diced
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
2 quarts chicken stock
2-3 teaspoons chicken bouillon
In a large pot, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery, and cook until softened.
Next, add the chicken stock and carrots to the pot, then bring the mixture to a simmer.
Add the potatoes, kidney beans, tomatoes, and chicken bouillon to the pot, then stir. Next, sprinkle in salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, and parsley to taste.
If the soup seems like it could use more water, add a bit until it achieves the desired consistency.
Simmer the soup until the carrots and potatoes are tender, but not mushy. Serve warm.
3. Add Flavor With Fresh Herbs And Spices
Fresh herbs are delicious, and can add tons of flavor to your recipes without adding sodium or sugar. Buy them in bulk when they’re in season (which is also when they’ll be least expensive), and freeze them for later! Just rinse them, dry them thoroughly, then store them in a freezer bag. Just cut off what you need, and put them back in the freezer to use later.
Utilizing salt-free spices and spice blends is another way to add flavor without compromising nutrition. Cook Smarts put together an Ultimate Infographic Guide to Spices that can help you figure out what spices will work best with what you’re cooking, and what other spices you can pair them with to achieve fuller flavors.
4. Utilize Quick Tricks For Processing Fresh Fruits & Veggies
Check out these tricks and tips for easily peeling, slicing, dicing, and storing fruits and vegetables. These tips are sure to save you time and effort, so you can spend more time enjoying them!
You can peel a mango using the rim of a glass drinking cup.
Use an apple slicer to cut potatoes, and you’ll get perfect potato wedges every time! Just season them to your liking and roast them in the oven until the outsides are crispy and the insides are soft.
Dice an avocado easily and with less mess by doing it inside the peel. Cut the avocado in half around the pit, then remove and discard the pit. Place a cooling rack over a bowl. Gently press the avocado down onto the cooling rack. Voila – a perfectly chopped avocado!
Bananas ripen more quickly in bunches. If you want to slow down the ripening process, separate your bananas from the bunch and then store them individually.
Cherry Tomatoes & Grapes
Here’s a neat tip for slicing cherry tomatoes, grapes, and other soft, round foods. Place several of them between two plastic lids, then carefully run your knife between the lids. Quick and easy!
If your leafy greens are looking wilted, but haven’t gone bad, don’t toss them out just yet! Revive them by placing them into a large bowl, along with two cups of ice cold water and a tablespoon of white vinegar. Let the veggies soak for an hour, and then they’ll be crisp and ready to eat!
Eggs, Strawberries, & Mushrooms
Your egg slicer is a great tool for slicing hard-boiled eggs, but you can also use it to easily slice strawberries and mushrooms!
Keep your salad greens fresh for longer by storing them with a paper towel. Just put your chopped lettuce into a bowl, then place a sheet of paper towel right on top. Use plastic wrap to seal off the bowl, then store it in the fridge. The paper towel will absorb excess moisture and keep the lettuce crisp, rather than soggy.
I hope these tips help you start the new year off right by getting more fruits and veggies in your diet. :-) Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018!