By Diane Forrest, RN
The other night my aunt came in from Texas for a visit. My mother invited me over for dinner. My father grilled burgers out on the grill, and we had home grown tomatoes and homemade bread and butter pickles made with cucumbers from his neighbor's garden. We also had some steamed squash, zucchini, and onions from that garden, and fresh corn on the cob that was a gift from another friend. I just have to say, there is nothing better than a grilled burger with home grown tomatoes. It's one of my favorite meals. It would have even been better with some strawberry short cake for dessert, but we didn't have any. Luckily a friend of mine was telling me all about the delicious strawberries he had topped his ice cream with, so it was almost as if I could taste them too.
June is National Fruit and Vegetable Month. It’s the perfect time to celebrate, because there are alot of family gardens popping up all over town. The most popular crop here is tomatoes. I have never grown any, because people, who do grow them, always have more than they can eat. Other popular crops include: squash, bell peppers, onions, jalapeno peppers, okra, beans and peas. I don't know of too much fruit grown around here, there are watermelons, cantaloupe, and occasional strawberries and blueberries.
Fruits and vegetables are a great way to get the most nutrition out of your calories. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. Compared with people who consume a diet with only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts as part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers.
I have to confess I don’t have enough fruits or vegetables in my diet, so here are some tips to help sneak some extras into your meals:
- Wake up to fruit: make a habit of adding fruit—fresh, frozen or dried—to your morning oatmeal, ready-to-eat cereal, yogurt or toaster waffle.
- Stock up: Fill your fridge with raw vegetables and fruits—"nature's fast food"—cleaned, fresh and ready to eat.
- "Sandwich" in fruit and vegetables: Add pizzazz to sandwiches with sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumbers and tomato as fillings.
- Top your pizza with lots of veggies. Try broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini.
So while the veggies are popping up in your area, stock up and learn how to freeze them to save for the winter months, and if you can't eat enough veggies or fruits, you can always have a V-8!