It was a typical morning for Patty; she showered, dressed, and got ready for the day. Since the holidays were now over, Patty decided she was going to cut down on the junk food and eat lighter; after all, she had a few extra pounds to shed. Instead of a bagel with cream cheese, Patty decided to cook some oatmeal, and for added protein, she threw in a handful of almonds. She enjoyed the hearty oatmeal along with her morning cup of coffee.
Lunch for Patty was always different. There was the cafeteria at her workplace where she could grab something quickly. Their burritos were to die for, and the price was reasonable. Patty was tempted to indulge in her normal lunch, but after considering all the cheese that smothered the burritos, she decided today she would get a turkey sandwich on rye bread, a lowfat yogurt, and a banana.
After work, Patty did a couple of errands and then decided to head home for supper. The family would already be home, and she needed something quick. Wanting to provide something healthy for her family, Patty picked up a rotisserie chicken and a bag of frozen vegetables. Instead of garlic bread, Patty decided to serve the chicken and vegetables with rice. This was a better choice seeing that garlic bread was one of Patty’s downfalls.
As Patty climbed into bed that evening, she felt better about the start of her goal to eat smarter. But as she went over in her mind what she had consumed that day, she realized that she hadn’t had many food items from the fruit/vegetable category. Knowing that a healthy diet included on average 5 servings from this category, and seeing she had only had 2 servings that day, she vowed that she would include more of these foods to her daily menu.
We can all relate to Patty’s situation because we, too, go through periods of consuming too much party food, usually over the holidays, or while on vacation. During times of overeating, as well as when we decide to cut down on the junk, we often find ourselves eating well below the daily recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables. Eating enough fruits and vegetables each day takes thought and planning. If you consume meals that are fast and easy, then most likely you do not get enough of them each day. You may even be a wonderful cook and spend time in the kitchen cooking meals for yourself and your family, and still come up short of the recommended amount. Take Patty, for example. She spent time that morning cooking herself some oatmeal, and when breakfast was over, she had not even had one serving of fruits/vegetables for that day yet. If she had thrown in a cup of blueberries or a half cup of raisins in her oatmeal, then she would have been on her way to meeting the recommendation.
While I am shopping, I find myself having to consciously plan to pick up enough produce to help my husband and me reach the number of fruits and vegetables we need every day. One item that I buy regularly is fresh spinach. It is available year round, is fairly affordable, and is packed with wonderful nutrients. It is also a vegetable that is versatile and can be used in so many ways. Here are a few ways to include spinach in your diet.
*Take a handful of spinach leaves and sauté with green onions. Add an egg and scramble together in the pan. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and continue scrambling together. Top with parmesan cheese and allow to melt before removing from pan. (This is one of my favorite breakfasts that I eat often).
*Make a smoothie and add a handful of spinach leaves. This adds a nice green, healthy flavor to any fruit smoothie. (Another one of my favorites).
*Add a hefty handful or two of spinach leaves to any quiche recipe.
*Spinach leaves are great when added to any sandwich. (Well, I guess I never tried them in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but who knows? Maybe it’ll work!)
*Add spinach leaves to salads.
*Find recipes for spinach salads and make them for lunch. There are some wonderful recipes on the internet. I have a couple of easy recipes that are delicious and great for lunches.
*Add a couple of handfuls of spinach leaves to any stirfry. I usually add them the last minute or two so they don’t become too overcooked.
*Again, add them to any tossed salad you are having with your evening meal.
*When serving soup, add spinach leaves to each individual bowl of soup instead of cooking it in the soup. The leaves don’t become soggy this way.