Scrub by Scrub: The Importance of Washing Your Produce

Strainer of asparagus

As we transition from winter to spring, many fruits and vegetables—like asparagus and strawberries—start to be in season! It is very important to remember to wash fresh produce prior to eating in order to remove any harmful bacteria like E. coli or listeria. The next time you reach for a fruit or vegetable, use these strategies to ensure it’s clean and fresh:

  • Wash your produce immediately before eating. Washing some produce—like berries—before storing actually hastens spoilage.
  • Wash all produce in cold water; do not use detergents or soap to clean the outside of your fruit.
  • Try using a vegetable brush for fruits and vegetables that have a thick skin.
  • Produce that has tiny nooks and crannies—like cauliflower and broccoli—should be soaked in cold, clean water for one to two minutes.
  • You don’t need to rewash products that are labeled “ready to eat” or “triple washed.”

For visual demonstrations of other ways to select, store, and prepare food, check out the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/videos).

Veggie Bean Wrap

Veggie bean wrap

Serving Size: 1 prepared wrap | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 green or red bell peppers (seeded and chopped)
  • 1 onion (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 can (15 ounce) black beans (no salt added) (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 mangos, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado (peeled and diced)
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas (10 inch)

Instructions:

  1. Use a nonstick pan over medium heat. Sauté bell peppers and onion for 5 minutes. Add beans and stir well. Reduce heat to low. Simmer about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir mangos and lime juice in a small bowl. Add cilantro and avocado. Reserve half the mixture for topping.
  3. Fill warmed tortillas. Use 1/4 bean mixture and 1/4 mango mixture.
  4. Fold over ends of the tortilla. Roll up to make wraps. Top wraps with the rest of the mango mixture.

Nutrition information per serving:

464 calories, 12g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 250mg sodium, 76g total carbohydrate, 19g fiber, 0g added sugar,
17g protein

Adapted from MyPlate Kitchen, www.choosemyplate.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/veggie-bean-wrap

Summer Bounty Salad

Summer Bounty Salad

Serving Size: 1 cup | Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups vegetables (zucchini, broccoli, carrots, radishes, green onions), chopped
  • 1 pepper (green, red, or yellow) sliced (1 to 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tomatoes (red, yellow, or mixed)
  • 2/3 cup light or fat free salad dressing

Instructions:

  1. Wash and prepare the vegetables. (Cut the carrots, zucchini, radishes, green onions, and pepper in slices. Make the broccoli and cauliflower into florets. Slice or chop tomatoes.)
  2. Combine all vegetables and salad dressing in a bowl, stirring to coat vegetables with dressing.
  3. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 3 hours to blend flavors. Store any leftovers in refrigerator and use within 3 days.

 

Nutrition information per serving:

60 calories, 2.5 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 220 mg sodium, 10 g total carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 2 g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.

June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

Asparagus, lettuce, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, and strawberries are just a few of the fresh fruits and vegetables available in June! They provide a range of colors to eat and enjoy. It’s important to get a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet every day.

Colorful fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds in food that your body uses to maintain good health and energy levels, protect against the effects of aging, and reduce the risk of some types of cancer and heart disease.

Phytochemicals may be considered just as important as protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and vitamins. Many of the phytochemicals and other compounds that make fruits and vegetables good for us also give them their color. It’s important to eat the rainbow of colors every day to get the full health-promoting benefits of fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables

When planning meals, try to use colorful fruits and vegetables. Usually the darker the color, the higher the amounts of phytochemicals. When introducing children to a new fruit or vegetable, consider designating a color for each day or week.

Produce Basics—Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

vegetables

Preparing fresh produce can be easy when you have the information you need and a few skills. The Produce Basics information found on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website and app describe how to store, clean, and prepare various fruits and vegetables. Check out this link: spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/cook/produce-basics/. Search for Spend Smart. Eat Smart. at your app store and download the free app today!

 

Vegetable Soup with Kale and Lentils

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups | Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium carrot (sliced 1/8 inch thick)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic (peeled and minced; 3 cloves) or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup dry yellow or brown lentils
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil or Italian seasoning
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) no sodium added diced tomatoes or 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bunch kale (about 7 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, carrot, and garlic. Cook 5 minutes.
  3. Add water to veggies in pot. Heat to boiling.
  4. Rinse lentils in colander with water. Add lentils to pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not drain.
  5. Add chicken broth, dried basil or Italian seasoning, and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 5–10 minutes.
  6. Rinse kale leaves; cut out the main stems and discard. Cut leaves into 1” pieces.
  7. Stir kale, salt, and pepper into lentil mixture. Return to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 3 minutes.

 

Nutrition information per serving: 200 calories, 5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 170mg sodium, 29g total carbohydrate, 12g fiber, 4g sugar, 11g protein

Recipe courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.

Create a Rainbow on Your Plate

Rainbow of vegetables and fruitsWhen it comes to fruits and vegetables, eating a variety of colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and white—provides the best mix of nutrients for your body, not to mention being more pleasing to the eye. Recommendations regarding how much people need depend on age, gender, and amount of physical activity. To learn more about your daily recommendations, visit www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate. Most Americans need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten every day. Remember, all product forms count—fresh, canned, frozen, dried, and 100% juice. By eating more fruits and vegetables, your risk of chronic disease is reduced.

Tips to increase fruits and vegetables in your diet:

  • Prepare fruits and vegetables as soon as you get them so they are ready to eat. Consider dividing into individual  servings so they are easy to grab and go.
  • Have veggies and low-fat dip for a snack.
  • Add vegetables to casseroles, stews, and soups.
  • Choose fruit for dessert.
  • Add veggies to sandwiches.
  • Enjoy a fruit smoothie for breakfast or as a snack.

For more tips, visit SpendSmart.
Source: Fruits and Veggies – More Matters

After School Hummus

Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 ounces) reduced sodium garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves (minced) or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oil (vegetable or olive)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Use a blender or food processor to combine all the ingredients except yogurt. Blend on low speed until beans are mashed.
  2. Stir in yogurt with a spoon.
  3. Refrigerate several hours or overnight so flavors blend.
  4. Serve with pita chips, crackers, or fresh vegetables.

Tips:

  • Mash the beans with a fork, chop garlic finely, and then stir ingredients thoroughly before adding to the blender.
  • Store hummus in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use within 2 to 3 days.
  • Add 1/3 cup chopped red peppers

Nutrition information per serving: 70 calories, 3g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 80mg sodium, 9g total carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 2g sugar, 3g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu

Take Safe Food to the Potluck

Irish stew in a slow cooker potPotluck meals are a fun, low-cost way to celebrate the holidays at friend’s homes and in offices, classrooms, and churches.

During the rush of the holidays, show your concern for others by following these food transportation safety tips:

  • Car seats are often contaminated with germs that can cause illness. Cover your car seat with a clean sheet or large towel before placing the food container on it.
  • Keep cold foods cold, 40°F or below. Take cold foods out of the fridge just before leaving home. Keep them in insulated containers with a cooler pack.
  • Keep hot foods hot, at least 140°F. Put your piping hot food in a slow cooker set on low. Just before getting into the car, unplug the slow cooker and put it in a quilted carrier or insulated bag. Do not keep the food in the car for more than an hour. At your destination, plug in the slow cooker immediately.
  • If hot food has cooled during the car trip, or if you brought refrigerated food that needs to be served hot, do not try to reheat it with a slow cooker. Reheat the food in a microwave or on a stove top until it is 165°F. (For more tips on slow cooker safety, visit www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsafety/content/slow-cookers.)

Healthy Choices for Healthy Events

Fresh fruits and vegetablesEveryone has a role in helping to create and support an environment for healthy eating. Try these tips to encourage healthy choices at meetings, conferences, parties, and other events.

  • Strive to provide half of the food served from a variety of fruits and vegetables. Fruit makes a great dessert. Beans and legumes, such as black beans and chickpeas, are vegetable-based protein sources.
  • Provide 100% whole-grain products in a variety of forms such as breads, rolls, crackers, or tortillas. Include whole-grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and other whole grains as part of healthful salads, mixed dishes, and casseroles.
  • Serve smaller portion sizes such as mini bagels, 6-oz. bottles or cartons of 100% juice, or 3 oz. of meat, fish, or poultry. For more information about portion sizes, visit https://store.extension.iastate.edu to download publication PM 3024, How Much Are You Eating?
  • Limit availability of processed foods, which tend to be higher in sodium and added sugars. Instead choose less-processed snack options like raw or dry-roasted nuts, fresh fruit, whole-grain chips with healthier dips (e.g., salsa, guacamole, or bean dips), or whole-grain baked products.
  • Go green; provide pitchers and cups for drinking water during the event. If needed, offer non- or low-calorie beverages (40 calories per 12-ounce serving). Try water infused with fresh fruit, vegetables, or herbs.

Sources:
Tips for Offering Healthier Options and Physical Activity at Workplace Meetings and Events, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/downloads/tips-for-offering-healthier-options-and-pa-at-workplace.pdf

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