Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Getting Your Fruits & Veggies

Like many moms, I am guilty of making sure that my toddler has a “balanced meal” that includes a fruit/veggie, while I neglect it in my own!

This is often due to the fact that a toddler’s serving size is fairly small. I can add a couple spoonfuls of peas or shredded carrots leftover from the previous night’s dinner, without any extra prep work for her lunch. But for mine, I’ll often need to prepare something new. 
I also find myself thinking “I’m too busy” (juggling noontime/naptime tasks), and “I’ll fix something later.” (But “later” doesn’t always happen!) Since I am following the “Brewer Diet,” these fruits/vegetables are an extra important part of my nutrition plan. 
Here are a few easy tips that I’ve found to be helpful in getting mama her fruits/veggies (often adding more than one to a meal, for extra benefits). Some of these may be fairly obvious, but so easy to forget! 
  1. Prepare extra “planned” leftovers from dinner. Preparing a larger salad or veggie side dish ensures that I have more than just a “toddler-sized” amount to choose from in the refrigerator. (Veggie dishes that can be enjoyed hot or cold are especially helpful, since I don’t have to wait for reheating, if I don’t want to.) 

  2. Keep a bowl/tray of cut up fruits/veggies in the fridge for quick snacks. (Once or twice a week, do all the prep work ahead of time.) Go here for my Cream & Chive Dip recipe, or try some Hummus. 

  3. Mix in fruit/veggies to my planned meal. Somehow, this just seems “easier” than planning a separate side dish. While I’m juggling a little one, a “one bowl meal” for mama is especially nice. Here are some quick “mix in” ideas:

  • Stir in some diced veggies into a fish or egg salad sandwich. Layered “chef” salads (prepared the night before) are also a delicious option, incorporating several different veggies, protein sources, and a dressing. A large salad can last for a few days in the refrigerator. Veggies can also be delicious tossed in with some scrambled eggs/omelets. 

  • Keep sugar-free canned/frozen fruits available to “stir in.” (During the summer canning season, I can fruits in juice -not syrup- or make unsweetened applesauce or “jams” using Pomona’s Pectin.) These are as easy as popping open a jar, and scooping some fruit on top of your bowl of yogurt/cottage cheese or morning toast. Canned “juice only” pineapple is a fun addition to a chicken salad or teriyaki dish. 
  • Dried fruits can be a pleasant addition to a typically “veggies only” dish. Try adding some dried apricots or raisins to some leftover lentil soup or curry, dried apples or raisins to hot cereal, or some dried cranberries on top of a salad. (When adding them to hot foods, add them near the end of the cooking time, so that the steam/liquid can “reconstitute” the fruits.) Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired. 
  • Frozen veggies can be a real time-saver. I freeze freshly-picked vegetables (such as green beans, cherry/grape tomatoes, and corn) throughout the summer. Since they’ve already been washed, stemmed, etc., there is no prep work! I can toss in a handful of tomatoes or corn into some leftover bean soup (the veggies will thaw while it is reheating), or some beans/peas into a hot cheesy dish

  • Instead of a cup of juice, plus a fruit, with breakfast, make a smoothie. I tend to think that sitting and eating a whole bowl of orange slices would be “too messy,” and put it off. (Since oranges- or other vitamin C sources- are a vital part of the Brewer Diet, I’ve had to make a conscious effort to prioritize this source of nutrition.) Obviously, you could toss in berries from the freezer (and even fresh spinach!) to make a typical smoothie, but here is my “Orange Version:” 

Orange Smoothie
1 Whole Orange, peeled
1/2-3/4 cup Yogurt (I use plain, whole milk yogurt)
1 tsp. Honey/Sugar to sweeten, if desired
Dash of alcohol-free real Vanilla extract (optional)

Add the orange segments to the blender, and puree well. Toss in yogurt and sweetener (if using), and puree until it reaches a smooth liquid consistency.  Serves 1.

(Tammy, I know you said we weren’t doing recipes today; but I’m not sure how to leave this out of my list of tips!) :)  
  • Try a juicer! We found a juicer very inexpensively on Craigslist about a year ago, and have loved it. You can toss in both fruits and veggies for a delicious, fresh drink. (Don’t make juice your only source of produce for the day, but this can be a nice addition.) 
For more Kitchen Tip Tuesday ideas, visit Tammy’s Recipes
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