Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Importance of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. Many experts suggest 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Sounds like a lot, right? Consider this – one serving size is one-half cup of most fruits and veggies. One serving of greens and leafy veggies is one cup and a single piece of fruit is one serving.

Broken down like that, it doesn’t sound so bad. Eat a cup of cooked mixed veggies and you’ve got 2 servings down. I’ve been finding that it does take some vigilance to get enough. I love most fruit and vegetables and still have to plan them into my daily diet.

So why should you make the effort to eat more? There are so many benefits.

They have a lot of vitamins and minerals that help make our bodies strong. Yes, there are supplements out there, but almost every expert will tell you that the body processes natural sources better than supplements. Getting the nutrients we need helps our bodies reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Making fruits and vegetables a part of a healthy diet helps to lose or maintain a healthy weight. They have a lot of water and fiber, which helps to fill you up, but are low in calories.

You can even add some veggies to your favorite baking recipes for lower fat, healthier versions. I have some of those recipes that I’ll be sharing over the next couple of months.

What are some ways to make incorporating fruits and veggies into your diet easier?

Add flavor! Herbs and spices are wonderful flavor enhancers that can really bring out the extra flavor without adding extra calories.

If you must add butter, try I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray. No calories and just a couple of sprays can give you that buttery taste you’re craving.

If fresh isn’t available, canned or frozen are good options, but read labels. Don’t get the ones with added sugar, syrups, sauces or anything else that adds extra calories.

Mix it up. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Even if a particular veggie isn’t your favorite, try it cooked a different way. This leads me to the recipe I’m going to share with you today.

Zucchini is not a favorite of most people. I could eat it, but preferred other veggies. Hubby didn’t like it all. Someone pointed me to this recipe and I tried it. Hubby liked it and I LOVED it. I made it for the first time last Tuesday. I’ve made it 4 times since. It’s easy and so good.

Zucchini Fries

Ingredients

    4 spray(s) olive oil cooking spray   
    1 tsp Italian seasoning   
    1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour   
    3/4 tsp table salt   
    3/4 cup(s) dried bread crumbs, panko-variety suggested   
     2 medium zucchini, about 7-inches each, cut into 4 chunks, then each chunk halved   
     2 large egg white(s), whipped until frothy (almost soft peaks)  

Instructions

•    Preheat oven to 425ºF. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix together Italian seasoning, flour and salt. Place bread crumbs in another small bowl.

•    Dredge a zucchini fry in flour mixture and then dip into egg whites; dredge in bread crumbs. Place coated zucchini on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining ingredients; liberally coat with cooking spray.

•    Roast, turning once, until desired crispness, about 12 minutes. Yields about 8 fries per serving.
Notes

•    Use this technique with any summer squash or eggplant. It also works great with thick-cut onion rings or even green tomatoes.

For extra crispy fries, increase the oven temperature to 500ºF and knock 2 minutes off the cooking time.

One last thing, the CDC has an awesome website dedicated to helping people get in their fruits and veggies. Check it out.

How do you get your fruits and veggies in? Think you’ll give this recipe a try? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks and your opinion of zucchini fries.

3 comments:

RL said...

Hey Riley! This is an old recipe in my family; southerners will fry anything :). I haven't tried them in the oven, will give it a try. My daughter loves zucchini "chips": same recipe just cut in thin circles. She dips them in ranch dressing :) If it gets her to eat a vegetable ... I'm happy!
Your recipe reminded me of one I found in a cooking light mag. French Fries in the oven. Labor intensive but sooo worth it! They are cooked in the oven with the cooking spray but the trick to getting them crispy is soaking them in ice water for about 10 minutes, drain, dry with paper towels, then coat with the spray. SUPER crunchy :)

Lynne Roberts said...

I've been craving zucchini fries. These sound wonderful. Thank you.

I drink low-sodium V8 every morning. I figure it's a serving of veggies to start the day.

Andhra Style Recipes said...

Thanks for share.

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