5 Ways to Get Your 5 A Day

By Reba Ray

Pop health quiz: How many fruits and veggies did ya eat yesterday? How about the day before? If you answered five or less for either day, yur undernourished in the eyes of the government officials who control how many fruits and vegetables we’re supposed to eat. I’m no fan of big government, but I have to admit, this is one intervention I probably needed. If somebody hadn’t set a standard for me, I’d be doin’ good to eat one a day, no joke. It’s not that I don’t like me some fruits and veggies, I’m just a little lazy when it comes to meal prep, and when I’m hungry, nuking a burrito is more appealin’ than nuking a sweet potato.

If you can relate, here’s a simple solution that I use (a lot) to comply with government standards on fruit and veggie consumption: get all five servings in one heapin’ hunk. Here are five of my favorite five-fruit or five-veggies blends that are quick to pull together and count as a meal. If yur worried about protein, you can make that up at one of those other meals (in which yur neglectin’ fruits and veggies!). Fruits and veggies are not devoid of protein, they just aren’t a good source of it. If you get the shakes when you don’t have protein thrice a day, up the yogurt in the smoothies and toss in some grilled chicken with the veggie dishes. If you opt for a five-fruit smoothie one day, be sure to go with a five-veggie blend the next. Getting’ a balance of the two is important, but it dudn’t need to be within any given 24-hour period – even if Big Brother says differently.

Tropical Smoothie
In a blender dump:
1 ripe banana
¼ cup frozen orange juice concentrate
½ large mango, or a whole small one, peeled and in large slices
½ cup pineapple chunks or tidbits
1 peach or 2 apricots, fresh, or the equivalent canned, without syrup
½ c. frozen yogurt – for a healthier frozen yogurt, buy your favorite flavor of regular yogurt and freeze it
½ c. milk

Pulse the blender a few times then crank it on a high setting until it sounds and looks smooth. Add a little umbrella and imagine yourself on the beach as you sip in five servings of fruit.

Berry Blend Smoothie
In a blender dump:
3 cups frozen berry blend or…
1 cup fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh blackberries
½ cup fresh blueberries
½ cup fresh raspberries
1 cup 100% apple juice

Unless it’s summer, you probably can’t afford all these fresh berries in one trip to the grocer. That’s one reason I recommend the frozen berry blend (look for it next to frozen pie crusts). The other is that frozen fruit makes a colder smoothie. Except seeds in this treat, which is more like a slushie than a smoothie. If you want more smoothie, add yur favorite flavor frozen yogurt to this one too.

Greek Salad
2 cups lettuce (anything but iceberg, please), torn in smallish pieces
1 Roma tomato, chopped
½ cup cucumber slices
1 carrot, grated or chopped
2 tablespoons sliced banana peppers or pepperoncinis
10 black or kalmata olives, halved
1 ounce crumbed feta cheese (buy in a block and crumble yur dang self)
Paper-thin sliced red onion to taste
Reduced Calorie Greek, Caesar or even Ranch Dressing (I like me some Ken’s!)

Nothin’ to this, just toss all the veggies in a bowl, top with croutons and dressing and eat. Umpa loompa! (Or whatever it is those Greeks say when they eat.)

Roasted Veggies
4 baby bella mushrooms, or a half-dozen regular button mushrooms, cut in half
1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced in ¼”-thick rounds
½ green (red, yellow or orange) bell pepper, sliced in one-inch chunks
1 cup broccoli flowettes
1 cup cauliflowerettes (why not?)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste, ½ tsp. crumbed rosemary if ya got it

Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Toss the veggies in a bowl and drizzle them with oil, stirring ‘em gently so they all get coated with oil and the garlic gets friendly with all the veggies. Salt and pepper, then spread the veggies evenly on a cookie sheet. Bake 12 minutes, remove, turn or at least stir them veggies up, even ‘em back out, then roast ‘em another 12 minutes, until they’re tender and startin’ to brown.

Black Bean Confetti
1 cup black beans, drained
1 Roma tomato, diced
½ cup canned or frozen (thawed) corn
½ avocado, scooped out of its skin and diced
1 tablespoon jalapeño
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 ounce crumbed feta cheese
Salt, pepper and cumin to taste

This is a room-temperature dish, but if that freaks ya out, then heat up the beans and corn. Add all the ingredients, stir and ay caramba! Since ya been so disciplined as to fill yur recommended veggie quota, treat yurself to some tortilla chips to give this dish a crunchy side kick.

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