Fruits and Veggies: meeting your daily quota

Aaaaand it’s Monday. Hello, all, and happy MLK Day to you. Enjoy yourselves this weekend? (For you New Englanders reading, I’ll bet you’re still basking in the glow of last night’s beatdown against the Colts…)

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What’s the limit for putting the ACTUAL amount of candles on your birthday cake? 25 nearly burnt the joint down.

Although I spent most of Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday morning teetering on the precipice of a stomach bug, I never actually came down with anything, and managed to enjoy Rich’s birthday weekend. I can’t say the same for my poor family, though…whatever is going around hit them HARD.

As I sit sipping on a berry-banana-kale smoothie after a nice, wake-me-up 20-minute jaunt on the elliptical, I thought I’d wax on a bit about fruits and veggies this gloriously icy Monday morning (sarcasm).

Whilst derping from blog to blog in a rare free moment last week (not whining, it just was what it was), I came across a sweet “fruits and veggies” requirement calculator. The amount of fruits and vegetables an individual needs per day obviously varies, depending on a person’s height, weight, age, and exercise regiment. Based on my own age, gender, and activity level (about 30-60 minutes a day), I need 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of veggies on a daily basis, a total which I actually do hit from Monday-Friday.

The coolest element of the website I came across (thekitchn.com) was a depiction of different ways an individual can meet his/her personal quota. I thought I’d replicate that to see how I usually come by my 5 cups of fruits and veggies a day.

Breakfast:

Lately, I’ve been starting my day with a slice of toasted cinnamon raisin Ezekiel Bread smeared with natural TJ’s crunchy salted PB and 1/2 a banana. The combo of carbs, healthy fats, and natural sugars powers me through my morning routine.

Feel like a child when I eat this...don't care.

Feel like a child when I eat this…but it’s delicious, and about all I can handle at 7 am.

Fruits/veggies: 1/2 serving (1/2 cup)

Morning snack/Breakfast #2:

I usually make a green smoothie to take with me to class, made with 1 frozen banana, 2 cups spinach or kale, a teaspoon of chia seeds, and some unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I eat like an infant: I can barely make it 2 hours sometimes without my head spinning.

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Fruits/veggies: 1 serving fruit (1 cup); 1 serving veggies (2 cups of leafy greens = 1 serving veggies).

By lunch, I’ve already packed in 1.5 servings of fruit (of my 2 for the day), and 1 of my three servings of veggies.

Lunch:

For lunch, I usually make a huge Greek salad at my school’s dining hall. I go for dark, leafy greens (love that purple!) and usually skip the romaine– it just doesn’t have enough “bang” for my nutritional buck. I pile on mushrooms, sliced black olives, cucumbers, roasted Greek veggies marinated in olive oil, and hot peppers. If the main course has sautéed garden veggies (like zucchini or yellow squash), I’ll even pile about a half cup of those onto my other greens. For carbs and healthy fats, I choose a slice or two of homemade bread and drizzle that with olive oil, and top with a little feta or a scoop of hummus, depending on my mood (sometimes, I want both!). I always use straight up balsamic vinegar as my dressing.

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I’ll have veggies with a side of veggies, please.

 

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I added a 1/4 cup or so of a bulgar salad to this guy.

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A mint, feta and olive combo pushed this salad into a new realm of delicious.

 

Fruits/veggies: I’ll low-ball the amount of lettuce at 1/2 serving (1 cup), and add another cup for all of the added veggies (1 serving). That’s a total of 1.5 servings at lunch (even though it’s probably a little more than that).

Afternoon snack: Apple (1 serving) before working out for a burst of natural energy.

In the summer, I'm a big fan of snacking on celery or banana and pb after a workout.

In the summer, I’m a big fan of snacking on celery or banana and pb after a workout.

[Afternoon snack #2 is usually post-workout, consisting of a homemade granola bar, yogurt, etc., and usually not fruit-based.]

Dinner: No matter what dinner is, half of my plate is usually a veggie (or two). I’m NOT a salad fan for dinner, so it’s usually an organic steamed bag of broccoli, peas, or squash. I often sauté red peppers, roast potatoes, or eat an entire sweet potato (speaking of, baked sweet potato sounds amazing right now).

Greek egg scramble: lots of spinach and red pepper with a little feta thrown into the mix.

Greek egg scramble: lots of spinach and red pepper with a little feta thrown into the mix.

Roasted spaghetti squash on a bed of baby spinach. Fave right now.

Roasted spaghetti squash on a bed of baby spinach. Fave right now.

Sautéed red pepper and onion pizza with fresh globs of mozzarella and baked sweet potato fries on the side. This probably happens once a week in the winter, and is a nice alternative to ordering pizza out (you can usually get at least four pizzas out of your materials).

Sautéed red pepper and onion pizza with fresh globs of mozzarella and baked sweet potato fries on the side. This probably happens once a week in the winter, and is a nice alternative to ordering pizza out (you can usually get at least four pizzas out of your materials).

Fruits/veggies: at LEAST 1 serving, usually 1.5 (about a cup-cup and a half).

TOTAL FOR THE DAY:

Fruit: 2.5 cups

Veggies: 4 cups

I’m definitely atypical in that I’m really not a huge fruit person. I go for fruit far more in the summer, when berries are fresh. I’m also a big fan of eating seasonally [and locally], so while I’m prone to snag a locally-picked and stored apple from the dining hall, I’m probably going to pass on the watermelon in January. I love the idea of following our bodies’ seasonal cravings: fresh, light foods in the summer, and roasted, easily “preserved” (not laden with preservatives) foods like potatoes and onions in the dead of winter.

So go ahead and calculate your own needs (calculator above)! Do you hit your quota? Any tips for sneaking fruits and veggies into your day?

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