EtR PROGRAM UPDATES:
- If you missed it, check out the recording of my most recent webinar “Fighting Cancer With Your Fork!”
Welcome to Week 9 of the Eat the Rainbow Fruit and Veggie Challenge!
THIS WEEK’S TOPIC IS PRODUCE PREP!
Over the past 8 weeks, we have talked about WHY fruits and vegetables are good for your overall health and busted some of the biggest produce myths.
Now that you have that background info, we will move on to HOW to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet! It’s easy to say that you want to eat more produce, but it can be hard to do if you aren’t confident in the kitchen.
Don’t worry – we have you covered! This week, we are going to talk about a few easy ways to cook and prepare your favorite fruits and vegetables.
Let’s start off with the veggies:
- Eat raw
- This is obviously the quickest and easiest method to prepare your veggies. And one of the best places to start!
- Simply wash and chop your favorite vegetables, and enjoy! Raw veggies can be delicious with a dip like hummus or a homemade ranch dressing.
- Some vegetables that are tasty to eat raw are cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, sweet peppers, and celery. Be sure to always have these on your grocery list!
- Roasting is a delicious, easy and low-maintenance way to prepare your favorite vegetables! This process can be broken down into a few simple steps:
- Preheat your oven to 425ºF (this temperature works well for most vegetables)
- Chop up your veggies into small to medium pieces
- Place chopped veggies onto a baking tray and lightly coat with oil (olive oil works well here) and spices/seasonings of your choice
- Make sure chopped veggies are spaced evenly apart on your baking tray
- Bake! Different veggies will take different amounts of time to cook, so keep an eye on them. You want them to be soft enough to eat and lightly browned on the edges
- Roasting works best for heartier vegetables like potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beets, brussels sprouts, etc.
- Roasted Kale (i.e. kale chips) are delicious!
- In one of my cooking classes, one participant commented that they LOVED roasted asparagus. I agree!!
- Sautéing veggies is a quick way to prepare vegetables! Here’s how to do it:
- Chop your vegetables into pieces, whatever size you want
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat
- Add a little bit of oil to your skillet once hot
- Add your veggies and whatever spices or seasonings you would like
- Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender and reach your desired texture
- Sautéing works well for more delicate vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, leafy greens, mushrooms, etc.
- Slow cookers are one of my favorite kitchen tools in the winter. There’s nothing quite as comforting as a hot stew or casserole that’s been cooking all day. Hard winter vegetables like potatoes, carrots, squash are great in the slow cooker because the liquid and long cook time help to soften them up and give them time to absorb any flavors you mix with them. Check out the recipe below for a great lentil stew!
Now let’s talk about fruit:
- Eat raw
- Eating fruit raw is always a great option! Fruit is one of America’s favorite snack foods!
- Make sure you always have your favorite fruits around for snacking on.
- Try cutting your fruit into different sizes or shapes to change it up – for example, apple slices are great for dipping in peanut butter, but apple cubes are a good size to be added into salads.
- As fruit bakes in the oven, the natural sugars start to release, resulting in a delicious soft and sweet treat! You can bake fruit on its own or add it to a baked dessert like a crisp or cobbler!
- Enjoy your baked fruit on top of yogurt, ice cream, oatmeal, with a splash of milk, or as is!
- Baking is great for fruits like peaches, apples, and berries.
- To bake fruit on its own:
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF
- Chop fruit, or leave whole, depending on what you are using
- Place fruit onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Sprinkle on some cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the fruit is warm and juicy
Try out one of the methods above to prepare your favorite fruit or veggie! Take a picture and let us know how it goes on our Facebook page!
PRODUCE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK: LENTILS
With protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, lentils are the whole package. These little legumes have a lot to offer.
Lentils are actually seeds that come in a variety of types. The three major varieties found here in the US are brown, french green (puy), and red lentils. Lentils are similar to beans in that they both have soluble and insoluble fiber with plenty of protein. One benefit of lentils, though, is that they don’t need to be soaked ahead of time. This makes them a quick, easy, and cheap way to add nutrition and bulk to recipes.
CrockPot Lentil Stew
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup brown or green lentils
- 1 small onion (chopped)
- 2 large carrots (peeled and sliced)
- 2 large celery stalks (sliced)
- 1 cup frozen green beans
- 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Avocado (optional topping)
- Add all of the ingredients to a crockpot and stir to combine
- Put the lid on the crockpot and cook for 4 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.
Hope you enjoy!
-Julie & The Interns