Food: June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month | PostIndependent.com

Food: June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

Angela Shelf Medearis
KITCHEN DIVA

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. It's a great time to include more fresh vegetables and fruits in our diets. The latest Dietary Guidelines recommend that we all increase our vegetable and fruit intake. Fruits and vegetables provide a variety of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and fiber, and they lower your risk of developing certain chronic diseases. They also are naturally low in calories, fat and sodium, which can help you maintain a healthy weight.

How many fruits and vegetables should you eat each day? The USDA's MyPlate recommendations are based on your calorie needs for your age, gender and activity level. For a 2,000 calorie diet, you should eat 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day. To learn what your individual needs are, use the customized Daily Food Plan on the MyPlate website.

What counts as a cup of fruit or vegetables? In general, 1 cup of fruit or 100 percent fruit juice, or 1/2 cup of dried fruit counts as 1 cup from the fruit group; and 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy greens can be considered 1 cup from the vegetable group.

Before eating fresh fruits and vegetables, it is important to remember some basic food safety rules.

Avoid bruised or damaged produce and keep it separate from raw meat, poultry and seafood.

Perishable fresh produce, such as lettuce, herbs and mushrooms, and all cut or peeled produce should be stored in the refrigerator at 40 F or below.

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Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fruits and vegetables.

Produce should be washed under running water (do not use soap) before eating, cutting or cooking. Then, cut away any damaged or bruised areas.

Always wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counters between prep of raw meat, poultry or seafood and produce.

My recipe for Summer Fruit, Vegetable and Quinoa Salad is a meal in a bowl. It's perfect for lunch or dinner on a hot summer day, and it will keep for two to three days in the refrigerator.

(Additional information provided by Christeena Haynes, MS, RD, LD, former Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Dallas County, University of Missouri Extension.)

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children's author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is "The Kitchen Diva's Diabetic Cookbook." Her website is http://www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.

SUMMER FRUIT, VEGETABLE AND QUINOA SALAD

Quinoa takes this recipe from a delicious salad to a complete meal. The grain has been called a superfood because its protein content is very high for a cereal/pseudo-cereal. It’s also a rich source of B vitamins, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B-6 and folate, and the dietary minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. It is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.

INGREDIENTS:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons apple cider or sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 (6-ounce) packages baby kale or baby spinach

1 medium summer squash or zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds

1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa (or a cooked quinoa and brown rice)

1/2 cup fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved

2 plums or peaches (or combination of both), pitted and sliced into segments

2/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion, white and green parts, roots removed and discarded

2 ounces goat cheese or feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine olive oil, vinegar, honey or syrup, mustard, pepper, salt and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Place the kale or spinach and the squash or zucchini on a platter or in a large, shallow bowl. Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil mixture over the vegetables, sprinkle and toss to coat.

2. Stir the quinoa blend or the cooked quinoa or the brown rice, cherries, plums and/or peaches, parsley and green onions into remaining oil mixture in the bowl. Top the kale or spinach mixture with the quinoa mixture and sprinkle with the cheese.

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