Friday, July 28, 2006

Eating Better, Eating For Less

At a recent Yoga class, the personal trainer --Angela Fischetti--who teaches our class urged us to eat more fruits and vegetables.

On a long-term basis, consumption of fruits and vegetables ultimately save money by perserving your financial and physical health. [better health = lower health bills]

Toward that end, I've found these frugal tips for getting more fruit into your diet, while saving money over the long and short-term.

These tips are from (PBH), Produce for Better Health Foundation. My personal favorite is the frozen grape tip, a trick we use regularly in our home.

For instance, PBH suggests:

For the Lunch Box:

* Pack dried fruit instead of candy.
* Pack some chopped veggies (like carrots or celery) and a cup of low-fat dressing for dipping; many stores now offer pre-packaged vegetables, making preparation a snap.
* Pack 100% fruit or vegetable juice in a squirt bottle instead of the usual sports drink or soda.
* Add tomatoes and lettuce to sandwiches to pack a healthy punch.
* Make it a peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwich instead of the usual PB&J.

For a Snack at Home:

* Make “Ants On A Log,” a popular combination of celery, peanut butter and raisins.

* Create a colorful fruit salad with all of their favorite fruits. Hint: let them pick out their favorite fruits and vegetables at the supermarket.

* Blend fresh, frozen or canned fruit into a cup of yogurt.

* Draw a picture. Use broccoli florets for trees, carrots, and celery for flowers, cauliflower for clouds, and a yellow squash for a sun. Or, include a message like “I ‘heart’ U” written with a banana as an “I”, a strawberry as the heart, and cantaloupe as the “U.”

* Keep fruit and vegetable treats in the fridge for a quick “grab and go.”

*Take 30 minutes and plan a weekly menu and a “healthy” shopping list.

*Allow your child to select a new fruit or vegetable at the grocery store – make them part of the process.

* Keep a bowl of fruit in the fridge ready for the grab and go crowd.

Eating At Restaurants:

* Make dessert a fruit salad instead of a brownie.

* Switch from French fries to cut fruit or fresh vegetables if available.

* Instead of soda, ask for 100 percent juice.

* Start the meal with a salad or a fruit salad, incorporating as many colors as possible – ask for extra veggies.

* Forget the supersize!

Eating Healthy While Traveling:

* If traveling by car, bring your own food in a small cooler and/or a picnic basket. Find a nice place to stop along the way for a picnic. Not only are you able to control what you eat, but you also save time and money while enjoying quality family time.

* Keep an assortment of dried fruit handy for snacking instead of candy. It will satisfy your sweet tooth while providing disease-fighting antioxidants. Better yet, mix your own trail mix with dried fruit, mixed nuts and sunflower seeds. Portion into zip lock bags or small plastic containers and keep in a basket so they are ready to go when you are.

* Bring individually packed single servings of pre-cut baby carrots and celery in re-sealable bags to snack on along the way. Use small re-sealable containers to pack dips such as ranch dressing, pimento cheese and peanut butter.

* Freeze grapes the night before so that they are nice and cool for the trip. They make great bite-size snacks.

* For convenience, pick up pre-packaged fruit slices or vegetables at your local grocery store. Some even come in their own containers with utensils and dipping sauces!

* Many fast food restaurants offer fruit and vegetable options instead of fries for guilt-free on the go. You can also usually add on a side salad or fruit cup for an additional serving of fruits or vegetables.

* As an appetizer, order a salad with low fat dressing or oil and vinegar.

* Switch to low fat milk from soda or drink tea with one sugar or sweetener.

* Remember that raisins do count as a fruit – pick some up when you stop for gas for a nutritious pick-me-up.

* Opt for tomato juice or V8 on the plane.

* Order a small size fruit smoothie at the smoothie bar.

Tips to help Americans eat more fruits and vegetables for a fraction of the cost:

* Buy canned fruits and vegetables – they only cost an average of nine cents an ounce.

* Buy frozen fruits and vegetables – they only cost an average of 20 cents an ounce.

* When you are purchasing fruits and vegetables, make sure that you consider the price per pound compared to the price per pound of other foods.

* Consider serving size as an indicator of price – often times serving sizes are smaller than people assume and you actually get more servings for less money with fruits and vegetables.

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