Jul 09, 2024

WINKEL: Healthy habits start now

Posted Jul 09, 2024 8:15 PM

written by: Karissa Winkel - Cottonwood Extension District
written by: Karissa Winkel - Cottonwood Extension District

An abundance of produce makes summer the perfect time to eat leafy greens and snack on fruit throughout the day. Whether you pick it straight from the garden or shop sales at the farmer’s market, fresh fruits and vegetables are widely available this time of year.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that only 10% of Americans meet the daily general recommendation of five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. However, with a surplus of options available, now is the perfect time to create the habit of eating fruits and vegetables. Here are a few tips to incorporate more produce in your diet no matter the season.

Ashley Svaty, K-State Extension Specialist, explains that the key is to make fruits and vegetables convenient and tasty. “One habit I like to share is to keep a bowl of fresh fruit out so you can see it when you walk into the kitchen. If you're hungry for a snack, you're likely to grab that instead of looking in the cabinet for something less nutritious.”

Tasty dips can also add flavor to fruits and vegetables. Pairing produce with hummus or yogurt can encourage children and adults to fill up on whole foods. For example, strawberries and Greek yogurt alongside a sandwich makes for a nutritious, quick meal. Also, broccoli paired with hummus can create a balanced, satisfying snack.

Another way to encourage fruits and vegetables is to make it fun! Svaty recommends adding fruit to a skewer or grilling veggie kabobs. “Kids and adults will have more fun eating fruit on a skewer compared to the same fruit or vegetable on a plate,” Svaty shares.

Eating five servings of fruit and vegetables per day may seem overwhelming, and it is difficult to reach unless you make a conscious effort. So, hiding produce in smoothies and sauces is another option to increase intake. Add frozen fruit and sneak greens in a smoothie for a refreshing breakfast. Also, finely chopped vegetables such as onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper, or zucchini can be sautéed, and disguised in pasta sauce.

Produce is packed with micronutrients and fiber that support a healthy body and brain. Eating the recommended serving of fruits and vegetables can help you lose weight, fight inflammation, lower cholesterol, and decrease blood pressure.

Now is the time to experiment and incorporate produce daily. Use this summer to make the healthy choice a habit, no matter the season.

Karissa Winkel is the Family and Community Wellness Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. You may reach her at: 620-793-1910 or [email protected]. K-State Research & Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.