By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau
No. You don’t need to add to your New Year’s resolution list. You do need to grab hold of a few simple strategies to get you back to eating healthy now that the holidays are over.
First, plan. Create a meal plan for the week that focuses on fruits and vegetables, prepared in different ways. In other words, make the most out of the produce that you buy. Such variety will make if fun and since you’re focused on fruits and vegetables you’ll immediately be eating healthier.
Second, buy fruits and vegetables in season. Since its winter in Arizona let’s look at what’s currently available at your local farmers’ market or at your local grocery store.
Winter is citrus season in Arizona. Lemons, oranges and grapefruit overfill the produce bins. Enthusiastic shoppers keep an eye out for the more unusual citrus varieties such as clementines, tangelos, blood oranges and Meyer lemons.
For vegetables you’ll find an abundance of lettuces, leafy greens and winter herbs. Leeks make their first appearance, along with cabbages, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Root veggies such as beets, parsnips, turnips and rutabagas increase in sweetness as winter turns colder.
A list of winter fruits and vegetables available in Arizona follows.
·Bok choy and other Asian greens
·Cabbage (green, red and Asian varieties)
·Grapefruit (all varieties)
·Green onions (bunching onions and I'itoi)
·Greens (collards, dandelion, escarole, mustard, rapini, Swiss chard)
·Kale (Tuscan and Russian)
·Lettuce (baby mix and other varieties)
If you’re curious about Arizona’s farmers and ranchers and want to connect with them to obtain fruits and vegetables from the list above, go to www.fillyourplate.org. Remember too, your local grocery’s produce manager can give you insights into specific fruits and vegetables you may be looking for.
And if you have questions for a farmer, www.fillyourplate.org recently launched “Chat with a Farmer” (the tab is in the upper left section of the web site). This online forum allows you to post your most pressing fruit and vegetable question and Arizona producers will respond to your question.
Our health experts tell us the more the rainbow of colors on your dinner plate, the healthier your diet will be in the New Year.
Third, while fresh is always best, if you purchase canned fruits and vegetables, choose vegetables that have no added salt and fruit that is canned in 100% fruit juice with no added sugar.
Frozen is even better. Most frozen vegetables are flash frozen right from the field and can retain more nutrients.
Finally, have fun with your fruit and vegetable preparations in the kitchen. Discover the variety of recipes available for fruits and vegetables on www.fuitsandveggiesmatter.gov. You’ll find a variety of recipes on www.fillyourplate.org too. The recipes there are actually from Arizona farmers that grow fruits and vegetables and much more!