Healthy Fruits and Vegetables

Eat Smart with Fruits and Vegetables

Eating fruits and vegetables is an easy and delicious way to improve your health. To reduce your risk of cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends five or more servings of fruits and vegetables—along with other foods from plant sources, such as breads, cereals, grains, pasta, and rice—each day. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is the best way to get the beneficial vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals in food that help prevent disease, give you energy, and help you feel great. Make your favorite fruits and vegetables more than a garnish—make them the center of a great meal!

Hints for Eating Smart with Fruits and Vegetables

  • Add up your servings each day. A serving is considered one medium-sized piece of fruit; 1/4 cup dried fruit; 6 oz of 100% fruit or vegetable juice; or 1 cup of raw vegetables.
  • Fruits packed in their own juice, frozen fruits and vegetables, and low-sodium canned vegetables provide the same healthful benefits as fresh produce.
  • Try dried fruits as a tasty and energizing snack you can take anywhere.
  • Try dipping fresh fruit in a low-fat yogurt and pudding dip.
  • Add zip to fresh vegetables by dipping in low-fat sour cream mixed with a dry mix salad dressing.

Click on the fruit below for tips on picking, storing, and using fresh fruits and vegetables.

                    

Apples

    • Select apples that have a good color; a fresh, bright appearance; and that are firm to the touch.
    • Store apples in the refrigerator.
    • Try adding chopped apples to salads; have dried apples for an on-the-go snack; sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for dessert.

Apricots

  • Choose golden yellow apricots that are plump and fairly firm.  Look for dried apricots, as well. 
  • Store fresh apricots in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
  • Enjoy raw apricots as a snack; blend with yogurt and other fruits for a smoothie; chop dried apricots and add to you cereal.

Artichokes

    • Choose compact, heavy, and plump artichokes.  They should be green, but will have some color variations in the fall and winter.
    • Sprinkle with water and refrigerate in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper.  They will keep up to a week.
    • Steam, boil, or microwave, and dip in lemon juice or yogurt.  Add artichoke hearts to your favorite pasta or stew.

Asparagus

    • Choose bright green stalks that are straight with closed, compact tips, with only an inch or so of the tough, woody base.  Thinner spears are usually more tender.
    • Store asparagus in the coldest part of the refrigerator, with the base wrapped in a damp paper towel.
    • Steam, boil, microwave, or stir fry, and add to pizza, omelets, or casseroles.

Avocado

    • A ripe avocado will yield to gentle pressure in the palm of your hand.  Depending on the variety, avocados will be light to dark green and even black. 
    • Store unripened avocados at room temperature in a paper bag.  They will keep for two to five days.
    • Peel, slice, sprinkle with lemon juice, and serve avocados for a tasty snack.  In addition to being the main ingredient in guacamole, this versatile fruit can be used in salads, soups, dips, and in a variety of dishes.

Bananas

    • Choose bananas that are fully yellow or with slight brown spots.  Ripen green bananas in a brown paper bag with an apple or tomato.
    • Store at room temperature, preferably on a banana hanger or hook.
    • Slice bananas and add to cereal or yogurt; cook with a little bit of brown sugar for dessert; add to fresh fruit salad.

Bell Pepper

    • Choose firm, glossy peppers with unwrinkled skins and green stems.
    • Refrigerate peppers unwashed in a plastic bag.
    • Add red, green, or yellow peppers to salads, stir fry, or stuff with cooked rice and bake for a healthy main course.

Broccoli

    • Choose broccoli with green or purplish-green heads, never yellow.
    • Refrigerate fresh broccoli unwashed in a plastic bag in the crisper.  It should last up to 16 days.
    • Use fresh with low-fat dips; stir fry and toss with pasta; or serve with lemon or reduced-fat cheese sauce.

Brussels Sprouts

    • Shop for firm, compact green sprouts.
    • Store fresh Brussels sprouts in the refrigerator.
    • Brussels sprouts can be steamed, simmered in water, or sautéed until tender.  Serve with lemon.

Cabbage

    • Choose a heavy compact head that has no discoloration.
    • Store cabbage in the crisper for one to two weeks.
    • Use in cole slaw or stir fry; red cabbage jazzes up fresh salads.

Cantaloupe

    • Look for cantaloupe that has a sweet aroma and that has a stem end that is slightly soft.  Do not choose those that still have part of the stem still attached.
    • Let stand at room temperature for two to three days, then refrigerate in a tightly sealed plastic bag (the gas given off by ripening melons will spoil other produce).
    • Serve fresh wedges for breakfast; stuff with chicken salad for lunch; or top with low-fat ice cream for a healthy dessert.

Carrots

    • Look for firm carrots that are bright orange.  When selecting a bag of baby carrots, check the “sell by” date on the package.  If carrots become wilted, place in cold water for a few minutes.
    • Store washed carrots in a plastic bag in the crisper.  They should keep for several weeks.
    • Enjoy fresh with a low-fat salad dressing dip; shred and add to casseroles, meatloaf, or zucchini bread; stir fry with your other favorite vegetables.

Cauliflower

    • Choose a heavy, firm cauliflower that is white with little discoloration.
    • Keep cauliflower dry and refrigerate in a plastic bag.  Before using fresh cauliflower, place head down in cold water with a teaspoon each of vinegar and salt to crisp it and draw out any insects.
    • Serve raw with dip or in a salad; stir fry; or top with your favorite low-fat sauce.

Grapefruit

    • Shop for grapefruit that feels heavy for its size, and is firm and smooth textured.  Avoid bruised fruit.
    • Grapefruit will keep for a few days at room temperature.  For longer storage, refrigerate in a plastic bag or in the crisper.
    • Serve fresh in meals or snacks; combine different color grapefruit slices with leafy greens in a festive salad.

Grapes

    • Choose grapes that are plump, smooth, and even-colored.
    • Store unwashed in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.
    • Slice and add to chicken salad; pop into the freezer for a frozen treat; place on a toothpick with a piece of string cheese and a strawberry slice for a fruit kabob.

Kiwifruit

    • Look for plump kiwis that are slightly soft to the touch.
    • Ripen kiwis at room temperature for 3 to 5 days.  They are ready to eat when they are soft and have a pleasant aroma.  Ripe kiwis can be stored in the refrigerator.
    • Cut in half and eat with a spoon; slice them for desserts or appetizers; add to pancake or waffle batter.

Lettuce

    • Choose the more nutritious darker green varieties of lettuce.
    • Store lettuce in a plastic bag in the crisper bin of your refrigerator.
    • Mix several types of green leafy lettuce for a delicious salad; add to sandwiches; serve as a base for chicken salad or fresh fruit.

Oranges

    • Look for oranges that have a fresh appearance and feel heavy for their size.
    • Oranges will keep at room temperature for a few days.  For best results, store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or in the crisper.
    • Eat as a snack; toss in salads; add to poultry-based dishes.  Valencia oranges make especially good juice!

Papaya

    • Look for ripe papayas that are yellow-orange in color.  If no ripe papayas are available, a mostly green papaya will ripen in 5 to 7 days at room temperature.  Half green, half yellow fruit will ripen in 2 to 4 days.
    • Ripe papayas will keep in the refrigerator for a week.
    • Enjoy as a snack; add to fruit salads; mix with other fruits and jalapeno peppers for a delicious fruit salsa.

Peaches

    • Select unripened peaches that are yellow or cream colored, and that have a mild aroma.  Ripen in a brown paper bag at room temperature.
    • Peaches are best when eaten as soon as they are ripe, but can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days.
    • Add to cereal or yogurt; blend with yogurt for a smoothie; use as a topping for pancakes or waffles.

Pears

    • To select pears, gently squeeze at the skinniest end; it will be slightly soft on a ripe pear.  To ripen, place in a brown paper bag at room temperature.
    • Store ripe pears unwashed in the refrigerator.  Handle gently to avoid bruising. 
    • Serve in salads, add to gelatin; slice and dip in chocolate sauce for an elegant dessert.

Pineapple

    • Look for deep green leaves and a fresh, bright appearance.  The color of the skin does not indicate taste, but avoid fruit with obvious bruising or soft spots.
    • Refrigerate fresh pineapple.
    • Serve fresh in salads, use on a fruit kabob with strawberries and grapes; slice pineapple lengthwise, remove the fruit, chop, and add back to the shell with other mixed fruit for a creative presentation.

Potatoes

    • Choose fairly clean potatoes that are firm and smooth with shallow eyes, and avoid those with wrinkles, wilted skins or soft, dark areas. 
    • Store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place; do not refrigerate.  Potatoes can also be stored for 1 to 2 months in a burlap or brown paper bag with an apple to prevent them from sprouting.
    • Top baked potatoes with steamed vegetables, salsa or chili; add garlic or other favorite herbs and spices to mashed potatoes; steam red potatoes and top with fresh herbs.

Spinach

    • Select spinach with fresh, crisp leaves.
    • Store washed spinach in the refrigerator.  When cleaning fresh spinach, ass a little salt to your water to help get rid of soil that has a tendency to stick in the leaves.
    • Combine raw spinach, red onions, mushrooms and raisins for a delicious salad; slightly steam for an excellent side dish.

Strawberries

    • Select fully colored berries that are firm, plump, have a sweet aroma and still have the stem attached.  A stained strawberry container may mean the berries inside are soft. 
    • Eat fresh berries within a few days of purchase.  Do no wash or remove stems until ready to use.
    • Slice and add to cereal; blend with yogurt for smoothies; use on top of waffles, pancakes, reduced-fat ice cream, pies and cakes.

Sweet Potatoes

    • Look for sweet potatoes that are thick and that taper towards the ends.
    • Store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place; do not refrigerate.
    • Use in soufflés and casseroles; breads, biscuits, and muffins; and in desserts such as pies, cakes, and cookies.

Tomatoes

    • Ripe tomatoes are completely red or reddish-orange.  They have a sweet aroma and yield slightly to gentle palm pressure.
    • Most supermarket tomatoes are not fully ripe.  Set in a bowl or ventilated paper bag and store at room temperature to ripen.  To not refrigerate.
    • Add to salads and main dishes; use as a base for sauces and soups; try stuffing a large tomato with cooked corkscrew pasta and vegetables and baking in a muffin tin. 

Watermelon

    • Look for watermelon that is symmetrical and feels heavy for its size.  Ripe watermelon will have a healthy sheen and buttery yellow underside.
    • Store uncut watermelon at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.  Cut watermelon should be loosely wrapped and refrigerated.
    • Use in fresh fruit salads; scoop out fruit and cut rind like a basket for an even prettier salad.

Winter Squash

    • Acorn squash (dark green with yellow-orange undercolor) and butternut squash (buff to light tan) should have a smooth hard rind.  Lightweight squash may be dry or stringy.
    • Winter squash can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 months.
    • Winter squash can be baked or steamed, or added to soups, casseroles, and other dishes. 

 

This information is brought to you by the American Cancer Society.

Healthy Recipes

Looking for a fun, easy-to-make snack?

The Wellness Center has you covered. Click on the links below to watch and learn. Maggie and Rachel teach us to make:

Healthy Smoothies
Pizza Roll-Ups

Good-For-You Salsa