Have you ever done a “Strive for Five”challenge? We have one going on at the office now and I was sure I would have no trouble exceeding the recommended 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day. Well, it turns out I fell short of that goal on almost half of the days in the first week and my overachiever self was not going to stand for that. I looked a bit closer at what, and how, I was eating during the day and then I went to confession with myself. I was missing opportunities to incorporate more fruits and veggies at every single meal and my snacking habits were (ahem) in need of some adjustment.
My snacking problem can be summed up in one word: CARBS. When I get the munchies sitting at my desk during the week, I’m limited to what I’ve packed that morning to bring to the office. Or, I will do the walk of shame across the building lobby to the vending machine with my $1.25 in hand and procure a Snickers bar. Clearly NOT a vegetable, the esteemed Snickers bar is a huge weakness of mine but – in my defense – they do have a good amount of protein. But I digress. So, I set out to make fruits and veggies at least one, but possibly two, snacks each day.
Convenience is truly the key to snacking your way to five servings of fruits and veggies every day. Since I didn’t regularly buy or keep fruits and veggies in single serving portable portions, I didn’t have these healthy choices readily available when I went looking for something to satisfy my snacking needs. Well, THAT has changed thanks to these three easy strategies that I’m now using in my house!
Weekly Snack Packing Party
At least once a week, I have a snack packing party. I get out a few 8 ounce plastic containers and snack-sized zipper plastic bags,
and I wash and package a few days of fresh fruits and veggies. Strawberries get their green hats trimmed off, grapes are taken off of their stems, and watermelon is chopped into bite size pieces. Then they get stacked in the fridge. Not only do I grab them in the morning on my way out the door, my daughter eats them with her breakfast because they are already washed and ready to go. She will also help me pack the bags sometimes which helps remind her that these snacks are available during the week when she is contemplating another rendezvous with the bag of goldfish crackers in the pantry.
Dried is Better than None
I also purchased a couple different kinds of dried and freeze-dried fruit. Some of it has sugar added so watch the labels and make a smart choice for you. Portion it out into containers or snack size zipper plastic bags and stick them in a basket in your pantry. My regular assortment of dried fruit includes pineapple, mango, and raisins. Freeze dried apples and strawberries are pretty easy to find in stores, and they are very tasty too! Once you bag this stuff up, it will keep for weeks so they are a very handy way to fill in the gaps between the fresh Snack Packing Parties without stopping to pack up more bags.
Drinking Counts Too!
I’ve also tried a few fruit and vegetable juice combinations. Now, the “fresh juice bar” concept is all the rage in South Florida now and there are plenty of places where you can go have your favorite combination of greens, veggies and whatever else made for you while you wait. While this method is undeniably fresh and delicious, it also takes time and a handsome sum of money. The produce section at my regular grocery store has a wide assortment of bottled smoothies to meet every need; select from those that are all fruit, all veggie, high protein and even non-dairy. Depending on the mixture, you can easily end up with three or four servings in one 16 oz. bottle! Wait until they are on sale and try a few different ones to see what you like. My favorite – hands down – is Naked’s Berry Veggie smoothie. This mixture actually has chickpeas in it which naturally provides fiber and protein too. I will drink one of these in place of lunch in a real jam, and it keeps me full for quite a while.
I hope you find one or even all of these strategies helpful for you and your family as you Strive for 5 🙂