Welcome to Week 5 of the Eat the Rainbow Fruit and Veggie Challenge!
This Week’s Topic is Produce Prep!
Over the past 4 weeks, we have talked about WHY fruits and vegetables are good for your overall health and why you should include more of them in your diet.
Now that you have that background info, we will move on to HOW to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet! It’s easy to say that you want to eat more produce, but it can be hard to do if you aren’t confident in the kitchen.
Don’t worry – we have you covered! This week, we are going to talk about a few easy ways to cook and prepare your favorite fruits and vegetables.
Let’s start off with the veggies:
- Eat raw
- This is obviously the quickest and easiest method to prepare your veggies. And one of the best places to start! Almost every work day, I bring carrots, tomatoes and cucumber with my lunch. I buy the “ready to eat” baby carrots, mini cucumbers and cherry tomatoes so that I don’t have to do any cutting or prepping. Just rinse and put in my lunchbox!
- Simply wash and chop your favorite vegetables, and enjoy! Raw veggies can be delicious with a dip like hummus or a homemade ranch dressing.
- Some vegetables that are tasty to eat raw are cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and celery. Be sure to always have these on your grocery list!
- Check out our recipe below for a delicious raw tomato salad!
- Roasting is a delicious, easy and low-maintenance way to prepare your favorite vegetables! This process can be broken down into a few simple steps:
- Preheat your oven to 425ºF (this temperature works well for most vegetables)
- Chop up your veggies into small to medium pieces
- Place chopped veggies onto a baking tray and lightly coat with oil (olive oil works well here) and spices/seasonings of your choice
- Make sure chopped veggies are spaced evenly apart on your baking tray
- Bake! Different veggies will take different amounts of time to cook, so keep an eye on them. You want them to be soft enough to eat and lightly browned on the edges
- Roasting works best for heartier vegetables like potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beets, brussels sprouts, etc.
- Roasted Kale (i.e. kale chips) are delicious!
- In our cooking class last week, one participant commented that they LOVED roasted asparagus. I agree!!
- Sautéing veggies is a quick way to prepare vegetables! Here’s how to do it:
- Chop your vegetables into pieces, whatever size you want
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat
- Add a little bit of oil to your skillet once hot
- Add your veggies and whatever spices or seasonings you would like
- Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender and reach your desired texture
- Sautéing works well for more delicate vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, leafy greens, mushrooms, etc.
Now let’s talk about fruit:
- Eat raw
- Eating fruit raw is always a great option! Fruit is one of America’s favorite snack foods!
- Make sure you always have your favorite fruits around for snacking on.
- Try cutting your fruit into different sizes or shapes to change it up – for example, apple slices are great for dipping in peanut butter, but apple cubes are a good size to be added into salads.
- As fruit bakes in the oven, the natural sugars start to release, resulting in a delicious soft and sweet treat! You can bake fruit on its own or add it to a baked dessert like a crisp or cobbler!
- Enjoy your baked fruit on top of yogurt, ice cream, oatmeal, with a splash of milk, or as is!
- Baking is great for fruits like peaches, apples, and berries.
- To bake fruit on its own:
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF
- Chop fruit, or leave whole, depending on what you are using
- Place fruit onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Sprinkle on some cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the fruit is warm and juicy
- This is a bit unconventional, but I promise you it is so tasty! Grilling fruit gives similar results to baking, but it can be a fun summer activity!
- Enjoy! Grilled fruit is a fun summer dish. It can be added on top of salads, eaten as a side, added on top of burgers (grilled pineapple is amazing for this – trust me!), or enjoyed as a dessert with some ice cream or yogurt!
- Grilling is best for heartier fruits that won’t fall apart on the grill like pineapple, peaches, and watermelon.
- Slice your fruit into larger pieces (so it won’t fall through the grill)
- Place on the grill using tongs
- Grill for a few minutes on each side, until warmed through and “grill marks” appear
Week 5 Challenge:
Try out one of the methods above to prepare your favorite fruit or veggie! Take a picture and let us know how it goes in our Facebook group.
Produce Highlight of the Week: Tomatoes
While technically a fruit, tomatoes are often grouped into the vegetable category. Whether you consider them a fruit or a vegetable, they are a great addition to your diet and have some amazing health benefits!
Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and C as well as antioxidants, which have anti-cancer properties. Specifically, tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, which gives tomatoes their bright red color. Lycopene is known for its benefits to heart health, cancer protection, and even protection from sunburns!
How to Use
Tomatoes are delicious eaten raw and added to sandwiches and salads. They are also great when sautéed and added to pasta dishes or bought canned and used as a component of soups, stews, and sauces!
Easiest Tomato Salad
- Tomatoes (as many as you want)
- Olive oil
- Vinegar (any type can work – we recommend red wine or balsamic)
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh herbs (optional – basil would be delicious)
- Cut tomatoes into bite-sized pieces
- Place cut tomatoes into a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste
- Add oil and vinegar to taste
- Sprinkle with fresh herbs, if using
- Gently mix
-Julie & The Interns