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Choose to Treat Yourself Right

How can you make sure you are getting a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet?

Nashville, Ark. – Take a look the next time you go to the grocery store at all the beautiful fruits and vegetables available during the fall months. Fall pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash are just a few favorites that are available this time of the year. It is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables for an overall healthy diet.

Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients, not necessarily found in other foods, for a healthy body. Vitamins A and C are important for proper growth and development. These vitamins help us see better and have pretty skin. People who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a lower risk of some diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. A diet high in fruits and vegetables may decrease bone loss and reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. Eating foods such as fruits and vegetables that are low in calories instead of other higher-calorie foods can lower total calorie intake.

Only one in four adults eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables every day. What is worse, only one in five children eat the recommended amounts each day. How can you make sure you are getting enough of these high nutrient foods? Everyone over the age of two, needs anywhere from 2-4 servings of fruit and 4 to 5 servings of vegetables each day. Sounds like a lot?

A serving of fruit or vegetable is measured in ½ cup measures. This means, you should plan to eat 1 to 1 ½ cups of fruit and 2 to 2 ½ cups of vegetables. A medium piece of fruit will count as one serving. Choose from fresh, frozen or canned varieties. When fruits and vegetables are at their peak, choose the fresh varieties for the best flavor. When they are out of season, choose frozen or canned. You will still benefit from the nutrients they provide.

It's easy to add more fruits and vegetables into your day. Here’s how:

  • Add fruit to your cereal in the morning during breakfast.
  • Snack on fruit during the day. Grab an apple, banana or pack some grapes to put in your backpack or purse.
  • Eat a big salad for lunch. Be sure to add lots of veggies and go easy on the salad dressing, cheese and other high calorie add-ons.
  • Look at your plate before you begin eating. Is half of what’s on your plate, fruit and/or vegetable? If not, strive to make half your plate fruit and vegetables.
  • Snack on raw veggies with a healthy low-fat or fat-free dip as an afternoon snack.
  • Have at least two vegetables with dinner.
  • Eat fruit for dessert!

When storing fruits and vegetables, keep these points in mind:

  • Potatoes should be stored in a well-ventilated, dark, cool and slightly humid location. They will keep for several weeks.
  • Apples can be stored on the counter, to grab for a quick snack. However, you can also store them in the refrigerator for up to six weeks.
  • Buy tomatoes that aren’t as ripe as you would like? Store them at room temperature on the counter for a couple of days to ripen and for the best flavor, then transfer to the refrigerator for longer storage.
  • Grapes will last in the refrigerator for about one week. You can freeze them and enjoy them as a treat.
  • Okra should be tightly covered and will last in the refrigerator for up to three days.

For a complete list of storage tips and length of storage times on most foods, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

Start adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet! Many can be incorporated into recipes you already enjoy. Here is a “sneaky” way to add vegetables to a family favorite. I promise your family will not taste the difference! This recipe was featured at a recent Diabetes Workshop. Everyone loved it and was amazed at the generous servings.

One Pot Spaghetti

½ pound lean ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, washed and grated

3 ½ cups water

1 can tomato sauce (15oz.)

2 teaspoons oregano

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ pound uncooked spaghetti, broken into pieces

            In a large pot over medium heat, brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic. Drain off and discard fat. Stir in the rest of the ingredients except for the spaghetti. Bring to a boil. Add the spaghetti and turn the heat to low. Cover and cook until the pasta is tender (Stir often to prevent sticking). Serve.

Yield: 6 servings (1 ½ cups each)

Nutrition Information per serving: Calories 300, Protein 18g, Carbohydrates 39g, Fat 7g, Sodium 488mg, Fiber 3g, Cholesterol 38g

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.