Did you know that 2021 was designated the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV) by the UN General Assembly? I was proud to represent North America on behalf of the Produce For Better Health Foundation (PBH), alongside other global leaders, during the launch event on December 15th with the goal of elevating the critical role of fruits and vegetables in both human and planetary health.
As a working mom I get it – life can be crazy. The good news is eating more fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to be hard. And, I’m not just talking about salads. I’m talking ALL forms of these fabulous and flavorful foods—think zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, dried fruits, fruit and salsa cups, 100% fruit juice…the list goes on. Fruits and vegetables also don’t have to be set aside just for dinner, side dishes or desserts. They can be consumed all day long – and even at breakfast! Yet, the statistics remain alarming – nine out of 10 Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.
In my roles as the President and CEO of PBH – an organization whose purpose is to increase Americans’ daily fruit and vegetable consumption for better health and happiness – and CMO – Chief Mom Officer of my household, I am on a mission to help Americans think outside the box and realize how easy (and delicious!) fruits and vegetables can be.
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That’s where PBH’s Have A Plant® Movement comes in, inspiring Americans with fun and easy ways to connect eating fruits and vegetables with feeling happier and healthier. A recent study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition confirms that eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day was also found to extend both life expectancy and quality – and who doesn’t want that?
Bottom line: Fruits and vegetables have unique, synergistic health-promoting properties that are key to supporting happier, healthier lives. And they can be totally fun!
Here are my top three tips for how you can Have A Plant® this year and beyond:
1. Start Your Day With Fruits & Veggies
Start your day by incorporating more fruits and veggies at breakfast. Pair produce with nutrient rich proteins. Add fresh fruit to cereal or canned peaches to Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. Incorporate fresh, frozen or canned veggies into omelets and add a dash of cheese! And voila! Breakfast is served.
2. Put Fruits & Veggies First
Keep fresh fruit in a bowl on the kitchen counter for choosing throughout the day. Serve a charcuterie board of fruits and veggies before dinner to fill up on produce first. Make it fun. Make it easy.
3. Jazz Up Everyday Favorites
Spice up go-to dishes in fun ways. Serve baked potatoes with broccoli and low-fat cheddar cheese; bulk up burgers with veggie puree or chopped mushrooms; add dark leafy greens or berries to smoothies; boost pancake mix with grated zucchini; or enjoy dates stuffed with almond butter or grilled peaches on ice cream for dessert.
Let’s celebrate the International Year Of Fruits And Veggies by eating more of them – all day, every day. Turn resolutions into habits and take 2021 by the horns. And here’s a plan: Have A Plant®!
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 DGAC. 2015. Scientific report of the 2015 Dietary Gudelines Advisory Committee: Advisory report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the secretary of agriculture. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service.
 USDA. 2018a. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Accessed May 4, 2018. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015