Build New, Healthy Habits During National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month
By now, we all know that fruit and vegetables are the easiest way to eat healthily. But, between our hectic schedules and non-stop chores, eating the "rainbow" isn't always an option. The good news? We still have a shot at (nutritional) redemption as June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month(1). This month-long celebration is the perfect chance to make healthy eating a reality and not just a goal. So, if you want to get started on a healthier path, here are seven easy ways to make the most out of this year's National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month.
1. Revamp Your Fridge and Pantry
One of the coolest ways to celebrate National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month (and up your daily produce intake in the process) is to stock your fridge and pantry with the season's most popular superfoods.
Unfortunately, that means that you first have to identify and get rid of all the "danger-foods," which may take some time. But, once you do that, it's all smooth sailing. All you have to do is check what's in season, and fill your kitchen to your heart's content.
But, remember: "Out of sight, out of mind" bears great truth when it comes to eating (or not eating) fruit and vegetables. And that's because people are three times more likely to consume the foods they see first(2), which means where you put your food matters. So, make sure you place your produce in plain sight so that you're more apt to grab them when you're looking for a snack. Specifically:
- Move fruit and vegetables from the crisp drawer to the eye-level shelves,
- Set out a bowl full of fruits and veggies at an accessible spot in your kitchen, and
- Pre-cut your fruit and vegetables to have them ready in times of need.
Also, re-arrange your fridge and cupboards so that the healthy stuff lies at the front.
2. Get Cooking
There's a certain appeal to having a meal being delivered straight to your door, especially on those days when you have zero time to hit the grocery store and prep your ingredients. But, cooking at home is the only way to make sure you get your daily dose of fruit and veggies. So, to nail the whole "cooking-in" thing, just:
- find a bunch of accessible recipes that work for you;
- keep your pantry stocked with an assortment of meal-starters such as tomatoes, beans, and potatoes; or
- learn to cook what you're craving.
3. Hit the Farmer's Market
Besides being the National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, June is also the month that marks the beginning of the farmer's market season. Produce stands pop up here and there, which means this is your chance to fill your reusable shopping tote with summer's most delicious produce, including apricots, grapes, and bell peppers.
But, having an array of fresh foods to choose from is just one of the perks of hitting the farmer's market. Research(3) also shows that shopping from a farmer's market makes people more excited about eating the fruit and veggies they buy. As a result, they tend to eat more produce in their daily life, improving their health little by little.
4. Start Your Own Garden
These days, more and more people are discovering the joys of food gardening. From fruit to veggies to herbs, modern-age horticulturists are playing with dirt, aspiring to grow their own food and make the world a more sustainable place. However, the biggest upside in all of this is -without a doubt - that green thumbs get to eat healthier all year long. In fact, according to a recent study, gardeners tend to eat more fruit and vegetables than non-gardeners, probably because they have access to them all year round.
So, if you're thinking of jumping on the food gardening bandwagon, there's no time like the present. Take advantage of the National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month and explore the variety of seasonal produce that June has to offer. Our only tip: Take some time to find out what each plant needs (water, sunlight, soil composition), and nature will take it from there. Soon, you'll get to enjoy a range of fresh foods straight from your backyard.
5. Experiment With New Produce
Another cool way to build healthy habits during National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month is to try out new plants. June, and summer in general, is known for its wide selection of in-season foods. So, make the most of it by exploring a new crop every week. Cantaloupes, honeydews, okras... the list is practically endless. If you have a family, you can get them in on the action by taking turns and having a member choose a new flavor each time.
You can even try your fresh fruit and veggies in all shapes and forms by prepping them in a different way every time. So, don't hesitate to roast them, blend them into smoothies, or even grill them. You can also pair them with seemingly unsuited foods like watermelon with Feta cheese. Who knows? Maybe you'll come across a flavor combo that strikes up your fancy more than you believed it would.
6. Brown-Bag It
Work lunches aren't always conducive to healthy eating. But, come this June, you can turn the tables at work by giving your desk a makeover. Just swap out the candy and "calorie bombs" that lie around with fresh fruits and get your colleagues in on the act by offering them veggie-laden lunches that are too hard to resist. With a little planning, you can even prep a different produce-based meal for each day of the week, and avoid getting stuck into a rut.
7. Educate Yourself
If you're serious about changing your produce-to-junk-food ratio, there are also thousands of free resources that can help you make the most out of each plant that crosses your path. From learning how to use every part of it (and minimize food waste) to figuring out how they affect your health, you can educate yourself on pretty much anything nutrition-related. There are also apps, like Local Harvest, that could help you find the nearest farmer's markets.
How will you take advantage of National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month? Let us know in the comments below!