Have you eaten your fruits and veggies today?


March 12, 1991|By Colleen Pierre, R.D.

Did you eat at least two fruits yesterday?

How about three vegetables?

Probably not.

Two out of three Californians reported eating fewer than the recommended five servings, even during the season when produce is abundant and cheap, according to a survey done by the Nutrition and Cancer Prevention Program of the California Department of Health Services.

If that's happening in California, what's going on with the rest of us?

Nationwide, fruit and vegetable consumption has remained about the same during the past 10 years, despite mounting evidence that fruits and veggies are a great ally in the war against cancer, chronic constipation, diverticular disease and even hemorrhoids.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 1987-'88 Nationwide Food Consumption Survey estimates that Americans are eating only half the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables each day, even though the USDA's Diet and Health Knowledge survey showed that eight out of 10 respondents believe it is important to eat foods with adequate


If you're in that group that needs an increase, put yourself on a gentle, 10-week training program.

During the first week, be sure to have an orange, a grapefruit half or a banana with breakfast every other day. During the second week, increase to daily.

During the third week, add an apple, pear, peach or plum to your lunch routine on alternate days.

During the fourth week, have lunch and breakfast fruit daily.

During week five, add a small salad to dinner every other night. Increase to daily during the sixth week.

In weeks seven and eight, have vegetable soup for lunch, lettuce and tomato on your sandwich or cole slaw as a side dish.

For the ninth and 10th weeks, add a different cooked vegetable to your dinner each night.

Use the old standbys such as peas, green beans or carrots, or more elegant asparagus.

Occasionally try something new, such as broccaflower!

Industrious folks might like to try a fruit or vegetable salad, like these two from M. J. Smith's "All American Low Fat Meals in Minutes."


Want more salad

Makes 4 3/4 -cup servings.

2 Granny Smith apples, cut fine

1/4 cup raisins

3 stalks celery, cut fine

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

7 ounces pineapple chunks, drained


1/4 cup light mayonnaise

2 tablespoons orange juice

1/4 cup plain non-fat yogurt

2 teaspoons sugar

Combine first five ingredients in bowl. Mix dressing ingredients, pour over fruit, toss and refrigerate.

Tex-Mex slaw

Makes 8 1-cup servings.

1/2 head green cabbage

1 red onion, shredded

1 cup taco sauce

1/3 cup light mayonnaise

16-ounce can black beans, drained

12 ounces frozen corn

Shred cabbage and onion, and combine. Steam corn 3 minutes, then drain. Combine taco sauce and mayonnaise. Toss cabbage, beans and corn with taco sauce dressing just before serving.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

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