Adding veggies and fruit to diet is easy to do


September 30, 1992|By Cathy Barber | Cathy Barber,DALLAS MORNING NEWS

An apple a day is a start. But to better your chances of keeping the doctor away, add a banana, some broccoli, a glass of juice and a big green salad.

The modern thinking is at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables to reduce cancer risk and help prevent heart disease. That's the message of the 5-A-Day program sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Produce for Better Health Foundation, an industry group.

The recommendation follows the U.S. Department of Argiculture's new Food Pyramid eating guide, which suggests five to nine servings daily.

Yet fewer than a fourth of Americans reach the goal, according to NCI. Research shows the average adult eats 3 1/2 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Baltimore author Sarah Schlesinger wrote "The Garden Variety Cookbook" (Villard Books, $20) for non-vegetarians who are trying to reach the five-a-day goal.

"I think people are convinced it's a very hard thing to do," says Ms. Schlesinger. "I think that when they realize that the servings are not that large -- you're talking about 1/2 -cup servings of most fruits and vegetables -- it's not that far from what they really do."

Ms. Heimendinger gives these examples of what counts as a serving: whole fruits such as apples or bananas; 1/2 cup fruit salad or berries; 1 cup raw leafy greens; 3/4 cup fruit juice; 1 medium baked potato; 1/4 cup dried fruit

The American Cancer Society also sets a goal of five servings a day because it's easy to remember, says dietitian Suzanne Worth, responsible for its nutrition task force in Dallas.

Some foods don't contain enough fruits or vegetables to meet the 1/2 -cup requirement. For example, you'd be hard-pressed to pile enough lettuce, tomato and onion on a burger.

But Ms. Schlesinger, whose book was inspired by a pilot program in California but is not affiliated with the NCI program, suggests another strategy. You can nickel and dime your way to a day's requirement.

Some of her ideas:

* slices of apple or pear on turkey sandwiches

* fruit in batter for muffins or pancakes

* fruit shakes made with yogurt

* chopped or pureed vegetables in dips and dressings

"It all adds up in the course of a day," she says.

Variety is important, too, Ms. Heimendinger says. Although you could eat peaches or broccoli all day to equal five servings, this violates the spirit of the program. She suggests including one item that's high in vitamin A and a cruciferous vegetable

in each day's count.

Ms. Schlesinger dubs these 15 items as nutrition powerhouses, packed with fiber and vitamins A and C: asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, red and green bell peppers, spinach, strawberries, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, winter squash.

Ms. Schlesinger, who is a vegetarian, stresses new ideas: a salad for breakfast. Strawberries on the grill. Mango or papaya in place of peach or watermelon.

Easy 5-a-day recipes

These recipes from "Garden Variety Cookbook" offer simple ways to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Citrus sundae

Layer granola, non-fat yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese and sections of grapefruit or orange in a parfait glass for breakfast.

Ziti with broccoli and chicken

Makes 4 servings.

2 tablespoons mild olive oil

1 pound boneless chicken breast, cut in strips

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 tomatoes, chopped

3/4 cup skim or low-fat milk

12 ounces ziti, cooked

4 cups steamed broccoli

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add black pepper and garlic and stir-fry for 2 more minutes. Add rosemary, oregano and tomatoes. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Toss with ziti, steamed broccoli and cheese.

Corn and tomato pasta

Makes 4 servings

1 clove garlic, minced

4 ounces non-fat or low-fat cheese, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes

1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2 -ich cubes

kernels from two ears of corn

1/4 cup scallions, sliced

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

2 tablespoons mild olive oil

12 ounces medium-size shells, cooked

1/2 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese

Combine garlic, cheese cubes, tomatoes, corn, scallions; basil and olive oil in a salad bowl. Toss with the pasta and sprinkle with grated mozzarella.

This recipe is from "Cooking With Fruit."

Jicama, lettuce and orange salad

Makes 4 servings

1 pound jicama

2 navel oranges

1/4 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 small head Boston or red-leaf lettuce

Peel and julienne the jicama to make 2 cups. Peel and thinly slice the oranges. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except lettuce; add the jicama and mix well. To serve, place the lettuce on the bottom of a large platter and arrange the jicama and oranges over it.

The following recipe is from "The American Cancer Societ Cookbook."

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