Harvest the most from your food dollar


August 24, 1993|By Colleen Pierre, R.D. | Colleen Pierre, R.D.,Contributing Writer

"Eating healthfully is expensive," a reader says. "If we run out ++ of fresh fruit or vegetables before the week is out, we can't afford to buy more."

"Just charge it," my kids would reply, "then you won't have to spend the money."

But moms and dads know there's no free lunch. And more and more people are learning to stretch those dollars to cover the basics.

Be sure to use your entire fruit and vegetable arsenal, and get the most nutrition for your food dollar.

* Know your requirements: According to the Food Guide Pyramid, you need 2-4 servings of fruit and 3-5 servings of vegetables daily.

A serving is one medium fruit, 1/2 cup canned fruit or 6 ounces of fruit juice; and, 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup of other vegetables (cooked or raw) or 6 ounces of vegetable juice.

Nutrition tips: dark green veggies and deep orange fruits and vegetables offer the most nutrition per calorie.

JTC * Enjoy fresh "in season": Fresh produce, in season, is at the peak of nutrition and flavor perfection, and usually at the lowest price you'll pay all year.

Nutrition tip: Keep dark green leafy vegetables in a bag in the refrigerator to protect vitamin C and Folacin, a B vitamin.

* Choose frozen for great nutrition: Since most frozen items are processed immediately upon harvesting, the nutritional quality is close to fresh. Nutrition tip: Steam or microwave to save nutrients.

* Have canned when all else fails: Roughly one-third of the fragile vitamins are destroyed in canning process. But fruits and vegetables still provide lots of complex carbohydrates, some fiber, some minerals and two-thirds of the original vitamins. They're naturally fat- and cholesterol-free.

Nutrition tip: Buy juice-packed fruits.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.

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