Winter dinners are a great time to indulge in warm comfort foods. After a day of on-the-go, or at-the-desk, coming home to a satisfying meal that also happens to help you meet your nutrition goals is a great way to conclude your day. Dinner, for many, is the largest meal of the day, not necessarily in volume of food eaten, but in the types of food served at one meal. Having a fresh salad, a soup, an entree and possibly even an occasional dessert make dinner a great opportunity for incorporating extra fruits and vegetables into your meal. Here are five easy ways to work more produce and more fruit into your dinner.
Eat Salad First: Dark green baby spinach and crisp romaine complement each other nicely. Also consider including any of these great fresh vegetables:
- Red onions
To keep your salad portion at a healthy size, consider a salad that is roughly about 2-3 cups of lettuce, 1½ cups of vegetables and no more than 1 tablespoon of a dressing.
Poach: Using chicken, beef or vegetable broth and a little white wine, you can serve a plate of warm and brightly colored vegetables as a decorative side to any grain, meat or pasta. Poaching involves cooking a food in just enough liquid to make it slightly tender, but never overcooked. Boil enough cooking liquid of your choice to just cover the vegetables. Add your selected vegetables once liquid reaches a boil and turn the heat down. Watch your food very closely and only cook for 2 – 3 minutes before checking for tenderness. Garlic, basil or any other spice is a great addition to poached vegetables. Seasonings can be added to the poaching liquid or directly to your cooked food.
Roast: Bake cut vegetables in a 375°F oven for 10 to 20 minutes (depending of the size of the vegetable). Look for a lightly browned appearance to know when they are done. Literally any vegetable is roast-able; with some experimentation you will be able to find your favorite! Some of our favorites are any type of squash, mushroom, onion, zucchini or carrot, as well as old standbys broccoli and cauliflower. Roasted vegetables are delicious when very lightly drizzled with a high quality extra virgin olive oil.
Mix It Up: Mix Veggies In: Are you a cook who loves to make your own tomato sauce? Try adding roasted or poached vegetables, finely chopped or pureed, into your sauce while you are preparing it. Try the same thing with your favorite casseroles, soups, stews or chili.
Make Dessert Count: Choose fruit, either fresh or baked, frozen or from the produce isle. Try not to add sugar, though! Make a point to enjoy the natural sweetness of fruit.