Thriving off fruits and vegetables

Published 5:53 pm Saturday, March 8, 2014

Standing in the produce aisle with literally over a hundred choices in fruits and vegetables is really a modern day miracle.  When we think back to 100 years ago, the only fruits and vegetables we had access to on a consistent basis, those that we grew ourselves and later preserved.

Yet, watching a simple news segment or reading an article online can sway us as moms that there may be danger in buying those fruits and vegetables.  But, that’s not the whole story.  As a registered dietitian nutritionist and a mom myself, I know the benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.  And choosing to eat those fruits and vegetables is always the right choice – whether conventional or organic.

Here’s what I want you to know: The United States has the safest food system in the entire world.  Did you get that?  The safest.  We have the capacity to measure incredibly small amounts of anything thanks to advanced technology.  This includes vitamins, minerals and even pesticides.  But, just because we can measure it, does it mean there is harm?

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I am mom and I want nothing more than for my own children to be healthy.  I am a consumer too, I shop for fruits and vegetables, just like all of us.  Here’s what I keep in mind when shopping:

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables will impact our health in a positive way.  The risk for diseases like certain cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and digestive problems are all reduced by eating a high amount of fruits and vegetables.  This has been studied extensively.  In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August 2013 revealed that those who consumed more than five servings per day lived an average of three years longer than those who ate less than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Organically grown fruits and vegetables are often promoted as “better for you.”  However, studies have shown there is no difference in nutrient quality between organically grown or conventionally grown food.  Moreover, nearly all research done on the benefits of fruits and vegetables has been done with little regard for how that fruit or vegetable was grown.  And there is a common misperception that organic means pesticide-free.  But by definition, organic means that if pesticides are used, they come from natural sources.  What makes organic different is the source of pesticides not the use of them.  Bottom line, both conventionally and organically grown fruits and vegetables are nutrient-rich foods.

If you want an excellent resource, check out where you will find a pesticide residue calculator to help you put it all in perspective.  For example, my son could consume 154 apples in one day without any effect even if those apples had the highest pesticide residue on them.

So here’s the takeaway, your mom was right.  Eat your fruits and vegetables.  Aren’t we fortunate to have so many choices available to us in the grocery store?  My recommendation is to just make sure that you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis with a goal of five servings a day.  Simply put: They are good for you.


Chicken, Apple and Basil Sausage Patties

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Baking Time: 6 to 9 minutes
Yield: 8 Servings or 16 patties

 All you need

•1 tablespoon olive oil

•1 ½ cup finely chopped, unpeeled sweet-tart red apples

•½ cup finely chopped sweet onion

•2 small cloves garlic, minced (about ¾ teaspoon)

•1/3 cup very finely chopped fresh basil

•1 teaspoon rubbed sage

•½ teaspoon salt

•½ teaspoon ground coriander

•¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

•1 ½ pounds ground chicken or turkey (white and dark meat)

 All you do

1. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add apple and onion. Cook about 2 minutes or until nearly tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook for 30 seconds more. Transfer mixture to large bowl and cool to room temperature.

2. Stir basil, sage, salt, coriander, and pepper into apple mixture. Add ground chicken; mix with hands until just combined (do not overwork meat mixture). With damp hands, form mixture into sixteen 1/2-inch-thick patties. Transfer to a tray or baking sheet lined with plastic wrap. Cover and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

3. To use, thaw sausage patties in refrigerator, if frozen. Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sausages. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted near centers reads 165° F, turning patties over halfway through cooking. Drain on paper towels before serving.

 Source: U.S. Apple Association

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