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How to get the most out of a variety of vegetables in your diet

Vegetables are rich in all sorts of nutrients. Eating vegetables each day is associated with improved health and a lower risk of disease...

Buy small amounts, more frequently – we all know how most fruits & veggies rot quickly. To get abundant nutrients in our systems & avoid wastes, buy just the right quantity that can last your household for about a week. After shopping, place fruits at an area where they are visible so that you can be easily driven to snack on them.

Avoid buying fruits or vegetables that have mold, scars/abrasions or a pungent smell – inspect the produce before purchase. Mold is toxic to our systems. Abrasions could be entry points to harmful bacteria & may even make the produce rot from the inside out. A pungent smell could indicate rotting. Also feel fruits & veggies for firmness. Some are firm when ripe (e.g. Apples), while others are soft when ripe (e.g. Avocado). 

Follow the Food Safety Check steps – to avoid food poisoning.
Step I: CLEAN your hands, surfaces to be worked on and fruits & vegetables.
Step II: SEPARATE your fresh produce from raw meats when shopping, cooking and storing. Avoid cross-contamination.
Step III: COOK the inedible vegetables to proper temperatures.
Step IV: CHILL or refrigerate promptly any leftovers

Plant your own – why not? If you have a backyard, put it to good use & have a small section for your home-grown vitamins & minerals! You don’t have to be a skilled farmer to do this; seeds are sold in the supermarkets with instructions at the back of the packet. If you live in an apartment or your backyard is made of hard cold concrete (talk about urbanization), have small pots in your kitchen where you can plant herbs which are much smaller & easier to manage. This way you get fresh, healthy & inexpensive produce. It might even turn out to be a hobby for some!

Recognize the season – fruits & vegetables that are in season are normally at their peak flavor, may be cheaper & are found everywhere…literally! With the Nairobi hawkers, you can purchase them on the roads on your way home, whether in a private or public vehicle.

Keep it simply original – the food industry has come up with processed fruits or vegetables. Despite their convenience, they may be filled with artificial sugars (such as syrups in canned fruits) and are much more expensive. When shopping for your fruits & veggies, go for their most original form. Mother Nature is always the best producer.

Plan & cook smart – with the busy schedules we have in today’s world, save time & money by planning your meals for the week; so that you don’t end up forgetting to replenish the energy your body needs. You can boil your legumes/grains and cut your leafy veggies over the weekend & store them in the freezer. Any overripe fruits may be used to make healthy smoothies or bakery. Leftover veggies may be blended to make soup for one of those evenings when you’re too tired to cook or even eat much.

Experiment with new fruits & vegetables from time to time – you may discover something you or your family likes and you’ll have a wider variation of nutrients. This does not only apply when shopping, but also when cooking. You may come up with healthy tasty combinations that will ‘wow’ everyone at the table. Season your veggies with herbs, lemon juice or garlic.

Plan your meals around vegetables & fruits instead of meat – in terms of quantity & quality; that way you don’t get to leave them out of your diet.

Rainbow-colour your shopping basket – select fruits & vegetables with a variety of colours to get the best out of all vitamins, minerals & antioxidants.

Article By Alice Ndong “M.Nutr Stellensbosch” for Neem Pharmacy