Sneaking Fruits and Vegetables Into Everyday Meals and Classic Comfort: Peanut Butter

According to the NPD Group market research firm, Americans eat a little more that half a cup of fruit and cup of vegetables per day; this is less than half of what the government recommends.

Anyone who eats roughly 2,000 calories daily should try to consume between 2-3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day. Eating 4 cups daily may seem like a daunting task, but it can be done by blending fruits and veggies into common food.

Here's a few examples:

  • Vegetables can be shredded and added to beaten eggs for either scrambled or omelets.

  • Pureed fruit is a good replacement for oil in cake and cookie recipes; the finished items will be moist, but with far less fat.

  • Fresh berries or raisins can be added to oatmeal or breakfast cereals.

  • Stewed tomatoes, mixed in with a broth soup base, will make chicken or vegetable soup even healthier.

  • Sweet potatoes or carrots in the batter will produce hearty muffins or breads.

  • Instead of extra meat or cheese, go for extra veggies on a pizza (or a slice).

  • Add cauliflower or squash to boiled potatoes before mashing them to increase the nutritional punch and flavor of mashed potatoes.

  • Fruits and veggies can be blended to create super-healthy smoothies for breakfast or a quick lunch.

  • Making spaghetti sauce? Blend a few veggies into it.

  • Vegetables can be shredded into a "slaw", then topped with a vinaigrette or mayonnaise-based dressing.

  • If you're making macaroni and cheese, thicken the cheese sauce by adding pureed vegetables.

  • Instead of pasta, use veggies. For example, eggplant slices can be used to replace lasagna; or make zucchini or carrot "noodles" ( by a spiral slicer or good slicing knife).

Peanut Butter Benefits-and Two Recipes

  • Peanut butter can be added to smoothies for extra protein, a creamy texture and nutty flavor.

  • Want to combine breakfast and lunch? Toast a waffle (regular or whole grain), then simply top it with peanut butter and jelly.

  • Allergic to peaut butter-or just don't like it? Try almond, cashew or sunflower seed; for nut or seed allergies, try soy butter.

  • Peanut butter can be whipped into a creamy sauce that can then be used on salad, mixed with noodles or as a vegetable dip. Here's what to do:

Ingredients

1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup of water

juice of 1 liime

salt

Sriracha sauce

In a medium bowl, whisk together all the abovementioned ingredients.

The sauce will keep for up to five days in the fridge.

Makes: 1 cup serving

Here's a recipe for homemade peanut butter:

  1. Buy a bag of unshelled peanuts or 1 can (1 pound) of shelled, raw or roasted peanuts.

  2. Set aside about a tablespoon of vegetable or peanut oil.

  3. Shell the peanuts (if necessary) and put them into a food processor.

  4. Pulse the food processor to start chopping the peanuts. Scrape down the bowl to make sure that all the peanuts get finely chopped.

  5. Add the vegetable oil to help make a smooth butter; continue to blend until smooth.

  6. Taste the peanut butter an mix in salt or a small amount of sweetener (depending on personal preference. Honey is a good sugar alternative).

  7. Peanut butter can stay fresh in a sealed container for about one month; it can also be frozen.

Makes: About 1 quart

Sources: "How to sneak fruits and vegetables into any recipe"-Courtesy of Metro-Health and Wellness supplement-The Vindicator, Oct. 8, 2014, "7 Ways with Peanut Butter: Lunch 2015: What America Eats"-by Alison Ashton-Parade, August 9, 2015 and "Homemade peanut butter: A healthy snack"-Content that Works-from health supplement-The Vindicator, Oct. 22. 2013

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