I’ve often claimed to not have been born with the “shopping gene”, except when it comes to hunting for fresh produce. Clothes, accessories and homewares don’t raise my pulse rate but a display of dazzling fresh vegetables has been known to make my heart skip a beat.
If you’re stuck in a rut when it comes to buying fruit and vegetables, try thinking like a naturopath next time you shop.
Can you create a rainbow in your shopping basket? Green and orange fruit and veg are the cornerstone of nutritious eating but try adding some of hues in between. When available include some more colour in your diet, such as:
• purples (blueberries, grapes, eggplant)
• reds (plums, currants, radishes, beetroot)
• yellows (pineapple, corn, squash, peppers).
Even white foods have special nutrients, like the sulphur compounds in cauliflower.
A mono-textured meal can often be boring. Try creating meals with both cooked and raw foods for texture and variety. Enjoy the crispy caramelised outer layer of baked sweet potato that is soft and sweet on the inside, or the crunch of grated vegetables encased in a soft rice paper roll. Fruits and vegetables can be steamed or boiled, baked, stewed, grilled, braised and eaten raw. Each way brings out a different flavour in the food as well as texture.
Count on two hands the different types of fruit and vegetables you eat in a day. The current Australian dietary guidelines suggest five serves of vegetables and two of fruit every day. When a serve works out to be around half a cup, it’s still quite a paltry amount. Despite that, most adults tend to eat only half that! Aim for at least seven different vegetables each day. Value-add your breakfast and lunch with extra fruit and veg. Count not only the serves but also the different types of plant foods you eat each day.
Although you can find an apple in the supermarket all year round (some might have been in storage for for almost a year), for each food there is a season when they are freshest. The less time between picking and eating, there will be greater amounts of nutrients like Vitamin C. Seasonal and local produce is usually the cheapest, so you can afford to buy more for your shopping money. Visiting a farmers’ market is a good way to learn when different fruits and vegetables are at their best.
Try something you’ve never eaten before. My new favourite green vegetable is sorrel, a citrus flavoured, green leaf that can be eaten raw, sautéed and adds a bit of zing to juices. Sorrel grows easily in Melbourne from seeds or seedling. If you can’t grow your own food, look beyond the supermarket to find new fruits and vegetables. There’s a diverse range of fresh produce in Asian and other ethnic grocery stores, large markets (like Victoria, Prahran and South Melbourne) and growers markets. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller how to cook it.
Think outside the plate
While eating whole vegetables and fruit yields the most balanced nutrition, fresh juices are a simple way of increasing your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. Vegetable juices in particular are a great supplement when you’re in a hurry or having difficulty getting enough variety. Try carrot, beetroot and cucumber for a tri-colour combo. Don’t forget to add the leafy green beetroot tops for even more nutrition.
Have you got any tips on how to shop for and eat more fruit and vegetables?