(BPT) - Most Americans understand the importance of including a variety of fruits and vegetables into their diets, but finding inspiration and fresh ideas for incorporating them into everyday meals can be challenging.
Research shows that only 10 percent of Americans are meeting the MyPlate recommendations for daily intake of fruits and veggies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a rule of thumb, half the foods you eat for any given meal should be made up of fruits and veggies - preferably ones incorporating a range of different colors and nutrients.
Daily meal planning is made easier if you turn to your freezer for a little help. Balancing your plate with frozen meals and pizzas and adding fresh side dishes is a simple solution that can help make you feel good about what you're eating, even with a hectic schedule. Choose your favorite frozen prepared foods and pizzas as the foundation, add side dishes made with fresh fruit and vegetables and you have a balanced meal that is both delicious and nutritious.
NestlĂ©'s Balance Your Plate educational program aims to help you put together delicious and nutritious meals that incorporate frozen and fresh foods. The website, www.nestleusa.com/balance, provides information, tips and recipes to help consumers create easy, balanced meals that meet dietary guidelines.
Here are some quick and easy tips for including more fruits and veggies in your diet:
1. Chop, eat, repeat. Not into cooking? Simply buy whatever looks good, wash it, cut into slices and enjoy, perhaps dipping it into salad dressing or a yogurt dip.
2. Shop the frozen-food aisle. Delicious and easy-to-prepare frozen foods such as DiGiorno pizzeria! thin Margherita pizza or Lean Cuisine Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Ravioli provide your family plenty of wholesome meals without requiring lengthy prep time. Simply pair with tasty side dishes made with fruits and vegetables for a balanced meal.
3. Divide and conquer. Each Sunday night mix your favorite veggies into a big salad bowl with a cover, combining Romaine and iceberg lettuce with darker green varieties and throwing in other tasty ingredients that will motivate you to want more; consider slices of grilled meat or shrimp, boiled eggs, or small amounts of nuts, cheeses, dried fruit, etc. Then divide the mix into individual plastic containers for the week's lunches.
4. Top it off. As soon as your favorite frozen pizza comes out of the oven, boost its nutrient punch by adding pieces of fresh tomato, basil, pineapple, spinach or arugula.
5. Stir it in. Add complementary veggies to your favorite comfort food, like Stouffer's Mac & Cheese. Suggested stir-ins: roasted broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots or butternut squash.
NestlĂ©'s Balance Your Plate offers two delicious side dish recipes that, when served with your favorite frozen prepared foods, create a perfectly balanced meal you and your family will love.
Arugula and Roasted Pear Salad with Toasted Walnuts
Pairs well with DiGiorno pizzeria! thin Margherita
(Recipe from Hungry Couple of Tasting Spoon Media)
4 cups arugula
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
* Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
* Slice the pears vertically and scoop out the seeds with a spoon or melon baller. Spread the walnut halves on one side of the baking sheet and layer the pear slices on the other. Place in the oven for about 5 minutes, toss the nuts and flip the pears. Continue roasting for an additional 5 minutes.
* Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and mustard until fully combined. Season with salt and pepper.
* Assemble the salad by adding the arugula to a large bowl or platter. Top with the roasted pear slices, sprinkle on the walnuts and drizzle with the dressing.
Simple Kale Salad
Pairs well with Lean Cuisine Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Ravioli
(Recipe from Loop88)
2 medium bunches kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Dress kale with olive oil, apple cider vinegar and sea salt, then top with red onion, feta cheese and toasted walnuts.
For more recipes, information and meal ideas, visit www.nestleusa.com/balance.