We could all stand to eat more fruits and veggies on a daily basis which is why we've teamed up with Half Your Plate, a new initiative to get Canadians incorporating more fruits and veg into their diets. And it doesn't have to be that hard - simply fill half your plate with veggie and fruit goodness at every meal or snack!
When the hot summer weather hits, the thought of turning on an oven is not appealing.
Everyone wants to be outside, at the lake, by the pool, playing volleyball at the beach, catching an outdoor festival or in the car heading out on a road trip. We're all so busy and having so much fun that sometimes, it's easy to forget key things like slapping on an extra layer of sunscreen, staying hydrated or... getting enough fruits and veggies!
The irony is this is the time of year where fresh produce is everywhere - it's in season and absolutely delicious! It's also so easy to get your hands on: grocery stores, farmers markets, u-pick farms...no matter where you are there's almost always an opportunity to add extra fruit and veg to fill Half Your Plate.
Filling Half Your Plate On The Road
En Route To Your Destination
If you're travelling in Canada this summer by car, rail, boat or plane, there's lots of ways to add extra fruit and veggies into your diet. Pack small bags of easy to eat fruits and vegetables that can handle a little wear and tear like grapes, strawberries or cherries. Baby carrots, radishes, celery sticks and pea pods also make great travel snacks and are great for packing up to the beach or the water park. (it's easy to brush off or wash off any sand too!)
Fruits and veggies are easy additions to your cooler. There are lots of easy bagged options for salad greens that come with dressing and fun additions like nuts or raisins and are easy to transport. Stop at local farmers markets or fruit stands for some fresh blueberries or raspberries, cherry tomatoes, radishes and toss them in along with a cooked protein or grain (proteins and grains are easy to cook over a camp stove or campfire) and you have a full meal.
Wrap fresh green beans, fresh carrots or new potatoes in foil with a little butter and cook them over your campfire for a quick and delicious side to a burger or hot dog.
Another fun idea for camping is a skillet pizza. It can be cooked right over the campfire. Start with a tomato sauce base and the add your favourite veggies like sliced mushrooms, spinach, kale, and cherry, grape or sundried tomatoes all of which are easy to pack in your camping cooler and they keep well.
Single serve yogurt cups with a handful of berries and some granola make for a quick, high impact breakfast. Think of it as a smoothie in raw form!
Filling Half Your Plate At Home
Getting well balanced meals on the table during the summer doesn't have to be time consuming or hot and sweaty.
Salads are your friend during the summer - they're quick and easy and there are so many ways to bulk them up.
Think easy proteins: grilled meats, canned fish, beans, tofu, quinoa, lentils - there are lots of options and lots of different ways to prepare them. Add in nuts, berries, or use fresh herbs to make your own dressings or pestos. Try a Grilled Zucchini and Smoked Salmon Salad or, for more ideas on how to create hearty and filling salads that work for everyone check out Sondi Bruner's Allergy Friendly Guide to Hearty Sensational Salads!
Have A Crostini Bar
A Crostini Bar is a great idea for lighter summer fare or for appetizers when entertaining. Use high quality crusty bread and have lots of toppings that people can choose from. You can go all in and make it a do it yourself meal by adding cheeses and cured meats or even deli cold cuts
- have some easy spreads to start with like cream cheese, mustards, honey, flavoured mayos or aioli
- a simple bruschetta topping with fresh tomatoes and basil
- thinly sliced radishes, carrots, zucchini
- roasted or grilled veggies like peppers and eggplant
- olives, pickles, marinated artichokes, capers
- sprouts and micro greens
- avocado or quacamole
- a quick corn salsa
- have quartered lemon or lime pieces and fresh pepper available for adding a little flavour to taste
- you can have dessert toppings as well with things like berries (blueberries, strawberries, currants all work well) or grilled stone fruits like peaches or apricots or even pineapple
Just like the skillet pizza you can make while camping, grilled pizza is a great way to add veggies to a summer meal. Again the toppings are endless: tomato sauce base, and then fill up your pie with easy veggies - and because you're at home you can a wider variety of veggies without worrying about spoilage as much. Try marinated artichokes, arugula, fresh basil and even a fresh pesto for a base instead of tomato sauce. For more ideas take a look at this Ultimate Veggie Pizza.
Make your breakfast smoothie, smoothie bowl or yogurt bowl with fresh produce. This is the easiest time of year to get fresh berries and they're so affordable (buy flats of them and freeze them for the winter so you've got a fully stocked freezer of smoothie ready fruit!). Keep some bananas frozen so you have a good, cold base to start with and then experiment with your favourite berries or stone fruits for great flavour combos. Add in some honey or maple syrup for a sweetener if you need it. If you need smoothie ideas, here are 17 great smoothie recipes by FBC Members!
For lots more great ideas on how to make the most of summer produce visit Half Your Plate. There's even great tips on what to do with all those summer berries!
Summer is the easiest time of year to get extra fruit and vegetables into your diet with such an abundance of in season, affordable and easy to access produce. So make the most of the season's bounty and fill Half Your Plate!
Want more ideas, recipes and tips for easy summer meals? Join us this Tuesday, July 21st for the Half Your Plate twitter party with special guest, Chef Michael Smith. RSVP and get more information here!