“Eat your vegetables.” “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
We have all heard these quotes before, but they still seem to remain simply overused phrases. They are said so much the average person tends to block them out.
Sheryl Klobasa, director of Kramer Dining Center and instructor of hospitality management and dietetics, said it is good for students to know why people stress eating fruits and vegetables so much.
“I know college students are always on the go and think fruits and vegetables take too much time to cook or make, but there are lots of fruits and veggies in stores waiting to be eaten that don’t take much time at all,” said Klobasa, also a licensed and registered dietician.
Melissa Copp, assistant director of recreational services at the Peters Recreation Complex, suggested ways students can receive the daily nutrients these food groups give one’s body.
“Fruit can easily serve as a quick grab-and-go breakfast or an addition to cereal, toast or breakfast bar,” Copp said. “Vegetables can easily be added to omelets or breakfast casseroles — onions, green or red peppers, spinach, etc. — or they can be baked and eaten by themselves. For example, baked butternut squash with cinnamon is a delicious side or snack.”
Copp also provided ideas for incorporating healthy foods at school or at work.
“When packing a lunch, students can incorporate vegetables on their sandwich — lettuce, spinach, onion, tomato, green or red peppers — or add them to prepared pasta meals,” she said. “Or, it may be easier to pack a small baggie of vegetables like celery, carrots, snow peas, snap beans or red or green peppers that could accompany a different meal.”
A number of fruits are quite simple to pack, like apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, plums, pears and grapes, and can serve as a dessert or a snack. Copp said students can pack fruit cups or dried fruit, but advises them to look out for added sugars in canned fruits.
Mikel Regular, sophomore in electrical engineering, said living in Marlatt Hall helps because he eats at Kramer Dining Center and they always have fruits and veggies.
Mary Shadwick, sophomore in kinesiology, lives in a sorority house where the kitchen usually provides food, but she is a busy person and sitting down for meals is not always possible.
“I feel like I am constantly on the go, so eating well isn’t always the easiest option, but it can be done,” she said. “If I need a snack, I’ll grab a banana on the go or pack a granola bar instead of resorting to the vending machines or packaged snacks.”
A good place to find fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables is the farmers market. Longtime vendor Malley Sisson, production dietician in Kramer Dining Center, said young people need to learn seasonality because that is when food is at its best taste, look, nutritional value and, usually, cost.
The farmers market is located in downtown Manhattan from the last Saturday of April to the last day of October. On Saturdays, find food, flowers, trinkets from other countries, live bands and more on 5th and Humboldt from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Wednesdays, the market is held in Cico Park from 4 to 7 p.m.
“The purpose of the farmers market is so farmers can directly market the products they make and customers can purchase locally grown food and talk to the people who grew it, finding out the seasonality of fruits and vegetables and possible ways to prepare the food,” Sisson said.
Once a month, a chef cooks and brings samples or brings in food and shows how to prepare it, making him a great person to talk to about incorporating fruits and veggies in your diet.
Currently, there are melons, corn, jalapenos, cabbage, green peppers and tomatoes in season, and soon apples too. The local farmers market sells beef, buffalo, pork and lamb occasionally.
“What you put in your mouth is a political decision,” Sisson said.
Klobasa said there really are no bad foods; everyone should just have a variety of foods. For every meal, she said, half one’s plate should be fruits and veggies, a fourth should be meat and the other fourth should be starch.
Agreeing, Copp said if a student’s schedule allows her to have four to six meals or snacks each day, she can balance her intake by having a vegetable with each of the three main meals and having a fruit with each snack.
“Fresh fruits and vegetables are wonderful to incorporate as often as possible,” she said. “They are affordable, fat free, low calorie and packed with the nutrients your body prefers over any supplement.”