Don't Let All Those Fresh Fruits and Veggies go to Waste

By Jami Badershall, Communication Manager, Maine Dairy & Nutrition Council

Ahhhh spring, nearly summer. Pretty soon our baskets will be overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables, whether from our own garden, at the farmer’s market or in the grocery store. But sometimes our plans for all those delicious, healthy goodies exceed our actual time available to put them to good use, and then we have a bunch of rotten food that is good for little more than the compost pile. So how about some fast, easy ways to pack a ton of nutrition into a meal with a multitude of fruits and vegetables?

Smoothies – Milk, yogurt and any number of combinations of fruit and vegetables can make for a healthy start to the day. If the fruits and veggies are frozen beforehand, it does make for a better smoothie, but if you only have fresh produce on hand and no time to freeze, simply add a couple of ice cubes. Spinach is great with almost anything in a smoothie; my favorite is pairing it with blueberries. Ever thought of putting cauliflower in a smoothie? Try the recipe below from food blogger and author Catherine McCord (weelicious.com). You’ll be a convert!

Breakfast – Aside from smoothies, other breakfast ideas include omelets with peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes and some sharp Cheddar cheese. You could also top pancakes, waffles, cereal, oatmeal and yogurt
with fruit.

Salads and Wraps – Don’t stop with the lettuce and tomato on your whole wheat wrap or salad, make sure to load them up with every veggie you can find until they’re bursting! Some great additions to your wrap are: peppers, shredded carrots, a mix of greens and sugar snap peas. You could even put fruit in your wraps and salads. A great combination, which is delicious in either form, is spinach, sliced strawberries and chicken with feta cheese.

Pizza – Pizza is kind of the go-to meal to make everyone happy, isn’t it? So, start with a whole wheat crust, some freshly made tomato sauce, cheese of your choice and then pile on the vegetables. Spinach, peppers, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, fresh basil, even zucchini, can make excellent pizza toppings. Use as many colors as possible to make it pleasing to the eye and for a variety of nutrients. Think yellow cherry tomatoes, red onion and every possible color of peppers. Another suggestion from weelicious.com is a watermelon pizza. Slice the watermelon into discs and then cut into pizza wedges, if desired, and top with sliced blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, or whatever fresh fruit you have available. You could even crumble a little feta on top or use something like ricotta in place of your traditional pizza cheese.


Grill it – The grill isn’t just for burgers and steaks. Try roasting corn on the cob or colorful veggie kabobs filled with peppers, onion, zucchini, mushrooms and more. (Grilled fruit kabobs can also be tasty.) You can also fill a tin foil sack with potatoes, sweet potatoes or other root vegetables, the aforementioned kabob vegetables and green beans and throw it on the grill.


Chopped – Keep fruit chopped up for a fruit salad or simply to make it easy for little fingers to grab for a snack. You can do the same with vegetables, as well. Have yogurt on hand to use as a dip.


Chutney – Chutney comes in a variety of forms. This is a great thing to make when I have an abundance of tomatoes on hand. In a small pot on the stove top, I will cook up tomatoes, onions, peppers, possibly some basil and then use it to top chicken or burgers. In the fall I like to cook up apples, peppers and onions to top pork. The possibilities for chutney are endless; a quick Google search will make that evident.


Dessert – Have fruit for dessert! Of course, there’s always options like strawberry shortcake and blueberry cobbler, but for quicker and easier options, you can simply have a bowl of fruit or yogurt topped with fruit. Another idea is a banana split with frozen yogurt, topped with strawberries, raspberries or other berries with a sprinkle of chopped nuts.