The experts recommend consuming five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Just the thought of these figures might make you want to cringe and think:

“That’s too hard! How will I ever find the time to prepare and cook so much produce?”

“My kids can’t stand vegetables!”

“I have so much stress in my life as it is – now this? Five to nine servings? I give up!”

Guess what? Before we start to get nervous about these quantities, let’s analyze what a serving size looks like:

LET’S TALK ABOUT FRUITS

According to the USDA’s new Food Plate: Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the Fruit Group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed. The amount of fruit you need to eat depends on age, sex, and level of physical activity. So, for example, children need about 1 to 1 and a half cups of fruits while teenagers and adults (women and men) need about 1 and a half to 2 cups for those who get less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity beyond their normal duties.

What counts as a cup of fruit? Generally speaking we can include ½ cup of dried fruit or 100% fruit juice or 1 cup of fruit. In the case of whole fruit, you might add a medium pear or grapefruit, a large peach or a small apple to your lunch. If you’re wondering how to calculate your snacks, think of a cup of cut-up grapes, 1 cup sliced bananas or 1 cup chunks of pineapple. If you enjoy dried fruits for a trail mix or in your cereal, add ½ cup raisins, prunes or apricots as a serving size for your fruit group.

LET’S TALK ABOUT VEGETABLES

According to the USDA’s new Food Plate: Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the Vegetable Group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated. They can also be whole, mashed or chopped. Same as the fruits, amounts needed depend on your age, sex, and level of physical activity. So, for example, children need about 1 to 1 and a half cups of fruits while teenagers and adults (women and men) need about 2 to 3 cups for those who get less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity beyond their normal duties.

What counts as a cup of vegetable? Generally speaking we can include 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetable or vegetable juice or 2 cups of raw leafy vegetables. Add 1 cup of chopped greens (kale, turnip greens, collards, mustard greens) and stir fry with some lean beef for some added phytonutrients! Enjoy the winter season in Arizona with 2 cups of mixed spinach, watercress and chard with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing before your grilled fish. Add a side dish of 1 cup cubed and cooked winter squash with a teaspoon of honey o 1 large baked sweet potato with some diced green onions.

Just think convenience – if you can keep your veggies and fruits handy wherever you are, whether at home or at work, you’ll remember to eat them! Make a family competition or a work related contest to see who can track and eat more fresh produce on a daily basis. What’s your final goal? To be the champion and role model to those who know and appreciate you.