You can’t have enough fruits and vegetables. The more colorful your selection, the better. Joy Bauer, R.D.N. is a WD contributor, nutrition expert and health coach for the 2019 Woman’s Day Live Longer and Strengther Challenge.
We challenged five women who are improving their heart health to try a different fruit or vegetable every week as part of the Live Longer and Stronger Challenge. This is just one of a series to help them achieve their health goals.
Here are their top picks after scouring supermarket produce sections and farmers markets for new foods. You might discover something you love by following their lead and allowing them to inspire you!
“Parsnips are my jam.”
Kerri Riggs (34), Pensacola, Florida, ate fruits and vegetables as part of her daily food, but mostly because she believed it was what she should do. She didn’t go beyond the few she loved. After a pleasant surprise, Kerri Riggs is now excited to eat vegetables.
Riggs states that she baked the parsnips and although it was a bit messy, they still tasted great. They’re definitely a staple in my kitchen.
She discovered that new foods are fun and less intimidating than she thought. She says, “I wouldn’t have changed anything before, but now it’s more likely that I grab a weird’ fruit or vegetable to test.” “The worst thing is that I don’t like it. The best is that I have a healthy, tasty treat.”
Starfruit makes dinner parties even more beautiful.
Marguerita Guerra (59), from Humble Texas is a food lover who has never tried a new fruit or vegetable. After much searching, she found something that she loved!
Guerra says that starfruit, originally from the Phillipines, is her favorite fruit. It is a star-shaped fruit when it is cut. It was crisp and had a sweet and sour taste.
Star fruit is a low-calorie, low-carb, low-sugar fruit that’s high in vitamin C. If you eat the edible skin, it’s also rich in fiber. Guerra loves to eat it raw and is already thinking of ways to include it in her next party. She says, “I can add this to a vegetable platter or fruit salad, and even to my homemade sangria.”
“I fell in love plumcot.”
Rolanda Perkins (52), from Smyrna in Tennessee loves fruit. The sweeter the better! It’s not surprising that Perkins tried new vegetables and ended up loving them. Her favorite new choice was a green plumcot. It’s a hybrid of a plum, an apricot, and is high in vitamin C.
Perkins says, “I loved that the plumcots were firm but juicy with lots sweetness.” “I have always seen this fruit in the supermarket, but I never bought it.” It’s now on my top ten list of favorite fruits!
“I’m a jicama expert now.”
Nancy Zarriello (57), Seabright, New Jersey now considers herself to be “the jicama specialist” and so do her family and friends. Because she fell in love with jicama when she first discovered it, a crunchy root vegetable that has a texture similar to a potato-apple mix. Zarriello says, “I have grown to love that crunch and have become more aware of it in my meals whenever I eat out.” Family members send me photos of jicama they see on their menus and in their meals.
Zarriello prefers it cooked, but she (and some of the other Live Longer, Stronger women!) enjoys it cooked. Jicama fries are a favorite of Zarriello’s. They are baked and then seasoned to make healthier versions of French fries. She says, “I have a greater awareness and appreciation of food and what it is that I put in my mouth. It has helped me make better decisions.”
“Bok choy helped me like veggies.”
Jennifer Shreckengost (43), of Excelsior Springs in Missouri has had a love-hate relationship for vegetables all her life. She says, “I tolerated them and forced my self to eat them, but they weren’t something I enjoyed and I kept to a very limited number.”
She’s now slowly expanding her vegetable portfolio. It all began with bok choy (a.k.a Chinese carrot), which is rich in vitamins A and C as well as calcium, magnesium and iron.
“I have seen bok choy in many dishes, but I have never had the chance to try it. Shreckengost says that she added it to a stir-fry chicken dish and it gave it great flavor.