My very first job was working in the gardens of Mr & Mrs Clark, my neighbors in the town where I grew up. They had several gardens — flowers and vegetable. I was responsible for preparing the soil, planting, weeding, watering, cutting and harvesting. Mr Clark also raised bees, so I was able to extract honey from the honeycomb — and I was never stung! 🙂

Amongst my fondest memories was sitting in the rows of vegetables on hot summer days, plucking beans or peas off the plant and eating the harvest right there. I learned to enjoy fresh vegetables, uncooked, with no dip nor dressing. To this day, I prefer eating salads with my fingers, without dressing. I am fortunate. I love vegetables.

After college, I spent a year living near Jericho, where fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant. As the seasons cycled, the produce changed and I was constantly introduced to new amazing flavors and textures. The smells and colors were so refreshing.

I returned to the USA and spent another 7 years as a student, eating primarily at cafeterias and restaurants. As I think back, I do not believe I was avoiding vegetables, but I also do not recall vegetables being part of these meals. Have you ever noticed that you can order some of the most amazing food at restaurants but the dish is often wanting for any vegetable? In contrast, some of my fondest memories of eating out involved incredible vegetable dishes — Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, The Inn at Erlowest in Lake George, India House in Syracuse (to name a few).

Fortunately, I have returned to a place in my life, where vegetables are just part of our meals. But am I getting enough? The recommendations vary, depending on which institution you ask, but I think it’s fair to say we should each be eating 5-10 handfuls of vegetables & fruits every day. If you think about the past 24 hours, can you estimate how many handfuls of fruits and vegetables you ate? Did you get close to 5-10?

We all hear the messages, “Eat less sugar…less fat…fewer calories…less salt.” What if we focused on eating MORE of something? Would it seem easier to add food, rather than constantly focusing on restricting food?

So if you think you are falling short on your vegetable & fruit intake, here is my challenge to you: Take one day to plan out your meals and snacks. Focus on enjoying 5-10 handfuls of vegetables and fruits. Be simple or get creative with them. Consider sharing your challenge on social media. Gather ideas from others on how to eat MORE!

P.S. Why should we eat more fruits and vegetables? The American Heart Association has answers!  To learn more, go to:  About Fruits and Vegetables

Or you can check out Hanna Talks Health to learn more about healthier choices eating out:  Table for… How Many?