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Add a fresh touch to your diet!

Have you noticed the abundance of amazing fresh produce in the local markets right now? And talk about affordable! If you live in Andalucia and you're not eating your fresh fruits and vegetables every day, it's only because you don't want to! And we have every reason to make an effort to include more fresh stuff in our diets every day. The recommendation to eat "Five a Day" has now risen to seven to nine servings of fruit and vegetables every day by some estimates. So we've got all the raw ingredients at our disposal, but how on earth does anyone eat that many fruits and veggies per day? Years ago I began working on the answer to that question both for myself and my family - keeping in mind that serving sizes for kids are substantially smaller than they are for we adults. In fact, rather than even worrying about serving size, my aim is to simply incorporate seven to nine different fruits and veggies into the family diet each day (as often as possible, without going to extremes or stressing out!). Let me share a few strategies and flexible recipes with you: 1. Green salad with every dinner In these days of fast food and pre-packaged, microwave meals, it sounds impossible to prepare a fresh salad even just once a day. However, with just a little practice, you may soon be as convinced as I am that this is the original fast food. You can prepare a wonderful salad in as little as 10 or 15 minutes and this is a project the whole family can participate in. Remember to top it off with a dash of natural, aged balsamic vinegar and a quality virgin olive oil "Made in Andalucia". 2. Vegetable Puree This is a flexible recipe that can incorporate a whole range of vegetables depending on what you like and what you have. Just peel and cut up one large potato per person. Put the pieces into a large pot and then prepare and add whatever other vegetables you choose: carrots, broccoli, spinach, beans, peas, squash, leeks, onions... Add water to about 1/3 the pot and gently simmer the contents till the vegetables are soft. Puree the contents with an electric beater wand (easily purchased at your local "electrodoméstico" store) then add butter or olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and then milk until you reach a creamy, soup texture. Serve as a Spanish-style "first course". 3. Fruit Smoothy This is a wonderful snack or dessert. Just prepare and puré your favourite fruits. Add fresh squeezed orange juice, unsweetened, plain yogurt and then your choice of sweetener, if necessary. If you really want to get a good dose of fruits and veggies, try making a meal of all of the above. You may be suprised at just how filling and satisfying it is. And don't forget your fresh squeezed juices for breakfast, fresh fruit for dessert after lunch (when in Spain, do as the Spaniards) and a piece of fruit for your afternoon snack. Also, if you enjoy Spanish cuisine, you'll find that traditional dishes often do wonders with vegetables, as is the case with "menestra" - a sauteed and simmered mix of veggies - or "gabanzos con espinacas" (Spinach and Garbanzos), the dish that first turned my taste buds on to spinach. At any rate, this is one facet of the Mediterranean Diet that shouldn't be missed. You don't even have to prepare the fresh produce from your local market Mediterranean style - just the fact you're increasing your consumption is enough to make a difference in the way you look and feel.
Blog published on 13 October 2009