By Cindy Silver, Registered Dietitian

Fruits and vegetables are gaining popularity in the kitchen of today’s busy families for very good reasons. In a nutshell, fruits and veggies are quick, easy, nutritious, delicious, versatile and affordable. Have you made the leap to buying all forms of fruits and veggies yet? Fresh, frozen, canned and dried all stack up for excellent nutrient richness and they may be used in recipes, as snacks and as dessert – yes, dessert!

Fruits and vegetables are fun to buy and eat, season-by-season. In the fall, seasonal favorites include apples, pears, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, cabbage, butternut squash and pumpkins, to name a few. If you have the chance, a local farm market is the place to buy these ‘harvested right now’ choices and be sure to eat or cook them within a few days to benefit from the great flavors and nutrition! If you buy from the grocery store, then pick out the freshest you can find and don’t be afraid to ask a produce clerk to help you. Learning about selection and storage of fruits and veggies is a smart goal for all of us.

Sneaking in more fruits and veggies to yours and your kids’ daily meals and snacks is like adding edible insurance since vitamins A, C and a multitude of phytochemicals add a huge boost to the immune system. Imagine your family with fewer sick days that totally upset the routine of work, school and everything…more fruits and veggies can be your solution. Or, imagine your dental bills going down because on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, you are serving fruit for dessert. Finally, imagine your entire family craving healthier dinners, loaded with simply prepared fruits and vegetables. This can be you!

5 Easy Ways to Add Fruits and Veggies to Recipes

1. Add chopped up celery, red Bell pepper and/or cucumbers to your tuna salad.
2. Add a 10 oz. box of chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of water, to your meatloaf recipe before cooking it.
3. Add slices of fresh pear to a grilled cheese sandwich before cooking it.
4. Stir in shredded carrots to a jar of pasta sauce, or your homemade sauce, and cook on medium low heat until the carrots are soft.
5. Add chopped up apples to your bowl of breakfast cereal, hot or cold.

Easy Chicken Salad with a Fall Twist

A sandwich with fresh fall flavors and healthier nutrition!
Kids can help by measuring the ingredients and stirring the chicken salad, with supervision.

Makes 4 servings
3 cups Cooked chicken, light + dark meat without skin, cut into bite-size pieces
¼ cup Celery, chopped
¼ cup Sweet onion, chopped
¼ cup Dried cranberries
¼ cup Fresh apple, chopped
1 teaspoon Dried thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Pepper
3/4 cup Yogurt, plain nonfat

1. Measure all the ingredients into a large bowl.
2. Stir gently with a large spoon until everything is mixed up.
3. Eat right away or chill in the fridge, cover and use within 3 days.
Cooking Tip: For a change, substitute turkey for chicken and raisins for dried cranberries

What fall fruits and vegetables are favorites in your household?