Would you like to know the single most important aspect of the Fertility Diet? It is to eat more fruits and vegetables! Almost 2/3rds of your plate at each meal should be filled with fruits and vegetables. Are you thinking this is impossible? I thought that too until I experienced my own personal food revolution when I decided one afternoon to start gardening. I didn’t read any books or refer to any do-it-yourself internet guides; I just started digging and stuck seeds in the dirt. I thought, “what grows will grow.” I watched sprouts raise from the ground, stalks, stems and leaves grow, flowers open and tiny fruits blossom into vegetables and fruits. I then had to learn how to use and preserve this bounty. This is when my cooking had to get creative.
I had to, in the words of Chef Bobby Flay, “Go vegetable heavy. Reverse the psychology of your [my] plate by making meat the side dish and vegetables the main course.” I didn’t want a thing to go to waste! This concern forced me to eat at least two servings of vegetables with each meal.
The Fertility Diet guidelines suggest eating at least nine servings of organic fruits and vegetables each day – six servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits.
Did you know that one serving equals 1 cup of raw leafy greens and ½ cup of raw or cooked everything else? Have you taken the time to measure one serving and pour it on a plate? If you haven’t, try it! I think you’ll realize how little 1 cup of salad greens, or ½ cup of green beans really is. This visual will also help you see how easy it could be to get two to three servings in one meal alone… especially if you get a little creative.
I regularly make large colorful salads and I suggest you do this daily too, but first let me share with you a few easy, creative ways I have found to include more fruits and vegetable in my diet (and my family’s diet).
1. Drink Your Fruits & Veggies
Fertility Smoothies – Fertility smoothies are an easy way to boost nutrient stores for fertility health every day. They are also a great way to hide fruits and vegetables. Consider The 10 Day Fertility Smoothie Challenge or the Fertility Smoothies: Elixirs for Optimal Fertility eBook for lots of tasty recipes. Here’s one more recipe that I recently started making my family, compliments of Martha Stewart, but with my own twist.
Green Ginger Peach Smoothie
Toss in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
PS… she suggests tossing in nuts. I don’t! I add a serving of hemp seeds instead (about 2 Tbsp, but each brand varies).
Juice – Fresh squeezed juices provide the body with easy to assimilate nutrients. They may take some prep time, but are well worth the effort. I encourage you to take time to read Hethir Rodriguez’s article One Fertility Tip You Probably Don’t Know About: Juicing to learn why juicing is so supportive of fertility health. Hethir shares her personal experiences and a how-to guide to help you get started.
2. Soups and Stews
Think about it… when have you ever had a soup or stew with just one ingredient? Rarely, right! Soups and stews are an easy way to include a variety of vegetables, even fruits. If you have not tried cold fruit soups, search for recipes on the internet and try them. Yum!
My go to stew – Ratatouille. It provides easy-to-use leftovers, that’s why it’s one of my staples. Ratatouille is a rustic vegetable stew that can be served warm and the leftovers are wonderful smeared between two pieces of bread as a sandwich, on pizza or crusty piece of bread, as a dip for fresh vegetables, in an omelet or tossed with pasta. Here is my favorite recipe (although there are many) by Sam Gittings from the cookbook Cooking from the Garden: Best Recipes from Kitchen Gardener.
*If you don’t have fresh herbs, use ½ as much dried. So, a recipe that calls for 2 Tbsp. fresh herb would only require 1 Tbsp. dried herb.
Heat 4 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic, lower the heat and sauté, stirring frequently until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-low and add the eggplant. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and the peppers. Cook for 5 minutes and then toss in the squash. Cover and cook for 8 minutes more. Stir in tomatoes, salt and pepper. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the herbs and serve.
3. Make Your Own Marinara Sauce
There is simply no need to buy marinara or spaghetti sauce from a shelf again! Sorry to be so frank, but the recipe I am about to share will help you understand why. Plus, it makes enough to freeze for use later.
Drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil in a stock pot or Dutch oven (large, deep soup pot), toss everything except the butter in, bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 30-45 minutes, pull out the bay leaf, and add the butter. Once butter has melted, scoop out large chunks of vegetables and tomatoes, puree in a blender (let them cool a bit before pureeing), stir back into the sauce and serve or freeze. I often double the batch so I can freeze more for later.
4. Think Dessert!
It’s easy to consider fruit for dessert, but veggies? This may be the most creative category of all. Psst, it’s okay to have dessert! I have seen and tried recipes for chocolate mousse and chocolate cake with avocado, and chocolate zucchini cake, many of us have also heard of carrot cake (go light on the cream cheese frosting), pumpkin pie, and I have even seen peanut butter cookie recipes made with garbanzo beans instead of flour. I’ll be honest, I am not good at baking, so I need to follow a recipe to a “t”. Search for recipes that sound good to you and go for it.
Carrot Apple Sauce
Puree cooked carrots and apples for a smooth, sweet veggie apple sauce.
The simple recipe:
Make fruit salads and top with a dollop of real fresh-whipped cream, or I really like this:
Fruit and Vegetable Salad
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, drizzle with a bit of vinaigrette. Taste and add more vinaigrette as needed just to coat the ingredients.
Combine ingredients in a pint-sized mason jar with a lid, shake well to combine. Shake or stir just before serving at room temperature, or store covered in the refrigerator.
5. Add a Greens Powder to Almost Anything
Try adding superfood greens powders like FertiliGreens to your juices, smoothies, sauces, salad dressings, or even a shot of water if you find it hard to consume the recommended nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily. FertiliGreens is a combination of dried and powdered green leafy vegetables, sea vegetables, flax seed, tonic herbs, and fruits designed as a foundational product for men and women. It is a simple, cost effective way to supplement your diet with these foods. FertiliGreens provides minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, chlorophyll, fiber and prebiotics to aid in digestion, and because these nutrients are entirely from foods FertiliGreens is easy to digest for the body to utilize quickly.
I have found that getting myself into the habit of creatively cooking and growing my own produce has helped me transform my plate and make consuming lots of fruits and vegetables each day a habit. Habits can be hard to break and this is one I won’t have to try to do! Find a way to make eating healthier a habit for you.
If you are interested, two of my go-to resources for unique, creative, easy recipes are…
- Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks – www.101cookbooks.com
- The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution by Alice Waters.
What are yours?
- Top 10 Most Pinned Smoothie Recipes. (2013, March). Martha Stewart Living. Retrieved from: http://www.marthastewart.com/965191/green-ginger-peach-smoothie#Our%20Top%2010%20Most-Pinned%20Smoothie%20Recipes|/968757/our-top-10-most-pinned-smoothie-recipes/@center/997029/most-pinned|965191
- Vegetable Quotes (n.d.) Retrieved from: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/vegetables.html#6Jw7lx6YkeozJHmg.99
- Rodriguez, H. (n.d.). One Fertility Tip You Probably Don’t Know About: Juicing. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/one-fertility-tip-you-probably-dont-know-about.html
- Rodriguez, H. (n.d.). Fertility Smoothies – A Fun and Delicious Way to Boost Your Fertility. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/fertility-smoothies.html