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Buying In Season

As you’re trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, remember Florida’s growing seasons. Eating produce in season provides many health benefits – fruits and veggies are fresher and tastier, they’re more nutritious and are often less expensive.

May is a good month for bell peppers, blueberries, cucumber, watermelon, tomatoes, sweet corn, eggplant, cabbage and mango in Florida, to name just a few. So hit the farmer’s market or your grocery produce section and pick up an assortment. Remember, the key to healthy eating is diversity. Don’t just grab the same old lettuce for your salad. Add some new items to the mix.

Here are some other quick tips for increasing the fresh produce in your meals:

* Add veggies to the dishes you already love. Put sliced zucchini or spinach in your lasagna, mushrooms and peppers in your favorite omelet. Add extra vegetables to homemade or even canned soup.

* Everyone loves pizza and pasta. They’re a natural spot for veggies. Chopped zucchini, eggplant, broccoli and even carrots give a nutritional punch to spaghetti sauce – and if you dice REALLY small pieces, your kids may not even notice the veggies are there. Add fresh tomatoes, chopped spinach, basil leaves, bell pepper and mushrooms to your pizza. You’ve increased the fiber and nutrients in a family friendly dish.

* Wrap your lunch in health. A simple sandwich or wrap gets a gourmet flair (plus added fiber and nutrients) with mixed greens, onions, cabbage, sprouts, grated carrots or even grilled eggplant.

* Don’t forget the grill. It’s not just for steaks and burgers. Grilling highlights the flavor of fruits and vegetables. Just be sure to add cooking spray to prevent sticking. Vegetables only take a few minutes to grill, do cook them last for an enjoyable healthy side dish.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus and in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Schedule an appointment online today.

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