How to find the fruits and veggies that will make the most of your meal
You’ve found a healthy recipe that conforms to the demands of your weight loss surgery diet and looks tantalizingly tasty. You’ve talked to your family or friends about gathering for a home-cooked evening meal. You’ve got the pots and pans, a spotless kitchen and the determination to make the best meal you’ve ever prepared.
But no meal can truly be great without picking fresh, nutritious produce. Regardless of the recipe, the quality of your meal will always rely on the quality of your fruits and veggies, making careful selection of excellent produce tantamount to making a delicious dinner.
As you focus on meeting the diet and exercise requirements given to you by your weight loss surgeon, you should also focus on other ways in which you can make your lifestyle healthier. Now is the time to learn that not all produce is created equal. If you really want to make the most of a healthy diet, it will be important to buy (or grow) fruits and veggies that are as wholesome as possible, providing the most nutritional value and flavor in every bite.
This takes more than just running to the nearest grocery store and picking up the first tomato you see. To make the most out of every meal, try these tips on picking the perfect produce.
Pick the place, then pick the produce.
When it comes to quality fruits and veggies, there are few better places than the local farmers’ market. The selection may not be as vast as the supermarket, but that’s because these farmers focus on growing local, in-season food with sustainable methods. The produce you find at the supermarket has often traveled thousands of miles to reach the shelves ( a process that takes days, if not weeks), but nutritional value in many fruits and veggies diminishes as they become less fresh, making the fresh-picked foods of the farmer’s market clear winners.
Most vendors at the farmers’ market are the farmers themselves, giving you an opportunity to talk directly to the person who grew the food you’re buying. They frequently eschew conventional large-scale farming practices and instead choose an organic path, meaning their produce will also limit your consumption of the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and pesticides that may have detriments for your health.
Though local favorites like the Dallas Farmer’s Market provide a venue for great produce seven days a week, farmers’ markets are not always open when you need them. This makes your local health food store another indispensable resource in your quest for perfect produce, as these stores will often have fresh, local, in-season and organic produce. However, farmers’ market fare is typically the cheaper option.
Engage the senses.
Once you’ve made your way to a great market, it’s time to start making your selection. As with most things, your first impression will be sight. Though stipulations will change based on item, look at each fruit and veggie for signs of perfection before picking them up. Inspect them for colors that suggest ripeness, surfaces that are free of discoloration or abrasion and textures that appear smooth and fresh.
Next, pick the item up and gently check the way it feels. Again, different produce items will feel different, but tomatoes should be moderately firm with a little bit of give, stone fruits like peaches and plums should yield to slight pressure and carrots should be firm and crisp. Cucumbers should be smooth and dry, and melons should feel surprisingly heavy for their size.
Last, take a whiff. Though you may have more experience smelling flowers than fruit, each produce item should have its own distinctive aroma, and a bad odor will be the perfect indicator to move along. Raspberries and other sweet fruits should give off a delicious aroma, while tomatoes should have a uniquely fresh scent. If something smells musty or past its prime, then it probably is.
Fruits and veggies are the foundation of any healthy diet, but buying subpar produce won’t do your tummy or your taste buds as much good. Learning how to find the best produce can take a little time and dedication, but your efforts will be well rewarded. Best of all, these fresher options are often just as affordable as those at the supermarket, especially when purchased at the farmers’ market.
You shouldn’t let fear of pesticides or diminished nutritional value scare you away from eating conventional produce if that’s all you have access to. However, if you use these tips to find some truly excellent produce, you may find yourself wishing you had explored these fresh and delicious options sooner.