Guide to Fruits and Vegetables

August 15, 2016 in Category: Guides


Eat More Fruits & Vegetables Every Day

Everyone benefits from eating more fruits and vegetables every day.  Fruits and vegetables are nutrient all-stars, packed with naturally occurring antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, water and complex carbohydrates. Research has shown that people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables every day as part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases and increased energy. Additionally, eating more fruits and vegetables instead of high-fat foods may make it easier for people to maintain their weight because most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and low in calories. Unfortunately, fruits and vegetables won’t give you superpowers—but the benefits are still pretty super.

All forms of fruits and vegetables count—fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice!  Choose fruits without added sugar and vegetables without added butter, salt and other high-fat sauces.

this onion said to a strawberry...

Fruits & Veggies FAQs

Okay, maybe you’re not frequently asking these questions, but we think you’ll appreciate having some answers nonetheless.

What's a Serving?
A general guideline for a serving of fruit is one piece of medium-sized whole fruit, 1/2 cup of cut-up fruit, 1/2 grapefruit or 1/2 cup of 100% fruit juice.

One serving of vegetables is about 1/2 cup cooked, 1 cup raw vegetables, or 3/4 -cup of 100% vegetable juice.

What is Blanching?
Blanching is a process by which vegetables are plunged into boiling water for only a few minutes, then removed and immediately cooled to stop cooking.  

Many vegetables are blanched before they are frozen. Blanching “sets” the fresh color of vegetables by destroying the natural enzymes that can slowly lead to deterioration of the vegetable. It also keeps the veggies from becoming very soft in the freezer.  

A blanched vegetable needs a shorter cooking time than a fresh vegetable.

What Does IQF Mean?
IQF means Individually Quick Frozen. Products that are IQF are not frozen in a block – they are actually individual frozen pieces! Many of our frozen fruits and vegetables (as well as gyoza, shrimp and scallops) are IQF. This means that you can open the package and use as much as you want and return the package to your freezer to use another time. No need to defrost the whole package!

Are Trader Joe’s Dried Fruits Sulfured?
Some are, some aren’t. Sulfur dioxide is an additive that will be listed in the ingredient statement if present in a product.  Sulfur preserves the natural color of the fruit and allows the fruit to have higher moisture content.

What is an antioxidant?
Antioxidants, such as Vitamins A, C and E, are plant chemicals found in fruits and vegetables. They help to protect other substances from oxidation, which causes deterioration. In an apple, oxidation may cause an apple to turn brown. In the body, oxidation may cause cellular damage. Choose a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to give your body a wide range of valuable antioxidants.

What are phytochemicals?
Ever wondered what makes blueberries so blue? Or garlic smell so pungent? You can thank phytochemicals for those properties. Phytochemicals are naturally occurring plant chemicals that have shown promise in supporting heart health, eye health and immunity. They include plant sterols, flavonoids and sulfur-containing phyto-nutrients.

What is the best way to store produce?
This may be the best question yet. There are infinite numbers of Internet articles, opinions, and studies that touch on this topic. While the answers we have to this question don’t take into account the fact that you might love cold tomatoes or absentmindedly stuck your potatoes in the fridge, they may help keep produce fresh for longer.

  • Store fruits and vegetables separately: fruits give off ethylene, a natural plant hormone that causes degradation. This is another reason to toss those few bad strawberries or grapes from their larger containers.
  • It’s best to wash produce right before use: excess moisture can cause spoilage to occur more quickly.
  • Some produce just can’t handle the cold. Store potatoes, tomatoes, onions, limes, lemons, and oranges in a cool, dry place at room temperature to prevent any negative effects of cold temperatures.
  • Leave peaches, avocados, pears, and plums to ripen at room temperature, and then place in the refrigerator when they’ve reached peak ripeness to halt the ripening process and keep fruits fresh longer.

As always, produce will be at its best if eaten as quickly as possible after purchase—but we understand if you don’t want to eat all of your groceries in the car on your way home.

How can Trader Joe’s help me eat more fruits and vegetables?
We'd love to help! With the variety of fruits and vegetables available in our stores, we hope to make daily fruit and vegetable servings delicious and easy to incorporate into your diet. Try these suggestions:

  • Add a handful of dried fruits to your breakfast cereals, baked goods or salads.
  • Top pancakes and waffles with frozen fruit. Just defrost and warm if desired.
  • Add frozen fruits to smoothies or as toppings for your yogurt, ice cream, sorbet or cereal.
  • Have a glass of 100% juice. Only 100% juice counts as a serving of fruit or vegetables.  
  • Top TJ's pre-washed, pre-cut, packaged salad mixes with your favorite salad fixins’.
  • Sneak some spinach leaves or your favorite Trader Joe’s salad mix onto sandwiches.
  • Snack on baby carrots and grape tomatoes—try them dipped in salsa, hummus or low fat salad dressing.  
  • Choose TJ's pizzas with vegetable toppings or add shredded carrots or arugula to your favorite pizza.
  • Add extra frozen vegetables to soups.

More fruits and vegetables for thought (and cooking):

Grilled Peach Salad

A refreshing summer salad packed with spinach, peaches, and blueberries. Grilled chicken adds an extra punch of protein, and toasted almonds top it off with a crunch.

Vegan Rainbow Wrap

This wrap's colorful array of vegetables makes it almost as visually stunning as it is delicious. Really, look at that beet hummus!

Root Vegetable Chips

Add some crunch to one of your daily vegetable servings with these chips. Parsnips, carrots, and beets may be dark horses when it comes to chip-making root vegetables – they do not disappoint!

Grilled Caprese on Cauliflower Crust

Homemade cauliflower crust makes this sandwich carb conscious and sneakily full of veggies. You’ll want to dig in the second you hear buon appetito!

Funky Monkey Fruit

We don’t monkey around when it comes to fresh fruit, except when we do, which is why Gone Bananas Chocolate Dipped Banana Bites are a must in this excellent end-of-summer treat.

A Few More Tips and Tricks

Skin On: To take advantage of the maximum fiber content in produce, eat the edible skins of fruits and vegetables.

Go Prepared: Save time by using Trader Joe’s pre-washed bagged salads and pre-cut fresh vegetables. We’re big fans.

Water Conscious: Maximize nutrient retention by steaming or cooking vegetables in small amounts of water.

Variety is the…Nutrient…of Life: Every type of fruit or vegetable offers its own nutrient content. Vary the types of fruits and vegetables you eat to incorporate a wide array of valuable nutrients like dietary fiber, potassium, and Vitamins A & C.

At the Peak: Buy fruits and vegetables during their peak seasons of growth to maximize on taste and freshness. Below you’ll find some popular fruits and veggies sorted by peak season:

  • Summer: Stone fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries); Tomatoes; Melons; Corn; Blueberries
  • Fall: Hard squash; Apples; Pears
  • Winter: Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower); Root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, beets); Citrus
  • Spring: Asparagus; Peas; Avocados (California); Strawberries; Mango

Nutrition Guide For Raw Fruit & Vegetables

Nutrition Guide for Raw Fruits and Vegetables

Download the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Nutrition Guide for Raw Fruits and Vegetables PDF here!

Tags: Fruit, Produce, Nutrition, Vegetables