The Veggie-Off officially started on Friday, but today marks the start of the first full week. I, for one, am very excited. I’m looking forward to trying new veggies, and I hope to share some tasty veggie recipes with you all this month. To kick off the challenge I wanted to share some information about the Dietary Guidelines as they relate to veggies. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans changed this year, and along with that so did the way we look at our veggie intake.
Gone are the days of 3 – 5 servings of vegetables. Veggie recommendations are now given in cups. For the majority of the population the recommendation is 2 – 3 cups of veggies per day. (2.5 for women ages 19 – 50, and 3 cups for men in the same age range.) (Source) This is why we’re measuring in cups for the purposes of the challenge. Personally, I think it seems much easier to measure veggies servings in terms of cups than trying to figure out how many carrots is a serving or how many broccoli florets count. I always struggled to grasp what exactly constituted one serving.
Of course, there are caveats to everything. For example, 2 cups of leafy greens are considered 1 cup of vegetables. The MyPyramid.gov site provides this chart with examples of what counts as 1 cup (or in some cases ½ cup) of veggies. I’m definitely going to be referencing this when I need to know how many carrot sticks count as one cup.
One change that I find particularly interesting is that the USDA now considers dry beans and peas to be part of both the vegetable group and the proteins group. If I remember correctly, previously these were only part of the proteins group. Once the needs for the proteins group have been met, all dry beans and peas count toward the vegetables group. If you eat meat regularly, you can most likely consider all of your dry beans and peas part of the vegetable group. (Source) I’ve already professed my love of beans on multiple occasions so I’m excited that they can now be counted as veggies!
Things are about to get interesting around here…