By Jordan Luxa
Harvest season can be a stressful time of year as famers work against the clock and Mother Nature.
One thing that often gets put on the back burner during stressful times is our health. Eating healthy during harvest is a challenge for many reasons including the lack of time to sit down for a meal, the issue of location and dining in a field, and the stress that leads to unhealthy eating patterns.
My colleague, Hannah Guenther, shares tips from her experience of living with her farmer on a feedlot in northeast Nebraska.
Field friendly fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a well-balanced diet but often prove to be a challenge out in the field. Eating a salad while driving a combine is not the easiest or safest choice, so consider exploring field friendly options.
Carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, sliced bell peppers, and sugar snap peas can all be eaten raw and with one hand, making them great options. For fruit, try to choose options that don’t need to be peeled and aren’t overly juicy. Consider apples, grapes, berries or already peeled oranges.
Another convenient alternative, that is farmer approved, is juice. 100% juice counts as a serving of fruits or vegetables and makes a great option this time of year. Get creative and try to include a fruit or vegetable with each meal.
Try making small swaps to snacks or meals you already enjoy. This allows your farmer to enjoy a meal that they know and love while reaping the nutritional benefits of a healthy balanced meal.
For example, when cooking with ground beef, choose a lean option like 93/7, instead of 80/20.
If you are eating a burger, sandwich or wrap, choose whole grains for a boost of fiber and vitamins. And to get in an extra serving of veggies, add lettuce, tomato, and peppers!
A portable, nutritious take on a classic favorite is a field friendly BLT wrap. Start with a whole wheat tortilla, spread a thin layer of mayo, and load up on lettuce and tomato. Add two slices of cooked bacon and roll it up. Serve with a piece of fresh fruit and a small bag of chips for a healthy harvest meal.
Don’t forget breakfast
Most farmers are out the door before breakfast, but with a little bit of planning you can make those hectic mornings less stressful by having grab-and-go options, like egg muffins, on hand.
Egg muffins are loaded with protein and vegetables and are easy to eat, making them the perfect harvest breakfast.
Start by cracking 6 eggs into a bowl and whisk together with 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and ¼ cup low fat milk. Add ¼ cup cheese and 1 cup broccoli florets. Mix together and pour the egg mixture into a greased muffin tin. Bake at 375° F for 18-20 minutes until eggs reach an internal temperature of 160° F.
Eating on the run? Cut an egg muffin in half and roll up in a whole wheat tortilla for an easy, grab-and-go breakfast.
Harvest may not be the best time to completely overhaul your diet, but it is a great time to get creative and make small swaps towards a healthier eating pattern. When you eat better, you feel better and are better prepared to handle stressful situations.
For more information on nutritious field meals for your farmer and family visit go.unl.edu/foodfield.
Jordan Luxa is a Food, Nutrition and Health educator for Nebraska Extension in Washington County. She can be contacted at 402-426-9455, [email protected], or visit the Washington County Extension website at www.washington.unl.edu.