Say “No” to Fad Diets & “Yes” to Eating your Veggies

By Sharon Palmer, RD

“Eat your vegetables.” It turns out Mom was justified when she said this to you when you were a child.  While we’ve always known that eating a well-rounded diet, one that emphasizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein, and heart-healthy fat, is good for us, fad diets are still incredibly common in our country.

According to the Boston Medical Center, approximately 45 million Americans diet every year and spend a total of $33 billion dollars on weight loss products. On the flipside, two-thirds of our country is struggling with overweight or obesity. It may seem contradictory, but diets and weight gain often go hand-in-hand. This is because while restrictive diets can work short term, they’re hardly sustainable for very long. Depriving yourself of foods you truly enjoy or foods essential for adequate nourishment often backfires.

Fad diets also lack the nutrients we gain from eating a well-balanced diet – the same nutrients that protect us from chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, some forms of cancer, and type-2 diabetes. A study released earlier this year examined the dietary patterns of adults living in Northern Sweden for twenty-five years. What they found was that when we eat less total fat and saturated fat, and eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish and whole grains, we’re protecting our body against high cholesterol and coronary heart disease. (You can read the study abstract at

So what’s the take-away message here? Eating a well-rounded diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is one of the best things you do for your health.

And tomato products are one of the easiest ingredients to add to your meals so you can reach your recommended nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  Salsa, ketchup, and canned tomatoes can easily be incorporated into any meal, even breakfast. While we may be used to eating our vegetables at the dinner table, who says we can’t eat them at the breakfast table, too?

Try this frittata recipe to start your day off on a delicious and nutritious note.


Tomato, Potato and Asparagus Frittata


This quick, one-skillet meal is perfect for a lazy Saturday morning breakfast, or a wholesome dinner any night of the week.



6 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

½ teaspoon dried basil

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup asparagus, sliced into ½-inch slices on the diagonal

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ pound baby red potatoes, diced into ½-inch cubes and boiled until firm but tender

1 ounce prosciutto, chopped

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

¼ cup parmesan cheese, finely grated

1/3 cup prepared tomato salsa



  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2.  Beat eggs, milk, basil, and pepper until smooth. Mix in feta cheese. Set aside.
  3.  Heat olive oil in a 10-12 inch oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and sauté until crisp-tender, add garlic and sauté another minute. Add potatoes and prosciutto, and sauté two more minutes.  Pour tomatoes over top and arrange ingredients evenly in skillet.
  4. Pour the egg mixture over skillet mixture and cook (without stirring) for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Place skillet in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. When the center is beginning to firm, top with parmesan cheese and increase oven temperature to broil. Broil for 1-2 minutes, watching closely for ideal browning, and remove.
  6. Let sit 2 minutes, slice into wedges, and serve with one tablespoon of salsa on top.


Yield: 6 servings


Nutrition Information per Serving: 190 calories, 12 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 518 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber.

Recipe courtesy Tomato Products Wellness Council