challenge 1

How To Skip Your Daily Multivitamin

Colorful fruits and vegetables

Variety is the spice of life when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables. It’s also one of the first tips I gave the Avagliano family at the start of the fruit and vegetable challenge. Sure, you can eat grapes every day. But it’s even better to eat a variety of fruits–apples, oranges, berries, mangoes and bananas–since they all provide different benefits to your body.

Eating fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks and getting variety means you can probably skip your multivitamin. A medium red pepper contains 74% of your daily value for vitamin A and more than 200% of your daily value for vitamin C. Instead of swallowing an expensive flavorless pill you can enjoy the delicious tastes found in iron-rich spinach and folate-rich strawberries.

There’s more than just vitamins and minerals in produce. There’s fiber that helps keep us full longer and makes sure our bowels are regular. And there are disease-fighting antioxidants. Scientists continue to discover different antioxidants so even though blueberries were considered one of the top foods to eat, all fruits and vegetables are good for us. Vary your intake by aiming to eat different colors of the rainbow!

Do you have a go-to dish you make when you’re trying to add more fruits and vegetables to your plate? Post a comment and tell me what it is!  

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Peggy, Week 4: Ready For Our Close-Up

Today was the professional photography shoot for the magazine. We always meant to get professional photographs of our family, but we never did, and somehow, it seemed like we’d have time to get it done. Some day. We brought the kids to see Santa in the mall, and even to the local big store photo shop for a photo, but not the six of us. Either our work schedules or our lack of money or our lack of planning prevented us from getting that big family portrait.

After all these years, we were finally having professional photographs taken in our home as part of the Family Circle Healthy Family Challenge. Unfortunately, our oldest two daughters, Christina and Katie, are in college, so they were not in the picture!

Looking through old photos, brings back the memories and emotions of the day; which is probably why we feel the need to share them:

kids on slide

Having four kids in less than five years, is a great way for any child to grow up, because they always have each other. As the eldest child, Christina has always looked out for everybody else. As the middle daughter, Katie has always been able to bridge the gap between each of her siblings–managing to be best friend to everyone. As the only boy, the girls look to Michael for advice on the “boys’” point of view; as their brother, he places himself in the role of protector, whether they want him to or not. As the baby, Amanda is slightly more independent than the other kids. Two years younger than Michael, but three years in the classroom, due to a change in birthday cut-off dates, placed her in a different school (grammar school v. middle school; middle school v high school) until this year.

Five years difference in age will have no meaning by the time they are 30, and the difference is already starting to shrink.

When I think of my kids, I often think of them as they were in this photo taken in Disney when they were all still in grammar school. Our home only feels “right” when we are all under one roof.

kids at disney

The reality is that they are growing up – as this photo taken 2 years ago shows.

kids at disney now

Making me wonder, where did the time go?

Photographs are memories, so take a few of your family today. (If you have teenagers, they will complain, but someday, they will be glad they have them).

But, I digress….

Today, was the professional photo shoot for the “before” pictures. The team arrived at our house minutes after I got home from work. The make-up artist did our hair and make-up, while the photographer and assistant set up their “studio” in our living room.

By the way, it would be nice to have someone do you hair and makeup every day before work.

We donned our bright orange FC challenge t-shirts; no, we did not chose the color, and smiled for the camera: “happy family,” “look left,” “look right,” “Jersey tough,” “duke it out,” “Congrats, you won!” “Yeah! We won!”

In about an hour, the photo shoot was over, and we went out to dinner; after all, we had our hair and make-up already done. (Yes, we changed our t-shirts first).

Post a comment and tell me about your last family photo.

Peggy, Week 3: Learning to Feel (Not Feed) My Feelings

peggy avagliano

Family Circle has its own ideas about who wins the challenges–and I am sure the first challenge went to the other family. But winning has little to do with any prizes for me. All I want is to give my family one thing I have not been able to provide until now: healthy habits.

I grew up in a typical Catholic family in NJ. Although I have fewer siblings than most Catholic families of my generation–I am one of three children–my three grandmothers also lived with us. Growing up with three generations in one household taught me life lessons I would not trade for the winning numbers in this week’s Megamillions jackpot. But one of those lessons was unhealthy eating.

Grandma Webb baked comfort food: fresh bread and homemade apple pies. She was an amazing cook, but she grew up with a turn of the last century cookbook, which told you to add lard to the skillet when cooking ground beef. She taught me that pastries taste best when made with Crisco and everything is more delicious with a little butter.

Grandma Webb and Grandma Kline liked to argue. The arguments often extended to the kitchen, with dessert challenges. Although Grandma Webb was by far the best cook, Grandma Kline had a few awesome desserts of her own. My favorite was homemade chocolate fudge. Whenever they argued, they would typically try to get everyone else in the house to decide who was right, and they bought your vote by making desserts. Which is better: homemade apple pie or chocolate fudge? In their minds, we voted with our choice in dessert. The only sane choice: choose both!

If I had bad day at school, one of my grandmothers would make cookies. If I had a great day, we’d celebrate with cake.

Don’t get me wrong, I have an amazing family, and they are responsible for all the success I have in my life today;. However, the lesson I learned about food is that food is the way we celebrate and the way we get through bad events.

Growing up, the life lesson learned was to feed my feelings. Now, I have to learn to feel my feelings, not to feed my feelings.

Fast forward to today. We were sitting on the couch watching TV. Typically, we eat chips, popcorn or ice cream while watching TV. Tonight, Amanda had sliced apple with melted chocolate and peanut butter on top. Michael made himself a berry yogurt smoothie, and Peter was eating celery and carrots with peanut butter.

We may not win a single challenge, but this is a win to me.

Have you also had to learn to stop feeding your feelings? Share in the comments below.

Challenge Yourself: Make Guilt-Free Pizza at Home

Tropical Pizza

As Peggy noted earlier today, you don’t have to give up pizza if you’re trying to lose weight. You just have to be smart about the crust and toppings.

Opt for thin crust over stuffed or deep dish. Go easy on the cheese, but pile on veggies–I love peppers, onions, broccoli, spinach, arugula and tomatoes on my pies. If you’re craving meat, stick to grilled chicken, rather than sausage or meatballs.

Try making one of these healthy pizza recipes tonight:

Tropical Pizza

Taco Pizza

Smoky Vegetable Pizza

Got any tips for making healthy pizza at home? Share in the comments below.

Peggy, Week 3: Making Pizza Healthy

Today, Elizabeth, our nutritionist, came over. While she was here, we took the opportunity to make one of her recipes we thought my teens might actually enjoy: pizza.

Pizza is not inherently a bad food. How nutritious it is depends on how the crust is made and what you put on it. Compare two single slices of pizza from the same national pizza chain:

Type of pizza


Fat Calories

Grams of Saturated Fats

Grams of Trans Fats

Sodium (mg)

Cheese stuffed Meat Pizza






Healthy Thin crust pepper, tomato, onion pizza






If you make the dough and the sauce yourself, you can save money and calories! Yes, it takes more time. But you can make the sauce in advance and store it in the freezer. The dough can be done the day before and left in your refrigerator.

My favorite combination is: chicken rollatini pizza. It has chicken (try grilled rather than fried), ricotta cheese (part skim rather than whole), and garlic infused olive oil. Michael’s favorite is cheese. Amanda’s favorite is white. And Peter’s favorite is pepperoni and onion (try turkey pepperoni).

Post a comment and tell me your favorite healthy pizza combinations!