challenge 1

So What Is A Portion Size of Produce?

Apples and peanut butter

You know an apple is a serving size of fruit. But how many pineapple chunks or string beans do you need to eat for a serving size? And how many servings do you need in a day?

Let this chart from be your starting guide. It breaks down how much produce you need based on age and activity level.

When you find your number, it may seem like a lot. But if you look at what actually makes up a serving (five to nine will usually hit the mark) and how easy it is to sneak in a cup here and a half a cup there, you’ll see it’s doable.

So what’s a serving?

  • 1/2 cup of cut fruit
  • 1 medium piece of fruit
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of 100% fruit or vegetable juice
  • 1 cup of leafy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup of chopped vegetables, cooked or raw

Trying to visualize the serving sizes?

  • 1 medium apple or orange = the size of a tennis ball
  • 1 cup vegetables or fruit = the size of a baseball
  • 1 medium potato = the size of a computer mouse
  • 1 cup of lettuce = about 4 leaves

Do you struggle with determining portion sizes? Post a comment and let me know.

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.

Challenge Yourself: Make Healthy Mexican Meals

Grilled Vegetable Fajitas

Tiffany’s been making Taco Night healthier at the Lehman home. With some guidance from her nutritionist, she’s cooked meatless quinoa and bean tacos on whole grain tortillas.

You, too, can also enjoy lighter versions of your favorite Latin fare. Check out these great recipes for no-guilt tacos, fajitas, empanadas, enchilladas and more.

How do you make Mexican meals healthier? Share in the comments below.

Tiffany, Week 3: Our Healthy Taco Night Dinner

Veggie Tacos

What a blessing it was to weekly have fresh fruits and veggies waiting for us so we could use them and become more healthy! A big thank you to Melissa’s for giving us tips, ideas, the books and your knowledge. NEVER would I have guessed there is so much variety out there. Red quinoa? Pixie tangerines? Baby kiwi?

To those that give a second thought to fruits and veggies or think they are too expensive. Think again. It is amazing how a piece of fruit as a snack versus something out of a vending machine or one of the “healthy” bars will fill you up faster and keep you more satisfied.

Our first challenge is to eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible and we had quite a variety sent to us to try to help us execute this challenge. I fell in love with lentils. Never have I had a lentil until this challenge and chances are I never would have either.  Lentils are a great source of fiber and help fill you up which makes for eating less that ultimately helps reduce your waistline.

The nutritionist we are working with also gave us a great idea for a meatless meal. Quinoa tacos or taco salad. Cook the quinoa to the package directions, drain and rinse black beans, combine into the quinoa, add taco seasoning (we learned you only need about a half packet of the taco seasoning if you’re using store-bought seasonings) and serve.

If we’re having tacos we use whole grain soft shells. For the salad we’ll serve it over spinach—in a bowl, not a greasy taco salad shell bowl, use plain fat free Greek yogurt rather than sour cream, a little shredded cheddar cheese and salsa and dinner is served.  It is so good and filling you don’t miss the meat!

This challenge really helped me put produce in the forefront of my mind and made me open up my eyes and realize how important it is to eat these things.  I felt like I had more energy and I just felt clean and light.

Post a comment and tell me your favorite healthy dinner recipe.

Challenge Yourself: Try New Fruits and Veggies

Multicolored (Party) Cauliflower

Peggy has been eating new fruits and vegetables, thanks to her weekly shipments from Melissa’s Produce. Her family’s current favorites include kiwi berries, pomegranate seeds and baby cucumbers.

It’s easy to fall into a rut of always buying the same fruits and veggies. (I’m guilty of over-relying on bananas, apples, avocados, spinach and frozen peas.) And while it’s okay to have a few healthy recipes you cook regularly, adding a new fruit or veggie to a dish can make dinnertime more exciting–how much fun would it be to serve multicolored cauliflower, like in the photo above? Check out other interesting veggies you can work into your diet here.

What new fruit or veggie have you tried and loved recently? Share in the comments below.

Peggy, Week 3: Shaking Up My Shopping List

Armed with my shopping list and my coupons, my weekly trip to the supermarket is all about three things:

  • getting in
  • getting out
  • and occasionally, getting a great deal by combining a coupon with a special sale.
kiwi berries

photo via

I have never lingered in the produce aisle to check out fruits or vegetables I have not previously tried. I simply gravitate to the bananas, grapes and apples—with perhaps a brief glance at a product I don’t really recognize. On an adventurous day, I might grab a different type of apple, such as a gala or rome instead of red delicious. But I never would have glanced at sunflower chokes; let alone bring them home to try. (Just so you know, sunflower chokes came in the weekly produce package we get from Melissa’s Produce as part of the Healthy Family Challenge. You cook them as you would a potato).

Some of my family’s favorite arrivals from Melissa’s include:

Kiwi berries. They are the size of grapes and do not have a fuzzy skin. You simply rinse them off and eat them. They are bite sized and a great snack after a long day. Amanda loves them.

Pomegranate seeds. These seeds are both sweet and sour at the same time! Put a teaspoon in a salad for a great burst of flavor. They also make a good snack when you want to eat sweets! The seeds arrived vacuum sealed and separated from the pomegranate, making them a very convenient. Although I never noticed them before, I now realize they’re in my local supermarket. )

Baby cucumbers. They’re just the right size for a single salad. All you have to do is rinse and slice.

Mini sweet peppers. They add a little fun color to any dish you would use peppers in.

So, linger a few minutes in the produce aisle, and pick out one new thing this week for your family that is a little more adventurous than a different type of apple. Leave a comment and let me know what you’re going to try!