fruits and veggies

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.


The #1 Secret To Expanding Your Taste

Spinach with Asparagus & Goat Cheese

They say familiarity breeds contempt. And that’s the last thing you want when it comes to fruits and vegetables. But if you eat bananas day after day, you may get sick of them and quit eating fruits altogether. Or you could go to the other extreme, trying some exotic new vegetable, hating it and leaving your diet lacking. So we asked Miki Hackney, corporate chef at Melissa’s Produce for some tips on expanding your repertoire of fruits and veggies. Her advice: take baby steps.

“Let’s say you don’t like prunes,” says Chef Miki. “Consider that they’re related to plums.” Then follow a progressive food chain to get from one to the other. “Go from eating plums to eating more grapes. Then go from grapes to raisins. And then go from incorporating more raisins in your diet to working in prunes,” she explains.

Another easy, slow transition? Get from iceberg lettuce to dark leafy greens. “Iceberg doesn’t have much nutritional value,” explains Chef Miki. “But you could start by adding mixed greens to your salad.” Once you get accustomed to that, try adding in spinach or arugula, finally progressing to kale and collard greens.”

In a food rut? Post a comment and tell us what fruit or veggie you’ve gotten stuck on.

In addition to sending our Healthy Family Challenge teams weekly bundles of new fruits and vegetables to try, Melissa’s Produce offered up corporate chef Miki Hackney as an advisor to our families.


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.


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 FruitAndVeggiesMatter.gov 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.