fruits and veggies

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!

Have You Done A Plate Check Lately?

Portion sizes

Stephanie Karpinske, R.D. is the Lehman family’s nutrition coach for the Healthy Family Challenge.

You always hear that you should eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. But what’s a serving? Five baby carrots? Half a banana? Serving sizes can be confusing because they vary for different fruits and vegetables. So rather than trying to figure out how much lettuce equals a serving or how many grapes fill a cup, simply do a quick “plate check.”

Before you start a meal, review what’s on your plate. Half of it should contain fruits and veggies. If it doesn’t, you need to make some adjustments. I asked the Lehmans to do the “plate check” at every meal as a reminder to eat more fruits and vegetables. If their plate was mostly meat and grains, they could see that they needed to add more fruits and veggies to their meals. If they had vegetables at a meal but no fruit, they knew to include fruit as a snack later in the day.

The “half-plate” rule is easy to remember so it’s great for kids. It’s also helpful when you’re eating out. For instance, if you have a choice of sides and you’re thinking of the “half-plate” rule, you may decide to order a vegetable side dish or a salad instead of rice, pasta, or bread.

Give the “plate check” a try. And if you want to see a visual for how to divide your plate, go to

What’s the usual make-up of your plates? Post a comment and let me know!

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Challenge Yourself: Healthy Eating Tips for Busy Moms

Today Tiffany confessed her main reason for participating in the Healthy Family Challenge: Her mother had triple bypass surgery at age 60 and her husband’s mother died of a stroke at 50. With that family history in mind, Tiffany’s motivated to reduce her risk of a similar fate by losing weight. As she said, “I can’t do that [die prematurely] to my husband or my children.”

With that in mind, she’s well on her way to better health. If you’re also a busy mom making the change to a healthier lifestyle, try these six totally doable, healthy eating tips from Family Circle‘s health director.

Why’s your main motivation for getting healthy? Share in the comments below.