Tiffany, Week 1: You’ll Never Guess Our New Favorite Vegetable


We have been given an abundance of produce from Melissa’s. Every week they deliver a shipment filled with new fruits and vegetables for us to try right to our door and have loved almost all of it!

One of my newest favorites is Jicama. I’d never heard of it before this challenge. Jicama is a starchy root that contains only 35 calories per 100g.  It’s high in fiber and anti-oxidants.  You can add jicama to stir fries or have it in strips with some lime squeezed over top of it for a refreshing snack. It is so good. I cut it up and it’s great plain.

The kids didn’t care much for it plain. So I spray a cookie sheet with an olive oil non-stick spray, cut the jicama like French fries and sprinkle seasoning salt, spray a little more of the olive oil spray and bake at 400 for 20 minutes and voila! They were crunchy, salty and sweet. Almost like fries. Really does it get any better than that? Don’t we all want something crunch, salty and sweet?  It’s the triple threat.  This makes it even better because it’s good for you too!

It’s been tough getting the kids on board with the challenge. But its helped us to realize that in the world of fast, fast, fast and go, go, go, fruits and veggies can be just as fast as other grab and go foods. You can grab an apple or a pear faster than you can wait on line at a sub shop for chips. We just need to think in that light.

Leave a comment and let me know your favorite healthy on-the-go food.

Photo via Farmanac iPhone app

6 More Ways To Sneak Fruits and Veggies Into Your Diet


Elizabeth Fassberg, R.D. is the Avagliano family’s nutrition coach for the Healthy Family Challenge.

It’s not just an apple a day that will keep the doctor away. You should have oranges, mangoes, green peppers, tomatoes and a whole variety of fruit and vegetables to stay healthy. People who do have reduced rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diet-related diseases. Make it a priority to upgrade your diet by including either a fruit and/or a vegetable at all snacks and meals.  Here’s how:

Skip the pre-packaged “100 calorie” bars or bags. Instead, opt for some fresh vegetables and hummus or apple and peanut butter or some carrots and a slice of cheese for a more satisfying snack.

Make mornings more interesting. For breakfast–which you should eat every day–add a large handful of blueberries or any fruit to cereal. In one meal, you’ll have already gotten a serving of fruit in for the day. If you prefer eggs for breakfast, stir in some chopped tomatoes and spinach and you’ve added a big vitamin and mineral boost to your meal.

Squeeze it into the afternoon. For lunch, add lettuce, avocado and sprouts to your sandwich.

Change your dinner plate. Make half your plate vegetables and fruit.

Switch up dessert. If you love something decadent after dinner, dip your strawberries or banana in some melted dark chocolate!

Don’t get stuck in a rut eating the same vegetable and fruit every day. Since they all contain different vitamins and minerals, variety is key.

Take a look in the grocery store or visit your local farmer’s market to see what’s in season. Seasonal fruit and vegetables are usually less expensive. If you’re worried your vegetables and fruit go bad before you use them, then buy frozen. They’re also an excellent option especially in the winter months when local produce is not available.

Which of these tips are you most likely to try this week? Post a comment and tell me! 

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: Take Fruits and Vegetable Snacks on the Go

Carrot Sticks

It’s not easy to stick to a diet when you’re on vacation. Like Peggy mentioned in her post, when you’re in an unfamiliar place surrounded by new, local eats, there’s the overwhelming temptation to indulge. While there’s no harm in that, just be sure to eat in moderation and balance your splurges with healthier fare. Peggy noted that although she and her family are noshing on croissants and brie in, they’re also snaking on fruits and vegetables.

You can do the same during your travels. Fruits and vegetables are portable, naturally nutritious and low-calorie–which make them the perfect snacks to fuel your sightseeing. Plus, they’ll fill you up so you’ll be less likely to overeat once you sit down for a richer meal. Check out our healthiest on-the-go fruit and veggie snacks here.

What fruits and vegetables do you snack on during vacation? Tell us in the comments below.

The #1 Diet-Friendly Cooking Trick

Chicken Veggie Noodle Bowl

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

Adding more vegetables to your diet is a great way to lose weight—but not if you sauté those veggies in butter or oil. Remember: Just one tablespoon of butter or oil has 120 calories. Sauté your veggies in water instead and you could save hundreds of calories! Here’s how to do it:

  1. Heat 1-2 tablespoons water in a skillet until they barely start to bubble.
  2. Add your vegetables and sauté as usual. If veggies start to stick, just add another tablespoon of water.

Which vegetables should you try?
This technique works best for somewhat soft vegetables that have a high water content, such as zucchini, onions, celery and mushrooms. But I’ve successfully used this method for carrots when making soup and it worked just fine. The trick with tougher vegetables is to cut them into small pieces so they cook quickly.

What about the fat?

You may have heard that you need some fat to absorb some of the nutrients in vegetables. This is true but you likely have another source of fat in the meal you’re serving with your vegetables. If not, simply drizzle your sautéed vegetables with a teaspoon (per serving) of good quality olive oil. You’ll get less fat doing this than actually cooking your vegetables in oil.

Have you ever tried this trick? Will you this week? Post a comment and let me know how it goes!

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.