Well, how is your hydration going? Feeling more energized, cleansed, focused? Maybe even noticed an improvement in your skin, less fatigue in your muscles. If not, that’s ok, know that hydration is good for you regardless and your kidneys are definitely thanking you for the help.

One week down, 4 weeks to go. So, here’s a reminder of how things work. This week, I’m giving you a new focus, BUT that doesn’t mean we forget about all your hard work from last week! No way. The goal is to BUILD on to the previous week, not just get through it and then forget it. So, keep the hydration going and add on this next challenge.

Fruit and veggies! Everyone knows that they’re supposed to eat them. They’re good for you. Have lots of nutrients and low calories. Fiber is good and comes from fruits and veggies. Blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately, few of us eat the recommended number of servings each day. This means that not only are you not benefiting from the wealth of nutrition fruits and veggies have to offer, but you’re also probably filling this “void” with nutrient-poor options, a double whammy with respect to your nutrition. In other words, if you’re not eating fruits and veggies, you’re probably eating excess refined carbs, processed foods, or other relatively nutrient-poor food items.

Which brings us to this weeks’ challenge: Increased fruit and veggie intake. More specifically, at LEAST 3 fruits and/or veggies a day for the next week, one of which MUST be a vegetable. What qualifies? Well, a piece of fruit like an apple, banana, peach, pear, orange, or a ½ cup of fruits or veggies (mango, berries, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.), or, finally, 1 cup of raw leafy greens (spinach, kale, lettuce). So many options!  What DOESN’T count – fried veggies, candied fruits, jelly/jam, juice, dried fruit with any added sugar, canned fruits with syrup, fruit pie.

Fruit & Veggie Intake Tips

1) Plan each meal around a fruit or vegetable. This ensures that you get not only 3 solid meals, but that you easily get your 3 fruits/veggies

2) Smoothies! 1 banana, ½ cup frozen strawberries, and two handfuls of fresh spinach with a bit of yogurt/milk/water and ice = one delicious smoothie and ALL your daily fruit and veggie goal.

3) Salads. Start with a solid base of greens, add any other veggies you like, maybe even some berries, apple or pear slices, etc. Sprinkle with cheese or nuts and add some protein for a delicious meal and easily meeting 2-3 of this week’s goal needs.

4) Start with a fruit or veggie, then build your entire meal around that. How do you compliment it? What goes well with this?

5) Bulk up your sauces. Tomato sauce is a great vehicle for increased veggie intake. Start with a simple tomato sauce and add some canned pumpkin and spinach. Puree if desired to make smooth. Tomato, pumpkin, and spinach? Three veggies in just one meal, and bonus, you can serve over some whole wheat pasta!

How do you get your fruits and veggies? Need more recipes and tips to get another week of the challenge under your belt? Come on in to CoreLife!

Aubrey Phelps MS RDN