Pool Side Dinners – Summer 2017 PowerFull Moms Menu

As I was sharing some of my pool side menu last week, I had some awesome moms share their pool side cuisine as well. The more ideas the better! Check out these two options…

Amy’s Idea:  Steak Salad.

Grilled steak
Roasted veggies
Pasta
And a orange sesame dressing!


Yum!!!

And Aspen shared taco options!: I made taco filling, rolled up the kiddos some soft tacos, and made Dave and I some 6 layer “dip!” Taco meat, cheese, lettuce, salsa, black olives, and sour cream, plus chips to scoop! It was fun to have dinner by the pool.

Perfection! Bring on summer!!!

 

Local NOVA Hikes for You

In May, our PowerFull Fitness Crew is focused on Restoration and I got a bit selfish. I hoped that my selfishness benefited them as well as you.

You see for me, restoration comes in the form of being outside, having a cup of coffee, and relaxing in nature. Now I’m not a beach girl – I’m a woods kind of person. Nothing makes me happier than exploring at a leisurely pace in the woods.  Now that my kids are older, this is something I can do a bit more of, even with them.

So for this blog as I focus on Restoration, I thought maybe we would focus on restorative hikes you can do alone or with your family here in NOVA. Some of these I have done and some are going on my to-do list (that is where the selfish comes in!)

I want us to restore our time of leisure together with friends and family.  I want to be sure we are “restoring” those moments too – that we build them into our weekly routine.  So this week and weekend, pick one of these local hikes and see if it doesn’t do your soul some good to get out and move.

Right here locally we have Accotink Park and Burke Lake Park. These are two great loops you can walk with kids.  Accotink Park has a great place to do paddle boats, carousels, mini golf and a play ground too so you can make this an entire afternoon. Burke Lake has a playground as well as Frisbee golf, a train you can ride during the peak seasons and a carousel.  Again, you can just park and walk around the lakes or you can enjoy some of the extras.  Pack a picnic and make it a day! You can make these as long or as short of a hike/walk as you want.  Around Accotink (lake only) is about 4 miles and around Burke Lake (lake only) is about 4.5 miles.

Side note:  we live in Springfield and if you park on Carrleigh Parkway in Springfield and walk into Accotink from there – in a very short distance you’ll run into a train bridge. We often sit there around 5:00 pm and wait for the VRE and Amtrak trains to pass under us – super fun! And then from there you can explore the paved path (steep and winding) down to the lake and walk anywhere you’d like!

Huntley Meadows is a great one too  You have some options here. You can park and walk through the woods, over board walks and really see some wildlife. There are dirt, paved, and boardwalk trails to explore.  Walk about one mile in and climb the tower to see over all the marsh/wetland. Trails wind and bend so there is plenty to explore.

Huntsman Park in Springfield has a great little playground in the entrance. If you walk past the playground there are some fun loops around Huntsman lake to explore. You can take a quick one right around the playground or go out a bit further and circle around the lake.  You can use the address 9150 Dorothy Lane Springfield to check it out.

Hidden Pond Park in Springfield is fun for a more family/smaller kid outing. There is a playground and a Nature Center to explore. There are some smaller trails around the pond there as well – fun to explore and see for shorter hikes and bits of outside fun.  8511 Greeley Blvd Springfield will get you to the Nature Center.

Now if you want to trek out a bit check out:

Roosevelt Island – This is such a fun place to explore and learn a bit of US History along with it. Cross over the footbridge and take the big loops around the island or cut it in half by going through the memorial and seeing all the inspiring quotes and history there.  And in the summer you can splash a bit in the fountains (no standing but little hands and feet can certainly splash and kick!)

Rock Creek Park – This is such a gem in the mmiddleof the city. We usually just park anywhere and have the kids walk around and explore.  Of course we always end up at a Cupcake Shop in DC when we are done – because #balance.  PS for cupcakes we loved Baked and Wired in Georgetown. A MUST HAVE!  Trails here follow along the creek and on the weekends the roads are blocked off so it is actually a great place to bike and not worry about traffic!

And I can’t mention hikes without talking about Great Falls.  Here there are miles of trails and of course – water falls.  You can pick a map up when you enter to help you pick the best hike for your family. Remember there is a parking fee $5/vehicle!

But then I decided to take this a bit further and asked all my PowerFull Fitness families for their favorite parks and I learned of even more!!

Gina and Amy mentioned:  Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in McLean, VA!  Gina says:  It’s a light hike that only takes an hour, great for dogs and kids who can’t handle longer or more steep climbs. https://www.yelp.com/biz/scotts-run-nature-preserve-mclean

Tara mentioned Green Springs Garden:  We love Green spring Gardens. Not much of a “hike” really I guess but a fun walk by the ponds, through the woods and the gardens!  Check it out here!  I haven’t done this one so I’m adding it to my list to try!

Karen added to Green Springs with River Farm.  This one looks like a super fun summer visit too! My list is growing!

For a fun little trail – try Lake Royal. I have done this one and it does have some fun playgrounds along the way!  Maggie says:  The trail around Lake Royal is nice and has 2 playgrounds around it and soccer fields and a baseball field. Not really a hike,but 2 miles around.  Use 5344 Gainsborough Drive Fairfax on the GPS.

Eileen says:  I have taken my kids..wagons, bikes, strollers..to walk from the National Harbor over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and into Old Town Alexandria. This is a path I run at 5am with friends when we can, but its a great walking, stroller, bike friendly trial. I’d say from the National Harbor all the way to Old Town is about 4 miles..so keep that in mind..a nice walk is just from the harbor to the bridge..the top of the bridge overpass has historical pictures, benches and looks outs on it. If you go the other way and start in Alexandria under the bridge, there is a nice rubber grounded park there, basketball courts and places to ride bikes and scooters and really really nice BATHROOMS under the bridge!

I will add – we take our kids on their bikes under the bridge all the time for practice!

Leeann mentioned the Aquatic Gardens. I have never tried this one either – adding to the list! Leeann says they are in bloom in July and mostly flat. I definitely wanna do this!  You can see more about the Gardens here – they even have festivals!  From the website, “Hiking, birding, photography, painting, and more are possible. While trails are short (less than a mile each way) and do not loop, there are benches to enjoy the views and invite you to linger. Birding is excellent all year. Many come by canoe to explore the marsh.  Small picnics (no cooking) are allowed in the park so one can relax while a friend is photographing lotus.  Friendly dogs are allowed in the park, but must be on a leash at all times.”

Leeann and Sarah also mentioned Mason Neck. You can see more about the trails there by clicking this link. I haven’t tried this one yet but have heard great things!

Sarah also added Fountainhead Park as her fave!  Look at the fun trails here!  I am not going to STOP hiking all summer!

Heather and Tara both mentioned the nature center, Jerome Buddie Ford Nature Center. You can see it here.  Outside the nature center is Dora Kelley Nature Park (scroll down the link to see it). The website says, “Just outside the Nature Center lies Dora Kelley Nature Park, a 50-acre wildlife sanctuary with a one-mile long nature trail that meanders along streams, wooded hills, and freshwater marshland.”

Wow – friends. We have lots of places to restore. Isn’t that just the coolest thing about NOVA? With all the traffic and chaos and busy – we can slip into nature and restore our souls? Ahh I love it!

Happy trails to you!

 

#powerfullrestore – balance

This week, I asked our moms as part of our #powerfullrestore challenge to share how they balance it all. How do they get started and stick to a FITness journey while also keeping things running well at home too? How do they balance FITness and nutrition with carpool, nursing babies all night, baseball games, and work?

Here are some of their answers!

Janis said: Fitness Challenge- how do I balance fitness with family and my job? I wake up 4:30 or 4:45am to fit in a morning workout Tuesday-Friday & Sat mornings! Every other Monday, I drop off the kids to religious school and walk or run on a trail behind the church & listen to music!

Monica said: Today’s Powerfull Fitness challenge is about balancing family duties and fitness. On days that I work, I have a gym in the building currently. My schedule allows for about 30-40 minutes workout after work before picking up the kids. I try to fit in a strength training workout, running on treadmill or bike at the gym. I also add in running in the morning before I go to work on some days. Saturday’s are always my long run days. On days that I don’t work or the kids are home with me, I try to do a workout from Laura Waller at home and even get the kids involved. (Gabriel loves burpees, planks and push-ups). It doesn’t always happen, and I don’t always workout. My goal is 4-6 days a week. Life happens, Crohn’s happens and some days I just am too busy. I am still learning to not get discouraged and give up. I am a work in progress. I have to remember I trained and ran a half marathon not too long ago. I will have ups and downs and currently my Crohn’s Disease is challenging my runs and my sanity. I take one day at a time and keep going forward!! (LOVE THAT ATTITUDE!)

Christie says: Answer: I balance taking care of my family with meeting my fitness needs by waking up early to work out before work most days and on the weekends.

Leah says: Not something I’m always so great at (balance)…but for sure couldn’t do it at all without two people. #1 James – hubby extraordinary. I can’t think of a single time when I said “I think I’d like to work out/go for a run/do some yoga” that he didn’t answer with a simple “ok, have fun.” And #2 – the amazing Laura Waller. Bringing the kids to class….how does it work? I don’t understand – but it does! And it makes working out possible.
(ahhhh thanks Leah! I often wonder how it works myself!)

Paige says: I get up before the sun to squeeze in workouts with some of my favorite ladies. This is truly the only time that consistently works for my family’s busy schedule AND it guarantees I’m in a much better mood when they wake up. So everyone wins! After a year of the #special5amcrazycrew I can honestly say you start looking forward to those 5am classes. (yep it does happen!)

 

I love these tips and tricks. Everyone is different, everyone has a different life stage they are in – so make this work for you!!!  Be proud of each and every step you take in that direction!!

#powerfullrestore – SLEEP

So as part of our Restoration month – I had our ladies tell us how they get that restorative sleep. Do they have tips, tricks, night time routines that help them settle down and restore?

Here are some of their responses.

Sarah has a great system to calm her down.  “To settle down before bed I read from one of my open books. It’s usually on my kindle, which I know isn’t great, but it still works.”

Monica has a tried and true method.  “Today’s Powerfull Fitness challenge is to share one bedtime routine that helps me get ready for bed. Anyone that really knows me, knows I take a bath EVERY night. That is my calming recovery to help me to prepare to go to sleep. This is something my mother did growing up (and still does). The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Aspen – love it!  “One thing I (could) do (more often) to get ready for bed so that I can settle down and restore for the night is to wash my face/take out my contacts while getting the kids ready for bed. Does that always happen? Nope. Would I like it to happen more often than it does? Yep. #goals

Leah has a great routine too!  “For me one of the biggest things I do to help myself fall asleep (something I’m not always so good at) is to get as much done and set up for the next day as I can. So the girl’s lunches are packed and kitchen is cleaned up, the next day’s laundry is organized, I’m packed up for whatever I have on my agenda. It helps me slow my brain down (at least a click or two slower) and I’m not worrying about those things.”

Amy’s routine sets her up to ease her mind.  “I am NOT good at getting enough sleep. But to help get ready I like to get as much done on all 4 lunches as I can before bed and I look st the calendar for the next day and write myself a list of what I have to do.”

Paige = genius!  “My best tip? Get the kids exhausted!!! Then bedtime is much easier and I can get to bed earlier!”

Heather has one I am DEFINITELY trying.  “Admittedly, I am not great about a bedtime routine (for myself) and 98% of the time I fall asleep in bed with one of the girls. However, I love this nighttime meditation app. Lots of options to customize.”

Christie – goals girl! You are getting there!  “Uh, I’m not very good at this… we’re supposed to post what we do to get ready for bed/sleep. I read (like 2 pages and then I realize I’m asleep…).”

Allison.  Keeping it simple – just get in bed! “Today’s Powerfull Fitness challenge focuses on sleep. One thing I do to get ready for bed for restorative sleep is to go to bed early. Sometimes we sleep through the night, but we always get up early here.”

If you are having trouble calling it a night – try out one of these tips.  Don’t skip out on this part of our your wellness routine – sleep is just as important as nutrition and exercise!

 

Live Nutrition Chat with Max Muscle – The SCALE

As part of our Ready to Be…MindFULL of Nutrition Focus this month, I went out and spent some time chatting with Corry of Max Muscle.  I thought it would be great to do a LIVE FB chat so that you guys could ask her your questions too.

In our first video – we covered Restore Meals so if you missed it – check it out here.  

Another question that comes up a lot when I chat with women in class is – how do I measure progress? Or…why am I gaining weight when I work out? Or..once I reach my goal, how do I maintain?  Corry and I chat all things scale, progress, and more in this second clip.

Here is the chat! Hope it helps answer some of the questions you have too!

 

Live Nutrition Chat with Max Muscle – Restore Meals

As part of our Ready to Be…MindFULL of Nutrition Focus this month, I went out and spent some time chatting with Corry of Max Muscle.  I thought it would be great to do a LIVE FB chat so that you guys could ask her your questions too.

Our first major topic was on what I call Restore Meals. I wanted to hear her thoughts on why they were important and any “rules” associated with them.  Check out her response and then plan your next restore meal asap!

Here is the chat! Hope it helps answer some of the questions you have too!

 

 

 

Its All About the Jump Rope!

Our instructor Eileen recently introduced jump ropes into her boot camp classes. There may have been some moaning and groaning but man what a great workout. Jumping rope burns a ton of calories during and post workout. It is a piece of equipment you can carry anywhere and really get your workout on!  And while giving you a great heart pumping workout (increasing cardiovascular endurance), it also forces you to focus on balance and coordination (which leads to a focus on the core!)

I’m excited to thank Henrik Nielsen, author of the website:  https://fits-me.co/  for developing a great infographic exclusively for our PowerFull Fitness members!!  These can be done at home, on the road, or with your kids!  Grab your jump rope, put on Mandi’s 80s playlist, and get your calves burning.

Download the workout here! You can print it out and use it anytime you need an awesome workout. Thanks Henrik for including a beginner and advanced version!

Boost Your Mental Health…Why it is Important

Today we have a guest post from Eve.  She is a personal trainer and an editor at Garagegymplanner.com  She recently wrote us up a short article on eleven ways to boost our mental health and why they are important.  As always, I think it is key to pick one small goal at a time so take a scan of these ideas and focus in on one area you want to improve upon.

I personally am working on the “having enough sleep” thing after reading Elyse’s comments on sleep hygiene.

Which one of these do you need to focus on?  Thanks Eve for encouraging us to think about FITness all around!

11 Lifestyle Changes That Will Boost Your Mental Health

A person’s psychological and emotional well-being is vital in ensuring that one is able to live a productive and healthy life. Having a healthy mental state allows the individual to fully realize his or her potentials and become a positive member of the community.  Neglecting our mental health brings highly damaging effects. Ensuring that it remains in tip-top shape should be a priority and a considerable workout motivation. Here are 11 lifestyle changes that we need to apply to enhance our emotional and mental health.

  1. Healthy Diet.  Having the right mix of fruits, vegetables, and meat products in one’s diet supplies enough nutrients to keep the brain functioning well. Just like any other part of our body, it is important to keep eating food that will enhance and maintain the normal processes of the brain. Being the central coordinating organ of all intellectual and sensory processes of our body, the brain needs to be kept as healthy and sharp as possible.
  2.  Exercise.  Sufficient exercise allows better blood circulation to the brain. It increases our brain’s capacity to counter depression and memory loss.  Exercising releases endorphins that will help improve our mood and allow us to have a more positive outlook. Hence, knowing the benefits that our brain gets from it should be our workout motivation.
  3. Having Enough Sleep.  Sleeping gives our brain the time to recharge while it processes and consolidates all the information and memories that it has gathered during the day. Aside from making one feel grumpy and tired, having too little sleep impairs our learning processes.  Thinking, reasoning, problem-solving abilities and other cognitive processes are greatly affected when our body suffers from lack of adequate sleep. This could then lead to more serious physical and mental health problems.  
  4. Traveling and Exploring Nature.  Visiting other places allows us to have a reprieve from our daily routine. Exploring new things and discovering unfamiliar places serves as a mental exercise for our brains and provides a positive stimulus to make it function better.
  5. Relaxation and Stress Management.  Stress is a slow but definite killer. It has been found to be linked to several mental disorders such as chronic anxiety and depression. It is best to always find a way to relax and detach one’s self from things that give us stress. Finding a diversion that helps promote a more optimistic attitude can help eliminate stress and allow us to be able to think clearly.  Relieving stress can also be a great workout motivation as exercising helps enhance mood patterns.
  6. Appropriate Self-care.  Caring for one’s self is not a selfish act. Properly attending to one’s personal needs boosts one’s self-esteem and encourages better interaction with other people.  
  7. Recreation. Recreational activities allow our minds to redirect its focus from stressful things to those that are more relaxing and mentally stimulating. These activities give us a sense of focus and allow us to re-energize our minds. We will then be better equipped to face more challenging situations because our brains are functioning properly.
  8. Having a Support Group.  Establishing healthy and positive relationships with family and friends allows us to have people whom we can share our frustrations with. Talking with people who love and support us releases stress and encourages us to do and become better individuals. That assurance of love stimulates our brain to think and react positively when we face mentally exhausting situations.
  9. Being Educated About Mental Health.  Knowing the risks and potential problems associated with mental health allows us to approach the issue with a greater perspective.  It also arms us with the proper defenses to shield us from being severely affected by mental stress and exhaustion. Having the proper knowledge about mental health concerns allows us to know what we are up against and helps us recognize the symptoms at its onset.
  10. Learning to Focus on the Positive.  Having a positive attitude is a sure-fire way to boost our mental health. This simply means that we focus on what is good and pleasing around us.  Understanding and accepting that some things are simply beyond our control, and focusing on doing the things that will help us become better gives lesser opportunities for mental stress to creep in.
  11. Therapy.  Should the situation call for it, attending therapy sessions is greatly encouraged and recommended.  There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. It is better to address the problem head on with the help of experts who can help shed light on our condition, rather than pretending that the problem does not exist.

Our brain is a vital and irreplaceable part of our body, and it needs our optimum care and attention. Ensuring that our brain remains in a healthy state should be our primary workout motivation.

Thanks Eve for the great thoughts! We always love to hear how to make FITness a full wellness approach to lifestyle changes.

Nutrition 101 – Tips from Max Muscle

In March, our ladies focused on being MindFULL of Nutrition. All month long we talked about macronutrients and ways to ensure we are fueling our body well. We worked with Nalls Produce and Max Muscle  to bring in some outside experts and opinions.

The nutritionist at Max Muscle put together a great little cheat sheet – Nutrition 101.  These 9 tips are a great starting place when you want to start making true REALISTIC life style changes.  Check out their thoughts here!

Nutrition 101 from Max Muscle Springfield

Author: Jackie Caroe

  • Protein has a number of functions in the body, and is generally lacking in most women’s diets. Most think of protein as the building material for our skin, bones, muscles and other tissues in the body. Whenever there is any damage to any of our tissues, either due to normal wear and tear, or to injury, protein is necessary to rebuild that tissue. To be healthy, eating protein is also necessary to build brand new tissue, which makes it very important to children and pregnant women. Proteins also function as regulators of fluid balance and acid-base balance, which help keep you from swelling up, drying up, and/or becoming toxic, any of which could be life-threatening. Protein is also involved in the clotting of blood, which keeps all your blood from draining out when you cut yourself.  In addition, protein is a major component of enzymes, antibodies, and hormones.These are chemicals that play a major role in many processes in the body that, among other things, digest your food, fight disease and allow you to enjoy a healthy love life.  And protein can be an energy source!
  • We should be eating every 2-3 hours! Which is about 6 small meals a day. Protein should be a part of each of these small meals and paired with either a carbohydrate or a fat.
  • Carbohydrates are anything that grow from the ground. They are your body’s favorite fuel for energy but the carbs you do not burn are immediately stored as fat! Make sure to only eat carbs when you are using the energy. NOT when you are getting ready to settle in for the night or laying down for bed.
  • Fats are very hard for your body to break down and therefore keep you full longer. If you eat fats towards the end of the day you will be less likely to reach for the junk food at night. The fats will also keep your metabolism up longer and keep burning calories while you sleep.
  • We should be drinking about a gallon of water a day! Do the pee test. If it isn’t clear, or close to it, then you are most likely dehydrated. Ways to get in your water: use a straw, add some flavor, add ice, drink hot tea.  Be sure to get all your water in before dinner time so it doesn’t wake you up at night.
  • If you rely on plant based sources of protein you are getting carbs and protein so you need to limit other carbohydrates. Talk to a nutritionist about your total caloric needs, and make sure adding vegetarian protein isn’t causing any one macro to go over your goals.
  • The 3 best times to eat carbs are first thing in the morning, right before you workout and right after you workout. These are the times that our body needs energy.  Pair carbohydrates with protein to have a perfect post workout meal.
  • The best form of protein for your body is breast milk. Since that is not on most people’s meal plans the second best is egg whites! It is a pure protein with no fat and no carbs. You can cook them up in the pan with salsa or sugar free ketchup or hot sauce. Add any seasoning you like to make them more interesting because they will take any flavor you put them with.  
  • Weight loss is simple math. You must burn more calories than you consume. Figure out how much you are burning a day, deduct 500 calories and that is what you should eat. Expenditure = BMR + TEF + Daily Activity. If you eat less than 500 calories below your expenditure your body will go into starvation mode and it will store everything because it doesn’t know the next time it will eat. It will also shut off unnecessary bodily functions. First thing to go is your BRAIN! Stay within that window and make healthy choices!

Thanks ladies for giving us a great starting point for being MindFULL of our nutrition.

Get In Your Veggies! Without Having to Hide Them

I am so excited about spending March focusing on nutrition.  Are you Ready to Be…MindFULL of Nutrition?  Does that scare you a bit?  Do you ever wonder HOW MUCH produce you need?

I turned to Choose My Plate as a great resource for this. Check out their website here.

General guidelines have women ages 31-50 needing about 1.5 cups of fruit daily. This is for women who get less than 30 minutes of exercise daily so it can be increased if you are more active!  In case you’re wondering – children ages 4-8 also need about 1- 1.5 cups of fruit a day.  You can check this chart for more on what a cup of fruit looks like depending on the type!

For veggies, women ages 31-50 need 2.5 cups of veggies daily (again this is for women who get 30 minutes or less exercise each day so it can be increased with increased activity).  Children need 1.5 cups (ages 4-8).  If you want more on this or for other recommendations based on kids age and gender check here).  This page also has a really cool chart based on how many veggies per week you need from each sub group – kinda cool!

Please note these recommendations are generalizations and can change based on other factors!  

So we know we need them….how do we do it?  This is where my great friend Valerie from Nalls Produce.  Valerie is a great resource for all things veggies and produce.  Our family LOVES OUR CSA  with Nalls but it can be tough sometimes to figure out HOW to get the veggies in.  But Valerie never fails to help  – check out her NINE tips I love her involvement in the community and her desire to bring healthy meals to our homes:

Valerie shares:

You want to eat more fresh veggies. You really do. You want to have a crisper that is full of vegetables that you know are good for you and your family, and you want to USE them. You want children that won’t turn up their noses at cabbage steaks. YOU don’t want to turn your nose up at cabbage steaks. But you know that pureeing butternut squash every other day to include in your mac and cheese is not realistic either.

Most of us with moderate to low levels of willpower, children, and responsibilities, the “want” is not enough. New habits are really hard to create. Period.  But you WANT to, right? Try these tricks to make it happen!

    1. Write down your goals. Make them quantifiable and specific. Just saying “I want to eat more fresh vegetables and fruit” is not enough. To be quantifiable and specific you need to say something like “ I want to eat fresh fruits and vegetables with dinner at least 4 nights a week for the next 30 days”. This gives you a specific number that you can measure. The 30 days part – of course you will want to extend this habit beyond the 30 days, but your brain can better handle the challenge of achieving this goal if there is a set end point. At the end of 30 days you will want to look back and evaluate your performance and set a new goal for the next 30 days.
    2. Track your progress Make a chart with 120 circles on it and color in the circle every time you have a fresh veggie with dinner. Place this chart where you can see it every day and have written on it “Fresh Fruits & Veggies with Dinner 4x weekly for 30 Days”. Marking off the circles is a fun way to get your kids involved, too!
    3. Prepare yourself for success!  Stock your kitchen with enough fresh veggies to make this happen. If you come home in the evening late on a weekday and you have no fresh veggies in your kitchen, it is going to be hard to make it happen that night. Buy enough to have plenty on hand.
    4. Buy plenty!   See trick number 3. Also, most of us have a compelling need to not waste food. If you have an abundance of fresh produce but you know it is going to go bad soon, you are more likely to hurry up and use it.
    5. Try new recipes!  If you enjoy playing in the kitchen, find new recipes to experiment with. It can get you excited to play around with new ingredients!
    6. Repeat winning recipes!  There is nothing wrong with knowing you love roasted cauliflower and incorporating it regularly into your meal planning. A veggie eaten is a veggie eaten, it doesn’t have to be a new, exotic, exciting recipe to “get credit”
    7. Reverse plan your meals!  Instead of thinking “What’s for dinner?” think backwards. “I want my dinner to include cabbage, so I will make cabbage steaks. Kielbasa goes well with that, and I will add whole wheat dinner rolls to finish the meal” This works even better when you have the veggies on hand. “I want to use this cabbage — what can I make? Oh, cabbage steaks, plus kielbasa and rolls”.
    8. Grow your own!  Tomatoes and peppers are fairly easy to grow, even for those of your with self-proclaimed “Black Thumbs”. If you have grown the veggies yourself, you won’t want them to go to waste. You will have pride in your accomplishments and will be eager to reap the rewards! Visit a independent garden center, they can get you set up to handle a few plants successfully, even if you have your doubts.
    9. Join a CSA!  Many farms or produce shops offer packages of pre-selected produce on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, or CSAs. They will include a variety of items that are in-season and ready to eat. This forces you to try new things, based on what you receive that week, fills your crisper, and, best of all, forces you to use it relatively quickly. You know that you are receiving another share soon, and you will need the space in your refrigerator.  Hopefully you can try these methods and get some more fresh produce into your diet easily! Sometimes it’s best to just think about ways to manipulate your brain and thought process rather than just thinking about the desired outcome!

Ahh – these tips are great. I specifically love the idea of setting specific goals and CHARTING them. That makes it fun for the family and makes your progress tangible.  Thanks so much Valerie for sharing with us.

Valerie Nalls is the manager of Nalls Produce, 50+ year old family operated garden center and fresh produce shop in Alexandria Virginia. Learn more about the Nalls CSA program at nallscropshare.com