“Renew You” Challenge – Let’s start the year off right with my weekly challenge (I mean, opportunity!) to help set you off on the right foot and in the right direction for bringing health to your week. Join us!

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re trying to eat and live healthier—maybe for a digestive condition, maybe to lose some weight (or both) or maybe because you know that you can maintain good health if you clean up your act!

One of the greatest ways to get big health benefits from the food you eat is to consume a good amount of fruits and vegetables. Government recommendations are four to six servings of fruits and veggies, and many natural health practitioners recommend up to nine servings! But children ages six to 12 only eat 1.43 cups of fruits and veggies per day, teens eat 1.76 cups, and adults only 1.81 cups per day, according to a recent report from the Produce for Better Health Foundation. Our intake is getting better, but it’s still not enough, they say.

I know that it can be difficult to get so many servings of fruits and veggies into a day. One of my favorite ways to do this is by eating a big salad for lunch. I like to prepare a big salad on Sunday that I can portion out to last me all week. That way I don’t get tired of making salad. And I add different toppings each day. Grilled chicken and bell peppers one day. Grilled wild salmon and broccoli the next. Hardboiled eggs and asparagus another day. Garbanzo beans and green beans…you get the picture. Often, just a little olive oil and lemon are all I need to dress the salad.

Not only will you receive an array of phytonutrients from the different veggies you include, but you will boost your fiber intake too (especially if you add beans to the salad).

So this week, prepare a big salad as your base on Sunday. Have the dressing on hand and choose your protein as you go. Bon appétit! Feel free to share your topping ideas in the comments.