The ABC Veggie Challenge

Who doesn't need to challenge themselves to eat more veggies?

Veggies are the triple win:

  1. Loaded with vitamins and minerals
  2. Tons of fiber
  3. Relatively low in calories

That's a triple win. Now I want you to eat more of these triple win foods.

Here's the ABC Veggie challenge. Your goal for the next 30 days is to place a check mark next to each letter of the alphabet (each letter stands for a veggie that you'll be eating). These are the rules. You can only check off one letter each day. You must have already eaten that vegetable before checking it off. For example, if I ate spinach today I could check off the S. I will have kale with breakfast tomorrow, so after I eat breakfast I can then check off the K. Its a 30 day challenge and only 26 letters so you have a bit of lee way. The vegetables listed are just ideas; you can pick another vegetable that starts with that letter. You don't have to go in order but you need to check off all 26 in 30 days. Who's up for the challenge?

A is for asparagus and artichoke

B is for beets, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts

C is for cucumber, carrot, and cabbage

D is for daikon and dandelion greens

E is for endive and eggplant

F is for fiddleheads

G is for green beans

H is for herbs of all kinds

I is for icy (came from the freezer)

J is for jicama

K is for kale

​L is for leeks and lettuce

M is for mushrooms and mustard greens

N is for not bought in a grocery store (grown at home, CSA, farmer's market)

O is for okra and onion

P is for parsnips, peppers and peas

Q is for quiet when eaten (think raw crunchy carrot vs. softer cooked carrot - much quieter)

R is for radish, romaine, and rutabaga ​

S is for spinach and Swiss chard​

T is for turnip and tomato

U is for veggies grown underground

V is for very spicy vegetables

W is for watercress

X is for an "xtra" serving of veggies

Y is for yams, yellow squash, and yellow peppers

Z is for zucchini ​

The Shoulds

Life isn't fair, I should just be like...

"Comparison is the thief of joy."
-Theodore Roosevelt

There is a terrible new disease creeping into my life. Actually, it’s probably been there a lot longer than I want to admit.

It goes sort of like this: “I’ve been working really hard at doing a push up just like Jane, but I still can’t do one. I should be able to do at least one.”

Or sometimes I hear it like this: “I’ve stuck to my nutrition plan almost 100% and I’ve lost 3 pounds but I should be able to lose at least 3 pounds in a week.”

I’ve even heard it this way: “I’ve been training in the gym for almost a year and I also eat really well. The amount of spinach I buy is ridiculous. I should see really great results on the scale.”

It’s easy to say, “You’re right, you should be able to do a push up” …. and, “You should lose more weight than that” …. or even, “After all that spinach you should be as strong and looking just like Popeye.”

Hold on there, Superman.

First of all, let me clear this up - you are not Superman. Although you are wonderful and sweet and kind and work hard, and you are strong and full of smiles, and smart…you are not Superman.

Since we live like all other humans on this earth,

  • We grow old.
  • We can get hurt.
  • We have weaknesses, more then kryptonite and someone called Lois.
  • We gain strength by training hard in the gym, not getting closer to the sun.
  • We are unique, although similar.

If we lived the in the realm where “shoulds” and “musts” and “have tos” exist, then this is what would happen when you do your yearly tax paperwork…

After you do hours of work, find all your receipts, fill in all the boxes on your tax returns, cross all the T’s and dot all your I’s; you’ll be soon holding a check written to you. It’s guaranteed, it happens. NOT.

We all know things can go wrong. Sometimes it’s on our end, sometimes it on their end. Sometimes it’s out of our control and a tornado wipes out the computer system and all our tax documents are lost.

You get the idea. While you can do everything right, the end is not guaranteed. It might take more work. It might take A LOT more work for you to get the same result as the next person.

Here comes the disease of the “Shoulds”.

Give yourself a break. Realize you are not the same person as everyone else at the gym. Remember you had surgery last year? Shoulder surgery can leave you immobile for 2 months. It will affect how your body is for a long time. It just will. Or maybe you have health challenges that make it harder for you than others to recover from physical exercise. You might be on a medication that has a side effect of weight gain. Now you have to battle twice as hard for the same two pounds others seem to easily lose.

I read recently in The Grateful Plate’s ProCoach focus times how to cure the “I shoulds”.

  • Take two "what IS" pills.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Check in to your real life.
  • Repeat daily.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Are we going there? 6 reasons to pay attention to your poop [Infographic]

If you hate changing diapers like I do this isn't your favorite subject, however...

by Dean Carlson


According to two very smart and educated professionals; MC Schraefel, Ph.D and Krista Scott-Dixon, Ph.D, you could be flushing one of the most important health indicators there is


I am not going to belabor the point here, because the infographic below tells the whole story, however if you just don't feel well, most of the time, your body is trying to tell you something.

And not to get too personal, but when I was obese and had really bad eating habits, I spend way more time in the "loo" than anybody ever should.

I thought it was totally normal to go through a bottle of Pepto Bismol every couple weeks (or less). Ask Nancy, she will tell you I am telling the truth. And you shouldn't be living on antacids, either.

When our body is working the way it is designed, food is digested and eliminated comfortably. And when it's not working well, well, we know it. 

It is true that your poo says a lot about you. (sorry, couldn't help myself)

Check out the infographic below, which identifies 6 reasons it's important to understand what's going on "behind you".

Download the infographic for your printer or tablet and stick it in your bathroom for quick reference. And if your spouse asks what kind of weirdo you are, just tell them it is part of your health plan!​

To remind yourself to turn around and look down, download a printable or tablet friendly version of this infographic so it's always handy.

It doesn't have to be your favorite subject, but understanding how your body works and what you can do about it is key to achieving your optimal health and fitness.

​Want more strategies for fine-tuning your health?

Getting your fitness and nutrition routine to work for your goals can be harder and more complex than you would like. Here at The Grateful Plate, we work closely with our coaching clients to identify what is holding them back, but more importantly, how to solve it effectively.

Avocado Slaw

This recipe is one for the summer. It will be a refreshing side to any barbecue meal you make during the nice weather that's coming up!

Avocado Slaw

  • 1 bag cole slaw mix
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Mash avocados in a large bowl. Add sour cream, lime juice, salt, and pepper, and mix together with avocados. Add the cole slaw mix and stir until everything is well combined.

Start with the End First

Imagine you just ate a really wonderful meal. It looked great, tasted fantastic, and it was high on the healthy scale. You knew it was full of fabulous proteins, incredible vitamins and minerals along with your share of healthy fats. It was a meal you’d be proud to share with me.

Now how did you feel after you ate that meal? What if you ate all your meals that day just like it? Imagine the goodness running through you.

Let’s back it up just a bit so we can see how that might work.

What did you have to do to make that one meal happen?

What would you do to make it happen over again?

3 Tips to Reverse Planning and Prepping

1. What made this meal so good?

  • It was served at just the right temperature.
  • The vegetables on your plate.
  • The meal prep (as in whether the protein was grilled, sautéed, fried, baked, etc).

2. What happened to prepare this meal?

  • Everything was in the house.
  • You just went shopping.
  • Some of the meal was already prepared.

3. How can you do this again?

  • Shop once a week.
  • Cook foods in bulk.
  • Cut and chop up vegetables.

You’ve just created a starting point for you to do this more and more often. By increasing the good stuff you already have going on, it will bring up the whole meal’s value.

Maybe you need to add in more crockpot meals so that you don’t have to wait for dinner, or cook enough chicken on the weekend to serve until mid week. Maybe you’ll need to take advantage of the bagged pre-mixed salads at the grocery instead of trying to clean, chop and make your own salads.

Make it as easy for yourself as possible. Start with the end, what you already can do. Then just do more of that.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Changing Your Body Composition is Easy

Changing your body composition is only easy if you are trying to do one thing – be overfat.

Most of us have experienced that – you wake up one day and you weigh 30 pounds more than you did a couple years ago, and you didn’t even have to try!

Going the other way is not that easy, as many of us have also discovered over the years.

But it isn’t rocket science either. The #1 reason why we don’t make the progress we desire is because we are unwilling to change what we are doing, usually in the area of nutrition.

  • Unwilling to record your daily eating
  • Unwilling to plan and prepare
  • Unwilling to limit non-supportive foods

I defy anybody to demonstrate they have taken these three steps over a reasonable period of time (8 weeks maybe?) and not have made significant progress toward a better body composition.

I want to help you out. Do you really want to make the changes necessary to achieve your goals? I believe you do.

So here is what I want you to do.

Step #1

I want you to find a way that will work for you to log (record) every bite of food you eat. There are several apps you can download. MyFitnessPal and Fat Secret are two of the more popular ones. If you are like me still a paper girl you’ll find a great food diary and planner at Get Fit NH for only $7. It will last you a whole year. Logging your food can also be done by snapping a picture of your plate each time you eat. Its eye opening what happens when you start to write your food on paper.

Step #2

Log your food intake into your account for one week. When you have done that, send me an email and let me know. Don’t stop after a week, continue every day to be consistent.

Step #3

After two weeks you’ll start to notice a recurring pattern or habits. Use that information, whether your habits are already good and need to become better or whether you realize you’ve made poor choices that need to be lessened. Sometimes we don’t ‘see’ our poorer choices until we write them down on paper. A habit of eating dessert every night might need to be tweaked so that is once a week instead.

No other changes, no other hassles, no nothing. Those three simple steps. Find a tool to use to journal. Use that journaling tool consistently. Evaluate the information you have in front of you.

I am excited to hear your success stories. Sometimes doing it on your own even though it seems like a simple plan isn’t as easy to carry out. I am more excited than ever about helping you reach your goals. The Grateful Plate is soon going to open up ProCoach for Women and ProCoach for Men. If simple steps like those above leave you feeling like it’s not that easy, let me know.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Super Simple Tuna Salad

On a hot summer day, this is a dish that leaves the oven off, yet it also delivers a great source of protein, loads of veggies, and is complimented with a healthy fat in the avocado. It’s a win-win. While easy to make, this dish is also very adaptable. You can add thinly sliced radishes, sprinkle on chopped green onions, or add crunchy jicama fries on the side.

Super Simple Tuna Salad

  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • ½ cup sliced tomato (I use cherry tomatoes)
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • ½ cup diced cucumber
  • ½ an avocado, mashed with a fork
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Paprika, to taste

Stir all the ingredients in a mixing bowl until well combined. I serve this salad on top of a bed of greens but it is so yummy it can be eaten alone.

Almost No One Gets Hired to Eat a Slice of Cake

Few of us have a job, what you do to earn money, that you absolutely love all the time. It is called work because it is just that, work. Comparing work to food, usually doesn't have us calling for chocolate cake. Work is like eating anchovies (unless you like anchovies).

There are ways to help make 'work' feel more enjoyable but that's another blog post.

Sometimes working at improving our health feels like we have to eat anchovies but it doesn't have to. Improving your health should feel more like eating cake.

Here are three tips to improving your health feel more like eating cake:

1. Small starts, quick rewards. Create a system where you and your partner have to do small tasks and in return you get a small reward. For example, I can and I will drink 16 ounces of water and then I will eat breakfast. Or I will plan my meals the day before so that I can make getting to work on time more achievable. The smaller the task, the better, so you won't delay starting. Also small tasks done consistently over time reap a big payoff.

2. Recruit a friend or family member to join you. Two is much better than one in many ways. Humans are social creatures and you can use that to your advantage. Agree to set daily or weekly goals, and check in with each other daily. Share the work and set rewards for hitting your goals. Encourage each other and help each other when someone is faltering.

3. Get excited daily. It's easy to be excited about a project or goal when you first start, but that can die out. Renew your goal each day. Start by setting a goal for the day that you can accomplish and that you care about. Find inspiration, visualize your accomplishment, find some music that motivates you, find an inspirational quote or video ... anything to get you excited to accomplish your goal for the day! Don't forget to share it with your partner.

Better health doesn't have to feel like swallowing your daily dose of anchovies, you can actually enjoy it.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

We've all heard this analogy, "When cabin pressure drops, put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you". You have to be taking care of yourself first in order to help those around you be well.

But are you truly living it? Are you each day putting time into yourself? Or are you too busy? Maybe too much stress to fit in drinking water today? Maybe just too tired to focus on planning your meals today?

Could it be that you are telling yourself the stress, the sleep, and the to-do list is more important than you are to yourself? Are you allowing your schedule, work or situations to tell yourself that you are not worth it?

I hear it all the time, "I'm too stressed to eat good"… "I'm just too tired to focus on taking a multivitamin"… "I have too much to do to eat broccoli". 

What if instead you were honest and said, "I'm just not worth eating good food"… “I'm just not a member of society that is worth taking a multivitamin"… "I am not valuable enough as a person to eat broccoli and receive its benefits”.

OW, harsh, huh?

I know this journey is not easy, but take time to help yourself first so that you can take time to help others. You are worth it. I believe in your ability to take on better health for you.

I can’t take the stress out of your life. I am not able to tuck you in each night promptly at 9pm and ensure you’ll sleep soundly for 8 hours straight. I certainly can’t tackle your to-do list (you have skills I just don’t have).

I'm here to help you. I can serve you the tools, but you are on the front lines doing all the work/ Here is a list of tools I can open up to you:

  • The Grateful Plate website
  • 21 + Nutrition Challenge
  • Get Fit NH in Concord or Epsom
  • ProCoach
  • Essential Nutrition LIVE
  • Happy Healthy Lives- No Food Guilt on Facebook
  • Physical Preparation Coaching
  • Nutrition Coaching
  • A friend who understands but is also willing to help (that's me 🙂 )

You are valuable to me. Keep making it happen.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Mexican Cauliflower Rice

Last week I shared with you one of my favorite past S3 recipes that I love because it makes a lot, is easy to grab and go, and tastes great weather its warm or cold. This is another one of those recipes that I love for those same reasons.

Mexican Cauliflower Rice

by Coach Nancy

  • 4 cups grated cauliflower
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium plum tomatoes, small dice
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and membrane removed, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions, tomatoes and jalapeno and sauté until just tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cauliflower, sauté until the cauliflower is just tender, 2 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir to evenly coat the vegetables and cook for 1 minute or until heated through. Add chopped cilantro and serve.