In the summertime, I’m all for completely raw meals filled with an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables: I’ll drink a power smoothie for breakfast, eat a huge salad for lunch, and snack on fruits or veggies and dip; for dinner, I’ll eat a light, but equally fruit and veggie-filled meal. However, once the leaves start to turn, so does my desire for raw fruits and veggies. Okay, let’s be honest, my desire for any fruits and vegetables besides those typically found at holiday dinners wanes. When winter strikes, I find comfort only in the seasonal starches: potatoes, apples, squashes, onions, beans and carrots. That being said, I know as well as you do, a plant-based diet—or any diet for that matter—needs to be diverse to be healthy. That’s why I’ve come up with this list of commandments to help keep myself and my family healthy all winter long.

You can choose to commit to a few or all of the suggestions below. Either way, write out which ones you’re committing to and place it in a spot you can easily see.

Okay, here’s how I’ve managed to keep my family’s fruit and veggie intake consistent all year round.

By the Week:

1. I Commit to Eating (at least) One Meal-Sized Salad Each Week

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When the snow finally falls, regular salads are the first thing to go in my household. To make sure we are getting enough servings of fresh fruits and veggies though, it’s important to stick to having at least onemeal-sized salad each week.

Why not try this green lentil salad today?

2. I Commit to Making One Large Veggie-Filled Soup Each Week

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Making a huge pot of veggie soup over the weekend will save you time and excuses during the week. Having the soup in a slow-cooker warm and ready-to-go when you get home, ensures you actually eat it throughout the week. Need a little more sustenance? Add a veggie-filled sandwich and call it a meal.

3. I Commit to Eating Three Whole Grain and Assorted Veggie Stir-Fry Bowls Each Week

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You need to eat dinner. Stir-fry is quick, easy and so versatile. What more do I need to say? Check out these awesome recipes to get your first week started:

Kale and Roasted Corn Stir-Fry

Asparagus and Carrot Stir-Fry

Spicy Mushroom Stir-Fry

4. I Commit to Eating One Fruit Salad a Week

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I know, I know, I keep sneaking in all these raw fruits and vegetables. Save your fruit salad for a specialSunday morning brunch side dish or after dinner dessert.

5. I Commit to Eating a Veggie and Dip Plate Each Week

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You may not care much for raw vegetables right now, but can you really ever resist dip? Adding a healthy and hearty dip to this plate increases my family’s chance of actually eating a bunch of sliced cucumbers, broccoli crowns, carrot sticks, celery sticks, sliced mushrooms and celery when it’s below freezing outside. Try tossing in some hemp hearts or ground flax to increase your dip’s nutrient content.

Day by Day:

1. I Commit to (at least) One Serving of Raw Fruits or Vegetables Each Day

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Simply keep your home, office, and bag stocked with one or more of your favorite snack-time fruits or vegetables. Apples, carrots, celery and pears are all convenient options that travel well. You can also use raw fruits and vegetables to make complete meals like pizza.

2. I Commit to Adding Fresh Lemon or Lime Juice to (at least) 2 Glasses of Water Each Day

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Forget the pre-made concentrates and artificial flavorings. Always have a few fresh lemons or limes on hand for squeezing into your water. This adds an instant dose of vitamin C, calcium and potassium. You can also use lemons and limes to make healthy breakfast staples like Lemon Coconut Breakfast Bars.

3. I Commit to Adding Something Green and Leafy to One Meal Each Day

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Whether it’s a piece of lettuce in your sandwich or wrap, a parsley garnish to salsa or some basil in a pasta sauce, keeping up with your fresh greens is essential to staying healthy this winter. Greens provide us with the following health benefits: they’re high in antioxidants, they help prevent illness and disease and they help improve cognitive functioning.

4. I Commit to Eating (at least) Four Different Kinds of Vegetables Each Day

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Anyone eating a balanced plant-based diet should have no problem with this. For instance, you may have a mixed vegetable juice in the morning, lettuce and tomato on a sandwich at lunch and potatoes and onions with dinner. The key here is to get variety each and every single day.

5. I Commit to Cooking or Creating One Balanced Meal Each Day

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Not all of us cook. However, fulfilling a commitment to yourself to get an adequate amount of health-improving fruits and vegetables is a lot easier when you take full control of your meals. Check out these awesome vegan recipes and start cooking your way through the winter!

Don’t wait until you get sick this winter to really start taking care of yourself and your family. Begin today by committing to yourself that fruits and vegetables will be a priority this winter.

Image Source: Nedra/Flickr

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