Nutrient Boot Camp

What do Veganism, Paleo, the FDA, and your mom have in common?

They all appreciate and underscore the importance of eating your fruits and vegetables!


Why Plants Matter

The role of plant matter in a healthful  lifestyle is undeniable.

When it comes to all the diets that have been scientifically scrutinized–from the Paleo diet to the Mediterranean diet to the DASH diet to the Ornish diet–the only thing that has been universally agreed upon are the health benefits that stem (ha!) from a plant-rich diet. And there aren’t just scientific articles…the personal stories that relate to this topic are astounding. From the story of Terry Wahls regaining the ability to walk without a walker to Sarah Ballantyne putting her painful skin condition into remission, the ability of a nutrient rich diet (of course, these stores include what they didn’t eat as well!) to positive impact lives is a message that has been spread far and wide.

The reasoning behind this is simple.

All of the functions in your body rely on nutrients.  At the most basic level, everything that happens inside your body happen because of chemical reactions.  All of these reactions, however, depend on the presence of nutrients (vitamins, minerals) that function at cofactors.

Let’s talk about some notable chemical reactions in the body and the nutrients required to make them happen:

1. Are you breathing right now? You can thank the phosphate in your body for that! Phosphate is made into ATP, the main power-house molecule that powers many of our basic and vital functions.

2.  You’re reading, comprehending, and integrating this information?  That’s calcium and some of the B vitamins doing their job. Without them, the neurons inside your brain would fail to make the connects necessary for understanding the world around you.

3. Maybe you’ve bit your lip, stubbed your toe, or cut yourself recently? Good thing there’s some calcium and zinc around to help you heal your wounds and rebuild the tissues into their former resilient selves.

The list could go on and on.  And the details can get insanely intricate.  (In fact, I have a whole video on the details right here.)

Fortunately for us, the take away is simple: fuel your body and you fuel your entire life.  The things your body is capable of when you give it what it needs can really astound you.

The Problem

Unfortunately, eating an adequate quantity and a sufficient variety of fruits and vegetables  can be hard for even the most well-intentioned, health-conscious person.  Additionally, it’s easy to get into a rut with what you get at the store and before you know it, you’re eating the same 10 fruits and veggies over and over.

The beauty of a nutritional challenge is that you can break free from your usual patterns and push yourself (in an organized and pain-free way!) into a healthier and happier lifestyle. The point isn’t that you stick to the challenge year round. The idea is that you challenge yourself to set new habits…habits that transform the way you make choices, how you treat your body, and how you feel about yourself!

The Benefits

Since nutrients are needed for good global functioning in the body, the benefits of this challenge aren’t just found in the solution to a single problem but aim to improve all aspects of health!  (And aren’t we all just looking to feel awesome??)

Throughout the challenge, we’ll track health parameters such as sleep, digestion, energy, mood, and cravings…and people who have already gone through the program have reported improvements in all of these categories to some extent or another!

I have my personal story of what a nutrient rich and varied diet has done for me in this post.  Spoiler alert: it drastically changed my overall health and helped me work through some chronic problems I had be struggling with for years.  That’s why I believe so strongly in the power of nutrients.

Check out this testimonial by Stephanie (who has an amazing blog with her husband at…it’s all about sustainable living and it seriously rocks so check it out):

Stephanie testimonial with pic

The other thing I hear from people all the time is that doing the Nutrient Boot Camp Challenge has changed the way they look at food and make daily choices.

Here’s a testimonial by Brittany of with this exact sentiment.  (Her and I are actually started a podcast together called Wellness Beets that can be found through iTunes!)

Brittany testimonial with pic

When you look at food as nutrients, making good choices becomes infinitely easier!

When you have this viewpoint, it’s not about picking foods based on what is “right” or what the latest fad is or what someone said on tv (or even me on the blog!).  Instead, it’s about picking the food that’s going to fuel your body the best each and every time you go to eat something.  Sure, there are nuances within that, but overall, it becomes pretty straightforward.

I’d say that a pretty big benefit right there.  Food is supposed to be delicious, not complicated.

The Challenge

The Challenge

The premise of this challenge is super easy:

Devote 28 days to diversifying the nutrients in your diet.  You’ll do this by choosing a plan below and sticking it to it for 28 days.

We’ve all heard that it takes about 21-30 days to turn a new habit into an old one.  And that certainly applies here!

The Levels

The Levels There are 3 levels to this challenge.  And you’ll be deciding if you want to aim for 15, 20, or 25 different plants every day.  (Sure, you can switch between levels at any point!). Included in your daily total will be all the different vegetables, fruits, spices, herbs, and teas you can possible find!

The Players

1. Vegetables

2. Fruits

3. Spices

4. Teas (aka: Herbs)

The Players

Sound like a crazy idea?  Like there’s no way that this is possible?

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how simple it can be when you put a little thought into it. (And with all the resources available to you during the challenge, it won’t even be all that much thought!)

Let’s look at a sample day: a veggie omelet for breakfast, a big salad as a part of lunch, some roasted veggies and entree with spices for dinner, and a cup or two of tea blends can easily get you to 15, 20, or even 25!

Do you have to put effort into it? Sure!

But that’s the point of a challenge worth doing, right?  And there are lots and lots of resources to help you on your journey.

This challenge is a little different from others because there are absolutely no food restrictions in any way. In fact, this program is one of the few challenges that asks you to focus on eating more food.  It isn’t about taking away anything. Instead, it’s all about adding in a higher quantity and greater variety of healthy fruits, vegetables, spices, and teas.

Better Fuel, Fewer Cravings

Interestingly enough, most people find that when they ensure they’re filling their plates with healthy options, they find themselves less hungry and have fewer cravings to food you’d rather not have. This includes less junk food and fewer sweets!  It also means that you won’t be hungry on this program. Eat as much as you want, when you want…just make sure to include enough different types of plant matter throughout the day for the level that you’ve chosen.

Ideally, this challenge will transform the way you shop, the food choices you make on a daily basis, and retrain your palate for a nutrient-rich, highly-varied diet.

And you’ll be happily chowing down on deliciousness in the process.

February NBCC


Please help get the word out about Nutrient Boot Camp on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook! You can click the social media buttons below or tag your updates with #nutrientbootcamp.

The Resources

There are loads of resources to help you on your Nutrient Boot Camp Challenge journey!

The Printouts

The first thing you’ll want to do to get ready for the challenge is to download all the materials.  This includes shopping lists that make it easy to keep track of what you’ve gotten and help you optimize buying a variety of options you normally wouldn’t think to get.  (You’ll be amazed at how many different options you have!) You’ll also find printable daily logs that help you keep track of what you ate each day and how it impacted your health.

Shopping Lists and Recommended Mixes

Fruit and Veggies

Veggie Shopping List

Fruit Shopping List

You’ll want to print the veggie and fruit shopping lists every week, before you go to the store.  Taking them with you will help remind you to explore new things you might not have tried yet, and to ensure you’ve got enough until you go to the store next!

You might also consider keeping the Fruit and Veggie lists from the previous weeks. This will help you keep track of what you’ve already tried, what you liked, and what you might want to try for the next week.

You’ll also get the opportunity to tally up the entire total of what you ate at the very end…that’s another reason to keep the sheets over the course of the months!

The Recipe Directory

You know that scenario when you come home with a new vegetable with every good intention making it but then you never get the time to scour the internet to find a good recipe so it just goes bad in your fridge? Yeah, me too.

Well, the Nutrient Boot Camp Challenge takes care of that as well. The Recipe Directory has at least one recipe for each kind of vegetable. Since Nutrient Boot Camp is new, we’ll be building up the recipes over time.  You can help by emailing me recipes that you really like for each vegetable–use the email–and I’ll add it to the directory!

Teas and Spices

Tea Shopping List and Recommended Blends

Spice Shopping List and Recommended Combinations

The Tea and Spice shopping lists are also very handy to keep on hand.  Chances are, you won’t be taking them to the grocery store nearly as often but these have the added benefit of having recommended tea blends and spice combinations.  This makes them great for hanging on the fridge or using to prep for the week ahead.

If you lose the sheets, the recommended tea blends and spice combinations can found in the Recipe Directory.  I’d love to keep building out all the different combinations that people like, so email me all your amazing ideas and I’ll add them to the lists!

I often premake my tea blends and spice combinations in re-purposed glass bottles (just make sure you label them correctly!) so that they’re easy to incorporate into your daily routine and makes it super simple to track for the duration of the challenge.


Daily Tracking Log

Each sheet has 2 days on it, so you’ll need to print 15 pages to have enough for all 30 days. You’ll also notice that you have the opportunity to track different aspects of your health and see improvements that happen as you fuel your body with all the nutrients!

The fact is that many of us have very short memories for this kind of stuff.  Writing it down will give you an objective way to see how you’re doing over the course of the month.

At the end of the month, you’ll fill out a health questionnaire so that you can get a good picture of how your efforts have paid off!

The Emails

In the daily emails, you’ll get lots of information that will help you along the way…and keep you interested while you’re at it!

You’ll definitely want to sign up for these guys.  Besides some good old fashioned science nerdy-ness, you’ll get a daily recipe idea, as well as short-cuts and tips that make the challenge a breeze.


The Support

The Support

Eventually, Nutrient Boot Camp will have its very own forums to chat away in.

In the meantime, we’ll be able to connect with each other in a private Facebook Group to provider support and share information (like recipes and tips!) to help each other over the course of this healthful journey.

When you sign up, I’ll send you an email with the Facebook Group invitation!


February NBCC


Please help get the word out about Nutrient Boot Camp on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook! You can click the social media buttons below or tag your updates with #nutrientbootcamp.


Q: What are the rules of Nutrient Boot Camp?

A: There are very few hard and fast rules of Nutrient Boot Camp. The point of the NBCC is to challenge yourself to eat 15, 20, or 25 (depending on the level you picked) different veggies, fruits, teas, and/or spices each day for 28 days as a way to increase nutrient diversity and density in your diet. There aren’t really any other rules, just to try to hit the goal each day. You can find the daily tracking sheets that will help you keep score each day on this page.

While I appreciate the idea of negative reinforcement, I prefer to focus on the positive…so there are no penalties for not reaching the goal every day.  Instead, I hope that people will be motivated by improvements in health and by the support of their peers over at the Nutrient Boot Camp Challenge Facebook Page (you’ll get an invite to the group when you sign up for the challenge).

Q: I have to eat how many plants now?

A: There are 3 levels in Nutrient Boot Camp: 15 plants each day, 20 plants, or 25 plants.  You can pick the level you want to tackle but can feel free to move between the levels as the challenge goes along.  Those numbers for a lot of people seem crazy though.  But because you count vegetables, fruits, all spices, and all teas, the numbers add up much more quickly than people expect.  It does take effort though to switch over to this way of eating and drinking, which is why there are so many recipes and blends, daily emails, and ideas swirling around the Facebook group to make this transition easier.

Q: Why do spices count? Don’t you just use a bit in recipes?

A: Spices are just fairly nutrient dense herbs that have been dried.  (This is similar to how kale chips are way smaller than fresh kale but retain a lot of the nutrients without the water.) Additionally, we’re looking at nutrient density and diversity in Nutrient Boot Camp but not necessarily quantity.  This is because our lives are incredibly busy and it can be way too difficult to hit the metrics for getting a certain amount of plants. I actually tried this when I was developing the challenge but found it way constrictive. (Also, I found that I just got way too full trying to hit a certain amount.)

Q: Aren’t there other nutrient dense foods besides plants?

A: There most definitely are! And we’ll actually be talking about them throughout the challenge. However, I wanted this challenge to be available to anyone, regardless of their dietary preference.

Additionally, I polled a lot of people about their most frustrating food problems and I heard a lot of people say that eating enough diversity and quantity of fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs was their most prevalent issue, not so much all the other nutrient dense foods.  And since that idea totally aligned with what I believe in in terms of the importance of nutrient diversity and density, naturally I wanted to set up a challenge that addressed this specifically.

I also thought it would be a really fun challenge because you can try new and exciting things at each and every meal, and fun should definitely play a role in food challenges!

Q: What if I don’t digest all vegetables well?

A: This is such an important topic that I chose to address this issue in the very first email I send at the start of the challenge. This is a very real issue and one that I have personally struggled with so I lay out an action plan that worked for me to get all the benefits of plant diversity without all the pain.

Q: What if I can’t eat FODMAPS?

A: The answer to this can be found in the Vegetable and Fruit Shopping List where you can see just how much variety there is out there. This might just be a good reason to branch out! And there’s nothing in the rules of Nutrient Boot Camp that will penalize you for limiting certain groups.  (At NBCC, we don’t believe in penalizing for anything!)

Q: What makes this program unique? Aren’t there about a billion other food challenges out there?

A: This program is one of the few programs that asks you to focus on eating more food.  This challenge isn’t about taking away anything. Instead, it’s all about adding in a bigger amount and variety of healthy fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs.  What happens when you give your body the building blocks it needs is pretty amazing…all the processes in your body run more smoothly! And that usually translates to an amazing sense of well-being, something I believe we’re all striving for.

Q: Do I eat like this forever?

A: Ideally, this challenge will transform the way you shop, the food choices you make on a daily basis, and retrain your palate for a nutrient-rich, highly-varied diet.  The 28 days will push you, so no: it’s not the goal to eat like this forever…but you’ll likely retain a lot of the benefits.

QCan I do the challenge more than once?

A: Absolutely! In fact, I think doing it more than once is a great idea.  The reality of the situation is that it’s easy to get off track with any healthy habit you’re trying to upkeep…regardless whether you get off track because you get too busy, the holidays roll around, or the corner Dunkin Donuts starts calling your name, you can always come back to do another round of Nutrient Boot Camp to get yourself going again.  There are also 3 different levels, so you can always start from the easier one and work your way up.  Or maybe you’ll want to push yourself harder to try new vegetable, spices, or teas to get a bigger grand total at the end. Either way, you’re always welcome back!

Q: What happens if you don’t meet your goal for the day?

A: Nothing!  This challenge isn’t about punishing yourself for any reason.  If you don’t meet your requirement for the day, move on and start the next day fresh! Life can be stressful enough as it is, there’s no need to add more unnecessary stress to eating.

Q: Do I have to be Paleo to do this challenge?
A: Definitely not.  While I eat predominantly paleo with lots of fruits/veggies, grass fed meats (with the occasional grass fed dairy), organ meats, bone broth, and wild caught fish, I don’t think it’s the only way to eat to be healthy.  So regardless of your dietary plan, you can be part and get a lot out of this health challenge. The only this that’s required is the desire to optimize your diet and improve your health!

Q: Can I do other challenges/have other food goals during this challenge?

A: Sure! I think this challenge is a great complement to other food goals such as the Autoimmune Protocol or the Walhs Protocol.  However, I strongly urge you to not make yourself crazy by attempting to do too much. Remember that emotional and mental stress is a powerful part of our overall health!


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