Every year the holidays become more and more special and meaningful to me. This year I do not have to work on Thanksgiving and I am very excited to spend the day in the kitchen with my mom and sisters! My mom is such a wonderful cook and I love learning from her.
When I was home this weekend, my mom asked my sister and me to help her plan the Thanksgiving Dinner menu. I was asked if the creamed onions had to be made healthy. I was shocked by this question. Why you ask? Creamed onions are a staple to my family’s holiday meal. To me, the creamed onions remind me of my mom mom, who has since passed. She was a wonderful cook and she worked so hard in the kitchen to make the holidays perfect for my family (+20 people). She is a huge reason why my family is so strong and why we love the holidays. So why am I telling you all of this?
Well for one, I am not too sure that “healthy” creamed onions would taste very good. Also, I am about to share a couple healthy holiday desserts and before I do so, I want to make one thing clear. It is important to enjoy the holidays and make the traditional foods that are meaningful for you and your family. Yes, there is always an opportunity to make dishes healthier. For example use 2% milk (or even whole milk) instead of heavy cream. Bake or roast vegetables. Cut the amount of sugar by half in pies and desserts. Make sure to wisely choose the dish or dishes that you want to make healthier. When in doubt, add an extra dish to the menu that is healthy. I bet it will be a hit! But really, do not mess with your family’s traditional foods… or the creamed onions!
Here are two apple desserts to try this Thanksgiving! If you have questions about your upcoming Thanksgiving menu, comment below and I will respond with my recommendations!
Building and sustaining a nutrient packed pantry is key to living a healthy lifestyle. First, a pantry should have food that can be made in to at least a couple of meals. That way if there is no time to go grocery shopping for a couple days, ordering take out can be avoided, which can sometimes lead to overindulging and unplanned expensive. Also, a pantry should have healthy and satisfying snacks, because when the munchies strike (and they sometimes will), options should be available!
Now I have learned that my 1-bedroom, urban apartment is not going to have the same available space as my mom’s pantry does, but I make it work, and I know you can too! The items below can ALWAYS be found in my kitchen.
And always remember that planning yields success!
People frequently ask what my favorite foods are or what I buy at the grocery store. Therefore, I wanted to share some of the items that make it to my weekly grocery list! I have also given some information on why the items never fail to make it into my shopping cart.
It’s November and do you know what that means… It’s time for a winter squash recipe! Winter squashes are delicious, versatile and easy to make. Whether it’s acorn, spaghetti, butternut, pumpkin, kabocha or buttercup squash, a good recipe will highlight the tasty flavors of each one. Squash is a staple in my kitchen during the fall and winter months because when stored in a cool, dry place, these nutrient-dense vegetables can last for months.
Winter squashes are packed with anti-oxidants and vitamins, including Beta-Carotene, fiber, iron, riboflavin (B2), omega 3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory), vitamin C, potassium and manganese. Tip: make sure to add some healthy fat (i.e. olive oil) into your recipe, therefore the fat-soluble nutrients (vitamin A, D, E, K) can be made available for your body to absorb.
Winter squash is easy to make, that is, once the proper cutting and preparing techniques are learned. For those who have never cut and prepared squash, here are a few pointers. If additional assistance is needed, go to YouTube and search “How to Cut Squash.”
Okay, ready to cut the squash? First, make sure the chef's knife is sharpened. Nothing is worse than a dull knife. Once the knife is sharpened, cut off the stem or top of the squash. This creates a flat surface to work with, which is very important when cutting squash properly, or really any vegetable. Then simply cut the squash in half. Tip: when cutting butternut squash, cut in to quarters then peel. This is much easier than trying to peel whole or even in halves because it can be pretty slippery. Don’t forget to scoop out and discard the pulp. That’s all you really need to know about how to prep and cut a squash. Now, the fun part, a new recipe!
Vegetables can be intimidating to cook, especially when you’re not sure how to prepare them. So this week I am challenging you to cook with a new vegetable! Here is one of my favorite recipes.
Quinoa, Black Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash
Total Time: 50 minutes (30 minutes cook time, 20 minutes prep time)
2 Acorn Squash
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small zucchini, diced (~1 cup)
1 cup mushrooms, diced
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 serving (1 half of squash)
9 grams protein
10 grams fiber
Greetings! I want to start off by apologizing for my lack of posts this past month. In the last four weeks, I had a four day slumber party at the hospital for the popapalooza, studied like crazy for my Clinician Nutrition Support Certification and researched/presented on evaluating and diagnosing malnutrition at a Rehab Conference in Nashville. As you can imagine, it left little time to experiment in the kitchen and blog. However, I can promise you all one thing... I have learned an incredible amount of information and now I am an even better clinician, ready to share my newfound knowledge!
One of the most common questions or barriers that I hear when counseling is, “How can I fit exercise or cooking into my busy schedule," or remarks about there not being enough time in the day. The conversation then typically leads to a discussion including these two words: priorities and planning!
Let's get real here. I doubt you spend your days horizontal watching Netflix! Each and every one of you is busy, but if being healthy and staying fit is a priority, you can make it work! It just takes some planning.
With my packed schedule and lengthy to do list the past several weeks, I was still able to eat healthy and exercise. I am not saying it was easy, and there were days where I was pretty tired, but I made it! I am going to share some tips I learned along the way.
1. Understand your schedule. I made a schedule for the entire month of September and the first couple weeks of October. This included my work, study and social schedules.
2. Socialize. This is where I had to prioritize and pick which parties/events I could go to because there was just not enough hours in the day to do everything. It was wonderful having the support of family and friends- they totally understood my busy schedule. This is a pretty important tip that will help keep you sane.
3. Plan your meals. I scheduled dinners for two weeks, as usual, but I picked dinners that could be done within 20 minutes or less. My favorite quick and healthy dinners are tofu stir-fry, pita pizzas with carrot or celery sticks, veggie scrambled eggs or omelets, pan-seared salmon/tilapia with frozen vegetables, and salads with tuna fish.
4. Be realistic and efficient with your exercise schedule. For example, on some days, I would walk to work then run home. If you can't walk to work, take a walk after lunch and remember, always take the stairs. You will be surprised how many extra steps you get in throughout the day by doing both strategies. Also, never miss a planned gym session! Even if you can work out for 20 minutes, do it! I promise you won't regret it.
5. Stay positive! This is my last, but more important tip. You can and will make it through this crazy life! If you find yourself heading down the wrong path, take a second to regroup and fix the problem. Look at your calendar and reassess. Lapses in the game plan are okay, it's the relapses that we try to avoid.
Since you are reading this blog post, you know that you care about your health- so take time to plan and prioritize and you will be successful! I hope that these tips help make your busy days healthier and happier!
It is officially football season, and you know what that means?! It is tailgating season. I am determined to stay healthy this football season, and I challenge you to make a TASTY and HEALTHY dish next time you tailgate or go to a party!
One of my favorite tailgate (and really any party) dishes is Cowboy Caviar. No it has nothing to do with cowboys or caviar- not too sure who came up with this recipe name. But regardless it is a delicious dish! Plus it is loaded with nutrients like fiber, iron and monounsaturated fatty acids (the healthy fats)! Feel free to add additional vegetables, as they will only make it more nutritious. And if you don’t have time to make the Italian dressing, you can always use a bottled version but highly suggest you make the Italian dressing and don’t omit the cilantro. WARNING- this dish is a crowd pleaser and it will go quickly!
(Makes ~10 cups)
15 oz. can black beans, drained15 oz. can black-eyed peas, drained
4 Roma tomatoes, pulp removed and diced
2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 bell pepper – a mix of colors if desired, chopped
1 cup Italian salad dressing, recipe below
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, juiced (about 3 Tbsp.)
Mix everything together. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
Whisk ingredients together and refrigerate.
Serving Size- 1/2 cup
Calories: 115 kcal
Monounsaturated Fat: 5 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Protein: 3 grams
Eggs are “a powerhouse of disease-fighting nutrients” according to WebMD. Now you may be thinking, Holly I heard eggs are bad for you. What's the deal? Okay so here's the nutrition 411 on eggs. It was once thought that cholesterol from the diet significantly elevated blood cholesterol. So our parents or grandparents, with heart disease, were told to stay far away from eggs. But good news... evidenced based research shows that blood cholesterol is affected most by the saturated and trans fats in our diet, such as full fat dairy products, butter and lard. Therefore, eggs are in the clear! And thank goodness because eggs contain protein and a ton of vitamins and minerals. Think iron, vitamins b12, vitamin d, choline, zinc and antioxidants. Also, they are a cheap source of protein, despite the whole bird flu issue going on right now, which is raising the price of a carton of eggs.
I love breakfast foods, especially eggs! But during the week, I rarely have time to cook breakfast before work. So, I love making breakfast for dinner! Whether it's an omelet, scrambled eggs or a frittata, breakfast for dinner never disappoints. It's super easy and quick!
One of my favorite "breakfast for dinner" meals is the vegetable frittata. You can make this frittata with any vegetables. For the featured frittata, I chose peppers, zucchini and onions. I also added black beans to provide fiber, vitamins and minerals (i.e. Iron, magnesium, folate). When making your frittata, try to have 3-5 different colors. The more colors in your meal, the more nutrients. This is a simple and delicious dinner that can be prepared the night before, and it's ready within 30 minutes.
1 pepper, chopped
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1/2 large zucchini, diced
1 can black beans (16 oz.)
1. Preheat nonstick pan with oil on medium heat.
2. Once heated, add zucchini, peppers and onions. Sauté until onions are translucent.
3. Mix in black beans. Cook for 3 more minutes.
4. Combine eggs in medium bowl and whisk.
5. Pour egg mixture over vegetables and black beans, stir gently.
6. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until center is cooked.
7. Cut into 8 slices. Try topping with salsa or avocado.
* If you want to cut calories, use half egg whites. Substitute 2 egg whites for every egg. For example, you can use 4 whole eggs and 8 egg whites.
Nutrition Facts (using standard recipe)
20 grams protein
6 gm fiber
When I tell people that I am a vegetarian (pescatarian if you want to be particular) and my boyfriend is a meat-eater/lover, they always have questions. The two most commonly asked questions are what do you cook, and how do you get your boyfriend to like it? I simply answer with, I find good vegetarian recipes and most importantly, I do not harp on the fact that it is vegetarian. I find that when you emphasize the fact that a dish is vegetarian, meat lovers tend to have a predisposed idea of what the dish will taste like.
So I am here to share with you one of my favorite dinners (vegetarian or not)! Not only is this recipe easy to make, affordable and safe for freezing. This burger is nutrient dense and super versatile! It can be eaten traditionally on a bun with cheese, topped with guacamole and salsa, or on a bed of lettuce. It is so delicious, that it can be eaten all by itself! No matter which way you eat it, I promise you, this Portobello Black Bean Burger will not disappoint.
Portobello Black Bean Burger
2 cups portabella mushrooms, cubed, gills removed
2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and divided
1 cup minced broccoli, fresh only
½ cup red onion, minced
3 XL eggs, beaten
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. Panko
1 tbsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 tbsp. Worcestershire
2 tbsp. minced garlic
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
*Should make 5 large burgers. If you would like small burgers, use 1/2 cup when making patties.
* If you plan to freeze burgers, package uncooked patties individually in plastic wrap. Then store in freezer bag or plastic container. When you are ready to cook, let burger thaw for 30 minutes in refrigerator then cook using the instructions above.
The day started out with a light breakfast, which included granola bars from Nature’s Bakery, bananas, apples & most importantly coffee! There were also several vendors including New Balance, who sponsored the event. During this time, one of the leaders of City Fit Girls explained the day’s schedule, which included HIIT training, kettle bells, yoga, facials, massages and so much more. We were encouraged to go to whatever sessions we were interested in, and it was also emphasized to step outside your comfort zone and try something new!
We started our FitRetreat with Killer Cardio taught by Diva Richards. Whoa was she a fabulous instructor with contagious energy! We did a combination of kickboxing, plyometrics and core exercises during this session. One thing was for sure- we did not stop moving for 45 minutes!
Next, we attended a session taught by three Whole Foods’ “Healthy Eating Specialists”. I was very happy to hear that one was a dietitian, and the other two ladies were in school for nutrition and dietetics. One of the women discussed the benefits of frozen vegetables (i.e. nutrient density, value and convenience). This made my heart sing! For those of you who do not know (yet), I am a BIG fan of frozen fruits and vegetables. Fun Fact: frozen fruits and vegetables are typically more nutrient dense then those found in the grocery store produce section. Why you ask? Fruits and vegetables, intended for freezing, are picked from the farm then flash frozen, which seals in all of their wonderful nutrients. Therefore nutrients are not lost in the transportation to the grocery store.
We decided it was time for another workout, which was perfect because next on the schedule was Mid-Morn Workout Jawn taught by Mark Donahue. We started with a warm up, and then went in to the dreaded “Bring Sally Up” song. For those of you who do not know this song, consider yourselves lucky! Take home message- you squat for three minutes straight. Yes…I felt the burn! Then, we did various other plyometric exercises (think curtsy lunges and burpees).
Lunch was next and boy were we hungry! Sweet Green served nutrient- packed salads that hit the spot. Sweet Green was kind enough to bring two staple and two seasonal salads. I decided on the Spicy Sabzi Salad, which had a mix of spinach, tofu, quinoa, carrots, broccoli, beets served with a carrot chili vinaigrette and sriracha.
Pampering oneself was the theme after lunch. Think yoga, massages and facials. There is simply nothing better than treating yourself with a massage or facial after a hard morning of exercise.
I was incredibly inspired by this event and all the women who participated in it. Diva Richards (instructor #1) had words at the end of her class that really hit home for me. She said we must focus on our own journey, and no one else. Every person starts from a different place, and it is not fair, or right, to compare yourself to others. Focus on your personal journey and where you have come from, and where you want to go!
You can include others on your fitness journey, which will inspire others to meet their goals and to stay on track. Whether that means buddy training, signing up for a race with a friend, going for a hike or walk with a coworker, or attending a fitness retreat with your sister. I believe fitness is more fun in numbers, plus it holds you accountable. But do not forget to focus on your personal goals and your healthy lifestyle journey!
I am a registered dietitian, licensed nutritionist, foodie, fitness enthusiast, traveler and runner, living in the city of brotherly love. I have a passion for cooking and sharing delicious, healthful food. I enjoy working with clients to help them achieve their health and nutrition goals.