Chocolate Lemon Energy Balls

Lemony citrus meets delicious dark chocolate in the these chocolate lemon energy balls! The perfect no-bake, gluten-free snack. 

Chocolate lemon energy ballsWhat do you get when you ask healthy food bloggers and foodie dietitians to create a healthy chocolate creation? You get happy! This month’s recipe redux theme is chocolate — an ode to Valentine’s Day and a great way to get rid of any chocolate lying around the house!

I would not consider myself a chocolate fiend, but I do love chocolate. I have some every day – mostly in the form of cacao nibs or cocoa powder. I’m currently hooked on a smoothie I make with cocoa powder, frozen cherries, PB2, protein powder and coconut milk. It really hits the spot.

no-bake dark chocolate and lemon energy balls -- the perfect mid-day snack!

Dark chocolate has a place in a healthy, clean eating diet. It’s a great source of magnesium which helps you out in so many ways, especially us ladies. It’s my secret weapon for beating the PMS blahs, for keeping things “moving” digestively, and it helps me fall asleep. Dark chocolate is also an antioxidant, mood improver, and cacao nibs contain a bit of iron, too.

If you’ve ever had cacao nibs, you know they can be pretty bitter, especially if you’re not used to eating dark chocolate. I love cacao because in smoothies and bars it provides that rich chocolate taste without all the sugar and fat. So you get the essence of chocolate and that’s it. I like to use nibs when I want a crunch effect (I use them a lot in my raw balls and bars) and I use powder mostly in smoothies when I just want straight-up chocolate flavor.

For this recipes, I was inspired by the Redux theme but also by the bountiful box of winter citrus I received from Sunkist. I think citrus and chocolate are an amazing combination, don’t you?  I considered using one of the orange varietals from the box but ultimately decided to go with Meyer Lemons. I love all-things lemon!

dark chocolate and lemon energy balls

These little chocolate lemon balls of heaven have the perfect amount of sweet-tart crunch and just enough chocolate flavor to satisfy a chocolate fix. I don’t usually go big on chocolate with my bars but for these I went for it – using both cocoa powder and cacao nibs. The trick was keeping the flavors balanced. I think I succeeded. Each bite delivers exactly what’s promised, chocolate and lemon in perfect harmony!

These chocolate lemon energy balls are so good, they might replace my favorite Chocolate Cookie Dough Lara balls, which have been my go-to for years!

dark chocolate and lemon energy balls

Make a batch of these chocolate lemon energy balls today for your mid-day snacks next week. They might be just what you need to cure a bad mood and to ensure a good night’s sleep!

Chocolate Lemon Energy Balls

Chocolate Lemon Energy Balls


  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded
  • 1 Meyer lemon, juiced and zested
  • 2 Tbsp Almond Butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • dash salt


  1. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well combined. Once the mixture is well combined and looks like large sand granules, roll into your hands to make balls. If desired, make a coating by mixing 1 Tbsp shredded coconut and 1 Tbsp cocoa powder in a small bowl.Roll balls into this mixture. Makes about 12 large balls.

Formula Meals: Roasted Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are an easy to make, delicious side dish that will turn even the pickiest of eaters into instant veggie lovers!

how to roast vegetables

Formula meals are back this week with a cooking basic so many people forget about: roasted vegetables. If roasted veggies are not in your weekly repertoire, they should be. Not only are they super easy to make, they also make most vegetables taste even better.

When vegetables are combined with a little oil and some high heat an amazing thing happens…they become addictively delicious. But in a good way! Roasting is the difference between knowing you should eat your veggies to actually looking forward to eating them. If you have a picky eater in your midst, treat them to roasted carrots, Brussels sprouts or some butternut squash. I have been known to eat an entire head of just-roasted cauliflower standing at the stove. With my fingers. I don’t even bother with a fork. To me, there are few rivals to a hot, slightly charred roasted veg. And the best part? There’s a formula. Which is code for you really can’t screw these up…too badly.

I like mine a bit on the charred side so I tend to keep the heat up at 425°. If you like yours a little less toasty, you can lower to 400°. Remember that thinner veggies (think bell peppers) will need less time than a starchy potato or Brussels sprout so you’ll have to adjust the time and temp accordingly. I usually set the timer for 15 minutes, give them a quick toss with a long wooden spoon, and then roast 10-15 minutes more, depending on the veg. As with most things, practice makes perfect so keep doing it until you get the result you love.

What’s the Formula?

1 part vegetables: choose from Brussels sprouts, turnips, squash, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini,etc.

1 part seasoning: salt and pepper work just fine, but consider adding cumin, turmeric, chili pepper, oregano, smoked paprika, dill, garlic, thyme, salt, cinnamon…I think you get the idea. :)

1 part oil: I actually just drizzle olive or coconut oil over the veggies — no measuring necessary.

Always the same: salt, aluminum foil, baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or some other high-heat baking sheet protector. Or don’t, this part is personal preference. Personally, I don’t like to scrub the baking sheet so I line it. Dice up your vegetables into bite sized pieces (remember, the more surface area exposed to the heat, the more caramelized goodness you get). Place veggies into a large mixing bowl. Douse with oil of choice. Season with favorite seasonings. Shake the bowl or toss with a wooden spoon. Pour veggies onto baking sheet and bake for 12-25 minutes. Try not to eat all at once.

5-Spice Tempeh Taco Salad -- super easy, vegetarian and gluten free meal!

5-Spice Tempeh Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing

A quick vegetarian weeknight dinner or light lunch, this super tasty warm tempeh salad is big on flavor and nutrients!

5-Spice Tempeh Taco Salad -- super easy, vegetarian and gluten free meal!

I keep trying to get you to try tempeh! Is it working?? This warm salad is super flavorful and so easy to make. I love tempeh because it provides a heartiness to your plate that is sometimes missing when you eat a mostly plant-based diet. It’s also a great source of fermented protein and you know I’m a huge fan of fermentation.

What is tempeh? Tempeh is made from soybeans that have been naturally fermented by a process that binds them into a cake-like form. The process of fermentation makes tempeh a much healthier choice over highly processed soy foods like soy milk, soy burgers, TVP, soy dogs, etc. Because fermented soy is much more easily digested, you get more of the good stuff in soy into your body! Getting more of those important isoflavones into you will help decrease inflammation and lower blood pressure.

I like to crumble it up a lot as I did today in this 5-Spice Tempeh Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing. You can also slice it, toss it in a marinate and sauté it but that way requires a few more steps. Both ways are delicious!

5-Spice Tempeh Salad with Avocado Ranch DressingI love a warm salad in the winter! This dish will satisfy your taste for tacos and the creamy avocado ranch dressing packs a ton of flavor. I had some mung bean sprouts on hand so I used them as the base and it added a nice freshness to the salad, along with the sliced cherry tomatoes.

5 spice tempeh taco salad

The recipe for this yummy 5-Spice Tempeh Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing is over at Healthy Aperture on my Inspired Vegetarian column so head on over there to get it!

easy breakfast egg muffins

Formula Meals: Easy Egg Muffins

These healthy and oh-so versatile breakfast egg muffins can feed everyone in your family!

easy breakfast egg muffins

It’s Formula Meals time again folks and today we are making easy-peasey breakfast egg muffins! These super versatile muffins will please even the pickiest eaters because you can adapt them a zillion different ways. The options are endless but the template is the same…that is the power of formula meals!

As formula meals go, once you figure out the “template” being used, you can sub-in anything you want to create easy weeknight meals (or breakfast) in minutes — no recipe required!

So today we are making breakfast egg muffins.

What’s the Formula?

2 parts eggs: 12 beaten eggs works pretty well – they can be whole, egg whites or a mix of both

1 part veggies: toss in finely chopped broccoli, mushrooms, spinach or kale leaves, tomatoes, bell peppers, fresh herbs, jalapeno, etc.

1 part protein: choose from ground turkey or sausage, lean bacon, black beans, chopped ham, cheese (feta goat, Parmesan, cheddar, etc.).

Always the same: salt and pepper, butter or spray for muffin tins

Assembly is super easy. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray or butter muffin tins liberally. Beat your eggs in a large mixing bowl. Chop the veggies into small bite size pieces (and if you want to get really fancy, you can saute them in a bit in olive oil first) and add to bowl with beaten eggs. Toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into muffin tins and top with cheese. Or, if you prefer, you can add cheese to the egg- veggie mixture.  Cook for about 22 minutes or until golden brown. Freeze what you don’t eat.

Voilà —  These egg muffins are the perfect grab and go breakfast or afternoon snack!

Black Bean Pasta Rapini with Harissa

Smoky Harissa Rapini with Black Bean Pasta

This gluten free black bean pasta tossed with rapini and harissa is an earthy, spicy, bold flavored bowl of delicious!

Black Bean Pasta Rapini with Harissa

Sometimes I’m amazed at some of the foods I ate as a child. I love the horror on people’s face when I tell them I used to gnaw on pickled pigs feet when I was little. If you’re even remotely familiar with pigs feet, you know that gnaw is not an exaggeration; you literally need to tear the sparse fatty flesh off the pigs knuckled feet with your teeth. Was this a cruel childhood joke played on an innocent child? I look back now and think — yes! But as a kid, a jar of pickled pigs feet on my grandmother’s kitchen windowsill was perfectly normal. Even as a teenager, dinner at my house was always a little “different” than at my friends. Or maybe I should say dinner at a friends house could not be more different than at mine? While their parents were serving up pork chops and canned corn, my mom was tossing anything she had available with pasta: eggs, cauliflower, peas, beans, clams…the list goes on and on.


My mom didn’t cater to us kids…at all. We ate what she cooked and we generally loved it. That included rapini, aka, broccoli rabe. Another odd childhood food, in my opinion. Not many kids like the slightly grassy, often bitter finish of this leafy green. Yes, rapini is a leafy green! It tastes nothing like broccoli (it’s actually a member of the turnip family) and has a distinct bitter taste that I just love. I also love Belgian Endive so maybe it’s something about my taste buds? My mom usually sauteed rapini in olive oil and garlic and I thought it was the best thing since white bread.

Harissa Rapini with Black Black Pasta

So what better way to highlight the unique flavors of harissa and smoked paprika than tossed with pasta and rapini!

This dish took me under 10 minutes to make and an enormous amount of discipline not to eat the entire pan. I never really cooked with harissa before so I was kind of psyched at this month’s recipe redux theme: From boldly flavored smoked salts to actual smoking techniques, subtly smoked food is on-trend. The same can be said for spice as we savor heat from harissa, sriracha and smoked paprika. Show us the healthy dish you’re heating up with smoke and/or spiciness.

This dish fits the bill. The harissa is great because it’s not just heat, it has flavor, too. And the smoked paprika balances it out with a smoky, sweet aroma. If you love rapini you need to make this dish. Of course it’s super simple, too. Only 5 ingredients. I used my go-to, high protein, low carb, gluten free black bean pasta and it was perfect.

Broccoli Rabe Black Bean Pasta with HarissaSo even though my mom did perform the egregious act of allowing me to eat the pickled feet of pigs, I have to give her credit for exposing me to a varied array of healthy greens and vegetables at an early age. It’s probably why they are my favorite foods to eat today.

Smoky Harissa Rapini with Black Bean Pasta

Smoky Harissa Rapini with Black Bean Pasta


  • 1 head rapini/broccoli rabe
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb Explore Asian black bean pasta (or any pasta you love)
  • 2 tsp harissa
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Sea Salt and pepper


  1. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Wash the rapini, cut off the long stems and chop coarsely. Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Heat garlic and oil in a large saute pan on med high. Add your pasta to the water now. Throw rapini into the warmed oil and garlic, tossing well using tongs. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Allow the greens to soften. Once softened, stir in the harissa and smoked paprika. When pasta is al dente, use tongs to add the pasta to the saute pan. Don’t overdrain the pasta, the pasta water clinging to the noodles acts a sauce. Combine the pasta with the rapini and serve. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Avocado Cream

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Avocado Cream

Seasoned and roasted Brussels Sprouts tossed with a creamy avocado sauce — pure vegetable decadence!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Avocado Cream

This recipe was my way to use up a few perfectly ripe avocados and give my Brussels sprouts an air of decadence. I think I succeeded.

Trader Joes Spice Blend

First I tossed the Brussels with some olive oil and the Zhoug spice blend in the picture above. I love these pre-made spice blends. I always pick them up when I see a new one at the grocery store. This blend was part of a 3-pack from Trader Joes. They really make it easy to roast anything and get great flavor. The Zhoug is a Middle Eastern blend combining chili powder, cumin, dried parsley, cloves, and cardamom.

roasted Brussels sprouts

Once they were roasted, I tossed the Brussels gently with an avocado cream. I could have eaten them just as they were but as I mentioned, I was going for decadence. I blended an avocado with lime juice, some Creme Fraiche I had in the fridge, and a little bit of cumin and chili powder.

Brussels Sprouts with Avocado Cream -- www.foodconfidence.comI mixed just my lunch portion with the avocado cream and then saved the rest for heating up later. Something about heating the avocado cream mixed with the Brussels just felt wrong. Warm avocado? I just don’t know about that….

Brussels Sprouts with Avocado Cream --

I enjoyed this dish for lunch atop some warmed lentils and it was so satisfying; it’s a great make-ahead dish that will keep all week.

You can find the recipe on my Inspired Vegetarian column over at Healthy Aperture today, so click here to get it!

Easy Butternut Squash noodles with lentils

Butternut Squash Noodles with Lentils & Pistachios

A busy girl’s weeknight dinner: butternut squash noodles tossed with cashew cream sauce on a pile of steamed lentils and topped with chili-spiced pistachios. A delicious, gluten free and dairy free meal — on your table in minutes.

Lazy girls weeknight dinner...julienned butternut squash noodles tossed with easy cashew cream on a layer of lentils. Topped with chili-spiced pistachios. Dinner in less than 10 minutes. This dish is as simple as you can get — while still looking like a rockstar in the kitchen. Butternut squash noodles are my version of a pantry meal. Leftover cashew cream sauce from last week. Leftover TJ’s steamed lentils. Bibb lettuce courtesy of a Costco 4-pack. And pistachios…a pantry staple!

Easy Butternut Squash noodles with lentils

These chili-spiced pistachios are a great way to fancify a dish. Just throw them in a bowl, sprinkle with some chili powder and toss with a little bit of really good, tasty olive oil. I use these all the time to add some oomph to a bowl of veggies, salads, grains and pasta. Any nut, seed or spice will work! You can also get fancy with different types of oils, like truffle or avocado oil.

julienne the butternut squash

The noodles are super easy to make, too. No fancy spiralizer needed. A regular vegetable peeler created these long strands of noodles. The size and shape of your butternut will be what predicts the length of your noodles. You can also spiralize your sqaush if you have one. Once you’ve shaved off enough noodles, cut up the leftover squash and roast it for another meal.

Butternut squash noodles with cashew creamI tossed these noodles raw with my cashew sauce. If you want a warmer dish, heat the noodles, not the sauce. It doesn’t heat well. To heat, just add the noodles to a warm pan with a little olive oil and then toss with the sauce. So the next time you’re pressed for time, remember that this healthy, delicious easy to make dish is just a few minutes away!

Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Lentils & Pistachios

Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Lentils & Pistachios


  • 1 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled
  • 1 cup cooked lentils (I use Trader Joe's steamed lentils)
  • 2 Tbsp shelled pistachios
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp good extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil
  • 2 leaves Boston Bibb lettuce
  • For the Cashew Cream
  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for 20 minutes or overnight
  • ¼ cup hemp seeds
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 very small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp miso paste
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Dash sea salt, to taste
  • 2-3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • few drops liquid stevia, optional


  1. Blend cashew cream sauce ingredients in a blender until well combined and set aside. Place pistachios, chili powder, and olive oil in a small bowl, mix well and set aside. Using a vegetable peeler, peel butternut squash into noodles. To heat noodles, warm in a pan with a little olive oil. Remove from heat and toss with a tablespoon or so of cashew cream (you can also toss noodles raw with the warm cashew cream from the blender). Heat lentils and place on top of a few leaves of Bibb lettuce. Top lentils with squash noodles and sprinkle on pistachios.
Easy, low carb, gluten free twist on an Italian classic! Spaghetti with clam sauce

Edamame Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

You’re going to love this easy, low carb, gluten free twist on an Italian favorite — edamame spaghetti with clam sauce!


Easy, low carb, gluten free twist on an Italian classic! Spaghetti with clam sauce

Sometimes when I’m watching Norah reading to her stuffed animals, playing teacher, or just getting joy from a bike ride, I remember my own life at seven years old. It was pretty good times back then. I mean what isn’t great about being in second grade?

When I was in second grade I lived in Long Island, New York…East Rockaway to be exact. Jimmy Carter was President. I have no idea why, but I loved that guy. I used to wear a big, rather 70’s looking, peanut necklace all the time. I used to walk to school — all by myself. I had my first boy crush. I used to follow him home from school every single day. Corey Lonagan was his name. I loved the heck out of Barbies and adored my chalkboard. I absolutely wanted TO BE Wonder Woman. I used to copy her famous spin, whipping my hair dramatically with each turn, secretly hoping it might work and I would become her. This was especially fun to do in the pool. I knew the comfort in having my mom home when I got out of school. I remember the day Elvis died. I walked in from school and found her crying in the kitchen. Crazy to think he was only 42, younger than I am today. So except for the “cold war,” the “energy crisis” and the occasional fight with my sister — life was good.

Easy, low carb, gluten free twist on an Italian favorite. Spaghetti with clams

This dish takes me back to the second grade, the good ole’ days of 1977. Not because it was the first time I ate it, I actually don’t remember that. It’s more because it evokes in me that second grade feeling….when life was simple and easy. It also reminds me of family. Lord knows I’ve sat with family eating this dish hundreds of times. It’s the first dish I learned how to make myself, and one that I’ve since made for many other people. It’s a dish that says hey, I love you.

Healthy Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

For this month’s recipe redux theme, “favorite food memories” I’m sharing a healthified version of this classic dish. Back then we didn’t use edamame spaghetti, that’s for sure. It was the real thing, and it was always linguine. Besides that, everything else about this recipe is authentic to my mom’s version.

bean pasta with white clam sauce

It’s crazy how just the sound of the garlic hitting the hot oil makes me smile. And the smell! Amazing. I love the crunchy bits of garlic in this sauce. The cool thing about this dish too is that it’s so simple. You start with a few cans of chopped clams (make sure they’re chopped, not minced), some fresh parsley, chopped garlic (not minced) and salt. That’s it. Toss the sauce with the pasta and you have a tasty dinner. Oh, and in our house pasta was always accompanied by a loaf of Italian bread. The best part of the meal was tearing a piece off and dipping it into the clam sauce at the bottom of my bowl!

spaghetti with clams

To make the dish a bit healthier for today’s eater, I used the Edamame Spaghetti from Explore Asian. It has a ton of protein and fiber, less carbs and only two ingredients: edamame and water. I’ve experimented with these bean pastas quite a bit and I really like them. Try my Black Bean Pasta with Cauliflower or Mung Bean Fettuccine with Leeks and Pumpkin — they are super delicious!

I hope you enjoyed my favorite food memory. I also hope Norah doesn’t get upset in 20 years when she’s seeking comfort in foods like roasted vegetables, avocado, salmon, and Greek yogurt.

Edamame Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

Edamame Spaghetti with Clam Sauce


  • 1 pound pasta (your choice)
  • 4 cans chopped clams
  • 2 small cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • sea salt
  • crushed red pepper, optional


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Heat olive oil in small sauce pan until golden brown, add UNDRAINED canned clams, parsley and a dash salt. Bring to bowl and then return to simmer until pasta is done. Drain pasta and toss with clam sauce. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread!

5 minute thai coconut curry

5-Minute Thai Coconut Corn Curry

This delicious vegan, gluten-free Thai-inspired coconut corn curry will take you 5 minutes to make from blender to bowl!

5 minute thai coconut curry

I received free samples of Libby’s new Vegetable Pouches mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe
I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Libby’s and am eligible to win prizes associated with the
contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Admittedly, I am not a canned vegetable type of gal. I’ve had the occasional canned corn or peas, but typically I go for fresh or frozen. So when I was asked to review Libby’s new vegetable pouches for Recipe Redux, I was intrigued and thought I would give them a try. The challenge was to make an appetizer, soup, salad or other side dish in 10 minutes or less using these new Libby’s Vegetable Pouches. They sent me samples of the sweet peas, green beans and sweet corn. I wasn’t a huge fan of the sweet peas when I saw they had 6 grams of sugar per serving. Yes, that means that for every 1/2 cup of peas, they added over a teaspoon of sugar. Aren’t peas sweet enough? I guess not.

With the peas off the table, that left the (naturally) sweet corn and the green beans. I decided to go with the corn. What I love about this recipe is that it literally takes 5 minutes from your blender to your table using basic pantry staples: corn, Thai chili paste, coconut milk, garlic and lime. How easy is that? If you love Thai flavor, I think you will love this quick and satisfying Thai Coconut Corn Curry. I tested it a couple of times using two types of Thai chili paste. You can do this, too….whatever Thai curry paste or sauce you find in your grocery store will work.

Trader Joes Thai Dry Chili Paste

First, I used this jar of Trader Joe’s vegan Thai Curry Paste I had bought a while back. I heated it with a bit of olive oil. It was easy to work with and had a bold, spicy Thai flavor.

Thai Coconut Corn Curry

Assuming that none of you would have the dry paste, I also tested this pre-made sauce version. Honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference. They were both super tasty and equally simple.

Thai Coconut Corn Curry

The Libby’s pouches are also pretty simple. You just pop them in the microwave and they are done in less than 2 minutes. I don’t microwave food in plastic containers or bags so I poured the corn into a bowl to heat and it worked out just fine. I just had to heat it a bit longer. Some other benefits of using these Libby pouches versus cans is that they’re easy to open (no can opener needed), they take up less space in your pantry, they are more environmentally friendly (they use 75% less energy to produce and reduce waste), and they are travel friendly,too.

It’s important to mention that the packaging is made with “BPA non-intent materials.” This means that BPA has not been intentionally added to the lining, but there could still be trace amounts of BPA from cross contamination during production and because of shared equipment. This new packaging is a step in the right direction by the food industry to limit the use of BPA and in my opinion worth noting.

So if you’re looking for a warm and comforting soup that you can literally whip up in 5 minutes, then try this easy Thai Coconut Corn Curry. Here’s how to make it:

5-Minute Thai Coconut Corn Curry

5-Minute Thai Coconut Corn Curry


  • 1 pouch Libby's sweet corn (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp Thai Chili Sauce
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Juice from half a lime
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • 2 tsp lemon grass, optional


  1. Heat corn in microwave. Add to small sauce pan with salt, olive oil and chili sauce. Heat for about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to blender and add garlic, lime juice, coconut milk, and lemongrass, if using. Blend until well combined. Serve with chopped cilantro.

EWG Food Scores

Eat Cleaner With EWG’s Food Scores

 A great resource that will make eating clean easier than ever — Food Scores!

EWG Food Scores

I am super excited to share an awesome resource with you! I learned about it at a dinner hosted by colleague and fellow dietitian Ashley Koff and sponsored by Share Care and the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The Environmental Working Group (EWG) are the folks who put out The Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 lists each year and various other consumer guides to help you lower your toxic exposure. They are my go-to resource for living a clean, detox friendly lifestyle.

So….what’s got me so excited? It’s their latest consumer guide — literally one of the most comprehensive online food databases out there called Food Scores. Food Scores answers all those questions you have rumbling around in your head while grocery shopping….should I eat this? Is it healthy? Is this the best choice? Is this food clean?

Food Scores includes more than 80,000 food products by 1,500 brands and rates them on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the best) based on the BIG THREE factors:

  • Nutrition — including calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, sodium, protein, fiber and fruit, vegetable and nut content
  • Ingredients — including the presence of key contaminants, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics, and the health implications of certain food additives
  • Processing — the extent to which a particular food has been processed. Scoring factors include modification of individual ingredients from whole foods and the number of artificial ingredients

The scoring reflects the amount of pesticides, food additives, contaminants, and antibiotics that are in the food, in addition to what is stated openly on the food label.

And it’s so simple to use. You can search by product, company, or food category. They also provide a “better alternative” if the food you wanted to eat might not be the best choice. I love the idea of the Food Score not only because it’s going to make grocery shopping a ton easier, but it will also force food companies to step up and make their food healthier!

I don’t know about you, but the Food Scores app is going to get a workout on my next grocery store trip!


Tempeh Butternut Squash and Tempeh

Chipotle Chili with Tempeh and Butternut Squash

Get your squash on with a hearty and delicious chipotle and ancho chili made with organic tempeh and butternut squash!

Chipotle Chili with Tempeh and Butternut Squash

I love being able to eat the same meal as my husband. It’s a rare occurrence but when it happens, it’s pretty cool. In this particular case, I’m talking chipotle chili!

A simmering pot of tasty chili on the stove while watching the football game marks the beginning of fall in our house. Keep in mind I rarely watch the football game and I hardly ever get to eat the chili, but I still like the idea of it. The typical scenario for me is I’m cooking up a meaty chili for Hany while he’s watching the game. I end up watching him eat the chili while I eat a salad. The worst part about living with a meat-eater is cooking a meal and not being able to eat what you make. But not this time! This time I made a meat-free chili that any meat-eater would enjoy! I used crumbled up tempeh for the meaty part, two different kinds of beans, hominy, and diced butternut squash.

I’m kind of a spice junkie and chili pepper is one of my favorite go-to seasonings. For this recipe I used a combination of chili powders (including chipotle and ancho chili), turmeric and cumin. I garnished with scallions, chopped cilantro and Cabot’s Legacy Collection cheddar cheese. So good! The perfect mix of flavors and a lovely lunch on a sunny fall afternoon.

Chipotle Chili with Tempeh and Butternut Squash Chili

Chipotle Chili with Tempeh and Butternut Squash Chili


  • 1 package organic Tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 cup butternut squash, diced
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 cup hominy
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
  • Couple of shakes liquid smoke
  • Diced scallions, chopped cilantro and shredded cheddar cheese, for topping (optional)


  1. Heat oil in large dutch oven. Add onions, peppers and tempeh along with 1 Tbsp each of the chili powders, cumin, paprika and salt. Saute until vegetables are soft and tempeh is browned.
  2. Once browned, add the butternut squash, beans,hominy, and canned tomatoes along with 1 Tbsp more of chipotle chili and the turmeric. Taste and season, as needed. Add the smoke, if using. Simmer on stove until butternut squash are tender. Serve topped with cheese, cilantro and scallions or whatever you love!

Pumpkin Leek with Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine

Fettuccine with Pumpkin & Leeks

Try this gluten-free, high protein mung bean and edamame fettuccine tossed with a creamy leek and pumpkin sauce for a simple weeknight meal!

Pumpkin Leek with Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine

I love experimenting with these fun guilt-free bean pastas from Explore Asian. I make my black bean pasta with olives and cauliflower all the time. It’s so filling and high in protein and fiber…what more could you want out of pasta, right? This time I tried the mung bean and edamame fettuccine style noodles and tossed them with a creamy leek and pumpkin sauce.

Mung Bean Fettuccine with Leeks and Pumpkin

This dish was so simple and tasty but is really more about the leeks than the pasta! I love cooking with leeks, they are so flavorful, yet mild…not too onion-y at all. I created this dish for my Inspired Vegetarian column over at Healthy Aperture. To get the simple weeknight recipe for Leek and Pumpkin Fettuccine you’ll have to head over there. You’ll also find my addictive Sweet Potato Fried Rice from last month there, too. So go on, click on over to Healthy Aperture and get inspired!

no-bake fig newton balls

No-Bake Fig Newton Snowballs

These no-bake fig newton snowballs are bite-sized balls of energy. With no-sugar added, they’re a healthy dose of fig deliciousness!

no-bake fig newton balls I am kind of proud of these little snowballs. They are the result of almost an entire Costco-sized bag of dried fig failures, but sometimes you have to keep at it until you get it right. I think I got these little snowy balls of fig newton-y goodness right! I actually have a bit of a history with Fig Newtons. Growing up in the 70’s, my mother was a little ahead of her time in the nutrition department. Breakfast at my house was of the Raisin Bran variety and by that I don’t mean Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, I mean Post Raisin Bran. Oh, yes, there’s a difference. Kelloggs’s Raisin Bran contained plump extra sweet raisins that were coated with sugar. Post Raisin Bran definitely did not. To a grade-schooler this was kind of a big deal. And lunch…well our sandwiches were made with “real” whole wheat bread, not the white-wheat bread of today, but real 100% whole wheat, which back then was pretty much like eating cardboard. There were no chips or processed snack foods in the house, either. Cheez-its? Never going to happen. We ate real food if we were hungry. And dessert? Grab yourself an apple or a peach. So cookies in our house were a real treat. Why my mom gave Fig Newtons the green light is still a mystery, it’s not like they’re low in sugar. We usually had two choices, Hydrox Sandwich Cookies or Fig Newtons. So yes, Fig Newtons in the pantry felt like a little bit of heaven. If anyone has ever tasted a Hydrox cookie, I know you feel my pain. raw fig newton balls Being that Fig Newtons take me back to my childhood, when a client who is currently in my detox program asked me to create a detox-friendly newton, I will admit that I went on a mission. I wanted these bites to taste like the Newton I know and love….and I think I can say that I did them justice. Although probably not at all what you would expect, these n0-bake fig newton snowballs really taste like a bite of a real Newton. I might say they’re even better than the real thing! The fig taste really comes through and the best part is the crust. Instead of making a real crust, I made a powder crust and rolled these little fig balls into it. After a few crust fails, I thought this was a genius idea. creamy fig newton bite center So without further ado, I bring you my fig newton snowballs! I hope you make them and share them with a newton-lover in your life. no-bake fig newton bites Here’s how I made them:

No-Bake Fig Newton Snowballs

No-Bake Fig Newton Snowballs


    For the Figs:
  • 1 1/2 cups dried figs, soaked in water for about 20 minutes
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder or extract
  • For the Powder Crust:
  • 1 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder or extract
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 3 Tbsp almond flour
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • dash stevia, optional


  1. In a food processor, add the ingredients for the crust and process into a flour-like consistency. Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Rinse out the food processor and add the soaked figs and the vanilla powder. Process until the figs are broken down. Add 1 Tbsp of water, if needed. Then add 1/2 cup of the powder crust into the processor with the figs and pulse until well-combined. The texture should be soft, but don't over-process. Adjust the texture as needed with the powder crust and water.
  3. Roll the fig mixture into balls and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Place balls into freezer while you clean the kitchen (about 10 minutes). Remove from the freezer and one by one roll the balls into the powder crust. Store in the fridge or freezer! Makes about 8-16 balls, depending on the size.
Cranberry Macadamia Nut Energy Bars

Cranberry Macadamia Nut Squares

Dehydrated cranberries and rich macadamia nuts are the highlight in this delicious little square.  Super easy, no-bake, and no added sugars!

Cranberry Macadamia Nut Energy Bars

This month’s recipe redux theme is pretty out of the box. We are using the food dehydrator! Pretty exciting, huh? Now I’m pretty sure that you don’t have a dehydrator, so I created a recipe that you could make without one. That doesn’t mean that this girl didn’t do some dehydrating, because you know I did!

I love fresh, whole cranberries. I make an awesome raw stuffing that’s tossed with whole fresh cranberries. For me, it’s that juicy tart bite of a fresh cranberry that takes the stuffing over the top! I also love dried cranberries. I use them a lot in salads, snacks and sauces. I find that the store-bought dried cranberries are too sweet. I’ve actually searched high and low for unsweetened dried cranberries. I’m pretty sure they don’t exist. So for this month’s dehydrator challenge, I set out to dry my own cranberries! I made two batches, one using a little simple sugar syrup and another without. Now I know why you can’t find unsweetened dried cranberries. Those puppies are seriously tart!  They’re still tasty, but they definitely need to be added to something that’s already a bit sweet.

how to dehydrate cranberries

To make my dried cranberries I thawed some frozen cranberries overnight and then let them soak in boiling hot water for about 10 minutes, until most of them had little cracks down the center (the few that didn’t crack on their own I sliced with a small knife). Then I soaked the berries in about two tablespoons of simple syrup and spread them out on the dehydrator tray. I set the temp to 135 and let it go all day.

how to dehydrate fresh cranberries

After about 14 hours, my berries were dehydrated! How pretty are they? I just love their plump, gorgeous red color. With my dried berries in hand, I set out to create my squares. Fall is the time of year when I crave my no-bake bites, squares ans balls! There’s something about the shift to cooler weather that makes a hot cup of tea and a homemade bar the perfect afternoon snack.

no-bake cranberry macadamia nut squares

no bake energy bar

This bar is a decadent little gem. Delicious macadamia nuts, creamy almond butter, and steel cut oatmeal combine beautifully with my freshly dehydrated cranberries. I hope you’ll try them the next time you’re hankering for a creamy, nutty, sweet yet tangy little bite of deliciousness. So heat yourself a nice cup of tea and enjoy your new favorite fall snack square.

Here’s how to make them:

Cranberry Macadamia Nut Squares

Cranberry Macadamia Nut Squares


  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking steel cut oats (I use McCains)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or powder
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp date paste (or about 10 dates, pitted)
  • dash cinnamon
  • pinch salt


  1. Dehydrate your cranberries, if using. Make date paste by soaking 10 dates in water for about 10 minutes. Then pit the dates and throw into food processor with 2 Tbsp of water. Process until a paste forms. Add to the food processor the remaining ingredients and process until a dough-like consistency. Scrape the sides of the food processor as needed.
  2. Make bars, squares or balls with the dough and store in the refrigerator up to one week. Makes about 10 squares.

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blog brulee hosts

Blog Brûlée + Clean Eating Recipe Round-Up

I spent last weekend at Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont attending Blog Brûlée, a super-fun blog retreat (a.k.a. party) hosted by four amazing RD friends of mine. My attendance at Blog Brûlée was partially funded by the Sponsors of the event, but I wasn’t compensated to write this post.

blog brulee hosts

Gretchen Brown, Deanna Segrave-DalyRobin Plotkin and Regan Miller Jones are not only super cute, they’re also smart, the best at what they do, and they know how to put on a fantastic event!

The retreat was such a great time. It’s always fun to meet in person the people you connect with online every day. And this was a truly inspiring group of healthy food bloggers. The attendees were all affiliated in some way with The Recipe Redux and Healthy Aperture, both of which are the brain-child of Regan Miller Jones. She started these projects with the belief that healthy food bloggers could be successful in a world where the most popular blogs were posting ooey gooey desserts made with cream cheese and butter and stuffed with fudge and Nutella. Okay, so I’m being dramatic. But not really. The sad fact is the most successful blogs are those posting the most unhealthy food.

What did I learn at Blog Brûlée? There’s always something to learn with food photography and I got some very useful tips from Gretchen, who is an amazing food stylist and photographer (check out her gorgeous blog, Kumquat). I learned from Deanna how to take and edit pictures with my iphone that will amaze you (this Snap Seed app is a must-have). Deanna uses an iphone for all of her pictures on her blog, Teaspoon of Spice — can you tell?

All in all the weekend was part party (including wine, cheese, and chocolate tastings) and part educational, with presentations ranging from food photography and styling, SEO and marketing strategies, building a blog community, and how to work with food sponsors while staying true to your own brand.

The speakers included Anne Mauney, MS, RD of Fannetastic Food, Carolyn Ketchum of All Day I Dream About Food, EA Stewart, MBA, RD of The Spicy RD, Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD and Liz Weiss, MS, RD of Meal Makeover Moms, and Brierley Wright, MS, RD, the Nutrition Editor at EatingWell Magazine.

By far the best part of the trip was meeting the other healthy food blogger attendees, all of which I can now call friends. I encourage you to visit their blogs if you’re looking for healthy recipes and reliable nutrition information:

I also want to mention the very generous sponsors of Blog Brûlée. These are food companies I am proud to say I work with, and who were instrumental in making the weekend possible for us:

Okay, now on to the food!

In honor of my clean eating detox starting on Monday, I thought I would share some clean eating, detox-friendly recipes from a few of these great blogger gals! 


McKenzie’s Raspberry Coconut Carrot Cake Muffins are gluten free, dairy free and have no added sugars. Perfect with a cup of herbal tea on a chilly detox morning.


Kristina’s Butternut Squash with Beets and Quinoa is a great option for a detox dinner or yummy lunch!



Kylie of Immaeatthat (and my roomie at Smuggs) has an amazing Instagram feed with over 14,000 followers. This girl can cook. And her Thumbprint PBJ cookies are the perfect detox-friendly treat.


Meme’s Salmon and Avocado Burgers are a great way to whip up a satisfying dinner, along with a side green salad.

curry roasted baby carrots

And finally Kara’s gorgeous Curry Roasted Baby Carrots, a simple and delicious side dish…and the perfect way to celebrate the flavors of fall.


Smoky Tempeh with Quinoa

Smoky Tempeh with Quinoa and Snap Peas

Smoky Tempeh with Quinoa

I love cooking with tempeh. It’s such a delicious and healthy way to add texture to a dish and it’s very filling and satisfying. Soy food sometimes get a bad rep in natural health circles. I get it, there’s a lot of debate regarding whether soy is safe to eat. I tend to lean toward the organic, non-GMO, and fermented side of soy.

Tempeh is fermented soy, which means the carbohydrates in the soy have been broken down by mold, yeast or bacteria. This fermentation process transforms the proteins in soy, making them more digestible. It also increases the availability of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in the food, making them easier to absorb during digestion — many of which serve as as antioxidants, boost your immune system and are anti-inflammatory.

I’ve blogged about fermentation before and I’m a huge fan. I love adding naturally fermented foods to my diet. This smoky tempeh with quinoa was inspired by a delicious cauliflower rice stir fry I made earlier in the week. I love the whole stir fry concept. It’s so easy  — you really can’t screw it up. If you’re not sure how to stir fry, read this post.

I think the snap peas are what make this stir fry legit. It’s a hearty and satisfying meal and tastes just as good the next day for lunch. I hope you’ll try this smoky tempeh with quinoa.

Also, just as a reminder, this is your last chance to join my Clean Eating Detox. I have an awesome group of detoxers who are ready to start prep week on Monday. If you’re still on the fence about doing a clean eating revamp of your diet, jump off that fence and join us!  Learn more and register here. 

Smoky Tempeh with Quinoa and Snap Peas

Smoky Tempeh with Quinoa and Snap Peas


  • 4 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sweetener (maple syrup, agave or honey)
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 (8-ounce) package of tempeh, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 2 large handfuls snap peas
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Handful fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and liquid smoke. Add the tempeh cubes and toss to coat all of the cubes. Marinate the tempeh in a bowl, making sure they are all covered, while you prepare the quinoa. Stir the cubes around a few times to make sure they are all well marinated.
  2. Bring 2 cups of water with a dash of salt to a boil. Add your rinsed quinoa, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the water is absorbed, 15-18 minutes. When done, remove from heat and let sit.
  3. When quinoa is done and sitting, melt the coconut oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh, without the marinade sauce, evenly into the pan. Set the marinade sauce aside for later.
  4. Cook the tempeh for a few minutes, or until lightly well browned on the bottom. Flip the cubes over one by one and cook the other side until lightly browned. Note: Do not walk away from the stove! I flip each little cube separately. I have burned the tempeh many times because I walked away. When the tempeh is done, remove it from the skillet and transfer to a plate.
  5. Add a few teaspoons of oil to the pan and stir in the bell pepper, snap peas, scallion and garlic. Sauté until the veggies begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked quinoa and black beans to the pan, along with the reserved marinade. Then add the tempeh and toss again. Serve topped with fresh cilantro.
Raw Wild Blueberry Snack Balls

Raw Wild Blueberry Snack Balls

Raw Wild Blueberry Snack BallsI spent a few days in Bar Harbor Maine last week to learn about wild blueberries. The trip was sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America. It was a great time! I caught up with some fun RD colleagues, saw some beautiful parts of Maine, and of course learned a ton about wild blueberries. I had never been to Maine before and I can’t wait to go back.

This was the view outside my door at the Bar Harbor Inn.

Bar Harbor Inn Maine

Gorgeous right? And the blueberry barrens were just as amazing…..fields and fields of wild blueberries as far as the eye can see.

wild blueberry barrens

This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip. It really shows the beauty and expanse of the barrens. And what a perfect Maine day! Our visit coincided with the harvest, which begins in late July and continues through August, so it was a busy place (despite this picture). We also toured Wyman’s processing plant and were able to see the whole process – from picking to freezing. I was pleased to learn that wild blueberries are frozen fresh within 24 hours of harvest, when their flavor and antioxidants are at their peak.

wild bluberries

Wild blueberries are not the same as the cultivated type you buy fresh in the grocery store. Unlike regular blueberries, wild blueberries are not planted. They literally grow “in the wild” and thrive in the harsh climates of northern Maine, Eastern Canada and Quebec. This ability to thrive in those harsh climates is the reason wild blueberries contain twice the antioxidants of regular blueberries. Another big difference is there isn’t just one kind of wild blueberry — there are 1,000’s of varieties growing all at the same time. You can see in the picture above the different shapes and sizes of the berries, each with their own unique blueberry flavor.   

Raw Wild Blueberry Balls 3

So coming back from this trip I knew I would make something using wild berries for this month’s Recipe Redux theme: Bars & Bits for Brown Bags. I wanted a strong wild blueberry flavor and I definitely got it with these delicious little bites of blueberry goodness! They are no-bake balls so you can literally whip them up in 5 minutes with your food processor. What’s different about these balls is that I used the frozen wild blueberries in the mix. So if you eat them right after you make them they’re really cold and refreshing — and if you let them thaw a bit they are melt in your mouth delicious.  You pretty much can’t go wrong either way!

Raw Wild Blueberry Balls 4

These wild blueberry snack balls are perfect for a lunch box or after-school snack, a grab-and-go breakfast or just a fun dessert. I rolled them in shredded coconut, but I bet cocoa powder or hemp seeds would also be delish. You could just eat them plain, too!

Here’s how I made them. Enjoy!

Raw Wild Blueberry Snack Balls

Raw Wild Blueberry Snack Balls


  • 10 dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 heaping cup wild blueberries
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • Shredded coconut (unsweetened)


  1. Process the nuts, dates, vanilla and almond butter in the food processor. Then add frozen (not thawed) wild blueberries and process again until well blended. Wet your hands a bit and roll mixture into balls. Freeze balls for an hour or so to harden, if needed. Then remove from freezer and roll in the coconut. I do this in a bowl. If you want them soft, store in an airtight container in the fridge. If you want them super cold, store in the freezer! Both are delicious.
  2. This recipe makes about 8 balls, double as needed.

Raw Wild Blueberry Balls

And don’t forget to click the link below to check out what my fellow reduxers made for this month’s theme!

Chia Oatmeal bowl with cherries -- made with fresh almond milk and homemade cherry Greek yogurt -- ready in 5 mins!

Chia and Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl with Cherries

Disclosure: By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Quaker Oats and National Dairy Council. I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Chia Oatmeal bowl with cherries

For this post I’m entering a recipe redux challenge sponsored by the National Dairy Council and Quaker Oats to combine the nutritional and culinary power of oats and dairy.

As big fans of no-bake snacks and muesli (especially my Cereal Swag) we eat a ton of raw oatmeal in my house. And on most days, Norah can’t get enough Greek yogurt into her belly. That being said, I thought this challenge was the perfect way to use these two ingredients to create something creamy, decadent and dessert-like, without all the added sugar and fat.

Cherry Chia & Oatmeal

This chia and oatmeal breakfast bowl hits the spot. Why is this the most perfect breakfast? For one, it’s creamy and decadent while still being healthy. It’s got lots of fiber to keep you full, lean protein to keep you satisfied, and a little healthy plant fat for delicious texture. And don’t forget the minerals…this breakfast is a great source of potassium, phosphorus, manganese and calcium.

Cherry Chia & Oatmeal BowlIt’s also very versatile. You can use any fruit you have on hand, you can mix up the yogurt flavor, or you can use different types of nut butter. It’s super easy to make, too. First I blended a spoonful of almond butter with some water and vanilla extract (plus a few dates for some sweetness).  Then I added the raw oatmeal and chia seed. I love the thickening power of chia and it was perfect to give the oatmeal some bulk. While the oatmeal mixture was setting up I stirred some cherry juice into plain Greek yogurt. You could use any type of yogurt you want here, I just like the tang of plain.

Cherry Chia & Oatmeal

I served it layered in the these cute glasses I got from the Home Goods store, but you can totally use a bowl. Don’t forget to top it off with tons of cherries!  So delicious and perfect after a workout. I hope you’ll try it.

Cherry Chia & Oatmeal


Chia and Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl with Cherries


  • 1/2-3/4 cup raw oats
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp chia seed
  • 3 dates, pitted
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen unsweetened cherries, thawed
  • few drops stevia, optional


  1. Blend the almond butter, water, dates and vanilla extract in a blender. Then add oats and chia seed and blend again until well combined. Place the Greek yogurt in a small bowl and stir in some of the cherry juice from the thawed cherries. You can sweeten this up with some stevia or honey at this point, if you'd like. Layer the yogurt and the oatmeal mixture in a bowl and top with cherries.

Mixed Greens salad with warm cranberry dressing

Green Salad With Warm Cranberry Dressing

Mixed Greens salad with warm cranberry dressing

It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a warm salad dressing. Probably because the warm dressing recipes I come across usually involve bacon. That’s why I was intrigued by this warm dressing that replaces the bacon with something more nutritious, more delicious and more beautiful….dried cranberries!

green salad with cranberry dressing

If you like cranberries you will love this dressing. It’s the perfect blend of tart cranberry flavor balanced with just the right amount of sweetness. Yes, dried cranberries do contain some added sugar. You actually have to sweeten cranberries to enjoy them. In fact, fresh cranberries (the kind you make cranberry sauce with) have roughly the same amount of sugar as a lemon, so they need a little sweetener to be palatable.

green salad with warm cranberry dressing

I decided to test the dressing on my favorite go-to salad…my everything but the kitchen sink salad…my salad that I throw together more than a few times per week when I’m pressed for time. It’s a mix of baby spinach and kale, orange bell peppers, hearts of palm, cucumbers, avocado, a can of tuna and a handful of pumpkin seeds, all tossed together in this creamy warm cranberry dressing. YUM!

So let’s get you making this recipe, shall we?

Green Salad With Warm Cranberry Dressing


    For the Dressing:
  • 4 Tbsp cranberry juice
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the Salad:
  • 4 cups baby greens like spinach and kale
  • 1/4 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 hearts of palm, chopped
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • Whatever else you want to put in it!


  1. Place cranberry juice and dried cranberries in a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in vinegar and Dijon mustard. Gradually whisk in olive oil so the mixture becomes a dressing. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Rinse spinach and kale leaves and place in large bowl. Add vegetables, avocado and pumpkin seeds. Gently toss salad ingredients with the dressing and serve.

Disclosure: This dressing recipe is not mine. It was provided to me by the Cranberry Marketing Committee. The Cranberry Institute sent me free samples of cranberries to test this recipe but I was not compensated to write this post. I just really dig cranberries. Don’t you?

trader joe's favorites

Food Finds: My 8 Top Trader Joe’s Favs

trader joe's favorites Trader Joe’s has been creating food especially for me. Well not officially, but that’s how it feels these days. Inspired by this post from The Kitchn, I thought it was high time I shared some favorite finds from my neighborhood TJs.

Here goes:

The raw, fermented sauerkraut is my most recent find and probably the most exciting.  Why do I love thee? Well for one, this ‘kraut tastes fantastic. A long time fan of Bubbies, I have to admit, it’s a little…shall I say…pungent.  But not this sauerkraut! It’s the delicious addition of Persian cucumbers that has me eating half the container in one sitting. I think the cucumbers make it a bit less crunchy and gives it a slight sweet taste. It’s also fermented and raw. This means there’s no vinegar or cultures added and it’s not cooked or pasteurized. I love the delicious just-right combination of cabbage, cucumbers, sea salt and garlic – naturally preserved and a great source of probiotics (which are good for you, remember?).

I discovered TJ’s miso paste in April and was delighted. Hey, that’s one less trek to the Asian grocery store for this girl. This miso is a mild yellow type and I pretty much use it every single day. In case you’re wondering, the Japanese have been fermenting soybean into miso paste for over 1,000 years. It gives food that delicious umami flavor that you probably love, even if you don’t know it. Added bonus: Trader Joe’s uses organic soybeans and their miso is vegan and gluten-free.

I don’t have to tell you that I love my green juice. I mean geez, I even wrote a book about juicing. So you can imagine how excited I was to see that Trader Joe’s now has their own line of green juice. The best part? The price tag. Only $4.99 (other juice brands charge twice that). And it’s tasty, too. Only 10 grams of natural sugar and 100 calories in the whole bottle; it’s a perfect pick me up any time of the day. Their Green Juice contains seventeen kale leaves, a whole pound of spinach, a quarter of an English cucumber, one stalk of celery, one lemon, and two inches of ginger!!  And only one apple, which I think is the perfect sweetness. They press out the juice using a slow hydraulic press (the mack daddy of all juicers) and then preserve it using a cold water pressure method called High Pressure Processing (HPP). The companies that use this process (pretty much all of the juicing brands) claim it does not reduce the drinks nutritional value or flavor. Did I mention it’s only $4.99?

I got hooked on roasted seaweed snacks when I started my Clean Eating Detox. On the lookout for snacks that were detox-friendly and nutrient rich (high in vitamins A, B6 and C, as well as iodine and fiber) I fell in love with the odd but addictive flavor of these snacks. I buy 5 of these bags at a time. They’re only  60 calories for the entire package. I like the plain flavor but they also have a spicy wasabi. They’re the perfect side to a sandwich at lunch or a nice mid-day snack with some almonds. I also make mini nori rolls with them for Norah by wrapping them in cooked rice.  So good!

It’s no secret I’m a peanut butter fan first, but I do love Trader Joe’s Almond Butter…..mostly because it’s such a great value. It’s the least expensive option for any nut butter lover! It’s also natural and minimally processed, no sugar or anything added. Yes, you can make your own almond butter pretty easily but if you don’t have the time or the inclination, this is a great second-best!

The coconut milk at Trader Joe’s is a staple in our house. We use it in smoothies, oatmeal, my DK Cereal Swag, chia pudding, etc. I love TJ’s version because it doesn’t contain carrageenan and it tastes pretty good. It’s dairy free, soy free and vegan. They’ve got unsweetened plain and vanilla as well as the sweetened versions.

The organic virgin coconut oil is another great TJ’s find. Again, the price point can’t be beat and the product is so versatile. I use it mainly in the kitchen, but there are many other uses for coconut oil…I know people who use it on their hair, as soap, as shaving cream, as hand and body lotion and even toothpaste! I will admit I’ve slathered it on my very dry heels in the winter but other than that, I am not so adventurous. TJ’s coconut oil is cold pressed, raw filtered and unpasteurized — pretty good stuff for just $5.99.

And finally my latest obsession is white balsamic vinegar. For someone who makes their own salad dressing, I tend to get overly excited about vinegar. I love the delicate flavor of this white balsamic, it has the perfect balance of flavor without overpowering my salad. I whisk a  few tablespoons of this with a tablespoon of miso and some olive oil and I’m set to go…delish!

So now it’s your turn, what are YOUR favorite Trader Joe’s finds? 

puttanesca style zucchini noodles with olives and cherry tomatoes

Zucchini Noodles with Cherry Tomatoes & Olives

Zucchini noodles with cherry tomatoes and black olives

I think pasta might be making a comeback. I keep seeing recipes everywhere for fun, light, summery dishes using orzo, penne, and spaghetti.I admit I long for the days when I could feast on pasta and not feel like I’m committing  a crime. Is pasta bad for me? Probably not. Can I eat an “appropriate” amount and feel satisfied? Definitely not. Especially when my mom is the one making it. That’s why I love zucchini noodles. I can be a little glutinous and still feel good about myself.

puttanesca zucchini noodles -

Last week I shared this cold zoodle salad with you. This week I went with a warm dish. Pasta Puttanesca is actually a childhood favorite. I love anything with olives and although this is not a traditional Puttanesca sauce, it worked perfectly for me.

heirloom cherry tomatoes

These fancy cherry tomatoes were my inspiration. Aren’t they amazing? They made a lovely base for my sauce. I sauteed them in a pan with some olive oil, garlic and anchovy paste until softened. Then I added the capers, olives and fresh basil. My house smelled gorgeous while this sauce was cooking up. To me, there’s not much better a smell than that of sauteed garlic — it’s always the start of something delicious!

zucchini puttanesca

It’s such a simple dish, yet it has so much flavor. If you love Puttanesca, you will love this sauce! So tell me, have you tried substituting your favorite pasta dishes with zucchini noodles yet? I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be so happy you can start to enjoy pasta again without feeling “bad” about it.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Zucchini Noodles with Cherry Tomatoes & Olives


  • 3 zucchini, spiralized
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste (I use the kind in the tube; vegetarians -- feel free to omit)
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper, optional


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil. Once heated, add garlic and anchovy paste, if using. Cook until anchovy dissolves and garlic browns. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until softened about 5-8 minutes. Then add the capers and olives. Simmer for about 5 minutes more, or until the tomatoes make a sauce. Add salt, to taste. Stir in the basil. While sauce is cooking, spiralize the zucchini and place in large bowl (I cut my noodles with a kitchen scissor so they are easier to eat). When ready, toss the sauce with the zucchini and eat immediately.
lemony zucchini noodles

Lemony Zucchini Noodles with Spinach, Cherries & Pine Nuts

lemony zucchini noodles

Summer is officially here and for me that means….zucchini! One of my favorite ways to enjoy the bounty of zucchini coming my way is by making zucchini noodles. I love transforming my favorite pasta dishes into light, low-carb spiralized meals that satisfy and delight.

What is a spiralizer? A spiralizer is a way to turn zucchini into long strands of noodles. There are a few different ways you can go about it, depending on what shape you’re after.

fettucine zucchini noodles

You can use a regular vegetable peeler to make flat, fettuccine-type noodles.


Or you can use this julienne peeler to make shreds, like these.


Or you can use my favorite, the spiralizer, to make spaghetti-style noodles like this. I use this hand-held spiralizer to get this type of noodle.

Let me give you some tips for working with zucchini noodles. First off, I rarely heat my noodles first. If I want a warm pasta, I use a warm sauce. When I make a sauce in the Vitamix, I just toss it with my zucchini noodles straight from the blender. For me it’s a texture thing, heating will make the noodles soft, which I don’t like. Also, the noodles are going to release water…they are mostly water, after all. That being said, go easy on the sauce. Use less than you normally would with traditional pasta and just be comfortable with the fact that there will be some watery sauce left at the bottom of the bowl. You could use a cheesecloth and squeeze out your noodles, but that’s just going to take away the crunch of the zucchini and leave behind a mushy noodle.

Lemony Zucchini Noodles with Spinach, Cherries and Pine Nuts

This recipe was inspired by a delicious supper club dish made with orzo and arugula. You can use any shape of noodle for this dish, it really doesn’t matter! It’s such a delicious mix of flavor, I love the combination of pine nuts and dried cherries. This would be great to take to a picnic or barbecue, or just for an amazing weekday lunch.

I hope you’ll try zucchini noodles this summer and especially this recipe!

Lemony Zucchini Noodles with Spinach, Cherries & Pine Nuts


  • 3 zucchini (one per person), spiralized
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 6-7 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped


  1. 1.Place pine nuts in small non-stick pan on medium heat and toast until browned.
  2. 2. Wash zucchini, leave stem end on but chop off other end. Holding stem end, place zucchini into the spiralizer and twist until spiraled. Place noodles into a large bowl.
  3. 3. Add pine nuts and remaining ingredients to noodles, toss well to combine.
  4. 4. Serve cold or room temperature.

 lemony zucchini noodles with baby spinach and dried cherries


The Most Delicious Watermelon Gazpacho…EVER!


Our supper club theme this month was colors. We each got assigned a color and had to bring  a food to match it. My assigned color was pink/red, so I had to make a pink or red appetizer.

At first, I was uninspired.

Then I saw the big ole’ watermelon I had just bought staring at me on the counter.

Being one of those people who gets a cheap thrill using up stuff in my fridge (thanks, Mom) I was suddenly inspired to slice that big boy up.

But what to make with watermelon that could pass muster as an appetizer? Thinking this thought out loud, I heard “watermelon gazpacho” coming from the other room. Hany had just been raving about a wahoo ceviche with watermelon salsa he had in Miami last week.  Brilliant! Okay, now I was getting excited about watermelon gazpacho! Not because I love it…I actually had never had it before. I was thinking more about being able to make it without leaving the house! I had the most important ingredient on hand…the watermelon. Did I have cucumber? Check. Fresh herbs? Check. Red pepper? Of course. The only ingredients I didn’t have were the jalapeno pepper and shallot. Dang it. But still, not bad for a Thursday night fridge clean out.

I know the picture here is not my best, but this soup got scarfed down long before I could get creative with my food styling — and my supper club gals have little patience for my picture taking antics. However, I did manage to pull off this somewhat usable pic from my cell phone! I always document my supper club fun on Instagram, you can search my past dinners here via hashtag #supperclub.

This soup is deliciously flavorful, so refreshing, and has the perfect sweet to tangy balance. If you think you don’t like watermelon gazpacho, you’re wrong. You do. You really do. And so will everyone else.

Why not give it a try this weekend and find out? Here’s the recipe.

Watermelon Gazpacho


  • 8 cups finely diced seedless watermelon
  • 1 medium English cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced


  1. Finely dice veggies and watermelon and mix with jalapeno, basil, cilantro, vinegar, shallot, oil and salt in a large bowl. In batches, puree about 6 cups of the mixture into a blender until smooth. Transfer soup to a large bowl. Serve in bowls or cups and top each with 1/4 cup or so of remaining diced mixture. Serve chilled.
Smoky Kale Salad with Egg 2

Brassicas Cookbook + Smoky Kale Salad with Egg

Smoky Kale Salad with Egg 2

I love a good cookbook, especially one unencumbered by meat. For a plant-based eater like myself, there’s nothing better than perusing through a cookbook full of gorgeous dishes that I can actually eat! This is why I’m excited to share a new cookbook with you. Yes, it’s a veggie cookbook, but one that meat eaters will enjoy, too. Why? Because it’s chock full of recipes for what might be the hardest veggies to cook…the brassicas.

What are Brassica vegetables? They are cauliflower (my favorite), kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, leafy greens like mustard, collard, arugula, watercress, bok choy, radish, turnip and the lesser known rutabaga, kohlrabi and mizuna, just to name a few. These are the veggies my clients tell me they don’t really know how to make taste good. I can relate…I’ve never made rutabaga or kohlrabi and don’t really know how.

But now we can all get confident about cooking up the world’s healthiest vegetables! Laura Russell has written an easy to use cookbook that’s perfect for us home cooks. The recipes are smart, too. She skillfully uses cheese, dried fruit, and fat (like nuts and olives) to balance out the sometimes bitter flavor of the brassicas.

smoky kale salad with egg

I tested this delicious and super simple smoky kale salad with egg for lunch. I love the flavor from the smoked paprika and to me, kale is quite filling. I was able to whip it up pretty easily using ingredients I had on hand. I even improvised a bit to suit my tastes (and my recent obsession with pumpkin seeds).

Here’s the recipe:

Smoky Kale Salad with Toasted Almonds & Egg


  • 2 eggs, hard boiled
  • 1 bunch kale, center rib removed, leaves finely shredded
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar (I used white balsamic vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds (I used pumpkin seeds)


  1. Place kale in a salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, paprika, salt and pepper. Add the oil and whisk to combine. Pour dressing over kale and massage into leaves until kale wilts and gets soft. Add the almonds (or pumpkin seeds) and eggs and toss again. The original recipe states to crumble the eggs into the salad, but I just placed mine on top. Taste and adjust seasonings.

All of her recipes are gluten free with vegan variations and tons of gorgeous pictures. Some other recipes I’m looking forward to trying are the Creamy Cauliflower Gratin, Greek Shaved Cabbage and Fennel Salad, Broccoli Rabe with Romesco Sauce,and the Spicy Soba with Wilted Watercress.  Is your mouth watering yet?

I want you to make these recipes too, that’s why I’m hooking you up with a chance to win this fabulous cookbook!  Enter below for a chance to win a copy of Brassicas by Laura Russell.  Here’s how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway ends Monday, June 16th at noon Eastern Time.  Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the Brassicas Cookbook. 

matcha green tea

Matcha & Pumpkin Seed Crusted Salmon

matcha green tea

Matcha tea is my latest obsession. I love the color and the texture and I’ve been adding it to pretty much everything. Lucky for me, this month’s recipe redux challenge is cooking with tea:

Tea cups around the world are bubbling up with bold new flavors: From cardamom chai and sencha green to bubble teas and veggie teas. We wish we could attend the World Tea Expo the end of this month – but in lieu of a plane ticket, we’ll be cooking and baking and stirring up tea-inspired healthy dishes.

I immediately thought of doing a matcha smoothie but soon realized that was terribly boring and it’s been done a million times. Just type matcha smoothie into a Pinterest search and you’ll see what I mean. I decided instead to focus on something my clients ask me about all the time…new ways to cook salmon. So this tasty little salmon number is inspired by you!

Now, you might be thinking, why matcha? Well, for one it’s a little different than regular green tea because you consume the ground up whole leaf rather than an infusion of the leaves. You can see in the picture above, the tea itself is a powder. It’s also super-rich in the polyphenol EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is a potent antioxidant known for its cholesterol lowering and cancer fighting properties. The taste is unique too. It’s got a grassy, green leafy vegetable vibe.

matcha tea and pumpkin seed crusted salmon

I was really excited to test out my tea-infused salmon idea. Although I love combining salmon with nutty flavors (remember my delicious salmon lettuce wraps with pistachio cream?), this time I went with pumpkin seeds. I think this combination is just as delish. I started by blending just the pumpkin seeds and matcha tea. Then I added a bit of almond meal for texture, and my go-to Herbamare seasoning for flavor. I felt like it still needed a little something, so I tossed in bit of Parmesan cheese. Oh yes, this mixture is some serious good eats!

You can substitute the Herbamare for any sea salt seasoning blend, but I think the Fish and Seafood Blend has great flavor. I always season my fish with it. I got it at Wegman’s I think, but you can always find it online. The best part about this recipe is that from start to finish it took only about 20 minutes. So simple and satisfying…and of course, healthy.


I hope you’ll give it a try. And don’t forget to scroll down to find a ton more healthy tea recipes from my fellow reduxers!

Matcha & Pumpkin Seed Crusted Salmon


  • 2-3 fillets salmon
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp matcha green tea powder
  • 1/2 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2 tsp Herbamare Fish and Seafood blend
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In your blender or food processor, process the pumpkin seeds and the matcha until seeds are chopped. Add almond meal and seasoning salt and process for a few seconds. Then add Parmesan cheese and process for a few seconds. The texture should be like very coarse sand.
  2. Place salmon fillets onto glass baking sheet. Squirt lemon juice over fillets. Season with a bit of salt if you want. Place matcha-pumpkin seed mixture onto salmon fillets. Roast for 15 minutes or until cooked to your liking.


Travel Eats: My Plate Recap While Eating On The Go

I had fun last week traveling to San Francisco to visit the home of Clif bar. They invited a group of dietitians out for their annual “RD Summit” to educate us on their product line and how they run their company. They are a pretty impressive organization to say the least, and I can see why many of their employees don’t ever leave after landing a job at Clif. The perks are pretty amazing. My favorite benefits are the in-house day care, the dog-friendly offices, and their commitment to the health and wellness of their employees.


A few highlights of my trip were getting to tour San Francisco via bicycle for a scavenger hunt on Friday morning (so fun!) — and our amazing RD team winning first place!

making bars

I also got to make my own Clif bars with fellow RD and friend Vicky Retelny and enjoy some delicious food and camaraderie with fellow RDs.

I tried to document my eating adventures while I was there, but the whole “keeping track of my meals” thing is not that easy to do, especially when traveling. Many times I remembered to snap the photograph after I was halfway through my meal, or worse, finished with it! And since I was traveling on Wednesday, I didn’t get to post What I Ate Wednesday from last week. So instead I recorded how I ate while on-the-road, something that I get asked about ALL THE TIME. Indeed, travel-eating is a stickler for many of my clients. My philosophy for eating away is pretty much the same for eating at home: plan and choose. Here goes.

Travel day: my morning started early enough that I didn’t make time for breakfast. I normally would have grabbed some peanut butter toast, but instead I opted for coffee and a hard-boiled egg and then just through a few goodies into my purse to eat on the plane.


Definitely a fan of finger food, I grabbed an entire pint of fresh blackberries and a bag of Sunshine vegetable chips from Nature Box. 


When I arrived in San Francisco, I needed a little boost so I tested out Oprah’s new iced chai latte from Starbucks for the cab ride to the hotel.


Once I got to the hotel, I went for a walk to check out the area. When I returned, I rummaged through my Clif bar swag bag for a Mojo bar. I met a friend for dinner that evening and ordered a shrimp salad and had a few pieces of bread before the meal. I also had about a glass and a half of wine with dinner. Unfortunately I ate my entire meal without taking one pic. I totally forgot!


Breakfast the next morning was at the cafeteria at the Clif offices and I chose some big beautiful berries along with a slice of olive bread and some scrambled eggs.


We tested Clif bars all morning after breakfast so I wasn’t terribly hungry for lunch, but I ate anyway. It was catered and I chose the salmon salad and veggies. I didn’t eat the quinoa patty.


Dinner that evening was out again at The Central Kitchen. I had a few fun veggie apps and my vegetarian entree was potatoes with artichokes. There was wine, too. Dessert was an amazing layered chocolate pudding concoction that was really one of the best I’ve ever eaten. I joyfully ate every ounce of it!


The next morning we had breakfast before our fun scavenger trip. I had a bowl of yogurt with fruit and coffee. Yes, forgot the pic again (it was early). After biking around the city all morning, my team and I shared a bowl of luscious ice cream from Humphry Slocombe. Lunch was a salad with portobello mushrooms, which I didn’t finish because I was full from the ice cream (and I forgot to photograph…again).

airport options

When I arrived at the airport to head home that afternoon, I had a ton of healthy and delicious-looking options to choose from. San Francisco airport is amazingly healthy!  This deli offered two different kale salads, curry cauliflower with carrots, Brazilian quinoa, beet salad, and couscous with beets. Pretty sad if you compare it to just about any other airport I’ve traveled through. Unfortunately, I wasn’t hungry so I just got a chai tea.

So these are the real-life chronicles of my two day travel-eating adventure. My best advice for eating on the go is to eat as you would as if you were home (aka, eat “as if”). Make sure to go into eating situations with a plan: perusing all your options first and then consciously decide what you’ll eat. Don’t get side-tracked by foods that look good but that you would normally never eat at home. And if you do decide to indulge a little in some fun local cuisine, that’s okay, just get back to normal eating the next chance you get. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the food and culture of a city without feeling guilty or stuffing yourself, just be selective!

Disclosure: Clif bar paid for my trip to San Francisco, but opinions here are all mine. 


What I Ate Wednesday


As someone who tells other people what to eat for a living, I try not to talk too much about what I eat. In part because I don’t want you to think you should be eating like me. And in part because I don’t want to be judged, one way or another. Because eating “healthy” food comes naturally to me, I consider myself lucky. I thank my mom for feeding me home cooked meals growing up that were centered around real, whole foods. But I know that not everyone eats like me, or even wants to. So my decision to do this was not without much thought. I did do it a while back when the Washingtonian asked me “what does a nutritionist eat?” I was actually the first person they interviewed for the “Food Diaries” series on their well+being blog. In case you’re wondering, here was a typical day for me back in 2012. Fast forward to 2014 and my diet hasn’t changed all that much. I’m thinking I might be a boring eater?

So last week I was “tagged” by a fellow RD buddy, EA Stewart (aka The Spicy RD) in a “What I Ate Wednesday” post. Have you heard of this? It’s when a blogger posts each week what she ate on the previous Wednesday. It started as a way to share and inspire others, embrace new foods, and find new ways to eat your old favorites. I think the “RD edition” of What I Ate Wednesday is a positive thing. For one, it’s interesting to see the truth in how we nutritionists eat. I also think there’s some value in sharing what I eat with you, being that I find myself all too often trying to explain something I’ve made for myself or my family. I’m hoping this series will evolve over time and allow me to explain in more detail why I choose certain foods, where I buy them and other useful stuff. So here goes, this is what I ate last Wednesday.

avocado toast

I started the day around 7:00 am with my beloved French press coffee. I use real organic half and half and a variety of different sweeteners, but mostly it’s a blend of real sugar and Nu Naturals stevia. Last week I was on a toasted bread and avocado kick for quite a few days. I had it with cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and on this particular day, sourdough bread with balsamic glaze. It was okay, but I liked the hard-boiled egg version the best.

cereal swag

Since that sourdough bread has no fiber, I was pretty hungry again around 10:00 am. That’s when I poured a bowl of muesli cereal. It’s my own concoction of oats, raw buckwheat, hemp, chia, currants, goji berries and lots of other good stuff. We sell it at The Detox Kitchen but I make it for myself all the time. I had 1 cup of cereal (I scoop it out with a measuring cup) with unsweetened coconut milk and little bit of stevia for some sweet.

green margarita

Lunch time came around 1:30 pm and it’s pretty much always a smoothie for me! Last week I was testing new recipes and created this refreshing kale margarita smoothie. The recipe is pretty simple: 5 leaves of Dino kale, juice from 2 limes, 2 dates, 1 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup frozen pineapple. Although not many ingredients, it was still very satisfying.

salmon salad

I skipped my afternoon snack, which is not typical at all. I was out on appointments and just did not prepare. Because of that, I was really looking forward to dinner. My infamous salmon salad was on the menu. I adore salad. I eat it pretty much every day. I know salad is not for everyone, but I just don’t feel satisfied unless I have it with dinner. You can’t really tell from this picture, but I make a really, really big salad. It could feed four people easily. I used three different kinds of lettuce (Boston bibb, always one endive, and some Romaine), bell peppers, lentil sprouts, cucumber, tomato, avocado, pumpkin seeds, and hearts of palm. I made my own dressing using miso paste, white balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I crave this salad and eat it several times during the week!


Usually I have some dark chocolate as a night snack but I’ve been obsessed with these Lime bars from Trader Joe’s. I was hooked on them years ago and we parted ways, but now we are in love again. I crave the tart limey flavor, it really hits the spot. I forgot to take a picture before I ate the last one, but here is the box.

And that’s it. That’s my day. Hopefully my future WIAW posts will be more exciting. But all in all, it was a typical day. It’s actually Wednesday today and I’m going to a luncheon, so in next week’s post I can show you what I choose when eating out.


The WIAW Dietitian Tag! #WIAWRD

This blog post is a part of a ‘dietitian tag’ to see what other registered dietitians from around the world really eat!

To carry on this tag all you need to do is:

1) Copy and paste this section (marked within the ******) to the bottom of your WIAW blog post.

2) Tweet/Facebook the link using the hashtag #WIAWRD (What I Ate Wednesday Registered Dietitian).

3) Add your blog post link into the section below.

4) ‘Tag’ 2-3 other dietitians to carry on the tag via email!

I tag — Anne at Fannetastic Food and my RD Bestie Colleen at Colleen Gerg Nutrition. I can’t wait to see what my RD friends are eating!

Italian Carrot Salad

Italian Carrot Salad

Italian Carrot SaladThis month’s recipe redux post is honoring treasured cookware. I could not think of a better item to showcase than my mom’s famous white serving bowl. This simple white bowl is not much to write home about; if you saw it on my table you wouldn’t think anything of it. But this nondescript bowl is over 45 years old. I have seen it on my mother’s table my entire life.

heirloom white bowl

This bowl is older than me and it looks pretty much as good as new. I asked my mom for the scoop on this bowl and this is the story I got. In the 1960’s, at the tender age of 29, my mom and her bestie Liz would go yard saling in their Baldwin, New York neighborhood. Neither of them had a car (or a driver’s license) at the time, so the sales had to be within walking distance of St. Lukes Place. At one such sale, clearly pre-Pyrex era, she set her eyes upon this bowl. Excited to find a white serving bowl with a lid, she snatched this gem up for a mere 10 cents. I’m pretty amazed that this bowl has survived so much. Many moves across three states, three marriages, three kids, two divorces and just…life.

My mom’s treasured cookware deserves a treasured recipe, as well. This Italian Carrot Salad is so simple, yet with just one bite, it takes me back to my 1970’s childhood in New York, my beloved Italian Grandma, and my taste for simple dishes. This salad was a constant at every holiday and Sunday dinner, and can still hold its own against many a fancier side dish. I’m sure you have a few dishes like that in your family cookbook, too.

italian carrotsalad

Simple ingredients and and simple preparation. I hope you’ll try it.

Italian Carrot Salad


  • 1 bag organic carrots, peeled and sliced into thick matchsticks
  • 1/2 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper


  1. Place 1 bag washed, peeled and sliced carrots into a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for 6 minutes. Let cool. Once cooled, dress with olive oil and vinegar, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Toss well to combine and serve cold.


Why Do I Eat Clean?

toxinsLast month I finished copy edits on my first cook book — Skinny Juices, 101 Juice Recipes for Detox and Weight Loss (coming out in June!). This week I’ve been busy prepping for the launch of  my sixth group detox program. So detox is on my mind! But more specifically, toxins. Mostly because I keep seeing quotes and stories online suggesting that toxins are not something we really need to be worrying about. This is really upsetting for one because it’s misleading. But mainly because it’s just not helpful. I write a lot about eating clean, but I don’t really talk about why I eat clean, and why it’s so important to me.

So here’s an example of an unhelpful comment that got me crazy:

The idea that your body needs help getting rid of toxins has no basis in human biology. Your organs and immune system handle those duties, no matter what you eat.

This is a quote from a Harvard-trained medical professional. I have to ask, is this all the medical profession has to offer us in response to legitimate concerns about toxic exposure? Okay, yes he is correct. Our liver and kidneys do handle those duties. But it ain’t pretty, people. And it’s not that black and white.

So let’s talk some truth about toxins. You don’t have to dive deep into research to know that we are confronted every single day with toxic chemicals. It really can’t be helped when there’s over 80,000 chemicals currently being used today, most untested for safety. It’s also a well-documented fact that many of these chemicals have taken up space in our bodies. And because they’re a part of us, they become a part of our family line…they will be in our children, their children, and their children. The Environmental Working Group studied the umbilical cord blood of 10 American babies and found over 413 different chemical toxins. Some were neurotoxins that had been banned over 30 years ago. The industry who uses and creates these chemicals wants us to think that the exposure we get is too low for it to matter, that the “parts per billion” is so low that none of the chemicals can have any real effect. But no long-term safety studies have been done on these chemicals. So the argument that there’s no research  to show any harm really makes no sense when there is no research. There are, however, tons of safety studies done on a certain class of chemical toxins that we use everyday…these are called prescription drugs. And guess what? Turns out very low doses do matter. They’re called side effects. At levels less than 30 parts per billion (which is not a lot), over 13% of the prescription drugs on the market today have serious side effects.

Having a hard time losing weight? Well, there are even special toxins that make us fat. They’re called obesogens. Obesogens are special chemicals that mess with your endocrine system. They tell your body to make more fat cells, decrease your metabolic rate, and make you hungry…all the time. Two of the most ubiquitous obesogens out there are BPA and high fructose corn syrup. I’d like to ask Mr. Harvard how well his body is “handling” them. I can tell you, not so good…considering 93% of us have BPA in our bodies. So yes, BPA, a chemical that has been linked to everything from cancer, infertility, obesity, early puberty, and heart disease is now a part of your body. Is that okay? Is that what he means by “handling” it?

So yeah, I do have an issue with toxins. Few people know that decreasing toxic exposure is one of the reasons I started my detox program. I know that I can’t prevent the use of toxic industrial chemicals in our society. Nor can I control what’s in the air I breath or the water I drink. But I can make choices about what I eat and the products I put on my skin. I can control, to some degree, the amount of toxic exposure I encounter on a daily basis by eating clean. And so can you.  

A client told me I should call my detox the “re-inventing eating” program and I love that. Because that’s what we are doing. We are re-inventing healthy, we are reviving choice, and we are literally changing the way we think about what’s in our food. And I love it. I’m so grateful to guide my detoxers on this journey. So when I read the generalizations being made about how our bodies handle toxins just fine and that detox is not necessary, it really bothers me. Not because I think my detox program is going to remove all toxins from our bodies. Obviously that’s not going to happen. But we are doing something very important. We are detoxing away from a toxic lifestyle. We are removing the destructive, inflammatory foods we’ve been eating our whole lives and have been told are healthy. We are learning so much about our bodies — which foods make us feel good, which makes us feel great, and which cause us pain. I think it might be the most important work that I do. 

But hey, I’m not in the convincing business, I’m in the healing business. I know that my clients feel better eating clean. They feel better when they don’t eat toxic food. They feel better when they can lose weight without deprivation. They feel better when they start choosing their food and not being numb to what food can do to their mood, vitality, and overall wellness.

So if you want to learn more about toxins and living a cleaner lifestyle, I hope you’ll join us while we eat clean for 21 days…straight. We start prepping next week and space is limited. You can learn more and register here.

black bean pasta with olives and cauliflower -- gluten free, high in protein and fiber

Black Bean Pasta With Olives & Cauliflower

black bean pasta with olives and cauliflower 1

I found this black bean spaghetti at Costco. Surprisingly, it’s organic, gluten-free and pretty much clean eats. There are only 2 ingredients: black beans and water. Can’t get much cleaner than that, right?

How does it taste? I was thinking that, too. So much so I never thought I would actually make this pasta. I have a few of those items in my pantry, stuff that looks interesting in the store, but I never feel inspired to actually cook. But tonight, I got adventurous. I figured you can’t go wrong with pasta, right?

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I approached this challenge the same way I would any pasta dish. Toss it with some olive oil, a few veggies and call it a day. I make this sort of dish regularly for Norah, but I actually stopped eating pasta years ago when I realized I could no longer eat half a pound all by myself and not suffer consequences. Since then, I’ve kind of gone cold turkey. Except for the occasional last bites of Norah’s bowl or my summer love affair with raw zucchini pasta, I just don’t eat it. Nor have I ventured into the gluten-free or low-carb pasta world. I had a short stint with whole wheat pasta, but our relationship didn’t last. I grew up eating Italian food. And a lot of pasta. I’ve mentioned before, my Italian mom would toss pasta with just about anything — peas, eggs, cauli, zucchini, eggplant, beans, tomatoes. I didn’t matter. It always tasted awesome. So to recreate that flavor with wheat pasta, well…I’d rather go without.

black bean pastaEnter this black bean pasta. Let’s not kid ourselves, this is not at all what I grew up eating. It definitely has that slight grainy texture as the whole wheat stuff. But, with one main difference. It is so filling! There’s no way I’m stuffing my face with this stuff. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so satisfied (and full) from any pasta before. Another benefit? It’s jammed packed with protein. A two ounce serving has 25 grams (that’s a little over three ounces for those wondering).  And yes, it’s very low carb. Only 17 grams per two ounce serving and 12 of those grams are fiber! That means net carb: 5 grams.

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Seriously, back in the day I would have eaten half of this serving plate. That’s the thing with pasta, right? You keep going back for more! I didn’t even put a dent in this stuff. I was full after just a few bites, and that says a lot!

Will your family like it? I think so. Norah was definitely intrigued by the “brown pasta.” She eagerly tried it and gave it the thumbs up. I will say though, by one quarter luck and the rest perseverance, she is an adventurous eater. I hope you’ll give it a try! Here’s how I made it:

Black Bean Pasta With Olives & Cauliflower


  • 1 big handful black bean pasta
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Herbamare Italian Blend Season Salt (or any Italian herb blend)
  • 1/8 tsp salt (plus more for pasta water)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • Parmesan cheese, optional


  1. Boil pasta in salted water, according to package directions. In a saute pan, heat olive oil and onions until golden brown. Add cauliflower and season salt (or just salt). Saute until cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in chopped olives. Then add fresh parsley. Stir well to combine. Add 1-2 ladles of pasta water to saute pan. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. Drain pasta and place in large serving bowl. Toss cauliflower and olives with pasta. Serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired.