Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa and Turkey

The standard rice in this dish is replaced with the superfood quinoa.  While we eat quinoa like a grain it really is a seed. It is closely related to beets and spinach. Keep in mind it is covered in a bitter substance called saponins, so when you prep it make sure when you give a good rinse it first. Quinoa is naturally gluten free and decent source of protein, calcium, potassium, zinc, iron and vitamin E, hence why it gets to be called a superfood.


Superfood Quinoa

By dicing the veggies small they are less likely to be picked out or noticed by the pickier eaters.  Keep in mind, though, bell peppers are a strong flavor and young palates may not eat them.  But that is ok, there are still 2 servings of vegetables hiding on the inside.  If you or any of your eater do not like feta you can leave it out completely, or just sprinkle it on top of some of the peppers.

You can make this dish any time of year, but it is fun to turn them into pepper-o-lanterns around Halloween! If you do carve them, do it before you stuff them and keep the oepenings small.  You may want to plan some extra time to make this; it takes about 30 minutes to prep and then another 30 in the oven.  (You can prep it ahead of time, and throw it in the oven at later point.  Just note it may need a little extra cook time if the peppers are cold from the refrigerator.)


Stuffed Pepper-O-Lantern!

Stuffed peppers with Turkey and Quinoa

½ cup quinoa

1 cup chicken broth

6 bell peppers (any color you prefer)

1 Tb olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, chopped

1 small zucchini, diced

1 lb ground turkey.

2 tb Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 can fire roasted crushed tomatoes

1 Tb fresh oregano chopped

3 oz feta crumbled

Heat oven to 350. Combine quinoa and chicken broth in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 15 minutes.  Quinoa is cooked once all the liquid is absorbed and they looked unwound.

Cut the tops of the peppers and set them aside. Remove the seeds and any white ribbing inside (If you are carving them, do that now.  Keep the openings small, you don’t want all the insides to fall out when cooking). Place peppers in a baking dish.  Discard the stems from the peppers tops and dice.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add garlic, onion chopped pepper tops, and zucchini. Cook till soft about 10 minutes.

Add turkey, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Cook until meat is browned, about 8 minutes.  Add tomatoes and oregano.  Stir in quinoa and half the feta (if mixing inside the peppers.  If you have picky eaters, skip this and just top some of the peppers with it)

Fill peppers with meat mixture, and top with feta.  Cook for 30 minutes. Makes 6 servings.


Nutrition for one pepper: 291 calories, 12 grams fat, 24 carbs, 21 protein






Meal Planning 101

What if I told you there is one very simple thing you can do that can help you stick to a healthier lifestyle? And it also saves money and time? There is, and it’s the act of planning out your meals for the week or any given period of time. I personally meal plan for Monday through Thursday and then again later in the week for Friday through Sunday.


When you take the time to sit down and plan out your menu for the week, you are less likely to make last minute unhealthy choices.  It can also help with those impulse buys.  The sweets or salty treats are less likely to find their way into your cart when they are not on the list.  Also, by having your dinners planned out for the week, you are less likely to find yourself ordering pizza at the last minute because “OMG its 6 and what are we going to have for dinner?!” (Yes we have ALL been there! But the end goal is to limit the amount of times that has to happen).  Incorporating variety is easier when you’ve planned the meals out in advance. There is nothing worse than eating chicken breast for 5 days straight.  Blah!


Where to begin:

  • First, pour yourself your favorite hot beverage (ok not a necessity but helpful and delicious).  Also if meal planning is something you dread, it can help to pair it with something you enjoy (for me that is a perfect cup of hot coffee, or maybe a matcha latte.)
  • Grab your favorite pen, notebook and planner (if you are old school like me and still use a paper planner).
  • Next, you need to take stock of your kitchen.  I like to sit at my kitchen table when I plan. It helps to be close to the fridge and pantry for easy double checking on ingredients.
  • Find your inspiration. Grab your favorite cookbooks and open your browser to some cooking websites.  Great ones are Skinnytaste (her new cookbook, Fast and Slow, is pretty great), Clean Eating Magazine (and their website, however their website tends to be glitchy for me) and Cooking Light (both magazine and website).
  • Eating healthy can get expensive. Pull up your grocery stores sales flier online and check if there are any great sales (For example my store happened to have some good bargains on meat this week, so I planned my meals around them).
  • Pick your proteins.  It is helpful to first pick out your proteins and then plan your meals around them.  I usually like to try have 2-3 poultry based meals, 1 red meat, 1 pork, 1 fish/shellfish and 1 meatless.  That way we get a variety, no one gets bored and everyone’s favorite gets served.
  • If you load your carbohydrates around your workouts, it’s a good idea to figure out in advance what days you plan to work out so you can plan your carb heavy meals accordingly.
  • After you’ve picked out your recipes and meals, make a list of what you need and head off to the store.  I find it helpful when I write my list to keep everything in categories.  Since the produce section is the first section I hit, all the fruits and veggies are first.  Then it’s the meat counter, dairy section and anything I might need in the aisles.  That way I am not roaming up and down every aisle being tempted by the all the goodies.

Do you meal plan in advance? Any favorite tips of tricks?  If you are still confused, and don’t know what type of recipes to be looking for what you should be putting in your cart fill out a contact form and we can start working together.








Margherita Egg White Frittata

Recently I was gifted a very large bunch of basil and this recipe was born out of me desperately trying to come up with ways to use it before it went bad.  And I must say, it was a success.  I love basil, and there so many ways to use it other than pesto.  Basil isn’t just big on flavor; it also packs an amazingly healthy punch.  It is full of vitamin K, magnesium and potassium.  Also, research is showing the phytochemicals in basil can fight viruses, bacteria and inflammation.


Now, to be honest, I did not test this recipe out on my children (I was hungry and not in the mood to share. Hey now, it happens.) But, I imagine most kids would like it.  I used all egg whites in the recipe, but feel free to sub in whole eggs (just note that will change the nutritional breakdown).

Due to the high protein content it is very filling while still being low in carbs (if you would like more carbs, some fresh fruit would go really well with it.) This frittata makes a great brunch or dinner.  Since does take a little attention and time, however, it is not the best choice for a rushed morning.


Margherita Egg White Frittata.

Serves 1

5 Oz Egg whites

3.5 Oz Grape tomatoes, sliced (any tomato will probably work here, this was just what I had on hand)

1 Oz Fresh mozzarella cheese

1 Tb Parmesan Cheese

2 Tb Basil, shredded


Place small skillet over medium heat and spritz with cooking oil.  Once hot, place tomato slices on skillet.  After a few minutes, pour egg whites over the tomatoes.  Once the sides begin to set, use a spatula to gently left the edges allowing the still liquid whites to run under.   As you lift the edge of the set egg, gently tip the pan so the uncooked egg can run underneath. Continue to do this till almost cooked through. It will still be a little raw in the middle.   Add mozzarella slices and over with a lid (keep an eye on it though, you don’t want it to burn).  Once the eggs are fully set turn over on to a plate and sprinkle with basil and parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!



Calories: 192 Fat:6 Carbs:5 protein: 25

Chicken with strawberries, basil and goat cheese.

This protein packed recipe is  great when you are short on time. It is also family friendly.  My littles (age 5 and 2 love it).  The whole recipe takes only 30 minutes to throw together.  The combination of the strawberries, goat cheese and basil go really well together.  It’s easily adaptable to different family member’s tastes. For example, I leave the balsamic off my 2-year old’s plate, and I don’t add the goat cheese to the 5-year old’s.

Strawberries are a good source of vitamin C, A and K.  Make sure you choose berries that are dry and firm.  Smaller berries tend to have more flavor then the larger ones. Typically, the larger berries contain more water so, their flavor is diluted.


While boneless skinless chicken breasts are a great lean protein source they can be tough to cook.  They easily become chewy or dry.  This is a quick cooking method, so there is less time for them to dry out. Make sure you do not use more than 1 tablespoon of oil when cooking them though.  It just needs to be enough to lightly cover the bottom of the pan. We are pan frying these guys, not deep frying! The easiest and cleanest way to pound the chicken is to place it in a gallon zip lock, and smack the crap out of it with a heavy skillet or pan.  Great way to get your aggressions out and the ziplock keeps all the chicken germs from flying around your kitchen.


The Ingredients

4 Chicken breast, boneless skinless.

1 Tb cooking oil. (I like coconut oil)

Salt and pepper

2 Lbs green beans, washed and trimmed

1 Tb oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

kosher salt

black pepper

16 strawberries, washed hulled and chopped

2 Tb basil, chopped

2 oz goat cheese crumbles (feta would be great here too)

Balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400. Trim the green beans.  Toss with oil and salt. Place on a cookie sheet/pan. (Make sure they are dry 1st).  Roast for 20-25 mins, shaking the pan every 10-15 mins.  They are done when wrinkly and brown in spots.

Meanwhile, pound the chicken thin.  You’ll want them to be uniform in thickness.  Heat oil in skillet to medium high.  Season chicken with salt and pepper. Once oil is hot, place chicken in skillet and cooked undisturbed for 3- 5 mins per side.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  (If you are making all 4 breasts, you may need to cook 2 at a time.  Do not crowd them in the pan)

To serve: Place chicken breast on top of 1.5 cups green beans and top with ½ cup chopped strawberries, ½ oz crumbled goat cheese, a sprinkle of basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.


Nutrition (with 1.5 cups green beans, 4 oz chicken and ½ oz goat cheese):

Calories:377 carbs:16  fat:14  protien:41

Protein. It’s what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

People tend to over complicate nutrition.  (Heck we over complicate most things. Remember, keep it simple).  What if I told you there was one very simple thing you could do that would improve your body composition and improve your health? There is. It’s protein. The number one thing you can do to change the way your body looks and benefit your overall health is to eat more protein.  Eat it at every meal. Yes. Every single time.


Chicken, strawberries and goat cheese on top of roasted green beans.


So, what is protein?

Protein is one of three main macronutrients that make up our food (fat and carbohydrates are the other two).  It is a molecule made up of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks for most of our body.  There are two types of amino acids, essential (our body cannot make them so we must get them from food) and non-essential (which our body can make).

Our bodies break down the protein from our foods into amino acids and we store them in our blood.  Our blood stream can then supply our body with aminos as needed.  Aminos make up important molecules like enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and antibodies.  We need a pretty steady supply of amino acids, if our blood supply is low our body will take them from itself (like from our muscles).

What does protein do?

Protein helps support optimal health, including a good immune system (no one wants to be getting sick all the time), healthy metabolism (burn more calories), satiety (keeping you feeling full longer), weight management and athletic performance.

Studies show diets high in protein are associated with a lower BMI and lower waist circumference.  They have also shown to help increase HDL levels (the good cholesterol). High protein diets help support better weight management, weight loss and better body composition (less body fat and more muscle). They can also increase satiety and help keep you feeling full longer and intern help you eat less overall calories.  Age related sarcopenia (the loss of muscle as we age) can even be slowed or even prevented when older adults combine high protein diets with regular exercise.


“Margherita” Egg white frittata

How much do I need?

Our current RDA set by Institute of Medicine states we need .8 grams/kg of body weight.  That comes out to 55 grams for a 150 Lb. person.  Now keep in mind, the RDAs were originally created to prevent disease (and death). Not create optimal health! Basically that is what you need to survive, not necessarily thrive.

A range of 1.2 -1.6 g/kg body weight are ideal for optimal health for healthy adults.  (That comes out to 81-109 grams for 150 Lb. person). Athletes and people undergoing intense training and exercise will need more, up to 2-2.2g/kg. Its is important they get plenty of protein both before and after exercise.

Aim to get protein, at least 20-35 grams, at every meal (and snack). Athletes and those that are very physically active will need to consume more.  Make sure you are choosing high quality lean protein sources.  Like chicken, turkey, lean pork, eggs, low fat dairy, beans, and lentils.  While I am a huge (huge!) fan of nuts and nut butters, it is not beneficial to think of them as great protein sources.  While one serving of peanut butter does have 8 grams of protein (28 calories from protein) it also has 16 grams of fat (135 calories from fat).  Protein bars can be good in a pinch, but it is always better to choose whole food sources when you can.  Same applies to protein powders.


But I heard too much protein is bad for my liver/kidneys?!

In normal, healthy people with functioning kidneys, there is no health risk associated with high protein diets.  People who already have damaged kidneys, however,  do need to eat a low protein diet.  That does not mean high protein diets will damage healthy kidneys.  Same goes for the liver. Those who already have liver disease or damage, will need a low protein diet.  Studies show that high protein diets (2.2 g/kg body weight) will not damage a healthy liver or kidneys.

The Bottom line

  • Get protein with every meal. Aim for at 20-35 grams per meal.
  • Choose lean healthy sources.
  • Vary your sources. Don’t forget about non meat options, like beans and lentils.
  • If you are an athlete or partake in intense activity, you may need more.
  • Make sure you are consuming protein around exercise.


Still feeling confused?  It’s okay.  Let’s work together to find out exactly how much protein and other nutrients you need to be eating.  Fill out the contact form for more information.


Phillips SM, Chevalier S, Leidy HJ. Protein “requirements” beyond the RDA: implications for optimizing health. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016 May; 41(5):565-72. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2015-0550.

Arentson-Lantz E, Clairmont S, Paddon-Jones D, Tremblay A, Elango R. Protein: A nutrient in focus. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2015 Aug; 40(8):755-61. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2014-0530.

Rodriguez N. Introduction to Protein Summit 2.0: continued exploration of the impact of high-quality protein on optimal health. Am J Clin Nutr.  June 2015 vol. 101 no. 6 1317S-1319S.

Pasiakos S, Lieberman H, Fulgoni V. Higher-Protein Diets Are Associated with Higher HDL Cholesterol and Lower BMI and Waist Circumference in US Adults. J. Nutr. March 1, 2015 vol. 145 no. 3 605-614.

Fat is good


It is not secret around here that I am a huge nut butter fan.  Addict even.  Weekly my kids and I make homemade nut butters.  Peanut butter, almond butter (a chocolate coconut by my gal, Emma, over at Better With Cake is my all-time favorite!).  I am big fan of other fats too.  Avocados. Eggs. Coconut. Lard (Yes lard! Have you ever had potatoes roasted in duck fat? No? you haven’t lived till you have roasted potatoes in lard!)

Fats are good for you. Great even. Fats have gotten bit a bad rap.  Yes, there can be too much of a good thing (that applies to most things in life!) and some fats are better than others. Fats support your metabolism, hormone production, immunity and the absorption of other nutrients. Our brains, nervous system and cell membranes are all made up of fat.  In fact, our brain is actually 60% fat!

More important than your total intake of fats is the balance between the different types of fats, like polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats.  In today’s average diet, it is easy for our fats to be out of balance. Typical diets tend to be very high in saturated and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats and low in monounsaturated and omega-3 polyunsaturated fat.

The Different Types of Fats


Monounsaturated fats are found in macadamias, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, sesame seeds olives, olive oil, pumpkin seeds and avocados.


Polyunsaturated fats are found in fish oil, hemp seeds, algae oils, safflower oil, peanuts, canola, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds.  There are 2 main types of polyunsaturated, omega-3 and omega-6.  Both are essential fatty acids, meaning our bodies cannot produce them. Generally, we get plenty of omega-6 in our diets but are lacking in Omega-3.  Omega-3s can be found in fish and algae oils and plant based sources like flax, hemp and chia. We typically cannot get all the benefits from the plant sources, so it is best to get it from marine sources. Typical diets tend to be very low in omega-3s, hence why hear a lot about supplementing with fish oil.  I am not a huge advocate for supplements, EXCEPT when it comes to fish oil.


Even Saturated fats are not completely bad.  However, in the typical American diet (a diet high in processed foods and animal fat) we tend to get too much saturated fat in relation to the other fats. Saturated fat is found in animal fats (butter, meat) and tropical oils (coconut). We can make these fats healthier by choosing pasture raised meats, dairy and eggs. Newer research shows that saturated fat alone is not bad for our health, but it is when diets high in fat are combined with diets high in refined carbohydrates that there are problems.  [1] [2]

The only truly ugly fat, trans-fat

Trans-fat is found in margarine, fast foods, coffee creamers, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza and commercially baked goods.  Trans fat is made when a liquid fat is turned into a solid.  Like with margarine. These fats can raise our LDL (bad cholesterol) while lowering the HDL (good cholesterol), increase inflammation, contribute to insulin resistance. Research for the Harvard School of Health found that for “every 2% of calories from trans fats, their risk of heart disease rises by 23%” [3]

The great news is, we are aware of how bad trans fats are and they are being phased out of most of our foods.  However, until they are gone, we still need to keep an eye out for them.  The nutrition label may not state if a product contains trans-fat if it has less then 0.5 grams per serving, so look for the phrase “partially hydrogenated” on the ingredient list.

So what a guy or gal to do?

Don’t over think it. Remember keep it simple. Work on getting a balance of each type of fat.  Include nuts, seeds, fatty fish and pasture raised meats and eggs in your diet.  Avoid the processed fats typically found in fried foods, snack foods, chips etc.   Take a fish or algae oil supplement. Optimally you would want 1/3 of fat intake to come from each category saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (with most of that coming from omega 3s).  Right now there is a study for and against every type of fat.  Until more research is done, there is no need to avoid any one type (except for trans-fat) and just work on getting a balance of the different types.


[1]Volek J., Forsythe C. The case for not restricting saturated fat on a low carbohydrate diet. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2005; 2: 21. Published online 2005 Aug 31.

[2]Siri-Torino P, Sun Q,  Hu F, and Krauss R. Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar; 91(3): 502–509.

[3]Mozaffarian D, Katan MB, Ascherio A, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 2006 Apr 13;354(15):1601-13.