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What to Make this Weekend: Salad Remix

Happy Friday! To all my fellow Americans (I sound so Patriotic, don’t I?), hope you’re looking forward to a relaxing long weekend—or at least to making time-and-a-half at work. I’m actually off for a few days and am making time to see friends and take a short trip with my family to welcome the unofficial start to the summer season.

farmigo scallops and arugulaWe tend to think burgers & dogs when it comes to summer cookouts, but what about what else is on the plate? I happen to think salad makes a delicious side dish to these meaty (or fake-meaty, if you’re opting for a vegetarian version) summer staples. A simple mix of crisp greens with a light dressing and a few well-selected vegetables offers a nice contrast. With the abundance of seasonal produce available (finally), this is also a great time of year to make a meal-worthy salad. Here are a few tips to help you avoid plate-envy.

Start with your favorite greens. Need ideas? Start with what’s seasonal (google what’s available locally when in your area) and let your tastebuds be your guide from there. In the summertime, I am all about arugula. If you hate arugula, maybe you’ll dig lettuce or spinach.

Pick a protein. Meat, fish, hard-boiled egg or egg whites, tofu, beans, nuts…whatever does it for you, really! Just try to keep it simple. Go with grilled, baked or steamed over breaded or fried.

Pile on the veggies. If you want crunchy, cucumber, celery, and blanched asparagus are where it’s at. Tomatoes are lovely when in-season. You can also go a little fancier with things like caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, steamed beets, or roasted cauliflower. I all about roasted eggplant and zucchini, as you may be sick of hearing about, but it’s totally worth trying.

Pick one high-calorie add-on. When it comes to extra like cheese, bacon, nuts, avocado, and dried fruit, pick the one that you’ll enjoy the most.

Complex carbs: optional but encouraged. Having a small serving of complex carbohydrates in the form of beans/peas/lentils, whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, etc), or starchy veggies like sweet potato can help round out the meal to keep you satisfied for hours. Not feeling it? Have a piece of fruit for dessert.

Get dressed. An article I wrote about healthy salad dressing options was featured on YouBeauty this week. You can shake up some olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice with your favorite spices and maybe a little dijon mustard to get fancy with it, or you can even skip the dressing altogether and top your salad with a little salsa, hummus, or guacamole.

Think about what flavors you like in all different kinds of foods—chances are you can come up with a salad adaptation. BLT salad, for example. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

What are you looking forward to this weekend? Do you have a favorite salad recipe? 

Thinking Out Loud

Happy Thursday. That came quick, huh? I still feel like I’m playing catch-up from last week. So many projects, so many moving parts—I love it, but I would totally be lost without my to-do list(s). I can tell things are extra busy when I have to write numbers next to the different items to remind myself how to prioritize. I used to do that when I worked in long term care but fell out of the habit when I went back to in-patient clinical work. In the past 6 months or so, I’ve started to rely on that system on the days I work from home writing or seeing clients. Good thing Thursdays are all about steam-of-consciousness over here!

*Speaking of last week, Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean posted a great recap of  our trip to Minneapolis. Because a few people asked, here are some of the other RDs/Bloggers who attended:

· Katie from

· Ann from

· Lesley from

· Abigail from

· Danielle from

· Brittany from

· Lisa Cain from

*Still speaking of last week, this is probably the most hilariously “me” photo ever:

Jess MN May 13 2015

What can I say? We Italians talk with our hands. There are also way too many photos of me from over the years with my first finger and thumb together like that in some kind of unconscious meditative anchor or whatnot. Maybe it’s my brain’s way of calming me when I have to speak in front of strangers? I am completely calm when I know I have the floor, as in a presentation or public speaking event, but when it comes to raising my hand and chiming in to a group discussion, I am that person blushing and fumbling my way through a bunch of “this is probably silly, but….” and “I’m sorry, but…” ridiculousness.

*In other ridiculousness, I’m quoted in a piece on Men’s Journal about adults using Pedialyte as a hangover aid or workout recovery drink.

* I need help with my inbox. I pulled out my phone the other night to show someone a picture, and they said, “Wow, that’s a lot of emails.” And I’d thought 550 unread emails actually sounded pretty moderate…

Better get back to it.

What’s on your mind today?

This post has been part of another Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.



What I Ate Wednesday #215: Minneapolis Eats

Happy What I Ate Wednesday. How’s your week going?

I was thinking that for this week’s installment of the weekly “what I ate” link-up, I’d share what I ate last Wednesday in Minneapolis.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we had a great time at Travail last Tuesday night, so I’d been expecting to wake up at least a wee bit hungover. But no. I popped out of bed at 5:30 (to my credit, because of the time change, my body felt like it was 6:30) and had a few unexpected free hours, so I went to the hotel gym (to read Me Before You on the elliptical). Afterwards, I bought some coffee and milk from the Starbucks downstairs. That plus some leftover cereal and a banana from the previous day’s events made for a perfect post-workout breakfast. hotel cereal bfast

Read breakfast was to happen much later, at the General Mills headquarters after a tour. But first, this may have happened: characters

Um. Funny story: I was obsessed with lost ocean liners as a kid. Who am I kidding—I still kind of am (and totally all over this month’s 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania). I went so far as to write James Cameron a letter when Titanic came out in 1990-whatever to tell him all the stuff he got wrong. Mostly it was the collapsible lifeboats I took issue with. I am so embarrassed for my younger self. Anyway. I had no idea that General Mills built the submarine that went down to the explore the wreck. I sent my family a text joking that my whole life had just come full circle. GM Titanic

But right, breakfast. I generally loathe sweet yogurt (and there was no plain available), but I wasn’t in the mood for hot oatmeal or cereal, so I just rolled with it and opted for this 2% Greek honey flavor with a little bit of raw oats, flax, chia, and cinnamon and some fruit on the side. Since it was nearing 10 am, I was really hungry and didn’t want to make a fuss. I feel like when you avoid added sugars in your yogurt 99% of the time, it’s not the biggest deal to have a little. IMG_0401

After some morning events, we played around in the Betty Crocker Test Kitchen. I made a potato pancake that contained:

  • 1 potato, steamed in the microwave and scooped out
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • A dash each of salt & pepper

My recipe made enough for two people, so I only plated one serving and garnished with some plain Greek yogurt, tomato, and chives. Basil and a drizzle of olive oil could also have been nice. The event photographer made it look way prettier than my iPhone did: Potato Pancake

Here’s my cheesy “look what I made” photo!  Jess Betty Crocker Test Kitchen

I was actually really impressed by the lunch spread (or the overall great quality of the food—I think they knew they were hosting a group of RDs and healthy living bloggers, so…). I enjoyed a mix of salad, roasted veggies, and chicken.

GM lunch

Later in the day, we enjoyed some fresh fruit between activities and then suddenly, it was already time for me to head to the airport. After clearing security, I had a little time to kill, so I managed to sit down and have dinner before my flight. Airports can be hit or miss in terms of food, but I enjoyed a lovely meal of nicoise salad and ginger kombucha.

MNSP dinner

A few hours later, I had some dry-roasted edamame just before landing. I was so tired by the time I got home, it was lighst-out almost right away. What a whirlwind!

What was the best—or worst—airport meal you ever had? 

To see more WIAW from other bloggers, head on over to this week’s host Arman’s site or visit founder Jenn’s blog Peas & Crayons.


As I mentioned on Sunday, I spent part of last week in Minneapolis with a small group of RDs and bloggers as part of an event at General Mills. Overall, it was a really fun trip where we got to talk about a lot of important stuff.

I had thought about writing one long recap post or squeezing it all into a What I Ate Wednesday-type post, but after reflecting on the trip—and looking through all the pictures on my phone—I thought I’d share a really fun culinary experience with you.

Tuesday night, the group had dinner at a really fun restaurant called Travail Kitchen & Amusements. If you find yourself in Minneapolis, you should put this at the top of your must-visit list. We enjoyed an array of inventive food and drink in a lively setting—it certainly made for lively conversation as well!

So about those drinks…

Travail Cocktails

I got to taste several of the cocktails being passed out, but I mostly stuck to prosecco and water throughout the evening. And okay, maybe a shot or two of bourbon. buffalo trace

I didn’t get a lot of pictures of the passed appetizers, but I’m glad I caught a shot of this scallop tartare — so pretty! scallop tartare

The menu involved a lot of seafood and vegetables as well as a range of inventive serving ware—I got a lot of ideas!
Travail fish on rock


There were a few meat items, which were all fantastic as well. .. travail
Travail pork

Dessert was a little sampling. I had a bite of each but damned if I could tell you now what they all were. Travail dessert

Bonus points for the melting escapee ice cream.

So, yes. It was a wonderful night, and I felt lucky to get to have such a fun dining experience in a new city.

Great Greens

chardI have a bit of reputation for being a stickler for vegetables. I do worry sometimes that people who hear me lauding the benefits of green stuff might think I’m referring to dry salad and other madness that belongs in the 90’s. Once they get to know me, of course, it’s pretty clear that blandness is not exactly in my culinary repertoire.

There’s this weird misconception that healthy is synonymous with “tasteless,”  despite thousands of years of practice using flavorful herbs and nourishing foods for healing purposes. Bone broth was a thing in Chinese medicine long before Paleo bloggers made it popular.

Even though spring is a great time to get back into cold salads, there are actually certain nutrients our body is better able to absorb from cooked greens— fat soluble vitamin A, for example—with the added help of olive oil, a monounsaturated fat that can help raise your “good” HDL cholesterol and lower the “bad” LDL. This recipe also contains everyday superfood garlic, which may also benefit heart health and even protect against cancer.   The lemon juice and sea salt add a bright touch to finish off the dish, which makes a great side for your favorite fish, kabobs, or even scrambled eggs.

This particular recipe calls for chard and spinach, but you can use whatever you like best. Enjoy!


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lb chard, chopped
  • 1 lb spinach or baby kale, torn
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Add shallot and cook until opaque. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the chard. Cook until greens are wilted and tender. Add spinach and cook another few minutes until all greens are wilted.
  3. Pour greens into a serving bowl and toss with lemon juice and salt to taste.

What’s your favorite vegetable? 

A Small Collection of Joyous Things

Happy Sunday! Welcome to my weekly list of small good things. Hope you’ve had a great weekend so far! I’ve been catching up on stuff here in NYC and enjoying a mix of work and social things.

*Friday night I attended a gala to benefit the neurology department of the hospital where I’m the RD for the ALS clinic. It was a great event in a beautiful space, and it was wonderful to be able to share it with my colleagues and even some of our patients. I rented a dress from Rent the Runway and was happy to find it had pockets. Sweet! Mirror Selfie

*I’ve been hearing so much about the Blend retreat so many bloggers go to every year, and it looks like so much fun! This year, I’m sort of there in spirit? General Mills was there, hosting a trail mix bar, and kindly enough featured my Ancient Grains Cheerios concoction—thanks to Tina from Carrots ‘n’ Cake for posting a picture!

*Speaking of General Mills, I spent a few days earlier in the week at their headquarters in Minneapolis with a small group of dietitians and bloggers.  It was a great opportunity to have an open dialogue about health concerns and food trends and ways to address some big issues. I know I learned a lot, and I truly appreciated the opportunity to ask the CEO of the cereal division my questions and bounce ideas off of other RDs and discuss  these things with people on both sides of the equation. I do tend to be cautious when it comes to working with food companies, but over the past year or so of collaborating and communicating with them, I have mainly good things to say.

I honestly feel that the best way to initiate positive change as a dietitian is to work together with food companies—within reason, of course. Complaining about what I don’t like without doing anything to address my complaints is not going to fix anything. Of course, I’m that person who always goes in with a mindset of, “Is this Kool-Aid they’re handing me? Am I drinking it? How do I feel about this Kool-Aid?” That said, I get so much out of hearing different perspectives. Another way to look at it, for me, is that these large food companies have monetary resources to actually lead a movement, so if I can play a little role in making that a positive movement, I find that a worthwhile relationship. Minneapolis

*I hesitate to reveal hopes & dreams-type stuff on here, but I had to take a step back this week when a few works I wrote on a piece of paper last year “came true” in real life. It was a silly thing, really, but my secret little goal was, “write something for the New York Times.” Though it was only a few sentences in an article about drinkable beauty products, it was still a reminder to just keep putting those positive intentions out there.

So that’s it for today. I could go on and on, actually. So many little things about this week that made me go “Wow,” but more to come.


Have a great day!

What’s made you smile this week? 


What to make this weekend: My favorite smoothies

Happy Friday! What are you getting into this weekend? I’m looking at a mix of work, not-work, and dinner with my parents. I’m really hoping beauty sleep finds its way onto the agenda, but I guess we’ll see about that.

In this week’s New York Times, I weighed in on drinkable beauty products. Though some of them contain compounds that show some promise in terms of skincare and anti-aging, their effectiveness in supplement form hasn’t been studied enough to conclusively prove that they work. Though they may not do you harm, they will definitely set you back a pretty penny. Or a lot of pennies.

kefir banana chocolate smoothie

Chocolate Banana Kefir Smoothie

That said, having a well-balanced diet that provides you with the nutrients you need can help you get the healthy glow you want. With the warm weather finally here, I’m seeing a lot more smoothies in my clients’ food journals, and I’ve been enjoying them myself as an energizing breakfast or snack. Here are a few of my tried and true favorites:

Another favorite I haven’t posted on here yet but was a huge hit at a smoothie demo I did this winter:

  • 1 cup plain kefir
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 pink each cinnamon, turmeric, ginger
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 large handful spinach

As you can see, I like putting stuff on top of my smoothies a lot of the time—granola, oats, chia seeds, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, etc. Obviously, this requires a spoon, so if that’s not your thing, skip it. You can also blend that stuff right in.

A few other things that make good smoothie mix-ins besides fruit, milk, and protein powder:

  • Frozen fruit
  • Nuts
  • Nut butter
  • Flax
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Cereal
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Greens (even frozen ones)
  • Frozen peas
  • Molasses

What’s your favorite smoothie? 


Thinking Out Loud: Market Table

Happy Thursday! Hope your day is off to a good start. I’m getting back into the swing of things after a short trip to Minneapolis (more on that in another post), so while I get my act together, I thought I’d share a recent meal out.

Last Thursday, I met a lady-friend for dinner at West Village restaurant Market Table, which specializes in flavorful yet simple dishes that highlight seasonal produce. I had such a nice time, I already can’t wait to go back!

We started with some prosecco and split the crispy calamari salad appetizer. The restaurant was kind enough to split the order onto two plates for us—love that. I think the dipping sauce was some kind of chipotle aioli, but I wasn’t in the mood—I was all about the lemon.  market table calamari

For my entree, I ordered the arctic char. It’s a lot like salmon but slightly less fish-y tasting. It came over a bed of greens, hearts of palm, and citrus in an olive sauce—perfect combination of salty, sweet, and sour. You’ll have to pardon the less-than-stellar photo quality. It was starting to get dark out and no way was I going to use my iPhone flash. Market Table arctic char

We peeked at the dessert menu, which looked lovely, but we were perfectly satisfied after our meal. It may also have been way past my bedtime because I’m, like 80.

What was the last restaurant you went to? 

This post has been part of another Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.



What I Ate Wednesday #214

Happy What I Ate Wednesday. Hope you’re having a good week so far. Let’s do this “what I ate” link-up business, yeah?

One of the most common misconceptions about registered dietitians is that we don’t eat or that we eat “perfectly” all the time. Whatever that means. I thought it might be a good idea to share a post with you guys that debunks that perfection myth.

This past Friday, for example, things were pretty routine in terms of eating during my shift at the hospital, even though the day was anything but: WIAW 214

By the time I got home, I was shaky-hungry s had some Greek yogurt with, yes, coconut flour and cocoa powder (1 tbsp each, since someone asked last week) and raspberries–and forgot to take a picture. Then I threw in a load of laundry and ran errands and started to check in with Rise clients and all of a sudden I was stupid hungry and it was time for dinner. Greek yogurt with cocoa and berries

Dinner was a mess-in-a-bowl of what was in the fridge: kale with roasted veggies, chicken, and a glob each of eggplant dip and tahini. I was going to have a sandwich thin with eggplant spread and eggplant on top, and somehow the second piece of bread got stuck so weirdly in the toaster that I broke the toaster trying to get it out and ended up throwing the darn thing away because you have to pick your battles. I now have a new $16.99 toaster I ordered that night off Amazon. Hangry Adventures. IMG_0270

Even though I didn’t really need any more sources of fat in my day, much less more peanut butter, when it came time for a bedtime snack, a banana with a little peanut butter was the only thing that sounded good to me. Certain times of the month, I think it’s especially important to listen to cravings, so I just went with it.


Saturday, after working another hospital shift, I had just enough time to shower and check some emails before meeting up with someone for drinks/appetizers before another friend’s party, so I made a green smoothie (topped with a little high-fiber cereal) because drinking on an empty stomach never leads to good decisions. If you think I’m talking merely about food-related decisions, bless you.

yogurt smoothie with fiber one

About that drink…it was more like a goblet…and delicious to the last drop. Verdejo, I love you.


As I was saying the other day, sometimes you have to be flexible. I ended up stealthily making a meal of mezze: hummus, salad, and goat cheese—whatever works—knowing that I’d be able to have a snack when I got home if I needed. And of course I did.

What foods do you tend to crave? What was the best thing you ate last weekend? 

To see more WIAW from other bloggers, visit founder Jenn’s blog Peas & Crayons.

Guest Post: Decadent Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Happy Tuesday! Hope your week is off to a great start! I’m jetting across the country and back for a short overnight trip, but I’ve got a great guest post for you from Alyssa of Renaissance Runner Girl. Today, she’s got a delicious gluten-free dessert recipe for anyone out there needing a chocolate fix! Alyssa of Renaissance Runner Girl


I very much enjoy a piece (or pieces, or truffles, or an entire bar) of good dark chocolate. It’s one of the simplest and best ways to satisfy my sweet tooth. But I tend to prefer vanilla or fruit flavors over chocolate baked goods. That’s why most of my recipes focus on other flavor combinations, like vanilla cinnamon or PB&J, and I throw in dark chocolate chips and such for an extra treat.

However, plenty of my friends are chocolate cupcake and cookie lovers. As are the majority of people! Thinking of ways to treat them led me to create my Cocoa-Chocolate-Chip Cuppins, and recently, to these chocolate cupcakes. They’re decadent in their dark chocolate flavor, but light and airy in texture, like little chocolate cupcake clouds. They pair great with a basic vanilla cream cheese frosting, or with a peanut butter topping. And best of all, they’re gluten-free, nut-free, and can be adjusted to be dairy-free – but they managed to fool a few people who don’t normally deign to taste test my allergy-avoiding treats!

© Renaissance Runner Girl 2015

© Renaissance Runner Girl 2015

Decadent Dark Chocolate Cupcakes (Gluten-Free)


  • 1 1/8 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (2% or full fat works best – you could also use a dairy-free alternative)
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 3 Tbsp egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp butter (if you want to go dairy-free, you can use all oil)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Handful of dark chocolate chips
  • Additional butter, oil, or cooking spray to grease cupcake wrappers


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Stir well, until everything is thoroughly combined.
  3. Line a 12-muffin tin with cupcake wrappers and grease them very well.
  4. Pour in batter evenly, and bake for 15 minutes (or until a fork comes out clean).
  5. Let cool. If you want to add frosting, wait at least 30 minutes to do so.
  6. Enjoy!

© Renaissance Runner Girl 2015

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