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Basic Pumpkin Oatmeal

Good morning! Who’s ready for breakfast?

I don’t care if loving pumpkin makes me “basic” or not—it’s delicious and nutritious. Packed with fiber, antioxidants vitamin A and vitamin C, plus potassium, it’s a gosh-darn seasonal superfood. I know I’ve posted about pumpkin oatmeal on here about a zillion times, but I thought it was high time I posted my go-to recipe. I like to add egg whites to this, but that’s totally optional. Topped with a little peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, and a tiny drizzle of maple syrup, it’s the perfect fall breakfast. Enjoy!

pumpkin oatmeal with PB


I usually use rolled oats because I find them more versatile, but feel free to use instant or steel cut—just note that the cooking times will vary (and steel-cut is tricky, though not impossible, in the microwave). Most packages of rolled and instant list 1/2 a cup as a serving (1/4 cup for steel cut), but I prefer to use 1/3 cup (3 tablespoons if you were using steel cut), as it’s closer to the one-ounce USDA serving and leaves a little extra room for a tablespoon of ground flax for an extra boost of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. I am all about variety, so I’d say that more flavors, more texture, and more nutrients for the same number of calories is a win-win situation.

Basic Pumpkin Oatmeal


  • ⅓ cup rolled oats
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup liquid egg whites or 1 egg (optional)
  • 2/3-1 cup water

On the stovetop

  1. Bring water to a boil. Lower heat and add the oats, spices, flax, and pumpkin.
  2. Cook until liquid is almost fully absorbed.
  3. If using, add egg white or egg and stir in vigorously until mixture begins to look fluffy (about 2 minutes). Cover pot and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

In the microwave

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, mix egg/whites, water, oats, spices, flax, and pumpkin.
  2. Microwave on high in 30-second intervals until cooked through, stirring between to prevent clumping.

What’s your favorite breakfast lately? 

Recipe Redux: Chickpea Eggplant Power Bowl

Happy Friday! What are you looking forward to this weekend? I love to use a weekend day to do meal prep for the week ahead. As the weather gets colder, I love things like soups, stews, and casseroles packed with vegetables and hearty beans, lentils, and the like. This month’s Recipe ReDux theme is plant power bowls, so today I’m sharing a vegan recipe that I’ve been obsessing over lately.

Eggplant Chickpea bowl
Almost every week I make a batch of roasted eggplant rounds to use in salads, cooked dishes, or as a topping for toast. Turns out it’s also delicious in casseroles. This dish is based on a New York Times recipe that I’ve gradually tweaked as I find my personal sweet spot.  If you’re looking for a filling meatless dinner, this hits all the right notes. I hope you enjoy it!


  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • Water
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2-inch half-moons
  • Salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • optional: tahini


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Prick spaghetti squash several times and place with 1-2 cups water in a large baking dish. Cook until outside is soft. Set aside and allow to cool. When safe to handle, cut squash in half. Remove the seeds and then use a fork to scoop out the inside.
  3. While squash cooks, brush or spray eggplant with olive oil on each side and sprinkle salt on top, Spread pieces on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes on each side until browned.
  4. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute until fragrant. Add tomato, tomato paste, cinnamon, and basil. Bring to a boil and then lower heat. Add chickpeas. Stir well to combine. Simmer on low 25 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a square baking dish, layer tomato sauce and then eggplant slices. Add another layer or sauce, then eggplant, and top with sauce. Bake until sauce is bubbling, about 25 – 30 minutes. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing.
  6. To serve, place spaghetti squash in a bowl and top with eggplant casserole. Top with a drizzle of tahini, if desired.

Variations: For a lower-carb version, use greens or cauliflower rice instead of spaghetti squash. For a non-vegan twist, top with goat or feta cheese. You can also cook in sliced sausage or meat. I think lamb would be particularly delicious.

What’s your favorite meatless meal? 

Thinking Out Loud: Summer Weather

Happy Thursday! Busy week over here, so let’s jump right into this weekly dose of randomness.

*I’ve been loving pumpkin spice added in with the coffee grounds lately when I brew a pot. Mine make 4 cups, and I’ve been adding about a teaspoon. It’s a delicious way to DIY the whole pumpkin pie spice thing without all the syrup or sugar.

Trader Joes Pumpkin Spice

Of course, if you’ve got your heart set on a PSL, I’ve got some tips over on Shape for making it healthier. You can also make your own at home with just a few ingredients.

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What I Ate Wednesday #289: Day in the Life

Happy What I Ate Wednesday. Hope you’re having a great week so far. For today’s edition of the weekly “What I Ate” link party, I’m taking a cue from a recent assignment and sharing a glimpse of my schedule at a day in the life of a registered dietitian. One of the things I love about my field is that you can do so many things as a dietitian and in many different settings: clinical, community, education, corporate, culinary…the list goes on and on.

For me, I wear a lot of hats and do a mix, depending on what day of the week it is. For example, Wednesdays are my day at the ALS clinic. Mondays and Thursdays (and sometimes Tuesdays) are corporate wellness days. I usually set Fridays aside for private clients as well as recipe and writing projects unless I cover a shift at the hospital or do a one-off corporate event or public speaking engagement. Weekends are usually used to catch up on projects and schoolwork (and life), but sometimes I fill in at the hospital.

So yeah. The freelancer/private practice/per diem lifestyle certainly requires a lot of organization and planning, but I’m happy with the big picture. Most of the time is hardly feels like work at all!

Anyway, here’s a look at a typical Monday for me. I’m a little nervous to share because now you’ll know what a total grandma I am, but hey. Whatever works. Some days are more grandma-ish than others, but Mondays are the ultimate in early-to-bed, early-to-rise-ness  Read More »

How To Make Cauliflower Rice in the Microwave

The last few months I’ve been using cauliflower rice in a lot of different recipes. Salads, veggie-and-protein bowls, falafel plates, smoothies

Keeping It Real Food falafel bowl

Usually I make it on the stovetop, but one day I wanted to see how it came out if I made it in the microwave. Turned out it was stupid-easy and came out great! Here’s the recipe.

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Dark Chocolate Banana Smoothie Bowl with Kura Protein Powder

Good morning! Today’s recipe is part of the Kura “Show Us Your Smoothie” Contest. I was provided with free samples to play with and have delicious chocolate concoction to share with you. 

I never thought I’d be one of those people who likes having a smoothie for breakfast (I like to chew my food, thank you), but recently, it’s been on the menu at least two or three mornings a week.Depending what you put into it, a smoothie can be a filling option or it can leave you hungry in an hour (though still over your calorie budget). I actually wrote an article for Fitness about how your smoothie can be a diet saboteur because I noticed it was such a big issue for so many people.

I like to make my smoothies extra-thick so I need to enjoy it with a spoon. This may sound like crazy-talk, but adding frozen riced cauliflower (yes, way) lends a creamy texture. A little drizzle of some coconut oil that hardens into a magic shell-type goodness plus some seeds on top makes it more satisfying and provides that extra crunch.

Protein is key to giving it some staying power. I’ve been stuck on pea protein lately, but I also really enjoy the texture and taste of whey protein powder as well. I recently had the chance to try three varieties from New Zealand-based company Kura, whose protein powder is made from the milk of grass-fed cows .

kura variety pack

Each serving of this non-GMO protein powder provides 26 vitamins and minerals and 4 billion probiotic bacteria. For someone who might not consistently be getting what they need from their usual diet could enjoy this in place of another vitamin supplement, and it also makes a handy solution for travel or a very busy day where you might have some gaps to address.

chocolate kura powder nutrition

Because I get a lot of variety in my diet and don’t like to take a multivitamin, I wouldn’t make this part of my everyday routine, but I enjoyed it on a few mornings where I knew I was going to be out of the house and on the go for a long day. This recipe uses the chocolate flavor—perfect for a morning where you’re feeling like you want a rich, sweet treat that will actually keep you going. Enjoy!

kura smoothie

Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Sundae


  • 3/4 cup – 1 cup water
  • Half a frozen banana
  • ½ cup frozen cauliflower
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 packet Chocolate Kura protein powder
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or mix of seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon cacao nibs


  1. Blend ingredients from water through cocoa powder in a blender until smooth. Texture should be thick like ice cream.
  2. Pour into a bowl and top with coconut oil, seeds, and cacao nibs.

Nutrition information: 373 calories, 8 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 10 mg cholesterol, 460 mg sodium, 1770 mg potassium, 23 grams fiber, 27 grams protein

Do you like smoothies for breakfast? 

Disclosure: I was provided with free samples for this recipe. Though I was not compensated for my time, by posting a recipe, I am entering a contest to win a monetary prize. Recipe and opinions are my own. 

Way to Veg with Morningstar Farms and All the Pumpkin

Happy Thursday! Hope you’re having a wonderful week. As usual, this week I’ve got a bunch of stuff to share from the past week, so let’s get into it!

Last week I went to an awesome event with MorningStar Farms where we enjoyed a tasting of five new bowls they have coming out, complete with wine pairings from to accompany each. It was lots of fun and the company representatives were great about answering my questions.

I’m a tough critic when it comes to frozen foods—especially fake meat ones, but I was legitimately impressed with the quality. The flavor and texture were definitely a big step above the crap I used to stock my home freezer with in my early twenties when I was living with a vegetarian. I wish these had been around! Though I wouldn’t encourage soy-based meat substitutes as the backbone of any plant-based diet, they do fill a void, especially for people transitioning to a more plant-centric style of eating.

morning star farms wine piarings

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What I Ate Wednesday #288: Wedding Weekend

Happy What I Ate Wednesday. Hope you’re having a great week so far. For those of you who were off on Monday, I hope it was a wonderful long weekend. For today’s edition of the weekly “what I ate”-style link-up, I thought it would be fun to share what I ate at a wedding with friends last weekend.

Some people try to “save” up their calories for a big event, but showing up hangry tends to backfire, especially if it’s an evening wedding. I like to enjoy healthy, balanced meals with plenty of veggies early in the day to stay well-fueled so I have energy for socializing and dancing. Also, alcohol on an empty stomach = no bueno. I actually wrote an article for Fitness about navigating weddings, so check it out for some more ideas. I used love weddings, then I hated weddings, and now I’m neutral until given a reason to feel otherwise. I was really looking forward to catching up with some old colleagues and spending time with RD friends outside of work at this one, though, so that was really nice.

One of those tips is to wear something you feel great in. Since this wedding was black tie, I rented a dress from Rent the Runway and loved it. It was so comfy and I could actually wear proper undergraments—always a plus.

rent the runway 5th avenue dress

As for the food part…

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Lentil Love

Good morning! Last week I wrote about my experience cooking a HelloFresh meal for the first time, so in case you missed it, I wanted to share that discount code again. You can find it at the end of this post.

I’ve already blabbed about how much I love fall and soup weather, so it’s a great time to talk about one of my kitchen staples: lentils. October is Vegetarian Month, so HelloFresh is highlighting these little legumes. Lentils are one of my favorite sources of vegetarian protein—they’re filling (thanks to the combo of protein and fiber), inexpensive, and incredibly versatile. I especially love them in soup, but they’re also wonderful in salads, tossed with roasted veggies, or enjoyed with or in place of pasta or other grain. They’re the perfect Meatless Monday staple. Speaking of meatless goodness, my recipe for tofu mushroom miso soup was recently included in this round-up for Shape magazine. Read More »

Pumpkin Spice Cheerios Halloween Snack Mix

Halloween was always my favorite holiday as a kid. I love fall and used to really dig dressing up (you’d never know it now, given that my uniform is either jeans and a black tee shirt or a shift dress and pumps or boots). One thing I don’t love about Halloween is the sugar-fest that seems to start earlier and earlier every year.  Even as a kid, I found all that candy overwhelming. My mom used to pour our collective loot into a glass bowl in the dining room that the family could take from, and I’m so glad she took that approach instead of conditioning us to be candy hoarders. I don’t know if this was conscious on her part, but putting it in a room that we didn’t go into all the time was also helpful, as we had to (subconsciously) consider whether the candy was worth going out of our way for. When you see candy in front of you (say, on the kitchen counter or on the desk of a co-worker you walk by all the time), you’re more likely to reach for it.

Anyway, I am all about lower-sugar seasonal treats, and when General Mills sent me a box of their new Pumpkin Spice Cheerios to play around with, I had fun dreaming up crazy things. I was inspired by the not-too-sweet flavor of the cereal, though, and I eventually decided to keep it simple and create something you could serve at a Halloween party that would be a nice alternative to the usual hype. You can candy the pumpkin seeds as I did here or enjoy them simply toasted, with a little sea salt.

pumpkin seeds

To give yourself and your family (and/or friends-as-family) a break from the sugary treats this time of year, throw together this barely-sweet snack mix and watch it disappear.

pumpkin spice cheerio mix

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