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A Small Collection of Joyous Things

Happy Sunday! How’s your weekend been?

Welcome to my little weekly gratitude list. Here are a few things that have made me smile recently:

1.) Because the internet is crazy, every few months I do a google search on myself to make sure I have all my professional profiles and social media are up to date. Once in a while, I find stuff I’d all but forgotten about.

Case in point: this article on the best spring foods for the whole family. Aside from talking about tasty superfoods, I love when I get to feature other RDs. In this piece, we have Laura Gibosfky and Lisa Brown sharing their awesome tips and tricks.

2.) “Everything passes, everything changes, just do what you think you should do.” Bob Dylan said that. I’ve been going back to this for weeks.

3.) Puppy kisses.Does this guy know how to party or what? Muddy Eli

4.) Warm(er) spring rain. And a waterproof jacket.

5.) Espresso.

6.) My grandmother’s traditional Greek leg of lamb recipe, which I like to think she wouldn’t mind my lightening up a little for Friday night’s cooking class. To all my vegan and vegetarian friends, I’m sorry if I offend you with my meat-loving ways, but my goodness…there’s a good reason lamb was my “gateway meat” back into the land of the omnivorous back in 2012. It was delicious served with a side of horta (greens). Cooking class lamb

Recipes to come. Speaking of recipes, you can totally make the dessert we enjoyed by using my dark chocolate coconut granola recipe to make a topping for Greek yogurt—great with berries and a little honey or maple syrup. Yogurt with chocolate granola


Have a great rest of your day!

What’s made you smile recently? 

What to Make this Weekend

Ah, Friday. Is it just me or did this week soar by? I’m looking forward to a mix of work and not-work this weekend. I’ll be out of town tonight and tomorrow and then clocking in for a hospital shift on Sunday. Not sure much will happen in the way of cooking on my end of the line, but weekends are a great time for whipping up new recipes, perfecting old favorites, or prepping for a busy week ahead. Need a few ideas. Here are a few things I’m into right now:

chickpeas portionedIf you’re doing some food prep this weekend, how about simmering up a pot of chickpeas? You can portion them into little containers and freeze extra for easy access on busy nights. Never cooked dried beans before? Whole Foods has a handy tutorial. If you’re in a real hurry, you can totally just drain and use the canned ones. Almost too easy. I love to toss a half-cup of chickpeas with roasted veggies, steamed kale, an egg, and a little tahini and/or goat cheese. Cheap, lazy dinner at its finest.

While we’re talking chickpeas, these chickpea burgers from How Sweet it Is sound amazing. Bean burgers over salad is one of my favorite lunch-things of the “I don’t make this often enough” variety, so that needs to happen soon.

This miso salmon sounds amazing. Also great for a busy night when you don’t want to fuss too much but want something delicious.

I wouldn’t be quick to call these chocolate soufflés health food, but they’d be a fantastic way to get rid of any leftover Easter chocolate…Please tell me I’m not the only one still getting my cocoa fix in the shape of mini rabbits? I also still have a gazillion hearts left over from Valentines Day in the freezer, and a few bars of dark chocolate I bought on sale at some point this winter and have as yet to break open.  Apparently chocolate is my impulse-buy of choice?

To put a healthier twist on macaroni and cheese, you could try one of these 7 healthy hacks I came up with for YouBeauty. Enjoy!

Have a happy and tasty weekend : )

What’s your typical impulse buy? 

What I Ate Wednesday #211: No-pants weather

Here we are at the mid-way point of the week. Late-April already? How did that happen? Oh—Happy Earth Day!  It also happens to be What I Ate Wednesday here in food blog land, which means it’s time for that weekly “what I ate” link-up.

Last week, I shared a hospital-day  Saturday with you, so how about we change it up this week and I’ll share an actual weekend day with you? This was the first Saturday in what felt like forever that I wasn’t working or traveling. The gorgeous weather (and wearing a dress instead of pants) also put me in a good mood.

Breakfast: I had a smoothie before yoga. I made this basic green smoothie (with vanilla whey protein instead of hemp protein) and stirred in a tablespoon of chia seeds before grabbing a spoon and eating it. Growing up, I always drank shakes and things with a spoon and make my smoothies extra-thick, so the smoothie-in-a-bowl thing is not weird at all to me. Everyone’s different, though! green smoothie with chia seeds

Snack: I was shaky-hungry after a sweaty yoga class, so I had half a plum before getting in the shower.

Lunch: I was working on a photo project that involved a grilled veggie sandwich. I don’t always end up eating stuff I photograph play around with, but this one, I did, since I didn’t do much fussing. When it was time to eat, I just added a fried egg right on top because why have the egg in the sandwich when you can have it on the sandwich? I don’t know. I had the other half of the plum for dessert. labneh veg sandwich with egg

Late-Afternoon Snack: Plain, non-fat Greek yogurt with coconut flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and a big handful of raspberries. I knew I was going to be having a drink and that dinner would be a long ways off, so I wanted to make sure I had something filling. Greek yogurt with cocoa and berries

Happy Hour: I usually tell clients to consider alcohol as a carb and/or file it under their “discretionary calorie” budget for the day. I chose gin and club soda and worked on some article edits while waiting for a friend at a bar. Multi-tasking at its classiest, right there. gin and edits

Dinner: I got home late/early after a friend’s play, so I assembled a dinner of what was in the fridge-sweet potato, kale, and pulled chicken, topped with a spoonful each of plain labneh and tahini sauce. I had a piece of dark chocolate for dessert and called it a night. sweet potato with kale and chicken
What’s your drink? 

Today’s link-up is hosted by Clean Eats Fast Feets. To see more WIAW from other bloggers, visit founder Jenn’s blog Peas & Crayons.

Red Lentils with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Chorizo

Happy Monday! Hope you had a great weekend. I’ve got a new recipe to share with you today that I posted a few weeks ago for What I Ate Wednesday.

red lentil tomato mushroom chorizo keeping it real foodBefore we get into that, though, I want to wish my sweet little puppy Eli a happy 1st birthday. Dude’s not a puppy anymore! And yes, I know I’m a crazy dog lady.

Anyway, yes. This recipe may seem like more of a cool weather meal, but with these spring evenings still on the cool side, it makes an easy weeknight dinner. I feel like rice and pasta get all the love sometimes, but there are so many other options out there. Red lentils, for example, are packed with fiber and protein and cook up quickly—who doesn’t love that?

This dish features a flavorful tomato sauce with lots of paprika plus mushrooms and spinach. Want to make this Meatless Monday-friendly? Simply leave out the chicken chorizo or swap in your favorite meat-free substitute.


  • 1/2 cup red lentils, dry
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • 1 link chicken chorizo (I like this one), cooked and sliced into half-moons
  • 1/4 c feta
  • 2 eggs


  1. In a small saucepan, combine red lentils and water. Bring to a boil then cover and lower heat. Simmer for ~15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté shallot until translucent.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3o seconds.
  3. Add mushrooms. Sauté until just beginning to soften. Add red wine. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Once alcohol has cooked down to about half the volume, add the tomatoes and spices.
  4. Allow to cook ~10 minutes and then add the spinach. Cook until spinach has wilted. Add chorizo if using. Cook another 5 minutes on low.
  5. Divide red lentils between two large bowls. Pour tomato and mushroom mixture on top and garnish with feta. Top each bowl with a poached egg if desired.

Serves 2

What are some of your favorite weeknight dinners? 

What to make this weekend

Happy Friday. Any plans for the weekend? I’m looking forward to catching up with friends, testing a few recipes, and enjoying the nice weather. Because it’s been nice enough to have the windows open, I’ve found myself playing this live, acoustic Jackson Browne album on repeat. And Volume One of the same set. So embarrassing…It’s just so good. It’s also a trip to hear, like, jokes and snide commentary about George W.  Remember when…?

Speaking of recipes/cooking, I appreciate that my iPhone text predictor/autocorrect recognizes “crustaceans” as something I say on the regular. I bought some langostino tails at Trader Joe’s the other day and now I want to put them in all the things. Apparently, “langostino” is Spanish for “little lobster.” It’s very similar to lobster in taste and texture but more like shrimp in terms of size. With only 70 calories, 1 gram of fat (0 g saturated), and 75 mg cholesterol per serving, it’s a great source of lean protein and delicious in a wide range of dishes. Man, you’d think the company was, like, paying me to talk about how much I love these things, but I swear I’m just newly re-obssessed with them. Trader Joes Langostino Tails

I’ve definitely talked about langostino on the blog before, but it’s been a while. They’re sold frozen, but are easy to thaw in the microwave or even in warm water. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use them:

  • In salad, especially if avocado and lime juice are also involved
  • In scrambled eggs. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it
  • In mac & cheese. Ever tried lobster mac & cheese? It’s like that but, well, different.
  • In pasta. Use the langostino the way you’d use shrimp, tossed into a pasta dish. You could also be ambitious and throw into a food processor with some other stuff to make ravioli filling.

Got a case of spring fever and cooking for someone special? For anyone not in the mood for tiny crustaceans, you could also browse one of these cookbooks for a winning date-night recipe.

What are you up to this weekend? Any recipes you’re looking to try? Have you ever had langostino tails? 


Sweet Caramelized Carrots

Sick of baby carrots? Me too.

caramelized carrots Keeping It Real FoodWhen healthcare professionals start talking about easy ways to add veggies into your diet, baby carrots inevitably come up.  I’ve been guilty of this myself, at times. If I ever told you to eat baby carrots and you were like, “Yeah, uh-huh, whatever, Jess,” I’m sorry. Truly.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with baby carrots, it’s just that they’re easy to get sick of really quickly. That said, carrots are packed with tons of nutrients: fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C…They also happen to work in both sweet and savory dishes quite nicely.

So I know Easter just happened and all, so you’re probably also sick of hearing about rabbits and carrots nad whatot, but this was too good not to share. This side dish tastes sweet yet substantial–hardly rabbit food. Pair with meat or fish or try  tossed into a salad or even a stir-fry. For a different twist, try it over plain yogurt or even oatmeal. Weird but good, I promise. Enjoy!

  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into sticks about 1 inch long and 1/4″ thick
  • 1 tbsp Coconut oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Toss carrots in coconut oil. Baked until tender and beginning to brown, about 45 minutes.

Are you sick of baby carrots? 

What to make this weekend

Happy Friday! What’s on the agenda this weekend? So far I know I’m working at Saturday shift at the hospital and going to yoga at some point, but otherwise, my calendar is blissfully blank. Let’s see what the next few days bring. It feels good not to be over-scheduled for a change! Got some cooking planned? Here are a few suggestions from yours truly:

Sweet potato and goat cheese are a flavor match made in heaven. Do it. IMG_9744

5 tips for packing a lunch you’ll actually want to eat, via The Kitchn. Need a little inspiration? They also have a list of 20 make-ahead lunch ideas.

This Smitten Kitchen Avocado Cucumber Salad: I just love the way her brain works.

Speaking of avocado (I must be on a kick—remember last week’s ode to avocado toast?), I was cleaning out old computer files the other day and found this little number from the dark ages:


He has no idea

the wealth he leaves

on the plate,

the sacrifice involved in gifting

half a perfect avocado,

the last slice of the good bread.


April is National Poetry Month, after all…Still, the example above is a fantastic example of why I don’t attempt to make a living off poetry ; )

This is also, apparently, how I learned to be more discerning about the people I share my avocados with. It’s kind of like the food blogger version of “If it came down to it, would I give this person a kidney?” Or am I the only one who makes lists that way?

What’s on your to-cook list this weekend? Any fun plans coming up? Are you discerning with your avocado-sharing? 

Zaghetti and Meatballs

meatballs and zucchini pastaOkay, so I know “zoodles” is a word (zucchini noodles=zoodles), but because I’m not so sure noodles & meatballs is a thing, I’m calling this Zaghetti and Meatballs. And this is totally tongue-in-cheek, by the way, for anyone who is new to me and my brand of “I’m too busy/dark & stormy to get cute.” Or whatever we’ll call it. Even when I’m going through a phase where I’m getting what I want on the regular and everything is good, I just don’t have it in me to be, like, “Adorable Wordplay!”

Hence, Zaghetti with a side of dry laughter.

All you have to do is wash a zucchini, cut the tip off, and spiralize using whichever tool you favor. I did mine in a Vegetti (say that 3 times fast). You can zap the zaghetti (I’m ready to stop calling it that) in the microwave or drop into boiling water for a minute.

Then you add the meatballs and sauce.  I made these turkey meatballs in tomato sauce because they’re a delicious no-brainer, even for germ-phobes like me who get squeamish around raw meat and ask their gentlemen callers to wash their hands when they come over. Me, neurotic? This could, of course, have something to do with why so few gentlemen even get to that hand-washing stage (unless it’s that I often talk way too soon about the best way to kill a lobster), but I’m too old to keep my quirks under wraps. Eventually someone’s going to find out who you really are.

Speaking of people finding out who you are, if you’re new to this blog, let it be known that yes, I’m a dietitian, and yes, I eat carbohydrates.  These meatballs have carbs in them too. Sorry, paleo peeps. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks with some almond meal or coconut flour.


  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion, divided
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • ¼ c breadcrumbs or 1 slice whole wheat bread, toast and crumbled
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg


  1. Dice half of the onion and mince 1 cloves garlic. Set aside.
  2. In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add the diced onion and minced garlic Cook until soft.
  3. Add tomatoes and oregano and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low.
  4. Meanwhile, in a food processor, process the other onion half, 2 cloves garlic, and parsley.
  5. Combine parsley mixture with breadcrumbs, cheese, turkey meat, and egg. Mix well with hands and form into meatballs
  6. and place on a large plate or cookie sheet. You should end up with 24-28 meatballs.
  7. Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Cook meatballs 4-5 minutes on each side.
  8. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer another 20 minutes
  9. Serve hot over pasta or steamed greens. Top with more cheese if desired.

I know the point of spiralized vegetables in place of pasta is supposed to be, like, low-carb or high-raw or something, but I prefer to think of it as simply a fun change of pace, something new to try. Because zucchini is not the most filling of the spiralize-able veggies, I added some white beans to this because fiber. Otherwise, I’d have been hungry again in an hour.

You can spiralize all kinds of veggies—beets, carrots, butternut squash, summer squash. This is a fun, easy way to fit more vegetables into your diet and try new flavor combinations.

However, I would not recommend making this for a new partner the first time they come over for dinner unless you already now they’re an adventurous eater. Not like I’ve ever learned anything like that the hard way before or anyway.

Have you ever made spiraled veggies before? 

This post was sponsored by Tuttorosso tomatoes, as part of an Inspiralized cookbook promotion. Opinions and recipe above are my own.  tr_logo

What to make this weekend: Avocado toast

salmon avo toast and salad Keeping It Real FoodOh my god, you guys—spring happened yesterday in New York, and it was glorious.

I actually spent some time out of the apartment in the morning and worked in a coffee shop near a window. Then I took a nice walk home for lunch. There is something so visually pleasing about a nice salad on a real spring day. If you’ve been reading a while, you’ve likely noticed one of my favorite lunch combinations is salad and toast—avocado toast especially. Yesterday’s lunch reminded me to share a few of my favorite variations.

I like to start with a slice of sprouted grain bread (Ezekiel is my long-time fave), but you could use whatever works for you—whole wheat, gluten-free, matzo, a mini chickpea flour pancake, cauliflower bread…

Avocado toast 5 ways: 

  • Plain, with a splash of lemon juice and sea salt
  • With smoked salmon
  • With a fried egg
  • With chia seeds
  • With hemp seeds

What’s your go-to lunch? Favorite avocado toast?  

What I Ate Wednesday #208

Happy What I Ate Wednesday. How’s your week going? Can you believe it’s a new month today? I am so into that.

Here’s what I ate on Monday, when I was working from home on a bunch of consulting, recipe, and writing projects. It ended up being a very active day, as I did cardio in the morning while I waited for the laundry to be done, and then between folding said laundry, running errands, prepping food for the week, and a few errands/appointments, I felt like I barely sat down. I’m still not sure exactly how I got my work done, but somehow it all happened. I even had time for a yoga break, which was freaking heavenly. I’ve been vinyasa-ing my feelings lately. Whatever works.

Breakfast: Pumpkin-apple oats (similar to this recipe but with apple instead of cranberry) with peanut butter and a drizzle of maple syrup. Black coffee x 3 because sometimes that’s how I roll. To my credit, they were small cups. When I make oatmeal on a work-from-home day, I’ll often make a double or triple batch and pre-portion out extra servings so I can just grab and go the next morning. Apple pumpkin oats Keeping It Real Food

Lunch: I’m going to share a recipe for this soon, but basically, it’s red lentils with a spicy tomato-mushroom sauce, spinach, and chicken chorizo. I added a poached egg and a bit of feta. There was a lot of paprika in this, and it was so good. red lentil tomato mushroom chorizo keeping it real food

Snack: A few hours later, my stomach started growling, so I had some plain Greek yogurt mixed with coconut flour, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. I added blackberries on top and forgot to take a photo because I was shaky-hungry. Here’s a recycled pic.

yogurt with blackberries

Dinner: A chickpea flour pancake with babbaganoush and a mix of kale and other veggies that were in my fridge. Whatever works. This was actually delicious, even though I had to eat while catching up with Rise clients. chickpea flour desk dinner

Dessert: A chocolate truffle from a box my mom gave me as a gift—my wildest PMS dreams come true. coco truffles

Bedtime Snack: A sliced banana with non-fat ricotta and a little more maple syrup (~1/4 tsp). Too tired to take a photo.

Do you eat at your desk ever? What’s your favorite kind of chocolate truffle? 
To see more WIAW from other bloggers, visit founder Jenn’s blog Peas & Crayons.

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