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What to Make this Weekend: Peace. And cookies. Or soup.

I never know what to write on September 11th. This year marks the 14th anniversary of the attacks, and once again, I’m at a loss. It just feels wrong to chatter about healthy recipes and the like.

cafe campanille Milan

I just returned from a week in Milan, Italy, where I was visiting the World Expo and spending some time exploring the city, and though I’m happy to be home, some time away can certainly give a sense of perspective. I spend so much time in my hectic New York bubble, and it was quite the eye opener to take a step back and observe myself in a place that is, well, not New York. Suddenly, my quick pace and habitual watch-glancing made me self-conscious, like my obvious, pointless rush might give me away. That said, a lot of people I encountered assumed I was from the UK—until I opened my mouth, of course—which gave me a laugh.

I got home last night after an almost 16-hour trip and was so stressed out by all the stuff on my to-do list, I felt paralyzed. Instead of crawling into bed, I threw some laundry into the machine, bought some groceries, and made soup. Just the act of doing these little human things made me feel calm and settled and capable.

pumpkin ravioli soup

pumpkin ravioli soup

But to backtrack a bit, this rush. Why? In remembering a day when so many people likely rushed to work, only to get there on time to lose their lives, I’m acutely aware of how much time we waste focused on getting to the next thing instead of looking around and appreciating where we are. Last week gave me a chance to catch myself in the act of hurrying up to wait or lamenting a perceived delay and to instead take the opportunity to practice patience and observe my surroundings and myself more fully.

I don’t handle the concept of unfinished business very well. One of the things that makes me angriest is when I see a life cut short—whether that be by accident, illness, murder, suicide. Unfortunately, the nature of my work brings me very close to people who pass away, and this is always one of the hardest parts. It can be so hard to accept.

That afternoon 14 years ago, when my sister and I were both home from school, my mom surprised me by taking out mixing bowls and flour, sugar, eggs, chocolate and butterscotch chips. We were not going to hide in the f***ing basement—we were going to make cookies. And we did, and they were delicious.

I was in high school on September 11, 2001, and one of the things that came out of that day for me was a commitment to living my life in a way that allows me to go to sleep each day feeling like I’ve done my best to make a positive impact, feeling satisfied with or at least understanding of where I am in that moment, if not always happy.

I also learned that when I’m scared, the best way to deal is to do something. Put one foot in front of the other in whatever way makes the most sense.

This September 11th, what I want to focus on is making peace: peace with others, peace with yourself, peace with where you are and what you’re dealing with. I want to focus on taking a chance to look around and take in the moment. It’s the kind of gift only we can give to ourselves but which we let others take from us so easily.

And failing that, make cookies. Or soup.

WIAW Guest Post: A Day on an RD’s Plate

Happy What I Ate Wednesday! Today I have a guest post from Tanya Freirich, MS, RD, CDN, another NYC dietitian who I know from grad school and our internship. Since every week you get a glimpse at what I eat, I thought it would be a fun change of pace to show you what another dietitian puts on her plate! Take it away, Tanya.


Having a nutritious diet isn’t only something I plan for my clients, I also make it a priority for myself – the ultimate practice-what-you-preach. I love to trial new recipes in the kitchen so I’m usually eating my own creations rather than take-out. I learn more about food and cooking, control the ingredients, and save SO much money!

As you can see from below, I fit in as many vegetables and fruits as possible. The CDC and USDA advise between 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Below I’ve eaten about 8 servings for the day. When I counsel others on how to follow a healthier diet, I focus on replacing the “empty” foods like refined carbohydrates with hearty whole grains and fresh produce.TF produce

Not only will you feel so much better eating “real,” unprocessed foods, they are great sources of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. The more fiber the better! Fiber can help your digestive tract keep things moving, improve your colon health, and increase your satiety after a meal!

TF Cucumber  

  • Breakfast — apple with peanut butter + coffee with soy milk
  • Snack – peach — I picked it myself!
  • Lunch — vegetarian chili packed with kidney and white beans with a side of roasted sweet potatoes
  • Snack — strips of bell pepper
  • Dinner — riced cauliflower, corn cut off the cob and pan-fried teriyaki salmon
  • Dessert —yellow watermelon

salmon and corn The yellow watermelon was quite the treat recently, but one of my favorite after-dinner snacks year-round is home-made popcorn popped in oil and topped with a bit of honey.

Many people ask in a worried tone, do I have to be vegan or vegetarian to be healthy and lose weight? No, not necessarily. I eat meat as a part of a healthy, balanced diet. High-quality meats play an important part, but consider them as a supporting role, not the lead. Moving more towards a plant-based diet is a recipe for health, but doesn’t mean you must completely omit animal products.

Happy eating!

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram for healthy recipes, nutrition tips and great nutrition articles.

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


More Beans and Greens—Breakfast Edition

Happy Monday. How was your weekend? Hope you guys enjoyed Rachel’s guest post the other day. I’ve got a few more awesome guest posts coming your way this week, so stay tuned. But first—a recipe!

Egg bean and tomato saladI made this a few weekend ago while dow at the Jersey Shore with some family. It was great to enjoy after a morning walk with my mom and Eli. You could totally make this for lunch or dinner instead of weird-breakfast, but that’s what I love about this—you can enjoy any time of day !


  • 1 red tomato, chopped
  • 1 yellow tomato, chopped
  • 1 15-oz can white beans
  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 4 eggs, fried, poached, or boiled
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients except eggs and feta in a large bowl. Toss well
  2. Divide between 4 bowls. Top each with an egg.
  3. Sprinkle feta on top if desired.


Do you like non-traditional breakfast foods in the morning? 

Guest Post: Meal Prep Tips

Good morning! In lieu of today’s regular post, I have a great guest post for you guys from Heather from Hungry for Balance—enjoy! 


A big thanks to Jess for letting me share some thoughts with you guys. Her blog is such a great source of inspiration for healthy eating and healthy recipes!

My name is Heather and I write a healthy lifestyle blog over at I teach BODYPUMP, am a free-lance writer, and a mama to a toddler. We are always on the go, but we also always try to make healthy eating a priority. Today, I want to share 5 tips with you on how to make Healthy eating easier on you AND your budget, especially where produce is concerned.

  • Plan, plan, plan!

I take the time to plan out exactly what we are going to have for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. I know exactly how much of everything that I need to buy and nothing is wasted.

  • Be flexible with your meal plan and buy what’s on sale

When I am headed out for my weekly shopping trip, I always like to scope out what’s on sale. If a recipe calls for eggplant, but zucchini is on sale, then I buy zucchini. I also love the discount produce bins for things like overripe bananas. They are perfect in smoothies or in banana soft serve for a sweet and healthy treat.


  • Take time to prep your meals

I cannot stress this enough. I like to do it the same day that I go grocery shopping. I take a look at what is on our meal plan for the week. I wash and chop the vegetables for my different recipes and put them in zip top bags in my fridge. It makes dinner prep so much easier. I also use this time to chop the zucchini I use in my smoothies and other raw veggies like peppers, broccoli, or mushrooms for salads and snacking. This only takes me an hour or so, but it save me many hours of headache throughout the week.


  • Batch cook! The crockpot is perfect for this.

Do not fear leftovers! I like to make enough dinner for more than one meal and stick it in the freezer for later. Or repurpose leftovers. If we have baked chicken one night, we use the leftovers to make chicken fajitas or chicken salads.

  • Use your freezer

If I make a loaf of homemade bread, I use the slice and freeze trick to keep it fresh. When some of our favorite fruits are on sale during the summer, I slice and freeze so we can enjoy them in the coming week.


Eating healthy can and should be attainable for everyone. Taking just a little time each week to plan out your meals helps you feed yourself and your family something healthy and delicious all week long, even on the busiest days.

Roasted Baby Eggplant

cute tiny eggplantEggplant is one of my favorite foods ever. Once upon a time I lived with a man who hated eggplant and I was very sad.

Then things changed and I could eat all the eggplant I wanted, whenever I wanted. So I did. This recipe has become one of my favorite summer side dishes to enjoy hot or cold. This is great warm mixed with a little roasted garlic and tahini, but it’s also delicious with heirloom tomatoes, goat, cheese, and beans. I hope you enjoy!


  • 1 lb baby eggplant, trimmed
  • oil spray or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • garlic powder/crushed roasted garlic (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place eggplant on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with olive oil or spray with oil spray.
  3. Roast eggplants until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Slice in half or quarters and toss with balsamic, sesame oil, and garlic powder.

Do you like eggplant? Have you ever not eaten a certain food because of a partner’s dislike for it? 

Thinking Out Loud

Thursday already. Ready for a little thinking out loud? Here’s a weekly dose of randomness.

This week’s post has an accidental “food cravings” theme. As a dietitian, I always encourage clients to tune in to what they’re craving and why. Often the body is trying to tell us something, whether it’s physical or psychological.

1.) Food cravings are a funny thing. When I was younger I had a crazy sweet tooth, and in the past five years since quitting diet soda I’ve developed quite a savory tooth. Like a lot of ladies, there’s a cyclical nature to these cravings. For example, the salt thing seems to kick in during placebo pill week, when I want all the miso and all the smoked salmon. I also crave specific meats that time of the month. Sometimes it’s red meat, but this time around its chicken. Whatever works.

2.) The crisp note in the air yesterday morning had me craving pumpkin oatmeal, so I made that got breakfast after yoga. I added some sliced roasted figs, tahini, and a drizzle of maple syrup.

pumpkin oats with fig

3.) Another weird craving: crappy deli coffee with skim milk and Splenda. Total nostalgia trip back to days when I had time to, like, be interested in sex and write poetry about it. I’m sort of kidding.

4.) Speaking of a general lack of interest in sex/dating (with a select few exceptions) most of this past year, being 100% not pregnant allows me to enjoy all the sashimi I want. Within reason, of course. I enjoyed a lunch box special on a recent visit to NJ (similar to this one below) that came with a salad with ginger dressing and miso soup that tasted like it was made with white miso-my favorite. It was divine. sashimi

5.) This has nothing to do with food cravings I don’t think, but hey, today’s all about random…I bought a new computer recently after sitting on an Apple gift card since Christmas. My current laptop was a dinosaur in Mac years, but I’m holding onto it so I have something to use for writing and internet that I can travel with or throw in my bag to hit up a coffee shop. The idea of having two laptops seems ridiculously extravagant, but given that such a huge portion of my income is dependent upon being able to write, blog, and email, it’s actually logical. In the past, I just did a complete transfer via wi-fi or time machine, but this time around, I’m experimenting with transferring just the files and programs I want, little by little, via Air Drop and flash drives. It’s a little bit tedious, but weirdly exciting. Not having 12 years of electronic baggage is a thrilling concept. Or okay, still plenty of baggage, but just the baggage I want.

What are some foods you tend to crave?

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.

Beans and Greens with Miso Tahini Sauce

Happy Monday! What’s on the agenda this week? Sometimes I head into a Monday feeling all optimistic and ready to tackle whatever madness the calendar has in store, and sometimes I want to hit PAUSE. Resisting the urge to front-load the to-do list for the week is tough, but an ongoing learning process.

Monday night dinners tend to be thrown-together affairs since my schedule usually has me out of the house almost 12 hours straight. That doesn’t mean dinner has to suck, though. A little Sunday meal prep can help a lot, but sometimes just mining the fridge and cabinets for last-minute ingredients can yield some pretty great dishes. This is a favorite recent example that’s a perfect one-dish dinner for Meatless Monday.
beans and greens with egg

I like butter beans for this, but it’s also great with chickpeas, white beans, red lentils—whatever you like! This equally delicious hot as it is cold. My personal favorite way to do this is to add hot beans and veggies to the greens and mix it all together with the dressing so the greens get a little wilted and tender without getting mushy.

I also added a garnish of this Trader Joe’s Super Seed & Ancient Grains Blend (~1 teaspoon) for texture and a little “What the heck is that awesome” flavor.

Trader Joes Seed Blend

This recipe serves 4, but you can scale up or down to suit your needs.


  • 8 cups arugula or other greens
  • 1 15-oz can beans, rinsed well (~2 cups cooked beans)
  • 1 cup roasted zucchini
  • 1 cup roasted cauliflower
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon mild yellow or white miso paste
  • Water to thin dressing, if needed
  • 4 eggs, fried or poached
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds or mix of nuts/seeds (optional)


  1. Combine greens, beans, and veggies in a large salad bowl and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, make the dressing by whisking together lemon juice, miso paste, tahini, and water (if needed).
  3. Toss the salad in dressing and allow to sit a few minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, poach the eggs.
  5. Divide salad between 4 bowls and top each with an egg and a sprinkle of seed mix.

What’s your favorite easy weeknight dinner? 

What to Make this Weekend: Too soon?

mini pumpkinSo, a few things happened. First, it was my mom’s awesome pumpkin chicken chili at the beach last weekend. Then it was being asked to weigh in on a Yahoo Health article about the new & improved Pumpkin Spice Latte hitting Starbucks stores this fall. The next generation of PSLs will now include real pumpkin puree and will ditch the caramel coloring. Of course, you’ve still got all this business in there:

  • Espresso
  • Milk
  • Pumpkin Spice Flavored Sauce (Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Pumpkin Puree, Contains 2% or Less of Fruit and Vegetable Juice for Color, Natural Flavors, Annatto (Color), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Salt)
  • Whipped Cream (Light Whipping Cream [Cream, Mono and Diglycerides, Carrageenan])
  • Starbucks Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Citric Acid)
  • Pumpkin Spice Topping (Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove)

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have this ever, but consider it a once-in-a-while treat instead of an everyday thing. Trying to pound a Venti on your morning commute is not the way to savor a seasonal treat. To save yourself some sugar and other madness, you could skip the whip and ask for one pump of syrup/sauce instead of the standard gazillion.

Anyway, so now I have pumpkin on the brain. The chili thing is totally happening. I used this recipe as a jumping off point to which I added ground chicken.

I’m also thinking about pumpkin meat loaf again. Apparently my ground meat tooth has resurfaced. Must be hormones or something.

Of course, pumpkin oatmeal a sweet must-do whenever I open a can of pumpkin. Too bad cranberries aren’t in season yet because this sounds really good right now.

OMG what the f*** is wrong with me and my tastebuds?

Are you a Pumpkin Spice Latte fan? Any other seasonal favorites you’re looking forward to this fall? Anyone else dealing with premature pumpkin cravings? 

Thinking Out Loud: What’s This?!

Happy Thursday. I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for a little unstructured brain-dump time. Conveniently, this happens to be just the day for such a thing. I updated my computer to Yosemite the other day (about time, I know), and have been going crazy trying to acclimate to some of the changes to the keyboard/mousepad and photo storage. It’s funny how technology and how smoothly it’s running can influence your mood and general sense of security about the state of things. To bring myself back to earth, I thought I’d stay on the lighter side of the street this week.

First things first. Can we talk about how cute these little eggplants are? Fresh Direct has hit a lot of home runs this summer in the seasonal/local game. tiny eggplant

Eggplant is one of my favorite ways to make a meal more substantial without adding a lot of calories. A cup of eggplant provides 2.5 grams fiber and only 20 calories. It may not have a ton of flavor on its own, but it’s incredibly versatile. The other night, I roasted a few of these little ones whole (~15 minutes at 375 degrees F) and then cut in half and added to a warm tomato salad that also had spinach, garlic, and caramelized onion. Yum!

Spending a few days at the beach with family and my dog was awesome. I was in dire need of some TLC/puppy snuggles, and I certainly got my fix. It’s amazing how a fluffy little animal can change your whole outlook.

I feel like every day is a great day for Eli. I laugh because everything is such a wonder to him. It’s like this part of The Nightmare Before Christmas:

The beach part didn’t suck, either. LBI

The heatwave this week may be bad for hair, but it’s great for my tastebuds. I’ve been enjoying some awesome green smoothies this week.

green smoothie

I’m still loving coocnut water as the liquid base. So damn good.

Do you love or hate the heat? What’s on your mind and/or on your plate this week? 

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.

Small-Batch Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter

Ah, Monday. Nothing like that lovely “back to the grind” vibe to get one’s heart started in the morning. And by lovely, I mean pulse-quickening, potentially madness-inducing, depending on the state of the moon/whatever forces that be that dictate the level of insanity on a given day. Hectic days call for simple, tasty food.

One of my favorite ways to add a touch of satisfying sweetness to my day is peanut butter. I love it with sliced apples or banana or as a topping for oatmeal or even plain yogurt. You can also, obviously, enjoy it on toast. Or non-toasted bread. With jelly because why screw with a classic? I recently began playing around with making my own, and I found that making a small batch for the week (super-easy to work into that Sunday food prep) is a fun way to try new flavors without being left with tons of nut butter hanging out in your fridge for an eternity.

This recipe is smooth at first and then after a few hours in the fridge starts to take on the consistency of fudgy chocolate peanut butter frosting. That’s the magic of the coconut oil, which hardens as it cools. You don’t have to add the dark chocolate chips, but as a dietitian who’s concerned about your magnesium and antioxidant intake, I would highly encourage them ; ) chocolate coconut PB


  • 3/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts
  • 2-3 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon mini dark chocolate chips (optional)


Process peanuts, coconut oil, cocoa powder, honey, and vanilla extract in a food processor until smooth.

Just a note: Go slow to avoid burning out your food processor. Take it from a gal who’s been there, done that. Way too many times. Homemade nut butter is never going to have that same super-smooth texture as the store-bought stuff, so don’t feel compelled to try too hard. I wish I had known that when I killed my first Cuisinart 5 years ago.

Oh, and did I mention it’s amazing on steamed or baked sweet potato?sweet potato with chocolate PB



Do you make your own nut butter?  What’s your favorite way to eat it? 

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