January of 2018 is a month I’ll never forget and in particular Saturday, the 28th. My mother called and notified me that she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) earlier that month shortly after her 70th birthday. After months of grueling radiation she hit remission however it was short-lived. On my birthday in October I received a call that changed my world. My mother changed, my family changed, and I changed. She was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma called Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) stage four and for her it is incurable since it will always come back. Recently she has been deemed in ‘remission’ and is about to start a chemotherapy maintenance drug to keep the cancer at bay and hopefully it shall extend the years she has with us free of pain.
As a Registered Dietitian everything was tested for me. I no longer felt motivated to help people since I felt helpless with my own mother. I became bicoastal to help my parents whether it was to simply be a distraction with laughs or to navigate the muddy medical terminology world. She endured several setbacks and hospitalizations which tested her resolve but she fought and she’s never looked more beautiful to me.
This past April I left my thriving career in San Francisco, California to permanently come to Melbourne, Florida where my parents reside. The world works in mysterious ways – since I met my future husband who is Melbourne based. Now we have the privilege of sharing a new adventure with my parents – a baby boy that is due around Thanksgiving.
For several months my mother has followed a ‘neutropenic‘ diet. This is basically a diet of sterilized food otherwise known as a way to limit the amount of bacteria in the diet which is necessary with immunocompromised individuals. Many including my mother think of this way of eating as ‘bland’ and ‘downright awful.’ Foods to be withheld on a neutropenic diet include: certain canned foods, undercooked meats, raw foods (fruits, vegetables, oats, and nuts), protein powders, unpasteurized dairy products, and much more.
Mother’s Day this year was not to be impacted and so I decided to come up with a menu of foods that were tasty but followed the right protocols since she was feverish. Due to her lack of an immune system going out in public was out of the question due to fear of catching the average cold which would be much worse for her. The menu included: grilled lobster and shrimp, corn on the cob, my Goat Cheese Spiked Brussels minus the butternut squash, and this delicious cooked caprese salad (so yum x 100).
In a basic caprese recipe the tomatoes and basil are raw but in my version it was cooked. This allowed my mother to eat one of her favorite recipes that she hadn’t had in months. Sometimes all it takes is some creativity and proper cooking techniques to have mouthful of flavor.
3 large heirloom tomatoes (yellow, red, multi); thick slices
Fresh pasteurized mozzarella (8 oz); diced
EVOO for the pan
Fresh basil leaves; shredded
Crushed black pepper
Prior to the recipe preparation ingredients were well washed thoroughly with warm water.
Under medium heat add EVOO to a frying pan and sear each tomato slice then cook each side for about 1-minute.
Layer the tomatoes in a serving dish.
Add the shredded basil to the frying pan and turn off the heat. Gently cook the leaves until slightly browned/shrunken in size.
Evenly toss the mozzarella and basil atop the tomato.
Drizzle balsamic vinegar atop the tomatoes and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Pair with your favorite protein and some other fun sides.
Hello! So it’s been a hot minute since I last wrote. Life has been a roller coaster but I learned something along the way in regards to balance which I plan to share. Fitness has always been a huge part of my life but as I get busier and busier it gets harder to incorporate ‘gym’ style workouts.
Therefore I’ve reset my mentality around working out and have created a ‘fluid’ model of fitness. What does ‘fluid’ mean? It means that fitness that is not just at the gym but it is being active throughout the day whether it is taking the stairs to the ninth level on the parking garage, obtaining 12,000 steps daily, or even trying a new way to sweat. I’ve begun to enjoy is challenging myself in areas of fitness that I am NOT good at – this includes yoga and running.
So the breakdown of my current regimen is the following, but in no apparent order, rather the goal is to fit this into my busy schedule:
Weight lifting workouts:
Day 1: Shoulder/Tricep/Abs
Day 2: Back/Chest
Day 3: Legs/Glutes
Yoga once weekly (usually Friday evenings): I have realized I love Vinyasa since it is a lot of balance and stretching which I’m terrible with PLUS it gives me a chance to wind down from the craziness of my job.
Running (currently half marathon prep style) about two or three days per week with distance being added each week.
Swimming once weekly with a Master’s program which is awesome since I used to do this but competitively so now it’s actually FUN – on a serious note, no one ever looks good in a one piece Speedo.
Do you like simple protein dishes?! Yes, and yes. I’m all about the simple meal prep ideas that save time and do not weigh down my bank account. Best of all this only has FOUR ingredients which really limits how much you can screw it up… but anything is possible. Also, this is literally my favorite chicken based dish I’ve made to date – it is seriously BOMB!
1 pound chicken breasts; chopped into ‘nugget’ sizes, chunks, or strips
2 whole eggs; well beaten
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (possibly more if you want the chicken super coated)
Sriracha sauce; enough to drizzle (or more if you have a heavy hand like me…)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Dip both sides of chicken breast into egg then dip into coconut flakes allowing the chicken to be well coated. Once the chicken is coated as desired transfer to the baking sheet.
Drizzle sriracha over the chicken.
Cook for 25 minutes.
Serve atop a salad or as part of a meal with sides… be sure to have the water on standby…
Zoodles are the new noodles and now Sunday has gotten even healthier in my book! Now you can have your pasta Sundays sans the guilt and gluten. This meal is a great way to fuel up for the week and have some leftovers for lunch(es) and/or dinner(s).
Now grab a spiralizer and get to work! I’m a fan of the Kinzi brand which is great for creating a healthy alternative to spaghetti by using various vegetables to become ‘noodle-like.’ Some vegetable options that are great for spiraling include zucchini, squash, carrots, and beets.
3 yellow squashes (ea); raw and spiralized
3 beets (ea); raw and spiralized
3 carrots (ea); raw and spiralized
4 c of cherry tomatoes; halved
2 tbsp garlic; minced
1/3 scallions; minced
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c cilantro; minced
Eyeball amounts to create an Italian blend: chili powder, garlic powder, coriander, clove, garlic, cardamon, cumin, and salt
12 oz sausage of choice
In a saucepan combine the olive oil, garlic, cilantro, and scallions to simmer over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes. Toss in cherry tomatoes and cover saucepan allowing the tomatoes to cook in the oil mixture for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Saute the raw zoodles with a splash of olive oil until slightly tender then remove from heat. Divide the zoodles into four portions. Drizzle the tomato mixture over the zoodles.
Cook sausage as usual and chop into various chunks. Top the zoodles and tomato mixture with sausage.
Summertime and the livin’ is easy… food dishes should be easy to make too! No one has a hour or more to whip up food dishes to please the hungry. Whether you’re adding this dish to your fridge as a staple for snacks, addition to a BBQ, or as a dessert, it is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
This dish contains watermelon and cucumbers which are filled with water. Hot weather calls for dishes high in water content to contribute to overall hydration. When I would be poolside in Texas, a good friend from Mexico City used to always slice cucumbers and season them with chili, which I loved but still wanted something a little sweeter…
Rule of thumb (at least my thumb) – aim to drink at minimum half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, try to aim for 60 ounces or more. Personally I like to drink my body weight in ounces or at least come close – this means near 130 ounces of water daily (slightly more than a gallon).
1 large cucumber; peel off some of the skin and then slice thinly
16 ounce container strawberries; halved with the stems removed
Half of 1 large watermelon; cubed
1/4 cup cilantro; minced
1/4 lime; juice (fresh is preferred but lime juice is a good option as well)
Eyeball amount of chili powder (I love Tajin – the low sodium version is my go-to)
Optional/to taste: sea salt
Using a disposable tin or large tupperware container combine cucumbers, strawberries, watermelon, lime juice, and cilantro. Cover container of choice and shake thoroughly.
Season with chili powder and sea salt if desired. I like to thoroughly cover each piece of fruit and cucumber.
Cover and chill until ready to be served.
Pair with your favorite sparkling beverage whether non-alcoholic or alcoholic… bottoms up y’all!
Hello, it’s me. Hiatus is over and I’m back. Oh, and Happy 2017!!!
Since late November I’ve been on a series of adventures which included a drive from Texas to California. I survived the drive and honestly have a new appreciation for road trips especially those that include utilization of an RV (genius idea). I think the key to any successful road trip is movement, food, hydration, and whomever you are with. My trip spanned five days and each day was a new adventure. The only one who didn’t really enjoy the road trip was my poor pup, Theodore Roosevelt III aka Teddy (#TRIIIthecav).
Day 1: Drove straight from the Alamo (San Antonio, Texas) to Santa Fe, New Mexico with a stop in Roswell to find aliens (failed but did find McDonalds), Day 2: Flagstaff, Arizona and dropped my pup off then went to see the Grand Canyon for sunset, Day 3: Phoenix, Arizona where epic friendships were solidified and many laughs were had, Day 4: Oxnard, California with a stop in Hollywood to hike the sign, and Day 5: Drove along route-1 aka the California coast all the way up to San Francisco with multiple photo and hike breaks especially around Big Sur.
Now I’m settled and back in the kitchen per usual. I love easy eats and this is a great staple on my weekends for brunch or during the week. I absolutely love to pre-make these pancakes to have them ready for a ‘grab ‘n go’ type of post workout item or snack especially since they’re a great source of protein which helps maintain satiety.
Threw together a cool topping for the pancakes which included apple pears which are the new super fruit in my opinion. They’re loaded with fiber, vitamins (specifically C and K), and minerals. Therefore, if you have yet to try apple pears, just do it.
2 scoops of vanilla protein powder of choice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp water
1/2 apple-pear; diced
6 blackberries; halved
oil of choice for the pan (I used coconut)
OPTIONAL: honey or syrup
In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients but the fruit and optional items. Stir well until homogeneous.
Heat a frying with enough oil to moisten the surface well.
Pour batter onto the pan to create 2-4 pancakes depending on the size desired. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes and flip. Add a final toss for each side of the pancake (20-30 seconds per side).
Combine the fruit pieces then serve atop the pancakes with a drizzle of honey or syrup.
I’ve got news! In a week from today I start my journey West. I recently accepted a position in San Francisco… Time for a whole new adventure. I am super excited and nervous but I will channel that energy for something positive. About five months ago I set out to change my career and well, it finally happened, anything is possible.
Fall weather has me reaching for everything pumpkin when I have a sweet tooth but when I want something savory then I reach for butternut squash or sweet potatoes. I am over pumpkin at the moment; my savory taste buds have kicked in, hence this recipe was born.
Butternut squash is an excellent way to increase your dietary fiber as well as nourish your body with vitamins A & C. With the winter months upon us your skin needs these vitamins more than ever (#makeyourskinglow).
1# Brussels sprouts; quartered with roots removed
1# butternut squash; diced
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
3 shredded pieces of proscuitto
3 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
To taste: 1 tsp sea salt
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a bowl toss the following ingredients well: Brussels, butternut squash, olive oil, black pepper, goat cheese, proscuitto, and sea salt.
On a parchment lined baking sheet spread out the Brussels and butternut squash.
Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the vegetables.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Set aside and serve with your favorite entree (or in my case, eat from the baking tray and pass out in a food coma).
I seriously love all things pumpkin. You can tell the moment you step into my home – pumpkin scents everywhere. Now that it is almost fall there are some gourmands here and there… Imagine, it’s only September which means there is still time for me to up my game even more. Look out friends.
Pumpkin. What do you know? Well for starters: 1) High in fiber which helps with satiety and blood glucose control, 2) High in antioxidants as well as vitamin-A and vitamin-C which supports retinal function, hair, skin, and nail growth/support, and 3) High in water content thus if you’re slacking with fluids this will help. This awesome beta carotene/orange goodness is full of flavor which can be enhanced by spices such as cinnamon, cumin, and of course, pumpkin pie spice. This recipe is a wholesome way to get all your nutrients in while on the run and has been a breakfast lifesaver!
1/2 cup pumpkin; canned
2 frozen bananas; softened
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp almond butter; smooth (unsalted)
2 tbsp dry oats
1 1/2 scoops vanilla protein powder of choice
4 tbsp chia seeds
1/2-1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
6 medium-large strawberries; fresh and chopped
Combine all ingredients sans strawberries and mix/mash well until a homogenous mixture is formed. Divide pumpkin mixture among two mason jars or similar containers.
Top with chopped strawberries and seal with a cover.
Refrigerate overnight or 2-3 hours prior to consumption.
Italian? Yes. Herbs? Yes. Pizza? Kinda of… Minus the bread and cheese. Frittata? Yes. Should you make this? Absolutely.
Are you looking to change up your breakfast routine? Well, this is a hearty change that will leave your mouth watering for more. This is also good for those of you like myself who love the ‘Reverse Diet’ aka breakfast for dinner which is what I do at least 150 days a year. This recipe is loaded with antioxidants, protein, and slow digesting carbohydrates that will fuel your goals.
I previously mentioned utilizing the bulk section at local grocery spots can help you to select, try, and obtain fresh spices at a lower cost and control your portion to ensure freshness. I recently loaded up on fennel seeds hence its addition to this recipe and it is fabulous. Fennel is sweet due to its composition of anise which has a similar taste to licorice. If you are trying to boost your fiber intake – try fennel. In addition to its fiber content fennel also has antioxidant, mineral, and vitamin properties.
10 whole eggs
1/4 cup fresh or canned/drained yellow corn
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
8-10 cherry tomatoes; quartered/slivered
1 cup raw kale; chopped
2 ounces prosciutto; chopped/ripped into various sizes
2 tbsp fresh sage; minced
1 sprig rosemary; minced
1 tbsp parsley; chopped
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
OPTIONAL: 1/2 tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
On a stovetop heat up a frying pan over medium-high heat to toast the corn, fennel seeds, and black pepper. Toast for 5-8 minutes until fragrant and/or slightly browned then remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients and the corn from step one.
Oil a circular pan and pour in the egg mixture from step two.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until a knife can be inserted in the center and removed without residue.
Set the pan aside, inhale, allow to cool, slice, and serve.
Oh hey… It’s almost fall which means my favorite time of the year is coming up aka apple and pumpkin galore. Yes, I already got my PSL fix with my obvious modifications (almond milk for regular milk and no whip).
This dish literally came to me as I was craving for something sweet yet slightly tart with a crunch. I wanted to use the ingredients I had at home without having to run out to grab something processed, sugary, and high calorie. Are you looking to impress someone with your cooking skills but without breaking the bank, filling up on calories, and killing your schedule? This recipe is totally for you.
1 large Granny Smith apple; thin slices
1/2 cup dry oats
2-3 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil; melted
1 handful walnuts; chopped
Layer Two in Progress
Finished Layer Two
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coat a small circular cooking dish/pan with coconut oil.
Cover the bottom of the dish/pan with half of the apple slices then sprinkle oats, coconut flakes, and cinnamon on top – this is layer one.
Cook for 10 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and prepare layer two. Cover the first layer with the remainder of the apple slices allowing for the center to be without any apple slices.
Sprinkle walnuts in a circular motion outside the center that is void of apples then add a few in the center.
Combine the melted coconut oil and coconut sugar then drizzle over the apple slices. Add the remainder of the sugar/oil mixture to the center that is void of apple slices.
Cook for 10-15 minutes depending on the level of crispiness desired.