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 come to Melbourne, Florida where my parents reside. The world works in mysterious ways.
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 special favorite of all time aka the Goat Cheese Spiked Brussels minus the butternut squash, and this delicious cooked caprese salad (so yum x 100). This was definitely by far was my favorite Mother’s Day with her for so many reasons.
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, 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.
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.
As a Long Island, NY native, I have always been involved in sports with a main focus in swimming and figure skating. Now as an adult, I am still passionate about fitness but have cultivated a love for nutrition. As a registered dietitian (RD) and holder of various personal training certifications I have realized there is a need to address both. It is important to be fit and to eat properly but whoever said the food should be bland or that exercise should be boring?!?
This site provides recipes for those following limited diets (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian) as well as for those without a roadmap but want to learn about nutrition and taste delectable foods. Since nutrition is half the equation for healthy living, fitness ideas can also be discovered, ranging from cardiovascular to strength training programs.
I am determined to touch as many lives possible with my joie de vivre for nutrition and fitness.
Balance between fitness and nutrition is key – I strive for a clean eating lifestyle with the occasional pretzel bun here and there but for the most part I eat like a cavewoman…
Sage Graduate School – Master of Science and Dietetic Internship
Rochester Institute of Technology – Bachelor of Science