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Slow Cooker Cranberry Pumpkin Oats

I’ve got 2 important breakfast tips for you on Thanksgiving morning ????

1 make it simple
2 don’t deprive yourself trying to “save up” for the big meal

I’ll be eating some oatmeal and highly recommend you do the same for your whole family – pumpkin spice slow cooker oats are SO easy. My big time saving tip isn’t even using the slow cooker, it’s the fact that there is NO clean up involved! Just place a glass bowl in the slow cooker basin and fill the basin with water up to an inch or so below the bowl’s rim. Then put the ingredients in the bowl. Come morning, you won’t have oats crusted on the slow cooker and need to let it soak in the sink. The glass bowl can just go in the dishwasher and you can get on with your day. Your welcome!

Oats probably became a normal Thanksgiving meal for me as a pre-turkey trot meal, because I know they fuel my runs well. Oats work well pre-workout for most people, so give them a try if you’ll be getting your sweat on Thanksgiving morning!
{Last year we skipped the turkey trot and got this do-anywhere circuit workout in.}

Even better than the ease of this recipe and race fuel it provides, you can get a taste of thanksgiving dinner if you make the cranberry sauce in advance and add it to your oats in the morning. It’s he perfect way to get the fall flavors and colors! In the morning, you’ll also add your favorite nut or seed butter, and any other toppings you desire. This way, everyone can enjoy personalized oats based on what they are craving and you’ll all be feeling satisfied and energized.

Plus, come time for dinner, you’ll be less likely to overeat or binge on sugary desserts, and more likely to choose the foods you really enjoy and mindfully eat them to satisfaction. No food coma and uncomfortable feeling, no deprivation and no “I shouldn’t have had XYZ”.
By allowing yourself satisfying foods earlier in the day, even a bit of natural sweetness, you’ll enjoy Thanksgiving dinner & dessert more than ever before… and have more leftovers!
After you’ve made this and are recovered from Thanksgiving cooking, check out my fellow Recipe Reduxers naturally colored holiday recipes via the link at the bottom of this post!

Thanksgiving Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cranberry Oats

Serves 4-6



  • Put a large glass bowl in slow cooker basin and fill basin with water up to 1 inch below top of bow
  • Add all ingredients except cranberry sauce to bowl
  • Set on low for 6-8 hours
  • Add cranberry sauce and choice of nuts or nut butter in the morning

On-the-Go Pancake Tacos, 4 Ways!

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me and it’s because life is just plain busy! So, something that’s been making it a bit easier is making way more meals with simple ingredients… many of which are able to be eaten without utensils in one hand, like these pancake tacos.

It’s no secret pancakes are one of my favorite things and I eat them for breakfast regularly. The problem is, with a new baby and a business to attend to, I’m eating a bit more on-the-go than I would like for my favorite meal of the day. While the idea of a pancake taco first hit me when I was pregnant (see first pancake taco ever right below), sleeping terribly, and needed a quick option on the way to teach a college class, it’s become more of a staple in my post-partum diet.

One breakfast taco isn’t enough though. Life gets boring unless you change up ingredients! Here are 4 of my favorite combinations I’ve eaten thus far. They each include fruit as well as a creamy and crunchy topping. Need a taco preworkout? Go a bit lighter on the nuts and volume of fruit. Need one that’s more filling? Use a protein pancake as a base or have a hard boiled egg on the side! The possibilities are endless, but here’s the combos that speak to me most:

  • Banana Peanut Butter Cacao
  • Blueberry Cashew Cream
  • Almond Raisin Hemp Granola
  • Strawberry Yogurt Pecan

Let m know, what would your perfect pancake taco be filled with?

On-the-Go Pancake Tacos


  • Recommended pancake recipe: Buckwheat oat pancakes
    • The batter can be made ahead, then stored in your refrigerator in a tightly sealed container.
  • Option 1
    • 1 small banana, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 teaspoon cacao nibs, 1 tsp shredded unsweetened coconut
  • Option 2
    • 1/3 cup blueberries, 1 tbsp cashew butter, 2 tbsp coconut whipped cream (or regular whipped cream)
  • Option 3
    • 1 tbsp almond butter, 2 tbsp raisins, 2 tbsp granola, 1/2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • Option 4
    • 1/3 cup sliced strawberries, 2 tbsp chopped pecans, 2-3 tbsp plain or vanilla yogurt


  • Pour a heaping half cup of batter into a pan, over low-medium heat.
  • When bubbles begin to form, flip over, cover with a lid and turn off the heat. This retains more moisture so it folds more easily into a taco shape without breaking.
  • After 2-3 minutes, remove lid and place in a small bowl to form a bit of a taco shape.
  • Fill with preferred ingredients and eat on the go!

Meal Prep for the Busy Athlete

I have shared several meal prep posts in the past but, with a new school year underway, many college athletes are looking for inspiration! I know you are probably thinking “don’t college athletes just get free training tables after all of their workouts?”. It doesn’t work like that if you aren’t competing for a fully funded athletic department, for example, in the SEC. If you are living an athlete-life like I did in college, you may be living off campus in your own apartment your junior and senior year, having the occasional on-campus meals with your younger team-mates extra meal plan swipes. For much of the rest, other than travel and competition days, you’re likely on your own!

I am not here to tell you to measure and weigh out every gram or ounce of food you are going to eat for the week. Nor do I think you should eat the same thing everyday for lunch and dinner – please don’t do that!! Maintain some sanity as a student-athlete. What you do need to do, is remember that healthy eating for an athlete is not the same as healthy eating for a non-athlete. You still need your fruits and veggies – have lots of them! – but, you must ensure you have enough calories, healthy carbohydrates, and protein for the week. Here are some simple, inexpensive meal prep ideas for the busy athlete. Not in college? Not an athlete? It’s okay, you can eat this all too! You just might not need the same portions or need as many snacks during the day in addition to these meals.

In addition to what I prepped below, I recommend having the following on hand to go with what you prep:

  • Hummus
  • Guacamole or avocados
  • Cheese if you can have it, a cheese alternate if you can’t
  • A vinaigrette salad dressing
  • Peanut or another nut butter
  • Ezekiel or whole grain breads/tortillas

You need snacks too! In addition to using hummus, guacamole and nut butter mentioned above, having the following on hand means healthy fueling and recovery with snacks too

  • Low fat milk or soy milk
  • Low fat yogurt or soy yogurt
  • RxBars, Larabars, Clif brand bars such as Z bars pictured below
  • Hand fruits (apples, bananas, pears)
  • Dried fruits (raisins, dates, figs)
  • Whole grain crackers
  • NSF certified for sport / organic protein powder
  • Roasted edamame or chickpeas
  • Baby carrots
Here are the main foods that were prepped (black bean sliders and oats not pictured)

You’ve got some ginger and cayenne roasted tofu on the bottom left that cooked in the oven while sweet potatoes/oriental yams, broccoli, flounder, and chili lime shrimp were baking too. On the bottom right is bulgur to mix with black beans to stuff the peppers on top left and then use leftovers to mix with veggies and eat with the flounder or shrimp. Above the bulgur is lentil taco “meat”. Take my black bean taco recipe and use lentils instead of beans. Add some turmeric and ginger to the taco seasoning for an anti-inflammatory boost. Grab some Food for Life soft corn tortilla shells (see below) and guacamole and you’ve got multiple meals (yay leftovers!). The top right are my new pumpkin energy bites which are great snacks, especially before morning practice when you don’t feel like eating. Finally, make the black bean sliders in minutes to eat on whole grain bread or rolls with some dairy or vegan cheese and a side salad, the frittata to pair with potatoes and fruit for breakfast, and invest in a slow-cooker for slow cooker oats.

This picture highlights some easy healthy snacks & ingredients to keep on hand.

What do you do with all of this food you are thinking? Be sure to always pair a healthy carbohydrate with a protein source at meals and snacks. At meals, ensure you have a fruit or veggie and some healthy fat.

Sample day with double workouts:

  1. Pre AM workout: 2 pumpkin energy bites
  2. Post-workout breakfast: egg frittata w/ large prebaked sweet potato topped w/ hummus, side apple
  3. Lunch: PB & banana sandwich and side baby carrots; yogurt
  4. Pre-afternoon workout snack: Larabar
  5. Post-workout dinner: 6 oz flounder, plenty of bulgur w/ a vinaigrette mixed in, roasted broccoli
  6. Night snack: Bean brownie and 1 frozen banana blended with a scoop of protein and some almond milk

Easy, inexpensive options if you have a cost club membership such as BJ’s:

Below is the ginger people ginger spread I put a touch of on the tofu.
I then sprinkled some cayenne before baking. Next is the powdered ginger, garlic and honey that I added to the shrimp. I also mixed in fresh squeezed lime.

Tortillas I use for my tacos:

And how they look when I pack them for work (may be easier as a dinner for a college athlete. Carrying this to class may not be the easiest):

If you run out of food, later in the week these ingredients a plus a few eggs are all you’ll need for my quick and easy farro fried rice .It has the perfect carb to protein ratio for a post workout meal!

I mentioned bean brownies for a post-dinner snack. I know you are a student-athlete and have no time to bake. Want to know one of my favorite ready-made healthy desserts? Pure Genius blondies! Athletes can work up an appetite that extends far past dinner so if I were still a D-I swimmer I may be snacking on one of these delicious bean brownies or blondies many nights with some peanut butter a couple of hours after dinner. They’re sweetened with maple and athletes can have a touch extra sugar.

You’ll balance your blood sugar reaction from the maple syrup with fiber and protein because they’re made with beans and if you add PB like I suggested get a little bit more protein and healthy fats for recovery and joint health. Yay! {Disclosure: I was sent the 4 bars pictured below but, these opinions are my own. They’re in Whole Foods in NYC and CT and my sister was supposed to grab me some this past weekend in CT and they were out! Luckily I just got an email this morning for 15% off – head to their website to sign up!}

Hope you use some of these tips for an energetic week with better recovery than last!

Intuitive Eating and How Dieting Harms Athletes

While I felt I adopted a non-diet philosophy during my dietetic internship and graduate school, due to seeing so much disordered eating as I worked with University at Buffalo athletes, my journey to this concept of “intuitive eating” came several years later. As discussed with Heather on her podcast, intuitive eating isn’t something covered in a dietetics undergrad program or our mandated internship {or wasn’t 10+ years ago}. And it definitely isn’t covered on our certification exam! Until I was working with a client who had previously been in a treatment facility for an eating disorder, the term “intuitive eating” wasn’t in my vocabulary. After she mentioned it, I got the book and read it in a couple of days, wishing I’d known how to pull these philosophies together in my practice so much sooner.As I then re-evaluated my own habits, this is really when I started my journey to intuitive eating, and it came somewhat easily. Restriction for me was long in the past and I was well aware of how to build an eating pattern that made me feel good (types, timing of intake etc). The hardest part for me was honoring my fullness. I had accepted an all-foods-fit mentality and loved dining out whenever possible without a worry of calorie counting etc. But, I grew up spending a lot of time with my grandmother who firmly believed we should be members of the clean the plate club. Due to this and the Italian culture making you feel bad for not trying/eating whatever someone spent so much time making, as an adult, eating slowly enough and honoring fullness when it hit was still a bit of a challenge. Does that resonate with any of you? Feeling a bit overfull after birthday cake or a holiday is fine, but when it leads to digestive discomfort (I have a sensitive stomach to begin with), that is another story.

Often it is these lifestyle habits we aren’t even aware of that are built in early childhood and stay with us forever. Diet culture messaging makes us feel like we have this issue of lacking willpower to restrict or eat less food, when it’s really that lack of recognition of these habits is our barrier to being in tune with what our body really wants and needs. We are so far removed from our hunger and fullness signals as a society that we just eat whenever some article, diet, or friend that was on some diet tells us to. Without identifying where our habits come from and taking action to change them, we won’t make progress in health, or respect our body’s true needs.

As I felt I mastered intuitive eating myself, it’s transformed my counseling philosophies and other areas of my lifestyle, too. Intuitive eating isn’t just about respecting your body with it’s food wants and needs, but also respecting it from a fitness and relationship perspective. I’ve touched on intuitive eating and fitness plenty, as so many people are using fitness and food as a way to manipulate their body. Even some athletes don’t truly love their sport, they’re just participating because they’re anxious to not be burning so many calories and attempting to control their weight.

Something I mentioned deep in my last post (a plea to everyone not to diet), was the real reasons people try to manipulate their diets, exercise routines, and I’m going to also add relationships. I got so many emails and messages in response to this post and for many people, this is the part that hit home the most. Therefore, I want to share it again, because being aware of these desires can only help you find more respect for yourself.

What does weight loss promise to most people?

  • Happiness
  • Acceptance
  • Confidence
  • Being loved/well-liked
  • Achieving perfection
  • Feeling superior to others (why do people crave this?)

These are not things that reaching a lower number on the scale or a lower body fat percentage will ever provide to you. And if you think you’re happier/more confident/more accepted at a lower body weight than you used to have, why is that? Is it really your size or is it that exercise empowers you? Is it that versus feeling truly comfortable with yourself and loving yourself (without the opinions of others) you feel the ability to control things? I love this image posted on Instagram from Gretchen Zimmerman of Happy go Healthy RD today – and it goes with her latest blog post, too:

What Dietary Restriction Promises Active Individuals

  • Faster race time
  • Better physical health to support recovery
  • Better asthetics for judgement based sports
  • Improved digestion so GI troubles don’t impact your performance


So, how does this relate to intuitive eating being a respectful lifestyle? Well, I realize I’ve never really defined intuitive eating here and haven’t outlined the 10 principles, either.
Intuitive Eating is…

Not easily defined. If you google it, Wikipedia says Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than keeping track of the amounts of energy and fats in foods.

Unfortunately, this totally misses the mark. I think we have to really look at the 10 principles to see what it means. Of note: you don’t need to cover these principles in order, as everyone is at a different place in their health journey and has different needs. We do become more in tune with hunger, fullness, and how food makes us feel, but the definition most people see above emphasizes weight too much. You can’t be fully immersed in intuitive eating if you’re still focusing on weight. It’s a huge barrier to your success. Just trust that your body will find the weight it needs to be at, and that it will change at different stages of your life, too.

The 10 Principles are…

1. Reject the Diet Mentality
2. Honor Your Hunger
3. Make Peace with Food
4. Challenge the Food Police
5. Respect Your Fullness
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor – yes, different than fullness!
7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
8. Respect Your Body
9. Exercise–Feel the Difference
10 Honor Your Health

 with gentle nutrition

While I recommend any of my readers get the book to dive more into these principles, sometimes reading the whole book at once can be overwhelming. At one point I considered including the book in my nutrition packages, but one of my mastermind groups helped me realize that might not be the best idea since everyone does start at different places.

SO, while I encourage anyone who is in severe diet mode to meet with a dietitian one-on-one, many of you know that myself and Heather Caplan have invested a lot of time and energy into our level one intuitive eating for fitness course. For me, as a board certified sports dietitian and former D-I athlete, I see more disordered eating than the majority of RD’s. Heather, who is a dietitian, marathoner and running coach, as well as the co-founder of a non-profit to raise awareness of the female athlete triad, is in the same boat. We had lots of success, are so excited about the feedback from, and made lots of adjustments to our four week virtual group course in 2017, and we’re so excited to continue it in 2018 and build a level II once we’ve both adjusted to new mom-hood. If enough males tell us they’re interested, we’ll house a section for you, too!

While we plan to run them at least every other month, January really seems like the right time for us to encourage you active females (sorry dudes see above) to put up blinders to the diet commercials and adds, and invest in yourself to find self-respect, self-confidence and improved fitness. We’d love to have you for four weeks beginning this Monday, the 9th, but you can get more info and sign up at any time for the next session here.

You need to be mentally ready for change and to step our of your comfort zone, so if you need us to help you determine if you’re there yet before signing up, send us an email FitFueling@gmail.com!

Pumpkin Spice Energy Bites

Pumpkin season is here, whether you like it or not!!! I am in the bunch of people who usually like to hold off until its really fall at the end of September buuuut people ask for pumpkin so my blog must deliver. I got to recipe testing and quickly came up with these bites and, I am shocked to say that I am now ready for fall food. I am not giving up my fresh zucchini and garden tomatoes yet but, it’s time to mix up the meals with some fall squash and touches of pumpkin spice.

Everyone (yes, everyone) needs snacks each day and these can help you feel like your snacks are indulgent while still being healthy. You can make these in under 5 minutes and have one for dessert to satisfy your craving for sweets! For a perfect energy balance to carry you physically and mentally from breakfast to lunch or lunch to dinner, pair 1-2 with some roasted edamame or an organic string cheese. Even better, 2-3 of these are a great pre-workout energy boost providing natural sugar, a touch of protein and some fiber so you don’t get hangry while you’re exercising!

Hope you enjoy these as much as me, my family and Mr. Scarecrow!

Pumpkin Spice Energy Bites (Veg, DF, GF)

Makes 16-18 pieces



  • 1/4 C almond meal
  • 1 1/4 C pitted dates
  • 1/3 C oat bran
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (see below)
  • 1/4 C canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Optional: 2 tbsp melted dark chocolate chips

Pumpkin pie spice blend

  • 1/4 C cinnamon
  • 4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp ea: nutmeg and allspice
  • 1 tsp clove
  • First, stir pumpkin pie spice ingredients together
  • Reserve 1 tbsp for recipe and store the remainder in an airtight container
  • Add all ingredients to food processor
  • Pulse about 30 seconds, stopping to scrape sides of processor bowl
  • Roll a heaping tablespoon at a time in your hands into balls
  • Melt chocolate in a small ramekin in the microwave and drizzle over with a spoon if you desire
  • Store in airtight container in fridge for up to one week
Nutrition Information (Without Chocolate)

Serving Size: 2 Bites

  • Calories 100
  • Total Fat: 2 g
  • Saturated Fat: less than 0.5 g
  • Carbohydrate: 18 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Sugar: 12 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Sodium: 70 mg   2 %
  • Potassium: 160 mg 4%
  • Vitamin A: 12%   Calcium: 3 %   Iron: 4%

Spaghetti Squash with Peas and Avocado Walnut Pesto

Spaghetti squash was actually not on my grocery list this past week. I only purchase it in season and always classify it as a fall/winter food. But there in Whole Foods was a display of local Lancaster, PA organic squash. I couldn’t resist and am happy I didn’t! I have made a variety of different pesto in the past with avocado, cashews, walnuts and of course pine nuts, but had never combined the creamy avocado fruit with the crunchy texture of the nuts. Definitely a winning combination!

Spaghetti Squash with Peas and Avocado Walnut Pesto (GF, V, DF)

Ingredients (see below for beneficial properties of these ingredients):

  • 1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 Medium-Large avocado
  • 1/3 Cup Walnuts (chopped or in pieces)
  • 5-6 cloves garlic (we love garlic, you might want to halve this!)
  • 1/2 Cup packed basil (about 1 ounce on the food scale)
  • 1.5 cups green peas, cooked from frozen (I used Whole Foods Organic-not pictured)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper



  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
  • Take your spaghetti squash and carefully cut in half lengthwise. The first cut may seem difficult but once the knife is in its a lot easier to cut the rest of the squash.
  • Dig out the seeds & pulp (pictured w/out seeds on left below)
  • Save the seeds for the roasted seed recipe that I posted in November with my Italian Style Spaghetti Squash.
  • Set the squash cut side down in a large glass baking dish & add 1/2-3/4 C water
  • Place in the oven and cook about 40 minutes (may vary depending on size of squash & oven)
  • While the squash is cooking, you can make your pesto and cook your peas
  • Get out your food processor, bullet blender, or other blending tool
  • Add all ingredients except for the peas and pulse until most of the mixture is smooth but you can still see tiny pieces of walnuts for texture
  • Cook the frozen peas in a pot according to package instructions (I just cook over low-medium for about 5-7 minutes)
  • When the squash is done you should easily be able to stick a fork in through the skin
  • Remove it from the oven & carefully flip so the flesh side is up
  • With a fork, you’ll basically want to “rake” from one side to the other to remove the “spaghetti”

We used all of the pesto mixture and peas with about 2/3 of our squash to yield 4 servings. This will vary since your squash probably won’t be the exact same size. The leftovers can be used on a salad, in an omelet, or you can top it with any sauce.

  • You can either stir your pesto mixture & peas right in with the squash, or keep separate for each dish that you plate and add the mixture on top.
  • We also chopped up an heirloom tomato to add a little color and sweetness to balance out the delicious but strong garlic and basil.

Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:

Spaghetti Squash isn’t going to provide you with tons of one specific nutrient but it will contribute a balanced amount of most vitamins and minerals to your diet especially Vitamins C & B6. What shines for spaghetti squash is the fiber & healthy carbohydrate content as well as the carotenoid antioxidants.

Avocados contain mostly the healthy mono-unsaturated fat that your body needs for heart health, brain function, joint protection and immune function. Avocados are also a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamins E, C, and K, as well as the B-vitamins folate and B6. Another compound this fruit gives us is beta-sitosterol. Just like we get cholesterol from animals, we can get plant sterols from certain plants. Sterols like beta-sitosterol help block cholesterol absorption in the small intestine, enhancing heart health. The phytochemicals that avocados are highest in are the carotenoids lutein + zeaxanthin which are associated with eye health, immune and antioxidant function.

Walnuts have been pinned as the most heart healthy nut by many researchers due to their high omega-3 content (discussed here at walnuts.org) and their vitamin E and antioxidant phytochemical content. Omega-3′s support heart health by helping to regulate inflammation, Vitamin E is heart protective by protecting cells and fatty substances in the body, and the phenols present are thought to support a healthy metabolism and healthy blood vessels.

Did you know that peas are a good source of plant protein? Per 2/3 Cup serving you get 5 grams! As a reference, an egg contains 7 grams. Peas are also an excellent source of Vitamins K, C, A, B1, and folate. They contain the phytochemical coumestrol which has been found in research to reduce stomach cancer risk as well as other phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory properties.

Basil also packs a lot of vitamin K as well as some iron, calcium, and Vitamin A. The phytochemicals in basil have been found to be anti-inflammatory, heart healthy, and anti-bacterial.

Garlic provides the phytochemicals allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health.

Tomatoes pack in lots of Vitamins A, C, and the important fluid balance mineral Potassium. They are well known in terms of phytochemical content for their lycopene which is known for reducing risk of prostate cancer. This was one of the first phytochemicals that really made a name for itself. It is often forgotten that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.

I am not at all ready for summer to be over but have to admit I’m getting excited for fall foods!

Easy Pantry Dinner: Italian Broccoli, Barley and Beans

When I first saw the theme for this month’s Recipe Redux challenge, I was pretty excited. I love educating my clients and audiences on how make a quick “emergency” meal with pantry and freezer staples. The theme is

“Spring Clean Your Kitchen”

Use at least 3 ingredients that are actually in your refrigerator or pantry right now. Try not to go to the store to buy anything new…”

The way this challenge panned out for me couldn’t have been any more perfect. I completely forgot about it and I am typing this up a half hour after coming up with my idea, cooking it, loving it, and packing it for Tim for lunch tomorrow!

What do you need to have on hand to build a healthy meal? I always tell my clients to keep whole grains, legumes, and frozen veggies around. Ideally, you’d cook the beans from dry to keep sodium and cost down, but I like to have a few cans of beans, too for these “emergency” meal situations. While farro is my go-to grain, I had barley on hand and thought between that, beans, and my favorite frozen veggie, broccoli, a BBB meal would be fun!

I originally grabbed for my trader joe’s green dragon sauce, but decided to go Italiano with the basil olive oil I got in a set with several others  while we were there in January {PS Second post is set to go out Thursday!}. Paired with some dried herbs I always have on hand, it provided a much more fresh taste than the sauce would and was no harder to put together.

If you’re often finding yourself without time to head to the grocery store, you’re in luck because you’ll have close to 100 or more other reduxers posting pantry meals today and tomorrow. Check out the link at the end of the post and add your favorites to your grocery list so you’re never left without a healthy meal minutes away!

Broccoli, Barley & Bean Salad

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 2-3 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutesIngredients

  • 1 bag quick cook barley
  • 1 medium-large shallot
  • 2 tablespoons basil infused olive oil (or regular olive oil plus 1/2 tbsp dried basil)
  • 1 16 ounce bag frozen broccoli
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 can great northern (or other white) bean, rinsed and drained
  • Optional: 1/3 cup hemp seeds, freshly grated parmesan, or cashew parm
  • Optional: poached egg or 1/4 cup crumbled tofu (recommended for athletes)


  • Add barley and 1.5 cups water to a medium stockpot and bring to a boil
  • Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and let cook 10 minutes, or according to package
  • While barley is cooking, heat half of the oil in a cast iron or similar pan over medium heat
  • Halve and finely slice the shallot, and add to the oil, stirring and letting cook for 1-2 minutes
  • Add the broccoli florets to the pan along with all seasonings and stir and cover for about 7-8 minutes, stirring 1-2 times
  • Add the drained beans, stir well, and cook an additional 1-2 minutes
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl along with the remainder of the oil
  • Top with optional ingredients or even an egg for extra protein!

National Nutrition Month: The “Do Your Best” Diet

Put Your Best Fork Forward!

Don’t worry, I know you don’t know what that means or how to interpret it. It definitely doesn’t mean only eat vegetables all month, or to start some crazy diet. If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know I’ve learned the hard way for you, and I don’t recommend deprivation. It also doesn’t mean get out your fanciest silverware (sorry, I had to 🙂 ).

If you’re feeling confused about this theme or stressed about food, don’t worry. I got your back. All you need to do is… your best.

I saw a post on Instagram yesterday that read “You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce”. What does seeing things like this do for us? It makes us feel inadequate and that whatever we do isn’t enough. Well guess what? You’re not Beyonce. And it’s not because you don’t work as hard as her. It’s because you are you with a different journey and different goals, and different day to day responsibilities. {And is she really that awesome compared to you, me or your neighbor?}

More and more, I’ve been encouraging groups I speak to and my one-on-one’s to be a little easier on themselves. Very often, I’ll sit down (or be on a call) with a client for a session, and the first things out of their mouths are all the things they didn’t do or hadn’t accomplished since their last meeting. In my early counseling days, the session would go on, and eventually I would learn about all of the wonderful new healthy habits they’d incorporated, the fact that their blood glucose is lower, or that they have more energy in the 4th quarter of their basketball games. Now, when a client starts a session that way, I immediately divert the conversation to what they have done. They immediately perk up, and we have a much more productive appointment.

So, rather than put a lot of pressure on yourself, feel guilty or like a failure when you don’t meet a goal you set for yourself that is unrealistic, just do your best, and be okay with it.

Some weeks, doing my best means I take 2 hours to meal prep on Sunday and have everything together for a low-stress week. Some weeks, it’s putting the energy I have at the end of the day into cooking Brussels sprouts while my English muffin heats up in the toaster and I answer lingering emails. Why let that get to me? {Especially since I absolutely love a good sprouted grain english muffin with Kite Hill almond “cream cheese” spread and Trader Joe’s “everything but the bagel” seasoning}.

Your best will vary day to day. Maybe even hour to hour. Don’t be hard on yourself because of it. And don’t compare your best to someone else!

What can you do to put your best fork forward this month?

  • Don’t know how to cook? Try cooking one new (easy) meal per week. Even if it doesn’t taste the best the first time around, you tried and can build skills from there.
  • Feel like chugging water when you finish practice or your workout? Have one extra glass of water earlier in the day. Here’s why.
  • Realizing you don’t eat enough vegetables? Fit one more serving in each day and look at any more is a bonus. Here’s how.
  • Don’t eat breakfast? Grab a piece of fruit & some nuts in the morning so you can have it on-the-go.

There are tons of small things you can do, and if you end up being able to do more, awesome! Set your goals realistically, whether they are related to food, exercise, or what you can accomplish as a student, parent, or working professional. Then watch your stress decrease, your health improve, and happiness maintained.

Stay tuned for more tips during National Nutrition Month and another post for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Check out last year’s theme, Savor the Flavor of Eating Right, for a reminder that healthy food should always taste good!

Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancakes with Spiced Apple Topping

Here’s a distraction {or some comfort} if you need it the morning after Election Day – fluffy delicious pumpkin pancakes that will give make you feel as if you’re eating a comfort food but will actually give you plenty of nutrients. Bonus: if you add the toppings I recommend below instead of maple syrup, you’ll be keeping your blood sugar from crashing and releasing excessive adrenaline and cortisol (aka less anxiety and stress).

Sunday is still usually a pancake days in the Jones household. We regularly enjoy my original buckwheat oat pancakes (with a pumpkin option), almond flour banana pancakes, and super chocolatey protein pancakes but, this fall I thought the former needed a huge pumpkin boost!

These pancakes are still as perfect as the original for a pre-workout breakfast. If you plan to eat them as a post-workout meal, I recommend preparing with soy milk for a bit of added protein. You can then pair a serving with an egg, plain yogurt, or plain soy yogurt for added protein. I recently made some no sugar added “apple-pie” filling to make it scream fall even more so, I have included that short recipe too! To make them healthiest, top with this apple compote as well as nuts or a nut butter rather than maple syrup.

Below, share your favorite type of pancakes or your favorite pancake toppings! Love to hear what everyone else loves!

Apple “Pie Filling”


  • 2 large apples (such as braeburn, fuji, gala)
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp water


  • Heat a medium to large saucepan over medium, add apples and cover
  • After 2-3 minutes, add pumpkin pie spice and 2 tbsp water, stir and cover
  • After 2-3 more minutes, add vanilla extract, 2 tbsp water and stir
  • Cover and let cook an additional 5-7 minutes on very low heat

Buckwheat Oat Pumpkin Pancakes (V, GF, DF)

Makes 8-16 Pancakes depending on size


  • 1 1/2 C (180 grams) buckwheat flour
  • 1 C (80 grams) quick oats
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 C pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 3/4 C soy milk
  • Optional toppings of choice


  • Mix together all of the dry ingredients (except chia seeds) in a medium bowl.
  • In another bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients plus the chia seeds together. Add to the dry and whisk until you have a smooth consistency (do not over mix though!)
  • Pour a slightly heaping 1/4 – 1/2 cup at a time onto a cast iron or non stick pan over low-medium heat (closer to medium on my gas stove). You should know your own pans well enough to determine whether or not they need a very quick spray of cooking spray*.
  • Add toppings right after pouring batter into pan.
  • As with any pancake recipe, one you start to see bubbles form on top, flip the pancake.
  • As soon as pancake(s) are flipped, cover the pan and turn off heat. The cooking process should be complete within one minute
  • Top with apple compote and enjoy!

*If you do use spray, I recommend organic/natural canola or olive oil sprays to avoid unnecessary chemicals with the propellant. I like Trader Joe’s brand olive oil spray. We also use the “Misto” re-useable spray bottle that you pump air into easily to create pressure.

Black Bean Brownie Bites with Hemp Seed Frosting

I know, I know, I’ve been posting a lot of dessert-like recipes lately. You all must be devastated by the fact that these delicious bites all contain tons of nutrients and are a super healthy way to indulge.I couldn’t pass up posting this recipe though, because it’s The Recip Redux’s 6th birthday! We were all challenged to create a mini cake or mini indulgence to celebrate, and I knew exactly what I would be posting!

I whipped up this recipe for Tim’s birthday in March as a cake and we were in love.The brownies are sweetened only with dates and get their amazing fudginess from avocado and ground chia seeds.Topping it off, this frosting is made with hemp seeds, maple syrup and cashew milk (or whatever milk you choose). Hemp seed frosting is something I’ve had in my mind for a while and I’m pumped that I finally got to it and it more than worked out! Without powdered sugar, nonetheless. 😉

Oh, and athletes and active followers: yes, you can have one (or two) preworkout. Again, you have a “treat” with the right amount of carbs, with a tad of fat, protein and fiber. And female athletes, they’re packed with iron!

Black Bean Brownie Bites with Hemp Seed Cacao Frosting

Makes about 32 mini brownies



  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 medium avocado
  • 3/4 Cups (packed) pitted medjool dates
  • 3/4 Cups cacao or cocoa powder
  • 2 chia or flax eggs (2 Tbsp ground seeds + 5 Tbsp water)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp milk of choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon each baking powder and baking soda


  • 1 Cup hemp seeds
  • 1/4 C pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/3 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 Cup cacao powder
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • Heat oven to 350 degreees
  • Add beans, avocado and dates to a food processor or high quality blender and pulse until well combined
  • Add cacao powder, chia eggs, vanilla and milk and pulse until smooth
  • Finally, add baking powder and soda and pulse just until incorporated
  • Add 1 heaping tablespoon of batter to a (very) mini muffin tin that has been sprayed with cooking spray
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes
  • While brownies are baking, pulse hemp seeds, maple and vanilla in food processor until creamy, roughly one minute
  • Add cacao, salt and milk, slowly pulsing until cacao is incorporated, then consistently pulsing another 30 seconds until mixture becomes more light and slightly fluffy
  • Let sit to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from tin
  • Frost and enjoy!

Take a bite and click the link below to see how the rest of the reduxers are celebrating! 🎉