Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie

I realize I should have posted this pre-Thanksgiving but if you are like me and continue eating pumpkin through the rest of winter, you can enjoy this recipe for the rest of the holiday season!

We traveled to Jacksonville, FL for Thanksgiving this year to spend the holiday with my in-laws. While everyone is very supportive of my dairy allergy and choice to not eat meat, I hate to ask for dishes to be altered – it makes me feel too high maintenance. While we had plenty of dairy free side dishes, I didn’t want to feel left out during appetizers and dessert. In addition to packing some pistachio stuffed dates and Treeline cheese spreads, I thought I’d make a dairy free pumpkin pie. In my searches I continually saw tofu as an ingredient. While I hated it just a couple of short years ago, I have grown to love tofu and am better at cooking it on my own but, using it in desserts has never worked well for me. So, I scrapped any recipes I had found and threw together a cashew base and sweetened with dates with a little cocoa added in for fun! Continue reading

Love those Leftovers!

How to Love your Thanksgiving Leftovers

While I gave some recommendations for altering dishes to reduce sodium and sugar a few weeks ago, I thought this week I could give some leftover ideas for the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving. Remember on Thanksgiving to listen to your body. We enjoy food more when it makes us feel good, so take the time to be mindful in the moment of your meal, enjoying and noticing every bite! Have a great day everyone!

Breakfast ideas

Stuffing egg bowls:
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Press stuffing against bottom and sides of muffin tin.
Mix 6 eggs with 1 cup thawed spinach (or other leftover vegetable, chopped)
pour equal amounts of egg mixture into each stuffing lined muffin tin
Bake for 15 minutes

Open-face Sweet Potato Sandwich

Mix leftover sweet potato dish with 1 egg
Flatten mixture into pancake shape and cook in pan over medium heat until more firm
Top with turkey or tofu, cranberry sauce and gravy

Lunch and Dinner

Turkey Cheddar and Spinach Panini

Spread cranberry sauce on 1 slice of whole grain bread
Add turkey or tofu and spinach or kale
Shred 1 ounce (1/4 cup) of cheddar or use 1 oz nut cheese and add to Sandwich
Top with a second slice of whole grain bread
Cook like a grilled cheese in a pan or in a panini press

Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Dice leftover turkey and mix with equal amounts leftover stuffing and vegetables
Spoon mixture onto romaine lettuce leaves or cabbage leave
Wrap up like a tortilla wrap or taco and eat!

Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili

In a stockpot, saute 1 clove garlic and 1 chopped onion
Stir well and let brown 3-5 minutes
Add 1 can low sodium diced tomatoes and 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
Stir well and let simmer 3-5 minutes
Add diced turkey and leftover sweet potatoes
Add 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp oregano, black pepper to taste
Stir well

Planning to head out on Black Friday?

Many people shop at crazy hours of the day and for long periods of time the day after Thanksgiving. If you choose to go out and shop, be smart and plan ahead so that you don’t end up ravenous. This not only makes you more irritable and stressed, putting a damper on the holiday spirit, but also means you are likely to overeat later on or stop and grab unhealthy meals while out.

  • Bring a bottle of water. Many places now have refillable filtered water stations so you can fill up as soon as you’re out. Don’t just rely on coffee!!
  • Pack an “emergency snack”- it can make a big difference in how you’ll feel and how your appetite will react later on.

What’s your favorite way to eat leftovers?

Spice Up Your Life! Flavor without the Salt and Sugar

For many people, Halloween marks the start of a loooong holiday season. While we should first remember that holidays are just that, a single day, I know that everyone is tempted during November and December by the overabundance of foods and snacks we should have in moderation, and excessive high calorie beverages. Thanksgiving is fast approaching, so I thought it would be fitting to make my next post of the holiday season about how to decrease the salt and sugar in food by adding flavor in other ways! Instead of all of the sodium and sugar, you can add so much nutrition with the antioxidant powers in spices and herbs.

While sodium is often demonized for its impact on high blood pressure, the truth is many people do not see a blood pressure impact due to salt consumption. That doesn’t mean it isn’t impacting your health though. The minimum sodium recommendation is 1500 mg per day and most Americans are eating closer to 4000 mg. At this level of intake, research shows a negative influence on bone health, kidney health and even type II diabetes risk. Foods you may not expect to be very high in sodium include cheese (sorry, that is why it’s your favorite type of dairy), packaged bread and dough, and meat. Another hidden source? Those low calorie frozen meals that claim to make you “lean”, “smart” and “healthy” and attract your attention with their green labels. Healthy choice soup at 100 calories per cup? Sounds great! With the 1300 mg of sodium? Not so great!

I don’t think I need to convince you that most people need to reduce their sugar intake, too! The American Heart Association recommends adult women consume no more than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons of added sugar each day and that adult men consume no more than 38 grams, or 9 teaspoons, of added sugar each day. For reference, one container of Yoplait strawberry yogurt has 26 grams! The average American adult, according to NHANES data is eating over 20 teaspoons each day. Imagine how much higher it gets during the holiday season! This does not just effect your waistline but is also linked to mood disturbances, depression, altered appetite, headaches, skin problems, and poor attention span.

I am a self-proclaimed foodie and love not only cooking and food but also baking and treats. Here are some tips on how to lighten up your favorite dishes while reducing your sodium and sugar intake. Attached are some fact sheets on the health benefits of herbs and spices, too.


Use low sodium broths in soups, stews, and even mashed potatoes. If you live near a Trader Joe’s, their low sodium vegetable broth has more flavor than any full sodium broth on the market! I have tried many!

Reduce salt in recipes by half and add extra garlic and/or pepper

Switch to using a pepper grinder to have a stronger flavor so you don’t miss the salt

Don’t use salt substitutes! Real salt is better for you than the chemicals in the substitute!

Use 100% pure maple syrup or honey instead of sugar to sweeten holiday side dishes

Try new fresh herbs to heighten flavor


Use only ¾ of sugar listed in recipe and add an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract

Omit salt if the recipe calls for baking powder or baking soda

Use organic granulated sugar It isn’t bleached like white sugar so you are getting more nutrients

Swap brown sugar for coconut sugar + 1 tablespoon of molasses (both are more rich in vitamins and minerals)

Use 100% pure maple syrup or honey to sweeten

Add cinnamon and ginger to your holiday recipes for festive flavor instead of topping with sugar

Here are 3 holiday recipes of mine. The first is a great soup that you have have as a holiday app or on a cold day, the second a Thanksgiving side dish and the other a nice party snack or treat.

Potato Leek and Kale Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts and Cranberries

Maple and Chia Candied Pecans and Walnuts


Forget the Resolutions and Set Realistic Goals!

Lists are a big part of my life that help me stay on track with my goals. They help me on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to get everything I need done, done. My “results & meeting daily and weekly planner” called “Action Day” helps with this tremendously. I found it at staples early in 2014 and while I am big on not wasting paper and keeping things electronic, this was a huge piece to my organizational puzzle. I take the lists and tasks from my amazing planner and each Sunday write important points/events on another weekly list (that I purchased at target) that merges with my husband’s important to-do’s. This way we are always on the same page. In anyone’s life this can reduce a conflict that may occur if one forgets something big the other had going on or if one may forget to tell the other.

Action Day 2015 - Best Planner Ever!  Weekly To-Do's   .

Regardless of how you decide to come up with goals, the most important thing is to always write them down! A goal is just an idea until it is on paper; then it is a commitment. I know in our technology driven world a pen and paper sounds like ancient history, but it is much more meaningful to physically write down a goal that to have it/them in a computer file or in your phone’s notepad. It also enables you to put the goal(s) in a place you will see it/them daily. My husband and I chose to keep our 2014 goals on our refrigerator this past year so we could not avoid them.

Before I get to my method of goal setting for the New Year (or at literally any time), I want to highlight that goals are easier to attain when they are SMART:

Here are examples of common goals one might set for nutrition versus ones that don’t create stress:

Sample “Health” Goal: Lose weight
Sample Unrealistic Goal: Lose 10 lbs in January.
Realistic and sustainable health goal:
Reduce stress and increase confidence 
through flexible food and fitness choices.

I have one tip for everyone related to the above examples: STEP AWAY FROM THE SCALE. Don’t let it define you. In the US we easily let pounds on the scale and BMI define us, when in reality those number often don’t correlate with health.

Many times the “realistic” is the part we forget when setting well thought out goals. Last year my husband had a goal to “always pack lunch for work”. This was completely unrealistic since he has many lunch based meetings and he therefore did not accomplish it. “Bringing lunch to work 3 days per week” is likely a more attainable goal.

Now for my approach to goal setting…

After reading a bit, attending a conference session, and listening to a great RD role model Chere Bork in 2013, I had a discussion with my husband and we decided to take a new approach to the whole “New Years Resolution” thing for 2014. I am ecstatic to say we reached almost all of our goals. The only mutual goal we did not meet was making it to church every single Sunday. The only personal goals I did not achieve were doing my physical therapy exercises twice each week (for my hip and knee from running), and making it to yoga twice every week. I could easily look at this and say I failed at those goals. However, it is much better to focus on what we DO not what we don’t. Looking back, I am able to say we made it to church very frequently and never skipped just to sit around, I ran a half marathon injury free this year (first time in 4 years) and I made yoga a priority any time I was feeling stressed or out of balance. I’d say those are all positives!

Hopefully you are getting motivated to set your own goals. Here is how Tim and I create ours. First, we have determined that we will always set goals together. These goals are for our home, time together, faith, travel, and time for family and friends (you can set others too!). We then set our own personal goals. I believe, at minimum, personal goals should cover the following areas:

-Personal Growth
-Spirituality or Religion
-Home/physical environment (can even be your office!)
-Family and friends (including significant other)
-Fun and stress relief

As one of the songs in the movie “Frozen” tells kids (love that movie), we too as adults should remember that we are all a “fixer-upper”. No one is perfect and will always have something to work towards. Just because you don’t want a new job or you think you are as healthy as can be does not mean there is nothing to work on. For example here are a couple of goals in these areas for 2014 and this coming year:

Example 2014 Goals

-Finalize and have the exercise science POS approved
-Help students start a nutrition club (spring semester)
-Complete my 3rd half marathon (fall 2014)
-Go to yoga classes twice each week

Example 2015 Goals

-Reach out to local colleges to research a new nutrition program for Bucks (Spring 2015)
-Volunteer in the area of kid’s health and food insecurity (once/month)
-Complete an olympic distance triathlon (by august 2015)
-Eat my lunch without distractions, away from computer/work (3x/week)

For those of you who have struggled with the same goals in the past, ask yourself why. Maybe improving your food intake hasn’t happened for you because you keep going on fad diets or skipping meals. Maybe a better approach is to have small action plans each month that support healthier habits. In January you can eat breakfast every day. In February drink an extra glass of water a half hour before each meal. In March, add a serving of vegetables to your lunch and dinner. If time management is a constant struggle, you may be trying to multi-task too much. The planner I mentioned above may help with that but maybe you also need to find ways to manage stress, prepare meals for the week, or to sleep more. Another tool I recently learned about is found at Em.todolist.com. The program allows the user to create categories and priorities, set reminders, share lists, and set recurring dates.

No matter what approach you decide to take in order to become the best version of you, remember that achieving goals and building new habits will always take time. Finally, stay positive – it makes everything easier!

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