Visit for my guest post!


(photo credit: Sarah Fennel)

Good morning. I’ve got HUGE news! My recipe, Enchilada Chicken Roll-Ups (see above), is featured on the Skinnytaste blog TODAY! CHECK IT OUT!

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve had the absolute honor and privilege of working with Skinnytaste author Gina Homolka (and advising dietitian Heather K. Jones, RD) for the past few years.  I help with nutrition analysis, recipe proof reading and meal planning for the cookbooks and do some recipe development for the Skinnytaste blog.  Crazy, right?!?!

I absolutely love Gina and her blog.  For those who aren’t familiar, her motto is, “Delicious healthy recipes from my family to yours”.  And boy is she right.  Her recipes are healthy and delicious.  They appeal to kids and adults alike.  She has a magic touch when it comes to packing in flavor and nutrition without making you feel deprived or like you’re eating “diet” food.

Her recipes work because they are easy to follow, use easy-to-find ingredients and promote portion control (though if you need a higher calorie meal, you can double the recipes ;)).  She incorporates her culture, tradition and travels into her recipes all while keeping things familiar and family friendly.  Oh, and her photographs will leave you wiping drool off your face.

Don’t just take it from me.  Both cookbooks are NY Times Best Sellers and her most recent book, Fast and Slow, was nominated for a James Beard Award!

So add her to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest feeds, email, etc. to get her latest recipes and updates.  I promise, you’ll love it.  And you may just see something that I helped create.

If you don’t have the Skinnytaste Cookbooks yet, you can get them on Amazon:

  • The original Skinnytaste Cookbook HERE.
  • Skinnytaste Fast and Slow HERE

She also has a Meal-Planner which you can get HERE

Favorite Recipe Friday: Dutch Baby

Dutch babies hold a special place in my heart ♥.  My mom used to make them for us as a kid and any day that started with a Dutch baby was a good day.  These fluffy, souffle-like pancakes are so simple to make (kids can do it), require few ingredients, 1 bowl, and a whisk.  That’s it.   These babies are beautiful, delicious and the perfect vehicle for a mound of fresh fruit.

When I started making them for my kids, I initially used this NYTimes Food recipe.  It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I thought it had a bit too much butter and I wanted to add a little more flavor.  The great thing about Dutch babies is they are versatile like that.  Feel free to play around with it yourself.  They’re pretty forgiving.

Here is my version of the amazing, the beautiful…Dutch Baby.  Make it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.  Heck, make it as a snack.  These babies don’t discriminate.

Dutch Baby

Serves 4

Adapted from: NYTimes Food


3 large eggs

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup milk

1 tablespoon sugar

Pinch cinnamon

Pinch kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups fresh mixed berries (or any other fresh fruit)

Juice from ¼ lemon

Powdered sugar, for serving


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until light and starting to foam.  Add flour, milk, sugar, cinnamon, salt and vanilla.  Whisk until just combined.

Place butter in a medium oven-proof skillet or metal pie dish.  Place in oven and allow butter to melt (keep your eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn).  Pour batter into skillet/dish, return to oven and allow to bake for 20 minutes.

Top with fruit and a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Per serving: (1/4 pancake)  Calories: 220  Total Fat: 10.5 g  Saturated Fat: 5.5 g  Cholesterol: 158 mg  Sodium: 85 mg  Carbohydrates: 24 g  Dietary Fiber: 2 g  Total Sugars: 10 g  Protein: 8 g


Favorite Recipe Friday: Sweet Potato Skins


It’s Cinco de Mayo so a Mexican inspired recipe is in order!

I love Mexican food so any opportunity I have to infuse authentic flavors into my recipes, I do.  And while sweet potato skins are not what you think of as typical Mexican food, they are a (very nutritious) blank slate, perfect for delivering Mexican-esque toppings directly to your taste buds.

I love the idea of sweet potato skins because they add a smidge of sweetness which is well balanced by savory fillings.  They are crispy on the outer edge yet creamy on the inside.  Top them with the velvety avocado crema, crisp green onion and cilantro and talk about a fiesta en su boca!!  Here’s the recipe:

Baked Sweet Potato Skins (Serves 6)

For sweet potatoes:

6 small sweet potatoes (about 2 ¼ pounds)

4 teaspoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

Dash of cayenne

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup refried black beans

½ ounce cotija cheese, crumbled

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Lime wedges, for serving

For sauce:

¼ cup low-fat Greek yogurt (I like Fage 2%)

2 ounces avocado

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 clove garlic, peeled

5 sprigs of cilantro leaves (about 15 leaves)

Juice from 1/2 lime


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place whole sweet potatoes on a sheet pan covered in foil or parchment, poke each a few times with a fork.  Bake on center rack until fork tender, 40-45 minutes.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine olive oil, cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne in a small bowl.

In a small blender or food processor, combine all sauce ingredients plus 4-5 tablespoons of water.  If necessary, add more water to thin. Set aside.

Switch oven to broil. Cut sweet potatoes in half and carefully scoop out flesh. Make sure to leave about ¼-inch of flesh around the edges.* Place potatoes, skin side up back on the sheet pan, brush with olive oil/spice mixture, a pinch salt and pepper, and broil for 3-4 minutes. Remove skins from oven, turn over and fill with black beans and cheese then return to oven to broil 2 minutes more.

Top with each skin with scallions, cilantro and 1 teaspoon of sauce.

*Scooped sweet potato can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days. I like to mix it with just a smidge of butter, low-fat milk, salt and pepper and serve it alongside chicken breast.

Per 2 skins: Calories: 190  Protein: 6 g Carbohydrate: 25 g  Fiber: 6 g   Sugar: 6 g  Total Fat: 8 g  Saturated Fat: 1.5 g  Cholesterol: 7 mg  Sodium: 310 mg

Serving suggestion: Serve alone as an appetizer, alongside grilled chicken, fish or steak or as a light meal with a side salad.

Favorite Recipe Friday: A crispbread a day keeps the munchies away.


All the recipes I develop are inspired by something, someone, or an experience.  Today’s recipes are inspired by Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Crispbreads AND my love of sandwiches.  Like most of my recipes, I wanted to keep it familiar but unique.

These crispbreads are great as a light lunch (with a side salad or fruit) or as a hearty snack to keep hunger pangs at bay.  They are crunchy and savory with a nuttiness that satisfies even anti-sandwich eaters. Plus, the ingredients in each are different enough to keep it interesting but similar enough that you won’t have to buy tons of ingredients.

So, without further ado…here are your delicious and nutritious crispbread mini-meals:

They all start with these*

*If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby or can’t find them, you can substitute any other whole grain crispbread (such as Wasa or Dr. Kracker).


The directions are simple.  Spread and layer…

Avocado Toast:

1.5 ounces avocado, mashed

1 small tomato, sliced

3 slices cucumber

3 red onion rings

1 lime wedge

Pinch kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Calories: 200  Fat: 12.5 g  Saturated Fat: 2 g  Cholesterol: 0 mg  Sodium: 290 mg  Carbohydrates: 16 g  Fiber: 7 g  Sugar: 5 g  Protein: 6 g 

Apples & Brie:

½ ounce Brie

½ small apple, sliced

½ teaspoon raw honey

1 teaspoon chopped walnuts

Calories: 210  Fat: 11.5 g  Saturated Fat: 3.5 g  Cholesterol: 14 mg  Sodium: 300 mg  Carbohydrates: 18 g  Fiber: 4 g  Sugar: 10 g  Protein: 7 g  


2 teaspoons pesto

1 ounce part-skim mozzarella, sliced

1 small tomato, sliced

2 basil leaves, chopped

Pinch Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon balsamic glaze

Calories: 240  Fat: 15.5 g  Saturated Fat: 5 g  Cholesterol: 20 mg  Sodium: 550 mg  Carbohydrates: 12 g Fiber: 3 g  Protein: 12 g  Sugar: 3 g

Lox & Cream Cheese:

2 tablespoons whipped or light cream cheese

2 ounces smoked salmon (lox)

1 small tomato, sliced

3 cucumber slices

3 red onion rings

½ teaspoon capers

Calories: 240  Fat: 12 g  Saturated Fat: 3.5  Cholesterol: 24 mg  Sodium: 838 mg  Carbohydrates: 14 g Fiber: 4 g  Protein: 17 g  Sugar: 5 g


2 tablespoons hummus

1 tablespoons chopped tomato

1 tablespoon chopped cucumber

3 red onion rings

2 Greek olives, sliced

½ ounce crumbled Feta cheese

Calories: 250  Fat: 14.5  Saturated Fat: 4 g  Cholesterol: 13 g  Sodium: 710 mg  Carbohydrates: 19 g  Fiber: 6 g  Protein: 9 g  Sugar: 4 g

Tuna & White Bean:

2 tablespoon White Bean Spread (recipe follows)

2 ounces good quality tuna in olive oil (I like Tonnino)

2 Greek olives, sliced

Pinch Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon fresh herbs (basil, oregano, or chives)

Calories: 320  Fat: 11.5 g  Saturated Fat: 2.5 g Cholesterol: 25 mg  Sodium: 760 mg  Carbohydrates: 25 g  Fiber: 8 g  Protein: 25 g  Sugar: 1 g
For White Bean Spread: Drain and rinse 1 (15-ounce can) of cannelini beans.  Mash with a fork and add 2 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons minced shallot, juice from 1/2 a lemon, a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste.  Makes about 2 cups.




Sundays with Samantha: Scrumptious Hot Cocoa


My daughter, Samantha, has never been a fan of milk.  The only way I can get her to drink a cup of milk is to make hot chocolate (or chocolate milk). And while the pre-made versions of hot cocoa aren’t the worst thing in the world, they aren’t something I want to give her on a regular basis. That is how Samantha’s Scrumptious Hot Cocoa came to be.

Our version is free of all the fillers and artificial sweeteners that come in the pre-portioned packets (see below). It’s just as easy to make and it tastes delicious.

Bonus: She’s getting protein, calcium and vitamin D from the milk, antioxidants from the real cocoa and cinnamon, and less added sugar and sodium. Win. Win.

Samantha’s Scrumptious Hot Cocoa

Makes 1 (8-0unce) serving


1 (level) tablespoon unsweetened cocoa (I like Ghiradelli)

8 ounces skim milk

1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Dash of cinnamon


Heat milk in the microwave until warm (1-1 1/2 minutes).  Add cocoa, sugar, and cinnamon.  Stir and serve.

Calories:   130
Protein:   9 g
Carbohydrate:   19 g
Dietary Fiber:   2 g
Total Sugars:   19 g (6 g added sugar)
Total Fat:   1.5 g
Saturated Fat:  0.5 g
Cholesterol:   5 mg
Sodium:   100 mg

Here is a snap shot of your average ready-made hot cocoa for comparison:

(If you are reading on your mobile device you may have to rotate your phone to view labels correctly)

           Swiss Miss                                                         Nestlé   


Favorite Recipe Friday: California Burrito Bowl


It doesn’t have to be breakfast time to eat breakfast food.  We often make breakfast for dinner because it’s quick, easy and kid-friendly.

This burrito bowl was inspired by a burrito native to Southern California: the California Burrito.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s typically a big, fat burrito stuffed with beef, cheese, and fries (or fried potatoes).  Yep, french fries INSIDE the burrito.  Instead, I opted for sweet potato fries, which are a healthier alternative and chicken apple sausage because it’s delicious and breakfast-y. Together, they provide a complimentary sweetness to the savory ingredients.

And, instead of the big guacamole bomb that often accompanies a typical massive burrito, I created a fresh, chunky avocado salsa sure to satisfy your guacamole craving.  Is your mouth watering yet?  Here’s the recipe:


Cooking spray

10 ounces (about 3 cups) frozen sweet potato fries (I like Alexia brand)

2 green onions, chopped (white and green parts separated)

1 small tomato, diced

1 small (4 ounce) avocado, diced

Juice from ½ lime

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces fully-cooked, uncured chicken apple sausage, chopped

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Hot sauce (optional)


Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray and bake sweet potatoes according to package directions.

Meanwhile, combine onion greens, tomato, avocado, lime juice, cilantro, ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Mix gently and set aside.

Spray a small skillet with cooking spray.  Add sausage and cook until warmed and crisp on the edges.  Remove from skillet and keep warm.

In another small bowl combine eggs, onion whites, ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper. Beat with a fork to combine. Add butter to skillet and scramble eggs.

Build your bowl: Chop the fries and sausage.  Layer ¼ of the eggs, sausage, fries, cheese and salsa in each of 4 bowls. Top with hot sauce (if desired). Makes 4 bowls.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories:   370
Protein:   16 g
Carbohydrate:   27 g
Dietary Fiber:   5 g
Total Sugars:   8 g
Total Fat:   21.5 g
Saturated Fat:   5.5 g
Cholesterol:   225 mg
Sodium:   580 mg

Nutrition Note: Looking to lighten it up?  Substitute egg whites for all or part of the egg, use reduced fat cheese and/or omit the butter and scramble eggs in a non-stick pan with cooking spray.

Miss the tortilla? Wrapping it up in a 10-inch tortilla adds roughly 200 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 500 milligrams of sodium. Alternatively, you can serve it (as show above) with a piece of lightly buttered whole grain toast for an extra (roughly) 100 calories, 4 grams of fat and 100 mg of sodium.

Serving suggestion: Serve with fruit salad.

Sundays with Samantha: Kid-friendly smoothies


Homemade smoothies are a great snack.  They are super easy to make, can provide a healthy dose of protein and fiber and sneak in a couple servings of fruit (and/or veggies) without a fight.  Smoothies are my saving grace when my fridge is empty and I’m feeling guilty about my kids’ lack of fruit/veggie intake. They are a great on-the-go snack, perfect for the ride to sports practices or any other after school activity.  (Just make sure to put it in a cup with a lid!) I like to keep bags of frozen fruit in the freezer and over buy bananas to freeze so a smoothie is always a blender away. I have this 12-piece NutriBullet set.  It makes smoothie making and clean-up a snap!

Bonus: Homemade smoothies are so much cheaper and often healthier than the ones you get at a smoothie chain.

Here are some of my favorite basic kid-friendly combos.  Feel free to sneak a handful of spinach or kale in for an extra boost of nutrition.  Directions for all smoothies are the same: Combine ingredients in a blender.  Add ice if it’s too thin or more liquid if it’s too thick. Each recipe makes roughly 2 (8-ounce) servings.

Chocolate Berry Delight

2 tablespoons peanut butter (or other nut butter)

1 medium frozen banana

1 cup frozen berries

8 ounces skim milk

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

PB and J

2 tablespoons peanut butter (or other nut butter)

1 medium frozen banana

1 cup mixed berries

6 ounces skim milk

Piña Colada

4 ounces pineapple juice

4 ounces water

1/2 cup chopped pineapple

1 medium frozen banana

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup ice

Almond Joy

8 ounces skim milk

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 medium frozen banana

2 tablespoons almond butter

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Tropical Treat

1/4 cup diced mango

1 small kiwi

1 medium banana

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

4 ounces 100% pineapple juice

4 ounces water

Note: I like to use frozen fruit whenever possible because it creates a smoother, thicker smoothie. If all you have is fresh, feel free to add some plain yogurt or extra banana to reach desired consistency.