Cookbook Excitement and My Trip to See Ina Garten

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Happy Friday! Today I’m talking cookbooks. If you don’t know already, I love me some cooking shows. I record Saturday and Sunday morning cooking shows weekly and watch them when I have a little free time or while I’m doing chores around the house. They teach me new techniques and flavor combo ideas and they inspire me, getting my creativity flowing. My favorite to watch is Ina Garten. It’s interesting because my mom used to love watching her and I never really paid attention. Ina would always be playing in the morning when I would walk into the den while home for Christmas or Thanksgiving. Mom used to say she thought Ina was so lovely and calming. I don’t think I really stopped to understand that until this past year. Maybe it’s getting older, but I now totally get what my mom was drawn to. And not only that, Ina now has a TV segment called “Cook Like a Pro” that makes pretty simple recipes with ingredients that are simple yet full of flavor. She is my style of chef :)

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So, last night I was THRILLED to get to go hear her speak in Dallas. She was promoting her new cookbook, “Cook Like a Pro”. She talked about her life growing up, meeting and marrying Jeffrey and when she decided to open Barefoot Contessa, her first specialty food store. Her recipes are wonderful but, even better, her story is so inspiring to me. She took risk and she followed her gut and her passions. The other thing I was curious about and excited to realize is that she seems exactly the same in person as she is on her show. She is genuine, down-to-earth, calm, and has a sense of humor. It was such a fun evening AND I got a signed copy of her new cookbook, which I flipped through on my stories the other night to show you some of the simplicity of her recipes. While some of her recipes have upward of maybe 15 ingredients, most of them have less, and some of her recipes only have 5 ingredients. Yet, no matter how few ingredients there are, each recipe still looks wonderful. I can’t wait to dive in and start giving these a tray! I’ll still be going through my current Ellie Krieger cookbook, of course, but now I’ll be switching it out. Stay tuned on my Instagram and the blog for some new Barefoot Contessa recipes!

Happy Fueling!


Weekend Restaurant & Recipe Finds

As much as I love travel and exploring new places, I love being back home for relaxing no-plans weekends with my husband. We bought our house about a year and a half ago and are still working on getting it decorated and organized and I just love being home in it. It’s one of the places where I feel most creative and most inspired and so, not surprising, I love spending some of a Saturday or Saturday morning creating recipes or doing some mini ingredient prepping for the week here (reminder, I’m not really a complete “meal prepper”. I do, however, like to have lots of different ingredients on-hand to put meals together quickly). So, this weekend, Kyle and I enjoyed a balance of going out to dinner with friends and staying in, enjoying being home, and and me cooking just a little. Here are some of the favorite places and things that we ate!

1. Jose


Friday night we met some friends at Jose. The wait was much shorter than I had anticipated, the service was great and the food fantastic. These shrimp tacos were absolutely scrumptious. The spice rub was a little bit spicy but the pineapple added a sweet note and the slaw was slightly tangy and the avocado pulled everything together. There was a lot going on with these tacos but it was all fresh and full of flavor. I will absolutely go back for these!

2. Ten Minute Mediterranean Tuna Melt

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I finally got to finalize the recipe for this tuna melt. I discovered it last month when I had about 15 to 20 minutes at home to make and eat dinner before an evening meeting. This is so simple and I love the flavor combos. I like it so much that I went in the fridge on Sunday to incorporate the leftover tuna salad over mixed greens. However, apparently my husband loves it too because there was nothing left when I got to the fridge :) Next time I’ll make sure to make a double batch! To get the recipe and read more on its nutrition info, go to my original post here!

3. Grilled Chicken with Cherry Bourbon BBQ Sauce & Spinach Butternut Squash Salad (an Ellie Krieger recipe)

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As many of you know, I just received Ellie Krieger’s new cookbook, You Have It Made. So, currently, many of my recipes that are not my own are hers from this cookbook. I’ve always been a fan and that appreciation continues as I am cooking my way through her latest book. Kyle and and I had this meal Sunday night (FINALLY got our grill to work!!!) and both loved it. And the great thing is that it makes leftovers for lunch! Yesterday I made the salad again (I’m currently storing all ingredients, including the dressing, separately) and topped it with beans to mix it up a bit. I’ll probably do it again today but add leftover BBQ chicken. This was a delicious meal AND I think it’s a great option to make if you are having company over. Much of it can be prepped ahead, but even if it’s not, prepping and cooking this meal doesn’t have to take all of your attention like some other dinners. You can definitely prepare this and still chat and socialize with your company (or do chores or play with the kids!).

Hope one of these gives you a fresh and simple meal idea for this week, this weekend, or one of your busy weeks to come.

Happy Fueling!


Weekend Restaurant & Recipe Finds

Happy Monday! Waking up this morning, I decided that I want to try adding a new series of weekly posts. Each week, I would like to post a list of delicious recipes and restaurants that I find over the weekend or the previous week. By posting Monday morning, my hope is that it gives you time to check the recipes or restaurants out yourself and then either include the ingredients in your next weekly grocery trip or pencil the restaurant into your next family outing.

I hope you find this helpful! Posts should be short and sweet but I wanted to make sure I shared my quick, simple and tasty finds with you!



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This is a recipe from Ellie Krieger’s new cookbook, You Have It Made. I will say that the entire process of prepping, making and stuffing the burgers, making the tzatziki sauce, and grilling the burgers is a little lengthy. However, you can prep any part of these burgers ahead of time and then have them ready to grill up whichever night you want to serve them. Same goes for the tzatziki sauce. Make the sauce ahead and store it in the refrigerator for when you grill up the burgers. This weekend I made 4 burgers. Kyle and I ate 2 for dinner and there are 2 being stored in the fridge that I plan to have for lunch one day and then dinner or lunch in a pinch another. I’ve found that I actually love cooking at home on the weekends because I’m not exhausted from the weekday and I don’t feel pressed for time like on a weeknight. Plus, we typically have leftovers and I can use those for lunches and dinners in a pinch throughout the week!


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This is a recipe I found in my Better Homes & Gardens magazine (purchased for our long plane ride to France). I always like adding a little crunch to my yogurt and fruit in the morning and this recipe looked pretty straight forward with nutritious ingredients and not bundles of sugar. So I tore out the page to give the recipe a try. It was so incredibly easy to make and I had all but one ingredient already in my pantry! I definitely recommend throwing a batch together. Kyle took one bite while it was cooling and asked if we could go ahead and make a second batch, ha. I hope you are able to incorporate this into your breakfasts and snacks. If you have questions, I’ll be over here whipping up a second batch!

I’ve included the recipe for this Coconut - Flax Oat Crisp Below


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  • 1 cup regular rolled oats

  • 1/2 cup oat bran

  • 1/2 cup flaked or shredded coconut

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

  • 3 tbsp. almond or peanut butter (I used Sun Butter)

  • 1 tbsp. honey

  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda

  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds or flaxseed meal (I used flaxseeds)


  1. Prepare oven to 325 degrees F.

  2. Coat a 15 x 10 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

  3. In a food processor, combine oats, oat bran, coconut, brown sugar, and flour.

  4. Process until finely ground.

  5. Add nut butter, 2 tbsp. water, the honey, baking soda, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Process until combined.

  6. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in the chia or flax seeds (mixture will be crumbly)

  7. Press oat mixture firmly into prepared pan and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

  8. Cool in pan on a wire rack. (Mixture crisps as it cools)

  9. Release oat mixtue from pan. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

  10. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Info, per serving (analysis from Better Homes & Gardens magazine):

169 calories, 7 g fat, 75 mg sodium, 25 g carb, 5 g fiber, 9 g sugars, 5 g pro


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I went to brunch here this weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday. The restaurant is tucked back in the shopping center off of Oak Lawn where the Zoe’s, East Hampton and Haystacks are. The restaurant is full of light from all the windows. The area where we sat felt like we were dining in a tree house. I loved it! There menu isn’t huge but they do have a variety of options. I got the divorciados, which is basically two tacos with two different salsas served over beans and rice. Friends around me also got the migas and tacos and those looked delicious as well. I loved that the ingredients tasted fresh and portions were not out of control huge. Kyle and I are always looking for Sunday brunch spots so I’m sure I’ll be back!

These were my favorite weekend finds! If you have questions about any of these recipes or the restaurant, please comment below and I’ll be sure to get back with you!

Happy Fueling!


My Favorite Dining Experiences in France

For those who follow me on Instagram, you know that I spent last week traveling through France. This was my and my husband’s belated one year wedding anniversary trip. Our anniversary was actually in June, but all of my friends who love visiting Paris told us to wait and either make our visit in the fall or the spring. So, fall it was and we could not have timed it more perfectly. The weather was wonderful, consisting of those days where pants or a dress with a light jacket or sweater will do. And, it only rained half a day on our last day there. I have come back with so many things that I love about the cities that we visited, but today I'm going to share with you my top favorites. And, because this is primarily a food and nutrition / wellness space, I’m going to stick with my favorite things from those categories. If you have questions about anything else we did or saw or ate, please message me and I’ll get back with you!



Le Poulbot

A cozy little restaurant in Montmartre. Kyle and I grabbed a seat at the picnic tables outside and shared delicious salads with fresh figs, goat cheese, burrata and herbs plus a dish of fresh fish and vegetables. We relaxed and ate while taking in the cobblestone roads and the people passing by. From here we headed on to see Sacre Coure and explore Montmartre.

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Le Papilles - an incredible restaurant. It’s tiny so make sure you get reservations in advance! They serve one menu with several courses. When we were there they had the best beef slow roasted in a red wine sauce with carrots and other vegetables as the main dish. They have an extensive wine selection and the chef (and owner) is very friendly. We loved this place so much that we tried to eat here again on our last night in France but could not get a reservation. It’s a must visit!

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Cooking class at La Cuisine.

Make reservations in advance! Each class only allows about 10 people. We started at one of the markets in the morning, learning about their different cuts of meats, how to tell when meat is the freshest, and learning about their various cheeses and a few fruits and vegetables. As a group we got to pick what items we wanted to cook that day for lunch and then headed back to the cooking school where we all worked together to prepare a lunch from our purchases. I LOVED this. Among many things, we learned…

  • The correct way to cut French bread (I didn’t know that there was a certain method…),

  • How to cook duck and what the difference is between this duck you find in markets and the duck you eat after hunting it yourself (I’m from the South, so that’s the kind of duck I’m familiar with). I was super hesitant about the duck because I’ve never liked it when I’ve had it back in Tennessee or Texas. However this duck was tender and had a much more mild flavor - not “gamey” at all.

  • What “confit” means, which is basically just cooked in fat. Probably won’t be using too much of this cooking technique in my recipes on this blog but it’s always great to know!

  • Proper technique for peeling and cutting foods like pears and fennel.

  • How to cook caramel without a candy thermometer.

Breakfasts at Poilaine and Claus.

We woke up early to get a start on the day and so I loved our breakfasts in the quiet calm Paris mornings. One morning we went to Poilaine and the other morning we went to Claus. I loved them both for their simplicity, the fresh feeling you got when you walked in and the fact that they served a variety of egg dishes, which I was craving in the mornings. I love a good pastry, but I couldn’t live solely on these alone to get me through our busy Paris mornings.

L’As du Fallafel


L’As du Fallafel was not a place I would have typically thought to go to. However, it was on every single list that I received from my friends. So, after a morning of venturing through the Louvre and biking to the Arc de Triomphe we found ourselves outside this little dive. There will probably be a line out the door when you go, but don’t worry. They are extremely efficient at getting people in and the service is fast (but somehow doesn’t make the diner feel rushed at all). We waited in line for maybe 7 minutes and were seated. I got the “special” falafel, which was basically roasted veggies, slaw in a tahini dressing and falafel all stuffed into a light and fluffy pita. I can’t remember what Kyle got, but he found it equally scrumptious. Definitely make a stop here if you find yourself in the Jewish Quarter in Le Marais on your next trip to Paris!

Le Petit Chatelet

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We had not intended to stop at La Petit Chatelet. We were actually at the bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, next door and, after getting lost in all of the new and very old books, realized we needed to eat before moving on to Notre Dame and Versailles. Le Petit Chatelet was right next door and we were able to snag an outside table that gave us a view of Notre Dame. While dining we got to chat with the gentleman sitting next to us. He was from Germany but in Paris for the weekend. He asked us lots of questions about Texas but also told us about all of his favorite things about Paris. For our menu selections, we were grabbing lunch so late we decided to split some of the salads. The melon in Paris is so juicy and delightful. I really don’t care for cantaloupe in the states, but here it was absolutely delicious! We enjoyed the ham and melon salad (topped with fresh basil of course) and the tomato and mozzarella salad. Both tasted so fresh and were bursting with flavor. Paired with a glass of rose, it was the perfect low-key lunch.


I seriously cannot say enough wonderful things about the Louberon area. It was incredible and I would recommend anyone stay here on a trip to France. We stayed in a town called Saint Saturnin Les Apt. Our Bed and Breakfast called, Le Mas Perreal, was a house set on a vineyard with towns only five to fifteen minutes away. I think my favorite breakfasts of the entire trip were served here at our Bed & Breakfast. Breakfasts consisted of incredible croissants and homemade jams, a fresh banana smoothie, bowls of fresh melon drizzled with plain yogurt, fresh banana pancakes, and a homemade quiche lorraine. And the view could not have been better. Sitting there, savoring the wonderful meal and sipping my coffee while chatting with Kyle was the most refreshing part of my day.

You could also be really active here. Both mornings I took a jog along the back roads that wound throughout the different vineyards. Kyle went to a nearby town to rent a bike and spent one of the days cycling through the countryside, stopping for lunch along the way.

Les Voyageurs


This was our favorite dinner spot. It was INCREDIBLE. Kyle and I both agreed that it was our number one dinner over our entire trip. This establishment is owned by a woman and her husband. He does all the cooking while she serves and chats with the customers (all in French of course. I don’t think anyone spoke English at this restaurant). It’s cozy, it’s elegant, it’s delicious. You must go!

If we make a trip back to France, I hope that we can come back here to stay in this Bed and Breakfast and eat at this incredible restaurant.

So, those are my most memorable dining experiences in France. If you ever make a trip, I hope you get to stop in at least one of these! And, if you didn’t feel like reading that entire post, I hope you at least leave the page with this….

My top 5 favorite dining experiences:

  1. Les Voyageurs.

  2. Le Papilles

  3. Breakfast at Le Mas Perreal, our Bed & Breakfast in Saint Saturnin.

  4. Le Poulbot

  5. L’As du Fallafel

Happy travels and happy fueling!


A Favorite Dallas Italian Restaurant: Dal Testardo

Hi friends!  Today under my "Favorites" I want to share with you the best little Italian Restaurant that I found last weekend!  It's a little family - owned place called Dal Testardo.  My dad and I went this past weekend to meet some Memphis friends who now live in the area and  love this place so much they go almost weekly.  One thing to know about me and my family is that we LOVE Italian food.  I'm going to say that it has something to do with being born and raised in Memphis, where small but exceptional Italian restaurants are pretty plentiful.  When I came to Dallas, I was surprised at the limited Italian options that this city holds.  I know that Dallas has some high - end Italian, but what I love the most are the small, quaint and comfy spots, where you get to know the owners and the servers and it feels like you're stepping into a good friend's home at every visit.  Anyone else know this feeling?



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There is nothing fancy about the outside appearance of this eatery.  It's a simple place with a simple sign in a very simple shopping center off of Arapaho road.  On pulling up to the restaurant, you may get the idea that this place is fairly plain.  While I was acutely aware of the simplistic exterior, I, at the same time, had a feeling that this was really a hidden gem.  My feelings were confirmed as soon as I walked in the door.  We were greeted with the warmest smile and shown to our table.  The company was a mix of couples on date nights and families eating with their children sporting soccer jerseys and cleats.  It was the perfect kind of quiet - the kind where the soft buzz of surrounding conversations makes you feel like you're not dining alone; yet, you can still hear those sitting at your table with no yelling or raised voices required.



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Everyone's food was absolutely delicious!    I ordered one of their specials, the mushroom ravioli with bolognese sauce.  My dad got one of their other specials, which actually was like a beef stroganoff and one of our friends got the salmon.  Everyone at the table was giving everyone else a bite of their meal as if trying to convince them that their meal was the best.  Each dish was so different and deliciously satisfying.  Each menu item is prepared fresh each day and you can tell.  I can't wait to come back here with my husband.  We are always looking for fun new date spots!

Oh!  And it's BYOB.  So, grab your date or your friends or your family and your favorite bottle of wine and stop in for dinner.  Whether you order a special, a regular item, fish or pasta, I'm sure you're going to leave happy.



A restaurant can have delicious food, but if the service or the attitude of those helping you is bad, you can bet I will not return.  The service here was wonderful.  We were greeted warmly and taken to our table.  Our waiter was so fun and friendly and didn't make any comments about having to repeat the specials to my dad like four times (At that point I probably wouldn't have been offended if he had, ha).  By the end of the night we were joking and laughing with him and it was so much fun.  Our friends knew the owner, Tammy, and so we got to meet her and talk with her a bit.  She was super friendly, accommodating and professional.  I watched her walk around and personally talk with many of the tables to see how everything was going, if the diners were comfortable, how the food was, etc.  I liked getting to talk with Tammy.  She and her husband opened this restaurant about a year and a half ago.  He is from Italy and is actually the chef.



The crazy thing is that I posted about this place on my Instagram Stories that night and got a handful of DMs from friends saying how much they loved this spot and that it's their favorite date night place.  So, half of you reading this may already know all about this place!  I can't believe I'm just discovering it.  I'm certainly going back and I hope you make a trip as well!  

To sum it up...

  • Dress up or go casual - either way works!

  • Bring your date or bring you kids; everyone seems to have a place.

  • BYOB - they don't serve alcohol but you can bring your own!

  • They have delicious pasta.

  • But for you non-pasta eaters, their salmon was also fantastic.

  • Make reservations if it's a weekend. I heard they get really full on Fridays & Saturdays.


Happy Fueling!


Cookbooks I'm Currently Loving


I think it might be safe to say that I am officially a collector of cookbooks.  I wouldn't say this is as much by choice as it is the fact that my friends and family all know how much I love cooking and so that seems to be the most frequent gift I receive for holidays, Birthdays, etc.  I'm not complaining in the slightest, though, because I do love getting them.  Each book has its own flare, its own twist on a recipe, and with each new book I get new ideas and new excitement to try something new.  

I don't go to many cooking classes and I never went to culinary school, although I did debate about going to culinary school before completing a dietetic internship.  Anyway, with that said, I don't have that official training, but what I do have is a history of experience.  I've always taken on new recipes, as easy or as difficult as they may have been, with a curious excitement and a small pinch of determination - almost like I was facing a new challenge or mastering a new skill in a sport.  Sometimes a recipe would fail and sometimes it would turn out perfectly.  But that's the thing about cooking.  Just like trying to master a new skill, technique or element in a sport or trying to find the solution to a problem at work, even when you fail or hit a dead end, you still learn from that.  You learn what NOT to do and sometimes that is more memorable than when you do something the right way.  So, without culinary school in my foreseeable future, I'll continue to cook from my cookbooks, trying new flavors and techniques and learning as I go.  

With that said I have received some great cookbooks lately.  When I'm not creating my own recipes, I'm learning and drawing inspiration from some of these other books.  Today I'm giving you a list of them so that you have a place to turn to if you ever need new ideas or inspiration.  I enjoy them for unique reasons.  However, I think the common thread is that they contain some fairly simple recipes that don't take a ton of time to prepare and, at the same time, are full of flavor because they use lots of fresh herbs and spices.  So here you go, in no particular order,...

My Favorite Go-To Cookbooks During This Season of Life


Love Real Food, by Kathryne Taylor

This has been my most recent cookbook received.  I got it from a friend for my Birthday this year and am loving it.  Yes, it's all vegetarian recipes, but you can easily add meat or fish to any of the dishes if you would like.  If you've been following me on Instagram, you know I've been making a lot of her dishes lately.  So far they are full of flavor and packed with great vegetables.  Some nights my husband and I will have it vegetarian as is and then the next night we'll incorporate the leftovers with grilled chicken, beef or fish.

Some of my favorites?  Her Burrito Bowls,  Roasted Cauliflower, Farro & Arugula Salad w/ Lemony Tahini,  Guacamole with Toasted Pepitas & Chipotles Sauce

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The Sprouted Kitchen, by Sara Forte

Another gift from a friend, this has some yummy and unique recipes.  I've still got a ways to go, but this book is always in the mix when planning out or getting inspiration for meals in upcoming weeks.

Some of my favorites?  Her Green Herb Shrimp with Summer Squash Couscous, Soba Bowls with Tea-Poached Salmon, and Creamy Millet with Roasted Portobellos

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The Yellow Table, by Anna Watson Carl

This book is fairly new, but has already become a go-to for repeated recipes or for new ones.  Not only am I loving the food, but I also love her story that goes along with it.  Still working through this one as well, but so far I have found a few staples from here that I still put on the menu when I know the week will be crazy.

Some of my favorites?  Her Apricot-Dijon Baked Chicken, Tuscan White Bean Soup with Swiss Chard, Red Quinoa Salad w/ Butternut Squash & Spinach, Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille

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So Easy, by Ellie Krieger

When I tell people about this cookbook it always starts something like, "This got me through grad school".  Often I would get home around 7:00 and be able to throw one of her recipes here together in 30 minutes.  And they were always so good and seriously so easy!  I tested them on my family all the time and had approval from the men and women alike.  I think it looks like my most loved cookbook off the shelf - pages torn, sauce splatters, and, of course, lots of hand-written notes about each of the recipes :)

Some of my favorites?  Her Tomatoe Shrimp & Orzo, Roast Tenderloin with Grainy Mustard, Porcini Crusted Filet Mignon (made this filet for Kyle for his birthday and he LOVED it too)

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The Food You Crave, by Ellie Krieger

This was one of the first cookbooks I started using at the beginning of grad school / my dietetic internship.  She has some dishes here that I still turn to when entertaining or just cooking for myself and my husband.  I've had the book since 2008 and love it even more now that it has all of my notes on pages from meals past - what we loved about a dish and what we would do differently the next time.

Some of my favorites?  Her Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary, Chocolate and Wine Sauce, Fettuccine with Creamy Red Pepper Sauce, Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs.

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Cook Like a Pro, by Ina Garten

Ok, so I might be getting ahead of myself here because this cookbook hasn't actually come out yet.  However, I LOVE her Cook Like a Pro segment on the Food Network and I'm going to see her on her book tour when she comes to Dallas.  I think this is the segment where I found the salmon tacos I make.  She keeps things simple and does a lot of explaining in these episodes.  I can't wait for this one!

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What cookbooks are you currently loving??  I'd love to know!  Always looking for new ideas...

Happy Fueling!


Taylored Pantry: Veggies

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Hello friends!  In the last post we covered fruits so it only seems fitting for this week to cover veggies!  If I were to say anything about vegetables I think my biggest point would be that flavor and texture all depends on how you cook them.  I have worked with so many clients who came in telling me they "hated" vegetables.  I was quick to discover that they thought they hated vegetable because they didn't know how to cook them!  They just ate everything steamed with no seasoning or they ate them raw (yikes!).  While some veggies are just fine steamed or in their raw crunchy crispy state, many are in great need of a little TLC.  But the great thing is that it doesn't even take that much to spruce them up.  Simply roasting them in the oven with a little salt, pepper and EVOO can do wonders.  And don't even get me started on their flavors when roasted or sauteed with other flavors like onions, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar-  the list goes on.

Just like fruits and grains, I have a go-to list for veggies.  These are my choices b/c I can do so many things with them.  I can buy them even when I don't have a plan yet and I know they will be used and will make something delicious.  These veggies can be used as side dishes, in soups, in pastas, on hot or cold sandwiches, scrambled with eggs, you name it.  And it just so happens that many of these veggies were used or will be used in my recipes this week!

SO, here is this week's Taylored Pantry Top 10 - VEGGIES.   I hope it gives you info and ideas to simplify your shopping AND your recipes in the coming weeks and year.



Benefits of Veggies:  Veggies are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, water, antioxidants and other fueling, beneficial compounds.  I always say to vary your veggies and especially vary the colors because the different colored veggies contain different nutrients!  For example, orange and yellow veggies tend to be higher in beta-carotene, red veggies contain higher amounts of lycopene, and yellow and green veggies tend to contain higher amount of lutein.  To read more details on the relationship between colors and nutrients there is a nice article in Today's Dietitian.


    • Uses: steam and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese | roast in the oven with olive oil salt & pepper | saute over the stove in your stir fry | add to pasta | use in omelets | serve in sweet potato bowls | add to soups | roast with cherry tomatoes in the oven and top homemade pizzas

    • To Know: High in folate, vitamin C, fiber, fluid, potassium & vitamin K


    • Uses: saute in a skillet | roast in the oven | add to pasta | add to grilled sandwiches and paninis | top homemade flatbreads | toss into soups | incorporate into a casserole | slice into large matchsticks and serve with hummus or other dip on a crudite plate | cut it in half lengthwise, remove the seed core and stuff with your favorite ingredients

    • To Know: high in fiber, vitamin A, potassium & vitamin C


    • Uses: saute on the skillet | roast in the oven (I love quartering baby bella mushrooms, roasting them in the oven and then adding to pastas or sweet potato bowls or egg scrambles b/c it adds a little depth to the dish and gives the dish a little bit of a heartier feel) | add to pizzas | add to pasta sauces | slice portable mushrooms, grill them on a grill pan or grill for a grilled portobello mushroom panini (yum!)

    • To Know: high in potassium, selenium & copper (some), B vitamins - niacin, riboflavin & pantothenic acid, excellent source of vitamin D if exposed to ultraviolet light before or after processing


    • Uses: serve raw as a snack (alone or with hummus / dip) - these are so sweet and juicy they can stand alone! | saute and add to fajitas, pasta, pizzas, grilled sandwiches | growing up, mom always added these to a bunch of onion, asparagus or brussels sprouts, and mushrooms and roasted them in the oven for a vegetables medley side dish at dinner (it's super quick & easy but really delicious!) | slice them in half, remove the "ribs" or core (with all the seeds), and stuff with quinoa, ground beef / turkey, diced veggies, cheese, etc.

    • To Know: vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, potassium, beta-carotene, fiber


    • Uses: steam | roast with olive oil, salt & pepper in a 475 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 30 - 45 minutes | serve as a side dish | add to veggie bowls | dice them and shred them (so that all the little leaves are separated) and turn into a brussels sprout salad!

    • To Know: vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, folic acid, potassium, B vitamins, a little iron

  6. ONION

    • Uses: onion adds flavor to EVERYTHING! Onions should always be in your pantry. I prefer the white or sweet onions, but sometimes a recipe just needs a red onion. I use these as my base of most dishes. I typically saute although you can also roast in the oven. I love to saute sliced onions and watch them caramelize in the pan, turning from bitter and biting to soft and sweet. Top a grilled chicken or beef | add to a grilled sandwich (delicious on a flank steak sandwich or the pita I'm going to make this week!) | top pizzas | add to pasta sauce | add to rice / couscous mixes

    • To Know: fiber | vitamin C | a member of the allium family which may help reduce risks of stomach and GI cancer | contain fructans that may "boost immunity", improve bowel functioning & aid in the absorption of minerals.


    • Uses: salads | sandwiches | pasta | omelets, egg scrambles, & egg cups | soups | throw into smoothies

    • To Know: vitamin A | vitamin C | vitamin K | potassium | fiber | kale, spinach & turnip greens are high in lutein | for more info on leafy greens, their nutrition profile and ideas of ways to use them check out this article from food&!


    • Uses: snacks with dip like hummus | dice onto salads | roasting these in the oven gives them a deeper, richer sweeter flavor - so good | add them to a crockpot with beef, onions, and potatoes for a hearty winter beef stew

    • To Know: beta - carotene (pre-cursor to vitamin A) | vitamin A | fiber |


    • Uses: steam | saute | roast | toss cooked beans with olive oil and lemon, balsamic, or dijon, etc. and a fresh herb like dill or basil for a side dish | add to soups & stews | throw into summer stir-fries

    • To Know: vitamin A | vitamin C | vitamin K | folate | Manganese


    • Uses: roast whole in the oven, slice open and top with beans, feta, and spinach for a heartier baked sweet potato | dice raw potato into small squares, toss with olive oil & other desired seasonings and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes, stirring halfway through | serve as a diced sweet potato side dish, create a sweet potato bowl | serve with eggs as a sweet potato hash | cut raw potato lengthwise into "wedges" or "fries" and bake in the oven for oven baked sweet potato fries | add to soups and stews as a replacement for white potatoes | bake, mash and whip for a delicious sweet potato side!

    • To Know: vitamin A | vitamin B6 | Pantothenic Acid | Potassium | Copper | Manganese

Taylored Pantry: Top Ten Fruits

Fruit Staples - fruit bowl.JPG

Hello again!  It's another week and so another look into my pantry staples.  Today I'm giving you insight into one of my faaaavorite go-to's - fruits!  I seriously love fruit.  I have to give myself a limit before walking into the store or else I will get over zealous and buy too much!  I think most of my friends out there can attest to how much I am a fan.  Growing up I always had fruit in my lunches and mom would always slice fresh fruit and leave it on the counter for me and my friends.  During college it was always present in the fridge, whether dorm life or our super fun house.  Today I always have two or three varieties in my fridge, freezer or on the counter ready to throw into dishes when cooking or to grab as a snack as I head out the door.

Now, I know why I have fruits in MY kitchen- but why should YOU have fruits in yours?  What can you do with them? When pressed for time, which ones can you quickly grab and know that, while you don't have a plan in mind yet, the fruits you choose will still get used at some point that week?

There are many ways you can think through this, but I thought I would start off with a little insight into my thinking and how I come up with my list for the week.


First I do a quick survey of my week, asking myself a number of questions...

  1. What will my schedule be like this week?

  2. How many days will I need to bring a lunch?

  3. How many nights will I be cooking my own dinner?

  4. Do I have any breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings?

  5. What, if any, fruits do I already have in my pantry / fridge / freezer?

Then, once I have determined the answers to those, I ask...

  1. What do I have in my pantry for breakfast? Will I want to pair fruit with it?

  2. Is there any meal I want to make this week that includes fruit in it (for example, my cherry nut butter bars, a turkey, pear, and brie panini, a salad with sweet juicy sliced strawberries, or a chicken salad that incorporates plump red seedless grapes)?

  3. How many lunches will I be bringing this week? I always like including a fruit with lunch.

And when answering these questions I also keep the current season in mind.  Is it June at a time when those summer berries are at their sweetest and juciest?  Or is it November when those fall fruits like apples and pears are at their prime?

These are questions that can be asked as you sit and create your grocery list or as you're walking into the store.  Whether I have had some time to meal plan or I'm simply maximizing the 20 minutes I have between meetings, errands, planning, and, of course, fun things one or more of the following fruits usually makes it into my grocery cart.

SO, here is this week's Taylored Pantry Top 10 - FRUITS.   I hope it gives you info and ideas to simplify your shopping this coming week and this year!

Oh - and please leave a comment if you have great ideas using any of these or other fruits.  I would love to hear about them and am always looking for new ideas!

Happy Fueling!



Benefits of Fruits:  Fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, many of these acting as antioxidants.  Fruits are typically high in vitamin C, can be great sources of carotenoids like beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene (help support healthy eyes and vision and can be converted to vitamin A in the body), and potassium just to name a few fantastic nutritional benefits.  PLUS, did you realize that fruits are another way we can increase our fluid intake?!  Fruits are about 90% water and so can add to our hydration plan - definitely something to consider for athletes out there who have trouble getting enough fluids throughout the day.  


    • Uses: snacks on their own | top cold or hot cereal or yogurt | slice onto peanut butter toast | use in breads when baking to add moisture when removing butter and high fat ingredients | spread with nut or seed butter for a simple snack | create a sweet snack by topping a vanilla wafer with peanut butter and a banana slice | freeze and use later for smoothies | great nutritious way to thicken smoothies & desserts.

    • To Know: High in potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fiber | potassium can help manage blood pressure and proper nerve & muscle communication. It can also reduce the risk of bone loss as we age | vitamin C promotes healthy joints, skin, hair & a healthy immune system by helping the body build collagen & protecting against infection & cell damage | vitamin B6 helps the body maintain a steady metabolism, produce energy, and fight disease & infection.


    • Uses: snacks on their own | cheese & grape skewers | add to spinach salads | add to chicken salads | roast them | freeze them for frozen bite - size treats.

    • To Know: high in fiber, water & anthocyanins | anthocyanins are compounds with antioxidant properties that may help reduce one's risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and cognitive decline (find more info on anthocyanins in Today's Dietitian:


    • Uses: Topping to ice cream or frozen yogurt | add to baked crumbles | mix into warm oatmeal topped with cinnamon and a dab of honey | mix into plain or vanilla yogurt & top with granola for a breakfast parfait (the blueberries melt into the yogurt & disperse the blueberry juice goodness throughout the yogurt, mmm) | throw into pancake or waffle batter for Saturday blueberry pancakes or waffles | throw into breakfast breads and muffins | throw into a smoothie.

    • To Know: excellent source of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium & folate | fiber helps keep you full, promotes a healthy GI system and can help lower cholesterol | vitamin A helps build a strong immune system, is critical to good vision, and is important for healthy functioning organs like the heart, lungs, and kidneys | folate is important for cell division, the assembly of DNA and other genetic material and it helps prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy.


    • Uses: Snack on their own | slice and dip in peanut butter or serve with cheese slices | slice and top salads | dice & incorporate into chicken salads | cut in half, peel & core, fill with cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar and a smidgen of butter and bake in the oven for a heavenly dessert | add to rolled oats when cooking oatmeal over the stove and let simmer with the oats as they cook | sauté in the skillet with some cinnamon & lemon juice and top peanut butter toast (my own recipe coming soon!).

    • To Know: great sources of vitamin C and fiber.


    • Uses: Eat on their own | top salads (grilled or fresh) | top cold or hot cereal | blend pears into a delicious salad dressing (another recipe coming to the blog soon!), bake or caramelize in a skillet and top with ice cream or frozen yogurt | add sliced pears to sandwiches and grilled paninis.

    • To Know: I say "or" here because pears are a fall / winter fruit and peaches are a summer fruit. Therefore, peaches are my go - to's in the summer months while pears are my go-to's in the fall and winter months | Pears are good sources of fluid, fiber, vitamin C, and contain some potassium!


    • Uses: serve with hummus or other dip for a simple snack | roast in the oven for about 8 minutes until bursting and add to pastas, stir fries, pizzas, toast, you name it! I will roast these at the beginning of the week and use them in anything I can throughout the week! | add to cottage cheese for a protein and nutrient - packed snack | slice and combine with cubed fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and drizzles of good extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar for a wonderful Caprese salad | Add to salads & sandwiches.

    • To Know: The lycopene content of tomatoes becomes more available to the body when cooked! So go ahead and roast those tomatoes! Ellie Krieger (one of my FAVORITE RD's and chefs) has an interesting article on tomato facts that you can find here .


    • Uses: one of my go-to pre-run or pre-workout snacks b/c such a quick source of energy | great for car & plane snacks when traveling (no apple core to throw our or juice dripping everywhere!).

    • To Know: figs are a great travel snack and a quick source of carbohydrate plus fiber, potassium, calcium, iron, & vitamin K. | iron plays a key role in oxygen transport, enabling our red blood cells to transport oxygen to all of our tissues (such as skin & muscles) | vitamin K plays an important factor in helping our blood clot.


    • Uses: quick snacks before a workout | top salads | add to warm oatmeal | add to homemade granola bar mixes | throw in a baggie with cereal and some nuts for a touch of sweetness in a trail mix.

    • To Know: Cherries are a great source of fiber, carbohydrate, potassium & vitamin A. On a bit of a different note, recent studies are also finding that tart cherry juice may have benefits on heart health, fighting inflammation from disease, and aiding in post - exercise recovery.


    • Uses: add to homemade salad dressings | add to salads and sauces | flavor beverages | squeeze a little on diced fruit to keep from turing brown as quickly | incorporate into vegetable dishes (for example: squeezing over broccoli or asparagus after cooked) | squeeze over baked or grilled salmon or other fish | zest some of the peel into cookies, cakes or breads.

    • To Know: citrus fruit full of vitamin C!

  10. LIMES

    • Uses: flavor beverages | squeeze a little juice over diced avocado to keep it from turning brown | squeeze into soups like Chicken Tortilla for an added element - it's delicious!

    • To Know: citrus fruit full of vitamin C!



Taylored Pantry: Top Ten Grains

Taylored Pantry Top 10's GRAIN.JPG

This year I will be doing different segments on the blog.  There will be various recipes, which I will label as my "Kitchen Concoctions", both those that are crazy simple and those that are a bit more in depth, there will be nutrition information in my "Fun Food Facts" segments and there will be what I will call "Quick Picks", which will range from restaurant finds to grocery list picks.

TODAY, to kick things off, I'm going to introduce my first segment of Quick Picks that I'll be doing to kick of 2017, which I'm calling my Taylored Pantry Top 10's.  In 2016 one of my most frequent requests from clients, friends and busy moms and dads was, "Can you just send me a list of the things I should grab at the store to whip up something quick and healthy?".  Some people simply needed to know what to buy and then they could take it from there.  I realized that, for some, the thought alone of entering the grocery store was overwhelming and so was their biggest obstacle to getting healthy food choices in the home (and thus into work and school lunches).   So, I will be sharing with you a different Top 10 list each week for the next 4 to 5 weeks.  My hope is that it gives you ideas, information and understanding as you enter into this new year and makes it so that on days you are pressed for time, you can run into the store and quickly pick out items to get breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table or in the lunchbox that week!  

I will start my Taylored Pantry Top 10's with GRAINS These are the grains that I typically have on-hand in my pantry to help throw together a quick and healthier breakfast, lunch or dinner any day of the week.  I do not always have all 10 but I usually have about 4 or 5 and I switch it up to keep meals from getting monotonous.  These typically keep pretty well so that I can use them right away for a planned recipe or I can store them and pull them out when in a bind.  Also, please note, I am not working with any of the following brands; these are strictly my preferences based off of experience and label and ingredient reviews.  Other dietitians may have a different Top 10, but here is what has and continues to work for me and for clients that I have worked with in the past.

Happy Fueling!



Taylored Pantry Top 10:  GRAINS  

Benefits of Grains:  Whole grains are a must for my pantry.  They add fiber, a little protein and complex carbohydrate, along with iron, folate, magnesium and a myriad of other nutrients.  They help keep me fueled for long days, help me recover after intense workouts, and keep me full for days I'm just feeling extra hungry.  Grab some grains and make them a part of your pantry....


    • Uses: Oatmeal for breakfast or a snacks | include it in homemade granola bars | include it in homemade cookies | add to casseroles.

    • My Picks: I usually grab my oats from the bulk bin at the grocery store. You can get as much or as little as you want and it is SUPER friendly on the wallet.

  2. WHOLE GRAIN CEREAL (maybe 2 varieties - 1 natural & 1 regular)

    • Uses: Easy breakfast served with low-fat milk or yogurt | throw it in a baggie for a snacks on the go | include it in a homemade trail mix.

    • My Picks: Barbara's brand Morning Oat Crunch (Original variety) & Spoonfuls (fiber + protein + lower sugar content = winning combo!). I also love basic plain Cheerios and Quaker Oatmeal Squares (again, fiber + protein + lower in sugar)

    • To Know: Many times "Natural" cereals are low in iron because nothing is added to them / they are not fortified during processing (Example: Quaker Oatmeal Squares contains about 90% daily iron needs while Barbara's Morning Oat Crunch only contains about 10%). If iron is a concern for you, and your favorite cereals are labeled "natural" (which, be careful - that does NOT mean healthier), you may want to alternate between your favorite "natural" cereal and a regular cereal, mix the two, or switch over completely. And don't forget to include a source of vitamin C with it (orange juice, strawberries, etc.) for optimal iron absorption!


    • Uses: Toast in the morning | avocado toast any time :) | sandwiches for lunch or dinner | egg breakfast sandwiches | croutons for salads (once it is a little stale) | French toast | freeze it for later use!

    • My Picks: I love the whole grain bread by Dave's Killer bread and Central Market's Chia & Flax Seed bread. The hearty quality and all of the seeds in the bread give it a deep, hearty, nutty flavor when toasted, mmmmmm.

    • To Know: Make sure the first ingredient in the Ingredient List says "whole wheat" or "whole grain". Don't just go off of what it says on the front of the package.


    • Uses: So many possibilities! Stuff the pita with your favorite sandwich fixings and wrap up for lunch at school, work or on the go | eat it cold or grill it in a panini press for a quick hot dinner sandwich | stuff with scrambled eggs & cheese for a quick breakfast on the go | cut into triangles, drizzle with a teaspoon or two of olive oil and bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 8 to 10 minutes for your own baked pita chips | use a whole pita as a pizza crust for individual pizzas and top with marinara and fun toppings before baking in the oven!

    • My Picks: I really don't have a "go-to" for pita bread. As long as "whole - wheat flour" is that first ingredient, I am good. Regarding flatbreads & wraps I tend to like the Flat-out flatbread products. They have a good texture, good flavor and they work well as wraps and flatbread (I use them for my turkey lime avocado wrap - recipe coming soon to the blog).


    • Uses: Morning hot cereal (quinoa) | the base of a cold lunch salad bowl | a complement to dinner (add in various ingredients like pine nuts, spinach & feta or sun dried tomatoes) | an ingredient in soups & stews.

    • My Picks: I also like to get these from the bulk bins at the grocery store. I can get just what I need and it is usually more budget friendly.


    • Uses: An easy snack | pair with peanut butter, hummus, or cheese | serve with soup | eat them on their own.

    • My Picks: I usually go for Kashi's 7 Grain crackers but I also like Crunchmaster's original crackers (which are gluten - free for those with a gluten allergy or sensitivity) and Mary's Gone Crackers.


    • Uses: An easy pasta night (play with the ingredients like marinara sauce or fresh roasted tomatoes & basil or a little lemon, olive oil and capers, yum!) | incorporate into macaroni & cheese | create a cold pasta salad.

    • To Know: Whole - wheat pasta can be tougher than white refined pasta. Try to cook your whole - wheat pasta a bit longer to better reach your desired texture.


    • Uses: Great snack any time | buy it plain and add your own flavors like grated Parmesan, cinnamon, chili powder, etc. | 3 cups = 1 serving so you get a lot more per serving than a snack of potato chips!


    • Uses: Easy topping for yogurt in the morning or afternoon snack | topping for ice cream or frozen yogurt (yep, I said ice cream!) | add into unsweetened cereal for a little bite of sweetness.

    • My Picks: My favorite store-bought is KIND Cinnamon Oat Clusters with Flax Seed and I also love making my own when I have time either using the recipe a friend of mine gave me or using the Pumpkin Spice Granola recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte

    • To Know: a lot of granolas are higher in sugar and are more calorie dense. I found this one to be a good compromise between nutrition and taste. But as with all granolas, remember to watch your portions. Serving sizes are typically smaller for granola than the average dry cereal.


    • Uses: Fun breakfast for kids ( and adults), you can top with nut butter, fruit, yogurt, or honey. In a youth (grades K - 5) nutrition & fitness program I have been involved in over the last 3 to 4 years, one of the recipes the kids make is called a "wafflewich". It is a regular whole - wheat waffle topped with vanilla yogurt, fresh fruit, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and then topped with another waffle (if desired) to create a waffle sandwich. The kids love it - it has been a hit every year!