side dishes

My Go-To Hearty Kale Salad

If you have been following along lately, you know that I have been throwing together a lot of salads. They are just so quick and easy and versatile. You can throw anything in them and run out the door. And, I’m not one that can always go out to lunch, so it’s great to have this ready to go at work. I always include one or two things with it, like an apple or a yogurt, or a granola bar or crackers and hummus, but this salad really helps satisfy me and keep me energized for the rest of my day.


To me it’s hard to prep salads ahead of time because so many of the lettuces like spinach and mixed greens can get wilty (is that a word? I’m goin’ with it) really quickly. The great thing about kale is that I can go ahead and wash it, chop it and throw it in a bowl, or put together and dress my salad completely and it will still be good in a couple of days! For all of these reasons, I have been loving this kale salad. This is the variety I typically make but I put a few other varieties at the end of this post. You can either prep the greens and toppings and store separately, allowing for more variety during the week or go ahead and throw it all together in one large bowl! When I use this creamy tahini caesar (which I tell you in my post is by Cookie & Kate) I usually store it separately. If using a balsamic or some sort of vinaigrette, I’ll often go ahead and massage the dressing into the kale. It helps break it down a little bit so it is not so tough when it’s time to enjoy it.

Today I’m sharing this tasty, fueling and satisfying go-to salad with you. I hope you enjoy!

Happy Fueling!


My Go-To Kale Salad with Creamy Tahini Caesar Dressing

Makes about 4 entree-salads (if using about 2 1/2 cups per salad)


  • 2 Balsamic Roasted Portobello mushrooms (recipe and 3 ingredients in this post)

  • 1 batch of Tahini Caesar Dressing (recipe & ingredients in this post, original recipe by Cookie & Kate)

  • 7 cups chopped Lacinato kale (about 1 bunch)

  • 5 cups lightly packed Romaine lettuce

  • One 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional but I LOVE adding these!)


  1. Preheat oven and roast mushrooms according to directions linked above.

  2. While the mushrooms roast, whisk together the ingredients for the Tahini Caesar dressing in a small bowl (recipe linked above). Keep in the bowl or pour into a small mason jar (or other airtight container) to store and use throughout the week.

  3. Add the pumpkin seeds to a small skillet and heat on medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes until the seeds begin to “pop”, brown and you start to smell their rich nuttiness. Yum! You don’t need to add any oil to the skillet because seeds naturally contain oil that will start to come out as the seeds begin to heat up.

  4. Add the kale, romaine, chickpeas, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, roasted chopped portobello mushrooms and pumpkin seeds to a large mixing bowl and toss together with tongs or salad spoons to incorporate all ingredients.

  5. Store the salad and dressing in the refrigerator separately to use throughout the week. Or, if serving for a group immediately, add dressing to the salad and toss until all well-combined. I would start with about 1/4 cup of dressing and toss all together. Add more dressing as needed or let your guests add it separately at the table!

  6. Enjoy!

Nutrition Notes:

Kale: Did you know kale is a non-dairy source of calcium?! I try to incorporate it into any of my athletes meals that don’t eat dairy but will eat kale (that’s not often, ha, but I’ll take it when I can!) This leafy green also contains, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese.

Tomatoes: vitamin C, lycopene, fluid, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium

Chickpeas: protein, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folate, copper, manganese

Pumpkin Seeds: protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats & some omega 3’s, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc

Tahini: protein, thiamin, phosphorus, monounsaturated fats and some omega 3’s, copper, manganese

Kale Tahini Ceasear_Dressed.JPG

Jazzed Up Mac & Cheese Cups


Hello! How is everyone’s week going? Mine has been quite packed, but the good kind of packed that keeps you on your toes and keeps you thinking. So much going on in January in the world of Wellness and I’m also staying pretty busy with sports nutrition items as well.

Today, however, oh my gosh, I’m excited to finally get to share with you one of my newer recipes, these jazzed up mac and cheese cups.. This is one of my favorite recipes yet. It’s so savory and cheesy and easy to eat. It’s basically mac & cheese with a few surprise ingredients in a cup! And a bonus - made with milk and cheese, each cup packs in some calcium, which we know everyone needs, especially the young growing athlete. I actually created these about a year ago, but it took me a few times to get the recipe just the way I wanted it and then I, of course, had to have friends and family give them a try and earn their stamp of approval. You can prep these ahead and then store them in the fridge until you are ready to bake which, if you know my recipes, you know I love. They also store and reheat nicely, which is great because the recipe makes 12. I store them in a big airtight container or wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. They can be an easy option to take to school or work or enjoy as a late night dinner or post-practice snack. What makes them jazzed up? Well, I substitute some of the pasta for roasted cauliflower and add in sun dried tomatoes, which gives it a whole new level of deliciousness. And, honestly, you may not even realize it’s cauliflower in there if you are not paying attention. I seriously love these and I hope you do to! So, here you go, the recipe for my Jazzed Up Mac & Cheese Cups.

Happy Fueling!



Makes 12 cups


  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup macaroni noodles (will use 1 1/2 cups cooked)

  • Cooking Spray

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 tablespoon butter

  • 1 teaspoon flour

  • 1 1/4 cup 1% milk

  • 1 1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon creamy Dijon mustard

  • 1 whole egg, whisked

  • 1/2 cup rehydrated (according to package directions) and chopped sun dried tomatoes


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the chopped cauliflower with the olive oil and salt.


Spread cauliflower on lined baking sheet.

Roast cauliflower in preheated oven for 15 minutes, stir the cauliflower, and roast for 15 minutes more.

While the cauliflower cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil and, once boiling, add the macaroni, cooking about 7 to 8 minutes until tender. When done, drain the cooked macaroni into a large colander and set aside.

Once the cauliflower is cooked, remove from the oven and set aside.

Now, increase the heat of the oven to 425 degrees F.


Prep a 12-muffin tin (or two 6-muffin tins) by spraying lightly with cooking spray and then, using about 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese, sprinkle on the bottom of each muffin tin.


Heat the same large pot you used to cook the noodles in to medium heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of flour. Whisk for about 3 to 4 minutes, allowing the flour to cook and start to brown.

Add the milk, whisking slowly as you pour it in, and continue to cook, whisking occasionally, until the milk begins to warm almost coming to a simmer.

Add the cheese to the warm milk and whisk in until the cheese melts into the milk and the mix is smooth.

Take pot off the heat and add the Dijon and egg and stir to incorporate all ingredients together.

Add 1 1/2 cup of the cooked macaroni, the sun dried tomatoes, and the cauliflower to the pot and fold it into the cheese sauce.

Prepped_close-up_45 degrees.JPG

Spoon mac and cheese mixture into each muffin tin (about 1/4 cup mix per tin).

Bake in a preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove cooked mac and cheese cups from the oven, sprinkle tops of each with remaining 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese divided equally between every cup.

Turn oven to a broil and broil on low for about 1 to 2 minutes until the tops start to brown and crisp a little.

Remove cups from the oven.

Final_45 degrees_in tins.JPG

Allow to cool about 10 minutes so that the cups will keep their shape when you take them out of your tins. After they cool a little, I run a knife around the edges of each muffin tin to help get each mac and cheese cup out smoothly.

Serve immediately or store to enjoy later in the week!

Serve It Again!

As I mentioned earlier. Wrap each individually in foil or plastic wrap to pull out and take with you as a part of lunch. Or reheat them as an easy side with dinner another night of the week. OR grab one after an afternoon or evening practice as an easy source of protein, quality carbohydrate and calcium!


Just one of these scrumptious cups contains 210 mg of calcium!

Oven Burst Cherry Tomatoes


Hey there!  Question for you today - how often do you decide not to meal or ingredient prep for the week and instead pick up fast food or dine out because those "light" recipes you find in magazines are boring and bland or whatever you cook up is typically tasteless???

Well, today I may have a solution for you.  Today I'm sharing my Oven Burst Cherry Tomatoes.  I'm usually not so absolute but I mean it when I say these guys make pretty much any dish better (which is why, if you follow me on Instagram, you probably see these so often!) Even if you are not a tomato lover, I would at least give these a try.  Whether you roast or broil them, the cooking of these under high heat brings out their sweetness, replacing some of that strong acidity you usually find with raw tomatoes. 

I use this recipe to give depth and flavor to so many meals and snacks.  When added to less-seasoned dishes the tomatoes add bursts of sweetness and their juices gently permeate throughout, lending a totally new element to the dish.  I love roasting up a batch of these and keeping them in my fridge for the week.  They are the perfect addition to so many of my simpler dishes that I throw together between meetings or in the morning with my eggs. 

If you find yourself pressed for time during the week and those meals you throw together in minutes are usually bland and lacking, I highly recommend trying to add some of these sweet yet savory tomatoes to your dishes.  It's such a quick and simple way to add tons of flavor!

So here you go - the recipe for my Oven Burst Cherry Tomatoes.

Happy Fueling!





  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes

  • 2 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt ( I use a pinch - not a lot at all)

  • Optional - fresh or dried herbs, such as Italian Seasoning, thyme, rosemary, oregano



1.  Preheat a broiler on high.  

2.  Cover a small to medium - sized baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

3.  Rinse the tomatoes, pat dry, and add to a medium-sized mixing bowl.

4.  Add in 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) olive oil.

5.  Add in a pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon) and any herbs you choose to add (my go-to's are often about 2 teaspoons of Italian Seasoning or 1 tsp thyme + 1 tsp oregano, OR I keep it simple and just add the pinch of salt!)

6.  Stir all together with a rubber spatula until oil and salt is well dispersed over all tomatoes.


7. Spread tomatoes out on parchment - lined baking sheet.


8. Place your baking sheet in the preheated oven (broiler) and let cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring tomatoes at about 4 to 5 minutes for event cooking.


9. Tomatoes are done when they have all started to burst and the skins begin to blacken.

10. Add to dishes immediately or allow to cool and store in an air-tight container to use throughout the week!


Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C, lycopene, vitamin K and potassium!  Did you know that cooking the tomatoes makes their lycopene content stronger and more available to the body?!  And the vitamin C in the tomatoes helps our bodies absorb any non-meat source of iron (found in dark leafy greens, whole grains, and more).  A great thing to consider for you vegetarians and vegans out there!

Simple Slow Roasted Root Veggies


Hello there!  Today's recipe isn't a very complicated one.  It's actually one that I probably could have simply put in an Instagram post and called it a day.  However, in just the last month or so, this has already become a favorite and it is officially on my list of less stress, no fuss, prep it-leave it-love it recipes.  I would be excited to prepare this whether it's just me for dinner, if we have last-minute guests or if  I've had a month to plan.  

"Why?" might you ask?  Well, several reasons:

  1. It meets one of my Cardinal Rules of Cooking... have one item on the menu that can be thrown in the oven or left over the stove to cook for a while. I really like to have one item roasting in the oven when I'm preparing a meal. If you have one thing that can be thrown in the oven and left alone, it frees you up to take care of your more "high maintenance" meal items.

  2. Roasting veggies is a Game Changer. After being in the oven for 45 minutes, these carrots are soft and tender and caramelized and those pearl onions - well, to me, they basically taste like candy - so soft and sweet and caramelized like the carrots. They add pizzaz to any dish.

  3. They make great leftovers! This shouldn't be surprising coming from me at this point as most of my recipes can double as something else on any other day. Because these are heartier vegetables, I can pack up the remaining veggies, store them in the fridge and heat them up the next day. I've paired them with other veggies, chicken, chickpeas, crumbled cheese, you name it. It has been a good item to pack up and reheat for lunch at work or throw with a new protein on a different night of the week. Quick and simple and satisfying.

I actually got the idea from an episode of Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten (I soak up the Saturday mornings when I get a little time to watch these cooking shows - they both inspire and teach me).  She had a spotlight on one of her favorite chefs who was roasting tons of veggies and I knew I had to try some variation of what was featured.  While all of those veggies looked delicious, I decided to keep it simple and stick with two or three staples that would then allow me to throw in some extra veggies at the end.  

I've always been intrigued by those mini organic carrots at the store (not the baby carrots, but the ones that look like smaller regular carrots, right out of the ground).  I also LOVE onions when they are roasted.  If you have never had them before - you HAVE to try it.  Seriously a game changer.  Roasting onions softens them and makes them wonderfully sweet and earthy.  That's pretty much my base.  And then I have the liberty to add any other veggies to it.  This last particular time I roasted broccolini separately because it doesn't take as long to cook (I have a double oven so that's helpful).  I threw them in a preheated oven when there was about 15 minutes left on the carrots & onions and then threw them all together on the skillet once they were done (which you'll see in the pics below).

The perfect side dish for many different entrees, PLUS they reheat well for veggie bowls (with chicken / beans / tofu / etc.) another day or night that week.  Oh, and my favorite part of the evening when I served these?  When my husband said, "You know, you have really gotten me to like a lot of vegetables - vegetables that I didn't think I ever liked".  Win!

So, here you go, my Sweet & Simple Slow Roasted Veggies

Happy Fueling!


Sweet & Simple Slow Roasted Veggies



  • Two 8-ounce bags of small organic carrots (or I've use about 1 pound of the large carrots, cut off the greens & cut them in half)

  • 1 pound mixed Pearl & Cipollini onions, skin removed and ends removed (you can also purchase frozen, already peeled to make this part even simpler)

  • 1/2 tablespoon dried Italian Seasoning

  • 1 - 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Line 2 baking sheets with foil or parchment paper.

  3. In a large mixing bowl mix together the carrots, pearl onions, olive oil, Italian Seasoning, and salt until vegetables are well coated.

  4. Divide vegetables evenly between the 2 baking sheets. I used 2 baking sheets b/c they would be too crowded on just one and would probably end up steaming instead of roasting (not what you want).

  5. Place vegetables in the oven on the top or middle rack (placing veggies on the bottom rack will likely cause them to burn easily - at least that's what happened to me the first time I made these!).

  6. Cook for about 45 minutes, mixing the vegetables with a spatula halfway through (for even cooking on all sides) until the carrots are soft and easily cut with a fork.

  7. Remove the veggies from the oven, serve and enjoy!

You can, of course, add more root vegetables to this mix such as:  parsnips, beets, turnips, and radishes), but IF you want to add more non-root vegetables, I suggest cooking them separately at their own temperature and time.  I like adding broccolini (2 bunches from Central Market) with these and to do that I:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Toss my broccolini in about 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

  3. Spread broccolini out evenly on a lined (with foil or parchment paper) baking sheet.

  4. When there are about 20 minutes left for my root veggies I put my broccolini in the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through (so that broccolini cook evenly on all sides).

  5. Once done, the root veggies should be done as well so add them to the sheet with the root veggies, mix all together and serve with dinner!


Cooking Note: Cooking is not always an exact science.  If you can't find the exact product that I used above - you can adjust a little.  For example, in this recipe I got the onions from the bulk bin at Central Market.  However, at Tom Thumb, these usually come prepackaged in anywhere from 7 ounce to 10 ounce plastic containers.  As long as it's around 1 pound you should be fine (for these directions) and the onions will still come out tender, caramelized and absolutely delicious!  Same goes for the carrots - I get the small bags when I can, but the other day I could only find the large organic bunches at the store - so I purchased two bunches and, when I got home, washed them, cut off the greens and cut each carrot in half so they would all be about the same size.  Just like the onions, they turned out delicious.  This made enough to serve me and a very hungry husband with a couple of days of leftovers.  If you're cooking for 1 you could plan to have more leftovers, or go down to 1 of everything and decrease the oil and seasoning by about 1/2.


  • Carrots - vitamin A | fiber | potassium | vitmamin K

  • Onions - fiber | vitamin C | part of allium group, that may reduce risk of some cancers

  • Broccolini - vitamin K | iron | vitamin C

  • Olive oil - monounsaturated fat | vitamin E