Spaghetti with Greens and Gorgonzola

Spaghetti with Greens and Gorgonzola

Spaghetti with greens and gorgonzola is the easiest vegetarian pasta dish! Just saute your favorite green leafy vegetables with garlic and red pepper flakes, toss with whole grain spaghetti and serve with gorgonzola and toasted hazelnuts! It's budget friendly and easy to swap whatever greens look good at the market. 

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Beet Butter Spaghetti

Beet Butter Spaghetti

Beet butter spaghetti! Sounds odd, but this delicious blend of beets, goat cheese and hazelnuts is absolutely addictive! Use leftovers on toast or toss with roasted vegetables. 

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Chocolate Hazelnut Chia Bars

These vegan, gluten free and naturally sweetened chocolate-hazelnut chia bars with sea salt are perfect for fueling a workout, or to enjoy as a sweet treat! 

Chocolate-Hazelnut Chia Bars with Sea Salt

Do me a favor. Next time you're at the grocery store, check out the ingredients list on your favorite energy bar. Soy protein isolate...sucralose...inulin (aka fart fuel)...is that really how you want to fuel your workout?

Although I do love a good Lara bar, for years, I've been making my own. Cheap, easy, and a whole lot tastier than anything you can find at the store! With this chocolate-hazelnut version, I think I outdid myself. Besides the whole nutella thing, these bars are packed with foods to make the most of your workout.

First, there's chocolate, which improves blood flow to muscles, which boosts endurance. Then there's omega 3 rich chia seeds, which may improve post-workout recovery with their anti-inflammatory effects. The sea salt helps replace minerals lost in sweat. And to round it all out, it's naturally sweetened with dates, one of my favorite ways to fuel a workout as it's a concentrated source of natural sugars.

To get the recipe, head on over to the Healthy Aperture blog, where I'm sharing this recipe as my first feature in the new Food Rx column. I've been a long time fan of Healthy Aperture, and since I met founder Regan Miller Jones at Blog Brulee (which she co-founded), I've been an equally huge fan of her as well! She works so hard to support her fellow dietitian bloggers and I am so happy and excited to be working with her on this column!

Head on over for the recipe for chocolate hazelnut chia bars with sea salt!

Fig and Hazelnut Yogurt Cup

Fruit on the bottom yogurt is packed with a shocking amount of sugar. This homemade yogurt cup is made with a quick fig jam, topped with creamy vanilla scented yogurt and crunchy hazelnuts. Sweetened only with fruit and no added sugar! 

Last week, I received the following facebook message from a friend:

"So, I get bored and look up nutrition facts sometimes and wish I could come to your class...because I am confused! Does a Chobani Greek yogurt really have the same amount of sugar as a donut? There's no way!"My initial reaction was the same, no way! But as I sat there for a moment and did the math, yup, she was right. Even without the 4 grams of naturally occurring sugar, the supposedly healthy Greek yogurt manages to pack as much sugar as a glazed donut in a tiny 5 ounce container. Check it out:

Krispy Kreme original glazed donut = 11 grams of sugar (1 tablespoon) Chobani key lime yogurt = 12 grams added sugar Chobani lemon yogurt = 11 grams added sugar Chobani pink grapefruit = 13 grams added sugar

And the grand prize goes to the vanilla chocolate chunk, with a whopping 23 grams of sugar! That's 2 tablespoons! Can you imagine how many people eat it, thinking it's a healthy way to indulge a sweet tooth?

Greek yogurt has managed to market itself as a healthy snack option, but most are packed with sugar and artificial sweeteners. In fact, many aren't real Greek yogurt, which is made by straining regular yogurt to remove whey, not by adding gums and thickeners.

I get the need for sugar in yogurt. If you've tried plain Greek yogurt, you know it tastes kinda like sour cream. I dig it with only fruit for sweetness, but most people need to add a little sweetener. But even my clients who battle a serious sweet tooth tell me they enjoy plain yogurt sweetened with just a teaspoon of honey, so why add three times that amount?

For those of you who want to enjoy a cup of flavored yogurt without any added sugar, you'll love this simple trick. Cooking fruit to concentrate it's sugars forms a jam that perfectly sweetens plain yogurt. All you need is a little lemon juice to bring out the flavor. I make a big batch and store them in mini mason jars for a grab and go snack. I used figs since I had a few frozen ones leftover from my mom's fig tree, but feel free to experiment. I love blueberries and walnuts with a little cinnamon and pineapple with macadamia nuts makes a great tropical mix.

Fig and Hazelnut Yogurt Cup

serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh figs
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 3 cups plain organic Greek yogurt (I like 2%, whole, or homemade)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted

Instructions

  1. In a small pot, heat the figs and lemon juice over medium heat. Smash the figs with the back of a spoon to release some of the liquids. Cook 10-15 minutes until thickened and syrupy. Once at desired consistency, set aside to cool.
  2. Mix the yogurt and vanilla extract together.
  3. When cooled, spoon the fig mixture in the bottom of six small mason jars. Top each with 1/2 cup yogurt and hazelnuts. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

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Pear and Dark Chocolate Baked Oatmeal

Inspired by my favorite decadent cake, this baked oatmeal with caramelized pears, bittersweet chocolate and toasted nuts is perfect for a potluck brunch. 

Five years ago I hosted my very first Thanksgiving. At the time, I was living at the beach, renting a cute little two bedroom apartment with a lake view. Savannah, my Berner, was a year old, meaning I had successfully taken care of a living thing and kept it alive for an entire year. I was working my first real job, hence me being on call at the hospital rather than traveling home for the holiday. Basically, I felt like a real grown up (HA!).

My mom delegated the task of appetizers, side dishes (except the gravy and stuffing - ain't no way I'm messing with that!), and dessert. Having just started cooking "for real" the year before, I was eager to show off my new found skills in the kitchen. The appetizers and side dishes were easy, but dessert made me nervous, since with baking, you actually have to read the directions and measure ingredients (HA!). After scouring dozens of cookbooks and blogs, I settled on this bittersweet chocolate and pear cake with browned butter from Smitten Kitchen.

The meal went off without a hitch, cementing my entry into adulthood. Despite my baking induced panic attack, my favorite dish was the one I was most nervous about - the pear and chocolate cake. The cake was perfectly moist with intoxicating flavors. The bittersweet chocolate was perfect pairing for the pears. And that browned butter is some good stuff!

When Scott asked me a few weeks ago what my all-time favorite dessert was, I quickly responded with this cake without a moment of hesitation. Then I got a little sad when I realized I hadn't made it since that Thanksgiving. There are so many healthy and delicious desserts, that I rarely make anything that's full on sugar and white flour except for holidays. And when I do, I've got a long pinterest list of worth it splurges to work through!

I was trying to think of a way to recreate in a healthy way when this baked oatmeal suddenly occurred to me. My banana and raspberry baked oatmeal was such a hit, and I thought the combination of flavors would work perfectly with oats. Yum, and I was right!

Normally I'm not a big sweets person for breakfast, but I loved this baked oatmeal so much I made it again last night. Lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup, which has more flavor and less of a glycemic effect than regular sugar, it has just a hint of sweetness. If you do batch cooking on Sundays, baked oatmeal is a smart one to make in advance for a quick breakfast. It's super portable as well, making it the perfect dish for a potluck brunch or tailgating for an early football game. Since it's nutritious, but feels decadent thanks to the dark chocolate and browned butter this dish would be a huge crowd pleaser.

Pear and Dark Chocolate Baked Oatmeal

Serves 6-8

I adore the combination of hazelnuts with browned butter, since browning butter gives off a subtle hazelnut scent, but I only had a small amount left over, so I used a combination of them with almonds. Feel free to use one or the other, or even walnuts would be a good addition. The browned butter is optional, but not really once you've tasted it. For a vegan version, mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with the almond milk and let it sit 5-10 minutes before pouring over the oats. Instead of browned butter, melt a tablespoon of coconut oil over the top, which will give a nice, caramelized crust over the top.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond, coconut milk, or organic 2%/whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large or two small pears
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, cut into tablespoons

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, nuts, baking powder, spices, salt and chocolate. In a medium bowl, mix almond milk, egg, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
  3. Cut the pear(s) in half. Scoop out the seeds and core with a corer. Slice into 1/4th inch slices and layer in the bottom of an oiled baking dish. It's fine to overlap. Spread the oat mixture evenly over the pears. Pour the almond milk mixture evenly over the oats. Place in the oven and bake 40-45 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and side aside to cool slightly.
  4. While the oatmeal is cooling, make the browned butter. Place the butter in preferably a light colored pan (so you can see the color). Place the pan on medium heat and stir the butter constantly so it doesn't burn. It will bubble and foam, then the foam will start to subside (keep stirring!). Afterwards, you'll start to see it change in color to a caramel brown. Once it looks light brown and caramelized, pour the butter over the oatmeal. Slice and serve with plain yogurt and fresh fruit.

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Chocolate Cake with Nutella Cream and BIG NEWS!

Big news on the blog today and we're celebrating with this nutella inspired cake!  A dense, chocolatey whole grain cake is topped with a cream made of blended hazelnuts.

Let's eat cake! Cause guess what today is? My 30th birthday!

A year ago, I was dreading the big 3-0. I could hardly accept turning 29! It wasn’t that I thought 30 was old, because it’s not. What scared me was the distinct feeling I was running out of time. I had dreams of the things I wanted to do, see and accomplish in life, but because I didn't think they were realistic, I was always content with where I was at. On the outside, my life probably looked pretty darn close to perfect - I was married to an incredible, supportive man, had a 

successful

 career, a large and tight knit group of friends, and had traveled all over the world. Life was pretty great. Despite this, I had a growing sense of restlessness and discontentment knowing I wasn't reaching my full potential. Turning 29, I realized I wasn't living life to it's fullest.

So I decided to do something about it. It wasn't overnight, but over the course of this year, I made a few changes. I loved Scott as much as I possibly could. I nurtured new friendships and distanced myself from relationships that were destructive. I did things that scared me. I stopped to smell the roses, metaphorically, and sometimes actually just stopping to smell flowers on our neighborhood walks. I started practicing mindfulness. Slowly, I came to the realization that my dreams weren't a fantasy, but that I actually had it in me to make them a reality. As my 29th year came to a close, I realized it was my best year yet.I'm not dreading thirty anymore. In fact, I'm pretty damn excited. So why not start this decade out with a bang?

Today, I did something kinda crazy. 

I resigned from my totally secure, well paying government job.

OMGAOHTIOAFJDIAFOJESAFSHJIFNJ;A IEROR SA <--- My best attempt to express the mixture of excitement, nervousness, sheer terror, and joy that I feel. There are no words.

Starting the end of this month, I am making the leap into private practice. I've always wanted to start a private practice, but I never really believed it was something I could be successful at. And frankly, I probably wasn't ready until now. Now is the right time.

As soon as I made the decision to go into private practice, I started noticing little signs telling me I was making the right choice. Maybe it was God, maybe it was luck, maybe it was pure coincidence, but it was clear everything was falling into place.

The biggest sign was when I got a message from Kara Madsen, Scott's old neighbor, after my mother-in-law shared one of my blog posts on facebook. She is a personal trainer who does private training out of a house she has converted into a fitness studio and offices for other wellness providers. And what would you know, there was room for me!

Five minutes into our conversation, I knew I wanted to join "the healthy house." I am so excited to work alongside a group of strong, wellness-minded women.

Kara

, is a personal trainer who works individually with women,

Joanna

is a wellness coach,

Jeannie

is a small business coach and Shelly is a massage therapist. My office will be in the kitchen(!!!), where I'll have room for individual coaching, cooking demonstrations and even small groups. It's pretty perfect.

As excited as I am about this new challenge, I'm pretty broken up about leaving my patients at the medical center behind. For the past four years, I've been blessed to work with true heros, men and women who deserve more than anyone else to reach their optimal state of wellness. Working within the confines of the traditional medical model, however, can be restrictive. Afterall, it's a business, and while my goal may be to help each patient to the best of my ability, it's not always possible.

So, I guess this is the part where I need to sell myself. This is the part of private practice I'm least looking forward to - self-promotion has always felt awkward to me. For anyone who may be interested in working with me or knows anyone who may be interested, I am available for individual nutrition coaching and group classes. With my individual clients, I take a holistic approach to nutrition, viewing each client as a unique individual to find the best way to reach their health goals. I provide a individualized sample 5-day sample meal plan and unlimited email support after our appointment. I am also available for group classes, a great, budget friendly option if you have a group of friends with similar health goals. I will also be available for speaking engagements and community events. Read more about my

services

here.

You'll be seeing some changes here on Avocado over the next month or so. I'm going to start advertising, which I dislike, but I do have 200+ pounds of dog to feed! You'll likely see some more sponsored posts and product promotion, but I

promise

, only for products and services I truly believe in!

To my family, friends, readers, and especially my husband, THANK YOU!! Without your support and encouragement , I never would have had the confidence to take this step! xoxo

 

Chocolate Cake with Nutella Cream

Serves 8

So, this cake isn't the prettiest, but don't let that deter you. If you prefer something more extravagant, double the recipe to make a layer cake. Even if you prefer a single layer cake, I would still double up the hazelnut cream recipe - I ate leftovers spooned on overnight oats for breakfast all week. Also, if you have a high powered blender/food processor, this would be the time to use it. Mine wasn't so much of a cream as it was a paste, but whatever, it was still delicious and eatable by the spoonful.

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup natural cane sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

Nutella Cream:

  • 1 cup hazelnuts, soaked in water at least 4 hours
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, blend the coconut oil and sugar until well combined and creamy. Add one egg at a time, blending until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides as needed. Mix in the vanilla.
  3. With the mixer running on low speed, mix in a third of the flour mixture, then follow with half the almond milk. Add another third of the flour, the remaining almond milk and finish with the rest of the flour. Pour into an oiled, 9-inch cake pan.
  4. Bake about 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
  5. While the cake is baking, place the hazelnuts in a food processor and blend until they are the consistency of sand. Add the almond milk, vanilla, honey, cocoa and salt and blend again until creamy.
  6. Once the cake has cooled, frost the with nutella cream and serve.
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