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Parmesan Cauliflower Mash Faux-tatoes
Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetable Recipes

Parmesan Cauliflower Mashed Faux-tatoes

Dear Diary,

This mid-west born Dietitian loves some mashed potatoes. My own smashed garlic red skin potatoes are delish but I also love restaurant versions made with just about any kind of potato. Mashed sweet potatoes? Yes, please. Smooth and creamy yellow potatoes whipped to the perfect texture? Bring it. A Thanksgiving table without mashed potatoes? Um, no. Just no.

The only caveat is, of course, the high amount of calories that gets served up in my beloved taters. I have to be honest, the thought of replacing the perfect potato with cauliflower to create a lower calorie substitute sounded abhorrent. But, as the saying goes, you have to try to know. While these faux-tatoes will not be gracing my Thanksgiving Day table any time soon, they will definitely be on my regular everyday table.

Cheers to eating my vegetables…and liking it!

Parmesan Cauliflower Mashed Faux-tatoes
 Serves 4-6
  • 1 large or 2 small heads cauliflower, cored, leaves removed and cut into small florets
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely green onions (use green and white parts)
  • 1 teaspoon M Salt
2. Use a strainer to remove excess liquid and transfer cauliflower to a food processor. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan cheese, chives, and onions.  Season with M Salt and garnished with Parmesan and green onions. Serve warm.

PS – if you don’t have M Salt then you can use salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. However, I highly recommend you buy some M Salt to sprinkle on eggs, mix in guacamole, for vegetables, and pretty much anything savory.

Tomato Artichoke Hasselback Chicken
Recipes, Uncategorized

Tomato Artichoke Hasselback Chicken

Dear Diary,

Hasselback potatoes are an old Swedish favorite that has recently made a come back. Hasselback basically means making several slices part of the way through the potato and stuffing those slices with something delicious. The “stuffing” is traditionally butter and some type of cheese which is what most people like on their potatoes. Not all that healthy of a side dish, but it does spark some healthy inspiration.

I recently found a recipe that used the same method on a chicken breast. By using a lean protein source, it can become a main dish star instead of a side dish. I had to give it a try and put my own twist on it. Plus, the name is fun to say so when people ask about it I can say, “It’s Hassleback Chicken of course!”

I used goat cheese, big surprise there I’m sure, with tomatoes and artichokes but any “stuffing” can be used. A mixture of ricotta cheese, spinach, and garlic would be delicious or light cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil. The possibilities are truly endless! For a vegetarian version, a sweet potato could be used in place of the chicken breast. Mmmm…a Fall inspired Hasselback Sweet Potato…stuffed with dried cherries, apple slices, nutmeg and cinnamon. Yum!

Tomato Artichoke Hasselback Chicken

  • 4 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • Italian Blend of seasonings (dried basil, thyme, oregano)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Goat or Feta Cheese
  • Marinated Artichoke Hearts, quartered
  • Tomatoes, chopped

Directions: Clean, trim, and pat dry chicken breasts. On a cutting board, lay the chicken breast lengthwise right to left. Pinch the top and bottom so that the middle comes up a little. Make 6-7 vertical slices, 3/4 of the way through the chicken to create a “pocket,” and place in a glass baking dish that has been prepped with a generous tablespoon of olive oil. DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE CHICKEN BREAST. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts. Once all 4 breasts are sliced and in the baking dish, sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stuff each pocket with goat cheese, artichoke hearts, and tomato. Drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil and bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove foil and bake an additional 12-15 mins depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Serve on a bed of mixed greens with a couple of spoonfuls of tzatziki (cucumber yogurt sauce).

Fresh herbs can turn a so-so dish into a wow dish!
Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetable Recipes

Fresh Herb Polenta with Mushrooms

Dear Diary,

Today I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I am writing to you from my new favorite spot in our little atrium herb and vegetable garden. When we moved in, the atrium was a dry dirt plot filled with overgrown plants. It was not an inviting place and had not been given any love for a long time. I knew it had so much potential and pictured fresh herbs, tomato and bell pepper plants, and beautiful flowers thriving. Now, with some sweat equity, help from my super handy Dad, and Pinterest, I am enjoying watching it grow.

One of my boys has been keeping a very close eye on the daily changes with our heirloom and yellow pear tomatoes as well as our orange and red bell peppers. We have picked leaves off of every fresh herb to smell them and he can now identify basil, mint, oregano, lemon thyme, and cilantro. I think it’s so important for children to learn about how food grows and to be able to prepare their own meals.

Herbs don’t just look and smell good. They also have a wealth of health benefits including protective polyphenols. Polyphenols are plant compounds with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. With all these wonderful fresh herbs available, I decided to make a fresh herb polenta dish using other vegetables I had in the fridge. The herbs paired perfectly with polenta (also known as corn grits), goat cheese, zucchini and mushrooms. This recipe is versatile and a combination of fresh and dried herbs could easily be used depending on what is available. Bon Appetit!

Fresh Herb Polenta with Mushrooms

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces Goat Cheese
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme, garlic chives, and basil
  • 2-3 cups Cremini Mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 small zucchini, cut slightly larger than mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sweet marsala wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions: Cook polenta according the package directions for making “cereal.” Bring water to a boil, add polenta and salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5-6 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove polenta from heat, cover, and let stand for a couple of minutes. Stir in butter, goat cheese, parmesan cheese, and chopped fresh herbs. Cover polenta to keep warm while prepping the vegetables. In a small skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, onion, garlic, mushrooms, and zucchini. Saute for 5-6 minutes and add wine and black pepper. Continue to saute until vegetables are tender. Serve vegetable mixture over the polenta and top with more fresh herbs, goat cheese salt and pepper if desired.

Recipes, Salad Recipes, Uncategorized

Mayo Free Chicken Salad

Dear Diary,

I have always been intrigued by chicken salad. You can make up a big batch and eat it for days on crackers, bread, or lettuce. There’s just one problem with traditional chicken salad. MAYO. I grew up in a household that had both Hellman’s Mayo and Kraft Miracle Whip in the


Ingredients for No Mayo Chicken Salad from Diary of a Dietitian

refrigerator at all times. The smell and taste of both made me cringe and my family would often tease me by offering up a large spoonful of it. I, of course, obliged them with all the drama a young girl can muster when she does not like something. Cue the screaming and flailing of hands.

Going into my freshman year of college, I had not tasted anything that even looked like mayo. I came to like sour cream, cream cheese, and ranch dressing that year which aided me in gaining the dreaded “Freshman 15.” Mayo, however, has stayed on my hate list.

After roasting a chicken for my sons favorite chicken noodle soup, I decided to keep some chicken aside to experiment with a chicken salad recipe I could love. Most of the ingredients I used are staples in my house here in Southern California. We eat avocados almost daily and a variety of Greek yogurt can be found on any given day. I chose mango flavored yogurt but any fruit flavor would make this salad sing.

Mayo Free Chicken Salad

  • 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
  • 1 medium apple, chopped


    Ingredients for No Mayo Chicken Salad from Diary of a Dietitian

  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup red grapes, halved
  • 3 green onions, thin sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, thin sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, fine chopped
  • 1 5.3 oz container of Greek yogurt, any fruit flavor
  • 1 small avocado, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • Romaine lettuce leafs

Directions: In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except romaine lettuce. Serve approximately 1/2 cup chicken salad in each romaine lettuce leaf and top with additional cilantro, green onion, or walnuts if desired.

Salad Hater Approved Taco Salad
Recipes, Salad Recipes, Uncategorized

Salad Hater Approved Taco Salad

Dear Diary,

I love salad. Huge surprise, right? Registered Dietitians need two things to be official, a license from the American Dietetic Association and a love of salad. The problem is, I like my salads the way I like my baked potatoes…toppings, toppings, and more toppings. I rarely eat baked potatoes since I can’t help but smother them in butter, sour cream, and salt. When it comes to salad though, I like to play around with a variety of healthy toppings and dressings to create a masterpiece that tastes as good as the calorie dense ones found in restaurants. Not an easy task.

If I ordered taco salad at a fast food place or mexican restaurant, it would most likely be the only thing I needed (energy wise) to eat for the whole day…okay, maybe two days. The problem with eating high calorie, high fat foods (aside from weight gain) is that they leave you feeling stuffed, bloated, and ready for a nap. Creating my own super satisfying version has helped me to not crave the full fat, full salt, too-full-feeling restaurant version.

Not everyone shares my love of the a good salad. My husbands face looks like he stepped on a Lego whenever I announce that it’s “Big Salad Night” in our household. He is the resident salad hater and is not shy about saying it. My taco salad, however, has become a staple in our dinner menu rotation and he has come to love it. I load it with turkey taco meat, black beans, veggies, a super simple low-cal dressing and a small amount of tortilla chips for that salty crunch. I made it one night when we had company and our cheese-loving relative said, “Wow, I just realized it doesn’t have any cheese and it I don’t even miss it.” In it’s infant stages, my taco salad did have cheese until I realized it really did taste amazing with or without it.

As with many of my recipes, I add a secret ingredient to the taco meat. Zucchini keeps the ground turkey from becoming dry as it cooks and provides an additional veggie. If the kids are not salad eaters, it’s easy to make hard or soft shell tacos with what you already have prepped for the salad. Just be sure to lock up the tortilla chips after your create your masterpiece!

Lite Taco Salad with Salsa Ranch Dressing

DIY Taco Seasoning (large batch)

  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes20150909172707532
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons ground black pepper


  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated or finely chopped
  • Cooking Spray


  • Romaine Lettuce, chopped
  • Tomatoes, chopped
  • Yellow, Red, Orange Bell Peppers, chopped
  • Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • Black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Tortilla chips


  • Light Ranch Dressing (I like Hidden Valley or Bolthouse)
  • Salsa


In an air tight container, mix DIY taco seasoning spices. This is a large batch recipe and can be used as a seasoning for future salads, tacos or fajitas. Many variations of homemade taco seasoning can be found on Pinterest and have less sodium and more flavor than store bought packets.

Over medium-high heat, spray a large skillet with cooking spray and add ground turkey, onion, zucchini, and 3-4 tablespoons of the DIY taco seasoning. Brown the turkey mixture until fully cooked, approximately 8-10 minutes. Turn heat to low when the turkey is fully cooked and keep warm while you prep the salad and dressing.

On a large plate, layer vegetables and top with 1/2 cup turkey taco meat, 1/4 cup black beans, 1/4 avocado, and 6-8 tortilla chips per serving. Toppings that are low in calories can be added in any amount but high calorie toppings should be limited. Mix 1 tablespoon of light Ranch dressing with 2 tablespoons of salsa per serving. ENJOY!

Recipes, Soup Recipes

Utah Memories

Dear Diary,

All of us have memories that are attached to food. I remember my Mom baking chocolate chip bar cookies (we called them congo squares…where did that name come from anyways?) and my Gramma making buttermilk pancakes topped with homemade strawberry jam.

I also grew up knowing what 10 degrees with a wind chill felt like and there is nothing (NOTHING I SAY!) like a steaming hot bowl of tomato soup on a snowy day. This memory used to be attached to Campbell’s and Michigan, but now it has become attached to an AH-mazing cabin in Utah where I spent this past Christmas with family and friends.

Following a great day of skiing, my friend Erin cooked up “Nordstrom’s Café Roma Tomato Soup.” After the first spoonful, I knew I would be making my own version when we arrived back in California. The soup is not only approved by a finicky 7 year old, but it is also low-calorie and packed with nutrients.

So, thank you Erin for inspiring me to create my own homemade version of Tomato Veggie Soup!

Tomato Veggie Soup

  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 6 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 small or 2 large zucchini, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Basil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large cans* (28-32oz) or cartons whole Roma Tomatoes
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 6 ounces light cream cheese

Directions:  In a large pot, heat olive oil slightly over medium heat.  Add all vegetables, basil, black pepper, salt; sauté for 10-12 minutes or until vegetables start to soften.  Add tomatoes and broth; simmer for 30 -35 minutes or until carrots become very soft.  Remove from heat and add cream cheese.  Blend to a smooth, pureed texture in the pot with a hand blender (I use the Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender).  Serve with a salad and enjoy!

*If you are able to find tomatoes in a carton versus a can (or use fresh tomatoes) this is considered a better option as cans (especially with acidic fruits and vegetables) have potential for high levels of BPA.