A Whole Foods Approach To Sports Nutrition: What Should I Eat Before a Workout?

Do your New Year’s Resolutions include kicking up your workout routine a notch? If they do, that is great! But equally as important as the workout is what you are eating. Proper nutrition is essential to getting the results you want in the gym or out on the playing field. With personal trainers selling supplements, CrossFitters pushing Paleo, and a new diet popping up every month, its hard to decipher what is actually healthy and what is just hype. Here are four expert tips to help you get the most out of a pre-workout meal.

  1. Don’t shun carbohydrates. I know we are constantly being told carbs make us fat. But it’s just not true. Eating more calories than we burn makes us fat. Carbs provide our body with a quick source of energy which is what we need while working out. Carbohydrates break down into glucose, which enters our muscle cells and gives us fuel to workout at maximum capacity. Good sources of carbs to eat before a workout are fruit, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, potatoes (white or sweet), and yogurt.
  2. Keep it real. Focus on whole, minimally processed foods as much as possible. For example, eat an apple rather than an apple flavored Nutri-Grain bar. Although I think bars serve their purpose, they shouldn’t be your number one go to. If you are “keeping it real” that also means tossing protein powders, “pre-workout shakes” and anything that doesn’t actually resemble food. If you can buy it at GNC, but not the farmers market, that is a good indicator that it is not a real food. Aside from shakes and powders having no nutritional advantage over eating a well balanced meal, there are risks associated with supplements such as kidney and liver failure. Although rare, it does happen and it is not worth the risk.
  3. Hydrate hydrate hydrate! It’s best to be well hydrated before beginning a workout. Try to drink 16 ounces of fluids a few hours prior to exercising and then 1 cup of water in the half hour before. If you are exercising for one hour or less plain water provides adequate hydration. If sweating heavily or exercising for prolonged periods of time a sports drink with carbohydrates and electrolytes is a better choice. Hydration needs are different for every individual and vary based on the type of workout you are doing. One of the best indicators of hydration is urine color; as my sports nutrition professor always said, your pee should be “light lemonade.” If it’s darker, you should start increasing your fluid intake before and during exercise.
  4. Timing matters. What and how much you should eat before working out varies based on how much time you have. If you are eating dinner at 5 pm and working out at 7 pm, it is likely that you don’t need any additional food. If you are working out straight after work at 5 pm and your last meal was at 12 noon, it is a good idea to have a pre-workout snack. Personally, if I’m working out after work I’m usually ravenous. So I eat an apple or granola bar on the way to the gym. I’m generally still hungry after that apple, but once I start working out I forget about my hunger and enjoy the sweat. This snack should mainly focus on carbs, but can have a bit of protein and healthy fats thrown in as well. If your workout is primarily strength based you will want to include more protein to aid with muscle recovery. If you do more cardio (like an hour long run) your snack should be mainly easy to digest carbs. Here are some good examples.

Pre-workout snack for cardio (<1 hour before workout): 1 banana or apple, 1 Tbsp nut butter, 1 cup of water

Pre-workout snack for strength training (<1 hour before workout): 1 cup Greek Yogurt, handful of berries or sliced fruit, 10 almonds

Pre-workout meal for cardio (2-3 hours before working out): 4 ounces baked chicken or fish, 1 cup brown rice, green salad with dressing, small dinner roll, 16 ounces water

Pre-workout meal for strength (2-3 hours before working out): 6 ounces baked chicken or fish, 1/2 cup brown rice, 1 cup roasted veggies in olive oil, 8 ounces water or milk

I hope this guide helps with your sports nutrition needs. Stay tuned for the next blog to learn what to eat after your workout.



Why You Will Never Find the Word “Detox” In My Recipes

image from natural mentor.com
image from natural mentor.com

This morning I opened up one of my favorite food blogs, excited to read about whatever great new recipe she had cooked up. Excited until I read the recipe title. The Best Detox Soup. That’s when all of my happiness turned into rage and annoyance Really, detox soup? Girl, you made soup. Sure, the soup is healthy, maybe it is THE BEST (who am I to judge?) but I will tell you it is not a freakin’ detox. And you are being a sell-out by giving it that title. I don’t care if adding the word detox to recipes gets more hits, it is completely false and misleading. The greenest green juice smoothie with chia seeds and organic grass fed fairy dust is not a “detox,” and neither is your soup.

By definition, a detoxification or detox for short, is the physiological or medicinal removal of toxic substances from a living organism, including the human body, which is mainly carried out by the liver. The liver, yes, you’re working liver can help detoxify you. If you think that eating detox soup, detox juice cleanse, supplements, or other “detox” diet is going to rid your body of toxins you are wrong. That’s not how it works.  Our kidneys and liver work hard to detoxify our bodies. Yes, you should eat healthy foods, maybe you should even eat lentil soup to help keep your organs healthy, but the soup itself is not a detox.

If you are thinking that there is no real harm in calling something a detox as long as it is healthy, that is at least partially true. I want you to make and eat her vegetable soup, I’m sure it’s awesome. I just don’t want you to be under the impression that the soup detoxifys you from last nights Corona’s, nachos, or rat poison. I also don’t recommend dropping cash on any non-food supplement type products being pushed as a detox. Because they don’t work and you don’t need them.

Last but not least, let’s talk about a sugar detox. If you want to detox from sugar, sure, I support you on that one. But why can’t we just go back to 2005 (the good ole’ days) and say something simple like “I’m not eating sugar this week.” or “No thanks, I don’t want cake today.” In 2016, abstaining from sugar is a drama filled event which all of your friends must be reminded of through constant Facebook updates (the headaches, the cravings, stay strong you can do this!) and early morning gym check ins.

Alright, as you may guess, I’m exaggerating ever so slightly. I just hope you understand that the word detox in relation to food is total B.S. and largely a marketing scam!

Friday Favorites


Hi Friends! On Fridays I’m going to be rounding up some of my favorite foodie finds from the week. Also some non-foodie things because sometimes we (me!) need a break from that! How was your week? My week has been a little more hectic than usual, but definitely in a good and exciting way! I’m on a seemingly never ending quest to be fluent in Spanish, so I’m waking up early to Skype with a Spanish teacher in Nicaragua before work. Every morning we have a nice little chat about nutrition, culture, and our mutual disgust for Donald trump. I also have a few new career opportunities on the horizon so we will see how that pans on. But first, some blog lovin!

Good Reads

Fat Doesn’t Make you Fat (And neither do carbs…)

Four Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Quit Sugar From one of my favorite Canadian, tell it like it is dietitians.

Take Your F*ckin Lunch Break! It’s good advice. And while you’re at it, don’t go to work when you are sick either!!

How to Stop Grazing on Snacks throughout the Day. Grazing on snacks has never really been my issue, but I know that it is for many of my clients. Here’s how to nip that habit in the butt!

Good Eats

Coconut Kale and Blueberry Smoothie by Danielle Omar at the Healthy Aperture Blog


Roasted Artichokes with Black Truffle Aioli Love me some artichokes, I usually boil them, but I’m definitely going to try this roasting method! artichoke

Banana Chocolate Chip Chia Pancakes. Yes please! My family has determined that pancakes made with almond milk are the absolute best, and bonus these are filled with lots of other nutritious ingredients as well! panc

Crunchy Lentil Tacos You might think you’re taco needs meat, believe me, it doesn’t. Give these a try. taco

Chipotle Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. A whole meal in a sweet potato, why didn’t I think of that?pot

French Onion Soup As fancy as this soup looks, it’s actually quite simple and has a short ingredient list!French-Onion-Soup-4-678x1024

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Avocado Frosting. For the plant based chocolate lover in your life. vegan chocolate cake

Feel Good Friday (News to make you happy!)

Have you seen this girl perform her perfect routine with one leg? AMAZING!  As a former gymnast I can tell you that just walking on the balance beam is hard enough.

Just in case we needed another reason to save the polar bears…

Kathryn Smith is the first full time female coach in the NFL. You go girl!!

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Pesto Avocado Pizza

Pesto avocado pizza www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Hi friends, as promised, I’m posting my perfect pesto pizza today! A tad late, but better late than never, right? Last week I went to dinner with some friends at Stonefire Grill and ordered Stonefire’s Favorite pizza. Oh my gosh, so soo good. As soon as I had it I knew I had to recreate it at home, so I could eat it all day, every day. Just kidding (kind of). The ticket to this pizza perfection is the pesto sauce and red onion. I recommend using my 5 minute pesto sauce, but store but will do in a pinch. That flavor combo is a winner for sure. Topped off with a little salty feta and creamy avocado, it doesn’t get much better than that. If you think avo on your pizza is weird, I dare you to try it. You won’t regret it!

I used whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joes, making this pizza slightly more nutritious. Their wheat crust is actually really good and not grainy at all. It’s by no means diet food, but two slices paired with a nice green salad would make a balanced meal in my opinion. Notice I didn’t say healthy.  I recently read an interesting article titled “No food is healthy. Not even kale.” The author makes a valid point that the word healthy is bankrupt and really should not be used to describe food at all. A person can be healthy, a food is nutritious. If one were to eat only kale they would become very sick.

pesto pizza
The crust pictured here is actually not the wheat crust but the crust in the final product is. And it is tasty!

pesto pizza

Alright, no more health talk. Go to Trader Joes, buy some pizza dough, and make this pizza. Don’t make it because it is healthy, or even nutritious. Just make it because it’s delicious and also because pizza is really fun to make.

Here’s a tip. If you have leftover pizza and you want to reheat it quickly don’t use the microwave! Come on guys, microwaved pizza is the worst. Stick that slice in the toaster, preferably a toaster oven (to avoid a melty cheese disaster). In college I saw this girl from the Humboldt Rugby team put her leftover pizza in the toaster, genius move. I mean, rugby players are all about drinking beer from a dirty, sweaty used rugby boot, but soggy pizza? No thanks! So much better and crispier from the toaster.

pesto pizza


pesto avocado pizza

4.0 from 1 reviews
Pesto Avocado Pizza
Prep time
Cook time
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Serves: 8
  • 1 refrigerated pizza dough (whole wheat or white)
  • Enough pesto sauce to lightly cover pizza
  • Sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, or shredded
  • ½ small red onion, sliced thin
  • ¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
  • A few leaves torn fresh basil or cilantro
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • ½ avocado, diced
  1. Preheat oven to 475.
  2. Roll out pizza dough to 12” round.
  3. Place on pizza stone or baking sheet covered with tin foil (tin foil optional)
  4. Cover lightly with pesto sauce. Leave edge for crust.
  5. Sprinkle shredded or sliced mozzarella over pizza
  6. Add red onion, feta, and basil or cilantro
  7. Cook for 8-10 minutes until cheese is bubbling and crust is golden brown
  8. Add diced avocado and fresh ground pepper.

5 Minute Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Making pesto is ridiculous easy. And ridiculously delicious (say that five times fast) You don’t even have to mince the garlic. Now that is my kind of recipe! If you have a food processor (and I hope you do) go to the store right now and buy some fresh basil. The one in the 4 ounce plastic container. You probably already have the other ingredients.

There is nothing particularly novel about this pesto recipe. They are all pretty much the same. Except I did use walnuts instead of pine nuts, here’s why 1) I’m really obsessed with walnuts and usually have them in my house 2) walnuts are the highest in heart-healthy omega-3’s of all the nuts 3) Pine nuts really freak me out and remind me of those beige colored worm-bugs you sometimes find crawling in old food. You know the ones I’m talking about…ok, no more bug talk, I promise 🙂

Step 1: Process the garlic and nuts
basil pesto
Step 2: Add the basil, spices, and drizzle in that oil
basil pesto
Step 3: Process, add the cheese, and enjoy!


Homemade pesto can pretty much transform any meal from plain Jayne to gourmet Gloria in less than 5 minutes. Now that’s amazing. This pesto adds a wonderful burst of freshness and zing to any meal. It’s great to have with pasta (obvi), as a sandwich spread, on top of fish or chicken, and it can even double as pizza sauce! In fact, it’s perfect on pesto avocado pizza which will be on the blog tomorrow!

5 minute basil pesto www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Have you ever made pesto before? Walnuts or pine nuts??

5.0 from 1 reviews
5 Minute Basil Pesto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 10
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 4-5 cups fresh basil leaves (4 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  1. Place the walnuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds.
  2. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper.
  3. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed.
  4. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute.
  5. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.



Minestrone Soup And Mindfulness

Minestrone Soup www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

I recently read an article that “souping” is the new juicing. I’m not sure if this trend will actually catch on, but I hope it does! Green juice is not my jam, and orange juice is just not that healthy (high in sugar, void of fiber). Soup on the other hand, soup is a winner! Especially in the winter time, who wants a freakin’ cold smoothie or juice when you can have a nice piping hot bowl of soup? Loaded with nutrient dense veggies, beans, and whole wheat pasta you can’t go wrong with this minestrone soup.

If you want your green beans to stay bright green (instead of olive colored), add them at the last 5 minutes of cooking. I wish I had done this!

Another reason soup is better than juice: it forces you to be mindful. You can easily chug a smoothie while driving to work, and then forget that you drank something 2 hours later. Go ahead and try to eat a bowl of soup while driving to work. On second thought, don’t. Although we love to save time and multi-task it is not always the best thing for our health or mental well being. The act of taking a break to eat and enjoy your food is really important, no matter how busy you are!

This soup is adapted from the Food Network Minestrone Soup. I simplified the recipe just a tiny bit and amped up the nutrition by using whole wheat pasta instead of white. I also added pinto beans because I had them leftover from my meal prepping from the weekend. If you are wanting this soup to be low carb you can totally leave the pasta out, but then you have to call it vegetable soup, not minestrone! Either way, give it a try! It makes a fantastic, filling, vegetarian meal. When I made this soup, my Mom and I had both already eaten dinner, but we proceeded to eat soup for dessert because it was so good!

MInestrone Soup


Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 handfuls green beans, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 tsp dried Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 28 -ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cartons vegetable broth (should be 8 cups or 64 ounces)
  • 1 15 -ounce can low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup pinto beans (optional)
  • 1.5 cups mini whole wheat shell or macaroni pasta
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  4. Add the celery and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the green beans, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste; cook 3 more minutes.
  6. Add the diced and crushed tomatoes and the vegetable broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the beans and pasta and cook until the pasta and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  8. Taste, season with additional salt and pepper if necessary
  9. Top with fresh parsley and grated cheese if desired


Meal Prepping 101

Easy Vegetarian Meal Prep www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to start meal prepping. Week one was a fail, but week two I’m on it! I’m also committing to making longer pins (supposedly they are more popular on Pinterest) even though I really hate computers and graphic design.  What are your resolutions? If one of them is meal prepping you’re at the right place!

Meal prepping is not about making perfect looking food. As you can see from the picture above, I dug out random scraps of onion and half eaten brown banana from the depths of my refrigerator. Meal prepping is about being prepared when hunger strikes! The reason so many people find it hard to eat healthy is because they don’t have the time or energy to cook when they get home from a hard day of work. I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry I can not make a good decision and I just want to eat everything in site. Stale chips on the counter? yes! Leftover Christmas candy? Bring It.

In order to avoid inhaling Doritos one must be prepared with a yummy (yet healthy) snack. If you are new to food prepping I recommend starting out with one healthy snack food, one protein, one whole grain starch, and some type of fruit or veggie (ideally both)! Prepping fruit can be just as simple as washing it ahead of time. Here’s what I made and the order in which I made it.

Sweet Potato Banana Bites from The Lean Green Beansweet-potato-bites-7

Pinto Beans (recipe from the bag )

Homemade Protein Bars from Me!Homemade Protein Bars www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Roasted Vegetables (carrots, daikon, broccoli, red and white onion, garlic) See tips from Real Living Nutritionveg

Quick Cooking Brown Rice from Trader Joe’s

Washed and Sliced Strawberries

This whole shebang took me just under two hours! And I will say, almost everything turned out super great! The veggies are slightly over cooked but have the perfect flavor. The protein bars are the bomb! I’m so happy to eat this snack every single time! My only problem is with the beans. They seem kinda hard. Even though I cooked them over 2 hours, whats up? I’ve always been a canned beans type of person so this is new territory for me. So I lied just a little, everything except the beans were done in under two hours.

Here are just a few tips I learned a long the way…

  1. Please put your hair in a pony tail before you start, or a man bun, whatever suits your fancy. I think years (okay weeks) of wearing a hairnet in commercial kitchens really scared me of stray hairs in my food.
  2. Wear an apron, I know it’s old-school and seem’s kind of Beaver Cleaver (not sure sure if this is the correct reference) but it makes things so much easier! You can wipe your hands on it, you can carry a spoon, all while keeping your shirt clean!
  3. You’re going to need at least 3 timers. Don’t forget to use them! Because burnt food is the pits!
  4. Put on some sweet jams and rock out while you cook/prep.

Vegetarian Meal Prep

If you are one of those people that just really needs meat in your life, here are some more animal protein ideas for meal prep!

Hard Boil Eggs

Simple Shredded Chicken by Mom to Mom Nutrition (Uses a Slow Cooker)

Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs by Your Choice Nutrition

Slow-Cooker Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Pork By Chocolate Slopes

Tell me, do you meal prep? Would you like to see more meal prepping posts? Do you know how to cook beans better than I do? How are your resolutions going so far? I would love to hear from you!



Why I don’t Recommend Drinking Water for Weight Loss

drinking water doesn't help weight loss
Nearly half the people that step into my office tell me their plan is to lose weight by drinking more water. Of course, you should drink water, regardless of your health goals. It’s just the notion that more is better, that I really have an issue with. I have heard water recommendations by “trainers” and other “nutritionists” that are sky high for no apparent reason. It’s even becoming somewhat of a fitness challenge to drink as much water as possible throughout the day. I’m not sure what the prize is? You get to go the bathroom every hour, congratulations! 99% of us do NOT need to drink a gallon of water per day, maybe if you are running a marathon in 90 degree weather you do.water6

There is a paucity of evidence that drinking more water alone will cause weight loss (without other dietary interventions). Why not focus on things that we know produce real results?  Like increasing fruit and vegetable intake, consuming higher protein meals, increasing physical activity, and decreasing sugar sweetened beverage consumption.

Granted, there are times when drinking more water will benefit you. Below are a few examples of times that drinking water is very important and it may help you achieve weight loss.

  1. If you are chronically dehydrated. Dehydration is most often seen in athletes, but if you are just a regular gym goer it is possible that you are dehydrated as well. The best and simplest way to determine hydration status is by looking at your urine. If you are peeing the golden arches (dark yellow, low volume) you are dehydrated and should drink more water (or fluids of any type: Gatorade, soup, smoothie, tea, etc.) Your pee does not have to be clear though, that would actually indicate over hydration. As my sports nutrition professor used to say, you want to pee “light lemonade” color. If you really want a quantitative fluid recommendation the Institute of Medicine recommends 2.2 liters per day for women, and 3 liters per day for men. However, individual needs vary based on body composition, exercise, the weather, etc. Just look at your pee! It’s a much better indicator.
  2. If you are guzzling soda or juice. This is where water really does the trick. If you swap two sodas a day for water instead you will be consuming 300 less calories per day (assuming the rest of your diet stays constant). This alone could result in a 30 pound weight loss in a year. However, if you were to switch that soda for plain coffee or tea you would also get the same result.
  3. Drinking two cups of water before meals? There is one published study that had promising results when participants were asked to drink 16 ounces of water before meals. The study claims that the water helped the participants feel more full and satiated before eating, and therefore ate less when it came to meal time. However, other studies have found that water has no affect on satiety.

Can you drink too much water? It’s possible, but you have to try really really hard for it actually to be harmful. At Chico state University a fraternity was banned from binge drinking alcohol due to too many deaths. So what did they do instead? They binged on water, and guess what? More college students died. Drinking extremely large amounts of water can cause hyponatremia (low blood sodium) and death. Although, this is very rare and would not happen under normal circumstances. But, if you are drinking a lot of water just to be cool or to try to “out drink” someone I would not recommend it.

Water is good for you, but MORE water is not necessarily better (and likely won’t help you lose weight). If you are a water hater, try jazzing up your water with one of these simple tricks. In the mean time, why don’t you get to work on some of those other healthy habits mentioned above!



Grapefruit and Toasted Walnut Salad

Grapefruit and Toasted Walnut Salad

Thanksgiving Salad. Yay or nay? Joy the Baker says No Salad on Thanksgiving! While I do see her point, as long as it’s not a run-of-the-mill everyday salad, I say yes!! You know what, it doesn’t even have to be salad. But please, I implore you, serve at least one green-ish vegetable at your Thanksgiving Table. It can be green beans, it can be brussels, or it can be this beautiful, mouth-watering Grapefruit and Walnut Salad.

On Thanksgiving Day when everyone is posting their Turkey Day dinner plates all over facebook and Instagram, I see so many monochromatic plates of white-tan-orange. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, turkey, roll. Just imagine what a lovely pop of green and red will do for your eyes, your tastes buds, and even your waistline!

Grapefruit is in it's peak season right now! Look at how juicy and flavorful they are!
Grapefruit is in it’s peak season right now! Look at how juicy and flavorful they are!

When I see these sad looking plates, my veggie loving dietitian soul is crushed. On this day of thanks, I will not ask you to make half of your plate veggies (although I do think it’s a great idea), I will not ask you to skip dessert (Never!) and I will not ask you to abstain from alcohol. I just ask one thing, serve at least one non-starchy vegetable dish. You can do it!

Grapefruit and Walnut Salad
If you don’t want to turn your oven on you can totally skip this step!!

If you choose to not make this salad for Thanksgiving (I will assume you are going with green beans) I understand. Conveniently, it is super healthy and makes a great, post-Turkey Day “Detox” Salad. Yes, I hate that word detox, but all I really mean is, this salad is super healthy, super delicious, and you can and should eat it all the time. No matter the day, no matter the meal. Breakfast salad anyone? OK, sorry I’m taking this too far.

Grapefruit and Toasted Walnut Salad

Tell me, do you usually have a green salad at your Thanksgiving? A different type of salad? Or, are you one of those veggie-less brown plate FB poster’s that gives me rage? If not a salad, what are you bringing to the feast this year?

If you are looking for other healthy ways to enjoy Thanksgiving check out my article on Real Living Nutrition. Recipe inspired by Ina Garten’s Avocado and Grapefruit Salad. 

Happy Turkey Day everyone! I have ALOT to be thankful for this year!


5.0 from 1 reviews
Grapefruit and Toasted Walnut Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 6
  • 1 bag mixed greens or 1 head Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 grapefruit, sliced into wedges
  • 1-2 avocadoes, sliced
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts
  • ½ white onion, sliced and caramelized
  • ¼ cup pomegranate arils (optional, but beautiful)
  • 1½ tsp Kosher Salt
  • ¾ tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • juice of one medium lemon
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 to toast the nuts and onion. (you can skip this step if you prefer and omit onion in order to save time)
  2. While the oven is heating, slice grapefruit and avocado. Collect pomegranate seeds.
  3. Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for 10 minutes. Place onion on the same baking sheet as shown in the picture.
  4. Drizzle onion with olive oil and brown sugar if desired. Cook onions for 20 minutes in oven, or until begin to brown and caramelize.
  5. For the dressing place the mustard, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
Serves 6 as a side dish or 2-3 three as a main course.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

The One Thing Missing From Your Thanksgiving Table

turkeyIs it the Green Bean Casserole? The mashed potatoes? Uncle Fred? Nope, the one thing missing from your table, is The Thankful Basket! The Thankful Basket has transformed our Thanksgiving dinner from ho-hum to probably my second/third favorite holiday. Fourth of July provides some stiff competition 🙂

Okay, I know what you are thinking, either 1) I don’t know what a Thankful Basket is but it sounds totally lame (those were my sentiments exactly when I heard about it. or 2) I don’t need a basket to be thankful. This is probably also true, but I’m telling you, the Thankful Basket only sounds lame. With the Thankful Basket your friends and family will have more fun, be more thankful, and I dare I say it, eat just a little bit healthier too.

How it works: Get a nice bread basket, cookie jar, or any container-type thing. Label it “The Thankful Basket” and put small pieces of paper and pens next to it. Tell your guests they need to write what they are thankful for on the paper, fold it in half and put it in the basket (don’t write your name on it). They will probably groan and complain, its fine, just make them do it. Next year they will understand the magic and happily oblige.

After you eat your fabulous meal you bust out the Thankful Basket. Please, please make sure that the room is well lit and everyone is wearing their glasses! Otherwise there is just too many poorly read, misconstrued thankful messages. One by one, each person takes a and paper reads it out loud.  Then the whole table tries to guess who wrote it. Whether the message is heart-felt or hilarious everyone has a good time guessing who wrote what and playing along. Here are some examples of past favorites…

“I am Thankful for family, both the one I grew up with and the new one I’ve come to know and love. I am thankful for my fiance too!”

“I am thankful my pants fit”

As you can see, sentimental or silly, they both get the job done! I’m feeling particularly nostalgic this year because I won’t be with my family at home in California this Thanksgiving. As most of you know, I’m in Panama. But I Am looking forward to celebrating with my Panamanian family, and you can bet that I’m going to make them do the Thankful Basket.

In other news, here are some fabulous recipes that may very well be missing from your Thanksgiving Table as well…

Green Bean Casserole from Nourished Simply


Grandma’s Corn Casserole

Green Chile Corn Casserole www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Thanksgiving Salad by Pinch of Yum


Vanilla Bean Sweet Potato Casserole by Well Plated


Healthier Oatmeal Pecan Pie

oatmeal pecan pie
I love you pecan pie

Sweet Potato Cake with Marshmallow Frosting


Hey Mom and Dad,

P.S. I’m coming home for Thanksgiving!! I can’t wait to spend the day cooking with you 🙂

Do you have any fun Thanksgiving traditions? If you decide to use the Thankful basket this year let me know!