‘Cheezy’ Complete Lunch

20140324-154859.jpg Based on the survey I sent out last week, a couple of readers showed interest in getting ideas for balanced meals and not just individual recipes.

Please comment your opinions if this is helpful for you, otherwise I plan on discontinuing this.

1 Almond Butter Toast [1.5 fat, 1 fruit, 1 grain, 2 protein]

1 Sweet Potato Quinoa with ‘Cheezy’ Broccolini [2 fats, 3 grains, 1 protein, 1 vegetable]

1 Apple [1 fruit]

1 cup Milk [1 milk]


Sweet Potato Stacks

1 fat, 1 fruit, 1 protein, 2 grains


As you know, I have a huge sweet tooth. This is my go-to dessert for dinner. It is such an easy recipe that can be made ahead of time and assembled in seconds to serve.

I could go on and on about my love for this recipe. I make so many variations of it. When I’m not trying to be fancy with my presentation, I cut the sweet potato into cubes and serve them over brown rice with the other ingredients. Delicious.


Quick Facts: Sweet Potatoes are high in vitamins A, C, and B6. They have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and blood sugar regulating components. To absorb all the benefits of beta-carotene it’s important to eat the sweet potato with some fats.

Don’t forget to please fill out this brief survey when you have a chance! I will be posting the results this weekend.

1 sweet potato [2 grains]

1/4 cup full fat greek yogurt [1 fat, 1 protein]

2 tbsp raisins [1 fruit]

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tbsp agave

>> Cut the sweet potato into disks (or cubes). Bake at 350F for about 20-30 mins until cooked through. Layer disks with yogurt and raisins. Drizzle with cinnamon and agave. *

*As I said, I prefer serving the sweet potatoes in cubes over brown rice. To keep the same exchange counts, simply use 1/2 sweet potato and 1/2 cup brown rice.

Sweet Root Vegetable Bake and Orange Quinoa Salad Lunch


When I was about 14, a tragedy struck in the kitchen of my home. My mom screamed and called me to come running as fast as I could. She started waving her hand, “I cut my finger off!!!!!”. Her hand was covered in this purplish dye…from the beets she was cooking. “You’re not funny”.

I’m assuming I rolled my eyes or made some teenage snarly remark. The tragedy of this event? I had to run to the kitchen without cookies waiting for me at the end. If you ever decide to make this lunch, try out the old trick while you’re cutting the beets. Maybe it’ll actually work!

Sweet Potato, Beet, and Apple Bake with Caramelized Walnuts [3 fat, 1/2 fruit, 2 grain, 1 protein, 1 vegetable]

Orange Spinach Quinoa Salad [1/2 fruit, 1 grain, 1 protein, 1 vegetable]

1 cup berries [1 fruit]

1/4 cup greek yogurt [1 protein]

1 cup omega-3 fortified soy milk [1 dairy]

Sweet Potato, Beet, and Apple Bake with Caramelized Walnuts

3 fat, 1/2 fruit, 2 grain, 1 protein, 1 vegetable

I grew up in a Russian family. Signature dishes I could always find on the dinner table included walnut beet salads, a main course with potatoes, and the classic apple pie- “sharlotka”.

Today I decided to draw inspiration from my favorite dishes to create a 3 course meal in one bite. Ok that sounds a little gross, but imagine these textures and sensations all at once: crispy, soft, crunchy, sweet, tangy…but how?!

Honestly, I could probably eat this dish for breakfast lunch and dinner. It is so versatile you could serve it as a main course, a salad, or a side. I’m hesitant to say dessert, but what the heck, add a dollop of cool whip on top, sprinkle it with raisins, and try it out. I think I’m actually going to try this. I’ll get back to you, but let’s just say I’m not expecting much.


Other than the delicious taste, this dish is so nutritious! It has all of the food exchange groups in one. The beets provide antioxidants, the oils/nuts add healthy fats and proteins, and the sweet potatoes and apple provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

1 beet [1 grain, 1 vegetable]

1/2 sweet potato [1 grain]

1/2 apple* [1/2 fruit]

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp coconut oil [1 fat]

1 tsp olive oil [1 fat]

1/4 cup chopped walnuts [1 protein, 1 fat]

1/2 tbsp sugar

>> Preheat oven to 400F. Peel and chop the sweet potato and beet. If you want the beets crunchy*, toss the sweet potato and beet with 1 tsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Spread on a sheet and bake for 15 mins. While they are baking, chop half of the apple. Add the apple to the sweet potato and beet, and bake an additional 15 mins. On the stovetop, heat a skillet with a tsp of coconut oil. Roast the chopped walnuts and then add the sugar, stirring often so the sugar doesn’t burn. Finally, remove the bake from the oven and top it with the walnut glaze.

*I recommend a sweeter apple such as Fuji or Gala.

**If you want the beets soft add half of the oil, salt, and cinnamon to the sweet potatoes and add the other half to the beets separately. Place the beets on tin foil and fold the foil over to create a “beet pocket”. Bake beside the sweet potatoes.

What were the staple dishes in your family growing up?

Healthy Black Bean Burrito Lunch


Seven years ago I went on a trip to Costa Rica with a volunteer group. We taught local children english, explored the country, and did some surfing. It was amazing!

For some reason a majority of my meals ended up being rice and beans. Um, what the heck! Boring! Where is the exotic, new, foreign, costa rican food? Well, as I mention in The Plate, beans and rice create a complete protein in a dish. It’s extremely cheap and easy to make. 20140225-151302.jpg

Well, since I’m no longer in Costa Rica and no longer being fed black beans and rice, I decided to recreate the concept of this dish. This time around, I added some zest to the black bean and exchanged the rice for a whole grain tortilla wrap. To make it a balanced meal, I served it with some tropical fruits.

1 Mexican Black Bean Burrito [2.5 grains, 2.5 fats, 2 proteins, 2 vegetables]

1/2 banana [1 fruit]

1 nectarine [1 fruit]

1/4 cup granola [1 grain, 1 fat]

1/2 cup greek yogurt [2 protein]

1 cup 1% milk [1 dairy]

What is your rendition of the rice and bean?

Mexican Black Bean Burrito

2.5 fats, 2 grains, 2 proteins, 2 vegetables


Well well what do you know, more snow in the forecast! All morning I was dreaming of laying on the beach. The sun radiating above as I dug my toes into the warm sand. Ahhh, the good life.


Then I snapped back to reality.

Since I can’t lay in an all-inclusive resort, I decided to bring some Mexican flavors up north. I filled my burrito with none other than the black bean. Black beans are packed with fiber, and according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they also have more antioxidant activity than other beans to fight against cancer and the aging process.

Would you look at that! I went to Mexico and came back younger using the recipe below:

1/2 cup drained black beans [1 grain, 1 protein]

1/4 cup corn [1/2 grain]

2 cup vegetables (I used onions, tomatoes, peppers)  [2 vegetables]

1 tsp. olive oil [1 fat]

1 whole grain tortilla [1 grain, 1/2 fat, 1 protein]

1/5 avocado [1 fat]

1/2 lemon

GARNISH: slice of lemon, cilantro, spinach

SPICES: chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, chile pepper, garlic powder
*use all, some, or none depending on your preference

>>Heat oil in a skillet and brown chopped vegetables. Add corn, black beans, and spices. Squeeze about 1 tbsp. lemon juice over mixture. Serve on whole grain tortilla with spinach, cilantro and avocado.

Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

2 fat, 2 grain, 3 protein, 1.5 vegetables


1 cup cooked quinoa [2 grains, 1 protein]

1 tomato [1 vegetable]

1/4 cup egg whites *optional [1 protein]

1 oz cheese (use daiya if vegan) [1 protein, 1 fat]

1 tsp oil [1 fat]

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped peppers

>>Preheat oven to 425F. Clean out the tomatoes of their insides and set aside. Sauté onions and peppers in 1 tsp oil. Stir in cooked quinoa and the tomato insides you set aside earlier. Add the egg whites and 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Once the mixture is almost cooked/cooked, spoon into your cleared tomato, while layering with cheese in between spoonfuls. Place the cap of the tomato on top. Bake for about 5-10 mins. Serve tomato on top of the remaining quinoa mixture.

*When you are baking the tomato, use a cupcake tin to hold the tomato so it stays upright.

Here it is pictured with 2 oz of italian baked tofu. This added 1.5 protein and 1 fat (not reflected in recipe exchanges above)