Watermelon Feta Salad with Olives

I hear Labor Day is the signal for the end of summer, so naturally I'm obsessed with all of the summer produce. Watermelons, tomatoes, corn, berries. I want it all. With the recent move to Brooklyn and regular excursions to the New Jersey countryside, I've had plenty of opportunities to stop at farm stands, most of which are run on the honor system where you pay for what you take by dropping money into a bucket at the stand.


The first watermelon was so delicious that I had to find a second. But I didn't want to make another watermelon, feta salad, I wanted something different. Luckily I remembered this insane (delicious) salad I had in New Orleans at the James Beard Award Winning Shaya on Magazine Street. (Check out their menu and definitely go if you're in town.) Watermelon, Bulgarian feta, green olives, chermoula. I left the fancy food for the award-winning restaurant and stuck to what I know which meant Whole Foods brand feta, a side of the road watermelon, Trader Joe's olives, and a modified version of chermoula. 

Lesson: You don't have to be fancy to make good food. Leave the fancy for the restaurants and experiment in the kitchen with what you have!


1 small watermelon, cubed and seeds removed (about 6 cups)
3 tbsp fresh, chopped mint
1 tbsp fresh, chopped parsley
1 tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped olives*
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Cube and remove seeds from watermelon. Chop herbs and olives. Add all ingredients to a bowl and toss.

*I used Trader Joe's marinated olives with lemon and herbs. If you don't have lemon marinated olives then add lemon juice and zest from 1/2 lemon to the recipe.  


Black Bean Vegetable Burgers

Veggie burgers are a meatless meal go-to. They're packed with fiber (read: filling), easy to make, and bonus(!) they freeze well making for a quick and easy lunch or dinner. These burgers could also be renamed "kitchen sink burgers" since many of the ingredients can be exchanged for whatever you have in the fridge or cabinet. No squash? No problem. Use zucchini or eggplant. No peppers? Use carrots or asparagus. Oats can be exchanged for bread crumbs and the cilantro can be swapped for parsley or even basil. Be sure to keep the ratios consistent for a burger that holds well in the pan and on the bun.  

2 tbsp.    olive oil or canola oil
½ each    large yellow squash, roughly chopped
½ each    red bell pepper, roughly chopped
½ cup      button mushrooms, roughly chopped
½ tsp       sea salt
1 tsp        ground black pepper
1 can        low sodium black beans, rinsed
3 each     garlic cloves
½ bunch  cilantro
½ each     lime juice plus zest
1 ½ cup     old fashioned oats
1 each       large egg

In a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium heat. Add squash, bell pepper, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Sauté until al dente and most of the water has evaporated (about 15 minutes). While the vegetables are cooking, add black beans, garlic, oats, cilantro, lime juice, and lime zest to a food processor. Add cooked vegetables and pulse until all ingredients are combined. Add egg and continue to pulse until fully incorporated. Form into patties.  (makes 8 patties)
Heat 1 tbsp. oil in pan over medium heat. Add patties and cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned and cooked through. 

Build on a whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, and your choice of spread.

Tip: Burgers can be frozen between layers of parchment paper. When ready to cook, simply thaw and heat oil in a pan to cook on each side until cooked through. 

Easy Herb Pizza Crust

Easy and bread are two words I rarely put in the same sentence, but there are exceptions to every rule. Case in point, this pizza crust. It's literally the procrastinators dream. No time to let a dough rise? No problem. Just put all ingredients in a stand mixer, turn on, and let form a dough ball. Roll it out, top, and pizza is in the oven.

3/4 cup lukewarm water plus 2 tbsp
1 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil

Add lukewarm water and yeast to a bowl and let foam. About 5 minutes. Add flour, olive oil, salt, and herbs. Mix using a dough hook in a stand mixer or with a wooden spoon. If using a wooden spoon, dump all ingredients onto a clean counter and knead 5 - 10 times until formed. If using a dough hook and a stand mixer, mix until a dough ball is formed. Put onto parchment paper or a well-floured pan, roll, and top with pizza toppings. 

Note: This dough makes a cracker-thin crust.

Vegetarian Fajita Stir Fry

I'm often met with a confused look when I excitedly mention how tacos, fajitas, and burritos can be a healthy meal. Most think high fat queso and sodium-laden meats when thinking of the standard Mexican-style meal you're served in your local restaurant. But, when I think tacos, burritos, and fajitas, I think vegetables. It's the perfect opportunity to load up on veggie servings alongside fiber-rich beans. Add herbs and spices and you're well on your way to a flavor-packed, fiber-rich, veggie-loaded, tasty plate of delicious food that's sure to satisfy. 


Packaged taco and fajita seasoning can be extremely high in sodium. One way to cut back on the sodium is to make your own fajita seasoning. It requires purchasing a variety of seasonings, but you can mix a big batch and have it as a go-to for future meals. Just store in an airtight container for as long as you would keep spices on the shelf (about 1 year). 

Fajita Seasoning
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)

Mix in a bowl and set aside for the following recipe. If using for a later date then double and put half in an airtight container. You will use all of the seasoning for the recipe below.

Vegetarian Fajita Stir Fry
Makes 4 servings (1 serving is two filled tortillas)

2 tbsp             olive oil
1 16oz can       low sodium black beans
2 each            bell peppers (orange and red preferred)
1 each             tomato (on the vine or roma)
1/2 each         red onion
1 4oz can       green chiles (I used Hatch brand)
8 each           corn tortillas (I used La Tortilla Factory 6in tortillas)

In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Slice onions, bell peppers, and tomato and set aside. Using a strainer, rinse black beans under cold water and set aside. Add sliced onions to pan and sauté until browned and slightly translucent. Add fajita seasoning, bell peppers, tomatoes, green chiles, and rinsed black beans. Stir and allow to cook over medium heat for another 10 minutes or until peppers are cooked through. 

If you'd prefer meat in your dish then chicken is a good option. Slice boneless, skinless chicken breast and add to pan with the onions. Cook until browned, but not cooked all the way through. Then add the remainder of the ingredients (beans optional) and saute until chicken is cooked through. 

Serve over tortillas and top with your choice of toppings.

ANEWtrition Tip: Turn leftovers into a fajita salad. Chop lettuce and spinach and add to a bowl. Top with the fajita stir fry and add salsa for a dressing.

Toppings Bar: 
greek yogurt, avocado, salsa, hot sauce, chopped cilantro, diced onions, shredded cheese

Turmeric Banana and Kale Smoothie

Colder weather usually means warmer, comforting foods, not chilly smoothies. But you won't notice the cold when enjoying this 5-ingredient smoothie featuring warming turmeric. If you're unfamiliar with turmeric then this is a perfect way to start your new relationship. Turmeric is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, contains a powerful antioxidant, curcumin, and may have play a role in the fight against cancer. Better yet, it tastes great and is incredibly versatile. 


1 banana, frozen or fresh
1 tsp turmeric
1 cup plain soy milk (or milk of your choice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 - 1 cup kale

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 
Note: This smoothie doesn't contain ice, so if you're looking for something that's icy cold then use a frozen banana.

Looking for more ways to use turmeric? Check out this recipe round-up from The Kitchn.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts, Radicchio, and Watermelon Radish Salad

Bitter, spicy, crunchy, colorful. This salad is a simple, back to basics recipe (#btobrecipes on Instagram), and a tasty addition to your holiday table. It's perfect for winter featuring three seasonal vegetables: brussels sprouts, radicchio, and watermelon radish. You'll need a cutting board, knife, and food processor. Optional is the mandolin, a useful, but not necessary kitchen gadget used to thinly slice produce. Note: always use a guard. I can speak from experience, a mandolin and the tops of your fingers don't mix!


1 bag of brussels sprouts or about 3 cups
1 medium head of radicchio
1 medium watermelon radish
ANEWtrition Dijon Vinaigrette with Shallots 

Wash brussels sprouts and trim ends. Wash radicchio, trim end, and cut into quarters. Wash watermelon radish and set aside. Assemble food processor with blade in place to slice vegetables. Add brussels sprouts and radicchio to slice/shred. Use a sharp knife or mandolin to thinly slice watermelon radish. Toss all ingredients in a bowl, add vinaigrette and mix well. Hold in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours prior to serving. 

Dijon Vinaigrette with Shallots

It wasn't until I found myself in graduate school in Boston that I truly learned how to be comfortable in the kitchen. At that point I had been immersed in the nutrition field for over 5 years and had been a registered dietitian for 2 of the 5 years. My signature response when someone asked how it was possible that I could be an RD and not know how to cook was: "I can tell you everything about the nutrients in the food, but I can't tell you how to put it together." I honestly felt like my lack of culinary of skills was justified because I didn't go to culinary school. Another post for another day, but boy was I wrong. 

Is culinary school necessary to prepare delicious meals? Nope. I did what I call, learn on the job, but I have to give credit where it's due. For this one, a dressing I've modified over the years, I give credit to a brilliant fellow student at Tufts University whom I had the privilege of living with for a few years. She was a master in the kitchen and could almost create something out of nothing. The basics of this simple dressing came from watching her make it over and over in our tiny Boston apartment. That experience proved to me that something like a salad dressing isn't daunting and has a much superior taste than many store-bought varieties. 


1 lemon
1 medium shallot, diced
2 tbsp whole grain dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cut lemon and squeeze juice through a strainer (to catch seeds) and into a bowl. Dice shallot and add to bowl along with mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, and cracked black pepper. Mix well. Slowly add olive oil while whisking to blend. 

Dressing can be held in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with White Beans and Chard

Spaghetti squash is a versatile vegetable that makes its debut in the fall and winter months. It's a good source of fiber, is low in calories, and has a mild flavor making it an ideal substitute for pasta.

This recipe may seem overwhelming considering it takes over an hour to prepare, but before you move on to find something to make in a shorter amount of time then consider that the majority of this cook time is due to the time it takes to bake the squash. As soon as you walk in the door do this: preheat the oven, cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and put in the oven to bake. Go about your evening for the next 45 minutes. Once cooked then the rest of the recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes. Sold?


1 medium spaghetti squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 box crushed tomatoes
1 can low sodium cannellini beans, rinsed
4 large leaves of swiss chard (about half a bunch), chopped
1 bunch basil, chopped
1 cup mozzarella
2 tbsp shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place cut-side up into a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes or until you can use a fork to scrape the spaghetti into noodles. Set noodles aside.

Heat oil in a skillet. Add shallot and saute until translucent. Add swiss chard and beans. Saute until chard wilts. Add tomatoes and spaghetti noodles. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. While filling is simmering, finely chop one bunch of basil.  

Add 1/3 of filling to the bottom of the baking dish surrounding the spaghetti boats. Split the remainder of the chard and bean filling between the two boats. Top with mozzarella, parmesan, and 1/2 chopped basil. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining half of the basil on top of the boats. 

Back to basics tip: opt for a jar of tomato basil marinara and eliminate the crushed tomatoes, shallot, and basil. 

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Likely the most well-known vegetable making its debut this time of year is pumpkin. Not many fall veggies are known for both their decorative looks and their nutrient value. Lucky for us, pumpkins are multi-purpose.

Pumpkins are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a carotenoid that acts as an antioxidant and is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A plays a vital role in eye health, helps to support the immune system, and is known to help maintain healthy skin. Pumpkins are also a source of fiber coming in at 3g of fiber per cup (when cooked and mashed). Two great reasons to add more of this orange vegetable to your plate. 

No need to scoop, roast, and mash your own pumpkin. Instead, pick up a can of pumpkin puree (note, this is not pumpkin pie filling which contains added sugar and spices). It's the convenient and user-friendly ingredient featured in this simple, fall breakfast.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Makes 2 servings

1 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup non-fat or low-fat plain greek yogurt
1 tbsp pumpkin butter*
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

For topping
1 tbsp walnuts
1 tbsp granola of your choice

In a microwave-safe bowl, pour oats and enough water to cover the oats. Microwave on high for 1.5 - 2 minutes, or until oats are cooked. Add pumpkin puree, greek yogurt, pumpkin butter, and spices. Top with walnuts and your favorite granola. 

*Pumpkin butter can be homemade or store bought. I used Trader Joe's brand, but there are many other brands available. Example 1, 2, and 3.


5-Ingredient Coconut, Walnut Crunch Bites

Confession. I've never owned a food processor. I've always used a blender which worked well, but that meant hand-grating things like carrots and actually using a cutting board and knife for cucumbers and the like. Oh the horror. 

But, here we are with a food processor and what better way to break her in than to make these simple, 5-ingredient coconut, walnut crunch bites. These are great for on-the-go snacking and are delicious enough to masquerade as a dessert. 

5 ingredients:

pitted dates
almond flour
unsweetened shredded coconut. 

Put all ingredients, except shredded coconut, in the food processor. Process until you reach a mealy consistency.

Shape into quarter-size balls and roll in shredded coconut to cover. Store in an airtight container to maintain freshness. 

Coconut, Walnut Crunch Bites

1 c      pitted dates
1/2 c  chopped walnuts
1/4 c  almond flour
1 tsp  cinnamon
1/4 c shredded coconut                      

Process first four ingredients in the food processor until a mealy texture is achieved.
Form into quarter-size balls. Fill a shallow bowl with shredded coconut and roll bites in the coconut until covered. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 11-12 bites.