Tag Archives: food

FREE and Healthy Airplane Food: Quinoa Salad and Eggplant Sandwich

Okay, maybe this meal is not free. However, it is not overpriced, salty, and tasteless airplane food. Here’s one of my go-to meals when traveling. Yes, it does require some food prep, but your stomach will thank me later!

Salad Ingredients: 

  • cooked quinoa
  • kalamata olives
  • feta cheese 
  • sliced cucumber
  • grape tomatoes
  • shredded kale and/or spinach
  • fresh herb (your choice! I like basil or oregano)
  • sliced red bell pepper
  • lemon juice
  • extra virgin olive oil


  • baked eggplant slices
  • whole wheat lavash bread, tortilla, or pita


Make a little eggplant and salad sandwich on your whole grain!

  • bonus dressing for sandwhich – mix minced garlic and fresh basil with canola mayo

Essentials to Make This a Success

  1. Frozen ice pack  

    I like to freeze water inside of a food storage bag and use it as an ice pack. You can empty melted ice water as it melts during your travels. Plus, you can reuse the bag on your return trip. A frozen bag of water does NOT count as a liquid according to TSA. Tip: double bag it to eliminate excess condensation as your homemade ice pack melts.

  2. Insulated food bag

    This is an easy way to store your food and keep it chilled (and sanitary) while traveling. Note: Organic (raw) foods tend to trigger TSA systems. You might get pulled to the side and asked what’s in your bag. 

  3. Plastic fork and spoon
  4. Napkin
  5. Hand sanitizer
  6. Food storage bag or recyclable plastic container to store foods. 

Happy eating! 

And you’re welcome. 

Hearty Kale Salad Mexicana

This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite cuisines–Mexican.


5 cups fresh chopped Kale

1 cup Cilantro

1/3 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup shredded red cabbage

2-3 sliced radishes

1 sliced Granny Smith Apple

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cup Black beans (boiled, not from a can)

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan or other favorite cheese

Organic Chipotle salsa  (I used Trader Joe’s brand here. I also like Wegman’s brand. Be careful and read nutrition label. Some salsa’s have a lot of added sugar and/ sodium.) 

Sliced fresh hot peppers (optional)

Sliced avocado (optional)


Toss the first seven ingredients in a large glass or hard plastic bowl. Add black beans (hot or cold, depending on your preference). Sprinkle on 2 to 3 teaspoons of cheese. For a dressing, add a few tablespoons of the organic chipotle salsa. Enjoy! This recipe prepares approximately 6 large single servings.

TIP: Increase caloric intake of this dish by adding brown rice and/or grilled chicken!

Sweet Potato Hack: Ditch the Butter & Sugar!

Do you like your sweet potatoes doused with a ridiculous amount of butter and brown sugar



trying to eat healthier?

Try this healthy sweet potato hack and let me know if it satisfies that ever so present sweet tooth.


  1. Microwave, bake, or boil your sweet potato.
  2. Slice open or mash to your liking.
  3. Instead of butter, add some ORGANIC COCONUT OIL. (healthy fats)
  4. Instead of brown sugar, add 1/3 of mashed ripe BANANA. (natural source of sugar, good source for potassium, fiber, & vitamin C)
  5. Top off with some cinnamon and nutmeg.

Enjoy! This is super easy to prepare in less than 5 minutes.

Let me know how you like it!


photo #1 credit: thecottagemama.com
photo #2: Candice Elaine brooks (c) 2015

No Time? No Problem! – A Quick Healthy Meal On-The-Go!

2015-08-16 17.45.15Who says you can’t eat healthy at a live professional sports game? I suppose having media credentials and treating all facility staff with the utmost kindness and respect allows me to bring my snack bag into each game, but hey, I’ll take it!

This is something I threw together in less than 7 minutes! I honestly didn’t know what I was going to take to the game, I just knew I had to pack SOMETHING–or else! I opened the refrigerator and made this up on the fly. Here are the ingredients.

1/2 c. Brown rice

1/2 c. Organic baby spinach

1/3 c. English cucumber (with peel)

1/2 can Albacore tuna fish (canned in water)

1/4 c. Chopped carrots

1 Tbsp. Italian dressing

Layer the ingredients in your to-go dish, pop the top on, throw it on an ice pack, and GO! Oh, don’t forget your fork.

Basic Nutrition Facts: 294 cal, 33g carb, 6g fat, 28g protein, 475 sodium, 4g sugars

Yikes! This meal has more sodium than I thought. Low sodium alternative: ditch the dressing and use a little extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon or lime juice. Also, see if you can find some low sodium or no salt added albacore tuna.

Quick & Easy Protein Rich Smoothie

In the name of saving time and eating healthy, here’s a quick and simple smoothie just for you! Scroll down and you’ll see the recipe and a few tips!


1 c. Unsweetened Almond Milk

1/2 frozen banana

1 scoop of your favorite vanilla or chocolate protein powder (I used Nutrology Grass Fed Whey)

1 Tbsp organic creamy peanut butter

4 large frozen strawberries

Directions: Toss everything into your handy dandy blender. Enjoy!

Basic Nutrition Facts: 298 cal, 20g carb, 12g fat, 30g protein, 267 sodium, 9g sugars

The majority of the sugar is from the fruit. Be careful with your protein powder! It may be loaded with sugar. Mine wasn’t because I used Nutrology Grass Fed Whey. [Receive a 20% discount and free shipping for online purchases. Enter CEBFIT upon checkout.] You can also use fresh unfrozen fruit and add a few ice cubes to beef up the frozen smoothie texture. 

TIP: For all of the folks out there looking to lose weight, I recommend getting most of your natural added sugars in your diet earlier on in the day. It gives you more time to burn those calories off throughout the course of your day.

Butternut Squash Soup w/ a Sweet Twist!

‘Tis the season for warm and delicious soups! This recipe was inspired by the roasted butternut squash soup I recently gobbled up at Heirloom, a restaurant located in Beaver, PA. I think my interpretation came out pretty good. I couldn’t resist adding sweet potatoes and carrots for some natural sweetness. Enjoy!


1 medium large butternut squash
2 sweet potatoes
2-3 carrots
32 oz vegetable stock
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 cinnamon sticks
couple dashes of cinnamon
extra virgin olive oil
coconut oil
a dash or two of kosher salt
a dash or two of ground black pepper
2 tsp brown sugar
1 cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
few sprigs of fresh sage

2014-10-21 18.10.43

Removing seeds and pulp from squash.

Coat an aluminum foil pan with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle some nutmeg, salt, and pepper into the ban. Toss in two small cinnamon sticks and a few sprigs of fresh sage. Cut squash in half or in fourths. Cut sweet potatoes in half. Cut carrots into large medallions. Lie squash seed side down into pan. Lie sweet potatoes flat side down and toss in carrots. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake (or grill in covered aluminum foil pan) squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots until done. You should be able to easily slide a toothpick or knife into squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

2014-10-21 19.02.33

Simmering in the crock pot!

Remove skin, seeds, and pulp from cooked squash. Remove skin from sweet potatoes. Blend squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, and vegetable stock until smooth and creamy. Poor into crock pot set on low heat. Add a dash or two of salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I also added about a teaspoon of brown sugar to add a little extra love and sweetness! Toss in the same cinnamon sticks you used to bake or grill the squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Stir. Let simmer for a few minutes. While this is simmering in the crock pot….

2014-10-21 19.03.41

Butternut Squash Sweet Potato Carrot Soup

Throw your pumpkin seeds into a skillet on medium heat. Add 1/4 tsp of olive oil and 1//4 tsp of coconut oil. Stir in pan to allow oil to coat seeds. Add 1 tsp of brown sugar. Occasionally stir and seeds to brown. Turn off heat. Pour seeds in heat proof container and allow to sit for a minute or two.

Back to the crock pot! Give your soup one last stir and wah-lah! It’s ready! Serve in your favorite soup bowl and add a few roasted pumpkin seeds on top. Grab a spoon and enjoy!

Let me know what you think about the recipe!


First time making Pho!

“Pho is life, love and all things that matter.” (Pham, M., 1997)

One of my favorite foods to eat is a classic VIetnamese dish called, pho–pronounced “FUH.” Admittedly, I never knew pho existed until I moved to the West Coast and my culinary pallet was expanded and exposed to so many “new” foods. Well, foods new to me. What can I say? I missed out on a lot of tasty grub growing up. I fell victim to eating what was familiar, readily accessible, and affordable in my environment. Anyways, I digress. Back to pho.

Conceptually, pho is rather simple: broth, rice noodles, and meat. However, the preparation of pho is rather laborious–well, at least for a novice pho-maker like myself. I’ve been meaning to find a recipe AND purchase ingredients AND make pho for quite some time. Finally, I did it. I found a couple of recipes, consulted with my brother, roamed around the global food market looking for specialty ingredients, and blocked off half a day to make my first batch.

phopicI credit my pho-making success to author and teacher, Andrea Nguyen, of Vietworldkitchen.com. I searched the internet and reviewed several pho recipes and hers seemed to be the most comprehensive, authentic, and detailed. I slightly deviated from her recipe, but overall remained true to her pho expertise. I specifically referenced her Chicken Pho Noodle Soup Recipe (yields 8 servings).

Below is what I did a little bit differently, but it still turned out EXCELLENT!


Instead of using a chunk of rock sugar, I substituted a tablespoon of regular white granulated sugar.
Instead of 4 whole cloves, I used 6 whole cloves.
I added Star Anise (a total of 40 star tips) to the broth spices.
Instead of boiling the chicken whole (on top of chicken parts), I pre-cut chicken into thigh/leg and breast quarters.
I added 1 additional tablespoon of fish sauce.

I didn’t use yellow onion or cilantro. Instead, I used fresh bean sprouts, Thai basil, freshly squeezed lime juice, and jalepeños. I also added a little bit of Sriracha sauce and Hoisin sauce.

I encourage you to play around with optional garnishes. Have fun with it and enjoy!

Estimated (and Basic) Nutrition Facts: 8 total servings / 1 serving
(I only accounted for the chicken, noodles, and fish sauce)

Calories: 2750 / 343
Protein: 213 / 27
Carbohydrates: 360 / 45
Fat: 41 / 6
Sodium: 4275 / 535
Sugar: 0

After looking at the nutrition facts, I want to experiment with not using fish sauce, using significantly less, or finding a substitution that is not as high in sodium. Either that or drink 2 gallons of water after eating pho! Keep in mind I didn’t include the Sriracha and hoisin sauces (high in sodium) in this mini-nutritional breakdown. I also want to significantly reduce or eliminate sugar in the broth, especially if I use hoisin sauce in the bowls.

Still curious about pho? Here are a few websites dedicated to expanding the world’s knowledge about this tasty savory Vietnamese comfort food.

History of Pho Noodle Soup (The Viet World Kitchen)
The Origins of Pho (Pho Ever) <—I love the name of this website.
A Bowl of Pho: Vietnam’s Treasured Beef Noodle Soup That Brings Families Together (San Francisco Gate)
Pho! Vietnam’s Beautiful Legendary Soup (Food Origins TV)

I’m DEFINITELY doubling the recipe the next time I make it.

Unhealthy Foods 101: Outsmarting Habits Disguised as Cravings

Today, let’s start with the end in mind.

You have to make it a habit to get rid of a bad habit to make space for better habits.

Anyone who knows me is fully aware of my love for desserts–especially dark chocolate, sweet potato pie, apple pie, ice cream, soft chocolate chip cookies, birthday cake, well, you get the point. Once upon a time about five years ago I decided to give up desserts for the entire month leading up to my birthday. I was curious to see if I could actually do it. And what better way to celebrate than to have a big ol’ piece of birthday cake and ice cream 31 days later!?!? So yes, 31 days of no desserts for a person who regularly partakes in the deliciousness of sweet delectables.

The first few days weren’t so bad and admittedly it was very eye opening to experience the “alleged” cravings for sweets. Mind you, it didn’t help that certain people who shall remain nameless tried to tempt me with all types of sweets. My will power prevailed. I also noticed how much desserts are around me as a convenience to eat. Work. Dining halls. Restaurants. Grocery stores. Work meetings. Doctor’s offices. My purse. In the hands of friends and colleagues. Hair salon. Movie theater. And the list goes on and on. Let’s fast forward 31 days and chat about a few things that surfaced during my 31-day dessert fast.

discipline: Unsurprisingly, I have will power and discipline to push through any type of luxurious sacrifice. It was only dessert (my precious). It’s not like I was giving up water and food all month. Mind you, I remain thankful for the choice to even give up desserts, let alone the possibility of giving up water or food.

craving: At first, I could have sworn I was craving desserts. I didn’t have the shakes or some other noticeable physiological response, but I really did think I seriously craved desserts. And then it happened….

habit: I figured out that I don’t really love desserts, nor do I crave them. I have simply conditioned myself to eating desserts at a certain time of day and for certain occasions for the majority of my life. After dinner–dessert. Birthday–dessert (I still haven’t been able to shake this one). After lunch–dessert. After snack snack–dessert. After pulling desserts (high glycemic index and super sugary foods) out of my diet, my sensitivity to sweets increased and my desire to eat sweets decreased.

Moral of the story: You have to make it a habit to get rid of a bad habit to make space for better habits.

Here’s a cool video infographic I found on YouTube about the Science of Habit. It’s pretty basic and progresses into how habits become addictions, so you could stop watching at the 2:40 mark…or not. 😉

Video credit: Kenny Winn via YouTube

There’s also a book I’ve been meaning to read, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.

QUESTION: What not-so-healthy foods do you crave? Are they truly food CRAVINGS or have these foods become part of your food intake routine (a.k.a., habit)?  Perhaps it’s a little bit of both…

In order for change to occur, change needs to happen.

Gym Bag Challenge!

isn’t she a gem?

I’m typically not a pink person, but since it’s October, I wanted to increase awareness about Breast Health Awareness Month!

I recently read a blog post about a bag challenge. More specifically, the challenge called for participants to report on the contents of whatever bag they had on hand. I thought this was a great idea for a blog post this week.

Here’s a list of the contents of my gym bag. Enjoy!


Chewing gum – I’m a gum chewer. There’s something about chomping on a fresh piece of spearmint gum that keeps me pumped during my workout. I keep a pack in my bag.

1 Protein Bar and 2 Fruit & Nut Bars – I tend to stay hungry and these little treats stop my stomach from growling. They’re very handy on the days I take two back-to-back fitness classes and need a little snack in-between. Tip: I only eat 1/3 or a 1/2 of a bar and drink a few big sips of water. A little goes a long way when I just need something to stop me from thinking about food when I’m supposed to be focused on my workout.

Nutritional supplements (BCAAs, protein powder, & glutamine powder)Along with water, I sip on branch chained amino acids before and during my workout. This helps reduce protein and muscle breakdown. I drink a protein shake (with glutamine) within 20 minutes of my workout to help with muscle recovery and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness. Read more about what the NSCA has to say about this.


2 old pens and 1 black marker – I tend to log my workouts in a small spiral bound notebook. It’s handy to always keep a pen I don’t care about losing on hand.

Small spiral bound notebook – I log most of my workouts here. Maybe one day I will compile my workouts and get them published.

Sticky notepad – This serves as my back-up workout notebook. It also comes in handy when I need to write something down at the gym.


Lock and key – Most gyms don’t want folks carrying their bag on the floor and plus, I usually bring entirely too much stuff to not keep everything inside of a locker. I always keep my lock and key inside a side pocket of my bag. Tip: I store the key inside the lock hole so it’s easy to find both inside of my bag. I also keep the key on a carabiner that holds extra pony-tail holders, too. The carabiner makes it easy to attach to the little loop on my water bottle, too!

Two mp3 Player Cases – Just in case I want to listen to music on my larger mp3 player, I have two exercise-friendly cases to use. One goes on my arm and one can attach to my waistband. I usually use my smaller mp3 player, but I like to have music options!

Ear bud headphones – This is an extra pair I always keep in my bag just in case I forget my favorite ones. Besides not bringing socks, not being able to listen to my music playlists is the absolute worst when working out. I need my music!

Plastic bag – I can place shoes, wet clothes, clean clothes, food, or whatever in this bag. It’s my “just-in-case I need a plastic bag” bag.

Business card – Just in case I lose my bag, my identifying information is inside. Also, I may meet someone at the gym and want to share my business card for networking and follow-up purposes.


Multiple pairs of socks – For whatever reason, socks grow inside of my gym bag! I have a total of 4 pair in there! I think it’s because of the one time I made it to the gym and forgot my socks. I was so bummed. At the time, I managed to do some barefoot exercises in the group exercise room, but I was bummed about not being able to do the workout I really wanted accomplish that day. Confession: I even keep an extra pair or two of socks in my car!

Multiple head bands – Similar to the socks, I have entirely way too many head bands in my bag. I think it’s because I have pretty long dreadlocks. It is entirely way too annoying working out with dreadlocks smacking me in the face; hence, four head bands! Tip: Cut the sleeves off of old t-shirts and use them as a headband.

Extra pair of underwear – I have these just in case I forget to bring some when I shower and change at the gym. It’s also helpful to have an extra pair when I need to run errands or delay my time between my sweaty workout and shower. Hot moist environments are breeding grounds for bacteria and I definitely don’t want any of that. You might want to check out these articles (yeast infection, jock itch) about why you want to stay away from wearing warm, moist, or tight-fitting clothes for an extended amount of time. Note: I usually bring a full change of clothes when I go to the gym, but today is an “in-between half-packed bag I’m doing laundry” kind of day.

Weightlifting gloves – I don’t want to build up calluses on my hands, so I use weightlifting gloves.


lotion, deodorant, lip balm, feminine products


Since this was an off day, several items were missing from my bag…

sneakers, spinning shoes, jump rope, mp3 players, headphones, heart rate monitor strap and watch, change of clothes, sweat towel, water bottle, shaker cup, extra carabiner, certification cards, soap, shower cap, shower shoes, and probably a few other items I forgot at the time of writing this

I hope you enjoyed reading what’s in my bag. I learned three things from conducting this activity.

1. I need to reduce the amount of stuff in my bag.
2. I need to restock my bag.
3. I need to get a new bag. It’s a tad bit beat up.

So, what’s in YOUR bag?

Don’t forget, October is Breast Health Awareness Month! Find a local affiliate and get involved today.

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