Nutritious Lunch at Sticks Kebob Shop

We had an absolutely overwhelming response from our clients on that last post about Panera.  Making food at home is always the best option, but everyone needs a break now and then.  Our clients do a wonderful job of staying disciplined and keeping their eyes on the prize, and we know they deserve a reward.  How long can one shy away from the office deciding to order out together? or avoid going to dinner with friends for fear of breaking the rules?

Well, next time you have a say in where to go, we recommend Sticks Kebob Shop.  For you Richmonders, there’s one right in Willow Lawn.  Feast your eyes on this scrumptious delight:

kebob 1

Oh boy.  Is your mouth watering yet?  As if their Mixed Garden Vegetables with Basil Oil kebob wasn’t delightful enough, they also offer an amazing Chicken Breast with Fresh Herbs kebob.

kebob 3

These are the two Tina would highlight at Sticks.  They are delicious and even more delicious together.  Sticks makes a tasty little side of cucumbers, tomatoes and other delights, and we think that rounds out the meal pretty well.

kebob 4

Grilled veggies and meats seem the obvious choice for healthy options, but the savvy restaurant-goer has to be careful.  We were surprised, once we really started researching, at how many dishes are wayyyy too high in carbohydrates, overall calories and sodium (good grief, so much sodium).  With this combo, though, Tina found she could get the protein she needed at lunch time as well as our old friend low glycemic index carbs through the veggies.  The extra fiber doesn’t hurt, either.  What Tina really enjoys here, though, is the healthy fat that is included without the heavy cost of loads and loads of sodium.  Total sodium for these two together is 175 mg.  Sticks has a shrimp platter which looks awful tempting (Stephanie was this close to ordering that), but with 1,270 mg of sodium it’s not quite worth it at half of your sodium need for the day.

Tina’s only complaint is that the fiber could be a little higher.  3 grams isn’t so bad, but she will have to make sure to include 22 grams more during the day so meet the daily recommendation of 25.

If you’re in Richmond, Charlottesville or Williamsburg, check this place out.  At Willow Lawn the staff is exceedingly friendly, willing to offer suggestions about their favorite items and preparing meals quickly.  Before you go, take a glance at their nutrition information, and try to make sure your selection matches those of these two kebobs in protein, carbs, and sodium.  They also offer a little side salad to enjoy with your kebob choices, which Tina gives a thumbs-up.

The Mixed Garden Vegetables with Basil Oil kebob and the Chicken Breast with Fresh Herbs kebob get an A-.  They may be no Power Chicken Hummus Bowl, but as far as we’re concerned, still a great option.  Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Very Berry Cobbler

Summer is the time of year we welcome family to our homes on a weekly basis, where cook-outs and campfires abound.  It’s not the time of year to slave over a hot stove with your family surrounding you in the kitchen.  In July, we want to be outside laughing by the pool or watching the kids run through the yard.  It’s the perfect time to impress guests with this fuss-free dessert.  Your family will love it and your body will thank you, all while fooling your mother-in-law into thinking you’ve spent the better part of an afternoon on this, and fooling your tastebuds into thinking there’s no way this can be good for me.

GF Blueberry 2
2 cups gluten free oats
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 cup coconut
4 tablespoons either coconut oil or Kerrygold light butter
2 teaspoons maple extract
1/4 cup maple syrup

Simple filling:
4 cups blueberries
1/2 cup Truvia for baking

(Ridiculously Simple) Directions:
Mix together above ingredients and then crumble on top of blueberries and Truvia mixed.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes covered and then remove top and continue to bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Enjoy!

Lemongrass Tilapia with Garlicky Greens

Fish?  Simple.  Quick.  Nutritious.  Tasty.

Need we say more?

Not everyone enjoys seafood, but those of us who do just love a good clean flavorful fish.  Something about it feels so nourishing.  Fish- and particularly the tilapia we’re using tonight- are easy to dress up and go happily with all kinds of sides.  Prepared the way we suggest, this dish gives you 7 grams of fiber total (3 in the sweet potato and 4 in the greens), a good deal of protein and a moderate amount of omega-3 fatty acids (we say “moderate” because there are other oilier fish that have higher amounts of omega-3, but tilapia is a good clean and lean kind that we wanted to use this time!), all while being very low in saturated fat.  We’ve also included a time-saving treat: frozen- GASP- sweet potato fries!  Tina has found a brand she absolutely loves that she highly recommends using for this meal.  See the link below to find out if your local grocery store sells it.

Lemongrass Tilapia with Garlicky Greens




16 oz. fresh tilapia
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemongrass
1/2 -1 tsp. Penzey’s Sunny Parris Seasoning
6 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sliced onion
pepper to taste
smoked salt to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a glass baking pan with olive oil.  Place the fish in the pan.  Add the lemongrass, Sunny Paris Seasoning, smoked salt and pepper to fish.  Top with onion and garlic.  Bake 20 minutes or until fish is flaky.

Sweet Potato side:

Directions: buy this and prepare.

Garlicky Greens:

3 cups spinach
2 cups flat kale sliced
1/4 cup onion chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil

In a saute pan add olive oil and bring heat to high.  Add garlic and onions.  Turn heat down to medium.  Allow onions and garlic to cook until soft.  Add kale and stir fry.  Add spinach and mix in with other greens and cook until wilted.

Place greens on the plate. On top of the greens place the tilipa.  Season to taste and enjoy!

Springtime Italian Pasta Primavera

Everyone loves pasta.  Everyone.

Everyone loves pasta. Everyone.

Continuing with our theme of eating healthy, here is a springtime pasta dish full of veggies and plenty of important nutrients.  It can be made to be gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, FODMAP friendly- or all of the above!  We’re sure it will become another family favorite, and although kids aren’t usually fans of chunky veggies, the versatility of making the topping separately allows some wiggle room for pickier eaters.  Don’t be discouraged by the long ingredient list, either: many of these items are probably already in your pantry.

Feel free to substitute ingredients for different dietary needs.  No matter which combination below you choose, there will be a healthy dose of benefits: the recommended amount of fiber is 15 grams or more per day, and you’ll take in 8 grams from this meal alone.  The cheese and pasta are rich in protein, the veggies in complex carbohydrates and the olive oil in healthy fat.  Who knew pasta could be so helpful?

Once the veggies are prepared, this is a quick dish that is sure to please your springtime culinary desires!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large garlic clove, chopped (leave out if following FODMAP)
3 cups whole tomatoes in can drained and chopped
1/2 cup sliced red onion (replace with chives if FODMAP)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided (or more)
1 cup spaghetti squash (see below on how to prepare)*
1 package gluten free pasta (I used TruRoots ancient grain spaghetti)
1 cup cubed zucchini
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese, divided, parmesan or nutritional yeast
Freshly ground black papper
Lemon slices (optional)

*To prepare spaghetti squash slice in half and remove seeds.  Place in a glass baking dish cut side down.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Spaghetti Squash adds a satisfying crunch to pasta dishes.

Spaghetti Squash adds a satisfying crunch to pasta dishes.

Once cooked through you can spoon out the spaghetti.
Place pasta in boiling water and cook for about 7 minutes.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oregano and garlic; saute 30 seconds.  Add red onion, tomatoes and 2 tablespoons parsley.  Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Add spinach at the end and allow to wilt, then turn off heat and cover to keep hot.

Place spaghetti in a bowl and top with vegetable mix.  Place either parmesan, goat cheese or nutritional yeast on top and allow to melt.  Can garnish with more parsley or lemon or green onions.

Primavera 2


Healthy on the Go

Tina is headed to Tampa, Florida for a Functional Medicine conference, and has been planning what to bring in the way of dinner while flying/waiting in airports, as well as snacks for the rest of her stay.  That got her thinking about how hard it is to eat healthy while on the run.  Many of us travel for work, or to see family, or simply live busy lives.  When rushed, it’s best to be prepared!  Here are Tina’s picks for eating healthy on the go:

-Udi’s Gluten Free Chia bread turkey sandwich with spinach and mustard.  Tina prefers Applegate turkey, which is free of preservatives and antibiotics.

Chia Bread

-Raw carrots, celery, sweet mini peppers and cauliflower.

3 Peppers

Thanks heaven for tupperware!

Thank heaven for Tupperware!

-Toasted almonds.

5 Almonds

(We didn’t get a picture of this but you can imagine, we’re sure.)

-And for that sweet tooth she’s included an Apple Pie Bonk Breaker.

Photo taken from

Photo taken from

-Easy to prepare and very travel-friendly are these Fit Food packets: a pea-protein powder that can be mixed with water or almond milk.  This is perfect for breakfast in the hotel room after a morning run.

9 Fit Food

-It’s a good idea to have back-up snacks like Bonk Breakers and extra fruit in your room so you’re not tempted by things like Stephanie’s favorite airport restaurant, Pizza Hut Express.  Instead, try making up a snack mix like this, including pretzels, almonds and organic dried cranberries.

7 Snack Mix

-And don’t forget, always drink plenty of water while traveling to stay hydrated.  Right now, we’re hooked on this MetroMint OrangeMint Water.  It’s got a nice refreshing kick to it that will wake you up.

8 Water

Remember, don’t let yourself get hungry while away from home, lest you give in to temptation.  There’s no shame in pulling veggies out of your purse or tucking Fit Food into your briefcase.  Enjoy your travels, but don’t forget to take care of yourself!

Lentil Dahl Soup

We got some snow this week here in Virginia, though not too many days ago it reached seventy-four degrees.  It’s melting away even as we write this post, but you can maintain that feel-good winter sensation with a nice bowl of this hot Lentil Dahl soup!  The snow may be too slushy to have a real snowball fight, but that doesn’t have to stop you from treating yourself and your family to a tasty, hearty soup that will warm you from head to toe.

Lentil Dahl 2

This soup’s pea-green color may not be very pretty, but lentils are an incredibly helpful food and happen to be delicious.

Lentils have been consumed since prehistoric times and can be traced back to central Asia.  They contain a good amount of soluble fiber, helping to reduce LDL cholesterol in your blood.  Lentils are also high in insoluble fiber and will promote regularity, as well as make you feel more full and satisfied.  They are rich in an antioxidant called flavone, which can help reduce risk of cancer.  They replenish iron stores, are high in folic acid and magnesium, and lower homocysteine: a compound that can affect the arterial wall of the heart.

Lentils are easier to digest than most  beans, and are more versatile to boot!  Due to their small size and softness, they act as a flavorful thickener for this soup: better for those who are opposed to the texture of actual beans.

Not to leave them out, the sweet potatoes were added to this dish to give it some color and a boost of beta-carotene!

Lentil Dahl

2 cups dried lentils
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon coriander
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium sweet onion chopped
4 garlic cloves chopped
2 sweet potatoes boiled and cubed

That's a lot of lentils!

That’s a lot of lentils!

Ready to go with lentils, onion, garlic and sweet potatoes.

Ready to go with lentils, onion, garlic and sweet potatoes.

Cook lentils and 4 whole garlic cloves in the vegetable or chicken stock until all liquid has absorbed, about 25-30 minutes.

In the meantime add olive oil to a sauté pan and turn on low heat.  Add garlic, onions, and spices and cook on low.  Once onions are soft turn heat off.

Put lentils, onions and spices in a blender.  Pulse until smooth, though still thick.  Add vegetable or chicken stock to the blender to obtain a thick consistency.

Pour into a soup pan and add sweet potato.  Heat to a medium temperature and enjoy!

Lentil Dahl 5

Immune-Building Chicken Soup

The holiday season is over, and we now face the long stretch of cold weather that eventually leads into spring.  We all know what that means: sniffling around the office, waking up with a sore throat, being afraid to accept your credit card back from the clerk who just sneezed all over it.  Yes, it’s the time of year we’re all afraid to get sick.  Fortunately, Tina has a wonderful recipe for Immune-Building Chicken Soup!  Give this a try and prepare your body to have a healthy, active winter.

immune soup


3 tablespoons olive oil
10 garlic cloves sliced
1 large sweet onion sliced
4 stalks celery chopped
4 carrots chopped
4 cups chopped red curly kale
2 cups cubed butternut squash
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2- 4 cups sliced chicken (I usually use the chicken I roasted from the day before)
4 cups chicken stock (I used homemade from the whole chicken I roasted plus Trader Joe’s Organic)
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds


Saute garlic, onion, celery, carrots and herbs in the olive oil over medium heat in a soup pan.  Add the chicken stock and chicken and bring to a boil and then turn the heat to low.  Add chopped kale and and allow to wilt.  Add cubed butternut squash.  Continue to cook the soup on low for about 30 minutes.  When you are ready serve in bowls and top with toasted pumpkin seeds.