3 Ways to Grill Healthier This Summer

Welcome back to PorrazzaNutrition! Things are getting really exciting over here since I am gearing up to launch my first virtual weight management support group! I hear a lot of clients talk about how they “fall off their diet” during the Summer months. My goal with the virtual support group is to focus on living healthier all year round with accountability and motivation from others (and yours truly, the Dietitian). 

With that in mind, I wanted to talk about grilling healthier this Summer. Instead of loading up on the meats and refined carbohydrates think about ways you can incorporate some balance! Balance could mean skipping the white bun altogether and putting your lean protein on top of a spinach salad. Or, you could even skip the bread and opt for a Romaine leaf wrap with a side of fruit! Check out the tips below for more ways to balance out your Summer grilling days. 

3 Tips for Healthier Grilling

1 – Swap It Out
BBQs tend to be very protein or meat heavy so try swapping in a veggie burger for less cholesterol and saturated fats. If you wanted to stick to your regular burger, try decreasing your portion size and bumping up the vegetables. Vegetables are naturally high in fiber and low in calories. Grilled veggies also don’t contain carcinogens like meat does.

Grilling can also mean more refined carbohydrates (like white breads). While carbohydrates are not the enemy, being mindful of your meal balance can keep you fuller for longer. If you plan to have a burger bun, opt for a non-starchy side like a tossed salad, fresh tomatoes, or grilled broccoli or asparagus.

2 – Grill Fruit as a Dessert
Have you ever tried grilling fruit for a dessert? This is a perfect way to incorporate some fiber, natural sugar, antioxidants, and vitamins! Some great fruits to grill include peaches, pineapples, or mangoes! Peaches can be grilled and used as a salad topper. They are also really tasty topped with low sugar granola, cinnamon, and a splash of maple syrup! Pineapples are a sweet addition to a veggie burger; just remember to cut horizontally for an easy-to-stack circular piece.

3 – Season Smart
Think beyond your store-bought marinades, which can be loaded in sodium, sugar, and additives. Try grilling your vegetables with a homemade marinade instead! All you need as a base is some olive oil and non-salt seasonings (like onion and garlic). Even a simple squeeze of lemon or lime or a splash of balsamic vinegar can give you some great flavor!

Remember to also be food safe when you grill. Keep raw meats separate from vegetables and other foods that are already cooked or being served raw. Also, use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meats.

Your action goal for this week is to try grilling some new vegetables or even a fruit to add some health and balance to your BBQ! Post what you plan to try in the comments below for some accountability!


5 Things to Pack When Flying/Traveling

Last week, I was away at the Today’s Dietitian Symposium in Austin, Texas. If you have not gone to Austin, put it on your list of places to go! I loved the atmosphere, friendly people, and scenery. Totally, different experience than living in Philly 🙂


In traveling as a Dietitian, I go a bit overboard in the food arena. I always worry that I won’t have a lot of options since I have food allergies. I also refuse to pay the insane airport prices for food (coffee maybe). I usually pick an airline that will allow basic economy fliers to take a carry-on and a personal item (at no extra cost). I want no parts of lost luggage or worrying where my bag is especially if I have food in it!

With that, I wanted to share with you some of the top things I packed with me for this trip! This is not a sponsored post and the products I mention are just those that I personally enjoy and would recommend as an RD. Just as a side note, check the TSA allowed list before you travel to make sure all of your items are still okay to travel with in a carry-on bag. I would have also packed more things like peanut butter or applesauce cups; however, I could only fit so much in my carry-on and the limit for liquids hindered those items.

Hopefully, this will help you in packing smart this summer while you travel.

 5 Things to Pack When Flying

1 – A Variety of Bars
20180530_115326.jpgHaving bars on hand is great for not only the airport/flight, but also, mid-meals (especially at a conference). I love the Larabar minis for a sweet snack post meal and the fruit + greens variety for a morning pairing with hot cereal. I love that these bars have no added sugar and a nice amount of fiber. I recently found the brand 22Days, which was a great meal replacement bar with a piece of fruit. They have only 5g of sugar and a whopping 8g of fiber and 15g of protein.

2 – Fresh Fruit/Veg
I made the silly decision to pack bananas in my bag and they got a bit squished on the way there. I would suggest traveling more so with hearty fruits like apples or oranges. I also bought baby carrots and snacked on the those on the way home too! As of right now, there isn’t a limit on fresh fruit/veg since as whole items, they don’t count as a “liquid.”

3 – Dry Oats (Gluten-Free if needed)
I packed a baggie of dry, rolled, gluten-free oats and a 16-ounce empty mason jar to make overnight oats in my hotel room. I am typically not a fan of the “usual” breakfast food offered at conferences/hotels, so this was my back-up plan. I just used water and sweetened with fresh fruit; however, you could also pack some spices like cinnamon to spruce it up a bit more.

4 – Dry Fruit/Veg
Dried fruit is awesome to pack since it stores well in your travel bags. I packed diced prunes, raisins, and dried mango (all no-sugar-added). These were great for a snack and also something else I could add to my oatmeal. As for the dried veggies, I would stay away from anything like freeze-dried snap peas, since they crush easily. I packed with me some dry-roasted chickpeas as a crunchy snack with some protein and fiber.

5 – Empty Water Bottle
If you don’t do anything else, pack an empty water bottle! This saves you a ton of money at the airport and forces you to stay hydrated. A lot of airports have the water bottle filling stations now too! Once I got to Texas, I was glad to have a reusable bottle since mostly just small paper cups were around so I would have drank way less water!

What will you pack when you travel this Summer? Leave a comment and let me know!


3 Ways to Avoid Weekend Weight Gain

Do you find that your weekend activities throw a wrench in your healthy eating plans?  All of those graduation parties, BBQs, or even sporting events can lead to temptations, sweet indulgences or even eating on-the-run. Before your toss all of your hard work out the window, check out some of the tips below to find something that might help you to stay on track even with weekend chaos!

Tip #1 – Plan/Prepare Foods
pexels-photo-277253.jpegWhen I talk about meal prepping with my clients, it is often for the work-week and not so much on the weekends. Think about having a plan in place for Friday to Sunday. This could mean planning your weekend shopping trip, prepping some healthy snacks to munch on, or putting something in the slow cooker to have for dinner. On Saturdays, I like to cook off rice/tofu to have for weekend salads. While I have food cooking on the stove-top, I put together my overnight oats for a couple of mornings and make my peanut butter balls for snacking. Instead of just vegging out on the couch catching up on my TV shows for the week, I watch and cook!

Tip #2 – Make Time for Exercise
The weekends can definitely be busy, so think about how you can fit in at least 1 day of exercise or even movement for the whole weekend. I like to exercise first thing in the morning since it gets me energized and motivated for the day. If you have family responsibilities, think about making exercise something everyone can enjoy. Biking, hiking, playing sports or walking outside are all great ideas for families to do together – especially with warmer weather!

Tip #3 – Stock up on Healthy Snacks
I don’t know about you, but when I’m home all day with time to spare, I tend to mindlessly munch. Open the fridge and grab some fruit. Open the cabinet and grab a few crackers. Keep healthier snacks on hand so when you get the urge to snack, it is on the good-for-you foods! I like keeping grapes, cut up veg (carrots, celery, cucumbers), and my peanut butter balls in the fridge and air-popped popcorn and bean chips in the cabinet. Make the healthy food easily accessible and you will be more likely to eat it. This means cutting up your veggies/fruits and putting them at eye level in the fridge. I know I am less likely to snack on a cucumber if it still needs to be washed and cut up!


What will you do this weekend to keep your health on track? Leave a comment below and let me know!

If you missed my latest Facebook live on Healthy BBQ eats, you can check it out HERE!

Southwest Quinoa Salad

Memorial day BBQs are right around the corner and it can definitely be a struggle to find healthy options out there! Consider this corn and quinoa salad a simple (yet tasty) addition to the menu! As a complete protein, quinoa contains all of our essential amino acids in addition to being a good source of fiber! This dish provides both sweet and savory flavors and can be served chilled or heated per your personal preference!


Southwest Quinoa Salad Recipe 
Vegan, Gluten-Free
Serves 10

2, 15-ounce cans no-salt-added corn, rinsed and drained
2, 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups quinoa, cooked according to package directions
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 small sweet pepper, chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Dash of salt and pepper

1. In a large bowl, mix together corn, black beans, quinoa, onion, sweet pepper, parsley, and nutritional yeast.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, maple syrup, and cumin. Pour over quinoa mixture and stir gently to coat.
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Recipe Notes
-Fresh corn on the cob can be used in placed of the canned corn.
-Honey can be used in place of maple syrup. Can be adjusted to sweetness preference.
-If not dairy-free, crumbled feta can be substituted for the nutritional yeast.
-Can serve quinoa salad over a bed of lettuce or as a side dish.

Blog contributed by Emily Sinn, Dietetic Intern

Chili-Lime Buddha Bowl (Vegan + GF)

Welcome back to PorrazzaNutrition! Another popular meal that has been trending all over social media and the nutrition world is the Buddha Bowl! Buddha bowls are a great way to incorporate balance with lean proteins (beans, tofu, tempeh), high-fiber grains (quinoa, brown rice), healthy fats (avocado) and vegetables (cucumbers, broccoli, etc). Buddha bowls are simple, easy and quick to make since all of your ingredients can just be thrown into one bowl!

Check out this tasty twist on a classic Buddha Bowl and drop me a comment to let me know what you think!

Chili-Lime Tempeh Buddha Bowl vegetable-2564754_1280
Serves 4

– 16 ounces of tempeh (about 2 packages)
– 2 avocados
– ¼ cup fresh parsley
– 1 cup cucumbers, chopped
– 1 cup tomatoes, diced
– 1 cup cooked quinoa
– 1½ cup black beans, rinsed
– 2 plantains, baked*
– ¼ cup diced yellow onion
– 1 lime (or 1/4 cup lime juice)
– Black pepper
– 2 teaspoons each chili powder & cayenne pepper
– 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
– 2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Rub tempeh with black pepper, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
2. Add 2 inches of water to saucepan and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, add in tempeh and steam (with a lid on) for 12 – 15 minutes. Once cooked, slice or crumble and set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, saute onions and garlic in olive oil for 4-5 minutes at medium-high heat. Once onions are translucent, transfer to a large mixing bowl.
4. Gently mix in with the cooked onions the avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley with freshly squeezed lime juice. 
5. Top the vegetable mixture with the quinoa, tempeh, plantains and black beans. Adjust seasonings to taste and enjoy!

Recipe Notes:
-Chili powder and cayenne pepper can be decreased based on preference for spicy foods.
-Brown rice can be used in place of quinoa.
-Chickpeas can be used in place of black beans.
-Any other vegetables can be added in or swapped.
-Tofu or a crumbled veggie burger can be used in place of tempeh.

*To Bake Plantains:
1. Place cut plantains (lengthwise) on a parchment-lined baking sheet
2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Flip once halfway through cooking time.

Post contributed by Biancha Jackson, Cedar Crest College Dietetic Intern and RD-to-be. 

Simple Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup

Today ended up being an unexpected snow day since both my nutrition classes and client appointments were rescheduled. I didn’t think I would have to be worrying about snow in March; however, I was happy for a little time to catch-up.

Since it is snowy and cold, it seemed like perfect weather for soup! The recipe below was something I just whipped up with what was lingering in my cabinets and freezer! I am sure many of you reading this have found yourself with some produce that was in need of a little help. Soup is usually my answer for those situations since it is a great (and simple) way to boost your vegetable consumption.

I plan on freezing my leftovers for meals this week!

Simple Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup (Vegan & Gluten-free)


Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5-7 hours (slow cooker)

1, 15-ounce, can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1½ cups low sodium canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1½ cups frozen zucchini
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ cup nutritional yeast

Directions (Slow-Cooker)
1. Grease a medium-sized slow cooker. Add all ingredients to slow cooker and stir to combine.
2. Cover and place on high for 5-6 hours or on low for 7-8 hours. Stir occasionally. 

Directions (Stove-Top)
1. Grease a large stock pot. Add all ingredients to pot and stir to combine.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, lower, reduce heat and cover.
3. Cook on low for about 20 minutes or until all vegetables are softened.

Recipe Notes
-Brown rice can be used in place of quinoa. 
-Any other frozen vegetables (like cauliflower or broccoli) can be used in place of the zucchini. I just had some to use up in the freezer.
-If you like a thinner soup, add in 1-2 cups more of the vegetable broth.
-Nutritional yeast gives a “cheesy” flavor to the soup and adds in Vitamin B12. Can be eliminated or swapped with Parmesan cheese if not vegan or dairy-free.
-For a little extra protein, you can add in some firm or extra-firm tofu.
-Water can be used in place of the vegetable broth. I would just add in some additional seasonings like garlic, onion, paprika, etc to boost the flavor.


Heart Health – Chocolate Chia Oatmeal

Welcome back to PorrazzaNutrition! February is American Heart Month! Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and it is largely preventable? According to the American Heart Association, “About 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases may be preventable with education and action.” This means that changes to your diet and lifestyle (decreasing stress, exercise, etc) can boost your heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 80%!

One way to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease is by consuming more fiber. This means incorporating more whole fruits and veggies, legumes, and whole grains (like quinoa)! One way to boost your fiber intake is by power-packing your morning oatmeal. Instead of serving it up plain, add in things like fresh fruit and unsalted nuts. With my crazy schedule these days, making a big batch of this chia oatmeal has really been a lifesaver for me. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Chocolate Chia Oatmeal (Vegan & Gluten-free)PB Oats
2 cups plant-based milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup gluten-free quick-cook oats
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 large banana, mashed
Toppings: walnuts, unsweetened dried fruit, seeds, fresh banana etc

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat milk, vanilla, maple syrup, and peanut butter over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and add in oats, cooking for 5 minutes while stirring.
2. Add in cocoa, chia seeds and mashed banana. Whisk or stir until well incorporated. Remove from heat and let stand (chia seeds will gel up).
3. Divide oatmeal among 3-4 mason jars (or bowls) and top with additional ingredients (nuts, fruit, etc)

Recipe Notes
-I used flaxseed milk for more protein and fiber; however, you can use unsweetened almond, soy, or cashew milk too
-If you don’t have Celiac disease or a gluten-intolerance, you can use regular rolled or steel-cut oats. If using steel-cut oats, cooking time may need to be adjusted.
-Ground flaxseeds or hemp seeds can be used in place of the chia seeds.
-The maple syrup can be eliminated or you can substitute a plant-based sweetener. You will need to adjust the amount.
-Sunflower seed butter or almond butter can be used in place of the peanut butter. You can also make without any nut/seed butter and the recipe will still turn out great!
-Recipe can be made as overnight oats without cooking first.
-For a banana-berry option, eliminate the cocoa and peanut butter and add in 1/4 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries. If using frozen, add in with the milk to soften them up!

This batch is made without peanut butter and is topped with unsweetened dried blueberries and walnuts!