Pizza Quinoa Bites

Welcome back to PorrazzaNutrition! Today, I want to share with you a recipe I just revamped from my old cooking files. I have been trying to weed through my collection of recipes to figure out the ones I actually use and those I was just hoarding 🙂 I am challenging myself to 1 day per week where I try new recipes and incorporate the tasty ones into my weekly meals or party rotation (since I usually bring healthy dishes wherever I go). My challenge to you this month is to get in the kitchen and try a new recipe or revamp (in a healthy way) an old one from your collection!


Pizza Quinoa Bites

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup low salt tomato sauce **
1.5 cups water
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 flax eggs**
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup nutritional yeast **
Dash of salt and pepper

1. In a large pot, bring to a boil quinoa, tomato sauce, and water. Lower and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a small saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes over medium-low heat.
4. In a large bowl, mix together onion/garlic, quinoa, flax eggs, basil, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to your taste.
5. Form mixture into bite-sized patties and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Flip and bake for an additional 5 minutes (or broil for 1-2 minutes for crispier patties). Serve with fresh tomato sauce.

**Recipe Notes
-No-salt-added crushed tomatoes can be used in place of tomato sauce.
-To make a single flax egg, which is a replacement for 1 whole egg, simply mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Double to make the two needed for this recipe.
-Nutritional yeast is a substitute for dairy-cheeses and can be found online or at most health-food stores.

Simple Homemade Applesauce

This past week, I shared my super simple, no-added-sugar, recipe for homemade applesauce with my cooking class. This is one of my favorite recipes to make especially when I have some older and softer apples. I love the way my house smells while this is cooking too 🙂

When choosing apples, look for ones with a shiny, firm, and smooth skin. Apples are a good source of vitamin C, which boosts your immune health, and a great source of fiber, which is good for digestive health and may help to lower cholesterol levels. Apples are also high in antioxidants, which may help to reduce your risk of cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. It is best to leave the skin on your apples to retain all of the fiber and nutrients. With the recipe below, since you will be blending the final product, you won’t even notice the skins!

Homemade Applesauce (Stove-top)*
Yield: approx. 4 cupsapplesaucee.jpg

4 apples, roughly chopped, with skins
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg

1. In a large saucepan, mix together all ingredients. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes or until softened.
2. Using an immersion blender, blend apples to reach desired consistency.**
3. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge (I used mason jars).

*Recipe can be made in a slow-cooker. Cook on low for 3-4 hours (will vary based on size of slow-cooker and amount of apples).
**You can also use a fork or standing blender to mash/puree the apples to your desired consistency. 

Nutrition Per 1 Cup: 70 Calories, 150mg Potassium, 19g Carbohydrates, 3g Fiber, 14g Sugar, 13% DV for Vitamin C

Healthy Eating During the Summer

Summer is just about here and let’s face it, sometimes healthy eating gets pushed aside until Fall rolls around. It can be easy to get off track with vacations, graduation parties, BBQs, road trips and more. While I am a huge proponent of enjoying yourself and indulging here or there, your health STILL matters and shouldn’t get the short end of the stick.

How do you find a balance between investing in your health (and keeping up your good habits with nutrition) and enjoying yourself this summer? The first step is figuring out what matters to you! Often I hear clients saying that they want to lose weight for a vacation or graduation party. What happens when that is all done? What is your new motivation? What is going to push you towards sticking to your plan? Figure out WHY healthy eating matters to you. Do you want to feel more comfortable in your own skin? Do you want to control a disease? Do you want to have more energy?

Once you figured out your WHY, devise a plan for yourself. What goals do you still need to work towards? Are you still trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies? Your day-to-day may change during the summer months, so have a plan for how you are going to reach your goals even while on vacation. Pack healthy snacks (carrot sticks, fruits, nuts, raisins, etc) for your beach trip. Buy high-fiber, low-sugar bars to keep on hand while hiking. Make a smoothie to take with you while on a long drive. Don’t let the excuses and self-made barriers get in the way of you accomplishing your goals and bettering your overall health.

I like to think of the acronym, “PAL,” for any scenario when trying to balance food choices. If you are wondering, I highly doubt this is an actual acronym that people use, just something I thought of 🙂 “P” is for Plan or Prepare. Plan a healthy menu for your shore trip. Prepare a healthy dish for a BBQ. Plan to exercise when there is downtime. “A” is for Assess. Assess the situation you are in. What healthy options are available during a party? Assess after the fact too. What can you do better for next time? What went well for you? How do you feel about your food/drink choices? Lastly, “L” is for Live. Live your life and remember in the grand scheme of things, that extra cookie probably won’t undo all of your hard work (maybe the extra 4 or 5 would though ha). Seriously though, enjoying the summer can definitely include some treats and don’t let yourself wallow in negativity about your choices. If you are eating well 90-95% of the time, why not let loose and have that piece of cake or cookie? Healthy living is just that, actually LIVING. Not just counting calories, endless dieting, restriction, and guilt.

So this summer, I challenge you to figure out what is going to motivate you to keep up your healthy habits (or start new ones) and to use the acronym “PAL” for your next social outing.

Leave a comment below and tell me what your plan is for healthy eating this summer.

For more tips on Healthy Summer Sips, click the LINK

Breaking Through Barriers to Your Health

How many times have you made an excuse about your health? “I had a rough day, so I deserve this cookie.” “It’s just too cold to go to the gym, so I will just stay home.” “I ate good all day, so I can splurge at dinner.” “I am just too old to lose weight.” I am sure you can think of a thousand more excuses you have used or overheard. One of the things I often tell my clients is that, “It doesn’t matter why you didn’t do it, but that it simply didn’t happen.” There is always going to be a reason (barrier) why something didn’t happen and an excuse that follows. Why you didn’t eat more vegetables, why you ate the extra piece of cake, why you didn’t exercise, etc. The ultimate key to YOUR success is finding out what your barriers are and how you can overcome them.

So how exactly do you overcome your barriers? First thing is to figure out WHY it happened. Let’s say you didn’t eat any vegetables today. Why is that? Do you need to plan more? Do you need to actually buy them? Do you need a new recipe so they are more enticing? Do you need to put them at eye level in the fridge so you remember them? What about if you tend to be a stress or emotional eater? Stress and emotions are something that are always going to be apart of your life, so figuring out how to handle them is key. Can you try writing in a journal instead of eating? Can you go for a walk to decrease stress? Can you call a friend to work through your issues? If time is a barrier (often the biggest one), I challenge you to think of how you can make time for yourself and your health. Can you get up earlier to eat breakfast? Can you cut some TV time to meal prep? Making the time now to support your health will decrease your chances of having to make that time later when it is even harder to change. By making time later, I mean for doctor’s appointments, medication pick-up, tests, blood-work, etc.

To be honest, there is nothing wrong with a small reward when you have accomplished your goals. What you don’t want is for that reward to be is food (constantly). I am not against a sweet treat here or there; however, daily or weekly is hardly a “treat” and more of a habit. If you still want to have some sort of “reward” try to brainstorm things that don’t involve food like buying a new book or having a spa day.

One final comment I have about breaking through your barriers is to not stand in your own way by making excuses and comparing yourself to everyone else. “I will never look as good as (insert name here), so why even try.” Comparison just puts more pressure on yourself and gives a sense of complacency. Changing your unhealthy habits is definitely hard; however, when you are faced with decisions about your health, ask yourself, “Will I do something about it to help support my goals or will I do nothing at all?” YOU can choose to change your health. YOU can choose to do what is hard. YOU can choose to live healthier.

How have you decided to break through your barriers to living a healthy lifestyle? What will you start doing today that will support your long-term goals? Leave a comment and let me know!

Healthy Spring Sips (Beverages)

Have you ever thought about the amount of added sugar that you are consuming per day? Most tend to think in terms of sugary snacks and candies; however, many don’t realize just how much added sugar (and calories) are in their favorite beverages. Extra flavor syrups in your coffee, sports drinks, sweetened teas, and sodas, can all add up throughout the day. High added sugar intake can lead to an increased risk for obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease, cavities, and more. The American Heart Association recommends an added sugar threshold of no more than 100 calories per day (6 teaspoons or 24g of sugar) for women and no more than 150 calories (9 teaspoons or 36g of sugar) for men. The average American consumes more than double the average intake. One thing to note is that whole fruit (fresh, frozen or canned with no-sugar-added) is not included in this added sugar limitation since whole fruit is also packaged with nutrients and fiber and research shows it can prevent the diseases mentioned prior. By taking charge of your health and limiting added sugars you can reach your goals, whether they are related weight loss or disease prevention.

Reading food labels is one way to start monitoring your added sugar intake. Look at 0420171110athe ingredient list to ensure that sugar is not one of the first few (3-4) listed. Ingredients are listed on the package in descending order by weight, which means that the largest quantity appears first. Look at the sugary beverages that you currently drink and think about how you can swap them for something healthier. Instead of lemon-lime soda, try unsweetened seltzer water with freshly squeezed lemon. Instead of sweetened tea, try brewing your own herbal tea bags and serving over ice. Instead of sugary sports drinks with artificial ingredients, re-hydrate with whole fruits like watermelon or simply water. Also, try carrying around a reusable water bottle and refill it throughout the day to help boost your overall fluid intake. Flavor water up with lemon, lime, or orange wedges or try a fruit infused recipe below! 
Fruit Infused Water Recipes (for 1 large pitcher)
-Strawberry Kiwi Cooler → 3 cups halved strawberries + 3 kiwis, sliced + 2 lemons sliced + Ice water
-Berry → 2 cups raspberries + 2 cups blackberries + Ice water
-Cucumber → 6 mint leaves + 2 cucumbers, sliced + 4 limes, sliced + Ice water
-Basil Berry → 2 cups strawberries, halved + ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
**Be sure to gently squish and muddle your ingredients to release the most flavor. 

Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite recipe or beverage is that is also low in added sugars!

Spring into Your Health – Top 5 Tips

Spring is here (and has been for the past few weeks), so that means it is time to get back on track with your health. If you feel like you lost momentum with your weight-loss or just healthy eating journey, get your engines revved up. As a Dietitian, I often start to get a lot of clients during this time. Many are looking to get in shape for the summer and fit into a certain bathing suit. While I am all about finding motivation for change, you don’t need a special time during the year to get started. Regardless, with the cold weather fading, more people are looking to get moving and get back on track, which I fully support. Today, I have for you my top 5 tips for springing back into your health!

Tip #1 – See a Dietitian
There is so much information in the media today about nutrition; some fact and some fiction. It seems like everywhere you turn, there is a new diet program, new supplement, new food you should be eating, you name it. Meeting with a Dietitian means that you will have an expert giving you the most up-to-date nutrition research. They will help you sift through all of the clutter and find a happy and healthy middle ground for you. One of the awesome things with working with a Dietitian is that everything is personalized. There is no one-size-fits-all approach or meal plan for that matter. As a Dietitian, my focus is to help YOU to reach your goals. I (like other RDs) provide you with resources, support, guidance, and more. So, do yourself a favor this Spring and check-out some RDs in your area. Also, call your insurance company because many allow you to see a Dietitian for FREE, can’t beat that.
–> For more information on the services I provide as a Dietitian, click the LINK

0125171129cTip #2 – Get to Planning
I have said it before and I will say it again, planning is key to your success! I often find that the times where most of my clients struggle end up being when they don’t plan. I am not saying you need to plan out every single piece of food that goes in your mouth; however, have at least a general idea for the week. Commit to yourself and healthy living by taking a few moments during the week to brainstorm a menu plan and build a shopping list. Plan to have back-ups meal ideas for busy days. Plan for snacks on-the-go. Having a plan will take that guesswork out of things. It makes choosing healthy foods easier since they are already purchased and prepared.
–>For more tips on meal planning, click the LINK

Tip #3 – Cut the Added Sugar
There is so much added sugar in the diet of the majority of Americans today. Make it a goal this spring/summer to cut the added sugars. Eliminate sugary beverages and swap to something unsweetened or naturally sweetened with fresh fruit slices (not juice). Cut the processed and sugary snacks and incorporate more veggies. High intake of refined, added sugars, can lead to cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and other types of lifestyle-related diseases. Cutting back on added sugars is definitely hard; however, your body will certainly thank you later.

Tip #4 – Eat More Whole Foods0329171126d
Going along with cutting added sugar is to eat more whole foods. Most Americans are not getting the recommended intake for fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables not only provide fiber, which can help with weight-loss, weight management, blood sugar control, and decreasing cholesterol, but also, antioxidants, which can help to boost your immune health and decrease your risk for certain types of cancers. Try to ditch a lot of the highly processed foods this spring. Focus on adding whole, real, foods like fresh/frozen fruit and veggies, lean proteins like beans, peas, nuts, seeds, and whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. By focusing on mainly whole foods, you will provide your body with the nutrients and ultimately the fuel that it needs.
–> For more tips on increasing your fiber intake, click the LINK

Tip #5 – Get Moving
Last, but not least, is to get moving. Try to not only be more active throughout the day, but to also dedicate some time to cardio and resistance (weight) training. Challenge yourself to bump up your activity level weekly. Don’t get comfortable in the same routine and don’t fool yourself into thinking that just standing and moving around your desk will cut it. Get your heart rate up! The weight training or resistance type training will also help you to increase lean body mass and boost your resting metabolism. If you don’t have a program in place, see if you can work with a trainer (even just to get yourself started) or look for a reputable exercise program online.

I hope these 5 tips help you to spring into healthy living! Leave a comment and let me know what tip helped you the most or what you are doing now to better your health.

Baked Avocado Fries with Cilantro Lime Dip

Going along with my green theme for March, I wanted to share an awesome avocado recipe that went over extremely well in my latest cooking class. I will admit, I was a bit skeptical on how these fries might turn out; however, with a few seasoning adjustments, I am sold! Before getting into the recipe, I just want to share some quick information about avocados and how to choose/ripen.

Avocados are a powerhouse of nutrients! Just 1/2 has 20% of your daily value for fiber and they are also good sources of potassium, folate, and Vitamin E. One unique thing about avocados is that they are a fruit (many don’t believe me when I say this) and have a nice dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. These are the good kinds of fats that help to decrease inflammation in your body.

When selecting an avocado, choose one that is firm, yet will yield a bit to gentle pressure; color is not always a good indicator of ripeness. If you buy avocados that are not ripe, simply throw them in a paper bag and store at room temperature. For faster ripening, add in a kiwifruit (or two). It took about 2 days for me to ripen some rock hard avocados I bought for this recipe. Once ripened, store in the fridge for about 2-3 days. If you store cut avocado, you can sprinkle with lemon/lime juice and wrap tightly to help prevent browning. I always end up trying to use the whole avocado at once since I find it hard to keep them fresh once cut.

Baked Avocado Fries
Prep: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (1/2 avocado each)

2 avocados, peeled and sliced
1/2 teaspoon each: paprika + garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Dash of salt and pepper
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1.5 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs **
2 tablespoons garbanzo (chickpea) flour

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet.
2. In a shallow bowl, mix together flour, spices, salt and pepper.
3. In another shallow bowl, mix together water, lime juice, and ground flax.
4. Place breadcrumbs in a final shallow bowl.
5. Dip avocado slices in flour, liquid, and lastly breadcrumbs. Place on baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes.

**I used gluten-free Panko. You can use regular fine breadcrumbs, ground almonds, chia seeds, or even flax seeds for other alternatives. 

Optional Cilantro Lime Dip
*Dip recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker
In a blender, combine: 1 ripe avocado, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (can sub in parsley), 1/4 cup lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, dash of salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup water.