Beet-tastic Shake

Ever think of using beets in your shakes?  Never mind in your salads?  Beets are highly nutritious and cardiovascular-health-friendly root vegetables. Beets are high in folate and a very good source of manganese, potassium, and copper. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin B6. Beets contain a unique phytonutrient called betalains, shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. Here I used frozen beets to get this beautiful, natural shade of pink in my morning shake.

1 scoop of your favorite protein powder
1/4 cup frozen beets
1/2 cup frozen berries
1-2 tbsp flax or chia seeds
1/2 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon nutmeg

If your shake comes out too thick, add 1 tablespoon more of water or almond milk at a time until you reach the consistency you enjoy.  Also, you can omit these spices and use ones you enjoy.  I really like this mix of spices because it gives me a variety of tastes which adds depth to my shake.


Stop. Collaborate and listen.

Actually the title of my blog has nothing to do with what I want to share with you.  I just thought it would get your attention and Vanilla Ice’s song in your head.  Your welcome.

So, I just got back from beautiful, sunny, warm, did I say warm…Puerto Rico early this week. I had a great time all around but I wanted to share with you a reflection I had about my trip. It has to do with the food. I love food. Always have. Although my tastes have matured I have always had an adventurous spirit when it comes to food. Which didn’t workout in my favor while eating tilapia and asparagus during my fitness competition days. Talk about suppression!  Well, I was thinking that in years past if I were on vacation I would always be so strict with myself and not allow myself to explore new foods indigenous to where I was or just trying new things instead of the old Cesar salad with chicken, dressing on the side (don’t get me wrong I love to eat a Chicken Cesar but not when I’m away).  Watching the clock to make sure I ate every 2-3 hours….  All those rules!  For me having a little fun whether on vacation or not means letting go a little with my food restrictions and expectations of what I should eat. Not constricting myself to eating only ‘clean’ foods. Always listening to my body, therefore being aware of portion control which then happens naturally. When I realized this I was pretty proud of myself. And so happy it was able to happen automatically without forcing myself to do this. It can happen for you too. It’s a change in mindset. From restriction to freedom. From fear to love. From negative thinking to positive thinking. From forcing to ease. From lies to the truth.

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And with that I want to share the Cuban Burger with you.  I was inspired when I was in Puerto Rico and a friend mentioned that to eat a Cuban sandwich was necessary!  Explore, try something new.  Just follow the recipe and see what happens.


2 pounds ground pork

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon lime juice

Salt to taste


Deli Ham, I used honey baked

Yellow mustard



Side of plantain chips or 1 plantain to use as the bun

If using the plantain as the bun, peel and slice the plantain into 2-inch thick rounds.  I used plantain chips I had in the house (remember I was stuck in a blizzard this day).  But if you can shop for the ingredients I recommend using the plantains for the bun.  You can usually find plantains at a Market Basket if not, improvise.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Boil plantains until soft, about 5 minutes.  Remove the plantains and smash flat with the back of a plate.  Has to be a large surface for the plantain to maintain its shape, so use a large dinner plate to cover it.  If your plantain sticks to the dinner plate just scrape it off with a spatula.  Then season with salt.  In a skillet, melt a few tablespoons of coconut oil over medium-high heat.  Fry plantains until brown and crispy, about 3 minutes per side.

For the burger, place all ingredients in a bowl.  Mix everything together thoroughly with a fork or your hands.  Form the burgers roughly the same size as the plantain buns.  Cook the burgers in the same skillet used to cook the plantains, you should have enough left over oil but if you need more add 1 tsp at a time.  Cook about 5 minutes per side.

To assemble, place a bun on a plate, top with your burger, add all toppings, and cover with another plantain bun.

Serve immediately with a mojito!

hehehe, my drink of choice in Puerrrrrto Rrrrrrrico 🙂

Cuban Burger adapted from Primal Cravings by Meghan McCullough Neatly and Brandon Keatley

2-Ingredient Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Well, it’s a full-on blizzard here in Hopkinton, MA. About 20″ have come down and the snowflakes are still coming. I shopped yesterday, along with every other human in the area, in preparation for todays ‘home-day’. I must say I really did enjoy not having to wake up at 6am for our typical get-kids-ready-for-school-day and slept in until 8ish. I slumbered downstairs to my usual cup of wake up tea: green tea steeped with freshly ground (with my marble mortar & pestle) ginger, cumin, fennel, and coriander and a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice as I journaled (go to  if you are interested in my most favorite daily journal, you can also purchase her book which I strongly recommend to all family and friends Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map) my morning. I don’t know about you but my favorite thing to do when I’m stuck at home, especially in the snow, is to cook. Which leads me to my Blizzard Menu: Homemade Salsa and Easy 2-Ingredient Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups of your favorite or homemade salsa
salt and pepper
fresh lime wedges for serving


I need to purchase a new cast iron insert for my slow cooker so I had to use my stove top instead. But same directions apply to the stove top. I oiled my cast iron pot and seasoned it with salt and pepper then I placed the chicken breasts in and covered them with my homemade salsa. Toss gently until all the chicken is covered.

Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. I put my gas stove between medium and simmer and set my timer for 6 hours. Shred chicken with a fork in the slow cooker and toss with remaining salsa. You can use these as your taco mixture, soft tortillas, in a bun, on a salad, served with warm rice, quinoa or beans…oh so many choices. If you seal tight and refrigerate you can keep for about 5 days or freeze for longer.  Squeeze fresh lime juice and enjoy!

Off to shovel some snow!

Moo Shu Red Cabbage Cups

I love new cookbooks that give me inspiration to cook and that have fairly simple recipes to follow! I usually choose a book that has lots of pictures, I need to see what the recipes look like. Then I scan through the recipe to see if/how I could make healthier substitutions and still have a great tasting meal. The Moo Shu Cups I came across were first on my list to try. With any recipe, I don’t see how you can’t add enough vegetables so I added the peppers and bok choy. I also changed the soy sauce, btw I am not a hard core Paleo, to Bragg Liquid Aminos that I always have on hand as a soy sauce sub for cases just like this. Bragg Liquid Aminos is a Certified NON-GMO liquid protein concentrate, derived from healthy soybeans, that contains 16 different Essential and Non-essential Amino Acids in naturally occurring amounts. We will talk about Essential and Non-essential Amino Acids in another post but for now, all you need to know is that amino acids are the building blocks of life, in our muscle, cells, tissues of the human body. Um, ya, so pretty dang importante!

Now, what I want to share with you is why I chose to substitute Veal for Pork.

A little word about dietary fats of veal vs pork:

The fat content of a meat is the main factor influencing its calorie content. The nutritional comparison of most cuts of veal and pork shows that veal is usually leaner compared to pork which is why I replace the requested pork in the recipe. For example, 3 ounces of veal loin or ground veal contain between 6.5 and 11 grams of fat and the same serving of pork loin or ground pork has between 13 and 18 grams of fat. About half of the fat in both meats from veal and pork is unsaturated and the other half is saturated.

*Please chose your ingredients carefully, with thought so you can enjoy the tastiest nutrient-dense meal possible made with love.


Moo Shu Cabbage Cups

1 Red Cabbage
1 1/2 pounds of ground Veal
1 large onion, diced
1 package of any mushrooms you like, sliced – I had mini portabello mushrooms
2 cups bok choy, thinly sliced
1 medium sweet red pepper, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos – or you could use reduced sodium & wheat free soy sauce for Paleo’s
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 green onions, finely chopped

Cut the end off the cabbage and discard, Remove any damaged leaves to the outer most cabbage. Set aside the larger leaves, and chop about 4-5 of the cabbage leaves that are too small to use as cups.

In a skillet, brown the veal and remove from the pan.

In the same pan, suate the onion, mushrooms, bok choy, peppers, chopped cabbage, garlic, and ginger until soft.

Stir in Bragg’s Amino, vinegar, and sesame oil. Add the pork back to the pan and stir to combine.

Fill reserved cabbage leaves with the pork mixture. Garnish with green onion and serve.

Recipe inspiration taken from Primal Cravings

Top 6 Fitness & Nutrition Recommendations

1. To “get a killer workout” is not the goal. Not every workout will be killer and that’s ok. Every day is different, the amount of sleep you get is different, your stresses on a daily basis are different, you get the gist. Your goals should be based on your specific imbalances and how you can bring your body to a place of homeostasis.

2. If you had the choice to workout or prep your food for the week. I recommend supermarket shopping and food prepping.

3. Weight training is way more efficient and beneficial over just cardio.

4. Opt for a certified personal trainer to help you devise a workout with a purpose.

5. You do not have to work out for 45 minutes, or even an hour to see results. Nutrition is your #1 defense and the workout should be short and sweet, 20-30 minutes tops.

6. Flexibility training is key for those whose bodies are more stable. Not as important for those whose bodies are hyper flexible. More focus on stability training is necessary.

My overall guideline is listen to your body, you know it best! There is no **THE best workout** out there. You need to do what feels good and a workout routine and nutrition specific to your body’s needs.

Sneaky Mom Health Tip : Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a great source of fiber – added fiber helps kids move along their digestion, full of anti-oxidants – you can never get enough, they are rich in Omega 3’s – most americans do not eat enough natural foods (chia seeds have 6.7 g Omega 3’s/ounce vs. 2.2 g Omega 3’s/4 ounces of wild salmon) with Omega 3’s which help boost memory, fight inflammation, regulate the insulin response and help lower cholesterol.  Chia seeds have 3 times more iron than spinach, 5 times more calcium than milk, 7 times more vitamin C than oranges and 15 times more magnesium than broccoli, all in those little precious seeds!

Here is a sneaky way I add nutrition to my kids lunch (pb&j’s is their usual request) with chia seeds.

Not only do I add less strawberry spread (means less added sugars) to the sandwich but I also added fresh sliced strawberries (high in antioxidants).  Here is how I one-upped (not sure that’s a word) myself and it was so simple I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner.  


Start by adding 1 heaping tablespoon per 9 oz of fruit spread.  You may need to take a couple tablespoons of the spread out of the jar so you have enough room to mix in the chia seeds.  Then just swirl away!

If you or your child is new to chia seeds, you want to  add it into their diet slowly.  Too much too soon may cause digestive discomfort.

Strawberry spread is great because you can tell them the seeds they see or feel in their mouth are the strawberry seeds – which is true!

If you try this with your kids, let me know how it goes.  Image


You are courageous. You are here. You are ready for change.

My journey has taken me all over the nutrition map.  Ever since I can remember I had always felt uncomfortable in my own skin.  Maybe 10-15 pounds overweight, of hispanic ethnicity (that totally got me into college!) in a highly prevalent irish town and being one of the tallest girls in school didn’t help.  At 10 years old, I started out with a typical diet.  I am amazed at such a young age I fell into a restrictive eating cycle driven by “rules”.  The diet worked (ah, to be young) and I lost the 10-15 pounds plus another 5 or so.  I felt so happy with my body!  I was getting all kinds of complements!  Life was good!  But because my values of myself and my body were not solid and positive (I had already learned to put emphasis on what I looked like more than how I felt inside) I felt that I needed to keep losing more weight.  So I did.  I fell into anorexia.  Slowly cutting out calories by eating less and less of my breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I remember thinking to myself that if I wanted to lose more weight all I had to do was eat less and unfortunately because I was young my metabolism responded.  I became scarily thin.  Scarily thin!  From that end of the spectrum I traveled  all the way across to the excessive side as an overeater driven by boredom (I ate just to eat).  MTV had just aired and I was so obsessed with it.  A try of shoestring french fries tastes so good with MTV!  I had lost complete control of my body at such a young age.


Somewhere in between I figured out I could also manipulate my body’s shape by exercising – there started the combination of diet & exercise, but not in a healthy way.  I used exercise to allow me to eat what ever I wanted, not a good relationship.  More rules.  I had to workout, typically run for at least 1 hour or I’d go on a machine for at least 45-1 hour.  Torture!  Through college I would wake up at 6am and run.  In the cold, dark Amherst winters I’d run.  I had to get my runners high fix.  In college I was every size imaginable and would exercise for 2-3 hours sometimes.  I would have posted a picture of me at my largest but you better believe I threw that picture away so fast (smart phones were not invented yet, THANK GOSH!!!).  Here is where I hit the crux of my yo-yo dieting, I was still traveling through all the “dieting” stops where I had been before – this was all I knew.  This pattern carried on through my 30’s.
Then babies came, surprisingly I was ok with the weight gain then, it was like I was only ok with it because I was creating a whole life in me (way to be loving to myself!).  Wow!  All of what I had done in the past really hit hard after pregnancies – when I couldn’t justify the weight gain because I wasn’t carrying an extra life in me.  And mix a sprinkling of postpartum depression in there too!  My last hooray was when I entered a fitness competition – more nutrition & exercise rules for me to follow.  Awesome!  I’m great at that!


As I approached 40, it hit me hard.  I  used this pivotal time in my life to get in charge of myself.  This was my time to look back and understand what I was dong to myself and to stop the cycle.  It wasn’t just one diet here, over exercising there – it was a lifelong journey of it all.  That’s a lot to carry around.  I was so ready to break out of this vicious cycle.


Think back at your childhood and ask yourself when did your first diet start?  What was your relationship with food?  Coming to terms with the past and the weight we carry in our minds directly effects how our bodies react.  It’s time to live life and release that weight!

The Skinny on Proteins

Proteins are the buildings blocks of life.  The body needs protein to repair and maintain itself.  


Every cell in the human body contains protein.  You need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones.


When proteins are digested, amino acids are left.  Amino acids need to be eaten in large amounts (20-30g/meal) for optimal health.  There are three groups of amino acids:  Essential Amino Acids cannot be made by the body and must be supplied by food; Nonessential Amino Acids are made by the body from essential amino acids or the normal breakdown of proteins; and Conditional Amino Acids are usually nonessential, except in times of illness and stress.  


It is important to eat all different proteins to receive a complete mix of amino acids in the body.

5 Tips to Help Survive a Candy-Hangover


Ok. Who overdid it in the candy department yesterday? I’m not as crazy about candy as I am with cakes, brownies, cookies…so I did ok.  My posts during Thanksgiving and Christmas may be different.

Tash Tips for surviving leftover candy syndrome or a Candy Hangover:
1. If you did find yourself gobbling (no pun intended towards Thanksgiving) up your leftover candy – DONATE IT, THROW IT AWAY, GIVE IT TO YOUR NEIGHBORS…just get it out of the house. I would normally say have 1 or 2 pieces then discard but I’m assuming you ate so much candy already that it’s now talking to you. So get rid of it.

2. Don’t beat yourself up. If you hear “I am disgusted in myself, I’m so upset with myself…” stop it. It happened in the past, all you can do is support yourself in the present. Which is do something healthy for yourself – #3.

3. Go for a leisure walk, read a book, take a hot tub, or long shower, hang out with your dog/kids/infant (not always in that order, lol). All those suggestions release “feel good” hormones to combat stress and get your mind off the candy.

4. Get the heck out of dodge! Run for the hills! Get out of your house or where ever the trigger food is. Go run any errands (not food related) now.  Get your mind off the candy.

5. Eat a healthy meal, something light (salad with chicken breast, unsweetened yogurt with berries (to satisfy your sweet tooth) to get you back on track. Maybe it’s just a green drink or a protein shake. What ever it is, your fat loss is only one meal away.

3 Supplements to Start Today

I recommend all my family members take these too.  This is a relatively easy task and add a positive influence to your health.

1.   Omega 3 – buy a Krill oil for better absorption and to also receive astaxathin, a powerful antioxidant.  I recommend Barleans Wild and Whole Krill Oil.

2.  Probiotic –  Probiotics help keep the intestines healthy and assist in digesting food. They are also believed to help the immune system.  Look for a probiotic that contains a good combination of cultures.  I recommend Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra.

3.  Multivitamin – This is something you can tailor to your body and needs.  My doctor prescribed me a custom blend multivitamin that contains extras like turmeric, alpha lipoic acid, CoQ10.  I get mine refilled at Hopkinton Drug.  Ask your medical doctor if she can custom your multivitamin.  Otherwise, choose one based on your needs; Womens 40+, Mens 40+.