Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites

It is finally pumpkin spice season, although if you ask me that is any time of year. I do pumpkin all year long, it’s so great for vitamin A. But since the rest of the country/northern hemisphere does pumpkin in fall – September/October is the acceptable time to roll out the pumpkin spice. 

I’ve been looking for a festive option for my energy bites and after a few trials – I really find most of the date versions of energy bites too sweet (and maybe I’d dated out), I arrived at these. I also added a chocolate drizzle. You can have them with chocolate or without – but if you haven’t tried pumpkin and chocolate together I’d recommend trying it at least once. 

I also caved and paid for pumpkins – I’ve grown up with pumpkins for free because my parents raise and sell them but since I now live thousands of miles away, I can’t get a shipment for free.๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites

Makes 20… I just make them about quarter diameter?


  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c pecans
  • 1 T flax seed
  • 3-4 T maple syrup
  • 1-2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/4 c + 1 T almond butter
  • 3 T pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanila

Drizzle (optional)

  • 1/3 c dark chocolate chips
  • 1 T coconut oil


  1. Put oats, flax seed, and pecans in a food processor and pulse until ground into a fine crumb. Add vanilla and pie spice and pulse to combine. (Can add flax in the second addition with with spice and vanilla if a more whole form is desired). 
  2. Add in pumpkin and  almond butter. Pulse to combine – pushing down when necessary. 
  3. Lastly gradually add maple syrup to make cohesive “dough”.
  4. Roll dough into small bite size balls and slide into fridge to store or hold shape. 
  5. If using the chocolate drizzle, heat chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds, stir to combine and repeat heating and stirring until fully melted together and smooth. 
  6. Drizzle chocolate over balls or dip bites directly into chocolate – return to fridge to harden. 

Eat and enjoy! They are such a great option for handling those holiday flavor cravings. 

While testing this recipe I tried a version for a work client without the pecans, and I definitely like it better with pecans since pecans and pumpkin just go so well together.  I also prefer the almond butter to peanut butter since peanut butter has such an powerful flavor in my opinion – delicious, but not sure I’m ready to mix my peanut butter and pumpkin just yet. 

What are some of your favorite fall flavors? Pumpkin reminds me of home. Do you find yourself craving more comfort foods and the weather cools? 

Spinach Mushroom Bacon Strata

It’s been a month… or almost two since I posted a recipe – how did that happen?! Well, I’ll ramble about exactly how that happened in a moment, but for those who only care about the recipe and food – we’ll talk about that first.๐Ÿ™‚

Obviously breakfast is my favorite meal of the day – maybe this blog should have been all about breakfast, but I’m pretty sure someone already claimed that… And finding new brunch type recipes that can easily traverse into lunch or dinner is a win in my book. Strata can do just that.

For this strata I was inspired by some day old baguette. I bought the “wheat” kind but from the photos it honestly doesn’t appear that way – I swear I did. For whatever reason I always picture mushrooms in strata and so an idea was born. Mushroom, spinach (obviously), bacon (for C), and then for the cheese I chose some Monterey Jack. One thing to remember especially when making a strata and not a straight up egg bake is that for the egg mixture to soak into the bread you’ll need at least 8 hours or up to a day in the refrigerator.

Spinach Mushroom Bacon Strata

Serves 8 generously – have a side salad too


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 c tightly packed baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 6-8 c cubed bread (I used a French baguette 2″x18″ loaf, but feel free to adjust based on how bready you like your strata)
  • 2 c Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2 c milk
  • 4 strips of peppery bacon
  • ยฝ teaspoon salt
  • ยผ teaspoon pepper


  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and cook until soft. Transfer to large bowl with bread cubes. 
  3. In the hot pan, add the mushrooms and cook until mushrooms begin to release moisture.
  4. Add spinach and toss until wilted. Remove from heat.
  5. Add mushroom/spinach mixture to bread, tossing to combine. 
  6. Wipe out pan and return to heat. Cook bacon in pan until crispy and transfer to plate with paper towels to cool. When cool enough to handle, chop or crumble bacon into small pieces and add to bread mixture. 
  7. Lastly add in shredded cheese and fold to combine. 
  8. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, then add milk and seasonings. 
  9. Pour egg mixture over  bread mixture in the large bowl and mix to combine. Transfer mixture to greased 9″x13″ glass baking dish.
  10. Refrigerate mixture for 8 hours, or up to overnight, covered.
  11. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  12. Bake, uncovered, for 55-65 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Middle should be set and not jiggle or knife inserted into center comes out clean. 

Just the perfect brunch or weekend lunch.๐Ÿ™‚

Ok, so why the long break? Being entirely honest – I have felt completely uninspired and blah this whole past month. Most of it stems from my day job – I’ve been overrun and it’s hard to see the end in sight. For weeks at a time I’ve come home completely exhausted without an ambition to make food (thank goodness for C!), let alone formulate something to eat for dinner. No joke if C wasn’t here I’d probably be living on cereal and completely protein deficient. While I love what I do (or at least the idea of it), I don’t particularly care for it when it interrupts my personal life, wiggling its way into my evenings, weekends, and even morning workout time. When I don’t get time for my passions I tend to get a little cranky and blunt.

I’ve had some inspiration the past few days, so I’m going to see where it leads. I’m out of the office most of the month of October and hopefully not being in a dreaded cube will help (seriously soul sucking). Fall is my favorite season (perhaps a bit basic but whatever) and having grown up with pumpkins I do have a few new recipes to share celebrating autumn and harvest time.

How have you made it though those uninspired months? What do you do to ensure work-life balance?



Roasted Peach and Blackberry Salad

Is anyone else sad that summer is almost over? I know, technically not until later September, but Labor Day really signifies the end for many of us. While I absolutely love cool evenings and signs that fall is coming, I still miss the carefree feeling of summer. Sweaters are my favorite type of clothing, but I would wear shorts year round if I could (with a sweater though – shorts and sweaters are fine together right?). Oh, and I can’t forget about boots either! Maybe I am ready for fall?


But before we jump too quickly into fall, lets talk about the fresh produce – the end of summer usually means stone fruits and I am beyond excited that peaches are finally ripe on the tree. We trimmed back our peach tree a lot this year and only got four extra large peaches but if you can find some at a farmer’s market they typically taste just as good.

I was dreaming of this salad after seeing it on a menu a couple weeks ago – roasted peaches, blackberries, and a local feta. Since I didn’t order it that evening I wanted to see what I could come up with myself.

I would say that it turned out pretty good! I added some pomegranate seeds for an extra pop of color and crunch in addition to the pumpkin seeds. And naturally arugula because I just love spicy greens or at least those with more flavor!

Roasted Peach and Blackberry Salad

Serves 4 large or 6 medium salads (and is easily scaled!)


  • 3 medium-to-large peaches
  • 2-3 cups of blackberries
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded or ~1 cup of seeds
  • 1/3 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 8 oz feta cheese
  • 8 cups arugula or other spring mix
  • Your favorite vinegar for dressing


  1. Prepare two large sheet pans with parchment paper and preheat oven to 425F (option to use broiler at 500F too – but watch carefully).
  2. Wash and dry all produce. Cut peaches into slices and arrange on one baking sheet. Evenly distribute blackberries on the other.
  3. Roast peaches and blackberries in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 425F or until tender and slightly “toasted”. If you choose to broil, this will be closer to 5-7 minutes. (Roasting on the grill is also a great summer option!).
  4. While fruit is roasting, arrange greens on plates or in a large bowl.
  5. Remove fruit from oven and let cool slightly.
  6. To arrange the salad, layer peaches first, then blackberries, feta, pomegranate seeds, and pepitas.
  7. Drizzle with your favorite vinegar or dressing. I personally love just a 18 year thick aged balsamic.

Time to eat!

This is a great salad served with salmon or other heartier fish. Since I’m a bread-aholic, I would also accompany this with a biscuit, light scone, or toast. You could take this for lunch by mixing the toppings together in one container and then topping the greens once your ready to eat. If you mix the arugula with everything and have it sit too long, the arugula will not be the freshest.

What are your favorite end of summer fruits and vegetables? Are you looking forward to fall or mourning summer?ย 


Peanut Butter and Chocolate Hazelnut Dips

Most dietitians love grocery shopping and I am definitely in that majority. While I do write a list and stick to it the best I can, so of my favorite food shopping experiences are when I don’t really have an agenda or major meal plans and I get to find inspiration. I was at Sprouts a few weeks back and Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter was on sale. And while I’m usually a plain old all natural peanut butter sort of gal, it was an impulse buy I couldn’t refuse. And I’m glad I didn’t!

While the chocolate and hazelnut spreads are good, maybe I had just a bit too much traveling around Greece (because we couldn’t buy PB) and perhaps a few of those pounds were from all of the delicious Nutella. If it was just a few weeks vacation it may have been no big deal, but alas it was a full semester.ย Now, I typically like to “make” something with my chocolate and hazelnut spread. I’ve also found Justin’s to be slightly less sweet.

If you’re looking for a chocolate vegan cream pie, chances are you’ll stumble on a tofu pie. And while I love pie, I like the freedom to dunk and dip whatever I’d like into that delicious, fluffy, goodness. (Oh, BTW, my dad made me this awesome board – it’s made of cherry and black walnut. He made me another too with oak and black walnut. From trees taken off my grandparents’ properties. Aren’t they beautiful! I wanted a large serving board and he sure delivered.)

It’s pretty much that simple, just tofu and your favorite nut butter.

And since it’s tofu, it’s packed with even more protein… although I wouldn’t call it low fat, it definitely satisfies hunger.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Hazelnut Dips

Makes about 4 cups all total


  • 16oz firm to medium firm tofu (I think the firm has a richer texture but you can change to your preference)
  • 2/3 c all natural peanut butter
  • 2/3 c Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
  • 2 T soy milk (or other milk alternative)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 T sugar (if needed)
  • Your favorite fruits for dipping


  1. Drain tofu and divide into two 8oz blocks.
  2. Cut first block into smaller chunks and put in food processor.
  3. Add the peanut butter and half of the soy milk, sugar, and vanilla. Puree until very smooth. Depending on consistency, you may need to add a touch more soy milk.
  4. Scrape peanut butter dip into a bowl or storage container.
  5. Moving on to the chocolate – cut the second 8oz tofu chunk into smaller chunks and put in food processor.
  6. Add the chocolate hazelnut spread and second half of remaining sugar, soy milk, and vanilla. Puree until smooth and scrape into second bowl.
  7. Serve with fruit and/or graham crackers.

It’s the richness of a tofu pie in a smaller portion! I love my peanut butter with bananas, apples, and grahams.

The chocolate hazelnut goes great with strawberries. Holy yum.

It didn’t add too much sugar because I already really like tofu and tend to prefer my nut butters on the saltier side. I also can’t taste certain bitter compounds (weird FYI about myself) – so if you do find it somewhat bitter, feel free to add a touch more sweetener.

Is that not the best snack spread or what?! ย After school or after work snack, whatever floats your boat. Does anyone else treat work and school nights the same?

What are some of your favorite snacks? Do you ever find yourself wishes that your favorite deserts could be made in mini/portion controlled forms?


Visiting Minnesota Summer 2016 Edition

We just got back (about two weeks ago) from visiting Minnesota for a little over a week and although I didn’t capture everything – I’ve been doing something like trying to stay in the moment and not feel the need to photo document every moment, and while that is great, I sometimes look back and think – why don’t I have a picture of that?! We ate breakfast at the same place three times and I still didn’t get any pictures.

Oh well, I suppose? But here is a brief summary of our time and how we spent it:

Brewery hopping in Minneapolis and visiting friends from undergrad and grad school… although again – why do I not have picture of people? I think Sociable Cider Werks (top left) was my favorite.

Next on the road trip of Minnesota we headed up to Duluth and Gooseberry Falls (above) to meet up with one of my best friends from college -Dana! We hadn’t seen each other in three years!

Being on the North Shore meant a stop at Betty’s Pies for their Great Lakes Fruit Pie.

Lots on the menu!

A walk out on to the pier.

The view from our hotel – morning and evening – I could get used to that. Or at least in the summer time.


We finally headed back to my home town of Battle Lake. And there are some new features in town! The Boathouse (we went back to three times… not ashamed at all because they had good drinks and pizza hit the spot too), the Rusty Nail (remodel of an old dive), and even a cupcake/coffee shop – Smackin’ Cakes!

While there I got to spend time with my adorable niece and nephew (who were up for the wedding).

It’s she a doll!

C and I rented some bikes from the Galloping Goose and rode through Glendalough State Park.

It’s gorgeous any time of year, but I loved riding down those paths.

We celebrated Jessica and Derek at their grooms lunch.

And Carlos Creek Winery with my sis.

And finally time for the big day! This gorgeous lady is probably one of my favorite people I’ve known all my life and I was incredibly honored to officiate!

And of course I got to spend time with my younger sis as well.๐Ÿ™‚

These two have known each other since they were a few days old. Don’t be fooled… Anna has heels.๐Ÿ˜‰

After the wedding C and I stayed at Spirit Cove Lodge which was only 10 minutes from the winery. It was such a sanctuary and the breakfast was fantastic! Look at that French Toast Crown!

The view from our room over looking the lake.

We finally made our way back to Minneapolis for a sleep before heading to the airport. And I will say that we got an excellent breakfast – look at those steel cut oats with berry compote! And of course Earl Grey tea with milk and honey.

I haven’t been back to my hometown in the summer for almost 4 years and I’m so glad we spent a long week exploring and acting like a tourist.

What are some things you do to act like a tourist in your hometown?


Banana Bread French Toast Style Oatmeal

Even though I’m just back from vacation, I feel like I’m getting the vacation blues after being back to work for a week. Or maybe it’s just an entire week or two with a case of the Mondays? Some days I really connect with Sadness from Inside Out (Disney Pixar) “I’ll just lie here until tomorrow”- I think she might be my favorite character from that movie. Occasional melancholy is perfectly healthy. …In any case, maybe some yummy food will turn things around (noting that food can neither fix nor solve a problem), which is exactly why I went for some healthier comfort food.

And since breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day, we’re back to breakfast! I’ve been on a major hot oatmeal kick lately and this time around adding some extra protein with an egg. ย Yes, you heard that right, the best way to get the creamiest oatmeal is whipping in and egg. While yogurt is still my all time favorite and go to breakfast, these oats have been creeping their way up and are relatively “quick” to throw together before heading out the door for work.

Banana Bread French Toast Style Oatmeal

Serves 1


  • 1/2 c old fashion oats
  • 1 c water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 medium banana mashed
  • 1/4 c milk of choice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Toppings of choice: toasted almonds, cocoa nibs, dried cherries or cranberries, or whatever is your favorite.
  • Honey


  1. In a small pot on the stove, heat the water until boiling. Add the oats and stir until combined and oats are mostly cooked.
  2. Next, stir in your mashed banana to whip into oats followed by a touch of milk (2 T to 1/4 c).
  3. Once oats are back up to heat and bubbling, add in the egg and whip fiercely with a whisk or wooden spoon to fully incorporate the egg without getting large chunks of cooked egg (which is not what we’re going for here).
  4. Lastly stir in the vanilla and remove from heat.
  5. Spoon the creamy oats into a bowl, drizzle with desired amount of honey, and top with favorite toppings. I had toasted almonds, cocoa nibs, and cranberries on hand, but really lots of different toppings will work just fine.

If you have time on a work morning I would savor the morning with this treat, but it is also the most delicious breakfast after a walk with the dog on a Saturday morning. Oh, and I suppose you could multiply the recipe as well if you want to share.๐Ÿ˜‰


What is your favorite breakfast grain?

How do you cope with a case of the Mondays?


Berry Fruit and Green Salad

Want to know a secret for getting non-veggie lovers to eat more greens? Fruit! Ok, so I guess that’s not really a secret but it does work. I brought this salad to a potluck recently and even with all the sweets around, I took an empty bowl home, it was a hit! Strawberries are a common addition to spinach salad, but I love how blueberries and oranges add that extra pop!

But since I’m already 2 days late in getting this recipe posted (oops), I’m going to hurry along to why this salad is so nutritious and give you the recipe.

1 – spinach, obviously vitamin A, some iron, fiber, niacin, zinc, and the list goes on – bottom line, it’s really good for you.

2 – strawberries and oranges – lots of vitamin C

3 – blueberries for antioxidants

4 – goat cheese and almonds for calcium and health fats

It’s a pretty nutrient packed meal. You can serve it as a main and even add chicken for extra protein or as your side salad.

Berry Fruit and Green Salad

Serves 4-6


  • 6-8 c baby spinach
  • 1 c sliced strawberries
  • 3/4 c blueberries
  • 1 small can mandarin oranges, drained/in its own juice
  • 4 oz goat cheese (chevre is best)
  • 3 T toasted sliced almonds

Honey Balsamic Dressing

  • 1 T finely diced shallot
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 5 T olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix all dressing ingredients in a mason jar. Close tightly and shake vigorously to combine. Because of the addition of the mustard, the dressing will hold its emulsification for much longer and can be stored easily in the refrigerator for a week.
  2. Place spinach in a large bowl and fluff.
  3. Layer greens with strawberries, oranges, and blueberries.
  4. Sprinkle with goat cheese and almonds.
  5. Dressing can be kept near the salad for serving of tossed in leaves if preparing right before serving. Toss to lightly coat.

This is probably the easiest summer green salad and I am in love with the colors and all of the flavor!

Who said healthy food was bland and tasteless? You can easily scale this recipe by adding as much or as little fruit as you’d like depending on amount of greens, but I wouldn’t hold this salad for more that a few hours or half a day combines or the leaves will squish and become potentially slimy. The worst this your greens can get!


What are your favorite ingredients to put on salads? Are you a fruit person or strictly veggies all the way?

Swordfish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

351Fish is one of those foods dietitians (RDs) are always telling people to eat more of – because why not? It’s a lean protein and full of healthy fats. But I’ll let you in on a little secret, I hated and I do mean HATED fish until I was well into college. There may be some photographic evidence >>>>>> to insinuate otherwise and anecdotal suggestions that I ate sardines by the can when I was little, but all of these I refuse to believe because I simply can’t remember. (Yes, that is little Ingrid in the red shirt clutching a dead, gutted fish.)

Flash forward to 19 year old me (has it been 10 years already?) experimenting with new foods and really forcing myself to eat foods because they were healthy. Salmon was the first fish I could eat and enjoy. That opened the gateway to other seafoods, sushi, and eventually ahi tuna, sea bass (it’s great in an oolong marinade, fyi) and swordfish. While I findย I didn’t particularly enjoy flaky fish or fresh water fish, I really really enjoy meatier fishes from the sea.

And all that adventure with trying different fishes leads to fish tacos! For the swordfish I decided on a Blacken Seasoning to bring out a little more spice with the sweet salsa. The tortillas are fresh made in Albuquerque and I picked them up at Keller’s Farm Stores while scoping out some cuts of lamb. I think the blue just pops with the pineapple and really blue probably tastes better, right?

Swordfish Tacos

Serves 4 (with two tacos each)


  • 1 pound swordfish steaks
  • 8 blue corn tortillas
  • 4 avocados
  • Cilantro to garnish


  • 3 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you don’t want spicy)
  • 2 T smoked paprika
  • 2 T cumin
  • 2 T oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Make Pineapple Salsa (recipe below) and let sit to marinate while the rest of the taco fixings are prepared.
  2. Mix blacken seasoning in a medium bowl.
  3. Cut swordfish into 4 equal pieces – about 1/4 pound each. Pat dry and coat with blacken seasoning.
  4. Heat a cast iron or other large skillet on medium-high heat. Drizzle 1 T of high heat oil such as canola or coconut oil in the pan. Place fish in pan and cook 5- 8 minutes, flipping halfway until cooked through but not burnt.
  5. While the fish cooks, steam 8 tortillas in the microwave. I just use a damp clean flour towel or paper towels wrapped around the flat tortillas. When removed they should be pliable and supple.
  6. Slice avocados and lightly chop cilantro for garnish.
  7. When fish is cooked through, remove from heat and cut into 1×1 inch pieces.
  8. Arrange tortillas with avocado, swordfish, salsa, and cilantro.


Pineapple Salsa

Makes about 2-3 cups


  • 1/2 fresh pineapple, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, deseeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeno, deseeded and finely minced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 c cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Wash, cut, dice, and chop first six ingredients.
  2. Mix together and add lime juice and season to taste.

Enjoy once assembled!

You can sub in your favorite meaty fish for these super easy and delicious tacos.

Are there any foods you absolutely hated as a child and now don’t know how you could have missed out for so long?