Salsa Chicken Tacos

Serving size: Makes 6 servings

  • 2 lbs chicken breast
  • 32oz salsa of your choice
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Taco toppings of choice
  1. Place chicken and salsa in crockpot and set on high for 3-4 hours.
  2. Shred with forks, and make tacos the way you like them!

KP’s Tip: If you run out of shells, just use the toppings and lettuce to make a bowl out of it. It makes a great lunch!

Hummus Toast

Serving size: Makes 1 serving

  • 1/4 cup hummus
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, sliced
  • 1 slice whole grain bread
  • 1 tbsp “everything” seasoning
  1. Toast slice of bread.
  2. Top bread with hummus, sliced egg, and sprinkle seasoning on top.
  3. Enjoy!

KP’s Tip: To keep variety in this recipe, try using different flavors of hummus. This can be a great snack, or a meal if you double the recipe.

Crockpot Meatballs & Ravioli

Serving size: Makes 6 servings

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4c whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1 bag fresh or frozen ravioli
  • 26oz (1 jar) sauce of choice
  1. In large bowl, mix all ingredients except for ravioli and sauce. Form mixture into meatballs.
  2. Line crockpot with non-stick spray or liner.
  3. Spread 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the crockpot and add meatballs, keeping in a single layer.
  4. Add the remaining sauce, cover and cook for 3 hours on high.
  5. The last 15 minutes before meatballs are done, add ravioli and mix.
  6. After 15 mins, serve immediately.

KP’s Tip: To keep variety in this recipe, try using different sauces. You could use red, white, rose or pesto sauce to really change the flavor.

Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash & Meat Sauce

Serving size: Makes 6 servings

  • ​1 spaghetti squash
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2lbs hot italian sausage (or sausage of choice)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 jar diced tomatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Stab the squash with a fork or knife all around to poke holes in the flesh. 
  3. Microwave for about 5 minutes..it will be hot, use oven mitts to remove it.
  4. Slice the stem off the squash, then slice in the half lengthwise.
  5. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
  6. Brush with 2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings (I used s&p, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning).
  7. Place squash side down on a lined cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour.
  8. While that’s cooking, set your pressure cooker on the sauté setting. 
  9. Add 1/2 onion chopped and drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil to sauté.
  10. Add 1lb ground beef (I used wagyu), and 2lbs ground sausage (I used hot Italian) mix to combine until cooked through and cancel the sauté function.
  11. Add 1 cup (1/2 jar) of tomato sauce and 1 can diced tomatoes.
  12. Cover and cook for 35 minutes. Once everything is done, plate it up and devour! 

KP’s Tip: For a crockpot version, make the squash as directed. Sauté the onion and meat in a pan, throw in the crockpot. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and cook on high for 3 hours. 

Multivitamins: are they necessary and do you need one?

Should you be taking a multivitamin?

Before you can answer this question, you need to first take a look at your diet and any health conditions you are currently experiencing.  

  1. Are you eating a well-rounded diet? Have you cut out any food groups?

It is important to first get your vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. You will get more nutrition from the diversity of the foods and more fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that you cannot get from supplementation. These elements of whole foods prevent diseases and improve bowel movements. However, no one person’s diet is perfect. Many people cut out certain food groups, such as dairy, for health reasons.  If this is true for you, a multivitamin may be beneficial to fill in the gaps. 

  1. Do you have a health condition that may cause you to not be able to absorb certain nutrients, or cause you to need more of a certain nutrient?

Many digestive complications such as Crohn’s disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease can lead to malabsorption of certain nutrients. Over a period of time, nutrient deficiencies can develop and cause various symptoms. Talking to a dietitian and your doctor about your disease and possible nutrient deficiencies that may result can help you decide which vitamins you should be focusing on.  Getting your vitamin and mineral levels checked can reveal if you need more than what a multivitamin can offer. If this is the case, you may be recommended to take individual supplements that have higher doses for what you need. In some situations, like being pregnant, you may need more of certain nutrients such as folic acid and iron. Pregnant women should take a prenatal vitamin.

You can never go wrong with talking to your dietitian and doctor about taking a multivitamin or a specific vitamin/mineral supplement. Explain your current diet and any health conditions you are experiencing. Above all, focusing on eating more foods in their whole and natural forms will always benefit you. You cannot overdose on nutrients when eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and grains. However, you can reach a toxicity level from popping a higher dose of vitamins/minerals than you need. 

Above all, if you are eating a balanced diet and are not experiencing any health conditions that require you to need more of certain nutrients, you may be better off saving your money and continuing to focus on your diet!

–Tara Greenwood Penn State University Dietetics Student

Edible No-Bake Cookie Dough

Serving size: 1 piece; Makes about 15 pieces

  • ​1 cup oat flour (process oats in food processer until ground to a powder)
  • 1 cup protein powder of choice (I used chocolate plant-based powder)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (and 1-2 tbsp for topping)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Mix oat flour, protein powder, peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla in a large bowl.
  2. Add chocolate chips and stir to mix.
  3. Dump cookie dough in 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.
  4. Press down to flatten and put in fridge for about 30 minutes.
  5. Take out of the fridge, chop into bite-sized pieces and store in air-tight container. Throw back in the fridge to keep them fresh or store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
  6. Enjoy bites of cookie dough for that afternoon pick-me-up or an on-the-go snack!

KP’s Tip: Adding protein powder is a great way to boost protein. Use whatever flavor you have. You could also use 2c oat flour if you don’t want to use a protein powder. Get creative and use different toppings as you see fit!

Recipe adapted from: https://www.mealswithmaggie.com/no-bake-cookie-dough-bars/#tasty-recipes-3743

Original & Maple Brown Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

Serves 4-6 from each flavor

  • ​Pumpkin Seeds (extracted from 3 pumpkins)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp maple extract
  1. Separate pumpkin seeds from what I call “pumpkin guts” and rinse well in cool water in a colander. Make sure most of the pumpkin is off the seeds. 
  2. Preheat oven to 300⁰ and line cookie sheet with parchment paper, separated in the middle for both flavors. 
  3. Lay out a dish drying mat and lay pumpkin seeds in a single layer on mat. 
  4. Pat dry with paper towels and try to get as much moisture out of the seeds as possible. 
  5. In a bowl, combine olive oil, salt, pepper, half the amount of seeds, and mix. 
  6. In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar, maple extract, and the other half of the seeds and mix. 
  7. Lay out pumpkin seeds on cookie sheet, in a single layer. 
  8. Roast in oven for 45 minutes or until crispy. 
  9. Take out of oven and serve immediately!

KP’s Tip: Pumpkin seeds are a great snack since they offer up a great deal of protein fiber, and healthy fats. Sure, you can buy store-bought pumpkin seeds, but the sodium content in them is extremely high. Making them yourself allows you to control the sodium content.

Good vs. Bad Foods

I hear it ALL the time, “this food’s good for you” or “this food is bad for you”. But where do these definitions come from and why do we feel the need to place them in categories to make us feel a certain way about eating them? Defining a food as good or bad only puts the notion of how you’re going to feel after you eat a certain food. Are you going to feel good after eating a bagel and cream cheese if you consider it bad? Well, of course not if you’re defining these foods as bad. It’s time to throw away the idea that foods can be categorized as one thing or the other. It’s not about food being good or bad, it’s about what your body needs and wants and listening to it! 

So let’s explore what we consider “good” and “bad”. After a fun little Facebook poll, I was able to see what you think makes a food good and bad. 

Here are some answers for “good” foods:

  • A food in its natural state
  • Makes you feel good and does good things for you 
  • Grown from the Earth naturally 
  • Minimally processed
  • You know where it’s coming from (ie; produce stand or butcher)

And here are the answers for “bad” foods:

  • Makes you feel bad after you eat it 
  • Processed or injected with preservatives or dyes
  • Fried or really heavy meals
  • Foods high in sodium or fat 
  • Foods with a lot of ingredients or really shelf-stable

Now that we’ve identified the good and the bad, let’s throw this whole idea out and start thinking about foods differently. We need to stop villainizing foods and making ourselves feel guilty over eating certain foods. This pulls us away from listening to our bodies and eating intuitively, and closer to eating what we think we should eat rather than what we want to eat. 

In order to allow ourselves to stop categorizing foods, you need to start thinking about the foods you genuinely enjoy and how to incorporate them into your day to day. If you love mac and cheese (like me), it shouldn’t be something that you’re afraid to eat or only eat on special occasions. It should be a food that you have when you want it, and get satisfaction from. Allowing yourself to enjoy the foods you love can help limit the feeling of needing to over eat that food. The more you restrict, the more you want it; so why deprive yourself? Every fad diet out there will give you a list of “no” foods and a list of “yes” foods. All this does is reinforce the categorizing of good and bad foods. 

We give food way too much power than it deserves. We allow it to adjust our social life, make us feel restricted, and sometimes even affect the relationships we have with others. If you want to stop feeling so powerless towards dieting, you have to take the power for yourself. Stop being afraid of foods and start loving foods. Be comfortable, happy and confident with the choices you make. The more intuition you put into eating, the more empowered you feel and the more you’ll want to eat foods that make you feel better as a whole. 

Eating intuitively takes time, patience, and lots of rewiring our brains. Working with a Registered Dietitian can help you plan, strategize, and ensure you’re not overwhelmed with changing the way you see foods. Just remember that no one food is going to sabotage your hard work and the less stress you put on yourself, the easier the transition will be. 

Banana Sushi

Serves 1

  • 1 whole wheat wrap
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips
  1. Place wrap on a cutting board and spread wrap with peanut butter, spreading on only the left or right side of the wrap. Use a small dab of peanut butter on the opposite side of the wrap to help it stay closed once you roll it up.
  2. Top peanut butter with chocolate chips, banana, roll it up and cut up into bite-sized pieces for a perfect, kid-friendly snack!

KP’s Tip: Use other fun toppings like rice krispies cereal, berries, or chia seeds to add a crunch and different flavor to your sushi.

Bento Box

Serves 1, Serving size 1 box

  • 2 eggs, hard boiled
  • 1/4 cup hummus (flavor of your choosing)
  • 3/4 cup raw vegetables (carrots, celery, cucumber)
  • 1 cheesestick (mozzarella, cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup berries
  1. Place 2 hard boiled eggs in lunch container. Add in hummus cup, raw veggies, cheesestick and fruit.
  2. Repeat with as many containers as needed for lunches or dinner for the week.
  3. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Calories 402. Fat 21g, Protein 26g, Carbs 29g

KP’s Tip: Feel free to switch up the fruit, veggies and cheesestick you use to give yourself variety and change up the flavors.