Fast Food Challenge

Asian Themed Meatballs, Veg and Noodles

Asian Themed Meatballs, Veg and Noodles

Fast Food – As we know it is without debate horrendous for you – filled with fat, salt and chemicals and low on nutrients.  But what if we redefined “Fast Food” to mean great tasting food, high in nutrient content and needing minimal preparation?  I challenge you to consider your options and realize you have so many resources!

If you have a “Fast Food” recipe you’d like to share, speak up here!

This was a quickie meal pulled together in less than 20 minutes and delicious as leftovers!

  • Low Sodium Tamari or Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsp of fresh minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • a splash of sesame oil (and I mean a splash, not a cannonball!)
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • red chili flakes (to taste)
  • 1 Lb package of meatballs
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cups of fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and torn
  • 1/2 box of Pasta = 4 servings (I used spagetti because that’s what I had on hand, but to make it more Asian and to vary your carb source try soba (buckwheat) or rice noodles)
  • Juice of one lime (to taste)

1) Combine Tamari through chili flakes and pour over the meatballs (marinate for an hour.)

2) Boil the water and cook pasta according to the package directions.

3) Sautee the onion with a small bit of sesame oil over medium heat; add the meatballs, marinade and tomatoes. Cook for about 8 minutes and add the spinach.  Continue cooking until the meatballs are cooked through about 8 more minutes.

4) Drain the pasta and return it to it’s pot.  Toss the meatball and veggie mixture into the pasta and toss until well-combined. Squeeze a little lime juice over the mix and “Dig In!”

Crab Cakes with Red Curry Dipping Sauce, Pesto Linquine and Citrus Salad

Crab Cakes with Red Curry Dipping SauceAs you know, I love to eat well and that means it has to be easy, nutritious, balanced and most of all appetizing and delicious.  So this meal meets that criteria and I’m going to show you how I break it down in terms of basic nutrient balance.

Protein = Crab Cakes (2 small)

Carbohydrate = Pesto Pasta (1 cup cooked)

Veg/Fruit = Arugula & Grapefruit slices (@1/2 cup ea.)

Now I’m sure some of you see “pasta” and think, “the devil’s food.” But let’s remember portion size is as important as what types of food you’re eating.  Imagine taking your car to the gas station and overfilling your tank until it was running down  the side of your car and pooling in your shoes.  This would be a bad thing, right? So don’t do the same thing to your body.  Pasta does not need to be vilified, just eaten in an appropriate serving and probably not every day. The average restaurant’s entree of pasta is 6-8 servings. That’s an entire box of pasta!  It’s important to read labels on food until you can get a good sense of what is a legitimate serving.

You might be thinking that one cup of pasta would be too small to fill you up or satisfy you. Well, that’s where the other nutrients come in to play.  The protein and veg/fruit complete the meal.  And Happy Fun Fact: the body absorbs nutrients better when all are present in combination than in individual servings.  Translation: the crab is absorbed more effectively when eaten with the pasta than it would be if eaten by itself and you will feel more happy and satiated when you eat in balanced proportions.

I’m not a big fan of measuring and weighing my food and that is also entirely impractical if you’re out to eat in a social setting.  So here’s a stealthy strategy: the palm of your hand excluding the fingers is about a serving size for your body size.  I have relatively small hands; my boyfriend’s hands are three times mine.  Obviously, he will require a higher quantity of calories and nutrients than I will.  If you’re eating breakfast hold a handful of berries and take stock of the amount.  Without getting out a measuring cup, you’ve just naturally selected the right amount of food for you. (For me that’s about 3 large strawberries or 8-10 good-sized blackberries.)  And let’s be honest, we all know the fable of the monkey who gets its fist stuck in a jar because it’s so greedy that it won’t let go of some of the goodies in hand.  So no giant fistfuls – just the size of your palm minus the fingers.

This technique also works when you’re out to eat.  No need to cause a scene by getting the waiter to divide your meal up or to alert everyone at the table that you’re learning how to reset your portion instincts. Fake like you’re reaching for the salt and pepper and hold your palm over each element on your plate (meat, veg, carb) and then feel confident that you can eat the amount that is appropriate for your body.  Ninety percent of the time, you’ll have enough food left over that you can have it for lunch tomorrow, also in the right amount.

We can take away the fear and replace it with  nutrient balanced, properly portioned and economically feasible food based on confident, stress-free choices.

If you’d like the recipe for this dish, please let me know! (Psst, the Pesto sauce is from the Salmon Recipe I posted earlier; it keeps a week or two in the fridge and is great for so many quick dishes.)

Don’t Be Afraid of Your Food

“You know what I love about you, Deb?  It’s that you EAT. You’re a trainer and you EAT like the rest of us, none of this ‘my body is a temple’ BS.”  This is what my friend says to me on a regular basis, but the truth is I like many people, have a love affair with food.  And I would argue that you should love food.  I mean think about it: you wouldn’t be angry, judgmental or upset by the fact that your car needs fuel would you?  But you also know that if you consistently put crappy fuel in a race car, it is not going to perform well.

From a divine design point of view, it’s simply beautiful the way we are built.  Think about it, you are required to eat several times a day.  That means that naturally you are taking breaks throughout the day to check in with yourself, to pause and be present, to nourish you own body and mind and to share that time with those close to and around you.  Also the fact that you are going to need to eat again gives you an infinite amount of chances to make better choices.  So you pigged out at your friend’s birthday party, so what?  Move on, be present and eat balanced the next time around.  It’s not necessary to starve yourself on the next meal nor is it a good idea to eat birthday cake from that day forward.  Was it a joyful occasion to share with your friend?  Of course!  So, keep the joy, ditch the control and judgment, move forward and now fill the mouth with nutrient rich, appropriately portioned deliciousness.

When it comes down to it, many people are afraid of their food.  And generally speaking we fall into two camps: one, those who consume way too much and two, those who count every calorie and control every mouthful.  Either way, the mind is occupied and consumed daily with choices about sustenance.  Wouldn’t it be nice to achieve a measure of balance through knowledge and behavioral adjustments such that the fear vanishes, the controls free up and you are able to sustain your weight and optimize your health without too much thought?

The word, “Diet” needs to change in people’s conception. I was once at a lecture given by Mark MacDonald, author of a great nutrition book called Body Confidence, and he asked only those in the audience who had never been on a diet to raise their hands.  My friend and fellow trainer and I were the only ones in an entire room to do so.  The speaker, knowing the secret ahead of time asked my friend, “How is this possible?”  My friend replied that to him the word “diet” meant the food choices you make over a lifetime, not a highly restricted short duration format.  And he added, “Look if it’s the playoffs and I eat pizza and beer for seven nights in a row, I know that at some point I have to stop doing that.  If some people call it a diet because I can’t eat pizza and beer every day of my life, well, then I guess I’m on a diet.”

I work with people via empowerment.  The first step is to let go of your fear and inwardly directed hostility.  The second is to begin to understand how to maximize nutrient intake at every meal in a way that you can simply look at your plate and know you’re balanced or not.  The third is to eat foods that you find enjoyable so that a meal becomes an enrichment of your day.  That is not to say, that I advocate whatever you want in whatever quantity you want all the time.  But it is most definitely possible to change your mindset and life that food becomes your friend and not your enemy.

I am proud to say “I love food and it makes my body and mind happy!”

Grilled Salmon Pesto and Roasted Red Pepper

Check out this recipe I posted yesterday for a quick, balanced and yummy salmon dinner!

Grilled Salmon Pesto with Roasted Red Pepper

Grilled Salmon Pesto and Roasted Red PepperI used to get frustrated at buying fresh herbs at the grocery store because the bunches were so big that I could never use it all up and it felt like a waste.  But then I discovered “Pesto” sauces.  You can essentially modify this with whatever herbs you have and store it in a jar for later use in quick and savory meals.  You can toss it on meats, pasta, potatoes, even sandwiches.


  • 6 TB Pine Nuts
  • 2 Cups fresh Basil Leaves
  • 2 Cups fresh Parsley Leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/3-1/2 cup of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup of Freshly grated Parmigiano

1) Combine the pine nuts – salt in a food processor – blend until a paste is formed.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while blending.  Add the Parmigiano 1 TB at a time until a thick paste is formed.

2) If storing (several weeks in the fridge) place in a jar and pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top to seal in freshness.

If you want to make what I just made (about 15-20 minutes total time) follow my lead.

1) Boil the pasta water and heat the grill pan over low-med heat.

2) Coat the flesh of a salmon filet with olive oil and salt of your choice (I used Hibiscus salt.) Chop the red pepper into sizable chunks and brush with olive oil.

3) USE 1/2 THE PACKAGE OF PASTA (typically it’s 4 servings!) Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Place the salmon on the grill and arrange the red pepper around the cooking fish.

4) When the pasta is cooked, drain it and toss with some pesto (not all! Save some for another day.) Plate the grilled salmon on top of a serving of noodles, garnish with a side of grilled red peppers, a crumble of cotija cheese (that’s what I had in the fridge) and drizzle with a taste of balsamic vinegar.

Speedy, Nutritious and Delicious


  • 1 sweet potato
  • Garlic Olive Oil *Make this by dropping a garlic clove in a spice jar filled with olive oil.
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1/2 bunch of Kale (chopped)
  • 2 apples (cored and chopped)
  • 2 slices, 1/4” thick, of grilled Haloumi (grillable cheese), dice after grilling
  • Salt, Pepper, Red Chile Flakes to taste
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar to taste

1) Bake Sweet Potato (325 degrees until it gets soft, about an hour)

2) Sautee onion in garlic olive oil, add ground pork and season with S & P and Chile flakes. Brown until pork is cooked through.  Set meat aside. Using the same pan and a little more garlic olive oil, sautee kale and apples.

3) While the kale and apples are browning, grill 2 slices of Haloumi on a griddle or grill pan (about a 1-2 minutes on each side.)

4) Chop the sweet potato and toss it into the pan with the kale and apples.  Add the pork and onions back into the pan along with the diced grilled haloumi and small splash of cider  vinegar.  Blend together and serve!

Protein = Ground Pork and Haloumi, Veggie = Kale, Fruit = apple, Carb = Sweet Potato.

Pumpkin Apple Pancakes


  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 2 TB vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin purée
  • 1 TB brown sugar
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 apple peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 tsp butter, divided

1) Mix together all ingredients, except butter in a medium bowl

2) Melt 2 tsp butter in a large nonstick frying pan or griddle over med-low heat.  Spoon batter by 1/3 cup and cook 8-10 minutes, turning once.

3) Drizzle lightly with maple syrup!