Tag Archives: recipe

Guest Post: A New Mom’s Tip for Creating Balance

Today OnBalance features a post from new mama, experienced yogi, and fitness trainer Katie Painter.  Katie is based in Richmond, Virginia.  Find Katie on Facebook for more healthy living tips.


“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Is this not the most irritating quote you’ve ever heard? No? Just me?

I think this quote grates on my nerves because it sends me right into defense mode.


As a new mom to a six-month old I like to say that parenting is easy… as long as you’re lucky enough to have a laid-back baby and you’re super organized. I am only one of those things and it’s not organized. (Though now that I’ve put it into writing I’m sure I somehow angered the Happy Baby Gods and my little one will now suddenly turn into a sleepless, teething hellion.)

So in an attempt to make life a little easier, I tried to get organized and started food prepping on Sunday nights. Because when I fail to plan, I fail HARD at eating well.

Food prep means different things to different people. For my family, food prep isn’t perfectly portioned containers stacked up in the fridge ready to go. That’s not necessary or practical for us, but I do like to get food cleaned and ready to go so at the end of the day cooking isn’t a time consuming challenge.

Here’s a quick peek at what food prep usually looks like for us:

  • Veggies sliced, diced and seasoned
  • Crockpot chicken (By far the greatest food prep hack! Place 4 chicken breasts in 4c water, let sit all day with some salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder then remove, shred with a fork and store.)
  • Baked chicken (We love Lowery’s seasoning)
  • Ground turkey in homemade taco seasoning
  • Mason Jar Salads

Lunches are the hardest meal for me because if the little one is being needy, I have to eat with one hand while she squirms in my other arm. That means I grab whatever is ready to go. Mason jar salads are the best thing Pinterest has ever given me.

There are really only two rules for building any kind of mason jar salad:

1) Use ALL the veggies. (The more veggies you can throw into your salad, the happier your body will be!)

2) Keep your dressing and leafy greens as far away as possible. (Harder veggies like tomatoes, peppers, etc. will soak up the dressing a bit without wilting so put those in first.)

Here’s my current favorite recipe:


  • 2 TBSP Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Grape Tomatoes (As many as you want… go ahead and load ‘em up!)
  • 1oz Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • 2oz Pasta (Please don’t fall for the PROTEIN label in the picture! This is still a starchy carb and does not count as a fat loss protein source… we just like the taste of this particular kind)
  • 2c Baby Spinach

Add ingredients in the order listed above starting with the dressing on the bottom of the jar. (I add a small paper towel square to help absorb water and keep my spinach crisp.) Then seal up the jar, pop it in the fridge, and flip upside down into a bowl when you’re ready to enjoy.

Add protein later by heating up chicken before adding the salad OR add your favorite protein source right into the jar.

Have you tried mason jar salads? Share with us your favorite recipe!


Summer Nectarine Salad


For all the time I spent on Pinterest, you’d think I do a new workout and sew a new garment and prepare a new recipe every day.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but I don’t.  Not even close.

Every once in a while, though, I come across something that must.be.made.now.  This summer nectarine salad from Honestly Yum is one of those things.  How could you not love a salad with prosciutto, nectarines, heirloom tomatoes, and mozzarella?  Impossible!

If you’re not convinced, take a look at it up close:


I mean, really…….drooooooooooooool!

As written, the recipe is:

  • 3-4 nectarines
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 ball of mozzarella di bufala
  • 1 small bundle of basil
  • 6-8 slices of prosciutto
  • 2 heads of little gem lettuce
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Rinse and dry the lettuce and rip larger leaves in half.
  • Slice the nectarines and tomatoes into wedges.
  • Assemble the salad by laying the lettuce down on the bottom, scatter the tomatoes and nectarines over the lettuce.
  • Tear the mozzarella over the salad.
  • Tear leaves of basil over the salad.
  • Lay slices of prosciutto throughout the salad.
  • To make the dressing, whisk together 1/4  cup of balsamic vinegar with 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Season salad with sea salt and black pepper.

I followed the basics of the recipe Honestly Yum set out (above), but I’ve never used butter or gem lettuce to make it.  I’ve made it with both mixed spring greens and arugula, and both are tasty.  Let’s be honest here:  it’s the “goodies” that make this salad so delicious.

And why stop at nectarines for fruity goodness in the salad?  Instead of basalmic to dress it, I like to make a quick vinaigrette of 3 parts orange juice , 1 part lemon juice, a dash of apple cider vinegar, and a hearty glug of EVOO.   I whizz it all together in my smoothie cup blender (but a whisk would do you just fine, too.)  Adding this slightly sweet dressing balances the salty of the prosciutto and mozzarella nicely.

If you have a favorite summer salad, won’t you please leave me the recipe or a link to where I can find it?

Good health and great happiness to you!

You’re Driving Me Nuts!


It’s midsummer, which means I may or may not have said shouted this phrase at my kids once or twice (a day) recently.

It’s midsummer, which also means that it’s picnic and potluck season.

Lucky for you, today I have a recipe roundup of salads that will make a fantastic healthy addition to your next smorgasbord-focused event.  And each of these salads has a star ingredient in common: almonds.

  • Fancy a recipe that even salad-averse kids will want to eat?  (Or at least pick the toppings off of?)  Try the Mandarin Almond Salad from Sweet Treats & More.

  • Looking for a salad that puts a veggie other than lettuce front and center?  The Healthy Foodie’s Broccoli, Apple & Almond Salad offers a tasty option.

  • Feeling a bit highbrow/lowbrow?  The Crunchy Asian Slaw from My Homemade Life is not only a crowd-pleasing recipe but one of the funniest food posts you’ll read.  (Though when I make this slaw, I sub olive oil for vegetable oil.  And I do feel a bit awkward buying ramen at 40 years old.)
But why almonds?

They are the tree-nut with the highest density of protein, Vitamin E, B vitamins, and calcium, and they are also high in fiber.  Almonds contain concentrated monounsaturated (good) fats that can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Aside from being a nutritional powerhouse, almonds have other positive benefits for the hair, skin, and immune system.  All this in a delicious little nut!

And because we live in Texas, where the surface-of-the-sun hot summers makes it challenging choose healthy portable snacks without schlepping along a cooler, almonds always make the cut.  When my kids get whiny and wingey in the afternoons, I often say shout: “Are you hungry? Do you need protein?  Go eat some nuts!”

I admit that my very favorite way to enjoy almonds is the dark chocolate-covered variety.  I mean, really…where else can you find such an anti-oxidant rich protein punch?  Nowhere!  These little superfoods are just the treat I need on long afternoons.

Happy Summer.  Hope the ones you love aren’t driving you nuts.

I was invited to write a post about almonds by the good folks at nuts.com.  All opinions are my own.

Throwback Thursday: An Updated Super Summer Salad

It’s that time of year again…even though it’s not been nearly as hot as normal in Austin, I still find myself searching for recipes that don’t involve using the oven.  Or doing much on the stove, either.  Lucky for me, I love salad.  Today I have a cold salad for you that I can’t stop making and eating…and making and eating…and making and eating.


All of those gorgeous colors are a corn & bean salad that a friend of mine brought to The Monkey’s end-of-season soccer party.  It was the unanimous hit of the pot luck, with pretty much everyone begging my friend (who is a dietitian, so BONUS POINTS) for the recipe.

It takes my old favorite summer salad and kicks it up about ten notches.  It’s soooo good!

Summer Corn & Bean Salad

  • Sweet corn: 1 can, rinsed & drained
  • Pinto beans: 1 can, rinsed & drained
  • Black beans: 1 can, rinsed & drained
  • Red,orange, yellow bell pepper : 1 each, finely diced
  • Green onion: 2 bunches, finely diced
  • Cilantro: handful, chopped to garnish
  • Salt and pepper

To dress:  2 parts fresh orange juice and 1 part lemon juice plus 3 parts extra virgin olive oil  (The size of the “parts” depends on how much dressing you like.  Trust me, you’ll like the dressing.)

Mix cooked corn, pinto beans and black beans. Chopped bell peppers and green onions and add to beans. Season with salt and pepper and some of that chopped cilantro, add the juice.

Here’s a bonus: any leftover corn & bean salad is delicious on mixed greens.  Add cherry tomatoes, diced avocado, grilled chicken, and cilantro-lime dressing, and you’ve got a salad even my midwestern-raised husband will eat for dinner.

One more option: I passed this recipe on to a client, and she’s already made it multiple times, too.  She even got funky and subbed kidney beans for the pinto beans.  Another time she added in a diced avocado.  Go ahead and get crazy like that.   This salad can take it.

What are you doing still sitting here?  Get up and make some corn & bean salad!  You’ll thank me for the super tasty, well-balanced, easy-t0-whip-up recipe later.

Good health and great happiness to you!

Strawberries in Springtime


It’s a Rite of Spring in our family: a trip to Sweetberry Farm to go strawberry picking.  I know we’ve gone at least five times, but this was a banner year for the strawberry crop.  Not only were the berries big, red, and plentiful, but you could smell them just walking through the fields.


The only problem with so many berries available was that it didn’t take very long to pick our fill.  We had two big boxes, and we had them stuffed within about 15 minutes.  Thankfully, there are other fun things to do at the farm.


The boys enjoyed running around in the wide open spaces.  Even with a blustery afternoon and dirt flying around everywhere, they ran and ran and ran…..and then begged me to make up obstacle course for them, too.


The Stowaway fell in love with the goats.  We pet the goats for a few minutes, and then she saw other people feeding them.  We then made good friends with the guy selling small containers of goat food, as she wasn’t satisfied with doing that just once (or even twice).

We brought our haul home, and The Monkey enthusiastically helped me clean all 10 pounds of fruit.


We rinsed the berries in a vinegar and water mix, and then he dried them in the salad spinner.  (Note to self: Kids are very willing to help when the salad spinner is involved.)  After naming pretty much each and every strawberry that he lifted out, we admired our bounty.


The next day, I found a recipe for chocolate shortcake.  Let me just tell you something right now: YUM.  There was plate licking involved.  I would have taken a photo to share with you, but then you’d be licking your monitor, and that’s not so healthy.

I’d like to tell you that the 10 pounds of strawberries lasted so long because they were fresh and not full of chemicals.  Alas, 10 pounds of strawberries lasted not quite four days in our house.  But it was a tasty four days.

Good health and great happiness to you.


More Yummies From Pinterest

I’ve been blogging a lot lately about my quest to prepare and serve real food to my family.  I thought I was doing a really good job of it– I mean, I cooked dinner at home at least 5 times a week, and we ate all the leftovers, too.  But when I really started to look at some of the recipes, I realized that I could do better than some of the ingredients included.  I turned to Pinterest to see if I could find replacements for some of the pre-packaged mixes and chemical-filled base ingredients I needed.

Cream Soup Mix



I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t a health food.  But the reality is, there are a few recipes for which nostalgia trumps health.  Tuna noodle casserole, anyone?  But I knew there had to be a way to make this old favorite a bit healthier (in addition to reducing the amount of cheese significantly), and swapping out the canned cream of mushroom soup for a DIY version does just that.  By starting with a base of nonfat milk powder and adding spices, this mix has a significantly better fat and sodium profile than even the “Healthy Request” versions of canned creamed soups.  Bonus: for about $3 of ingredients, I was able to make nine cans worth of cream soup mix.

Taco Seasoning



I’m from Texas.  I use taco seasoning in everything.

There’s rarely a day that someone in my family doesn’t eat unfried refried beans.  Because we have a wide variety of palettes in this house, I don’t spice up the beans too much when I make them.  But when I want to eat some, a little dash of taco seasoning makes them a super delicious, high protein, inexpensive snack.  This seasoning is easy to make, includes ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, and *doesn’t* include anything funky with four syllables.

Ranch Dressing/Dip Mix



We are big ranch dressing eaters in this house.  Love the tang on my salad and love the way the kids eat raw veggies with a little dip-dip motivation.  Don’t love the chemicals in store-bought ranch dressing.

With a base of buttermilk powder and a few spices you probably already have, you can add this dip to light mayo to get the familiar flavor without any chemical extras you don’t want.  Even better, it mixes up fabulously with plain greek yogurt for a protein-packed vegetable dip.   Talk about a big step up from the original.

As you can see from my photos, although I use Pinterest quite a lot to find information, I feel no need to make everything Pinterest-Gorgeous.  Sure, I’d love to have a kitchen filled with matching canisters and adorable printed labels.  But my priority is what’s inside, even when the outside looks a little ragged.

Just like last time, the links above go to the original posts for each recipe.  I have pinned each of these on my balancepft Pinterest boards, so follow me there for easy access.

Good health and great happiness to you.

Yummies from Pinterest

On Monday I told you that I’d started some Pinterest boards for friends of onbalance and Balance Personal Fitness Training.  I also told you that I’d share with you some of the recipes that are “instant classics” that I’ve found on Pinterest.  And being a person of my word, here we go:

Baked Oatmeal Casserole



This is a super easy, super fast all-real-food breakfast casserole. Bake it once, refrigerate, and eat it all week long.  (If you can keep your kids out of it, which I can’t.)  It is flexible in its ingredients– the photo shows raspberries, but I often use blueberries or blackberries instead– and can be altered to suit a wide range of tastes.  I’ve decreased the sugar from the original recipe and changed to mini chocolate chips which get all melt-y lovely even when the casserole is reheated in the microwave.  The best part is that 1/6 of this recipe is quite filling and comes in under 300 calories.  It’s a tasty start to the day.

Energy Balls



This protein-packed alternative to a cookie brings me back to my childhood.  My mom called these “no bake cookies” and loaded them up with wheatgerm instead of flaxseed. (Hey, it was the 70s!)  These energy balls are quick to make, store well in the fridge, and are a great after-school treat.  They’re also a huge hit with my boys’ soccer teams when I bring them for the after-game snack.

I don’t love getting my hands all peanut butter-y, though, so I use a small ice cream scooper (1″ diameter) to do the dirty work for me.  I used to let my kids make up the balls themselves, but then I found there wasn’t much left for another day.  That’s how yummy these are.

Copycat Nature’s Valley Granola Bars



My desire to try this recipe was fueled by nostalgia.  Ohmygosh, how I loved the crinkly green wrapper of the Nature’s Valley Oats & Honey granola bars.  Who cares that they were crumbly as all get out and made a mess?  They were an integral part of my school lunch throughout my childhood.

But in my quest to limit processed foods, I wanted to come up with an alternative for my kids.  I doubled the recipe on the site linked above and put it into my jelly roll pan.  The cost-benefit analysis of this recipe indicates is a huge win.  Although I wasn’t able to cut my pan into the tidy little bars that the original poster did, I have a lot of sizable granola chunks that are still quite delicious.  My boys were thrilled to pack them in their lunchboxes this morning.

The best part about each of these recipes is that they are all made from real food.  The other best part (yes, I can have more than one) is that they are all short prep but big payoff kinds of recipes.  I’m all about working once and eating for a while.

There you go– if you’re still on the fence regarding whether you should dive into  Pinterest, I urge you to go take a look.  I have pinned each of these recipes to my Healthy Recipes board so you can repin them easily.  If you’re not a Pinterest user and have no plans to become one (boooo!  hissssss!), the links above will take you directly to the original posting for each of the recipes.

What’s your best Pinterest find for healthy recipes?