What we ate: January 2015

what we ateI started a new tradition at Budget for Health by sharing recipes I made and loved. This is my 3rd month of sharing (See what we ate in December) and it’s been a fun post to write. It’s also a form of accountability because I want to lead by example when it comes to meal planning that is easy, budget friendly, and healthy.

Baked oatmeal
I made this twice in January. Both times I let it soak overnight to make prep easier in the morning. I also cut down on the maple syrup a LOT (1 Tbsp versus 1/3 cup). It’s plenty sweet if you’re adding fruit.

Chicken noodle soup
Mom saves the day again. This was a rough month for us in terms of health. All 3 of us got a bad cold to ring in the new year. My mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup is the bomb.

Baked potato bar
I’m glad I was taking pictures of Nora & enjoying her first birthday party but I wound up forgetting to take a snapshot of our baked potato bar! It was a cheap & delicious option since we were feeding 20+ guests. The toppings were homemade chili, cheese, green onion, sour cream, and (real) bacon bits. We had a veggie & hummus tray, artichoke dip, and birthday cake to go with the potato bar.

salmon burger

Salmon burgers
The salmon burgers from Costco are lifesavers on nights we need a quick dinner. I sautéed some fresh spinach, sliced up an orange, and added a few beets since I roasted a lot for salad toppings.

Spaghetti squash curry with ground beef & veggies
No special recipe here- just some baked spaghetti squash with my homemade curry powder, ground beef, and sautéed stir fry veggies from Costco.

Roasted turkey & sweet potato hash
#DOMESTIC. I bought a turkey when prices were rock bottom over Thanksgiving and stuck it in my deep freezer to roast another day. was pretty darn proud of how my first roasted turkey came out. I even tried a technique I had never heard of before: spatchcocking. This step-by-step spatchcocking resource was very helpful and it turned out to be super moist from the dry brine process I used. The total time commitment of this was a full week: 3 days to thaw, 3 days to dry brine, and I cooked it on the 7th day. If you have the space in your fridge then try it!

Turkey curry stew
Sad story; I think Dave has a temporary aversion to this dish because the night I made it we both came down with the stomach flu. It reminded him of being sick when we warmed it up the next day. It’s pretty darn good though so I’m sure he’ll be over it by next month when I make it again. I used turkey instead of chicken since I had a bunch leftover.

Butternut squash chili
We made this for friends and had plenty leftover even after going back for seconds. I never make the exact recipe because the type of beans or ingredients I have on hand vary each time. I love being able to make dishes the night before so all I have to do is heat it up before guests arrive.

What’s on your menu this month?

Healthy New Year Resolution Tips + KIND bar giveaway!

kind bar giveawayMonth one of twelve has come to an end for 2015.
How are you doing on your new year resolutions?

I just shared my goals for 2015 and while I didn’t make a specific nutrition goal for myself I am always pursuing two goals on a daily basis:

1. Eating real food (no or little ingredient list with REAL food ingredients)
2. Eating the right balance of protein, fat, and carbs every meal and snack.

If you want some practical tips, here are 3 that I agree with and have talked about in various articles I’ve written:

3 Healthy New Year Resolution Tips (provided by KIND)

1. Make Calories Count
It’s important to make your calories count, focusing beyond the number of calories and really looking at the quality of foods you put in your body. Focusing on diet quality can help control your calorie intake and can improve a number of health outcomes.

Main tip: Choose simple, wholesome, nutrient dense foods and snacks made with a balance of healthy fats, protein and fiber, such as KIND bars to improve diet quality. 

2. Embrace (Good) Fat
A new saturated fat study published in Annals of Internal Medicine caused even more unnecessary confusion on the fat debate. Some dietary fats are better than others, but when you cut down on one nutrient, you end up making it up for it with something else – it’s all about finding the right balance.

Main Tip: Stop picking on fat and put emphasis on your food choices as a whole versus one specific nutrient.   

3. Skip the Fad Diets and Focus on Your Needs
“No size fits all” when it comes to all of the diets you hear about in the news. Many have elements that are beneficial, but according to a recent study published in Annual Reviews which reviewed major diets to determine what’s best, found there is no winner.

Main tip: Instead of following trends, focus on a lifestyle that incorporates foods that are close to nature and minimally processed.

KIND Product Review
When I share recipes or provide product reviews on my site, I make sure the recipes include real food ingredients and that I only promote a product I would use myself. I will only give my honest opinion so if there are ingredients I don’t agree with I will make it known. I’ve turned down plenty of product reviews because they don’t align with what I preach here at Budget for Health.

With that said, I was contacted by KIND asking to review some of their bars. I’ll admit that I’ve tried plenty of KIND products before but have probably only bought my own KIND bar once or twice (ever) because it’s cheaper to make my own version and I don’t usually promote bars since sugar is often added. However, if you were stuck in meetings all day and forgot your balanced lunch you packed yourself I would then tell you to reach for either a KIND bar or Larabar if they are options amongst a pile of sugary & processed crap-laden “healthy” bars.

I was given a sample of ten KIND products to review (all bars):

KIND Nuts & Seeds
KIND Fruit & Nuts

I preferred the KIND Nuts & Spices bars over the other two because they only contain 5 grams of sugar. My two favorite were the dark chocolate nuts & sea salt and the caramel almond & sea salt. The most sugar I saw in the KIND Fruit & Nut or KIND Plus bars was 14 grams. Some of that is due to the natural sugar in the fruit but some bars have added non-GMO glucose, sugar, honey, or maple syrup to sweeten the bar. You wouldn’t believe how crafty some companies are at hiding artificial sweeteners in their product and claiming to sell a natural or healthy product (hello Quest bars?? They contain stevia (ok in my book if it’s real stevia), erythritol (why did they even need to add more than stevia??), and sucralose (please no). To save a rant, I wrote a separate article all about navigating the different types of sugar.

You can learn about all the other KIND products they carry on the KIND website. If you decide you want to try a product out you can get 15% off + FREE shipping by using my promo code KINDNUTRITION through the end of February! With this deal you can get them for roughy $1.18 per bar.

KIND bar Giveaway
Now for the fun part; the KIND bar giveaway!
One lucky winner will be sent a prize package of 10 bars. This giveaway will end by midnight on Tuesday, February 3rd so tell folks about it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this article aside from the KIND bar samples given to review. All opinions are my own. 

What we ate: December 2014

I started a new tradition at Budget for Health by sharing recipes I made and loved. This is my 3rd month of sharing (See what we ate in November!) and it’s been a fun post to write. It’s also a form of accountability because I want to lead by example when it comes to meal planning that is easy, budget friendly, and healthy.

whole wheat biscuits

photo source: 100 Days of Real Food

Homemade biscuits from 100 Days of Real Food
This recipe was really easy to make and they paired nicely with a warm bowl of soup.

BBQ chicken with homemade barbeque sauce from 100 Days of Real Food
This recipe was from the 100 Days of Real Food Cookbook so I can’t share it here but I encourage you to buy the book because I get a lot of use out of it and know you’ll love the recipes. I made a big batch a couple months ago and froze it in ice cube trays so all I had to do was pull out a couple cubes for our dinner.

deviled eggsDeviled eggs
This isn’t a meal, of course, but I brought it as a side to a potluck because eggs are cheap and it doesn’t take much effort to mix the yolk with some mayo or avocado, snip a hole in a ziploc bag, and fill in the eggs.

Chicken pot pie from 100 Days of Real Food
This is the third month in a row I made this recipe. My parents helped us hang up my aunt’s old kitchen cupboards in our basement so I treated them with this dish for dinner.


Chicken Curry Stew from Budget for Health
A regular staple in our home. I’m known for this dish at church since it’s what I made all the new moms when I sign up for Meal Baby.

pumpkin pancakesPumpkin Pancakes by Budget for Health
Canned pumpkin is a cheap item to find this season so I stocked up on a few cans. I made a big batch of these pancakes for Nora using a tablespoon to portion out mini pancakes for her. I also made bigger pancakes and added a scoop of protein powder for Dave and me.

Sweet Potato Hash from Nom Nom Paleo
I found this simple recipe when Dave and I tried Whole30 this summer. I topped our hash with other sauteed veggies, avocado, and fried eggs. We love breakfast for dinner!

Pulled Pork from 100 Days of Real Food
This was delicious served over lentils, sauteed spinach, and avocado.

Sweet & Sour Cabbage Soup by MOM
My mom made this recipe up. It sounds weird but it was good! It basically consisted of ground beef, cabbage, rice, broth, and a little vinegar for the sour flavor.

What were your favorite dishes you enjoyed in December?

FREE 4-week workout schedule

I made a 4-week workout schedule for myself to stay active between the most sedentary time of the year: Thanksgiving and Christmas. I figured that other people could benefit from it so I shared the wealth/health by making it available to those who wanted it. My 4 weeks started the week of Thanksgiving and ended just before Christmas. I shared a few videos of Nora serving dual purpose as my child and 20-pound dumbbell on my Facebook page and Instagram if you need some good entertainment. I really enjoyed the schedule so I’ve decided to share it here in case you need a good kick in the pants with 2015 right around the corner.

If you went through the schedule with me over the holidays then you’ll notice I changed it a little bit after getting feedback from my “test group” as I’ll call it. Aside from the random Zumba workout (50 minutes but super fun!) they are all between 15-35 minutes long. I’ve included a variety of free online resources like Fitness Blender, Bikini Body Mommy, and some HIIT workouts from Pinterest. No equipment is needed for any of the workouts; you can get a great workout from your own body weight.

Fifteen minutes may seem short if you’re used to doing a 60-minute video and 15 minutes may seem long if you haven’t even put on a sports bra in months. My intent with this schedule is to help us be active every day during a busy season that traditionally involves lounging and eating too much. I originally planned to make this schedule for myself but I think it’s safe to assume there are other people who would benefit from this resource. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, right?

Feel free to move the days around to work with your schedule. For example, I put the shortest workouts on Tuesdays because it’s my busiest day. I’m often tempted to skip a workout on Tuesdays because of this but knowing I only have a 15 minute workout to push through makes me more likely to not skip it.

BONUS: I added a push-up challenge if you want a bonus workout! It starts with 15 push-ups on day 1 and adds one every day for the 4 weeks until you get to 42 push-ups. Remember to keep good form if it means you have to modify- I try to do as many as I can and then put one knee down as long as I can until I need to put both knees down.

You can now download my 4-week holiday workout schedule in PDF format. Enjoy!

What are your favorite FREE resources for workouts?

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Nora is 3 weeks from turning 1 year old which means I made it through 12 months without buying “baby food.” Call me cheap but I just didn’t want to pay for someone else to make Nora’s food. Thankfully she’s not picky and has eaten her fair share of eggs, squash, avocado, and bananas (babies can eat PFC too). I stocked up on cans of pumpkin around Thanksgiving since that’s when it’s cheapest to find but I didn’t have any plans for how I would use it. Nora likes pumpkin and I like pancakes so I decided to combine the two and make some healthy pumpkin pancakes with 5 real food ingredients and no added sugar. If you are looking for a gluten free recipe, these are approved for your enjoyment too!


I made mini pancakes for Nora and she loves them. I froze a bunch and keep them in a Ziploc bag so all I have to do is pull a couple out and they thaw quickly. I made larger pancakes to freeze for Dave and me using with the same recipe but I added a scoop of protein powder. I found that I didn’t have to add any extra liquid; they stayed moist and pancake-y. Also, I planned to use almond milk but decided to use heavy whipping cream instead because I had some on hand from making homemade chicken pot pie.

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Yield: 8 four-inch pancakes


  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup oats
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin spice


  1. Mix ingredients together
  2. Use 1/4c measuring cup to portion out pancake batter or 1 Tbsp for mini pancakes

Recipe modified from Baby Led Weaning Ideas

If you haven’t tried topping your pancakes with yogurt- do it. I think they’re sweet enough by themselves but you can always drizzle a little real maple syrup on the yogurt. If I wasn’t worried about Nora making a mess I would add some blueberries to these but I’ll save those for our adult-only pancakes!

What’s your favorite way to flavor pancakes? 


What We Ate: November 2014

I started a new tradition at Budget for Health by sharing recipes I made and loved. This is only my 2nd month of sharing (See what we ate in October!) but it’s a fun post to write. It’s also a form of accountability because I want to lead by example when it comes to meal planning that is easy, budget friendly, and healthy.

You’ll notice a trend that so many of my recipes have been coming from the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook and website. I was given the cookbook for free in exchange for my review of the book but all this promoting I’ve been doing is because I just really love the recipes! I especially love that they’re all real ingredients and easy recipes.

Now let’s get on to the goods!

  Chicken Pot Pie from 100 Days of Real Food
I can’t say my food will ever be featured in a magazine for looks but it sure does taste good! I made this dish twice; once for just Dave and I then again for when Dave’s parents were in town visiting. It’s realllly good stuff.

Rotisserie chicken in the crock pot from 100 Days of Real Food
We used this for taco bowls and for the chicken pot pie filling.

Homemade chicken stock from 100 Days of Real Food
It only made sense to make some homemade stock after making the rotisserie chicken! I freeze it flat in gallon Ziploc bags for easy storage.

pulled pork

photo source: 100 Days of Real Food

Pulled pork from 100 Days of Real Food
Crockpots are a wonderful thing. I asked for your opinion on Facebook what I should serve Dave’s parents and my parents when they came to visit for Nora’s dedication and I chose the pulled pork option. I also learned that including a cute photo of Nora along with a question gets your attention WAY more than any food photo I’ve posted!

Veggie Corn Chowder from 100 Days of Real Food
This recipe is only found in the 100 Days of Real Food Cookbook but I was allowed to choose from a selection of recipes to share in my review of the cookbook.

roasted butternut squash salad

photo source: food network

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad by Ina Garten
A friend brought this salad and everyone loved it so I requested the recipe. It would make a great side dish if you’re in charge of a salad for thanksgiving.

Big ol’ salads
I pack a salad every day for Dave’s and my lunch. We keep canned tuna and wild salmon in our pantry or fry up some salmon burgers to top on a salad with kalamata olives, avocado, walnuts, bell peppers, and in this case, roasted butternut squash. I top it with my homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Breakfast bowls
Our dinner is served in a bowl multiple times a week because I’ll pick some type of protein and add a ton of veggies. For healthy fats I cook with coconut oil or butter and I top it with avocado if I have a ripe one on hand. Again- it doesn’t look pretty but it sure tastes good! The photo above is a mix of eggs, roasted butternut squash, shredded broccoli stems, and some stir fry veggies.

breakfast bowl with pulled pork, a fried egg, hashbrowns and shredded broccoliI also made a breakfast bowl with the leftover pulled pork, a fried egg, hashbrowns and shredded broccoli stems. Don’t let food go to waste; eat the stems!

Paleo Pad Thai with Sunshine Sauce
I discovered this sauce when we tried out Whole30 this past summer. We enjoyed it with the rotisserie chicken and sauteed cabbage.

homemade hashbrownsHomemade Hashbrowns
Dave and I have been tweaking our method of making hashbrowns in pursuit of the perfect hashbrown: crispy on the outside & soft on the inside. I think this recent batch we made was a winner. The key was steaming the diced potatoes first so that they’re almost fully cooked then frying them on high heat in 2-3 Tbsp of butter. I made sure there was only one layer of potatoes so that they all touched the pan and I let them sit for a couple of minutes so the bottoms had ample time to crispify. They paired well with our most popular dish: eggs, LOTS of veggies, and avocados.

cauliflower riceCauliflower “rice”
I’ve heard all the hype of this “rice” but never actually tried it. I’m a fan and plan to keep this dish in my go-to pile. Similar to breakfast bowls we often have taco bowls which consist of some type of protein (fish, ground meat, chicken) seasoned with homemade taco seasoning along with sauteed veggies (cooked in coconut oil) and avocado. I didn’t use a recipe for the rice; I threw it in my food processor and cooked it on medium heat for 3-4 minutes with some onion and garlic. Easy, right?

What were some good eats you had in November?

Thanksgiving diet tips

mindful eating tipsI hate diets. When I say diet, I’m talking about a way of eating that cannot realistically be carried out for the rest of your life. I launched Budget for Health 3 years ago with the hope that I can educate people how to eat right. It doesn’t have to be expensive, you don’t have to make everything from scratch, and you don’t have to be a chef.

Choosing to eat healthy is a daily decision. There are immediate and delayed gratification components; if you eat carbs without any protein or fat to go with it you will be hungry an hour later craving more carbs. If you start your day with a good breakfast (Example: eggs & veggies cooked in butter or coconut oil) your blood sugar will be more stable and you will be in a better mood and more productive since you’re able to focus. As for delayed gratification, losing weight doesn’t happen overnight. Healing your gut doesn’t happen overnight. You won’t see results from daily decisions but they do add up and will greatly affect us in the long run.

thanksgiving scale

With that rant, let me offer you a handful of “Thanksgiving diet tips.” Don’t throw your hands in the air and hope 2015 will be a better year with eating right. You can enjoy food and still avoid the 10+ pound weight gain that catches so many people over the holidays. I’ll be totally honest- these are specific tips I have to implement myself. Yes, I am a dietitian, but I am also human and LOVE food. We are in this together!

Verbalize a goal
I literally have to say out loud to Dave “I will only have one dessert tonight” or else I will take one of each dessert and maybe get a second of the dessert I especially liked. I end up reaching for a second brownie and giving Dave a look that says “I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me.” Saying a goal out loud to someone other than yourself provides accountability. We become a team and practice self control together.

No grazing
Too often I’m not even hungry by the time dinner starts because I filled up on all the appetizers. Instead of chatting by the food, move to a different room. If that’s not a feasible option, pour yourself a glass of water and mindlessly sip on that rather than mindlessly reaching for more chips and spinach dip.

Use a plate
This ties in with grazing. Put what you want on your plate, walk away from the food table, then eat the food on your plate. Confession- sometimes I eat WHILE I’m moving through the food line just so I can fit more on my plate. I can’t be the only one who’s done that, right? If I do this right, I can always go back for seconds once I evaluate if I’m actually still hungry or just want to eat more because it’s so good.

Give yourself grace
That doesn’t mean overindulge. Sometimes you go in with a plan and the plan fails. Instead of throwing your whole game plan to practice portion control out the window because you ate 3 pieces of pie, start over at the next meal.

What tips help you to practice self control at potluck-type events?