Salmon and Avocado Tower

Something I really like about studying nutrition is that when asked to pick a paper topic, I get to write about something I am obsessed with. (My name is Nicole and I have an infatuation with food). This proves to be a double-edged sword. On the positive side, I get to write about something that truly interests me, and I can call eating a form of “research”. On the “not-too-positive” side, I tend to get a little carried away with the literature searching, which leads to too much reading and not enough writing. This is not a bad thing for the paper itself, but it does make me work down to the wire tweaking edits, which can lead to stress…and stress baking and stress eating.

My avocado paper is a great example of this conflict. I was so excited to write about the heart-health benefits of avocado, that I spent an absurd number of hours researching avocado studies and exploring the California Avocados website. I also made and consumed enough guacamole for 3 people…which is only mildly ridiculous (according to dietary surveys, average consumption is one half of an avocado[1]).

Anyways, after submitting my paper I obviously wanted to eat avocado to celebrate, so I whipped up this little tower of tastiness:


This could be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack. The eggs are a health source of protein, the avocado and salmon give you a dose of healthy fats, and the cream cheese just tastes good.


This is essentially and Eggs Benedict adaptation-without the fattening (albeit delicious) hollandaise sauce. Truthfully, between the creamy avocado and cream cheese, and the poached egg on top, it is so rich I did not even miss the hollandaise. You should also definitely make this dish for its aesthetic appeal. Fancy brunch, anyone?

My next paper topic is explores the effects of caffeine. Watch out Starbucks, I’m coming for you.

Salmon & Avocado Tower (makes one)


  • 1 slice of toast
  • 1 Tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 3 Tbsp canned salmon
  • 1 egg


  1. Poach an egg or prepare an over-easy egg on a skillet.
  2. Spread cream cheese on the slice of toast. Spread avocado on toast and top with canned salmon.
  3. Top the tower off with your prepared egg.


1. Fulgoni VL, Dreher M, Davenport AJ. Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008. Nutr J. 2013 Jan 2; 12:1.


Acai Bowl

I usually don’t have time to sit down and have a relaxing breakfast in the morning, but in the name of Spring, I decided today I would make myself an acai bowl.


What’s an acai bowl, you ask? Think of it as a the most delicious smoothie ever covered in toppings and eaten with a spoon. The acai bowl consists of blended frozen acai berries (and fruit) covered in a variety of toppings (like granola, hemp seeds, fresh fruit). It’s tasty beyond description and the contrast of the soft-serve like fruit to the crunchy toppings in addicting. I am always disappointed when the whole bowl is gone.


Acai is a berry that most will tell you is a “superfood”. Though technically research is still ongoing regarding the health benefits of acai, science has  shown that it does have a high level of antioxidants. It’s a berry that packs a nutritional punch!

And it turns out the brand Sambazon is selling frozen organic acai berries at the grocery store, which is great for someone like me who does not want to spend $10 on breakfast (acai bowls can be pretty pricey). Buying your own frozen acai has another benefit; besides being financially savvy, it will also allow you to add whatever you want and really get creative! I had a lot of fun opening up my cabinets and seeing what I could possibly sprinkle on top. The recipe below is simply an example of the things you can put into your acai bowl. So give yourself some extra time to make this delicious frozen treat for breakfast in the morning, it’s worth it!

Acai Bowl (makes 1)IMG_4117


For the Bowl

  • 1 packet of Sambazon unsweetened pure acai berry
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 4 tablespoons vanilla soymilk

For the Toppings

  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1/4 cup granola


  1. Per the directions on the back of the frozen acai, run the package under water for 5 seconds. Place acai in the blender along with other fruits and milk (can use water or juice if preferred, and can also add sweetener).
  2. Blend on the highest setting. The mixture will be very thick, like frozen yogurt.
  3. Pour frozen mixture into a bowl and cover with toppings of choice.
  4. Relax and enjoy!

Comforting Tea Latte

Well my lack of posts this month has been embarrassing, but please allow me to warm and comfort your soul (and earn your forgiveness) with a delicious drink.


My perfect study partner

I recently tried the Earl Grey tea latte at Starbucks for the first time and in addition to being delicious, it gave me some much-needed calcium! If there is something I have learned the last couple of weeks (from battling a never-ending winter and taking a biochemistry course all about vitamins and minerals) it’s that I am lacking in certain essential nutrients, namely calcium and vitamin D. And while both could be easily supplemented, I like to get most of my vitamins and minerals from whole foods. For my nutrition needs, this tea latte fits the bill.


Now I don’t know about you, but I cannot afford to spend $4 on a daily latte. So I knew I had to figure out a way to make some variation of this drink at home. And I think I got pretty darn close. I managed to make a “latte” without the use of a fancy espresso machine! I don’t think Starbucks will be stealing my recipe anytime soon, but I do think this is a delicious way to add some nutrition to your day and warm your insides. Enjoy!

Comforting Tea Latte (Makes 1 mug)


  • 1 tea bag of choice (I used Trader Joe’s Cinnamon & Vanilla)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 cup milk (I used vanilla soy milk for some extra sweetness)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Sugar (optional and amount is up to your discretion; the vanilla soy milk was sweet enough on its own)


  • Place your tea bag in a mug and pour boiling water in. Allow tea to seep and create a very strong concentrate.
  • In a saucepan, warm milk to just under boiling. Add vanilla extract and sugar (optional). Pour tea concentrate into saucepan. Make sure you remove the tea bag.
  • Pour contents from the saucepan into a blender. Cover blender with lid and set up to a high setting to “froth” the milk. Turn blender off when you think you’ve whipped it all up sufficiently.
  • Pour latte into a mug. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon (optional). Enjoy your calcium.

Pumpkin, Spice, and Everything Nice

Fall is upon us, bring on the pumpkin! That is pretty much the theme I have noticed ever since Starbucks welcomed back the highly coveted Pumpkin Spice Latte. I am personally more of a “Black-coffee-plus-2-pumps-pumpkin-spice-syrup” kinda gal, but I do see the appeal.

Anyways, I figured it was about time I jump on the pumpkin bandwagon and share a delicious recipe! I perused the usual Internet suspects like Foodgawker and Pinterest for ideas on recipes, but I actually struggled to find a recipe that didn’t (a) feed 2 dozen people or (b) involve ingredients I don’t have on hand, like cloves. I have to be realistic here: I will eat all of whatever I make and I will not use a whole container of cloves.

Therefore, last night I found myself trying to create a basic, hearty, and healthy pumpkin bread with my college-buddy-turned-new-NYC-neighbor Shannon. And let me tell you this bread is delicious!

photo 2

This pumpkin bread is everything I wanted it to be: a subtly flavored pumpkin bread that’s mildly sweet and incredibly soft, with a delicious layer of cream cheese streaking through the middle. Oh, and did I mention this recipe doesn’t involve butter or oil? I think it’s time to get your pumpkin fix.

photo 1

Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl (makes 4 mini loaves)


For pumpkin bread:

  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

For cream cheese swirl:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt


  1. For bread: combine pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, sugar, water and yogurt in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add these ingredients to the wet ingredients in the other bowl and fold ingredients together until just combined.
  3. For the cream cheese swirl, beat cream cheese, sugar and salt until smooth in consistency. Beat the egg into the mixture.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mist loaf pans with cooking spray. Pour batter into loaf pans until about halfway up the side of the pan. Dollop in cream cheese mixture on top of pumpkin batter. Add more pumpkin bread batter on top.
  5. Next, take a knife and stick it into the batter, swirling it around once or twice (don’t over-mix or the cream cheese swirl with disperse into the batter). Remove knife and place bread loaves in the oven. Small bread loaves will cook in 40-45 minutes. Large bread loaves will cook in 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  6. Once bread has cooked remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Feel Stressed? Eat a Salad!

This last week was a doozy for me. You know that feeling that there aren’t enough hours in a day to get things done? I actually think I experienced that firsthand. Usually when life gets a little hectic I tend to naturally reach for something sweet: a cookie, some candy, even a spoon of peanut butter. While these things are all delicious (and tend to make me happier in the moment), they definitely do not lend well to eating healthy. And I can become even more concerned when I realize I have eaten a whole package of cookies/candies/peanut butter.

This was not my approach to food during this bout of busyness. Last week I made sure my meals were nourishing and satisfying, allowing me to maximize my brain power to tackle anything in my path. Now that I finally have a free moment, I want to share my recipe for a de-stressing salad: a salad that is easy to make, wholesome, and light. The ingredients kept me calm and focused during my work, and I ended each day feeling satisfied. I would have normally chopped up the almonds in this recipe, but I did not even feel I had the time to do that (safely, that is-I would like to keep all 10 fingers!).

IMG_3646 IMG_3647

Easy to prepare, easy to eat, easy to feel healthy after eating this delicious masterpiece! Say bye-bye to stress and hello to wholesome goodness!

De-Stressing Salad (Makes 1 serving)IMG_3645


  • 1 cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 cup mixed greens, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup green beans, rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp almonds
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • pepper, to taste


This recipe is as simple as throwing together all of the ingredients and enjoying! Feel free to alter the amounts of the ingredients/change the ingredients in the recipe to suit your taste preferences. For example, I ran out of cranberries and used slices of apple and it was still delicious!

My “New York Style” Salad

Oh my. I am becoming a New Yorker.

So picture this: my fridge is essentially empty.

Empty, you say? Like, missing real, fresh food? Sadly, yes.

This predicament is both amusing and saddening. Amusing in that I still cannot believe I find myself taking up behaviors I used to think as exclusively for the native “New Yorker” (I could have never guessed a suburbia-raised girl like me could become a successful city dweller). Despite my new-found urban identity, I am bummed by my fridge because I like to believe that I always prepare and eat home-cooked meals using fresh ingredients. After all, that is how it started when I first came to New York City. Then, slowly I might add, I started buying more “snack-like” foods. Apples and peanut butter, mixed nuts, cans of beans, hummus…you get the idea. Next, I started eating out or traveling every single weekend. Couple that with the night a week I might eat out and suddenly buying a ton of produce and racing to eat it before it went bad became too much. Living alone is stressful on your diet, people!

Anyways, my meals have depended on gauging that “just right” amount of fresh food to buy every week. A couple of apples here, some spinach and baby carrots there…just enough to get me through 4.5 days of meals. And lately most of my protein has come from non-meat sources during the week. Thank goodness I have eggs, beans, and peanut butter (but not together because that would be gross). My love for these items–and their long shelf life–help me from avoiding a nutrient deficiency and keep my energy up.

Another dependable protein item: sliced lunch meat. Although it isn’t as wholesome as cooking chicken in the oven or broiling a steak, for someone with only a couple of meals to prep at home, it’s a great go-to for something filling. Slicing lunch meat further (a.k.a. chopping the lunch meat into coarse pieces) allows it to be tossed into an omelet, thrown into soup, or-as in this instance-sprinkled on salad.


This recipe was all too simple and the ingredients are solid, nutritional standbys. I buy the ingredients for this salad on a Monday and it will get me through exactly four days worth of lunches. Is it all I have for lunch? No. Is it a better option for lunch that ordering Chinese takeout? Yes. Just pack this salad along with some snackie-snacks (yes I got all cute and called them snackie-snacks). Suddenly, weekday eating for the single-living city-dweller became easy, delicious, and healthy. And now I am craving a bagel…oh, New York.


Salami & Spinach Salad (makes 4 servings)


  • 8 cups spinach (1 bag)
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 package salami
  • Olive oil and Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper


Rinse spinach and remove stems. Chop tomato, salami, and avocado. Toss together with 1 tablespoon each olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.

Naked Chicken Parmesan

Happy Labor Day everyone!


With Labor Day weekend comes the realization that summer is going to end. As much as I like to say that summer is my favorite season, I must admit that I absolutely adore fall. For one, I love school-supply shopping (When I was younger I looked forward to my annual trip to Staples, where I could stock up on Lisa Frank folders and Jelly Roll pens). Second, there is something so trendy and cute about fall attire. My boots, vests, and scarves start begging to be worn around early September despite the fact it’s still 80-something degrees outside. And lastly (and probably the most important), is that with fall comes the enjoyment of fall food. Apples, pumpkins, and spices abound during this upcoming season. I, for one, cannot wait to start making and enjoying some delicious and nutritious comfort food dishes-dishes that warm your tummy and your heart.

All this thinking about comfort food has certainly made me crave it, and it is with that in mind that I bring you Naked Chicken Parmesan.


This grilled chicken is too naked. It needs some cheese to spice things up!


Now that looks better. All the flavor without the breading!


Chicken parmesan is one of those delicious Italian dishes that has a great potential to be healthy. The only thing holding chicken parm back is the thick breading and frying process that makes the dish tastes so darn good. Delicious: yes. Good for your waistline: no. Luckily, I have found a way to get the great taste of chicken parmesan by undressing it a bit, hence the word “naked” in the title.



Removing the breading from the chicken parmesan recipe actually made the flavors of the dish better in my opinion! The tomato sauce and cheese are much more prominent in the flavor profile when there isn’t any oily crumbs to battle with. Plus, think of all the nutrients you’re getting from the dish: the lean protein from the chicken, the lycopene from the tomato, and the low-cal calcium kick from the Parmesan cheese. As long as you don’t go overboard on any store-bought tomato sauce (notorious for containing hidden sugar) and Parmesan (Parmesan only 20 calories per tablespoon, but that doesn’t mean you should engulf 1 cup of Parmesan), you’re looking at a mighty healthy meal.

And now a disclaimer: I used store-bought tomato sauce due to lack of free time but I seriously recommend making a homemade pasta sauce. I highly recommend this one by Jodi at What’s Cooking Good Looking. Serve this chicken with a salad and consider your fall comfort dish good to go!

Naked Chicken Parmesan (serves 1)


  • 1 chicken breast, uncooked
  • 1-1.5 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 Tablespoons tomato sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Salt and Pepper


Heat a skillet over medium heat. On a plate, rub your chicken breast with the olive oil (feel free to really massage it in) and sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Place your chicken on the skillet and let it cook for about 10 minutes (until it is golden brown on both sides). Remove chicken from the skillet once cooked and place it on a (NEW) plate. Do not use the plate the raw chicken was on…that one should be washed with hot water and soap before it is used again. Next, top your chicken with the tomato sauce and the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.