Sweet & Savory Fall Harvest Bowl

This week I came to a realization about myself…I’m a terrible blog planner. I’ve always wanted to be the type of person that plans blog posts weeks in advance or uses an editorial calendar to stay track, but I’m just not that person. I tend to write a blog posts when I have the time or come up with a stellar idea (re: marathon training and weight gain), and sometimes that’s every two weeks or sometimes that’s twice in two days. Although I want to space out my brilliant ideas (sarcasm), I get impatient and impetuous, and I need to share posts with you the MOMENT they’re done. It’s actually nice when you can accept your flaws, so here we are with my second blog post in two days.


Pinterest picture of Rice bowl with brussel sprouts, cauliflower, roasted grapes and roasted pearsThis month’s Recipe ReDux challenge was to create a delicious plant powered bowl:

“Packed with protein, fiber and color, plant power bowls are trendy and delicious. Show us the healthy recipe that’s in your bowl.”

And what’s trendier right now than a brown rice bowl?! Nothing! That’s why I decided to use fall fruits and veggie to create a Sweet & Savory Fall Harvest Bowl. The combination of roasted pears, grapes, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower is so simple yet so complex in flavors. In one bite, you will taste sweet, salty, savory, crunchy and juicy. Plus, you will be loading up on your vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. And, I forgot the best part! All of these ingredients can be roasted up on one pan for a quick and easy meal that’s ready in 45 minutes!

Makes 2 bowls

1/2 cup brown rice
1 cup water
1 pear, washed and cut into 1 inch thick slices
2 cups Brussels sprouts, washed and sliced in half
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into large pieces
2 cups red grapes, washed and sliced in half
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
cooking spray
1 tablespoon salted pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon raw walnuts

brown rice bowl with brussels sprouts, cauliflower, roasted grapes and roasted pears


  1. Fill a medium sized pot with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, add the rice and reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer for 40-45 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sliced pear, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, grapes, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir until everything is evenly coated.
  4. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Evenly distribute all the fruits and veggies on a pan and put in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes.
  5. When both the rice and veggies are cooked, combine them and mix well. Divide the mixture evenly between two bowls. Top each bowl with 1/2 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds and 1/2 tablespoon walnuts.

brown rice bowl with brussels sprouts, cauliflower, roasted grapes and roasted pears

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Can Marathon Training Cause You To Gain Weight?

With the TCS NYC Marathon less than a month away (November 6th), I’m in the final weeks of training for my first marathon! That exclamation point doesn’t do justice to the my intense feeling of accomplishment. Even though I feel like I’m able to conquer the world, there are some aspect of marathon training that just suck. I’m physically exhausted, my legs are tired and sore, I’m hungry ALL the time and my pants are a bit tighter. Yup, that’s right. Running 30-40 miles each week has caused me to GAIN a few pounds. It almost seems like an oxymoron. Exercising more = weight gain?!? It’s been true for me, and I’ll tell you why.

info on marathon training and weight gain

I love food, but food has not been my friend during my training. My favorite type of meal is full of big, bold spicy flavors with aromatic veggies, like onions and garlic, and fiber filled ingredients, like brussels sprouts, cauliflower and beans. Unfortunately, I can’t eat any of those things right now because they bother my stomach while I’m running. Instead, my diet consists of bread, grains, dairy and the occasional fruit and vegetable. My boring daily diet is cereal for breakfast, an apple and cheese sandwich for lunch, crackers, grapes, cheese sticks for snack and some veggies and rice for dinner. That may sound like a somewhat healthy diet, but my downfall is the days that I run more than the normal 5-6 miles. On those days, I end up feeling ravenous and I eat anything in sight.

I think I’ve figured out what causes me to make these unhealthy choices, but before I get to that, I asked some Dietitian friends who have run marathons if they experienced weight gain too. Here is what they had to say.

Did you gain weight during marathon training?

“I gained a few pounds during my marathon and half-marathon training. I was never hungry immediately after a long run, so I didn’t have a big recovery meal. But hours later (since I ran in the morning) I would be absolutely famished and would overeat.”–Alissa Rumsey MS, RD, CSCS, Owner of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness Consulting

“Yep! I certainly tend to weigh more during marathon training – not much more, but usually 2-3 pounds more than usual. Marathon training tends to ramp up my appetite and if I end up ravenous (usually 3 hours after a long run) I may scarf down more than I should. Plus, I’m not 100% sure (because I never had my body fat percentage checked), but I believe I put on a little bit of muscle mass when marathon training – my legs look more toned and my pants actually fit better when I’m training for a marathon. Not to mention, for my last two marathons and ultra-marathon, I was weight training with a personal trainer twice a week in addition to putting in the miles, so muscle gain is certainly a possibility.”–Tina Gowin Carlucci, RDN of Gowin Nutrition

“When I trained for my first half marathon, I noticed that I was always justifying food like “I earned it” or “can’t wait to indulge” after a long run. Especially because it was SO out of the norm for me as a non-runner who had a hard time even cranking out a full 1-2 miles without walking. When I started running 7+ in one day I thought I was really killing it.”–Katie Proctor, MBA, RDN of Elevate with Katie.

“I totally gained weight while training for my first marathon. It was a combination of being hungry all the time, and that sense of entitlement you get when you run 3 hours and then see some donuts.”–Abby Langer, RD of Abby Langer Nutrition

“I’ve run two marathons; I gained weight during one (mostly muscle mass from weight training) and maintained my weight for the other one. For both marathons my calorie intake increased progressively as the runs got longer.” –Jessica Levings, MS, RDN, Owner, Balanced Pantry.

“I neither gained nor lost weight when training for my marathons (I’ve run six), even though each time I was hoping to lose about 5-10 lbs in the process. I did notice that during training my legs seemed a bit stronger and my jeans fit a little nicer, but the number on the scale didn’t budge at all, even as the mileage was stacking up.” –Elana Natker, MS, RD of Enlighten Nutrition

As you can see, gaining a few pounds during marathon training is actually pretty normal for most people. It’s even difficult for Dietitians to regulate how much they eat when they are feeling ravenous. With all of that being said, here are 5 tips to avoid the dreaded marathon training weight gain.

  1. Eat for recovery:

What you eat after a run is just as important as what you eat before. Without proper recovery, it’s very likely that you will feel super hungry later in the day or even the next day. “To overcome this, I would have a smoothie immediately after a long run. That way I could get in calories, carbs, and protein, but without feeling that I had to eat a huge recovery meal. This helped to keep my hunger hormones in check later in the day,” says Rumsey. My favorite post-run recovery meal is a chocolate and banana smoothie, made with milk, yogurt, banana and cocoa powder and two blueberry pancakes. Then, I tend to eat another meal about 3 hours later.

2. Stay hydrated & fuel during the run.

It’s so important to stay hydrated while running, if not just for performance, but also for fueling and weight maintenance. “Dehydration can mask as hunger when really all you need is some water,” says Rumsey. “If I didn’t drink enough during or after my run, I ended up being really hungry later in the day,” she adds.

During a long run, it’s necessary to replace lost carbohydrate stores. Our body stores up carbs for fuel, but that store only lasts about one hour. After that, you need to replace lost carbohydrates by drinking sports drinks or using sports products, like gus or gels. “I think the reason for the weight maintenance was that I would take in several hundred calories during running (3-4, 100-calorie GU pouches),” says Natker. Because of this, she probably didn’t end up as hungry at the end of her runs or stop at mile 15 to order Seamless!

3. Eat balanced meals (not just carbs)

While carbs are extremely important for fueling, it’s necessary to also eat protein and fat to keep you feeling full. My diet is probably missing out on protein, which causes me to feel  really hungry during my runs and stop at mile 15 and order this for dinner:

veggie burger and fries

Or think this is an appropriate recovery beverage:

pumpkin beer

While I do believe it’s necessary to indulge after a long run, it’s important to think about where those calories come from. “Although I don’t usually advocate calorie counting for the first time marathoner, I think it helps keep them stay accountable. I have my athletes aim for 40-45% carbs, 30% protein and 25% fat (of course that may vary and an individual basis).  Overall this just helps them get more protein in without going to low on carbs and fat,” says Kelli Shalal, MPH, RD of Hungry Hobby.

“I aim to keep my meals balanced and increase portion sizes by just a couple of spoonfuls at each meal. And when I want a treat, I eat one (not two or three or four). I enjoy every bite by eating it slowly and thoughtfully,” says Carlucci.

4. Consider the amount of calories you burn

It’s pretty awesome to see that you burn 1,800 calories after an 18 mile run, but that’s just one day. Yes, feel free to eat the fries on that day because you deserve them, but don’t eat them again the next day. And, “don’t forget to consider overall activity during the day. Yes, you’re putting in more mileage when training for a marathon, but are you also taking a 3 hour nap and binge-watching Big Bang Theory the rest of the day?” says Carlucci. Great point!

5. Choose nutrient dense foods

I find this tip to be the most difficult. After an 18 mile run, I don’t want to eat yogurt or bananas. I want french fries and pizza, and I feel entitled to eat that after a REALLY long run. The problem and what causes weight gain is eating those foods the next day because you still feel like you are “recovering”. Trust me, your body doesn’t need an extra 1,000 calories on a rest day.

“For my clients, I always stress that the extra calories consumed during marathon training should come from healthful sources such as whole grains, fruit/vegetables, and dairy (even full-fat). Extra calories shouldn’t mean empty calories!” says Jessica Levings, MS, RDN of Balanced Pantry.

The bottom line: Weight gain isn’t synonymous with marathon training. There are definitely ways to avoid it, but also keep in mind that gaining an extra 2-3 pounds is somewhat normal. Don’t feel discouraged if your jeans are a little tighter because you are accomplishing a humongous feat!




Lemon Pepper Cauliflower & Kale Sandwich

Disclosure: I received free samples of Sabra Spreads mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Sabra and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Trying to find a tasty and hearty vegetarian sandwich is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Most veggie sandwiches are the same old boring combo of cheese, lettuce and tomato between two slices of bread. Why are sandwiches so meat and cheese focused, and why can’t there be one that features seasonal fall produce ? Well my veggie friends, there’s no need to search for a good vegetarian sandwich any longer because I’ve created one and it doesn’t have any cheese, lettuce or tomato. This Lemon Pepper Cauliflower & Kale Sandwich is made with Sabra’s new Sea Salt and Black Pepper Spread and should probably be your lunch every day for the next week.

Yup, that’s right. Everyone’s favorite hummus company has now come out with sandwich spreads that are made from fresh ingredients, like chickpeas and tahini, have 75% less fat than mayo, and come in a convenient squeeze bottle. The Sea Salt and Black Pepper spread inspired me to create one of my favorite flavor combinations-lemon pepper. The cauliflower packs this sandwich with fiber, while the kale adds many wonderful nutrients and a nice bite. Combine it with Sabra’s Sea Salt and Black Pepper Spread on toasted multi-grain bread and you have a vegetarian sandwich that is 1,000 times better than any boring old cheese sandwich.

Pin this recipe for later!

cauliflower sandwich pinterest image

Makes 2 sandwiches:

juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cauliflower, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 cup kale, washed with the stems removed
4 tablespoons Sabra Sea Salt and Black Pepper Spread
4 slices multi-grain bread

cauliflower steak sandwich


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk together the 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt. In a large bowl, drizzle it over the chopped cauliflower. Stir until it’s evenly coated.
  3. Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, turning at the halfway mark.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together 1 tablespoon of extra virgin and red wine vinegar. Toss the kale leaves in the oil and vinegar.
  5. Spread 1 tablespoon of Sabra Sea Salt and Black Pepper Spread on each slice of bread. Then, layer on the cauliflower and kale.

cauliflower steak sandwich

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18 Thoughts Of A Dietitian During An 18 Mile Run

I won’t sugar coat it…running 18 miles by yourself is crazy and has its ups and downs (literally). The thought of conquering 18 miles still gives me anxiety, but it’s a necessary evil of marathon training. Regardless of the anxiety, I did it and I had many laughable thoughts along the way. I thought I would chronicle those funny thoughts so you can know what it’s like to run alongside me. thought while marathon training

Pre-run: “I’m not sure that I can physically do this…No Natalie! You can do it. It’s just mind over matter. Okay, let’s do this.”

Mile 1: “Wow, I feel great. That rest day really paid off. My legs feel like they have been resting for a week.”

Mile 2: “I’m hot. I should’ve listened to Bill and worn shorts instead of pants. I think I’m going to run home and change.”

Mile 3 (after a change of clothes): “My legs feel so cool and free! Shorts is definitely the way to go today. Now it’s time to start my run over and I get to start with 2 miles under my belt. Yes!”

Mile 4: “Why are my calves burning already?! Kill me.”

Mile 5: “Okay, time to run the Queesboro Bridge. You can do this. Use your hips instead of your calves… because they hurt so much right now.”

Mile 6: “Weeeeee. Running downhill is so fun! I’m so fast. Imagine if I was this fast all the time. Wait, that guy just passed me. How is he that fast?! Ugh.”

Mile 7: “I love Central Park. No matter how many times I go there, it still feels exciting.”

Mile 7.5: “Why are there so many freakin’ tourists in Central Park?! Seriously, get out of the way! I am just one tiny person trying to run in a straight line. This shouldn’t be so difficult.”

Mile 8-10: “Why do these miles feel easier than the first few miles? My legs feel so good right now. I think I can do this 18 miler.”

Mile 11: “I am SOOO hungry that I think my stomach might eat itself. Why didn’t I bring an extra shot block? I still have another hour to run and I don’t have any food. Omg, why did I think of that? Should I stop and buy pretzels? No because then I have to stop and eat them and I just want to go home. I think I can power through this and order a really big dinner. I can totally have fries for dinner.”

Mile 12: “This freakin bridge again.”

Mile 13: “Weeeee.”

Mile 14: “My stomach is so pissed at me right now. What if I stop at the next mile and order Seamless? Then it will be waiting for me when I get home. Yes, that’s a great idea. I’m a genius.”

Mile 15: “I’m totally ordering  a veggie burger and fries. Yes, I would like to add cheese to that. Thank you. Healthy, smhealthy. I definitely need to bring two shot blocks next time”

Mile 16: “I really hope the Seamless doesn’t get there before I do. This is really motivating me to run the last few miles quickly. I really just can’t wait to eat.”

Mile 17: “Should I text Bill and ask him to put out an ice pack for me? No, if I stop, I’m pretty sure my legs will collapse and he’ll have to come scoop me up off this sidewalk. Just don’t stop moving.”

Mile 18: “I did it!! Now, where’s my burger and fries?”




Pumpkin Swirl Salted Brownies

Ever wonder what a food blogging Dietitian does on her day off? She makes healthy brownies, of course. Actually, it wasn’t really my day off… Last week, I went to the eye doctor and I stupidly scheduled the appointment for 10am. I didn’t think about the fact that they were going to dilate my eyes and I wouldn’t be able to see anything–including screens. So, I pretty much had nothing to do. No computer, no TV, no books, no magazines, and it was raining out, so no running. But there is a thing that I love to do that doesn’t require reading or seeing that well–cooking.

Pin this recipe for later!

Pinterest picture of Pumpkin Brownies

I’ve been wanting to create something with pumpkin since the beginning of September, and I’ve also been craving sweets with all of my marathon training. Obviously I couldn’t make the decadent brownies with tons of butter and sugar (mostly because I would end up eating them all at once), so I decided to try black bean brownies made with pumpkin. This healthier version of brownies is moist and full of protein, and you won’t feel overly full if you indulge in more than one.

Get your fall flavor and chocolate fix all at once in these lovely Pumpkin Swirl Salted Brownies.

black bean brownies with pumpkin, gluten-free

Makes 12 brownies

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
cooking spray

Pumpkin Swirl Topping:
2/3 cup unsweetened pumpkin
2 tablespoon siggi’s vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
Coarse sea salt (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
  2. In a food processor, combine the beans, eggs, oil, pumpkin and maple syrup. Process until smooth. Then add the cocoa, salt, sugar and baking powder to the food processor. Process again until smooth and well combined.
  3. Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray. Pour the brownie mixture into each muffin cup until they are all evenly filled.
  4. Make the topping by stirring together pumpkin,  siggi’s yogurt, honey and salt. Top each brownie with a small teaspoon of pumpkin topping. For the swirl, take a knife a lightly make a swirling motion in the top of each brownie.
  5. Optional–sprinkle some coarse sea salt over each brownie.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. To see if they are done, stick a knife in the brownie.  It should come out clean when they are ready.