Category Archives: Holiday Eating

Fish Tacos

A couple of weeks ago was Cinco de Mayo, a day when people were out having tequila shots, chips and salsa, and all sorts of Mexican food. Unfortuantely I didn’t get to celebrate that day, but reading blog posts about the day definitely put me in the mood for some Mexican food of my own. So the next night I whipped up some fish tacos for a fun, interactive dinner. The next time you’re in the mood for Mexican, make some at home and try this recipe!

Fish Tacos
Serves 4


fish taco recipe

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 red onion, sliced in half moons
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced into strips
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (keep some seeds depending on preferred level of spiciness)
  • fish taco recipe1 pound tilapia filets
  • Chili powder, to taste
  • Cumin, to taste
  • Juice of 2 limes (1 additional lime for serving)
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 12-oz can no-salt added black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 bunch cilantro, cleaned and chopped
  • Watermelon Salsa (optional)
  • Nonfat Greek yogurt (optional)


  1. Add one tablespoon of canola oil to a medium sauté pan and heat over medium. When the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté
    2-3 minutes, until softened. Add bell peppers and sauté for another 5-7 minutes until the onions and peppers are fully cooked. Add jalapeno pepper and cook for another 30-60 seconds. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside in a bowl covered with aluminum foil.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl combine remaining tablespoon of oil, and chili powder and cumin to taste. Place fish filets in a baking dish and brush both sides with marinade. Drizzle fish with half of the lime juice. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the fish is fully cooked.
  3. While the fish is cooking, cut avocados in half, remove pits, and scoop avocado from the peel and put in a mixing bowl. Using a fork, mash the avocado until it is mostly smooth. Add salt and lime juice to taste. Set aside.
  4. Put drained black beans in a blender and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  5. Heat corn tortillas according to package directions.
  6. Remove fish from oven and let sit for 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
  7. Serve with sautéed vegetables, mashed avocado, black bean spread, corn totrillas, cilantro, and  watermelon salsa and Greek yogurt (if using).
  8. Assemble tortillas as desired and enjoy!

avocado recipes     healthy fish recipes

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

mexican food healthy choicesToday people are celebrating Cinco de Mayo, a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride and a commemoration of the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War (according to Wikipedia). As part of the celebration, you may be going out for Mexican food and having a margarita (or two). But before you do, you may want to know just what’s in some of those Mexican specialties before you indulge too much!

Here’s some nutrition info about Mexican favorites:

Instead of: Choose:
Frozen margarita: range from 250-300 calories Margarita on the rocks: 170 calories
Corona beer: 150 calories Corona light beer: 99 calories
Lemonade (8 oz): 165 calories Sparkling lemonade (1/2 lemonade, 1/2 seltzer): 83 calories
Crispy shell tacos  Soft shell tacos
Flour tortillas Corn tortillas
Taco bowl salads Salads sans taco bowl
Refried beans Black beans
Sour cream Salsa and/or Guacamole

The best piece of advice I can give you is to share! Portions at Mexican restaurants tend to be very big, so to keep your portions in check share with a friend.

Take a look at some of the previous Nutritioulicious posts about Mexican food:
Real Mexican Dining
Mexican Cooking at Home
Homemade Quesadillas
Wonderful Ways to Use Watermelon

What are you doing to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Matzo Pizza

One of my favorite meals to make on Passover is matzo pizza. I’ve always been a fan of thin crust pizza, so I don’t find matzo pizza to be that different. I’ve also been told I make a mean matzo pizza — in fact, at my bridal shower when my husband was asked which recipe of mine is his favorite he said matzo pizza. (At the time he clearly hadn’t tasted most of my dishes!)

For many years I made matzo pizza on regular square matzo; however, a few years ago it occurred to me that if I use round shmura matzo it will be more like a regular pizza. (Shmura is hebrew for “guarded” and the matzo is hand-made and tends to be crispier than the machine-made square matzos.) The end result was fabulous and ever since that’s the way I’ve made it!

matzo pizza recipe

Matzo Pizza
Serves 2-3

  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 pieces of shmura matzo (use whole wheat or regular matzo if you don’t have shmura)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup chopped vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, onions)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella and/or cheddar cheese
  • Dried basil & oregano
  1. Preheat oven to 375oF.
  2. Spread tomato sauce on each of the pieces of matzo. Top with chopped vegetables and cheese. Sprinkle with herbs.
  3. Bake pizza for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and starts to bubble.

matzo pizza recipe passover     passover pizza recipe

Nutrition Note: To make the meal complete, serve with a large mixed salad.

Have you ever tried matzo pizza? What toppings do you like on your pizza?

Quinoa on Passover

Tonight starts the eight-day long Jewish holiday of Passover, during which one may not eat chametz — the collective name for leavened products containing wheat, barley, oats, rye, or spelt.

passover holiday

Last Passover I told you about matzo – the unleavened bread that Jews eat over the course of the holiday. Over the years, supermarket shelves have become stocked with more and more foods that are Kosher for Passover, including noodles and rolls (generally made out of potato flour). One item that was approved for Passover and has become popular over the past few years is quinoa.

As quinoa has risen in popularity, rabbinical authorities realized that it is a Kosher for Passover grain — very exciting news for Jews who knew about quinoa and all it’s virtues. I for one was thrilled with this news — one more food that we can eat on Passover to avoid the monotony of matzo and potatoes.quinoa passover

I’ve mentioned quinoa before, but never really shared all of its benefits. Here are some facts about quinoa:

  • It’s an ancient grain (like einkorn), although it is actually a seed related to leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard.
  • It’s the only grain that is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids you need.
  • It’s high in fiber and a very good source of the minerals manganese, magnesium, and iron.
  • It’s gluten-free.

Interestingly, there was an article in today’s NY Times questioning whether quinoa is in fact Kosher for Passover. The reason for the debate? Some Rabbis say that some quinoa grown in Bolivia (where it originates) is harvested with wheat and corn (two forbidden foods on Passover) so there may be some particles mixed into the packaged quinoa. To me, this debate calls to mind a bigger issue: whether the quinoa is in fact gluten-free —
an important, potentially life-threatening concern for people with celiac disease or wheat and gluten allergies.

To be 100% certain that you are getting gluten-free and Kosher for Passover quinoa you must read the labels. According to Rabbis who approve quinoa for Passover, the two brands that are given thumbs up are Ancient Harvest Quinoa and Trader Joe’s brand. So stick with these if you’re observing the holiday and/or following a gluten-free diet.

What do you think about quinoa? Do you like it?

Make Your Heart Your Valentine

heart health valentine's dayUntil last week, I never really thought about the fact that Valentine’s Day — a day symbolized by the color red, hearts, and chocolate — falls in the middle of American Heart Month — a time also recognized by red and hearts (and you can throw some chocolate in there too, as long as you keep it to dark chocolate!). It could just be a coincidence, but I actually think there’s something interesting about these two events falling out at the same time of year.

Everyone thinks of Valentine’s Day as a day to express love for others, but how about showing some love for yourself by making your heart your valentine?! Treat your heart right this Valentine’s Day by doing any one of the following (or all of them!):

  • Take yourself out to a heart-healthy meal filled with vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein
  • Make a date with the treadmill, a walk in the park, or a spin class to get your heart rate up
  • Have a glass (if you’re a woman) or two (if you’re a man) of red wine
  • Treat yourself to a massage to de-stress
  • Indulge in an ounce of dark chocolate with 60-70% cacoa

Your heart deserves to be treated well, so give it some love this Valentine’s Day!

What are you doing to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Cheesy Bean, Zucchini, & Red Pepper Dip

Between football games and holiday parties there sure are a lot of celebrations this time of year, all of which tend to involve food.  Last week I shared one of my favorite hors d’oeurves, Salmon Ceviche in Cucumber Cups, on fellow dietitian Robyn Webb’s Fabulous Food Finds blog. Today I have another recipe to share, but this time it’s a classic cold weather favorite that is made a bit more nutritiously, while maintaining the delicious flavor.

Cheesy Bean, Zucchini, & Red Pepper Dip
Serves: 8; Serving Size: ½ cuphealthier bean dip


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1  small zucchini, cubed
  • 1 small red pepper, cubed
  • 1  small red onion, chopped
  • 1 to 2  jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
  • 1 can (15-ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  teaspoon  chili powder
  • 1 cup grated reduced-fat Monterey jack or cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until soft. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Repeat step 2 with the red pepper, and then repeat again with the onions.
  4. Once the vegetables are all cooked, add them all back into the pan over low heat for another 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer vegetables from pan to a small to medium-sized ovenproof bowl. Add the drained beans, salt, pepper, and chili powder and toss to combine.
  6. Top bean and vegetable mixture with cheese and bake for about 10 minutes. Once the cheese is mostly melted, broil the dip for about 2 to 3 more minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Serve with healthier chips.

Nutrition Information (per ½ cup serving): 106 calories, 7 g protein, 10 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 4 g fat, 2g sat fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 247 mg sodium

Cinnamon-Chili and Maple-Glazed Walnuts

As you know, lately I’ve been on a walnut kick ever since my visit to the walnut harvest. Well, a couple of weeks ago the nice people at the California Walnut Commission sent me a 5-pound bag of walnut halves from this year’s harvest! So I knew I needed to get cooking in the kitchen with these nutrition-filled babies!

california walnuts

5-pound bag of California walnuts

First thing I thought to make was spiced walnuts. I wanted to combine some of the sweetness of caramelized walnuts without all the stickiness, so I decided to do a combo of salty and sweet, and what I ended up with was a batch of Cinnamon-Chili and Maple-Glazed Walnuts, perfect to snack on and to serve at a holiday cocktail party!

Cinnamon-Chili and Maple-Glazed Walnuts
10 servingsmaple glazed walnuts


  • 11/2 cups walnut halves
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder


  1. Pre-heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the walnuts, maple syrup, and all the seasonings to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the nuts are coated and caramelized, about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from the pan and let cool. Once the walnuts have settled, use a fork to break apart pieces that have stuck together.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 122 calories, 2 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 1.5 g fiber, 10 g total fat (1 g saturated fat, 7 g polyunsaturated fat, 1 g monounsaturated fat), 0 g cholesterol, 30 mg sodium

What’s your favorite way to cook with walnuts?

Food Meets Fashion

The following post was written by nutritioulicious™ intern Jo Bartell

As I shared in my intro post, I used to work in fashion, and I hope to combine my career as a dietitian with my love for fashion. Fashion and food have always been among my favorite topics, and lately it seems I’m not alone! Food and fashion are coming together in pop-culture and in Hollywood, where food and restaurants are becoming as trendy and fashionable as the newest clothing designers and runway shows. Chefs are even becoming the newest celebrities.

This concept became even more evident this season at Barney’s New York, where the holiday windows read, “Have a Foodie Holiday.” I went to check out this perfect depiction of the foodie/fashion combination last week and I wanted to share some pictures with you.  Renowned chefs from Julia Child and Jamie Oliver to Paula Deen, Rachael Ray, Daniel Boulud, and Bobby Flay are featured this holiday at Barney’s in an elaborate, whimsical display that is undoubtedly attracting attention from fashionistas and foodies near and far.  Enjoy!

holiday windows at barney's

Trail Blazers: Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Jamie Oliver

rachael ray holiday windows at Barney's

Paula Deen & Rachael Ray

daniel boulud holiday windows at Barney's

Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud

Do you have a favorite celebrity chef?

Put Yourself First This Thanksgiving

The holidays are always hectic and it’s very easy to lose sight of your goals during this time of year, so a few weeks ago, a fellow dietitian, Rebecca Scritchfield, started the “Me Movement.” The purpose of this movement is to stay positive during the holiday season and to put yourself first to maintain your wellness. By taking the “me” pledge you promise yourself the self-care you deserve. Just like last year I told you abut resolving all year long, not just when it comes to New Year’s, the me pledge is a way for you to remind yourself of your health and wellness goals before you get lost in the holiday madness. I have already taken the pledge and the primary way I have put “me first” so far is taking the time out of my busy schedule to move my body.

How will you put yourself first this Thanksgiving and holiday season?

Need some healthy eating reminders this Thanksgiving? Check out my Thanksgiving Survival Guide and Thanksgiving Nutritionals posts from last year.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and nutritioulicious Thanksgiving!

Healthy Break Fast Guide

breaking your fast in a healthy wayTomorrow night is the start of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, a day of fasting, praying, and repenting for the past year’s sins. Throughout the year there are many lesser known fast days, but this one is the biggie for all Jews — it’s a 25 hour period of no eating or drinking. Whether you fast on this holiday or for a different religious holiday, you know that by the end of the fast you’re tired, thirsty, and famished. So how do you break your fast without undoing all of the healthy habits that you work so hard on the rest of the year? Here are some tips:

  • Don’t try to make up for the meals you skipped. The break fast meal is not a time for you to eat the equivalent of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Portion out the equivalent of what you would normally eat for dinner (keeping in mind a balance of whole grains, protein, and veggies) and enjoy the meal.
  • Take it slow. If you eat too quickly there’s a chance you may not feel so great. Remember that after not eating all day your digestive system needs to warm up and if you eat too fast your body won’t be ready for all the food. So eat slowly — there’s no race to the finish line.
  • Rehydrate. At the end of a fast most people think they are starving, but they are actually dehydrated (dehydration is commonly masked as hunger). Your best bet is to break your fast with a small glass (about 4 ounces) of 100% juice to raise your blood sugar levels (since they will be at rock bottom), and then switch to water. Typical Yom Kippur break fast includes a lot of salty food — smoked salmon, white fish, cheese — all of which will dehydrate you further. So make sure to drink plenty of water throughout and after the meal.
  • Choose wisely. Here’s the dilemma: Whole wheat or plain bagel? White fish salad or white fish? Nova or lox? There are so many options and not all are equal. Your best bets:
    • Whole wheat bagel (remember 1 bagel = 4 slices of bread)
    • White fish (white fish salad is full of mayo, meaning extra calories and fat)
    • Nova (smoked salmon with less sodium than salmon lox)
  • Give yourself a treat. You have fasted all day after all! So allow yourself a cookie, piece of danish, or a slice of marble cake. Just don’t overdo it — one of something is enough. And make sure to have some fruit with it. The water content of fruit will continue to hydrate you and fill you up.

To all of my readers celebrating Yom Kippur, may you have an easy and meaningful fast!