Category: Events

6 Tips for Healthy Meal Planning Made Easy

Meal planning can feel overwhelming, intimidating and even repetitive and boring. It’s one of those things that we know we “should” be doing but rarely prioritize. Planning your meals and cooking from scratch gives you more control over what you’re putting in your body. It puts nourishment in your hands vs. someone else’s. When I consistently plan meals, I feel better, save money and time, waste less food and find that mealtime is less stressful because I know what I’m having ahead of time.

I’m about to finish a two-part series on meal planning at the Institute for Integrative Health in Baltimore. We had a great time coming together to talk about strategies for why and how to meal plan in a way that feels less intimidating and overwhelming.

I thought I’d pull together some of the top tips from the first session to support you in better meal planning! Here are my top meal planning tips:

1) Stock Your Pantry

If you have convenient, accessible, nourishing foods in your pantry, fridge and freezer, you’ll be more likely to eat those foods! It might sound too simple, but that’s what it takes. Start by cleaning out your pantry by tossing anything that is expired or isn’t supporting your health and wellbeing. Once you’ve done that, replace those items with nourishing ones instead.

I love this video from Whole Foods about how to stock your pantry. It includes all of our pantry staples. Check it out and notice which foods you tend to not have on hand. Canned beans, grains, and nuts and seeds are must-haves for us, in particular!

2) Spice It Up

Herbs and spices are an easy and inexpensive way to add variety and flavor to your food. We tend to shop in the bulk spices section at MOMs Organic Market, so we just get what we need for more obscure spices and continue refilling our glass jars for the ones we use on a regular basis. Here are our spice rack staples:

  1. Cumin
  2. Cinnamon
  3. Oregano
  4. Thyme
  5. Rosemary
  6. Sea Salt
  7. Black Pepper
  8. Chili Powder
  9. Curry Powder
  10. Turmeric
  11. Coriander
  12. Bay Leaves

3) Follow the 50/25/25 Plate Ratio

This is not a hard and fast rule, but it is something that helps me mentally map out a meal. Whether it’s in the form of a salad, soup, or side, half of my plate is made up of vegetables. Fruit is often something I snack on or put in my smoothies. Some of my favorite whole grains or starchy veggies are quinoa, brown rice, bean-based pasta (like Tolerant Foods), squash, spaghetti squash, etc. My protein source is either plant-based or animal-based, depending on my mood and what my body is craving at the time.

Notice how relatively small the protein portion is on the Harvard School of Public Health’s healthy eating plate compared to the typical American plate. Also, protein is in a variety of foods, including whole grains, vegetables, and beans, so keep that in mind, too!

4) Follow a Simple Process

I shared more details about our favorite cookbooks and meal templates in this post from a few weeks ago about What We Eat: A Peek At Our Weekly Meal Plan. I’m also a big fan of Precision Nutrition’s infographic about meal planning and how to combine spices in your meals. It’s super helpful!

  1. Look at your week and determine how many meals you’ll need.
  2. Look at what ingredients you already have in your pantry, fridge and freezer.
  3. Using a cookbook or online tool to find recipes that use those ingredients.
  4. Make a list of ingredients that you need to complete those recipes.
  5. Go grocery shopping.
  6. Wash, chop and cook veggies when you get home. Mark containers with masking tape, so you know what recipes they go with. Make bigger batches of recipe that will hold up well in the fridge for a few days ahead of time (grains, beans, stews, chilis, oatmeal, muffins, frittatas, roasted veggies).

5) Use a Recipe Template

I’m a fan of meal ASSEMBLY vs. meal planning because I like the idea of mixing and matching different ingredients to form a variety of dishes. The Environmental Working Group has a fantastic recipe guide arranged in template-style, and you can download the PDF here for free. Here are a few more of my favorite combinations:

Mason jar meals are one of my favorite meal templates. This is the Carrot & Chickpea Mason Jar Salad we made during the class. You have to try it!

6) Change Up Your Meals & Get Inspired!

As technology continues to expand, there are more meal planning and meal kit delivery service companies than ever before that make the process more fun and exciting.

Try a theme night focused around a certain topic like Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, What’s Left Wednesday (leftovers), Fiesta Friday, Souper Saturday, Salad Sunday, etc. If you know every Tuesday is tacos, you’re just changing up the ingredients but can reuse spices and core ingredients like wraps and shells.

I also encourage you to check out these options for meal planning services and meal kit delivery services.

Online Meal Planning Services

Meal Kit Delivery Services

How about you? Do you have any go-to meal planning tips? Feel free to share them below. I’ll be sharing more ideas about batch cooking, food storage and time-saving tips and tools in the next post!

Triple Orange, Fennel & Beet Salad with Arugula

Wouldn’t you love to know how to make the most of your food, so you waste as little as possible AND stay nourished with delicious food?

I’m here to help 🙂


In the first part of a two-part series I’m teaching about the restorative, healing power of food, I shared several anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense recipes. All of the recipes are free from wheat, milk, eggs, soy, shellfish, and peanuts, which are some of the most commonly allergenic foods.

In their book, The Elimination Diet, Tom Malterre and his wife Ali Segersten point out that 80% of their patients felt significantly better after removing dairy and gluten from their diet. I found that all of my symptoms – allergies, congestion, frequent colds, dry skin, acid reflux – were reversed when I changed my diet and removed dairy and gluten.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to share recipes and inspiration for you to make changes based on what your body is telling you it needs.

We made homemade almond milk, chocolate-covered cherry smoothie, white bean and fennel soup, sauteed greens with pumpkin seeds, and the recipe in today’s post. I was inspired to make a salad with beets and oranges as I was reading Dr. Michael Miller’s book Heal Your Heart. But I wanted to upgrade it by adding in some stomach-soothing fennel, anti-inflammatory avocado, and anti-cancer arugula.

Not only that but this recipe features all three components of the orange – zest, juice and whole segments. It’s a great way to reduce food waste and make the most of the dollars you are spending!



4 beets, diced (Love Beets is my favorite brand)
1 fennel bulb
2 oranges
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 tsp raw honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup pecans, chopped


  1. Prep fennel following these steps from The Kitchn and put in a large bowl. I used a mandolin to thinly slice it.
  2. Peel one orange, cut into slices, then pull segments apart. Set aside.
  3. Zest half of second orange using a microplane grater into a medium bowl. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl, being careful to remove the seeds. Whisk salt, ginger, and honey into bowl with juice and zest. Whisk in olive oil until it starts to thicken.
  4. Pour half of dressing over fennel and let sit for 10 minutes, so orange juice can soften fennel. Add beets and orange slices and toss to combine. Add arugula, avocado and pecans and toss gently to combine. Add additional dressing if needed. Serve immediately.

Join Me LIVE for 2 Cooking Classes in Baltimore in October

Fall has always been my favorite season.

I love the colors, the weather, the crisp air, and, of course, the food.


Laura Toraldo Photography

But fall hasn’t always been a time of optimal health for me.

I used to suffer from seasonal allergies, which meant taking Claritin or Zyrtec, and I couldn’t make it through the fall and winter without dealing with multiple bouts of congestion, post nasal drip, sore throats, and bronchitis. I always had a steady supply of Mucinex, Throat Coat, and Advair inhaler discs. For a third of my life, I also dealt with acid reflux, which meant popping pills at Thanksgiving and Christmastime, in particular, because of all of the rich food I would overeat and then pay for later.

Because I know what it’s like to feel sick and not at my best, I’m passionate about sharing what I’ve learned and experienced as my health has been transformed over the past five years. I no longer take any medications, can get through the whole winter with NO congestion, and don’t deal with post nasal drip, allergies, reflux, or bronchitis.

If you had told me five years ago that that was possible, I would have been skeptical and cynical, but because I now live that reality, I know that it’s true and possible.

Changing my diet has been at the root of why my body has begun healing and continues to heal.

For centuries, food has been used to prevent illness, relieve symptoms, and even cure disease. I’m now in a position of optimizing my health, so that I can continue to feel energized, have glowing skin, and build a strong immune system.

I will be teaching a two-part cooking class series about Healing Foods at the Institute for Integrative Health in Baltimore on Thursday, October 6th and 13th from 6:00-8:00 pm, and I would love for you to join me LIVE


Laura Toraldo Photography


Laura Toraldo Photography

We’ll explore the power of food and discover how it can be used to prevent and alleviate inflammation, strengthen our immune system, and enhance our energy and vitality. Through recipe demonstrations as well as nutrition and cooking tips, I will show you how to eat for optimal well-being. Everything will be dairy-free and gluten-free, and you will find out why during the class.

University of Maryland nutrition researcher Chris D’Adamo, PhD, will be joining me for both classes to offer commentary and answer your questions. He’s a wealth of knowledge and it’s an honor to partner with him again.

Want to join us? Click the button below.


**There are a limited number of spots for these classes, and they are filling up, so if you want to snag your seat, click here to register! The early bird discount of $50 for BOTH classes ends on September 15th, when the price will go up to $60 for both classes. This is the best deal you are going to find for this type and quality of class in the area!**

If you have any questions, please email me through this link, and I will get back to you. I hope to see you there! 🙂


Laura Toraldo Photography

Raw Blueberry Cashew Gelato & Sesame Tahini Cookies

Did you know that the same foods that support our heart and help it heal can also boost our mood? Foods that help one part of the body tend to be good for others as well.

During a recent Heart Healthy Happy Hour hosted by the Institute for Integrative Health in Baltimore, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Michael Miller, preventive cardiologist, speak about the importance of taking care of our heart, so we can feel good, be well and live longer. For a recap of the top three tips he shared (and a video that will make you laugh until you cry), check out the last blog post here.

To enhance the presentation and bring it to life, his wife, Dr. Lisa Miller, a podiatrist and chief recipe creator, showed everyone how to make the two recipes I’m sharing with you in today’s post. They are perfect for summer, refreshing, colorful and delicious!


During his presentation, Dr. Miller highlighted some of the top 50 heart-healing, mood-boosting foods, and the recipes prepared highlighted nearly a dozen of those ingredients. For the health benefits of these ingredients, check out my last blog post.

As with all of the recipes on my blog, both of these recipes are dairy-free and gluten-free. The first is raw and both are vegan. Enjoy 🙂

Raw Blueberry Cashew Gelato


1/4 cup raw cashews (preferably soaked overnight in salted water)
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 tsp maca powder (optional)


  1. Drain cashews (if soaked) and discard soaking liquid.
  2. Place all ingredients in blender as listed and blend until smooth and uniform resembling gelato/ice cream. A high-powered blender works best for this. Add a tablespoon spoon or so of almond milk if it isn’t blending easily enough but keep it minimal so the dessert stays thick.
  3. Pour into pretty cups and serve immediately.
  4. Top with your favorite granola or a sesame tahini cookie, if desired.

Sesame Tahini Cookies


1 1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup tahini
1 tsp almond extract
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup sesame seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda.
  3. In a small bowl, blend tahini, maple syrup, almond extract and oil.
  4. Blend dry and wet ingredients together.
  5. Add in sesame seeds.
  6. Form dough into 1” balls and flatten slightly.
  7. Bake at 350F for about 8-10 minutes until lightly brown.

Once cool, you can can dip 1/2 of the cookie in melted dark chocolate and place in the fridge to harden. Otherwise, serve them as a side to the raw blueberry cashew ice cream!

3 Secrets to Heal Your Heart {…and Live to 100!}

Baltimore is home to some of the world’s thought leaders in health and medicine. One local organization at the forefront of innovation in healthcare and holistic health is the Institute for Integrative Health.

The Institute’s mission is to create a wellness and medical model to shift society’s focus from managing disease to promoting health. Their approach aligns with mine, as I strive to offer hope that we can be well and feel better, that health and vitality can become the new normal. It’s been a privilege to serve as one of their health educators and instructors over the past year or so.

For the Institute’s most recent healthy happy hour, Dr. Michael Miller, a preventive cardiologist, and his wife and podiatrist, Dr. Lisa Miller, facilitated a discussion about how to heal the heart. At the happy hour, I provided samples of my popular Love Your Heart trail mix before heading into the main room to listen to the Millers’ presentation. (Shout out to my favorite grocery store and cafe, MOMs Organic Market, for generously sponsoring the trail mix! If you haven’t been to their Naked Lunch cafe yet, it’s well worth going and is one of my favorite heart healthy lunch spots in town.)

trail mix

Aside from being an internationally recognized leader in the field of preventive cardiology, Dr. Miller has written the best-selling book, Heal Your Heart, which is the top-rated book on heart disease on Amazon out of over 1,000 books.

Included in the book are Dr. Miller’s Positive Emotions Prescription, over 100 recipes (that I can’t wait to try!), and practical tips to heal your heart and optimize your health and wellbeing. All proceeds from the book go to the American Heart Association.

Dr. Miller opened his talk with insights from centenarians – people who have lived to be over 100 – and identified their secrets to longevity. It’ll make you smile (and the simplicity of their advice may surprise you!):

During his talk, which served as a preview for a four-week coaching series he and his wife will be teaching in the fall, Dr. Miller pointed out the main risk factors for heart disease and what we can do to heal our heart and reduce the likelihood of succumbing to a disease that affects millions of Americans each year.

Most of us are aware of the main risk factors for heart disease and heart attack – smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Dr. Miller touched on those but spent the bulk of his time focusing on the impact of two lifestyle factors – stress and what we eat.

Our bodies were designed to respond to acute stressors (like being chased by a tiger), but most of us are in a state of constant stress these days – one that never seems to shut off. If I had to identify one aspect of my health that I want to transform, it would be how I handle stressful situations in my life and making more time for rest, play and relaxation.


One of the comments Dr. Miller made that stuck with me was that chronic stress is the same as cellular aging; stress advances the aging process. Even if we’re eating healthy food, exercising regularly and not smoking, this one factor – stress – can undo a lot of the helpful things we’re doing. That’s how powerful stress is.

Dr. Miller shared the story of a former cardiologist colleague of his who passed away from a heart attack in his mid-50s. The stress that accompanied a new, more demanding job on the other side of the world was too much for his heart to handle and ultimately took his life decades too soon. 

So, what can we do? What are some simple and effective things we can do to help heal our heart? Here are three tips Dr. Miller shared:

1) Add Mind-Body Exercises to Your Daily Routine

Research has shown us that these exercises down-regulate our body’s pro-inflammatory genes, which is exactly what we want to happen! Taking time for ourselves can be challenging, as we may feel selfish, but if we want to be well, self-care is non-negotiable. Here are some ideas for mind-heart exercises to try:

  1. Listen to music you enjoy.
  2. Meditate. Try the Headspace or Calm apps on your phone. They are great guides!
  3. Practice yoga. My favorite YouTube channel for yoga is Yoga with Adriene.

2) Watch a Funny Movie or TV Show

Dr. Miller shared some fascinating research about the blood vessel constriction that happened to a group of participants who watched the harrowing, stress-inducing opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. He compared it to the blood vessel dilation that happened when they watched comedies that made them laugh like Shallow Hal, Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary. 

After just 15 minutes of laughing, volunteers experienced the same vascular benefit they’d experience from spending 15 to 30 minutes in the gym or from taking a daily statin medication to lower their cholesterol.

Not only that, but the blood vessel expansion lasted for up to 24 hours! Get a good laugh in in the morning, and the positive benefits could last the entire day.

We all agree there are still plenty of benefits to exercising, so keep up your daily movement routine, but don’t downplay the importance of a good laugh.

Need another excuse to watch The Office (my favorite!) or your other favorite funny TV show, movie, or YouTube videos? Permission granted! It’s good for your heart 🙂

3) Fuel Your Body with Heart-Healing Foods

In his book, Dr. Miller lists the top 50 foods that affect heart health and mood. To add an interactive component to the presentation, his wife, Dr. Lisa Miller, made a delicious raw blueberry cashew gelato topped with mashed peaches and a sesame cookie.

A few of the top 50 foods were cinnamon, ginger, peaches, vanilla, cashews, blueberries, maca powder, and sesame seeds. Here are some simple ways to incorporate these foods into your day:

  1. Add 1/2 tsp CINNAMON to your coffee each day. Cinnamon has been shown to lower triglyceride levels (that’s the fat in your blood). and inhibits a protein connect to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  2. Add GINGER to smoothies, use it to make your own tea, and try these delicious ginger energy bites. It reduces plaque buildup and improves mental performance. It also promotes healthy digestion and settles nausea!
  3. Enjoy all of the delicious PEACHES that are in season. Peaches are high in antioxidants and other heart-healthy minerals. Mash them up in a mason jar, stir in some cinnamon, ginger and vanilla and add them to overnight oats or use them as a topping on ice cream, as we did that night.
  4. Enhance flavor (and your libido!) with VANILLA. It has been show to reduce inflammation and has high antioxidant activity. To avoid the alcohol content and bitterness of most liquid vanilla extracts, opt for the powdered version from Nielsen-Massey. We add it to smoothies, ice creams, and most of my energy bites!
  5. CASHEWS served as the base of the ice cream we made. If you don’t eat dairy (all recipe on this blog are dairy-free!), cashews add a creamy consistency to everything from cheesecakes and smoothies to soups, cheese sauces and dips. They are high in antioxidants and lower the risk or macular degeneration.
  6. In addition to being packed with antioxidant and blood sugar regulating components, BLUEBERRIES inhibit cortisol – the major stress hormone that runs rampant under chronic stress and adds weight to our bellies. Dr. Miller has a large handful of blueberries every day and swears by their eye health-promoting properties!
  7. MACA powder is derived from a Peruvian radish and has a malt-like taste that I absolutely love. I toss it into smoothies and my chocolate bark and find it pairs especially well with chocolate. It’s known for being a hormone-balancing food and has high antioxidant and blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose-lowering properties. This is the kind of maca powder I order on Amazon.
  8. SESAME SEEDS help regulate blood sugar and contain cholesterol-lowering compounds that protect our heart. Enjoy the seeds themselves and try tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds that we use to make salad dressings super creamy! You can find it in the international aisle of the grocery store. Trader Joe’s just started carrying it, too.

Dr. Lisa Miller’s raw cashew blueberry gelato combined several of those delicious ingredients, and I will share the recipe for it (and her sesame tahini cookies!) in my next post.

In the meantime, here are a few action steps to take if you want to keep learning more about this topic (and spend more time with the Millers and me):

  1. Buy Dr. Miller’s book, Heal Your Heart, on Amazon by clicking here.heal-your-heart-book
  2. If you want to be part of Dr. Millers’ Positivity Challenge Coaching Program in the fall, click here to learn more and register.
  3. Leading up to the Millers’ challenge, I will be teaching a two-part cooking class series about healing foods that you won’t want to miss! Click here to learn more and register.

Come to My Upcoming Eating Empowerment Workshops!

If you’re ready to transform your relationship with food and your body, keep reading. For two nights in May, I’m going to equip and empower you to do just that!

In our earliest moments of life, food was nourishment, love, warmth, safety, pleasure, acceptance, and comfort.

Considering how positive and affirming our initial relationship with food was at one time, it should be surprising that we’ve moved so far away from that today. For many of us, eating is more stressful, guilt-ridden, fear-driven and frustrating than we’d like it to be.

What “should” we eat? Is it possible to truly enjoy food…without guilt? Can we find joy and pleasure in eating?

Each of us is on our own journey with food and our body. Learning to listen to our body’s whispers and trust the journey can be challenging. Whether you’ve struggled with shame, guilt, resentment, confusion, or deprivation around food, chances are you haven’t always had a joyful relationship with or attitude toward food.

But, what if you could? 

What if you could learn to eat in a way that connected you to your food, how it makes you feel, where it comes from, how it was raised, and its journey to your plate?

What if you could truly savor your food? Enjoy it? Find pleasure in it? Truly taste it? What if eating could be a joyful experience and not just a biological nuisance?


What if instead of eating “mindfully” we chose to eat “soulfully”?

What if we could shift our mindset to see food as fueling, healing and nourishing?

What if we could learn to love the food that loves us back?

If you’re looking to transform your relationship and experience with food, join me for a two-part workshop series about Eating Empowerment at the Institute for Integrative Health in Baltimore on May 11th and May 25th.

Keep reading for more details about the event and the link for how to register! I will be so excited to see you there!

Photo Credit: Laura Toraldo Photography

You’ll gain strategies for:

  • Developing a positive, guilt-free, judgment-free relationship with food
  • Increasing your resilience to stress through how and what you eat
  • Influencing your mood through food choices
  • Enhancing your satisfaction with meals and snacks, so you’re not tempted to overeat

You’ll experience:

  • Activating your five senses to create a pleasurable eating experience
  • Reconnecting with food, yourself, and the community around you
  • Samples of my favorite mood-boosting foods

You’ll learn:

  • The role of digestive health in our body’s response to stress
  • The link between stress and digestion
  • Which foods boost or stabilize moods
  • The benefits of mindful and community eating

In addition, nutrition researcher Chris D’Adamo, PhD will provide scientific insight about the connection between food and mood. He and I will be happy to take your questions.

**To register online, click here. Sign up if you’re ready to transform your relationship with food and find freedom and joy in eating. Invite your friends!**

Healthier {& Tastier!} at Home: 12 Ideas to “Make It Yourself” & Save Money

I had the opportunity to teach a workshop today for the University of Maryland’s Center for Integrative Medicine Annual Health & Wellness Conference in Baltimore. It was held at the Institute for Integrative Health in Harbor East, where I will be teaching a two-part Eating Empowerment Workshops in May (if you want to have a judgment-free, joyful relationship with food and learn to connect with, savor and nourish yourself sign up here!). 

During the workshop, I focused on making common recipes that we buy at the store at home. Since Cinco de Mayo is coming up, I thought I would put a Mexican spin on my recipes and share how to make my Chipotle-style bean burrito bowl, dairy-free cashew sour cream, and no-bake Mexican brownies.

RNK Chipotle Burrito Bowlwords sourcreamIMG_4708

In addition to the recipes I made in the class, I shared how much cheaper it is to buy bulk foods (beans, grains, nuts & seeds), whole foods (carrots, cabbage), and condiments (salsa, salad dressing, sour cream, hummus) instead of canned, bagged, frozen or pre-shredded versions.

Let’s take a look at some simple math that makes the case for why we might want to consider making some basic food ourselves rather than buying the premade versions in the store.

Two cups of dry brown basmati rice costs about $2.30 and triples in size once cooked, yielding SIX cups of cooked rice. Compare that to ONE frozen or precooked bag of brown rice, which typically contains only two cups of cooked rice…for the same cost as six cups! I’m not a mathematician, but I’d say it’s a much better deal to get six cups of rice for $2.30 than it is to get two cups of rice for the same price. The same ratios and similar savings hold true for dry beans vs. canned beans.

Another food worth making yourself at home is shredded carrots. One 10-ounce bag of organic shredded carrots costs about $2.99. BUT you can get 32 ounces of whole carrots (2 pounds) for only $2.29 per pound and shred them yourself using a box grater or your food processor. Then, you can take your carrot scraps and add them to your frozen bag of other veggie scraps to Make Your Own Vegetable Broth. The savings definitely add up over time! 🙂

I mentioned one of my favorite books about the basics behind how to cook everything, so if you want to check it out, visit your local bookstore or Amazon.


In addition to using the great tips, tricks and recips in Mark Bittman’s book, here are some other tips, how-tos and recipes to try that are easier (and cheaper) to make at home than to buy at the store:

How to Cook Brown Rice by The Kitchn. (The key is NOT to stir it or uncover it while it is cooking. It will make your rice gummy!)

How to Cook Beans on the Stove by The Kitchn. If convenience trumps cost for you, try precooked canned beans in BPA-free cans by Eden Organics (my #1 fave!) or Field Day Organics.

How to Make Your Own Vegetable Broth from Scraps by Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchenveggie broth banner

Easy Restaurant-Style Blender Salsa by Averie Cooks

Basic Hummus Recipe from Inspired Taste

Easy Tangy Apple Cider Vinaigrette by Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen

How to Make Salad Dressing from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition

How to Make Your Own Granola {Recipe & Video} from Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen

Super Food Trail Mix by Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchentrail mix

What are your favorite storebought-inspired recipes to make at home?

Feel free to share below!

Eat to Live, Baltimore! Free, Fresh Food & Hope for Our City

Baltimore is my home.

I was born and raised here. I went to school here. I made my first friends here.

I had my first informal cooking lessons with our neighbor Miss Muriel across the street from the house where I grew up.

I remember going on school field trips to the Walter’s Art Gallery, the National Aquarium, the Baltimore Zoo, and Fort McHenry.

Some of my favorite summertime memories center around O’s games at Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards with my family, walking to the local snowball stand, and spending hours splashing around at Swan Lake Swim Club in Northeast Baltimore.


I realize this positive perception of my hometown isn’t shared by everyone.

In the midst of the negative media attention our city often receives,  I have a message of hope to offer.

Positive things are happening here, too. They may not be getting the same press attention, but they are worth talking about.

They need to be talked about.

As I was sitting in church Sunday morning, reflecting on what I experienced at a remarkable event in the city on Saturday, lyrics from one of the songs we sang resonated with me more than usual:

For greater things have yet to come,

And greater things are still to be done in this city.

I felt so strongly that the message was about Baltimore. Just one day prior, I had gotten a glimpse of one of those “great things.”

Tessemae’s, a local company known for their ingredient integrity and commitment to creating the best-tasting, natural, condiments and salad dressings, partnered with other organizations to put on a Crop Circle in Baltimore at New Hope Academy.

The goal?

Provide free produce to the community through a pop-up farmer’s market.

Tessemae’s partnered with a California-based company, Renaissance Food Group, which donated over 30,000 pounds of fresh food to be given away at no cost.

Since one out of four Baltimore City residents live in food deserts, without access to fresh fruit and vegetables, the Crop Circle was an opportunity to remove that barrier.

Volunteers arrived at 4 a.m. to set up the pop-up farmer’s market and would remain for nearly 12 hours, helping to distribute the food to local residents.

Dozens of companies, including radio stations and non-profits, provided samples, education, and information.

One of the vendors, Great Kids Farm, puts produce in city school salad bars and sends kids on field trips to the farm to learn about farming and gardening and to taste fresh food.

I met Ryan Brant, who started his own non-profit, Positive Strides, after his personal journey as an injured athlete, including four knee surgeries and a back surgery, all before the age of 25.

His noble mission is “to provide guidance and financial assistance to athletes who have suffered catastrophic or life changing sports-related injuries.” Positive Strides focuses on nutrition, too, because they know that what we eat impacts injury prevention and recovery as well.

Chef Egg, a fellow culinary educator and presenter, used the fresh produce to teach everyone how to make a minestrone soup, apple salad, and fruit smoothies.

We both agree on the importance of at least trying food before dismissing it, something I appreciate as a formerly picky eater turned foodie, and to avoid making comments about food we don’t like that others do like.

Chef Egg said, “Don’t ‘yuck’ my yum! If I like it, you don’t have to knock it.”


I met Joyce, who arrived at 7:00 that morning with her daughter and sister to help people in line who were wheelchair bound, so they could be moved to the front of the line.

She told me how she and her husband volunteered at a similar event a few years ago on their anniversary from 4:00 in the morning until 6:00 in the evening.

She told me how a local rec football team was on its way to the Crop Circle to volunteer as a team before heading to their football game that afternoon.

She told me about the coat drive her church was organizing for a local school.

Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done here.

Congressman Elijah Cummings took the stand to share his thoughts, journey, and message of hope. He advocated for figuring out how to get more grocery stores that sell healthy food at reasonable prices into the city.


He told this inspiring story about his own health journey:

About two and a half years ago, I made a decision about having to go through taking 5-6 pills a day for high blood pressure. I said, ‘There’s gotta be a better way.’

And so I decided that I was going to change my eating habits. I cut out sugar. I cut out all the buns that I used to get. I used to go in there to Dunkin Donuts and get three donuts. ‘C’mon don’t act like ya’ll don’t know what I’m talking about.’ And then, to top it all off, I got a Diet Pepsi!

…But then what I decided to do is I wanted to lose this weight.

So, I started concentrating on vegetables and fruit and trying to eat right, always having a tossed salad at lunchtime. [… ] And over the course of two years, I’ve lost 65 pounds. And let me tell you something – I feel so much better, and now I don’t have to take all them pills […]

But, I did not come here to ask you to do this. I have come here to beg you.

We have to address what we eat, and we must eat to live, not live to eat.

And that’s so important because in our communities, we have higher rates of heart disease, sugar diabetes, cancer. As a matter of fact, one of the things Johns Hopkins discovered is that, for those who live in food deserts, life expectancy is something like 20 years less, which means people are dying before their time and they’re suffering needlessly.

So, my only wish for you at this Thanksgiving is when you sit down to eat, remember, we are eating to live.


I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving, filled with gratitude, joy, laughter, and delicious, nourishing food. I’m grateful for your support for the work that I do and look forward to seeing what 2016 has in store!

If you’re looking for some recipe ideas for your Thanksgiving spread, check out the links below for some of my favorites:

Join Me for Yummy Snacks for Healthy, Happy Kids on September 16th!

As a kid, I wasn’t the most adventurous eater. 

I stuck to what was familiar and didn’t venture much beyond that.

I’ve always liked fruit and even liked quite a few less than popular veggies (including broccoli and Brussels sprouts…only if they were doused in Kraft parmesan cheese!).

But I also loved unhealthy snacks just as much as the next kid!

From Doritos and Cheetos to Dunkaroos, Gushers, Swiss Rolls, and Swedish Fish, I was in the same boat as just about any other kid my age growing up.

That’s why I’m SUPER excited to teach a workshop next Wednesday, September 16th at the Institute for Integrative Health about Yummy Snacks for Healthy, Happy Kids

Kids Pics

If you join us for this workshop, you’ll get all of the following benefits:

  • Learn the secrets to inspiring healthy eating in kids and the whole family
  • Discover sweet and savory recipes, including dairy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free options
  • View recipe demonstrations, and sample the delicious results
  • Explore strategies to get your children involved in a healthy eating lifestyle
  • Learn the tips and tricks I live by, discovered by a couple who raised five kids on nourishing, whole foods
  • Receive a guide with easy recipes and top resources for feeding healthy kids

You’ll come away feeling energized and excited about trying new recipes with your whole family. Plus, you’ll connect with a new community of health-conscious parents, teachers, and other people who take care of children.

The workshop runs from 6:00-8:00pm and is $30 to attend, which includes everything outlined above. Click here to learn more and register.

Please forward this post to anyone you think would be interested in attending this workshop, especially anyone whose kids are dairy-free or gluten-free!

I look forward to seeing you next week! 🙂

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