Tag Archives: healthy eating

15 Interesting Food Trends & Finds at Expo West

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child

Last week I got to attend an expo where healthy food and conscious foodies collide: Natural Products Expo West. It’s an awesomely overwhelming show with every kind of food producer you could possibly imagine – from things you’d expect like protein bars, nut butters, and salad, to things you probably have never thought of, like brand new products that have never been sold before. There’s no shortage of yumminess, and brands are eager to have you sample their latest products. I sound like Captain Obvious saying this, but I love attending Expo West!

Today I thought it’d be fun to dive into 15 things that stood out to me at the show. Let’s get to it!

1.) Vegan food has gotten more delicious. Even as a vegetarian myself who eats vegan the vast majority of my meals, I used to shy away from some veganized products because they just didn’t taste that good to me. Well, that has changed, as brands are perfecting the art of meat & dairy-free food! Daiya’s vegan cheeses have gotten tastier and more melty, and I also liked their caesar dressing. Ozery Bakery introduced vegan brioche buns that were fabulous.

And Kite Hill is doing dairy-free deliciously too. I’ve bought their yogurts before so I already knew that I liked them, but I tried a bunch of their cream cheese spreads at the show… and trust me when I say that you wouldn’t even miss the dairy if you spread it on your bagel.

2.) Protein cookies are big right now. And I am not complaining about that! I like eating cookies and I like making sure I eat enough protein since I lead such an active lifestyle, so why not combine the two? Munk Pack came out with 4 tasty vegan, gluten free, non-GMO certified protein cookies flavors.

I also got to try Buff Bake‘s protein cookies, and their chocolate donut flavor was my favorite.

3.) Millet tots. For two days of the show, I was working at the booth of Rollin’ Greens with a blogger friend of mine, Laura. Since they’re doing something unique (& tasty of course!) in the market, I had to include them in this rundown. Rollin’ Greens is a Boulder-based company that puts their own healthy twist on tater tots, making them with the ancient grain of millet instead. They have their original flavor, and recently came out with two new flavors: an Italian herb + a spicy-sweet combo. Healthier takes on comfort food is one of my favorite things to create, so I love what Rollin’ Greens is doing!

4.) Cold soup bottles are the new green juice. Okay, I actually don’t know if I should take it that far, but know that soup in a bottle is a thing now. One company doing it is ZÜPA NOMA. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what I’d think of the soups… but in trying their flavors, I was pleasantly surprised to really like them! Their tomato gazpacho was full of fresh flavor, and I would totally buy soup bottles to drink on-the-go and get my veggies in.

5.) Sambazon’s new chocolate covered acai bites are delicious. Sambazon makes frozen acai packs that you can buy to make your own acai bowls at home, along with other acai products, and at the show they unveiled a new product: chocolate covered acai bites. They’re awesome, and I’ll definitely be buying them when I see them in stores!

6.) Tea with maitake mushroom powder is a thing. At the show I sipped on some organic tea from Blue Buddha that was made with ashwagandha extract and maitake mushroom powder. Sounds a little odd, but tastes good I swear! The company focuses on the tradition of using plants and herbs to help keep people healthy for thousands of years. The antioxidants from maitake mushroom help support a healthy immune function, while ashwagandha has been shown to relieve stress and increase mental focus. I’ll drink to that!

7.) Vita Coco gets the most clever booth award from me.
Vita Coco makes coconut-based water, milk and oil products, and their Expo West booth had the awesome above pictured display of a cow on vacation. I also thought their tagline, “Tastes like no udder” is pretty clever!

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Currently Loving: My Top 5 Travel Snacks

Happy Friday!

What are your plans for the official first weekend of summer? In thinking about my summer season, the next month or so is going to hopefully include lots of local SoCal fun, and then the month after that will involves lots of travel and time away from home. When I’m on-the-go traveling, especially if there are long car rides and/or long flights involved, one of the things I make sure to do is bring healthy snacks.


I just don’t think you can ever go wrong with bringing healthy food with you. It usually comes in handy at the times I prep for it – like at lunchtime on a plane – but I also find that it’s great to have snacks on hand for random times when hunger strikes. For instance, if I’m going out to dinner later than I normally eat, a snack packed in my bag comes in handy to hold me over.

So far this year, here are my 5 favorite (very portable) travel snacks!


Chocolate peanut butter energy bites. I find energy balls to be the perfect little pick-me-up! I threw a bunch of them in a plastic bag and brought some to Cabo with me last month.

No Cow Bar at the beach

My beach snack last weekend

No Cow bars. I recently started eating these bars by D’s Naturals, and have quickly become a big fan. They’re dairy free, and are made with organic brown rice and pea proteins and sweetened with monk fruit and stevia. At 170 calories & 20 g of protein a pop, they pack a great protein punch – especially because when I’m traveling sometimes the protein in my diet can be lacking a bit. The bars also have a ton of fiber – which is great to keep your digestive system regular when you’re traveling and eating a diet that’s different from your norm (TMI?!).

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WIAW + Heading South of the Border!

Happy Hump Day!

We’ve made it through half of the work week, woohoo! I’m a bit antsy this week in anticipation of the holiday weekend. Why? Because I’m heading to Mexico for vacation!

Cabo San Lucas Arch


This summer my hubby is turning 30, so I planned a surprise trip to celebrate the occasion. I had to tell him about it a few weeks ago, since he had to take days off of work. I decided to make a Mexican themed dinner – black bean enchiladas – and put some cute clues around hinting that we’re taking a trip south of the border. It was fun and I enjoyed planning out a trip that A was clueless about. 🙂 Now I’m just excited and very much looking forward to lots of relaxation + fun in the sun with A in Cabo San Lucas! Stay tuned for blog trip recaps, and follow me on Instagram to check out some travel posts.


Any who, today I’m joining the What I Ate Wednesday party! I’m sharing what a day of eats looked like for me last Saturday, so let’s get to it….

WIAW smoothie bowl

First thing in the morning I practiced some yoga. For breakfast post-workout, I made a strawberry banana protein smoothie bowl topped with blueberries, shredded coconut and a TBSP of Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter.

WIAW zoodle bowl

After taking Harley for a long walk at the park and doing some work around the house, I worked up an appetite so it was zoodle time! Lunch was spiralized zucchini with marinara sauce, chickpeas, artichoke hearts and a dollop of ricotta. I’ve made this dish a few times lately, and it’s so easy to throw together and a great way to get some veggies in!

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The 80/20 Diet Rule + Spring into Shape with My New Health Coaching Program

“Nicole! You’re eating French fries?!”

“Ice cream?? Wow, there’s ice cream in your freezer!!”

These are the kind of things I hear from people who are aware of my passion for healthy living and see me eating ______ (insert anything sugary, fried, fattening, etc.).

People seem to find it surprising, but yes, I’ll eat fries once in awhile. I indulge in dessert sometimes. I drink one too many glasses of wine here and there… and not because I’m diving off the deep end from my healthy diet, but because I embrace balanced eating and the 80/20 principle.

80:20 diet principle


What is the 80/20 approach to diet?  It’s a pretty simple idea: 80% of the time, you fuel your body with healthy, nutrient-dense foods, and then the remaining 20% of the time, you can indulge in treats and less nutritious foods. A lot of the time, that 20% for me includes things that aren’t junk food. For instance, I’d consider some dark chocolate or a glass of red wine as part of that 20%. Both are heart-healthy, but I look at them as extras that I don’t really need, but that I just enjoy and feel like having.

The percentages aren’t an exact science. Some days and weeks I’m more like 90/10, and then other days and weeks I might splurge more and eat more of a 75/25 ratio, but the idea is to achieve a healthy eating balance where treats are part of your diet guilt and stress free.

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WIAW: Easy Eats + Snacking on Kala Beans {Review}

Hello, hello!

Today I’ve decided to switch it up & do something I haven’t done in quite awhile: participate in the What I Ate Wednesday party, hosted by my friend Laura this week!


This is actually a recap of my day of eats one day last week when I actually remembered to snap photos of every meal. Let’s get to it!

blueberry coconut smoothie bowl

For breakfast in between my morning yoga practice and a conference call, I made a berry smoothie bowl and topped it with coconut shreds and blueberries. So good! I think that fresh blueberries + coconut is a new favorite combo of mine.

Yogi Tea wisdom

Early afternoon, I took a break from work to take my pup for a walk and make some lunch – which was really breakfast #2: banana protein pancakes with blueberries, a few dark chocolate chips & honey + Yogi green tea.

chocolate blueberry pancakes

Pancakes never get old to me!

A bunch of hours later, I noshed on a Luna bar as a pre-workout snack while finishing up a writing assignment.

Luna cookie dough bar

Bars = the easiest snack ever. I have bars all over the place – in my car, gym bag, purse, beach bag, and probably a few other places.

white bean burger dinner

For dinner, I tried out Morningstar Farms’ new white chili bean burgers. I placed one on a slice of whole wheat toast and topped it with mashed avocado + salsa, along with a salad on the side.

Who says healthy can’t be convenient? Dinner was ready in 10 minutes flat!

As a snack a bit later, I ate a few handfuls of Kala Beans pineapple kick medley – which is a mix of roasted fava beans and orange-glazed chickpeas with pineapple, blueberries and paprika. It’s a bit of a sweet & spicy kick, and I liked this sort of strange but good combo!

KALA Beans-1

Recently Kala Beans sent me an adorable package of their bean snacks to try out. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of beans. They’re a wonderful plant-based protein source that pack in lots of nutrients, including iron, magnesium and zinc.

KALA beans-2

One of my favorite ways to tout beans and their benefits in conversations is to reference Blue Zones, which has explored the communities around the world where people live the longest to research how they’re doing so and what their secrets are. While these communities differ a lot, they also have a lot of commonalities…. one of which is the daily eating of beans! People in these communities also eat lots of veggies & fruit, little meat, and usually drink wine nearly daily (yes!)… but I digress.

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Healthy Smoothies Made Easy with Green Blender {Review}

Smoothies. They’re kind of a never-ending obsession in my household. It’s an almost daily occurrence in my diet to blend up a bunch of goodness into one nutritious, delicious cup.

Smoothie Collage

While my hubby has his standard go-to smoothie (a chocolate peanut butter protein shake), I like to switch it up. However, sometimes in the busyness of life, I feel like I lack smoothie creativity. I’ll get into a routine of making my same few smoothie favorites. Don’t get me wrong, they’re delicious, but I could use some new smoothie ideas sometimes.

And that’s where Green Blender smoothie delivery service comes in. Recently the NYC-based company reached out to see if I’d like to try them out, and I happily agreed to see what they’re all about. When my delivery arrived, I was like a little kid in a toy store excited to see what was inside.

Green Blender-1

The box contained pre-portioned fruits, veggies, herbs, nuts, spices, and coconut milk for me to make 5 different smoothies (each make 2 servings). Included in the delivery is a recipe sheet for those smoothies, along with info about the smoothies’ benefits and nutritional content.

Green Blender-2

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The Diet Trick That’s Guaranteed to Make You Healthier

Nutrition is such an interesting subject. There are so many dietary theories out there with millions of loyal followers, yet often they conflict with each other.

Dietary Theory books

(Image via the Institute for Integrative Nutrition)

In all honesty, some of them make me cringe a bit. I’m talking to you, Paleo followers that claim they’re “eating like a cave man” yet they buy conventionally raised meat that was likely transported from halfway across the country from animals that had been pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, and fed a diet unnatural to them.

But I digress. Nutrition can definitely be confusing for people, even for someone whose studied nutrition and is really into food like myself. While dietary theories can drastically differ in ideology, there’s one thing that I believe all decent diets have in common: lots of veggies & fruits.


My #1 diet trick is something that I consciously implemented into my daily eats years ago: Eat veggies and/or fruits at every.single.meal. 

It might sound hard to eat at least one veggie or fruit every time you eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but with a bit of planning, I promise you that it’s not. Here are some examples of how I do it:


If I’m quickly throwing together some ravioli or pasta for dinner, I make sure that there’s a green alongside it, like zoodles or string beans. Sometimes it’s a fresh veggie, other times it’s something canned or frozen… whatever works in the moment!

Chocolate cashew banana protein smoothie

Chocolate cashew banana protein smoothie

I’m a smoothie monster. I make one almost every day. What does every single smoothie I make have in it? Either banana or some sort of berries.

Ponte pasta primavera

If I’m out to dinner, I tend to order an entree with a lot of veggies. If my entree happens to not have a lot of veggies, I get a salad as an appetizer. That salad not only nourishes my body, but it cuts the edge off of my hunger, so I’ll eat less of my entree (Leftovers are awesome!).  

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WIAW: My Favorite Eats of the Week

Happy Hump Day!

Harley Christmas bow

Being that it has been quite awhile since I linked up to the What I Ate Wednesday blogger party, I decided to join in on this fun this week. Today’s WIAW post features my favorite eats from the past week – because as any normal food blogger, whenever I eat something tasty, I snap a photo or two!


So what goodies has this vegetarian been munching on?

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Dinner in 10: Black Bean Burger, Cheddar & Ranch Salad

From time to time, people I know will bring up my blog and say things like, “All of your recipes look great, but I think they’re too complicated for me.” While the word “complicated” when referring to cooking is very subjective, and I feel like most of my recipes are not all that difficult or time consuming, I do understand that some people don’t enjoy preparing a meal or care to be savvy in the kitchen, and simply want to be able to eat something they can feel good about that took 15 minutes or less to make.

Guess what? Healthy eating does not have to be time consuming. Sure, it may take more work than, say, pulling through a drive-thru, but it doesn’t need to be a huge, intricate task to make a nutritious dinner. In fact, a lot of my dinners are thrown together really easily. I have a rotation of meals that are on my go-to list when I’m lacking creativity and feel my belly grumbling with hunger, which is how I feel half the time after I workout in the evening. One meal heavily in rotation in my household these days is this salad….

black bean burger salad

I thought of making the black bean burger and ranch dressing from scratch when I shared this with you guys, but then I thought, let’s just keep it simple. Since I’ve been using a frozen black bean burger and store-bought dressing, I’m keeping it real and sharing exactly how I’ve been throwing this salad together with you today. If you’re looking for a healthy, delicious dinner that can be ready fast – 10 minutes tops – this is a meal idea for you.

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Creamy Raspberry Chia Smoothie

While every man, woman, and child is talking about making soup and eating pumpkin everything (both of which I love, might I add), it is feeling steamy here in California. The past several days it has been 90 degrees with a strong, shining sun above – which is hot for San Diego County and the weather-spoiled residents of this area!

I definitely will be happy to see 65-75 degree days come back, especially since my house has no air conditioning and it has felt toasty at home. Until that time comes, my smoothie habit is in overdrive, and I’m going to just keep sharing the new recipes I’ve come up with for refreshing liquid meals. Sound good to you?

raspberry smoothie-4

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