oats

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

By: Devon Kroesche, intern & future dietitian

Pumpkin spice season is upon us, folks. Buckle up and get ready for pumpkin EVERYTHING. Are we mad about it? Not. One. Bit.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

  • Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is involved with immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication.
  • Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, which improves digestion and keeps you feeling satisfied for hours.
  • Pumpkin, like most other fruits and vegetables, is high in water. This provides you with extra fluid that is aborbed more slowly, keeping you hydrated throughout the day.

As if you needed another excuse to eat pumpkin everything, what better way to start your morning than with a taste of fall that is healthy and satisfying? Whip this up the night before and it will be ready to eat in the morning. Whether you need something quick to grab before you run out the door, or just want to make mornings at home a little more relaxed, you will be so glad you made this.

Click here to order Daily Whey vanilla protein: https://www.amazon.com/Vanilla-Daily-Whey-lbs-909/dp/B00G7HABUY

Whay You’ll Need

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 scoop Daily Whey vanilla protein
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • sprinkle pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 Tbsp dried cranberries (optional)

What to Do

  • Combine oats, protein, almond milk, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl or jar. Let sit overnight, or at least a few hours.
  • Sprinkle cranberries or other desired toppings and enjoy!

That’s it! Super easy, minimal clean up, and you get a few minutes back in your morning. Use them wisely (read: hit that snooze alarm).

Meet our Blogger-in-Chief

Devon is a 2nd year graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying to be a registered dietitian. She enjoys surfing, farmer’s markets, and will definitely ask if she can pet your dog. She runs Case Specific’s social media, blog, newsletter, and marketing.

Be sure to follow @casespecificnutrition on Instagram and Facebook for more fun nutrition & wellness content!

sheet pan pizza

Sheet Pan Pizza

By: Devon Kroesche, Media Intern and Future Dietitian

A pizza recipe? On a dietitian’s blog? You heard that right. How can pizza possibly be considered healthy? Let’s break this down.

Let’s start by establishing the idea that there are no good foods or bad foods. Pizza is a food commonly considered in the dieting world as a “bad or unhealthy food”, which is simply a misunderstanding about food and how it functions in our bodies.

All foods contain a certain ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fats. Food contains calories, and calories are no more than a unit of measurement that describes the amount of energy contained in a certain food. Simply put, food is our source of energy. Pizza is a source of energy.

So why has pizza been so vilified by our health conscious friends? It is a food that is considered to be energy dense – meaning that it contains a large number of calories when compared to other foods of similar size and weight. That makes it an easy food to overeat when consumed by itself, rather than as part of a balanced meal.

So how do we make pizza part of a balanced meal? That is exactly what we did with this recipe. We added veggies as a topping, topped our slice with a handful of leafy greens, and ate it alongside some salmon (a lean source of protein, rich in nutrients). We also made some minor swaps to pack in more nutrients – we used whole wheat dough to provide more fiber, used a homemade sauce to limit added sugar and excess sodium, and used low-fat mozzarella cheese to cut down on saturated fat. The results were delicious and satisfying. We hope you think so, too.

sheet pan pizza
Face eats first with pizza this good 🙂

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 lb pizza dough (whole wheat if possible, homemade or store bought), chilled for at least 30 minutes
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes halved, plus more for topping
  • 8oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4oz tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Tablespoon oregano
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 cup part skim lowfat mozzarella shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 zucchini, sliced thinly into coins
  • 2 cups arugula or spinach for topping

What to Do:

  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a sauce pan, combine cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt & pepper, 1 tsp thyme and garlic cloves on high heat. Stir for 3 minutes, then add honey, peeled tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir until combined. Use a fork to smash tomatoes if necessary.
  • In a small bowl, mix together red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper and the last 1 tsp thyme.
  • Cover sheet pan with generous amount of olive oil. Spread chilled dough across sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil on dough.
  • Spread sauce on dough. Add zucchini coins. Spread cheese evenly and add herb mixture.
  • Bake in oven on top rack for 15 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  • Top with basil leaves, arugula, and halved cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil with desired. Enjoy!
Dessert was two Lily’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups

Mexican-Street-Corn-Pasta-Salad-canva

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Because plain ol’ pasta salad is for amateurs.

By: Devon L Kroesche, Social Media Intern

Confession: As a lifelong vegetarian, my favorites at any BBQ is always the SIDES. This Fourth of July, my plate was piled up with two of my go-to’s, pasta salad and corn on the cob. Of course, this inspired me to combine the two into a creative side dish that will impress all of your fellow BBQ goers.

For this dish, I used Banza cavatappi pasta, but feel free to switch it up. I’m a big fan of chickpea pasta for the slow digesting carbohydrates and higher protein content, but whole grain pasta is also a great option. And you don’t have to use cavatappi pasta either. Macaroni, elbow, and rigatoni all do very well in pasta salad.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 ears of corn, or 2.5 cans
  • one box of Banza cavatappi pasta, cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cojita cheese (alternative option: queso fresco)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 green onions
  • 3 jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

What to Do:

  • If using ears of corn, boil for around 5 minutes in salty water. Allow to cool and then cut kernels off the cob.
  • Cook pasta al dente and set aside to cool.
  • In a medium sized bowl, combine mayonnaise and Greek yogurt until evenly mixed.
  • In a large bowl, combine corn, pasta, red onion, green onion and jalapenos.
  • Add mayonnaise-Greek yogurt mixture and mix until even.
  • Add lime juice, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and salt and black pepper.
  • Top with Cojita cheese and cilantro. Serve chilled.

Other optional add-on’s: black beans, diced cucumber or tomato, avocado. Get creative!

That CLOSE UP, though.
Mexican Street Corn image

Memorial Day BBQ Reinvented

By: Devon Kroesche, RD to Be

I don’t know about you, but with everything going on lately I almost forgot about the upcoming holiday weekend. That being said, there is a good chance your Memorial Day Weekend is going to look a little different than past years. We may not be able to crowd outside to enjoy a red white & blue parade, and maybe your beach vacation got cancelled or postponed. Luckily, pandemic or not, summertime is just around the corner.

Whether you’re having friends and family over for some backyard burgers and brews, or just relaxing with your immediate household, we’ve got some all-American recipes for you to enjoy. So fire up the grill and let’s get cookin’!

Watermelon Feta Salad

recipe adapted from Tasty. Serves 4

What You’ll Need

  • 3 cups watermelon cubed
  • 6-8 cups dark leafy greens
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

What to Do:

  • Make dressing: Whisk together lemon juice, honey, water, olive oil, and a pinch of salt
  • Toss together watermelon, greens, and feta. Drizzle dressing overtop.
  • Enjoy!

Grilled Portobello ShroomBurger

Serving suggestion. Serves 2

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • dash of black pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper

What to Do:

  • Remove stems from mushrooms and wipe down with a wet paper towel (do NOT run mushrooms under water)
  • Whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Brush mushrooms with mixture.
  • Grill for 2-3 minutes on both sides. Serve.
  • Pictured: grilled portobello mushrooms with spring greens, tomato, and avocado on whole grain Ezekiel bread. Also pairs well with Swiss cheese!

Kickin’ Street Corn

Serves 4

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 ears of corn, with silk removed but husks still on
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cotija cheese
  • 2 limes
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • garlic salt to taste

What to Do:

  • Peel husks back and remove silks only. Let corn (with husks still on) sit in a saltwater bath for 10 minutes.
  • Place corn still in husks on the grill for 10-12 minutes or until husks are lightly charred
  • Melt butter and once husks are removed from corn, brush each ear with butter. Sprinkle with garlic salt.
  • Brush one side of ears of corn with light sour cream, and sprinkle cotija cheese and cayenne pepper. Add chopped cilantro and squeeze half one lime’s worth of juice over top.

Frozen Red White & Blue Fruit Kabobs

Serves 7

What You’ll Need:

  • carton strawberries, rinsed and sliced in half
  • 1/2 carton blueberries, rinsed
  • 2 bananas, peeled
  • metal or wooden skewers

What to Do:

  • Once fruit is rinsed and chopped, simply stick on skewers in desired pattern.
  • Freeze at least 1-2 hours and enjoy!
Mother's Day Quiche portrait

Veggie Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust

By: Devon L Kroesche, Media Intern and RDtoBe

Whether you are hosting Mother’s Day brunch or headed to a potluck with friends, this recipe is sure to impress. The best part? It is SO easy, and you probably already have most of the ingredients!

The key to keeping quiche simple is using what is already in your kitchen. Feel free to improvise with the add-ins and spices. If you still have leftovers from tacos on Cinco de Mayo, toss those in! Have some leftover veggies or sausage or ham or Parmesan cheese or feta from the night before, go for it! Just make sure any meat or fish is cooked to temperature before being added.

(recipe adapted from Cooking Light)

What You’ll Need:

  • pie pan
  • nonstick spray
  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes
  • mandoline or food processor with a vegetable slicer attachment
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1/3 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

What to Do:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray pie pan with nonstick spray. Peel sweet potatoes and use mandoline or food processor to slice thinly. Cut a few slices in half for the edges and arrange on pan, making sure every inch is well covered.
  • Spray again with nonstick spray and bake for 20 minutes.
  • In a skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Add diced onions and peppers and cook for 5 minutes on medium high heat. Add tomatoes and spinach and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and egg whites, milk, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  • Once crust is done, remove from oven and turn temperature up to 375 F. Add veggies, then egg mixture, then top with cheese. Bake for 35 minutes.

Bring this to mom’s house today, and she will DEFINITELY claim credit for your exceptional cooking skills. Let her gloat. It is her day, after all. Happy Mother’s Day!

Shakshuka

Shakshuka: The Comfort Dish You’ve Never Heard Of

By: Devon Kroesche, Media Intern and RD to Be

Eggs for dinner? Count me in! Shakshuka is a Mediterranean dish, tracing its origins back to North Africa. A common savory breakfast in countries like Israel, shakshuka is a warmcomfort dish that can be eaten at any time of day.

There are many variations of this recipe, but the base consists of a tomato sauce flavored with garlic, onions, cumin, cayenne pepper and paprika, with eggs dropped in and poached in the sauce.

Grab a loaf of freshly baked bread and use it to scoop and soak up the delicious dish, and travel across the country from the comfort of your own kitchen! 

What You’ll Need

cast-iron skillet
loaf of fresh baked bread (not sliced, you’ll want to rip off pieces to scoop up the shakshuka)
28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 6oz can tomato paste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large eggs
1 onion, diced finely
1 bell pepper, diced
3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/3 cup tahini
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
optional: small bunch chopped fresh cilantro

What to Do:

  • Heat olive oil in cast iron skillet on low to medium heat. Add chopped onions, bell pepper, and jalapeño peppers. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic, cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Cook 1-2 minutes.
  • Add peeled tomatoes (including liquid) and tomato paste. Using a large spoon, slowly break apart peeled tomatoes until only small chunks remain. Bring to a simmer.
  • Form 4 wells in your sauce, adding one egg to each well. Cover your skillet and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until whites are cooked but yolk is still runny.
  • In a bowl, warm tahini until it is a runny liquid texture. Remove skillet from heat and drizzle tahini over your dish and top with feta. Add cilantro if desired.
  • Scoop eggs and some extra sauce into individual bowls, and eat by tearing pieces of bread and scooping it up (no utensils required). Serves 2.
Earth Day Blog Cover photo

3 Easy Plant-Based Recipes to Celebrate Earth Day

By: Devon Kroesche

It’s no secret that eating more plants is good for the environment. According to a study conducted at the University of Oxford, a plant-based diet is one of the most dynamic ways to reduce your carbon footprint. It reduces water and land usage, reduces greenhouse gas production, and reduces production of many other toxic pollutants.

Eating more plants can also be great for your health! Consuming plants, especially in their whole form can provide you a rich source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Most Americans do not meet the recommendations for daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

Does that mean everyone needs to become vegan to be healthy? Certainly not. In fact, eating ONLY plants can make it easy for you to miss out on some key nutrients if you are not very vigilant.

That being said, a diet with lots of variety – different types of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, eggs, dairy (if you can tolerate it), meat, poultry and fish can all contribute to a healthy lifestyle when consumed within reasonable amounts.

How can you fit more plants in your diet, meeting your recommended daily servings AND making a positive environmental impact? Try making at least half of your plate fruits or vegetables at every meal. Go meatless for dinner once or twice a week. Small changes can add up to create a big impact, both on your health and the environment. Check out some of my favorite recipes for a day of plant-based eating:

Breakfast: Scrambled Tofu Breakfast Tacos

Enjoy with a cup of coffee (or a mimosa, no judgement here)

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu, drained of water and crumbled
  • can black beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 cup sliced bell peppers
  • 1 cup sliced diced yellow onion
  • optional (but recommended): guacamole and salsa

What to Do:

  • Sauté peppers and onions in a frying pan on low heat with olive oil until tender.
  • Add tofu and taco seasoning and cook for 5-7 minutes on medium to low heat, stirring frequently. Stir in black beans for the last 2-3 minutes.
  • Place mixture on tortillas and  top with guacamole and salsa if desired. Serves two people.

Lunch: Harvest Grain Salad

Can be served warm or cold. Refreshing and quite filling as well!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup farro, dry
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 cup crushed walnuts
  • 2 apples, sliced and cubed into small pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, diced finely
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

What to Do:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  • Combine farro and broth in a large saucepan and cover. Bring to a simmer. Lower to low-medium heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes until farro is tender.
  • Arrange butternut squash, rosemary, and onion on a baking sheet, toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  • Zest lemon into a small bowl. Squeeze lemon juice into same bowl. Whisk together with honey and remainder of olive oil.
  • In a large bowl, combine farro, butternut squash, onion, rosemary, dressing, and the rest of the ingredients and serve. Enjoy!

Dinner: Lentil Pasta Marinara with Vegan Sausage

Best when paired with some vino, a sunset, and good company.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 box lentil pasta of choice (I used black bean spaghetti, but was not thrilled with the consistency. Chick pea pasta seems to be the closest to regular pasta that I’ve found.)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • red bell pepper diced finely
  • 1/2 yellow onion diced finely
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 2 vegan sausage (I use Fieldroast links, available at Giant Eagle in the refrigerated produce section)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

What to Do:

  • In a medium sized pot, bring 4-6 cups water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.
  • In a frying pan, saute garlic, peppers and onions on medium heat with 2 Tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes. Add grape tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Add lentil pasta to hot water, cook for 5-7 minutes until al dente.
  • In a small saucepan, warm marinara sauce until simmering.
  • In a small frying pan, heat vegan sausage on all sides, turning frequently.
  • Drain pasta, serve on a plate topped with marinara, sauteed vegetables, marinara, and sliced sausage. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do! Happy Earth Day.

Devon is Case Specific Nutrition’s Social Media intern. She is a second year graduate student in the Dietitian Nutritionist Program at the University of Pittsburgh. She enjoys cooking, hiking, and petting every dog in sight.

Positive Self Talk

The Impact of Self Talk

By: Laine Greenawalt, MS, RDN, LDN, CSSD

Reaching your optimal potential requires constant mental engagement. “Self-talk” is an essential component of cognitive control and can either enhance or inhibit performance.

Positive vs. Negative

Positive self-talk can raise your self-esteem and encourage you to remain in the present rather than focus on past negative thoughts, feelings, or performances. In comparison, negative self-talk can cause us to engage in behavior that reaffirms your negative thoughts. This creates a dangerous loop where the original negatives thoughts become reality. Developing strategies that allow us to transform negative thinking into positive thinking is beneficial for making and sticking to healthy lifestyle changes. Statements such as “I can’t”, “it’s too hard,” or “what’s the point” are common laments we hear from clients when trying to build new habits. Use the following techniques to help yourself stay motivated and track with positive self-talk.

How do we change these thoughts?

By recognizing our thought patterns and coupling them with “thought stoppage” techniques and positive mantras, we can redirect our attention and therefore our behavior. 

Remember: Negative thoughts lead to negative feelings and negative behaviors which in turn result in poor performance or failed habit change. This pattern exemplifies the importance of eliminating negative thoughts.

Negative thoughts > Negative Feelings + Negative Behaviors = Negative outcomes

Be the change.

Identify a trigger word that works for you (an easy option would be to use the word “stop”). As a negative thought enters your mind, tell yourself to “stop”, followed by a true positive statement. For example, after saying “stop”, say to yourself “Hang in there”. Chances are, you’ve done it in the past, and you can use this knowledge to push through the negative thoughts and feelings. 

Key Point: Select your individual trigger word and short positive statement in advance. Make it something you can act on immediately. Building mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness when it comes to optimal performance.  

Try this.

Mantras are a form of mindful mediation where you repeat a series of phrases over and over. Things like “I am at peace with what was, what is, and what will be”, “I am enough”, “Where I am is exactly where I should be”, “I change my thoughts, I change my world”. When getting started, it is beneficial to say the words out loud because this involves both hearing and feeling.