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.

at home workout featured image

At-Home Fitness Equipment – is it Worth it?

By: Jeremiah Rowe,BS, CSCS, CPPS, USAW – Head Strength Coach of Case Specific Wellness

Let me start this article with a “congratulations” to everyone out there with their own home gym. You guys are the doomsday preppers of the fitness world and you didn’t even know it! Of course, who could have known that in 2020 we’d be faced with a plague-like situation unlike anything we’ve seen in the last 100 years (barring others that have arisen with less impact, shout-out Ebola, Zika, and Swine Flu).

Economic factors aside, I find myself pleasantly surprised by the amount of disappointment that I’ve seen, not from a lack of social interaction, not from a restriction on restaurant access, but because of gym shut-downs. I’d say this has easily been the biggest inconvenience that I’ve heard complaints from, and I have to say that it’s refreshing. I’m undoubtedly biased being in the fitness industry myself, but I love the level of priority that I’ve seen placed on physical fitness for so many. I’ve even seen facilities that are renting out their equipment to members while shut down. That is SO FREAKING COOL.

Now, with that in mind, not all of us were well-prepared for such restrictions on access to fitness equipment, and not every gym is able to rent out equipment to their members. I’ve spent a lot of time writing and filming at-home exercise programs for people that only have access to minimal equipment. A few of those, with more to come, can be accessed here:

  • https://youtu.be/Y4kW6W7VYR8
  • https://youtu.be/8ovBvd9lDEY
  • https://youtu.be/gf7evd2GJac

Since there’s no apparent end in sight for this virus, though, I wanted to find a more comprehensive way to help everyone suffering from the loss of their beloved fitness centers. I thought it might be beneficial to create a list of some at-home fitness equipment that I think will be useful to have, not only in times of worldwide shutdown, but when travelling, during off-hours for your facility, and maybe when you’re just feeling motivated at home and want to “get after it.” At the time of writing this, I’m alarmed at the number of items that are sold out, as well as the price gouging on what Is available. Take these as recommendations , but don’t be afraid to look elsewhere for similar pieces that are more affordable.

Doorway Suspension Training System

Overview: One of the toughest challenges that I’ve faced with writing at-home workouts is finding a way to do pulling movements. Without some kind of bands/straps, options can be highly limited. The link included is for a full kit that includes a few adaptable pieces that make it multi-functional. 

Price: This kit is listed at $64.99. Like I said, it has extras included. All I will say is that I got a set of doorway straps at TJ Maxx for $12.

Link: https://amzn.to/2QPeXGl

Tubing Band Kit

Overview: Again, this kid includes a variety of different bands and parts that allow for many uses/resistances. The price seems high at face value, but if you ever priced out resistance bands, this is great value considering what you get.

Price: $45.99

Link: https://amzn.to/2WMgLE3

“Loop” Bands

Overview: Any of my clients will tell you how often we use these kinds of bands during our sessions. At first they seem one-dimensional, but you’d be surprised at how many ways there are to use them for a great workout! At the time I’m writing this, there are only two color options left in stock. I hope they restock them quickly. I suggest getting a few oranges, a purple, and a red, at least. 

Price: Variable

Link: https://amzn.to/2WMmiu0

A Doorway Pull-Up Bar

Overview: Most people who are new to training can’t do pull-ups. Don’t let that get in your head. Even if you can’t do them, these door frame-mounting bars make great anchors for bands and suspension trainers to do other vertical pulling movements. Also, those loop bands I just mentioned above? They make for a great accessory to help you do pull-ups when attached to the bar and looped under your feet/knees.

Price: This model is listed at $56.99. It appealed to me because it has the elevated handles that get you out of the doorway. I will gladly admit this isn’t necessary. A simple model will work just fine. Also, look around. I bought mine at DICK’s for about $15.

Link: https://amzn.to/3an4tG3

Adjustable Dumbbells

Overview: Ah, adjustable dumbbells. The quintessential tool for a basic home gym; the crème de la crème; the upper echelon of at home equipment… aaaaaaaaaaaand the priciest, by far. Look, no one NEEDS these for their home work-outs, but you open Pandora’s Box to an entirely new universe of options if you have them. I personally prefer PowerBlock brand to Bowflex. However, they’re on EXTREME backorder right now because of shut-downs in Minnesota, where they’re made, as well as everyone else across the globe buying up their stock. So if you’re in a rush and committed to the home-gym life, Bowflex is here for you. Aside from that, you might check Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist in your area.

Price: $329.99 for a 5-50lb kit.

Link: https://amzn.to/3dw9LRB

Carpet Sliders

Overview: It feels good to add these to this list. The price is right and the exercise options are endless with them. For those of you who live in a home with hardwood floors, a couple of dish towels will work just fine.

Price: $13.14

Link: https://amzn.to/2JgXDpD

Medicine Ball

Overview: This is one of those ones that could be an immensely useful tool in your arsenal. Med balls are great for conditioning work that is low-impact on your joints. There are a million variations of exercises using them, and I like the bounciness of this type of ball for allowing maximal speed in exercises that require slamming.

Price: I’m listing this ball because I trust the SPRI brand, but feel free to look at other, cheaper options. The 10lb ball is listed at around $51

Link: https://amzn.to/33QopOU

 I hope that you choose to pick up some of these pieces, and I’d love to hear your feedback on other equipment that you find essential! I’m sure I missed something that I’ll kick myself for later, but I wanted to post this ASAP to get my suggestions out there for all of you! Good luck and stay healthy!

Author: Jeremiah Rowe, BS, CSCS, CPPS, USAW
Head Strength Coach of Case Specific Wellness
Mediterranean-Salad

Mediterranean Salad

Dietitians have been long-time fans of the Mediterranean diet for its heart health benefits, but a recent study published by the British Medical Journal have found new benefits for gut health, specifically for the elderly.

We decided that is a good enough reason to share with you one of our favorite Mediterranean-inspired salad recipes. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 6 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/3 cup reduced sodium feta
  • 1/4 cup unsalted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 15 oz can chick peas, drained (optional)

Directions

  • Make dressing by whisking together olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (separation is normal, just mix/shake it up again before using).
  • Toss together the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.
  • drizzle dressing on top as desired, and it is ready to serve!

An Extra Tip

To add a little crunch to your salad, consider roasting the chick peas! I recommend drizzling them with 1 Tbsp olive oil, dusting them with paprika and garlic salt, and roasting them on 400 degrees F in the oven for 20-30 minutes, tossing them periodically.

This is a huge salad that can easily be eaten throughout the week. To keep your salad fresh longer, keep the dressing in a separate container and drizzle it on right before you eat it.

Happy eating!

Frozen-Chocolate-Banana-PB-Bites

Frozen Chocolate Covered PB Banana Bites

In need of a sweet, yet somewhat healthy treat to share with your ~lover~ this Valentine’s Day? Whether you’re enjoying a romantic evening with your soulmate or having a sappy rom-com and wine night, we’ve got you covered.

Image Credit: Not Enough Cinnamon Blog

Ingredients

  • 4 bananas (the riper, the sweeter!)
  • 1/3 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 12oz semisweet chocolate chips (carob chips to make it vegan!)
  • coarse sea salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Peel and slice bananas into “pennies”.
  2. Make cute lil’ peanut butter sandwiches with your banana pennies.
  3. Let ’em freeze for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Heat chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 20-30 seconds until consistency is just melty, gooey goodness.
  5. Using two forks, dip the frozen PB banana bites into the chocolate and lay them out on a baking sheet with wax paper. Sprinkle with sea salt if you’re feeling wild & dangerous.
  6. Freeze them again for at least another 30 minutes.
  7. Turn on The Notebook, keep tissues close by, and dig into these delicious little babies. Happy V-Day 🙂 <3