Hot Topics

Why I Love Chia Seeds

If you can’t tell from my recent instagram posts, I am on a chia seed kick.

Yes, I am talking about those strange little, did-I-say-that-right, black beads. Not the terra cotta plants. Worth every black speck in your teeth. Here’s why:


Omega 3’s

These are the “heart healthy fats” you hear about, which may help reduce risk of heart disease. People automatically think of fish when they hear “omega 3’s”, but you can also get them from nuts, seeds and oils.


The fiber in these seeds helps to keep you full. They provide about 5g per 1 tbsp of seeds. Women need about 25g fiber and men need about 38. Many people don’t meet their fiber needs each day, which is such a bummer to me. Besides keeping you full, fiber may help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar in diabetics, relieve digestive problems and help avoid weight gain. Add a tablespoon of chia’s throughout the day and you are well on your way to meeting you fiber needs.

Vitamins & Minerals

Chia seeds provide calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. While many people take a multivitamin to get their vitamins & minerals, it’s always best to get them by choosing a wide variety of foods. Add these in to help with that.


Finally, the buzz-word I am sure you have all been waiting for. I put this one last on my list because, yes, they do contain protein, but it isn’t a huge amount, about 3g per tablespoon. Not a huge contributor, but when paired with another moderate protein containing food it can make a decent dent in your daily needs.

*The RDA for protein is 0.8g/kg for adults. Let’s calculate: Take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.2. That is your weight in kilograms (kg’s) now multiply that number by 0.8 and you have your estimated grams of protein need per day.

Photo Cred: Women’s Health Mag

How I eat them

On the daily I sprinkle some on my morning oatmeal and into my yogurt with a little cereal for an afternoon snack. They add a little bit of a nutty flavor, which I like. You can also try making a “chia seed pudding”, which is all over pinterest. When chia seeds are mixed with a liquid or something moist they expand and get kind of gelatinous. Or add some into to a baked good like bread or cookies.

Whenever people think of a health food, especially when it has a crazy name, they think “expensive”. I got a bag from Aldi for less than $3, and it has lasted me over a month.

Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website if you’d like more information, or are interested in any other topics:

Cakes, Cookies & Desserts

Frosted Chocolate Snack Cake

Chocolate is something you just can’t deny yourself. It’s just wrong. And I will admit that I have been not denying myself like I mad woman all week. Stress, fatigue, it all lead me to the community candy jars at work, usually a good ol’ Charleston Chew does the trick. But when it “does the trick” a few times a day, I can’t help but think I could be fueling my body with a little more nutrients.


I am all about incorporating sweets into your daily diet without having to feel guilty about it, so I took advantage of this weekend and spent a little time in the kitchen working on this recipe. 

It gives you the indulgent chocolate taste you want, but doesn’t weight you down. Fantastic.


I will admit it isn’t the same as your grandma’s ooey gooey, butter loaded brownies, but is a very good alternative when a chocolate craving hits instead of devouring a snickers. I would equate it to a fiber one brownie— you can tell its healthier, but more than does the trick. Plus, my favorite part… these pieces are pretty darn large, dare I say about TWICE the size of a fiber one brownie. The more the merrier indeed!



  • 1/2 cup pureed butternut squash (may also sub pumpkin)
  • 2/3 container 100cal greek yogurt (vanilla, pumpkin, or chocolate suggested)
  • 1 Egg + 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup stevia
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used cashew)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For The Frosting

  • 1/3 container 100cal greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8×8 baking pan
  2. Combine squash, yogurt, and eggs in a bowl. Add in remaining ingredients.
  3. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle batter with chocolate chips.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean
  5. Allow to cool.
  6. While cake is cooling, combine frosting ingredients and mix well. (This can be done right in the yogurt container)
  7. Once cake is cooled, frost and cut into 9 slices.


Now time to round out the weekend with a trip to the dog park with my boys and some pumpkin carving. Will the carving have something to do with Theo? I would say the chances are pretty good… I just can’t NOT be obsessed with this cute guy.


Main Dishes · Vegetarian & Vegan

Black Bean “Meatballs”

I have really been trying to watch my spending recently since we are working towards saving to buy a house- Woof… Naturally, my downfall is groceries. I love going to the grocery store, and typically go more than once per week. Half because I forgot something and half because I  like going. And more often than not, I come out with way more than I went into get… Oops? When we moved out of downtown Detroit we literally though “we will be so much closer to grocery stores”… dietitian priorities….

I usually do the bulk of my shopping on Tuesdays, because that is my day off and Aldi is so much more bearable at 11am in the middle of the week- I get “cart-rage” when there are too many people in an aisle.  So, when it was Sunday, and I realized I hadn’t bought/planned anything for meatless Monday, I was determined to get a little creative and use whatever I had on hand.

The result? Black bean “meatballs” and me questioning why I had never tried this before…

This meal cost a total of less than $3. And I was rounding up, seriously. That’s $1.50 per serving. **Holds for applause**


Black Bean “Meatballs”

Yield: 10 medium-sized Meatballs

Serves: 2 (5 meatballs each)


  • 1 cup canned black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients except oregano into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Form 10 medium –sized meatballs. Place meatballs in a greased mini-muffin pan or on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake for ~12-15 minutes, until no longer fragile.

Nutrition Information: 153.5 calories, 0.39g fat, 28.1g carbohydrates, 8.8g protein


I made some whole wheat rotini, warmed garlic-herb pasta sauce, and steamed broccoli to go with, adding a finishing touch of parmesan and oregano. My final nutrition count for the meal: 458.5 calories, 4.2g fat, 87.3g carbohydrate, 24.2g protein.

As we were eating Joe says to me “You could even add a little worsterchire sauce to these for a more “meaty” taste.” …. The student has become the master? Yeah right… But good tip, my dear, we’ll give it a try.

Feel free to adjust the spices as you like. If you haven’t noticed we LOVE cumin, and add it to just about everything. I feel like it adds a little need warmth, but to each their own.

Penny pinching and a happy tummy make for a great day.

Main Dishes · Vegetarian & Vegan

Butternut Squash Mac N Cheese

I am so excited to write this post. Why? Because this is quite possibly my favorite recipe..ever..

  1. It is so creamy and delectable
  2. It is super healthy
  3. It’s lactose free!!!! 

Okay, maybe #3 will only excite a few people, but it makes me ecstatic. Joe probably appreciates not having to hear me complain about a stomach ache, too. Did you know parmesan is lactose-free? It’s fantastic.


As always, this recipe is super simple and super fast. I made only 2 servings, you can easily scale this up to serve more. I also like this dish super saucy (because if it were acceptable to drink it I would..) So you could always just add more pasta to serve more.

img_2169Butternut Squash Mac N Cheese

Serves 2


  • 1.5 cups whole wheat rotini, dry
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cashew milk (or your favorite type)
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • panko bread crumbs (optional)Extra parmesan (optional)


  • Begin boiling a pot of water for you pasta, preparing as package directs
  • In a microwave safe dish, add butternut squash and enough water to cover. Microwave for 5-8 minute or until soft
  • In a blender blend squash, milk, parmesan, and spices. Blend until nice and smooth.
  • When pasta is cooked and drained, return to pot and add your sauce. Cook on low heat until warmed.
  • Plate pasta, sprinkling with panko breadcrumbs and/or parmesan if desired.

Nutrition Information per serving: 293 calories, 4.75g fat, 12.9g protein,  59g carbohydrates

I whipped up some meatballs to top it off. A little ground meat, oats, Worcestershire garlic powder, egg, and whatever other spices I am feeling at the time. Bake or cook stove top.



Now off to the dog park with this little nugget pie.


Baked Pumpkin Donuts

On Saturday I went to an Apple Orchard and right when I walked into their little barn store it was like I hit a wall: A wall of sugary, fried, pumpkin-y goodness.

I am pretty sure it isn’t truly fall until you have had this experience. And you sure wouldn’t want to make it to winter without it.

As a dietitian, I am all about a balanced diet- and that means treating yourself to a less-than-healthy treat now and again, I mean really.. Live a little!

I will also say, that as a dietitian, dessert is a staple in my household. I don’t have a sweet tooth.. I think all of my teeth are sweet teeth.

I don’t deprive myself, so I allow myself a little treat     Every.    Single.    Evening.  YUP. You heard right, I have dessert every day. No shame. No, it isn’t always a giant slice of cake, but more like a meringue cookie, glass of hot cocoa, or a shared piece of my most recent baked good.

Well, most days. Some days if I have a big dinner I won’t feel the need, however this is the exception, not the rule.

My trip to the orchard made me want to give a baked pumpkin donut recipe a try, so that’s what I did. AND… They turned out fabulous. Nice and cakey. They even got the Joe Stamp Of Approval. (He can be brutally honest when it comes to my food… which is why I love him)


Even Theo was wanting some…


So, here you go. Give them a try and tell me what you think!

Baked Pumpkin Donuts

Yield: 8 Donuts



  • ¼ cup Unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 Egg + 1 egg white
  • ½ cup Pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup Light sour cream
  • ¾ cup Stevia
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ heaping tsp Nutmeg
  • ½ tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 cup Flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon


  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease donut pan.
  • Combine first nine ingredients (until flour) in a bowl and mix well.
  • Add flour, mixing until combined and lump-free.
  • Pour batter into donut pan. (Most donut pans have 6 wells, reserve batter for 2 more)
  • Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Allow donuts to cool slightly. Meanwhile, combine ¼ cup sugar and remaining 1 tbsp cinnamon in a plastic zip-lock bag.
  • While donuts are warm, not hot, place them in the bag of cinnamon sugar to coat.
  • Donuts are best served immediately.

Nutrition Information Per Donut: 120 calories, 1.3g fat, 2.7g protein, 23.3g carbohydrate

A couple of tips

  • A few of my donuts had trouble with the sugar coating sticking, so I simply misted them with non-stick spray first and it worked like a charm.
  • If you don’t plan on eating these right away, you could make the donuts ahead of time and NOT coat them. When you are ready to eat them nuke them for a few seconds until they are warm and then coat them. (otherwise the sugar coating will dissolve if it sits too long- no bueno)


 Naked donuts still lookin’ delish.

Delicious and only 120 calories? Say it isn’t so!

Go ahead and have dessert tonight. You won’t regret it.

Main Dishes · Vegetarian & Vegan

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Tacos With Avocado Crema

Sunday, the day of rest prep. That means time for this girl to sit down, meal plan for the week, and make a grocery list.

Every Monday in the Kokx-Christensen household is Meatless Monday.

  1. Because we like eating plants.
  2. It keeps me on my cooking-toes and makes me try new things

I make sure to still have a source of protein in the meal, usually some sort of bean or meat alternative. One of my favorite dishes has become black bean tacos. Super simple. Super flavorful. And, I usually make it a bit different each time, which keeps it interesting.

For this recipe I added in come cubed sweet potatoes, served them in crunchy taco shells, and whipped up a little avocado crema.


This recipe serves 2. Each serving is for 3 tacos. I grilled a little bit of zucchini to go on the side. Savoring the last little bit of summer produce while I can!

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Tacos with Avocado Crema


Yield: 2, 3 taco servings

Total time: ~30 minutes


  • 1-2 tsp EVOO
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • ½ cup cubed sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed & drained
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • 2-3 tsp taco seasoning*
  • ½ cup shredded lettuce
  • 6 crunchy taco shells
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 Tbsp fat-free mayo
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp time zest (optional, but strongly encouraged)
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives (optional)


  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add sweet potatoes and red onion, sauté.
  2. When sweet potatoes soften, add in corn and black beans. Cook for ~3 minutes.
  3. Add taco seasoning to skillet, being sure to distribute evenly.
  4. In a small bowl mash avocado. Add mayo, lime juice, lime zest and mix until there are no lumps.
  5. Fill taco shells with lettuce and bean mixture, topping with diced tomato, avocado crema, and sprinkle with chives and cilantro.

Nutrition Information per 3 tacos    397 calories, 13.5g fat, 11.35g protein, 52.75g carbohydrates, 13g dietary fiber

*for the taco seasoning, I used a mix of ½ tbsp chili powder, ~1/3 tbsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp dried oregano, ½ tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin, and a dash of salt and pepper

Joe topped his with Sriracha… like he does most foods… Not me. I like to be able to feel my lips.