A “Toast” to Registered Dietitians

March is an exciting time of year for nutrition professionals. First of all, it’s National Nutrition Month, and second, today is National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day! For those who don’t know, a registered dietitian (RD) has a degree in nutrition, dietetics, or a related field, has completed an internship, and has passed a registration exam. The path to becoming  a RD isn’t a walk in the park – the required coursework is grueling, the selection criteria for internships is extensive, and the competition is fierce. Then, after completing the internship (which varies in length from about 9 months up to 2 years+) there’s a big exam to study for! I am very proud to say that the hard work has paid off and I love what I do each day as a RD.  So, in the spirit of celebrating all of the RDs out there, here is a delicious toast…

Coconut Almond Toast

  • 1 slice whole wheat toast
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
  • 1/2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Toss the whole wheat bread in the toaster, then slather the almond butter on top. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut, dark chocolate chips and enjoy!img_4491
Coconut Almond Toast: Tara Tested, Tara Approved! Just
this month I discovered how delicious toasted coconut is. I used Bob’s Red Mill Unsweetened Coconut Flakes and placed about 2 cups on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I placed the baking sheet in the oven (preheated to 375 degrees F) and baked the flakes for about 3-5 minutes. They became fragrant and a beautiful golden brown color very quickly – be careful not to burn! My mouth started to water as I thought of this toast idea and it did not disappoint. A perfectly healthy and sweet treat to celebrate National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day!

Beginner’s Luck – Key Lime Pie

We celebrated my Dad’s birthday a couple weekends ago, and rather than making a standard cake, I decided to do something different. I knew he liked key lime pie, and I had just had an amazing slice of it down the shore, so I thought I would give it a whirl at home. To my surprise, it was very easy to make and also quite convenient (I made it Thursday and it was fine sitting in the refrigerator until we dug in on Saturday). Here’s the recipe:

Key Lime Pie

  • 1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • large pinch of sea salt
  • 7 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1.5 tbsp grated lime zest
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
  • 2/3 cup lime juice (about 6 limes)
  • 1 container whipped topping

For the topping: Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt in a bowl and stir until combined. Add the melted butter and mix untilimg_3929-1 the crumbs are evenly coated. Pour the buttery crumbs into your pie dish and press into the bottom and sides of the dish. You may use the bottom of a spoon or cup, or just your fingers! Try to spread the crumbs evenly so that your crust is the same thickness throughout. Pop the dish in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned.

For the filling: Zest limes into a medium bowl so that you have about 1.5 tbsp of zest. (A real zester works wonders, in the past I had had to use a cheese grater and the difference is amazing!) Add the egg yolks to the bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the eggs are a light yellow and have thickened – about 5 minutes. Add the can of sweetened condensed milk and beat for about 3 more minutes. Add the juice from the zested limes and stir into the milk mixture until combined. Pour the filling into your pie crust and bake for another 10 minutes. Let the pie cool before you add the whipped topping!

Key Lime Pie: Tara Tested, Tara, family, and friends approved! My Dad was the most important critic for this recipe and he gave stellar reviews – success! The filling was packed with lime flavor, but it wasn’t overwhelmingly tart and the whipped topping added just the right amount of sweetness. The graham cracker crust was crunchy and delicious. I suggest making the crumbs by hand rather than using a food processor so you get some bigger pieces. All in all, it was a great birthday dessert and definitely a recipe that I will repeat in the future.

National Donut Day Update

Happy National Donut Day! It’s been a little over a year since the beginning of my quest to eat a donut in all 50 states and I’ve made some progress. Since returning home to NJ last summer, I have been able to cross more local states off my list, bringing my total tally to 23. I’ve even added a foreign country to my list!

Federal Donuts was the stop in Philadelphia, PA – cake donuts aren’t my ultimate favorite, but the flavor options were unique and delicious. In New Jersey, it was Montclair Bread Company and the ultimate chocolate frosted donut, complete with chocolate shavings and sprinkles.2015-07-17 18.54.39It was hard to settle on one donut shop in the greatest city in the world, but DOUGH in NYC proved to be a smart stop. I’m glad I had an entourage with me so we could get away with sharing 1/2 a dozen and trying all of our favorite flavors.


Rhode Island may be a small state but Allie’s Donuts are a big deal – a line out the door by 7:45 am! And when you’re in the ocean state, you have to enjoy your treat on the beach. Most recently, my Mom and I drove up to Connecticut to run a half marathon and you guessed it, enjoyed a post-race donut from Flander’s Donut and Bake Shop.

I’ve gone international! Lucky for me, while on a cruise in Northern Europe we meandered through a farmer’s market in Helsinki, Finland and found blueberry donuts.


I’m excited to do some more traveling this summer and knock Washington and Alaska off my list – a huge milestone in the quest to venture outside the continental US! A trip to Virginia in a few weeks warrants a “redo” – my original VA donut was from Ronald Reagan National Airport (which I have determined should really only serve has placeholder until I can make a more proper visit; same goes for Texas!).

Enjoy National Donut Day responsibly today!



Protein PB Chocolate Chia Pudding

Ever get a hankering for chocolate, but don’t want to sabotage your healthy eating? Look no further. Try this recipe the next time you get a chocolate craving and go ahead and indulge without the guilt. Chia seeds and chocolate protein powder are the stars of this recipe – chia seeds are a great source of fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids while the protein powder contains 22 g per scoop. Enjoy this healthy, satisfying snack and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time!

Protein PB Chocolate Chia Pudding – makes 6 servings

  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 scoop Chocolate Life Time Grass Fed Whey Protein powder  (https://goo.gl/Nc4Px0)
  • 1 tbsp PB2
  • Chocolate chips to sprinkle on top (optional)

Mix ingredients together in a container with a tight lid. Use a spoon to stir ingredients so that they are well mixed or fasten the lid and shake well. Let sit in the refrigerator for several hours.


Nutrition Information: 1 serving – Calories: 174 cal Total fat: 7g  Saturated fat: 0 g  Sodium: 10 mg  Carbohydrates:  15 g Dietary fiber: 11 g Sugar: 1 g Protein: 13 g

Protein PB Chocolate Chia Pudding: Tara Tested, Tara Approved! If you enjoy chocolate, you will love this pudding. It is SO chocolatey. The chia seeds plump up to create the pudding consistency. Bonus perk of this recipe is that it is very very low in sugar with only 1 g per serving. I couldn’t taste the peanut butter flavor from the PB2 very much so you may want to try adding more or evening topping your pudding with a little dollop of natural peanut butter. Enjoy!

Pineapple (Chocolate Chip) Muffins


For me, 90 degree weather is no deterrent to turning on the oven – especially when it means ultimately enjoying and sharing a tasty treat. I picked up a pineapple from the store and had a hankering for muffins, so I decided to try something new and make pineapple muffins. The recipe made 21 muffins – 12 of them were plain pineapple, 9 of them I made with chocolate chips (couldn’t resist!).

Pineapple (Chocolate Chip) Muffins

  • 1 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cup milk (I used 1/2 cup of skim and 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 slices pineapple, diced into tiny pieces
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a bowl combine the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl mix the eggs, milk, and applesauce. Pour the wet ingredients into the oat and flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add in the pineapple pieces and chocolate chips, mix together. If you don’t like chocolate chips, you can skip that step and bake the muffins as is. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray (or use cupcake liners) and use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to fill the tins 2/3 of the way full with the muffin batter. Bake at 400 degrees F for 16-18 minutes. Makes 21 muffins.


Pineapple (Chocolate Chip) Muffins: Tara Tested, Tara and Family approved! I had never baked with pineapple before trying these muffins and wasn’t sure how it would work out, but these are tasty! I used less sugar than normal, assuming that the juice from the pineapple would make up for it and also used applesauce instead of butter or oil. The only time I’ve had pineapple and chocolate together has been in Edible Arrangements (chocolate dipped pineapple), so I thought I would try the combination here. The chocolate chips stole the show with the pineapple flavor appearing subtly in the background. The nutrition information below is for a batch of 21 muffins, if all of them were made with pineapple AND chocolate chips. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information: 1 muffin – Calories: 146 kcal  Total fat: 3 g  Saturated fat: 1 g  Sodium: 563 mg  Carbohydrate: 27 g  Dietary fiber: 1 g  Sugar: 11 g  Protein: 3 g

50 States, At Least 50 Doughnuts

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Happy National Doughnut Day! In recognition of this momentous occasion, I thought I would share how my quest to eat a doughnut in all 50 states came to be. It all started last January on a trip to Memphis, Tennessee to run a trail race with my mother. I was driving from Missouri and planned to stop in Arkansas for the usual amenities – gas, restrooms, and a donut (naturally). This got me thinking: Memphis is only minutes away from the state border of Mississippi; I could have a donut in 3 states in one weekend. And that’s just what I did. (Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi: CHECK)

Since that trip I have made significant progress on my pastry pursuit!  A midwestern road trip in March allowed me to cross Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois off my list. This spring I covered significant ground and enjoyed a doughnut (or 2) in Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, and Ohio.

The only criteria is photo documentation of the donut – that means some repeats are in order (New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, I’m coming for you). If at all possible I like to avoid big chains and visit local, mom ‘n pop type shops. I am an avid runner, so any time I can add a race or just a leisurely run to my travel itinerary, that’s a bonus (eg. 12 mi run in FREEZING Sioux Falls, followed by a Butterfingers donut, see below).

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Now it may seem a little odd that a soon-to-be registered dietitian (RD) would have the desire to do such a thing: indulge in a sugar, trans-fat laden doughnut at least 50 times, but I am a firm believer in enjoying things you love in moderation. I eat healthy foods and exercise regularly, so every now and then (or whenever I’m driving across the country) I’m going to indulge in my favorite frosted treat. Plus, a good excuse to visit all 50 states!

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50 States, At Least 50 Doughnuts: Tara Tested, Tara Approved! 18 down, 32 to go! So far I have photo documentation of a doughnut eaten in: Maryland, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Oklahoma, Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, and Ohio. I’ve loved the trips I’ve taken and the chance to see our beautiful country state by state. What is your favorite place to get a donut? Any recommendations for my remaining 32 states?!

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Almond Butter Cookies

When you’re in the mood for fresh baked cookies but don’t want to deal with a lot of ingredients, mixers, or if you are short on time – this is your recipe! These almond butter cookies are incredibly simple and easy to whip up. You only need 4 ingredients, that’s right 4. In just a few quick steps you’ll have a full tray of nutty cookies to enjoy.

Almond Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • salt, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl mix together the almond butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Scoop the dough by 1/2 tablespoon full onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (easy clean up!). Use a fork to press down on the cookie to make a criss-cross pattern and sprinkle with just a touch of salt. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cookies cool for a minute before transferring to a wire rack or fresh sheet of parchment paper to cool. Makes 35 cookies.


Almond Butter Cookies: Tara Tested, Tara Approved! love peanut butter, it’s one of my favorite foods, but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to exploring other nut butters. Almond butter is a great option for those who are allergic to peanuts or who don’t like peanut butter (gasp!). This recipe originally called for peanut butter, but I wanted to experiment and give almond butter a shot. I was not disappointed! These cookies have great nutty flavor and certainly do the trick when you get a craving for something sweet. And as an added bonus they are pretty low in calories so you don’t need to feel guilty about having a few!

Nutrition Information: 1 cookie – Calories: 62 kcal Total fat: 3.8 g Saturated fat: 0.5 g Sodium: 15.7 mg Carbohydrate: 5.9 g Dietary fiber: 0.7 g Sugar: 5 g Protein: 1.5 g