Tasty {and healthy} Tuna Melt

My husband LOVES tuna melts. I swear if I made them every night he would be happy! Luckily, they are pretty much the easiest and quickest things to make when you are short on time {and energy}. My refrigerator is running on empty and I am the queen of mix matching random items to make some sort of meal. As a dietitian, I can appreciate a good meal, but I don’t in anyway consider myself a gourmet chef, or planner when it comes to meals. I am more of a throw something together at the last minute kind of gal. I also don’t love to follow recipes. So here is a quick and easy meal for one, two or the whole family in less than 20 minutes.


1 can Albacore Tuna {no salt, packed in water}

Chopped Red Onion {I used about 1/8 cup}

Chopped Kale {1/4 cup}

Tomat0 {2-3 thin slices per sandwich}

Cheese {optional, I used cheddar because it was all I had, Swiss is my favorite for melts}

100% Whole wheat Bread {2 Slices, for a lower carb option make an open faced sandwich or lettuce wrap!}

Mayonnaise {2-3 Tablespoons, this can be adjusted based on how much you like mayo; alternate options are plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, some people also enjoy using mustard}

Seasonings: I used crushed black pepper and garlic powder {small amount for flavor} Sea Salt is optional, I use a pinch

Olive Oil {1-2 teaspoons}

Griddle or George Foreman Grill


Finely chop up the vegetables {red onion, kale, if you have chopped carrots these work great too!}


Add tuna to a small bowl

Add finely chopped vegetables

Add Mayo and mix all ingredients together

Add seasoning, mix again.


Drizzle small amount of olive oil on two slices of bread

Place one slice, olive oil side down on the griddle, add 1 slice of cheese

Top with about 1/4-1/2 cup of the tuna mixture

Add a few slices of tomato

{Note} if you add your cheese to the top of the tomatoes, it helps hold them in place

Add your second slice of bread to the top, olive oil side facing up

Press down on the grill, let sit for a few minutes, check on it frequently, everyone likes their bread toasted a little differently

{note if you want to make an open faced sandwich, it works better in a pan on the stove top or in a toaster oven}


Serve with a salad and side, tonight we choose sweet potato fries, baked in the oven, because we had some frozen cut sweet potato left over from a previous meal, these can be seasoned as well, we prefer ours plain.

Of course we also had kale salad, gotta use up the inventory!  🙂


Super easy meal in under 20! Enjoy!




Broccoli Salad w/ Shaved Vegetables + Recipes!

I wanted to share a little information about an AMAZING event that we (The California Dietetic Association (CDA)-Coastal Tri-Counties District) put on this past weekend as part of this year’s theme of “giving back to the community.”

Our event featured Chef Dave Schmit (Check out his facebook page!), a local who is dedicated to using fresh & locally grown ingredients, time-honored techniques and modern refinements to create tasty (and healthy) dishes. {Recipes Below}

Dave has a long history of cooking in fine dining kitchens down in LA, including the Beverly Hills Hotel & Hotel Bel Aire (he even has cooked for Michael Jackson!!) But now, Dave uses his Culinary expertise to provide first class meals to San Luis Obispo County’s homeless shelter. His dedication to improving the health and lives of the needy  is an inspiration to many and that was evident in the eyes of many Dietitians who listened to him speak this Saturday.

So what was the bottom line? The homeless and under served need your help! But being needy doesn’t just mean needing food, it means you needing nutritious food! Using local produce surplus and teaming up with farmers and grocers has been key to proving these healthy meals.

How can you help? Volunteer with your local food bank, shelter or farmers to help them get food to the table! Donate supplies, goods or your time!

For more information on the SLO Maxine Lewis Shelter visit: http://www.capslo.org/programs/cat-homeless-services/menu-maxine-lewis

For more information on the SLO Foodbank visit: http://www.slofoodbank.org/

Here is a glimpse of the food Chef Dave prepared for us Dietitians using ingredients commonly donated from local farmers and grocers to the food bank & shelter. The best part, he comes up with these recipes at the drop of a hat to prevent food waste! Special thanks to Chef Dave for letting me share his recipes with you all!

Broccoli Salad (with or without Beef)


Caramelized Broccoli


3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Heads of Broccoli (~1.25 pounds), Peel Stems, Half lengthwise

1/2 Cup Water

3 Cloves Garlic, slice thinly

Pinch of Crush Red Pepper

Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper to Taste

2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice


In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the broccoli with the cut side down, cover and cook over moderate heat until richly browned on the bottom (about 8 min).  Add the water, cover and cook until broccoli is tender and the water has evaporated (about 7 min). Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. and cook uncovered until the garlic is golden brown (about 3 min). Season the broccoli with salt and pepper, drizzle with lemon juice and serve!

Brown Rice


2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 1/2 Cups Short Grain Brown Rice (10 oz)

1 Small Onion, Finely Diced

2 Thyme Sprigs

2 3/4 Cup Water

Sea Salt


In large saucepan, heat olive oil. Add brown rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly toasted. (The grains will turn slightly opaque just before browning.) Add the onion and thyme and cook over low heat, stirring until the onion is softened (about 5 min). Add the water and 1 tsp of sea salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the water is absorbed and the grains are tender. Fluff the grains and discard the thyme springs. Season the grains with salt and pepper if desired. (note: the cooked grains can be refrigerated for up to 5 days)



2 1/2 to 3 lb Top Sirloin Steak (1-1.5 inches thick)

1 1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt

Olive Oil

Fresh Ground Black Pepper


The morning before you plan to cook the steak, sprinkle both sides with salt. Set it on a large plate, cover loosely (wax paper works well), refrigerate for 12-14 hours.

About an hour before you are ready to cook, remove the steak from the refrigerator. Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or heat a gas grill to medium high. Wipe the steak dry with a paper towel. Coat lightly with olive oil and season with pepper. Put the steak on the grill, watching for flare-ups especially when cooking the first side. (If the flames threaten to char the steak, move it off to the side for a few moments until the fire calms.) Grill 8-9 min per side for medium rare, a minute or two longer per side for medium. Check if it is done by making a small cut into the steak, if the meat looks a shade less done than you like, it is ready! Move the steak to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 5 min. (it will continue to cook a little more).

To serve, carve the steak into 1/4 inch slices.

Can eat solo, or use to top your salad!

Fresh Orange-Soy Vinaigrette


1/3 Cup Vinegar

1/2 Cup Orange Juice

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp Agave

2 Tsp Freshly Grated Ginger

1/8 Tsp Dry Mustard

Salt to Taste


Wisk all ingredients until smooth

Shaved Vegetable Salad


Variety of colorful vegetables (such as: zucchini, carrot, beets, radishes, red onion)

Olive Oil

Handful of Chopped Dill and Lemon Zest

Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste

Lemon Juice to Taste


Peel vegetables if needed and slice very thin (may want to use a mandolin if you have one)

Toss everything in a bowl with olive oil to coat

Add the chopped Dill & Lemon Zest

Season to Taste with Lemon Juice and Fresh Ground Pepper

For our event, he made the Caramelized Broccoli, added a scoop of brown rice, followed by a handful of the shaved vegetables and topped with 2 slices of the sirloin (see picture above.) On top he drizzled the Fresh Orange-Soy Vinaigrette. It was heavenly!



10 Ways to Add Fruits and Veggies to Your Diet

Looking to boost your daily intake of Fruits and Veggies? It isn’t as hard as you might think. By adding these little gems to everyday dishes you can boost your intake of many Vitamins and Minerals as well as Fiber.

Here are 10 ways to add more to your diet!


1. Top off your oatmeal or cereal with some fresh fruit! Berries are the perfect addition!

2. Make a smoothie. Combining fruits and vegetables in a smoothie can help you get several servings in one! Check on my Mean Green Smoothie posted here: https://rubyandpearls.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/mean-green-fuel-for-the-machine/

3. Stir Fry! Cook up a variety of veggies (I love bell pepper, squash, snap peas and carrots) with some olive oil.

4. Grilled Kabobs. Alternate veggies with lean chicken, beef or pork (or go vegetarian) and toss it on the grill.

5. Make a veggie scramble. Dice up veggies and mix with eggs, I love the combo of spinach, onion and tomato.

6. Mix them into sauces. Making spaghetti for dinner? Throw a few cups of  chopped kale or spinach into the sauce.

7.  Top your toast! Skip the jam or butter, spread a thin layer of natural peanut butter and top with sliced strawberries, raspberries or blueberries…yum!

8. Take a snack break. Munch on sliced carrots, celery, broccoli or cauliflower dipped in hummus.

9. Make a tasty salad. Try using spinach or mixed greens (2 cups=1 vegetable serving), add  sliced berries, almonds or walnuts and a little goat cheese. Top with a homemade vinaigrette, such as the one shown here:  https://rubyandpearls.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/summer-savvy-nutrition/

10. Fruit Salad. Skip the dessert, slice up fresh fruit such as peaches, berries and melon and mix together! Maybe even top with a dollop of whipped cream 🙂


Summer Savvy Nutrition Tips

The official start of warm weather, cookouts and outdoor family fun is just around the corner, but things are already starting to heat up this spring!

Having the right balance of activity and healthy treats will keep your family going strong all summer long. Between ball games, carnivals and other gatherings, summer meals are filled with potential dietary disasters! So, is it possible to still eat healthy and enjoy the classic “summer foods?” Absolutely!

Check out the following “healthier twists” to popular summer classics:

  • Hamburgers – When shopping for ground meat, look for beef that is 90% or more lean, this is usually right on the front of the package. You can also opt for ground turkey, but make sure the label reads ground turkey meat or breast, for the lower fat version. Other healthy options include: veggie burgers or chicken breast burgers.
  • Hot Dogs-Look for a brand that is 100% beef, turkey or chicken. Hot dogs containing meat blends are typically much higher in fat and not whole meat….Gross!
  • Salads-Limit the pasta and potato salads made with mayonnaise and opt for a lighter garden salad with veggies and a berry vinaigrette dressing. (check out the recipe below!)
  • Sweets-It is important to remember that you can have some sweets! Too much restriction sends the wrong message. However, if you choose to eat a funnel cake at the fair, opt for a little extra physical activity that day. For More routine sweet treats, go with fresh fruit.
  • Popsicles-Instead of buying the sugar filled version at the grocery store, make your own! Popsicle molds can be found at many grocery and kitchen supply stores and they are re-usable. Fill them with your favorite 100% fruit juice, OR make a fresh fruit puree in the blender, food processor or magic bullet and freeze for a simple, more natural frozen treat!



Homemade Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing

(Makes about 1 cup of dressing)


1 1/2 Tbsp Plain Greek Yogurt

1/2 Cup of Fresh Strawberries (Stems removed and cut in half), Could also use blueberries, raspberries etc.

1 1/2 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar

1 Tbsp Olive Oil (Extra Virgin is best)

Optional: Salt and Pepper to taste

1. In a Food Processor, mix all ingredients until smooth.
2. Store in the refrigerator or cooler below 40 Degrees (F) In an air tight container for freshness.


Gluten Makes You Fat… And Other Myths On Gluten


Going gluten free seems to be the newest trend. For some it is critical, but for most it is an unnecessary change. Cutting out gluten is one of the most frequent requests I have been getting from clients over the past year and there seems to be some pretty common misconceptions. I feel as though I am constantly explaining what gluten really is, when it is necessary to cut it out and when doing so is just a hassle.

So what exactly is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in foods processed with wheat and other similar grains such as rye, barley and spelt. Gluten is what gives dough its elasticity, which makes it pretty important to the rising and texture of many products. Gluten is also found in many other products such as makeup and hair products where it is commercially added.

Those who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or Celiac Sprue, must cut gluten out of their diet because their body (specifically the intestinal tract) reacts to the gluten protein causing an inflammatory response which can alter the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. There are several very specific tests that must be done to diagnose Celiac Disease including blood testing and a biopsy, but these tests are only effective if a person has NOT cut gluten out of the diet already.

Others may experience some form of gluten sensitivity, some signs and symptoms are: Migraines, frequent bloating, gas, Irrital Bowel Syndrome, anxiety, chronic fatigue, depression and eczema or acne. If you think you have any of these it is important to talk to your Doctor/Registered Dietitian to find out more.

For anyone else, cutting out gluten is likely unnecessary and actually a pretty challenging thing! Ironically, this article from ABC News recently came across one of my information feeds and I thought it did a good job of summing up a few of the common gluten myths that people believe.

Here is the link to the article: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/gluten-myths-embarrassed/story?id=23645211

So what are the 5 Gluten Myths the article discusses?

1. Gluten makes you fat!

  • This is NOT true. The amount and types of calories that you consume are what make you gain weight. If you eat more than your body needs your weight will go up.

2. Gluten is not part of a clean diet.

  • This is NOT true. May people’s perceptions of a clean diet are different, but most dietitians would agree that a clean diet is one that is low in overly processed foods (all foods are processed in some way) and high in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources and whole grains. She makes an excellent point that french fries are gluten free, but probably not what you would consider part of a clean diet.

3. Gluten is bad for you.

  • Again this is NOT true (unless you have Celiac Disease). Gluten in and of itself is not specifically nutritious, however many of the foods that contain it (such as whole grains) contain important nutrients such as fiber, B vitamins and Iron.

4. You just personally know that you can’t have gluten.

  • Unless you are the minority of the population that has Celiac Disease, or has been diagnosed with sensitivity or allergy by a physician, cutting out gluten will have no benefit on your health. If you think you have Celiac Disease, do not cut out gluten before you consult with your physician.

5. Gluten Causes Cancer.

  • This is NOT true. For the majority of the population, consuming gluten does not have any effect on cancer risk. Those who have undiagnosed Celiac Disease, or those who continue to eat gluten after being diagnosed, may have increased risk for intestinal cancer.

So there you have it! Below I have listed a few of my favorite resources for information on Gluten, gluten free diet and Celiac Disease.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:


National Association for Celiac Awareness:


Shelley Case, RD (Celiac Specialist)


The Gluten Free Dietitian (Website with Dietitians in every state specializing in gluten free diets)


Delete the Wheat



Mean Green Fuel for the Machine

My husband and I have been going strong for about three weeks now with our daily green machine smoothies (although he only drinks them because I make them and hand it to him as he walks out the door.) Either way, he is drinking and enjoying them! I have made them a little different each day, based on the fresh (or frozen) fruits and veggies I have on hand. The one thing that has remained consistent is the greens. My husband is a cereal man and although he now knows what “healthier” cereal options to pick, I find these to be a good add on to his routine. These smoothies are also excellent for children who are in the “no” phase when in comes to vegetables, or maybe your child has been in that phase their whole life? Many of my pediatric clients (and families) have found success incorporating veggies into their diets this way, without the food battle, which never ends well.

I usually start my smoothies by putting just a little (maybe a 1/4 c, or less) 100% Natural Orange Juice at the bottom. I like the flavor it adds, but it also helps the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the cup which makes things blend better, you can also add just plain water if you prefer. Today I added one large banana ( I used about 3/4 of a banana for my husbands smoothie, and bout 1/4 c for mine) He loves bananas, but I prefer to add extra greens to mine, so I left more room for that!

After the banana I added about 4 large strawberries to each cup. I like to get mine from our local farmers market since we have such great produce! But, the grocery store works well too 😉 After the strawberries, I added 1/2 c of Fage All Natural Greek Yogurt, Plain (unsweetened) 0% fat. This is a great way to make smoothies without milk and also packs on the protein. In 1/2 c there is about 65 calories, 12 g protein, 5 g of carbohydrate and zero fat. Then, I pile on the greens!! I usually try to get 1-2 cups in each of our smoothies, which is easier to do if you rip the greens apart with your hands (or cut them up finely) before you put them in the cups.

I have been buying the Earthbound Organics Power Blend (in the large bag) from Costco, and it has been working beyoutifully! I love the boost of Fiber as well as its rich source of Vitamins A & C along with being a good source of both Iron and Calcium. Below is the bag, for anyone that might be a Costco frequent like I am! But of course, going to the local farmers market is great too if you live in an area that has them, I like to do both!


After I have all my add ins, I top each smoothie with about 1 Tbsp. of Chia Seeds (you can also use flax seeds or any other you like) The Chia Seeds are great in smoothies and add on an additional 3 g protein and 6 g fiber in 1 Tbsp.

This is what my final product looked like before being blended!


And here is the “after” look! you can see just how much of a Green Machine this really is!


Happy Blending! Cheers!