Vegan Tacos with California Walnuts

Disclosure: I received free samples of California walnuts mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Walnut Commission and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Vegan Tacos with California Walnuts with writing

I’m really excited about this post because it’s my first ever video recipe, and it’s showcasing one of my favorite video creations to date.  As a member of theThe Recipe ReDux, I was challenged to create a recipe featuring California Walnuts. I absolutely love walnuts because they are a delicious and versatile ingredient that pair perfectly with other nutritious foods to create a tasty and healthy meal. One ounce of walnuts has 2.5 grams of the omega-3s (the healthy fat) , 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber to keep you feeling full.

Vegan Tacos with Califeornia Walnuts frontWith these delicious and nutritious nuts, I decided to recreate one of my favorite dishes from a local restaurant.  The Thirsty Koala in Astoria, NY  features delicious Australian cuisine, including a vegan taco with beans, walnuts and avocado.  I decided to use my skilled palate to attempt to make a copycat version of my favorite restaurant meal, and I must admit that I did pretty well! This version is made in a crockpot, so you can set it and forget it, and you never even have to turn on your oven!

Even if you don’t cook, watch this fun video with the sound on.  I promise it will make you crave tacos…with walnuts, of course!

Makes 4-5 servings (2 tacos per serving)

1/2 cup white onion, chopped
1 cup carrot, chopped
1 cup mushroom, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 cups dry mixed beans
2 cup pureed San Marzano tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 tablespoon Chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon Adobo Chiles
1/2 teaspoon salt
10-12 corn tortillas
1 cup California Walnuts, chopped
2 cups chopped cabbage and carrots
3 limes, cut in half
2-3 avocados, sliced

Vegan Tacos with California Walnuts overhead


  1. Place the onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, beans, San Marzano tomatoes, water, chili powder, cumin, Adobo Chiles and salt in a crock pot.  Stir and cover. Heat on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.
  2. When the bean mixture is done, assemble the tacos.  Lay out two corn tortillas. Layer the bean mixture, California walnuts, chopped cabbage and carrots, juice of half a lime, and a slice of avocado on top of the tortilla. Enjoy!

Vegan Tacos with California Walnuts half



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15 Make Ahead Meals for Parents of Athletes

Being a mom of a growing child athlete can be tough (or so I imagine), especially when it comes to preparing a healthy dinner when you are always on the go. My cousin recently reached out to me about this very topic. She has 2 growing boys that play soccer (and many other sports) and a daughter that dances.   She asked, “What dinner suggestions do you have for the mom of athletes??? I’m always on the go and so worried about their food that I forget about myself!” In chatting with her, we determined it would be helpful to have some recipes for dinners that would satisfy the whole family and can be made ahead of time to bring to practice or a game.

Luckily, I know many brilliant recipe developing Dietitians, so I enabled their help to come up with this list of 15 Make Ahead Meals that are hearty and healthy for the entire family. And, feel free to whip these up even if you don’t have kids—I’m definitely going to!


Vegetarian Dishes: These dishes are sans meat but are still packed with protein. Meat eaters can add grilled chicken, fish, or a fried egg to any of these dishes.


Veggie Quesadilla

Veggie & Quinoa Quesadilla with Lime Slaw by yours truly of Nutrition à la Natalie


Veggie Nuggets by Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD of Real Mom Nutrition

Vegetable Fried Rice

Vegetable Fried Rice by Amy Gorin, MS, RD of Amy Gorin Nutrition

Quinoa Tabbouleg

Quinoa Tabbouleh by Katie Cavuto, RD of Nourish. Breath. Thrive.

Egg Muffin

Egg Muffins by Jessi Haggerty, RD of her self-named blog

Kale Caeser Pasta Salad

Kale Caesear Pasta Salad by Amanda Hernandez, RD of The Nutritionist Reviews

Chicken Dishes: These dishes are great lean protein options that are easy to throw together any night on the week.

Crispy Oven Fried Chicken

Crispy Oven “Fried” Chicken from Janice Newell Bissex, RD and Liz Weiss, RD of Meal Makeover Moms

Chicken, Sausage, Kale, Broccoli Frittata

Chicken, Sausage, Kale and Broccoli Frittata by Katie Cavuto, RD of Nourish. Breath. Thrive.

RBA mealtime

Honey Raisin Chicken Salad by Rebecca Bitzer, MS, RD of Rebecca Bitzer, MS, RD & Associates


Chicken Tikka Wrap by Dixya BBhattari RD of Food, Pleasure & Health

Red Meat Dishes: These dishes speak for themselves as hearty dinners for growing boys. However, try to keep the red meat consumption to only once a week.

Grano Salad with Bacon, Kale & tomatoes

Grano Salad with Bacon, Kale & Tomatoes by Liz Shaw, MS, RD of Shaw’s Simple Swaps


BLT & Avocado Quinoa Salad with Maple Vinaigrette by EA Stewart, MBA, RD of Spicy RD Nutrition


Spicy Meat and Potato Patties by Roxana Begum, PhD, RD, LDN of The Delicious Crescent.

Apple Bacon Gouda Mac & Cheese

Low Fat Apple Bacon Gouda Macaroni and Cheese by Jamie Vespa, RD of Dishing Out Health

Fish Dish: Fish is a great option with tons of protein and healthy fats, which is great for growing athletes.

Tuna Quinoa Sliders

Taco Tuna Quinoa Sliders by Kelli Shalal, MPH, RD of Hungry Hobby

Want more awesome recipes or tips for athletes delivered straight to you? Sign up for Nutrition à la Natalie’s weekly newsletter. Don’t worry- it’s only one email per week! 

Day 6: Strong Summer Series- Pilates Abs For Runners

We are almost done with our abs series, are you feeling any stronger? Make sure you continue to follow along because I will be putting all of the exercises into a fun infographic! Today includes 3 great pilates ab exercises that you can tack onto the end of a run or any exercise routine. Tomorrow, we will be taking a break from the Strong Summer Series to share Make-Ahead Recipes for Moms of Athletes, courtesy of  my fellow blogging Dietitians.  And don’t forget to check out Days 1-5 before diving into the video:

Day 1: Plank Series
Day 2: Standing Obliques
Day 3: Advanced Planks
Day 4: 9 Ways To Strength Train Without Hitting The Weight Room
Day 5: Surround Yourself With Strength

Day 5: Strong Summer Series- Surround Yourself With Strength

It’s funny when you set out to do something and it turns into something else, which is exactly what is happening with this Strong Summer Series.  At first, I wanted to challenge all of you to join me in a daily strength exercise (which I will continue to do).  Then, my camera had technical difficulties, so I wrote a post about 9 ways to strength train without hitting the weight room.  Now, I’m in the process of working on my website, and I wanted to write a personal blog post to share my experience.

Surround YourselfWith

Nutrition à la Natalie is completely run and operated by me, and me alone. I created and set up this website. I write all the posts. I take and edit all the videos and pictures. I make all of the fun graphics. I develop all of the recipes. I do all the social media promotion. I send the newsletters and make the downloadable tip sheets.  Basically, I’m a sole entity running my own little business in a very cost effective way. I don’t tell you these things to boast. I tell you because it’s a good preface for this story. I recently tried to do something recently that I just couldn’t do myself…no matter how hard I tried.

I’m moving my blog from to For anyone who blogs, you will probably understand this move. For those who don’t blog, I’m doing this because I basically need a site upgrade. Since I have figured out so many things in my past two years of blogging, I thought I could also figure this out. One day last week, I set aside time to move the site.  I read some directions online; I followed the first few steps and thought, “Okay, I can do this.” But, then things got complicated.  Coding language (like php) was being thrown at me.  Wait, I can’t just watch a YouTube video and figure out how to do this? There is more to this process? Oh boy, yes, there is MUCH more to the process. And, this is where I get to the title: “Surround Yourself With Strength”.


My boyfriend, Bill, is a software engineer. I don’t ask him for website help because I like knowing how to do the technical stuff. That way, I can fix any problems that may arise because I understand the system.  However, in this extreme case, I had no choice but to ask him some questions.  Bill is one of the most patient, kind, calm and loving people I know, and I am impatient and want everything done right NOW (I’m working on that). After explaining my dilemma to him, Bill said he would move the website for me. Of course, I trust him and wanted him to do it, but I didn’t want to make him do more work after a long day of software work that he actually gets paid for.  But, he seemed happy to do it, so I was happy and extremely grateful to let him.

Well, it took Bill many many many hours to get the website moved, and it’s still not completely done (because of something out of his control). There were many complications along the way that I definitely wouldn’t have been able to figure out.  He spent countless hours talking to support people and solving problems, and the new website will be up and running soon. Honestly, I couldn’t be more relieved and thankful that he spent the time to do that for me. I show my love through two things: cooking and writing.  So, this blog post is dedicated to Bill.  I’m so happy that I’ve chosen a mate that gives me strength and surrounds me with positive energy.

I’m constantly talking about food as “fuel” and strengthening your muscles, but I rarely ever talk about mental strength.  To be a small business owner, I need to have mental strength constantly.  There are so many bumps in the road (like moving my site) where I feel like throwing in the towel, but I don’t because I surround myself with strength.  People like Bill (and my family, of course) encourage me and always point out the good when I only see the bad. He is someone that I bounce ideas off of and who helps me, even when he’s tired and would probably rather not spend his night working on my business.  He always tell me that he’s proud of me, even when I’m feeling like I’m failing miserably. I’m so lucky to have him in my life, and I encourage you to think about the people that provide strength in your life.  I guarantee there is someone, and you should acknowledge them in some way today.

So, here’s to Bill. Thank you, and I promise I will make you key lime pie!

Day 4: Strong Summer Series- 9 Ways To Strength Train Without Hitting The Weight Room

First, let me apologize for putting the Strong Summer Series on hold this weekend.  I had some video technical difficulties, and I didn’t have the time to rectify the problem.  But stuff happens, right? I’ve fixed the problem, and I will be back with another ab video tomorrow. Today, I have a a fun post about other ways to get strong this summer.

9 Ways To Strength Train Without Hitting The Weight RoomAs you all know, the premise of the Strong Summer Series is to strengthen my muscles to prepare for my intense NYC marathon training.  I decided to do this publicly because I want to encourage you all to train with me. Strength training not only makes you look great, but it also strengthens your muscles and bones and prevents injury. But, one of the biggest obstacles to strength training (and working out in general) is many people lack the time and energy to dedicate to the weight room.  I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to go to the gym and use complicated machinery to build up muscle. Instead, here are 9 ways to strength train without spending hours in the weight room.

Some completely FREE options

  1. Videos. I have created some videos with simple workouts that you can do in your living room, and there will be more to come through the month of June. YouTube also has a HUGE compilation of free strength training videos.  Just search for the body part you want to target and take your pick.
  2. Use your bodyweight. There are so many muscle building exercises that can be done , using just your body weight.  Think about it, your body weight is heavy–over 100 pounds.  Here are some body weight exercises you can do practically anywhere to build muscle: planks, push ups, wall sit, squats, lunges, sit ups, triceps push ups, mountain climber, burpees, dead lifts, calf raises, arm circles, any variation of crunches.
  3. Yoga. Some of the most ripped people I know practice yoga on a daily basis.  Not only is it great for your mind, but it’s also a great way to build strength.  Many of the poses require a great deal of strength, flexibility and practice.  You can find local, affordable classes or try out a free class online.
  4. Dumbbells at home. When I feel like I’ve been sitting for too long, I will jump up and grab a set of dumbbells.  Sometimes, I just do 3 sets of bicep curls, and other times I will do a bunch of upper body activities. Next time you find yourself plastered on the couch for too long, get up and grab a set of dumbbells.  Do some bicep curls while watching your favorite show.
  5. Hit the pool. Swimming is such an awesome form of all around exercise.  It builds strength in your arms, abs, back, and legs, while also increasing aerobic endurance.  Not to mention that swimming will keep you cool and happy all summer long. Man, what I wouldn’t give for a pool…sigh.
  6. Resistance bands.  One of my favorite ways to strengthen my IT bands and glutes is by using a resistance band. (You will see this in next weeks videos.)  By just putting a resistance band around your ankles and pushing your leg out to the side, you can get a heck of a workout.  You can also pull the band from opposite ends to get an arm workout.  The resistance in the band will work out practically any muscle.
  7. Cardio exercises. Many people think cardio and strength training are two separate things, but cardio exercises build muscle while also working your heart and lungs. Most cardio exercises, like running, biking, elliptical, stairs, dance, or general aerobics, will really strengten your lower body muscles.

And for those who want to spend a little bit of money

8. Fitness Classes. Aerobics classes are not just for moms in leotards anymore. With the invention of things like Class Pass, spin studios, and Daily Burn, there has been a resurgence of the fitness class.  In NYC alone, I have heard of classes dedicated to many different strength training workouts, such as rowing, running, spinning, pilates, barre, different types of yoga, trampolines, and probably many more. They are great workouts and you will almost never get bored. Try one out today!

9. Work with a personal trainer. The best way to really strengthen a targeted area is to consult an expert.  I have many RD friends that are also personal trainers, and they are extremely knowledgeable and friendly.  Personal trainers are there to help you get the results you desire. Feel free to contact me for a recommendation.

What other ways do you get a good muscle building workout outside of the gym?

Day 3: Strong Summer Series- Advanced Planks

As we continue our Strong Summer Challenge, we get more advanced with the planks.  If you missed day 1 and 2, check them out here.  Do all three sets of exercises to be ready for the beach or a run this weekend!

Day 1: Plank Series
Day 2: Standing Obliques


Leave a comment letting me know you’ve joined the challenge, and I’ll give you a FREE copy of the Athlete Nutrition Plan! That’s a 2 week meal plan and 5 video recipes!


Strong Summer Challenge: Day 1 Plank Series

Happy #GlobalRunningDay! I’m excited to celebrate this day dedicated to running by kicking off the Strong Summer Challenge, which will help prepare me for my training for the NYC Marathon in November. For the next month, I have some special exercises and recipes prepared for you.  There will be prizes for those who complete the calls to actions on certain days, so make sure you follow along!


We start off easy on our first day with a plank series. Check out the video below to learn more about the challenge and get your first exercise!

Help! My Child Athlete Needs To Gain Weight

Even though obesity rates in children are on the rise, many parents of child athletes are concerned that their child is UNDERWEIGHT.  Surprisingly, I hear this a ton from parents, especially parent’s of young boys that want to bulk up for their sport.


You are probably thinking, “Not a bad problem to have. Bring on the pizza, fries, and ice cream!”  And in that thought lies the problem.  Many children and parents try to rectify the problem of being thin by eating massive amounts of “junk” foods.  Unfortunately, these foods are high in saturated fat and sugar and are devoid of any nutrients.  As a matter of fact, binging on these types of high calorie food will do more harm than good, even if your child is underweight. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Like adults, children need to properly fuel their workouts. Many parents think that young children have inherent energy, but that energy will only last for part of a practice or game. Fueling properly before a practice or game ensures that their energy will last throughout.
  • Very high fat foods, like fast food burgers, fried foods, donuts, cookies, pastries, etc., take a long time to digest.  That means they sit in the stomach for a long time and can cause digestive issues during a workout.
  • It’s incredibly important for children to establish proper eating habits at a young age.  Teaching children that they can eat whatever they want without any negative consequences establishes a pattern of unhealthy eating. Although your child may be long and lanky now, they will likely fill out later in life.  Bad eating habits can lead to overweight or obesity in adulthood.
  • Children need to eat healthy foods during their growing years. A diet filled with high calorie junk food can cause a deficiency in calcium, iron and many essential vitamins. This can put your child at risk for anemia, broken bones, stunted growth and everyday illnesses that will keep them on the sidelines.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you to stay away from high calorie “junk” food, but I’m sure you still want to help bulk up your athlete.  Don’t worry- I have 7 foods that are high in calories and filled with nutrients.

  1. Avocados: One avocado has about 250 calories, but that’s not all.  There are 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid, and “healthy” fats in avocados. Healthy fats boost cognition and heart health.
  2. Nuts & Nut Butter: All nuts vary in calorie content, but 1 ounce of nuts has around 180 calories. Nuts, especially tree nuts like  as almonds, cashews and walnuts have been linked to lower cholesterol, better heart health and a healthy weight. Walnuts are high in omega-3, an essential fatty acid that helps fight inflammation after exercise. Peanut butter (one of my favorites) has about 200 calories in 2 tablespoons.  Opt for the natural varieties that contain just peanuts and salt.
  3. Whole Fat Dairy: An 8-ounce glass of whole milk contains 150 calories. Dairy is one of my favorite food groups because of its many nutrients.  Not only is milk, yogurt and cheese high in protein, it also contains 9 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and Vitamin D for growing bones.  Feel free to allow young athletes to indulge in chocolate or vanilla milk.  Whole fat Greek yogurt is also a great source of protein and calories.
  4. Fatty Fish: Three ounces of salmon (about the size of your palm) has 120 calories. Usually I’m preaching about portion control, but any child that needs to gain weight can have a big helping of fish.  Not only will 5-6 ounces get them 200+ calories, but they will also get a large helping of omega-3s, which can boost academic performance. **The Premier Athlete Nutrition Plan has a video recipe (and printable version) of Lemon Pepper Salmon. Get it now for the price of the Starter version! 
  5. Brown Rice & Quinoa: One cup of cooked quinoa has 220 calories and 1-cup of cooked brown rice has 250 calories.  Both are packed with fiber and protein, which help with growth and development.  Protein is especially important for young athletes who hope to gain some muscle mass.
  6. Dark ChocolateA 1.3 ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 190 calories. Dark chocolate in it’s purest form (without added sugar) is high in antioxidants that protect against inflammation. However, the dark chocolate that we buy from the store has sugar added into it, which makes it something that should be eaten in moderation. (100% dark chocolate tastes like chalk).
  7. Olive oil: One tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories. This staple in the Mediterranean diet has been linked to a healthy ticker and an overall decreased risk for disease.  That may not seem important for kids now, but think about later in life! Add a tablespoon to pasta, veggies or a smoothie for added calories and a rich taste.

If you are concerned about your child athlete being underweight, try adding any of these foods to their diet before hitting the fast food joint.  The result will be faster, healthier, happier athletes!

Want more info on what to feed your child athlete? Get a FREE guide to pre and post-workout foods  delivered straight to your inbox.  Just click the graphic below!

The guide to (1)

Why Athletes Should Care About The New Food Label

Nutrition news is all abuzz with info about the new food and nutrition labels, scheduled to appear in July 2018. There’s been talk about the potential changes to the food label for quite some time, but these changes have now been finalized.  Many Dietitians are writing about the highlights, but I wanted to take a second to talk about how these changes will affect my readers (recreational athletes).  So, here’s a quick video on why athletes should care about the new food label.

Also, the first 10 people to comment on this video on YouTube will get a FREE copy of the Premier Athlete Nutrition Plan. That includes a 2-week meal plan and 5 video recipes.  A small token of my appreciation for watching my videos!