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




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! 

The Athlete Nutrition Plan + A Video Recipe for Zesty Crunchy Chickpeas

I have the most exciting news to share today–I completed The Athlete Nutrition Plans and they are available for sale!! This short video describes the plans and gives a sample recipe (like in the Premier version) for Dill & Yogurt Crunchy Chickpeas (the perfect post-workout snack). Read below to hear what I’ve learned while creating my first product!

This product has been about 1.5 months in the making.  That may not seem very long, but that’s 1.5 months of at least 30 hours per week (I did work on some other things, but this took the majority of my time).  When I decided to create this product, I was extremely excited and ready to hit the ground running.  I was thrilled to offer a service that doesn’t exist yet in the marketplace. I’m pretty creative and tech savvy, so I thought the actual product creation would be fun and pretty easy. Little did I know the amount of work that goes into creating something from scratch, especially when you are a one woman show.  Here’s a list of things I had to conquer to make The Athlete Nutrition Plan a reality:

  1. Conceptualize the idea. I don’t think eating is a one-size fits all approach, so I decided to create 6 versions of the meal plans:
  • Small Athlete/Weight Loss
  • Average Athlete
  • Intense Athlete
  • 3 Vegetarian version of the above

Each version is based on a calorie level and other factors, such as weight loss desires, training regimen, etc. If you want to know which one is right for you, click here.

2. Create the meal plans. Writing meal plans is actually not that easy, especially when you are taking sports nutrition into account. I had to create the perfect ratio of pre and post workout foods that will fuel workouts but not cause stomach issues.

3. Create the videos. Woah- videos are MUCH more work than I anticipated. When creating recipe videos, you actually have to make the recipe while filming and then do a bunch of editing.  The finished products are pretty awesome though.

4. Figure out e-commerce stuff. Once you have a digital product, you have to figure out how to sell it. I’m using a service called Gumroad, which is really great.  Check out my product page here! 

5. Marketing. This is probably the most intense part of this process and the part I’m just starting. We live in the age of the internet, so marketing includes many different things, like:

  • Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest
  • Facebook ads
  • Google ads
  • Blog posts
  • Creating pretty graphics for all of the above
  • Video ads
  • E-newsletters
  • Probably other things that I haven’t thought of yet

6. A whole bunch of miscellaneous stuff, such as:

Creating a product from scratch is no easy feat, especially when your business is a party of 1. But, I’m so incredibly proud of what I’ve created and I hope you enjoy it as well. If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to leave them below!

And here’s the recipes for the Dill & Yogurt Crunchy Chickpeas

Makes 2 snack servings

1/3 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon diced red onion
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Dill
juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon of salt
pepper to taste
1.5 cups canned chickpeas
cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together yogurt, red onion, dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir
  3. Coat chickpeas with yogurt mixture.
  4. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Lay chickpeas flat on the pan.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.




Chili Marinated Tofu with Coconut Rice

This delicious Asian inspired dish is the perfect combination of spicy and sweet. I used two new (to me) ingredients to create this recipe: coconut milk and chili paste. The end result–Chili Marinated Tofu with Coconut Rice–is perfect for Meatless Monday.  It’s also a guiltless meal that doubles as a great post-workout dinner. The brown rice is a whole grain, which replaces the body’s stored carbohydrates, and the tofu is a fantastic source of vegetarian protein to repair tired muscles.  Eating a combination of carbohydrates and protein after a workout helps the body recover and prepares you for tomorrow’s workout. Not to mention the colorful veggies, filled with disease-preventing antioxidants, that add a delightful crunch to the dish.


Makes 3-4 servings

1 package of organic tofu
1 tablespoon of chili paste
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 cup of brown rice
1 1/4 cup of coconut milk
3/4 cup of water
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup of red cabbage, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
salt to taste


  1. At least one hour before cooking, dry out the tofu by using the plate method. If you prefer a softer tofu, skip this step.
  2. Whisk together the chili paste, sesame oil and brown sugar. Place the tofu in a tupperware and pour the mixture on top. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. This step can also be done the night before.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. In a pot, combine the brown rice, coconut milk and water.  Bring to a boil.  Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  5. Cut the tofu into 1 inch pieces. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay the tofu flat.  Bake for 15 minutes. Flip and bake for another 15 minutes.
  6. While the rice and tofu cook, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, carrot, red cabbage, zucchini and yellow squash.  Sautee for 5-7 minutes or until just tender. Season with salt.
  7. When all ingredients are cooked, combine the rice, veggies and tofu in a bowl. Enjoy!DSC_0019Nutrition Notes: 
  • One cup of cabbage has over 50% the recommended daily value of Vitamin C.
  • One cup of raw cabbage has only 22 calories and is loaded with fiber. The fiber will help keep you regular, keep cholesterol down, and leave you feeling fuller longer.
  • Tofu is high in protein and low in calories.  A ½ cup of tofu contains 10g of protein and only 95 calories, making it one of the best sources of vegetarian protein.

Mini Berry Coconut Popsicles

I don’t know about where you live, but spring has sprung in NYC.  Because of this lovely weather, everyone is in a great mood. My boyfriend steps out of the apartment and immediately sends me a text that says “Excellent day for a run”, and others are signing off emails with “Enjoy the beautiful weather”. It’s such a happy time when we can all enjoy dry, sunny, perfect 70 degree days and lush green trees with flowers in bloom.


I think everyone just wants to leave work early and have a picnic. And while I wish I was your boss and could tell you to drop the email at 3 o’clock (I can’t), I can bring the spring recipes to you.  Today, I have a delicious mini-popsicle that you can make in less than 5 minutes and enjoy any time for a little taste of spring. These popsicle are made with strawberries, banana, shredded coconut and vanilla Greek yogurt. All you need is an ice cube tray and some sort of stick (I cut straws into thirds).  Pop them into the freezer and enjoy!

Mini Berry Coconut Popsicles 2

Makes about 8 popsicles


1 banana

4 large strawberries, tops cut off

1 tablespoon of vanilla Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon shredded coconut

Small sticks (cut a straw into thirds)


  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour mixture into ice cube tray. Place a stick into each popsicle.
  3. Freeze for 1-2 hours. Enjoy!Mini Berry Coconut Popsicles

Recipe ReDux: Rainbow Grain Bowl

April’s Recipe ReDux theme is to share a new idea for lunch. Like most people, I’m a creature of habit when it comes to lunch.  I stick to my salads, sandwiches, and soups, but this challenge got me thinking about ways to switch up my old favorites.  I took a page out of the book of most of my favorite healthy “fast food” joints in NYC and decided to create a healthy bowl.  The best part about this grain bowl is that it’s completely customizable to your taste.  For the grain, I used a combo of farro and quinoa, but you can also use brown rice or bulgur.  I used bright and colorful, crunchy vegetables, but you can use whatever vegetable toppings you like and add any dressing, cheese or meat. What’s your favorite combination of flavors to throw into a bowl?

Rainbow Grain Bowl 2.jpg

Makes 2 bowls

1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup quick cook farro
1 cup water
1/2 cup red cabbage, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 yellow carrot, chopped
Optional toppings: 
Feta cheese
Balsamic vinaigrette
Grilled chicken

Rainbow Grain Bowl.jpgDirections:

  1. In a saucepan, combine the quinoa, farro and water and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. When the grains are done, put in a bowl and top with the veggies. Top with any optional toppings.


Veggie & Quinoa Quesadilla with Lime Slaw

Okay, honest moment… I do cook a lot, but I don’t have the time or energy to make something new every night. I have a signature “go-to” meal when I’m pressed for time and lacking motivation, and it’s this delicious Veggie & Quinoa Quesadilla with Lime Slaw. I almost always have most of these ingredients on hand, so I whip this together in 20 minutes several days each week (I actually just ate it for dinner before writing this post). Because I’ve heard from many of you that you like my simple approach to food and nutrition, I figured I should share my easiest meal. Whip this Quesadilla up for any Meatless Monday and everyone will be pleased!

Veggie Quesadilla

P.S. This meal will be one of the video recipes in my new program: The Athlete Nutrition Plan! Click the button below to find out more about the plan.


Makes 2 Quesadillas

2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small sweet potato, chopped into cubes
2 teaspoons Chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Chili seasoning
1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 whole wheat tortillas
1/3 cup cheddar cheese
Optional toppings:
sliced avocado
Greek yogurt
diced tomatoes

Veggie Quesadilla close up

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
  2. In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, sweet potato, 1 teaspoon of chili powder and salt. Stir to mix.  Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the quinoa and water in a pot.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
  4. While the quinoa is cooking, heat a frying pan over medium heat.  When the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, zucchini and yellow squash.  Sautee 5-7 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Add 1 teaspoon of chili powder and Chipotle Chili and stir.  If needed, season with salt.
  5. In a bowl, combine the thinly sliced cabbage, olive oil and juice of 1/2 a lime. Stir to combine.
  6. If you have a Foreman grill or quesadilla maker, turn them on now. Lay the tortilla out flat.  Layer one side with cheese, quinoa, zucchini mixture, sweet potatoes and an extra sprinkle of cheese. Fold the tortilla in half.Veggie Quesadilla before
  7. If you don’t have a Foreman grill or tortilla maker, heat skillet over medium heat. Place the folder tortilla on the Foreman, quesadilla maker or skillet and grill until the tortilla starts to  brown and get crispy.  It should take about 5 minutes.
  8. Once the tortilla is brown and crispy on each side, remove from the pan. Open up the tortilla and pile in the Lime Slaw. Feel free to add any of the other optional toppings too!