FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Lentil Salad

I have had a bag of lentils sitting in my pantry for about a month that were begging to be used so when I saw this recipe on Facebook and I had to try it! Normally, my husband will turn his nose up at anything with lentils, but he loved this dish! I was actually pretty shocked he offered to try it without me asking. The recipe makes a large amount so it would be great for a party side dish! The only time-consuming part is dicing all the veggies, but you can use it as a chance to work on your knife skills.

One funny side note; I went to my mom’s to get the fresh parsley because she has a terrific herb garden. I cut what I thought was parsley but turned out to be cilantro. While the cilantro did not ruin the dish, it was a tad overpowering. Make sure you grab the parsley 🙂

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Lentil Salad
Servings: 5 • Size: scant cup • Old Points: 1 pts • Points+: 3 pts
Calories: 102 • Fat: 3 g • Carb: 20 g • Fiber: 9 g • Protein: 7 g • Sugar: 1 g
Sodium: 255 mg • Cholesterol: 0 mg


  • 1 cup dry brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots
  • 1/3 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper


In a medium saucepan combine lentils, bay leaf, and thyme. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 16 to 20 minutes.

Drain lentils and discard bay leaf. Place in a large work bowl with carrots, celery, red pepper, red onion, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and serve chilled or room temperature.

Makes 4 1/2 cups


FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

I purchased a bag of split yellow peas from a local produce market. Having never made anything with split yellow peas, I went searching for recipes and came across this one on the Whole Foods website.  I had leftover sweet potatoes from the Loaded Black Bean Sweet Potato Boats. This recipe is simple and tastes wonderful!

I added a dash of ground nutmeg and garlic salt at the end to kick up the flavor a little. Don’t skip the toasted pumpkin seeds; they are a great addition!


Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 8 (I cut the recipe in half)


8 1/2 cups water

1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 cups dried yellow split peas

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds


Bring 1/2 cup water to simmer in a large sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes or until translucent. Stir in ginger and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add remaining 8 cups water, peas and sweet potato cubes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Uncover and continue to simmer 15 minutes. Carefully purée soup with a hand held immersion blender or in batches in a food processor (I used a Magic Bullet Blender) until smooth and creamy. Garnish with pumpkin seeds.

Nutritional Info:

PER SERVING: 290 calories (50 from fat), 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 30mg sodium, 44g carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 5g sugar), 18g protein

Natural Foods Glossary

My mom came across this handy pamphlet at our local Publix Supermarket containing key terms we see throughout the grocery store . For those of you without a Publix in your area, I am SO sorry. They are by far one of the best grocery stores in the world (no exaggeration)! When I first started eating healthier, I was not familiar with the terminology being used. This list would have really helped!

Here is a link to the Glossary on their website!

All-Natural Foods These foods are minimally processed and contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Allergy An unusually high sensitivity to normally harmless substances such as pollens, foods, or microorganisms. Common symptoms include sneezing, itching, eye irritation, and rashes.
Antibiotic A substance or drug used to treat infections, originally derived from fungi, bacteria and other organisms. Today, synthetic antibiotics have been produced to accomplish comparable tasks.
Antioxidants Substances, such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, which block or inhibit oxidation within cells. Antioxidants may reduce the risks of cancer and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Carbohydrate An organic substance, usually of plant origin with a carbon, hydrogen and oxygen composition, which serves as a major energy source in the diet.
Carcinogens Substances that are capable of inducing cancerous changes in cells and/or tissues.
Cholesterol A crystalline substance found in soluble fat, which serves in the transporting and absorption of fatty acids. However, excess amounts can be a potential health threat.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) Unsaturated fatty acids that are essential for health, but not produced by the body: EFAs are commonly found in cold-pressed oils, particularly in oils extracted from cold-water fish and certain seeds.
Fiber The indigestible portion of plant matter and an important component of a healthy diet. It is capable of binding to toxins and escorting them out of the body.
Free Radical An atom or group of atoms with at least one unpaired electron. Because free radicals are highly reactive, they can alter the chemical structure of cells and may accelerate the progression of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Functional Foods Foods that have been enriched or fortified with vitamins, herbs, or minerals to provide a health benefit beyond the product’s traditional nutrients. For example: orange juice with calcium.
Isoflavones Plant-based compound with estrogen-like properties that are found primarily in soy beans. Isoflavens can act as low-dose estrogens and can also lessen estrogen’s effect on cells and skin layers, possibly reducing the risks of estrogen-related cancers.
Mineral A micro-nutrient that is neither animal- nor plant-based such as calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, and zinc, which is essential to the nutrition of humans, animals, and plants.
Organic Foods The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) strictly enforces proper production of these foods by using the following categories:

  • “100% Organic” products include all organically produced (raw and processed) ingredients (excluding water and salt).  The “100% Organic” label may be used, as may the USDA organic seal.  The organic certifying agent must be identified on the label, as must the seal.
  • USDA Certified Organics are made with 95% or more organic ingredients.  These foods may be labeled as “Organic” and carry the USDA organic seal.  The name of the certifying agent must appear on the label, although the seal is optional.
  • “Made with Organic Ingredients” means foods may include 70-94% organic ingredients.  Up to 3 of these organic ingredients may be listed on the primary display panel, along with the “Made with Organic Ingredients” tag.  The name of the certifying agent must be included; the USDA organic seal can not be used.
  • Foods made with less than 70% organic content can include the organic ingredients on the ingredient label. This term can be found on the information panel on applicable products and identifying ingredients.  It can not be used on the primary display panel, however, and no seals can be used.

Specific requirements to be certified organic vary slightly for different types of livestock, dairy and agricultural producers.

RDA An acronym for Recommended Daily Allowance or Recommended Dietary Allowance. The estimated amount of a nutrient, or calories, per day considered necessary for the maintenance of good health as determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Saturated Fat A fat that is solid at room temperature. Although most are of animal origin, some like coconut oil and palm oil come from plants. An excess of saturated fats in the diet may raise cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.
Vegan These products are derived solely from plant origin, excluding animal protein (such as meat, eggs, dairy products or honey).
Vegetarian Foods derived from plant sources, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and nuts. May contain some animal protein, usually using egg or dairy products as ingredients.
Vitamin One of a group of organic substances essential in small quantities for life. For the most part, they must be supplied through the diet, since the body does not manufacture them.

FIT His the PAN Friday – Healthy Brownies!

My favorite part of vegan baking is that you can safely lick the batter off the spatula 🙂 I cannot remember how I came across this recipe (probably cruising Pinterest), but it was originally posted on I am a huge fan of making recipes when I have all the ingredients in my kitchen. There is nothing worse than coming across a fantastic recipe and not having one or two of the ingredients!  This recipe is super-easy and if the batter is any indication of how the brownies will taste, they should be very good (I wrote this part while they were still in the oven). The final product is also very good! I recommend using a food processor to get the best consistency. I stuck to the original recipe with the exception of the peanut butter; I used almond butter instead.



Healthy Brownie Recipe

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Time from start to eating: 45 minutes
Makes 16 brownies

Nutrition Info per Brownie:
178 calories/9g sugar/7g fat/6g protein/271mg sodium


  • 1 14oz can kidney or black beans
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup fresh medjool dates, pitted*
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or any other nut/seed butter)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup cocoa and/or carob powder
  • 1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries or chocolate chips (or a mix of any or all)
  • 1 cup sorghum flour (or any whole grain flour)

*Note: If you prefer, or if you’re not using a food processor, you can replace the dates with 1/2 cup unrefined sugar.

Healthy Brownie Recipe Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (or your BBQ on low, about 450 degrees F).
  2. Put the beans, banana, dates, milk, nut/seed butter, vanilla and apple cider vinegar in a food processor and puree until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor, you can mash the beans and banana, and chop the dates up as finely as you can. The sweetness won’t be as even as if you puree, so you may want to add some unrefined sugar.
  3. Add the baking powder, soda, cocoa/carob powder and flour and pulse until they’re incorporated. Don’t overmix here. Sprinkle the raisins, cranberries or chocolate chips into the mix and push them into the batter (don’t puree them).
  4. Pour the batter into a greased or lined 8″ brownie dish and put in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
  5. Once the brownies are cooked, pull them from the oven, let them cool completely and then cut into squares and serve. If you want to keep your brownies longer, they freeze very well.

My new favorite snack!


Let me begin by saying I did not receive any product or compensation for this endorsement. I think it is important to mention that because I am about to sound like a commercial 🙂

My friend Jill and I have a weekly dinner date at Whole Foods. They have a fantastic deli with healthy foods for a reasonable price. Inevitably, we always end up shopping after we eat. On one of our trips I came across Justin’s Nut Butter. They sell individual packets so you can try all of the different flavors. Another great selling point for the packets is that you cannot sit down and eat the whole jar at once (which is exactly what I would do).

There are several different flavors, but my two favorite are Chocolate Almond and Chocolate Hazelnut. They both taste like Nutella, but nutritionally are much better for you. Their products are vegan, dairy-free and GMO-free!

If you are looking for a tasty treat that won’t make you feel super guilty after eating it, try Justin’s Nut Butter. Seriously though, don’t buy the whole jar unless you have exceptional self-control.

FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Plant-Strong Pizza

My husband and I are on Day 5 of the Engine 2 Diet – 28 Day Challenge. Eating healthy is not a chore but doing it without any animal products has been a bit more challenging. We did not realize how much cheese is in the foods we eat! Sometimes, it is not even visible in the main ingredients. Overall, we have enjoyed this challenge and hope to maintain this lifestyle after the challenge is complete.

Pizza is a staple in our house. We almost always make it at home unless we make a special visit to a local pizzeria, Marchello’s. After eating their pizza we could not even consider pizza from a chain restaurant. If you had told me I would eat pizza without cheese at any point in my life, I would have laughed at you. Yet pizza without cheese is our only option on the Engine 2 Diet. We decided to get creative the other day and make a plant-strong pizza; here is what we came up with!

Side note: We were in a hurry when we purchased our pre-made crust and just grabbed Boboli Whole Wheat. This crust is not Engine 2 approved as it contains cheese and milk. We have since purchased an approved crust at Whole Foods. For a list of approved foods go here.

Cafe’ Ivey Plant-Strong Pizza












Serves 8
Nutrition info may vary depending on your product choices and toppings
Calories 141/Fat 4 g/Sugar 3 g/Protein 6 g/Sodium 217 mg/ Cholesterol 0 mg


1 Boboli Whole Wheat Pizza Crust or Engine 2 approved crust of your choice
1 cup Whole Foods 365 Marinara Sauce or Engine 2 approved sauce of your choice
1 large portobello mushroom cap diced
1 cup zucchini or yellow squash diced
1 oz sliced jarred banana pepper rings
1/2 red pepper diced
1/2 cup onion diced (we used a mix of red and sweet yellow)
1 cup fresh spinach
1 oz raw cashews finely grated (I used a coffee grinder but a food processor would also work)


Preheat the oven to 450 or temperature on pizza crust directions
Spread the sauce evenly over the entire crust
Layer the spinach over the sauce
Spread the rest of the vegetables evenly over the entire pizza
Sprinkle the grated cashews evenly over the entire pizza
Bake for 8-10 minutes or follow direction on pizza crust package
Once finished baking, remove from oven and let pizza sit for about 5 minutes
Slice and serve!

You can use any vegetable combination for this pizza to make it your own! Get creative!

For more Engine 2 Diet Recipes, check out their website. If you would like to join in on our challenge, check out my page on Facebook!



Plant-based Lasagna?!?

You all know my recipe posts normally come on Friday, but I thought I would change it up a bit. Last night I jumped feet-first into the world of plant-based recipes.

Since I started my nutrition and wellness consulting company, I have been watching every documentary about food and nutrition that I can get my hands on. After watching Forks Over Knives I was intrigued by the health benefits associated with a plant-based diet. I started hearing more and more about this lifestyle change people were making, so I purchase Rip Esselstyn’s book, The Engine 2 Diet. No matter how good it sounded, I was certain that a life without meat and cheese was not the life for me. I LOVE bacon!

Let’s fast forward to last week when I saw Rip speak at Whole Foods. He was promoting his new book, My Beef with Meat. His case for a “plant strong” diet as he calls it was very compelling.
I decided I was going to take part in the Engine 2 Diet – 28 Day Challenge and begrudgingly my husband will too. I invited all of my Facebook followers to join us and I am inviting you as well! So far we have 11 people participating and I am hoping more come along!

Check out the event page here

You can get all the information you need to get started on the Engine 2 website. They provide a welcome video, shopping lists and recipes. One of the recipes is called Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna which I made last night for my southern father-in-law and carnivorous husband.  If you have unadventurous eaters in your house, I would recommend telling them the ingredients after they eat. This is a healthy and fun dish filled with vitamins! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

The amount of vegetables in the recipe is enough to make two lasagnas. I would suggest cutting the chopped vegetable mixture quantity in half. Otherwise, you end up with too much. I froze the unused portion for a later date. I also only used one package of noodles.


Image**Please ignore the quality of my photos. The lighting in my kitchen is terrible! 

Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 package Silken Lite tofu
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 jars Engine 2 approved pasta sauce
  • 2 boxes whole grain lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 6 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 1 cup raw cashews, ground


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Sauté the onion and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a wok or nonstick pan.
Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp and the mushrooms give up their liquid.
Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon.
Reserve the mushroom liquid in the pan.
Sauté the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and add to the mushroom bowl.
Sauté the peppers and corn until just beginning to soften. Add them to the vegetable bowl.
Drain the silken tofu by wrapping in paper towels. Break it up directly in the towel and mix into the vegetable bowl.
Add spices to the vegetable bowl and combine.
To assemble the vegetable lasagna :
Cover the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole with a layer of sauce.
Add a layer of noodles.
Cover the noodles with sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy.
Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles.
Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce.
Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles.
Cover the spinach with the mashed sweet potatoes.
Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce. Cover the lasagna with thinly sliced roma tomatoes.
Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
Remove the foil, sprinkle with the cashews, and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Let lasagna sit for 15 minutes before serving.