Fueling our Young Athletes for Performance

My family asked me to put together a list of healthy meals and snacks to pack for my 13 yo sister during her Volleyball tournaments. They thought it would be something helpful to also share with the other parents of the team.

I think this is an extremely important component in young athletes’ performances.  As parents, we have the most control over making the best decisions for these young athletes!

I thought it would be helpful to share what I put together. There are many views on nutrition, however, for her age bracket I feel this is most appropriate to meet their needs and taste buds.

Please feel free to pass around to other young athletes and their parents!

Fueling our athletes for performance




Summer Side Dishes

The summer months are filled with BBQ’s and gatherings with friends and family, which can make it  hard to stay on track with your nutrition.  One idea that we use when attending a gathering is to always bring at least one dish that you know is healthy so you have something to munch on and at the same time introduce that healthy food can still taste “good” to your friends and family.  Here are a few side dishes that my family has enjoyed this summer!


Sweet Potato & Egg Dill Salad


  • 5 Sweet potatoes
  • 1 dozen Eggs
  • 1/2C MCT Oil or Olive Oil
  • 1Tb Dill (Preferably fresh)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  1. Boil your eggs (12 min) and sweet potatoes (15 min) until cooked.
  2. Once boiled, soak eggs and sweet potatoes in cold water to cool down enough to handle them.
  3. Dice up sweet potatoes into 1/2″ cubes and toss into large mixing bowl.
  4. Peel eggs and dice, add to mixing bowl.
  5. Add MCT Oil, Dill and Salt and Pepper to bowl and mix all ingredients.  Put in fridge to chill and serve cold. Enjoy!

Cucumber Salad


  • 4 Cucumbers
  • 1 Sweet Onion
  • 4 Tb Olive Oil
  • 4 Tb White Vinegar
  • 4 Tb Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 C Fresh Dill
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  1. Slice cucumbers & onion very thin and toss into mixing bowl.
  2. Combine Olive Oil, Lemon juice and Vinegar into bowl and mix with cucumbers & onions
  3. Finish by adding dill and S&P to taste.  Serve cold.
  4. This dish gets better as it marinades.  I recommend making it 24 hours in advance.  Enjoy!



Chicken & Broccoli

Sometimes you make  meal that is labeled “a keeper!”  This was one of them in my house!  Super easy to make in a large batch to have plenty of leftovers to put away for lunches during the week or dinner on a night you get home late.

Chicken & Broccoli 


  • 1 Package Chicken Thighs or Boneless Chicken Breast
  • 2 Heads Broccoli
  • 1 Large White Onion
  • 2 TB Minced Garlic
  • 2 TB Chopped Basil (fresh would be best)
  • 2 TB Ghee or Olive Oil
  • 3 Sweet Potatoes (baked for 15 min in advance)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  1. Chop your sweet potato into 1/2″ cubes and bake in advance for about 15 min @ 350.
  2. Dice your onion into small pieces and toss into sautee pan with ghee or olive oil
  3. Cut chicken into 1″ pieces and add to pan with along with garlic & basil.   Allow to cook for about 5 minutes
  4. Chop your broccoli and add to pan.  Cook for about 5 minutes
  5. Finish by mixing in your sweet potatoes and letting it simmer for a few minutes just enough for the potatoes to get warm.
  6. Add S&P to taste.

Makes 4-6 servings

chicken and broccoli


 Nutrition Information: (1/6th serving) 285 Calories, 14g Fat, 22g Protein, 22g Carbs


Food Prep

Through experience of trial and error, I have learned that  in order to choose healthy meal and snack options throughout the week, food prep is KEY!  Choose one day a week such as Sunday and designate 1-2 hours towards preparing your food for the week ahead.  Here’s a snap shot of how I prepare breakfast and lunches for my husband and I for the week.

meal prep

STEP 1: Sit down and decide what you want to eat for the week and write it down.  Make a trip to the grocery store with your LIST.  The list is extremely important for multiple reasons:

  1. It keeps you away from items that are less healthy
  2. It keeps the budget tighter than browsing through the isles
  3. It makes shopping quick and painless

STEP 2: Unpack your grocery bags and keep everything on the counter.   This will force you to prep your meals immediately.  Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees, this is an average temperature that is good to cook multiple dishes at.

STEP 3: Rate your meals in order by which item on your list takes the longest to cook and work backwards.

For me,  sweet potatoes are the first on the list.  I dice up about 5-6 sweet potatoes into small cubes and toss them in 3 TB coconut oil, onion & garlic powder, salt & pepper.  Spread onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.

*TIP: lining baking sheets with parchment paper cuts down on the clean up time!

Next up is my Crust less Quiche.  I dice up my veggies of choice for the week (this week was red peppers, zucchini, scallions & chives) and place in a bowl.  Crack 1 dozen eggs in the bowl and mix.  Pour into a 13×9 greased baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.

While your items are in the oven, use the remaining time to finish up stove top items or prepping fresh fruits and veggies.  This week, for lunches I chose grass-fed lean beef burgers and sautéed kale to for lunches.  I cooked the burgers stove stop and added some steak seasoning.  These took about 8 minutes total to cook.  I then diced up my kale into about 1″ cubes and sautéed in a pan with olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper and lemon juice.

I also prepped the remaining veggies I had such as peppers and asparagus by washing and cutting them up so they were ready to use for dinners.

By the time the stove top items and veggie prep were complete, my oven dishes were finished.  I portioned everything out into Tupperware containers for Nick and I and stacked them in the fridge so they are ready to grab and go.  He has the left side and I have the right side so we know who’s is who’s.

From start to finish, this doesn’t need to take more than 1-2 hours and it lines up the rest of your week to be successful!






Understand the WHYs…and keeping it simple

As I take on the 30 day challenge, it is important to understand the WHYs.  Many people will ask me WHY am I  removing Grains, Dairy or Legumes. Take a few minutes to read through the following links and post any questions below. Happy Reading!





It can feel overwhelming to always be finding creative ways to eat healthy.  Keep in mind, it doesn’t always have to be fancy!  Sometimes the best way to stay on track is to Keep It Simple Silly!


Last night’s dinner was quick and easy!

  • Boneless chicken breast marinated in olive oil and Stonemill Steak Seasoning
  • Asparagus and Onions tossed in Balsamic Vinegar, salt & pepper

Grilled for 20 minutes on medium heat.  Mustard is a good “dipping sauce” for this dish since my husband always needs to dip his chicken in something!

This is a great opportunity to cook extra for leftovers to use for lunches or dinner on a night you work late. Enjoy!


Whole 30

On Monday, I am joining about 25 members of our gym on a 30 Day Nutrition Challenge called the Whole 30.  This will be my 3rd time doing this challenge since November.  In that time,  I have learned a lot about nutrition and more importantly, how my body responds to food.

Here is the basis of the challenge:


The WHY’s: (Best explained by Whole30.com)

“Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it.

Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent?  Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury?  Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff.

So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you? Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health.”

fuel good feel good

Below is a list I created after my first Whole 30 of the positive changes eating this way made to my life:

1. There is sugar in everything! Even organic meats such as chicken sausage and bacon. I have totally eliminated sugar from my diet and feel amazing!
2. I sleep better and feel well rested.
3. My skin & nails are super healthy.
4. My favorite part of the day is prepping meals with my husband- we really work well together and it’s good QT!
5. I don’t look forward to going out to eat as much because I know I can make a much better meal for myself at home- double win here because we have saved $$.
6. Holidays are just as enjoyable without indulging- our families were very accommodating to including meals we could eat and everyone loved all the dishes!
7. Having structure in our nutrition has brought structure in other areas in our lives such as balancing work/play, being more disciplined with our time and drinking more water!
8. We removed coffee as well and were able to give up our caffeine addiction.
9. I loved the book “it starts with food.” It was very eye opening and had great reasonings about how our bodies respond to certain foods, this has changed my mind on a lot of foods I will not be introducing back into my meals.
10. I lost 10# in 30 days without limiting my quantity, weighing or measuring- just by simply eating whole foods from their natural state.

what doesnt kill me

If you are interested in making a positive change in your nutrition, I would love for you to join myself and other members of EXP on this 30 day journey.  

Here’s what to do next:

  • Join our Facebook Event to benefit from the daily recipes and support from fellow members!
  • PURGE “non compliant” foods from your cabinets and fridge.
  • Choose a day for food prep, (we like Sundays). Go shopping and stock your fridge. Here a quick video on food prep. Extra tupperware and ziploc bags come in handy!
  • Stay connected– Post your questions and any challenges you face along the way to the group so we can help you through it!
  • Continue to follow my blog!  I will be sharing my favorite recipes and meal ideas right here!

To learn more about the Whole 30 program, visit their website www.Whole30.com and read the book “It Starts with Food” by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig


Chicken Drumsticks with Carrot and Cabbage Pancakes

During our Whole 30 challenge last month, I found that I appreciated staying in and cooking a great meal that we could enjoy knowing exactly how it was made and what the ingredients were was a much more pleasant experience than going out to eat and worrying what our food was going to be cooked in, etc.  I came up with this combination and it was a HUGE hit!  The pancakes were my husbands absolute favorite and reminded us of Chinese egg foo young.  The drumsticks paired nicely with the homemade BBQ sauce I had made earlier in the week.  Both were extremely easy and amazingly yummy!


Chicken Drumsticks


  • 3 tbsp coconut oil or clarified butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 10 free range, organic chicken drumsticks


  1. Preheat your oven to 375 F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper as well as the coconut oil or clarified butter. Dump in the chicken and mix well to ensure all the meat is evenly coated with the seasonings.
  3. Place the chicken drumsticks on a large baking sheet with space in between each to prevent overlap. Cook for about 1 hour, until the chicken is well cooked, turning the pieces once during the cooking process.

courtesy of PaleoLeap.com

Carrot & Cabbage Pancakes


  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 sweet onion finely chopped
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut flour
  • Coconut oil, for frying


  1. In a large bowl combine carrots, cabbage, onions and eggs. Stir salt and coconut flour into carrot mixture.
  2. In a large skillet heat coconut oil. Scoop large tablespoonfuls of batter onto skillet.
  3. Fry patties on each side over medium heat until browned and crispy.
  4. Transfer pancakes to a paper towel lined plate.
  5. Repeat process until all of the batter is used up.

Modified from TheDailyMeal.com

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Nothing like homemade soup

Growing up, there was nothing I enjoyed more in the fall and winter months than my grandmother and mother’s homemade soups! My mom always made soup as a way to use up holiday leftovers or extra veggies and chicken at the end of the week. I have followed in their footsteps to do the same. I enjoy scrounging through my veggie drawers at the end if the week to see what I can toss into a pot for a warm, hearty soup.

I have always opted to make broth based soups but wanted to try something new, so experimented with a tomato base. It was delicious and made great lunches for us throughout the week!

2 sweet potatoes
1 bag organic peas
1 head of celery
3 yellow onions
4 cloves garlic
2 red peppers
1lb cooked chicken or turkey
Olive oil
Handful of fresh basil
1 28oz can tomato purée
28oz water
Seasonings to taste: salt & pepper, onion powder, Italian seasoning


-Coat the bottom of your pot with olive oil. Dice up onions & celery and sauté for 10 minutes.

– While onions & celery are cooking, chop up sweet potatoes and peppers.
– At the 10 min mark, add potatoes and peppers to pot and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.

– Add tomato purée, water, pressed garlic & seasonings to the pot. Bring to a boil then lower to simmer for 30 minutes.

– Finish by adding the peas, diced chicken & chopped basil to the pot.




Pulled Pork with Homemade BBQ Sauce and Cole Slaw

I was inspired to attempt my first pulled pork after watching a friend eat his leftovers for lunch which smelled amazing! I wanted to use my crock pot so I could set it and have dinner ready for the night.  I began searching Pintrest for recipes and found a few I like so merged them together to create my own.  Here’s what I came up with:

Pulled Pork Ingredients:

  • One 4 to 6 pound pork shoulder or boneless roast
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup Spanish smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp dehydrated minced onion
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder

Courtesy of  PaleoPot.com

BBQ Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pineapple
  • left over dry rub from pork roast

Modified from civilizedcavemancooking.com

Cole Slaw Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons  lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste
  • 1/4 cup MCT oil (you could also use olive oil)
  • 3 cups cored and shredded cabbage
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Modified from Markbittman.com

  • Peel 6 cloves of garlic and cut each clove in half. Using a thin knife poke holes into your pork shoulder and then press your garlic in.
  • Mix your dry rub ingredients well in a bowl or large plastic bag.
  • Coat your pork shoulder with your dry rub as evenly as possible.
  •  Place your pork shoulder in the crock pot with the fat cap facing upwards.

pork 4

  • Combine all ingredients for the BBQ Sauce in a bowl and mix well.
  • Add the BBQ sauce mixture to the top of the roast in the crock pot.

pork 3

  • Add all your ingredients for the Cole Slaw in a large bowl, mix together, then store in the fridge covered.

pork 2

  • Set your slow cooker to low for 8 to 10 hours. Your meat is done when it easily pulls apart with a single fork.
  • Remove the roast from the crock pot and place in a large bowl.  Remove the fat cap from the meat.  Now simply use a pair of forks to shred your tender meat into pulled pork goodness.
  • Transfer all the sauce from the crock pot into a blender and blend until smooth.

pork 1

  • Add your desired amount of BBQ sauce to your pulled pork and serve over a bed of the chilled Cole Slaw.  Top with avocado.  You will have plenty of left over BBQ sauce as well to save for another dish! Enjoy!

pork 5

Weekend Away

Last weekend I had the privilege to travel to Branford, CT to coach 10 Masters athletes ages 40-55 at The North East Masters CrossFit Competition.   I used the trip to also touch base with a friend and physical therapist just a few more miles up the road in Greenwich, CT.  We packed up and hit the road early Friday morning for our 2 day trip.

The best part about road trips is that you can pack a cooler filled with snacks and meals that you can prepare at home, rather that being limited to what’s available at the rest areas (yes, I hit a lot of those on the way) or at your hotel breakfast.  It takes just a small amount of planning and effort to eat clean while on the road.  Here’s a snap shot of our meals over the weekend:

Thursday: Food prep

Thursday was a busy day for us so we didn’t have the opportunity to pack our snacks until 9:00pm.  Still, we decided to make it happen and were able to get it done in 30 minutes by working together on some quick food prep.  Here’s a list of what was packed in our cooler for the weekend:

  • Celery sticks and Almond Butter
  • Chicken Grape Salad
  • 4 cooked Chicken Burgers
  • Hand cut Sweet Potato Fries
  • Berry Salad (Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries & Grapes)
  • 2 Bananas & 2 Apples
  • 6 Hard-Boiled Eggs
  • 2 servings of left over ground Grass Fed Beef with Peppers & Onions (Thursday night’s dinner)
  • Homemade Trail Mix

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Our hotel fridge packed with our cooler items!


Breakfast: We hit the road at 8:00am and needed to make it to Greenwich by 12:00 so tried our best to straight shoot it there.  We ate Thursday night’s leftovers of Grass Fed Beef with Peppers & Onions for breakfast along with a couple of coffees.

Lunch: After our meeting in Greenwich, we had an hour or so to kill before making our way back to Branford so we took a drive to the beautiful downtown area filled with high-end shops & restaurants on every corner!  We happened to find a parking space near a restaurant named Leaf Line Salad Co.  It had a trendy look and the name drew me in so we popped in to check out what their menu was like for lunch.  What a treasure, this place was awesome!!!  In brief, this is a start-up franchise that began with an owner who had gluten and dairy food allergies.  He wanted to create somewhere people could enjoy lunch without worrying about limitations of their diet, and this was exactly what he did!  You created your salad by picking your greens (kale, spinach, romaine, spring mix or an alternative of quinoa,) you then chose your vegetables, a list of about 20 all which were freshly cleaned and prepped.  Next came your protein source; grilled free-range chicken or roasted turkey breast, grass-fed steak or tofu.  Finally, you choose your dressing, all of which were made with oils, fresh herbs and fresh fruit (they even had a listing of exactly what was in each and every one they offered.)  To top it off, your could choose to add nuts to your salad.  The best part was they prep- they chopped up all your ingredients into bite size pieces, and tossed it with your dressing so each bite was the perfect mix!  If you can’t tell- we LOVED this place!

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Snack:  After getting to our hotel and settling in a few hours had passed and I snacked on our homemade trail mix from our cooler.  Luckily, our hotel had a nice sized mini fridge to keep our food cold!

Dinner: All of our friends had arrived in Branford, so we went to dinner as a group to Donavan’s Reef.  They had a good-sized menu with lots of options.  I choose the steak fajita and customized my order to skip the tortillas, sour cream and cheese and to add in a side salad to start and a side of sautéed broccoli rabe in garlic and oil to my dinner.  Nick chose a salad with grilled asparagus, seared scallops, hard-boiled eggs and avocado.  It was great and the server was very accommodating to our modifications.


Breakfast: We woke up early to head to the competition.  The hotel included breakfast so we headed down to grab a bite.  The options were the basics in a hotel breakfast: Hard boiled eggs, cereal, yogurt, bacon, sausage, eggs, bagels and muffins with coffee or juice.  We opted for the eggs and grabbed an apple and a coffee and off we went.

Lunch: The day was very busy with our 10 athletes so meals were snuck in between workouts.  We were able to grab a few bites of our chicken grape salad along with some sweet potato fries for lunch.

Snacks: Our snacks came in handy for both ourselves as well as our friends because the competition ended up lasting about 11 hours start to finish.  We snacked on the homemade trail mix, fruit salad and almond butter along with a couple of bites of grilled chicken from friends who purchased from the caterer at lunch.  We also made a couple of runs to the local Starbucks for coffees.  I’ve recently switched to black coffee so I tried my first Americano sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon-yum!

Dinner: Dinner after an event like this is always the best!  We go out in a big group and celebrate everyone’s amazing accomplishments from the day.  In the past, I’ve been on the other side as the athlete competing and then indulge a little as a reward.  This time however, I stayed true to my Whole 30 program and we were lucky enough to be recommended a local Mexican restaurant, Chuck’s Margarita Grill, who actually provided us with a Paleo menu- how cool is that!  We started by asking for a side of veggies rather than chips to dip in the salsa and they brought out a couple plates of cucumbers and peppers for the table.  For dinner, both Nick and I chose the Chicken Fajita which were served with romaine lettuce wraps, homemade pineapple salsa and guacamole.  Nick got a side of sautéed mushrooms and I choose the baked sweet potato.  Everything was delicious and clean!

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As tough as it may be sometimes to make the right choice in the heat of the moment, it is just as simple to make the clean choice and be able to walk away with a free conscience, full belly and enjoy the moment!

Homemade Trail Mix Recipe:

Equal parts of unsweetened coconut flakes, raw almonds & freeze dried berries.  I tossed mine all in a gallon sized bag and was good to go!

trader-joes-raw-almonds 1130C12_s_hr 507A6630-7B01-0DE1-4BAF-9EDC3D880FC4

Hand Cut Sweet Potato Fries:

These are one of our all time favorites and have become a regular in our house.  That being said, I think I have finally mastered the recipe and make a darn good batch if I may say so myself!!


  • 4-6 whole sweet potatoes
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • chives
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil


Preheat over to 350.  Starting with a DRY sweet potato is very important so I would recommend if you are going to wash them, do it right after you buy them, before they go in the fridge.  Washing immediately before using keeps the potato moist which will leave you with a soggy patch of fries.  Slice up sweet potatoes in strips about 1/4 thick.  Toss into large mixing bowl and add in enough olive oil to lightly coat the potatoes, mix with hands.  Now add your spices- I don’t take exact measurements on these but its about 1/2-1 TB of each; onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, chives.  Mix again with hands and toss onto baking sheet.  Make sure the potatoes are laid out into one thin layer without overlapping each other.  Bake for 20-25 min until soft all the way through.  Finish by broiling on high for 5 minutes (they golden up quick so keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.)  If you have 2 racks of fries, make sure each gets broiled on the top rack for their 5 minutes.   Enjoy!


Homemade Ketchup (Paleo & Sugar-Free)

In my house, no sweet potato fry goes eaten with out being dipped.  When we started the Whole 30, I was on a quest to find out how to make homemade ketchup so Nick wouldn’t go through dipping withdrawals. (He’s the: “I put ketchup on my ketchup” guy!) After a couple of attempts, here is the recipe we now use and always have in the fridge.  I don’t think I’ll ever go back to buying ketchup again.  It’s super easy and clean!


28oz Can Organic Tomato Puree

1/4c White Vinegar

Onion Powder

Garlic Power



In a small pot on the stove, bring the tomato puree to a simmer, be sure to keep a lid on the pot or you will have a big splatter mess.  Add in the vinegar and 1/2 TB of each of the spices.  Mix and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so it will not stick to the bottom.  Let cool then place in a container in the fridge.  It lasts about 2 weeks.