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Snacks Archives | Elizabeth Borelli

Shitake Mushroom Appetizer


Serves 6

This savory dish is such a favorite in our family we simply call it the Mushroom Appetizer.  It’s essentially a bruschetta, but the combination of flavors, especially when shitake or oyster mushrooms are used, is nothing short of sublime.

Shitake Mushroom Appetizer:


  • ¼ pound(roughly 2 cups) shitake, oyster or mushrooms of any kind
  • ¼ cup green onions, sliced into thin ¼” rings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Masala wine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced or crushed
  • 8 basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup tomato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • 6 1-2” slices of your favorite baguette


Gently wipe mushrooms clean with a damp cloth or paper towel, and then thinly slice.   Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, Masala, mushrooms, green onions and garlic to a medium-sized sauté pan.  Turn the heat to medium high, sautéing until mushrooms are soft and cooked through, 5-7 minutes.

Add basil, tomato and salt and continue cooking for another minute or two until everything is heated through.  Finish with freshly ground pepper and let sit the mixture sit while you prepare the bread.

Wipe out the sauté pan and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, tilting the pan to evenly coat it.  Turn heat to medium and add the bread, toasting for 2 minutes each side until lightly browned.

Remove the baguette slices from the pan and top with mushroom mixture.  Serve

Coco Nut Protein Bites


Makes 16 pieces

Prep time:  15 minutes

Yummy, protein-rich morsels are a great option for a healthy snack or dessert.


  • 1 cup dates, pitted and soaked in just enough water to cover for at least 15 minutes
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate (bar or chips)
  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseeds

Drain the dates and add along with oats, almonds and dark chocolate to a food processor or blender, and pulse just until the mixture reaches an even consistency.

Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients.  Stir until well-combined, then roll into 1 ½” balls and enjoy!  Store finished Coco Nut Protein Bites covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Easy Lunch Kabobs


Many among our older generation are surprised to see today’s parent frantically whip up an entirely different meal for their kids than they’re eating.  The kids’ food category is after all a relatively new construct, and although it creates exciting marketing opportunities for food companies, it isn’t such a win for kids and parents.

Most “kid foods” contain more sugar, fat and sodium than the adult versions, tastes which shape their food preferences into what can become a vicious cycle as time goes on.  Taste buds become so saturated that healthy, whole foods with their more subtle flavors have a hard time delivering enough sensation to satiate.

I agree, it’s hard to get children to eat kale and quinoa when they really just want a Happy Meal, but fortunately for all of us, there are happy mediums too.  When time and patience are at a premium, it helps to have some tricks up your sleeve to keep the Mac ‘n Cheeze at bay.   Mama Bears Tips for Healthy Eaters is here to help, or check out this fun and easy Kabob suggestion, because as the photo-shoot props and my nine-year old reminded me, kids are infinitely more likely to enjoy food that comes on a stick, even tofu.

Kabobs are a great way to pack a healthy, kid-friendly lunch using last night’s leftovers or fruits and veggies straight from the fridge.  Share the menu below with your kids and let them check off their choices so they can be sure to add them to your grocery cart or market tote, and create their own lunchtime masterpieces.

Easy Lunch Kabobs                                                                                                                                       Choose your favorites:

  • Bell pepper
  • Cheese
  • Grapes
  • Steamed cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Rolled lunch meat
  • Smoked tofu
  • Melon
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cubed whole grain bread
  • Chicken or turkey cubes
  • Steamed potatoes
  • Celery squares
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Pineapple chunks

Bamboo skewers are easy to find at your local market or retail store, but often too long to pack in a lunchbox.  Use kitchen scissors to snip them into two pieces, then skewer your favorite combination, leaving just enough of the stick free for easy pick-up.  Pack or wrap in a BPA-free reusable container for an easy lunchtime treat.

Beanalicious Hummus Trio


Makes 3 cups

There’s no big secret to making good hummus. If you puree garbanzo beans in a blender along with a bit of salt, it tastes pretty good. Add some savory seasonings and you’ll quickly make your way to delicious.

Here’s a favorite basic recipe, but feel free to experiment by adding other ingredients (roasted red pepper, black olives, or fresh basil are my top picks). As I’ve said before: as with most bean dishes, it’s hard to go wrong.

Lots of hummus recipes call for tahini, which along with lots of olive oil can be heavier than the calorie conscious among us prefer.  This lighter version makes a nice alternative without any compromise on flavor. It’s a great dip for veggies or whole grain pita chips, and always yummy as a wrap or sandwich spread. This Beanalicious hummus trio fits the bill for kid-friendly, healthy and delicious!


  • 3 cups garbanzo beans, precooked
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh if available)
  • 1/4-½ cup water (to desired consistency)
  • 2-3 tablespoons walnut or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced; or 1 teaspoon powdered or granulated garlic


  • ½ cup roasted red peppers, homemade or jarred
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/4  cup pitted, dried Kalamata olives

To cook beans: soak for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse beans, then add to a large stockpot; fill with water to 6 inches over the top of the bean blend. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1½ to 2½ hours. Drain and rinse.

To prepare hummus:  Add all ingredients to your blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Eggplant Fiesta Ragout


4 servinJuly 30 2014 034gs

This zesty ragout—a fancy word for “stew”—with its south-of-the-border flair makes a  simple and savory protein-packed dish. Take advantage of summer’s bounty, when eggplant and peppers are abundant.   Eggplant Fiesta Ragout is delicious over rice or served with whole grain tortillas, add a garden-fresh salad for a memorable warm-weather meal.


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 pound Italian or Asian eggplant, unpeeled, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped (a mini food processor or spice grinder is helpful, if available)
  • ½ cup of your favorite prepared salsa (choose your preference, from mild to hot)
  • 1 cup black beans, precooked
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt

To prepare beans from scratch,  soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.  Drain and rinse beans, then add to a large stockpot and fill with water to cover the beans by at least 6 inches.   Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours.  Drain and rinse.

Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium heat, then add eggplant, onion, and red pepper.  Sauté until eggplant is cooked through and onion is translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and mix in cilantro.  Let the caponata stand for 10 minutes to blend, then add salsa, beans, and salt.  Serve at warm or at room temperature with tortillas, rice, or your favorite grain.

Almost Oprah Chai


Inspired by the original Oprah Chai, my hot and spicy Almost Oprah version makes a wonderful morning pick me up or a welcome afternoon treat (minus the extreme packaging!)

If you haven’t tried making your own chai, it’s as simple as assembling the ingredients, but a good loose leaf tea strainer or a pot with one built-in is also key. These ingredients should be pretty easy to find in bulk in most health food stores, but if you don’t have a good local option nearby, Mountain Rose Herbs is a wonderful online source.


  • 1 cup cinnamon pieces (crushed cinnamon sticks)
  • 2 cups loose leaf black tea
  • ¾ cup dried ginger
  • ½ cup cacao nibs
  • ¼ cup licorice root
  • ¼ cup black peppercorns, coarsely ground if you like spice
  • ½ cup chicory root
  • ¼ cup cloves, coarsely ground
  • ¼ cup red rooibos (loose leaf herb or tea)

Blend all ingredients and store in a glass jar for up to 6 months.

To brew:  place 1 tablespoon of chai per cup of water into a teapot with a built-in strainer (a must have for all tea lovers!).   Either heat water separately to boiling or heat your teapot on a medium-high stove just until water comes to a simmer before you turn it down to low heat.

If you’ve separately heated the water, pour it into your teapot and steep chai for 5-10 minutes.  If you’re heated your chai on the stove top, steep for 2-5 minutes longer, depending on how strong you like it.

Enjoy your chai with ¼-½ cup warm rice, almond or dairy milk and a dash of stevia for a bit of sweetness.

To purchase my favorite chai pre-mixed, visit

And to donate to one of Oprah’s favorite charities without having to buy the tea, click here.

UltraVeggie Maki Rolls


Makes 2 large rolls, 2 servings

Inspired by the Japanese tradition, these colorful rolls are as fun to make as they are good to eat. Sprouted lentils and brown rice deliver high quality protein to complement the nutrient-rich seaweed and veggies rolled into a highly flavorful package.

Pack UltraVeggie Maki Rolls for lunch or serve with a big salad for a light evening meal.   Be creative with your fillings; add your favorite veggies, nuts or even some smoked tofu for an extra protein punch.

You’ll need a bamboo mat for this, but they’re easy to find in the Asian food aisle of most grocery stores, and inexpensive (around $2) too.


  • 2 sheets nori seaweed (available at most grocery stores)
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup red lentils, sprouted or pre-cooked
  • ¼ cup cooked brown rice
  • ½ red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts, pecans or sunflower seeds
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos for dipping


Prepare a pot of brown rice by simmering 1 cup of rice and 1/2 -1 teaspoon salt  in 2 cups of water,covered for 45-50 minutes until the water is absorbed.

When rice is just finished cooking, remove ½ cup from the pot, and blend with red lentils.  (chefs note:  If you like the rice and lentil combination, add 1-2 cups of sprouted red lentils to your freshly cooked rice to use in additional meals).  Store remaining rice covered in the fridge for future use.

Scoop out the avocado and add it along with the salt and garlic powder to a small mixing bowl. Mash the ingredients together until well blended.

Place a sheet of nori onto your bamboo mat, and spread the half of the avocado mixture evenly over the bottom half.

Layer half of the rice mixture over the avocado, then sprinkle half of the pepper, cabbage and nuts (or whichever fillings you choose to substitute) over the spread.

Moisten the top half of the nori with a little lemon juice or water, and you’re ready to roll!

Roll the nori starting at the bottom, and rolling up burrito-style, making sure the filling is wrapped in tightly.  Slice in half or into small cylinders and serve with dipping sauce on the side.

Super Energy Breakfast Bars


One of my go-to food staples.   These Super Energy Breakfast Bars really are all good; high in nutrients, fiber and protein with very low sugar and no saturated fat.  And very kid-friendly!  The ingredients are easy to find, even a good chain grocery store should have them.  These hearty oat bars store and travel really well too, perfect for on the go or on the road.  While the ingredients list looks long, the prep is very easy and the recipe makes enough for at least a week, they’re quite dense.  I like to whip up a batch on the weekend and enjoy them all week long!    If you bake more than 5 days’ worth, consider freezing some of the bars for later.

Note:  I recommend using an 8 or 9” square baking pan or dish, but don’t let that throw you off track.  Substitute a cake pan or similar in a pinch.

Oven Ready

Oven Ready


  • 3 cups steel cut oats, spelt, rye or tricale
  • 1 ¾ cups rice milk (or substitute any plant milk), keep ½ cup reserved
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • ½ cup 100% peanut butter or almond butter (made without added sugar or other ingredients)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3 tbsp. chocolate or vanilla protein powder (Vega Protein Smoothie is our favorite)
  • 1 -2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ¾ cup raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 – 2 tsp. stevia (optional)

Add oats to a large mixing bowl, and pour in 1 cup rice milk and vanilla.  Mix well to combine, then let stand for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.   Thinly spread coconut oil along the inside surface of an 8 or 9” square baking dish to prevent sticking.  Add banana, oats and remaining ½ cup rice milk to your blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  Pour into oat mixture and add remaining ingredients.  Stir until well blended.

Spoon the mixture into the pan, spread evenly and pat it down with a large spoon or spatula.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the pan in for at least 15 minutes longer (or until the oven is cool).  Cut into squares and serve.  Store covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Beany Bruschetta


BruchettaCelebrate Meatless Monday any time with this quick and tasty appetizer, perfect for parties. It’s especially good made with navy or cannellini beans.


• 1 whole-grain baguette
• 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
• ½ cup bean dip
• ½ cup tomato, diced

Preheat oven to 350°. Slice the baguette lengthwise. Brush the entire surface lightly with olive oil and place, cut side up, in the oven. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and spread with a thin layer of bean dip. Top with chopped tomato, and serve immediately.

Super Sprout Smoothie


IMG_34002 servings

Join me in a daily morning smoothie and get ready to glow!  A smoothie for breakfast makes sense for many reasons: fiber, enzymes, protein and antioxidants will keep you going all morning, no caffeine required!  Ingredient choices are flexible here, but be sure to keep it fresh, raw and mostly green to avoid sugar overload.

This recipe makes 4 servings, one for now, the rest to freeze for later.


3 packed cups kale leaves
1” piece of fresh ginger, peel on
2 organic celery stalks
1 organic green apple, cored
2 cups fresh alfalfa sprouts
½ c. fresh parsley
2 tsps. Hemp, chia or flax seeds
1 cup coconut water
1 cup water
Stevia to taste



Rinse ingredients and toss them in a blender, blend until smooth.


Fruit and Nutty Breakfast Bars


heart food picture

Fruit and Nutty Breakfast Bars

Serves 8

Ditch your packaged bars and make the switch to a home-baked alternative – you’ll save money while trading up to wholesome, un-processed goodness.

These tasty bars are easy to make and a great source of nutrition for a healthy nosh on-the-go.

And if you haven’t tried spelt flakes yet, here’s your chance!  Higher in iron than rolled oats, but similar in taste and fiber-content, spelt makes a hearty oatmeal-style breakfast dish as well.

Time saving tip:  double the recipe and freeze the rest!


  • 1 Tbsp. walnut or sunflower oil
  • 1 ¼ c. spelt flakes
  • ½ c. raisins or dried cranberries
  • ¼ c. pecans
  • 2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
  • ¼ chopped almonds, raw or toasted
  • ½ c. honey
  • ¼ c. natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8×8 baking dish with waxed paper.  (Eco-friendly paper goods manufacturer Natural Value has a great green alternative to standard waxed, which contains petroleum by products).
  2. In a bowl combine spelt, dried fruit and nuts and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a small sauce pan combine honey peanut butter, oil and vanilla.  Cook over medium heat until melted.  Pour mixture into dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Transfer mixture to baking dish and smooth the top to even.  Bake for 20-25 minute until golden.  Cool completely in pan.   Cut into bars and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Easy Fruit and Nut Granola


Granola---opt10 servings

As it turns out, granola is one of those things so easy to make, that once you learn you’ll wonder why anyone would ever feel the need to buy it. Once you get the basic recipe down, you can experiment with spices, nuts, and dried fruit to find your favorite flavor combination. Enjoy Easy Fruit and Nut Granola served with a scoop of stevia-sweetened yogurt (plant-based or dairy) for a light, easy, and super-healthy breakfast, or pack some to go for a midday or lunchbox snack.


  • 3 cups steel-cut oats (or any blend of rye, barley, or spelt flakes can be substituted)
  • 2 cups raw mixed nuts: pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews, or pumpkin seeds are good choices
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ cup walnut oil
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup raisins or dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts, salt, and spices. Stir to combine. Add in oil and honey or maple syrup and vanilla, and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet (rimmed if you have it) and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so to ensure even cooking. Remove from the oven and stir in dried fruit. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Nutty Party Mix


chexcroppedMakes 10 cups

This crunchy treat is a healthier tribute to the classic Chex Snack Mix, minus the  corn syrup, genetically modified ingredients, excess sodium and preservatives—and you won’t miss them.  This Nutty Party Mix is not only scrumptious, it’s high in protein and amino acids too!  I use it in creating healthy, no waste lunches and my kids love it – in part because it’s snacky enough for happier noshing with fewer uneaten returns.

You can get creative with the ingredients but here is what I like to use:


  • 1 10- 13 oz. box of  healthy whole grain Chex-like cereal (look for low sugar and GMO-free), Cascadian Farms and 365 Brand are good options
  • 1 7-8 oz. package whole grain pretzels,  Snyder’s Organic or Newman’s Organic are a great choice
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp. Bragg’s amino acids (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder (optional)

1. Mix cereal, pretzels and nuts  together in a large mixing bowl
2. Add Braggs and olive oil and mix well
3. Add garlic and onion powder
4. Toss with your hands to make sure it’s all coated well.
5. Spread flat on the pan.
6. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes at about 300 degrees. This can vary with ovens and altitude, so check frequently.  It should just look toasty.
7. Remove from the oven and cool before serving.

Ten Minute Spring Rolls


Ten Minute Spring Rolls 1The actual prep time for these delicious spring rolls depends upon your choice of veggies, but when time is of the essence, ten minutes is enough.  Cabbage, lettuce, avocado, tofu and sprouts are your speediest options.  Carrots, peppers, cukes and herbs take a bit longer, but not much.  The rest is a snap; just dip the spring roll wrapper in water for a few seconds as it softens like magic and you’re ready to fill and roll.  Here’s my eight-year old helper Talia to demonstrate her fabulous ten minute spring rolls, one simple step as a time:

Ingredients:Ten Minute Spring Rolls 2

  • 8 rice paper wrappers (available in the Asian-foods section of most grocery stores)

Filling options (choose 3-5 for best results):

  • 1/2 cups alfalfa or radish sprouts
  • 1 cup green-leaf lettuce leaves
  • 1 cup red or green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 large carrot, shredded or julienned (sliced in thin strips)Ten Minute Spring Rolls 3
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned (sliced in thin strips)
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and julienned (sliced in thin strips)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped (a blender or mini food processor is great for this)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (see above)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted peanuts, raw or roasted, chopped
  • 6 ounces firm tofu, plain or teriyaki-flavored, cut into 16 thin stripsTen Minute Spring Rolls 4
  • 1 avocado, seed and peel removed, cut into 16 thin strips (optional)


  • ¼ cup teriyaki sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids for dipping

Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip a wrapper into the warm water for just a second or two to soften, then lay it flat on a plate and get ready to wrap.Ten Minute Spring Rolls 5

Place your choice of ingredients in a row across the center, place, leaving about 2 inches on either side of the wrap without any ingredients.

Fold the “naked” sides inward, then tightly roll the wrapper, burrito-style. Repeat with remaining ingredients.   Served room temperature or chilled, with (0ptional) dipping sauce.

Time Saving Tip: If a stop to the market is on your agenda, visit the salad bar and stock up on precut veggies like carrots and red peppers to save the time of cutting them yourself.

Quickie Quesadilla


1-2 servings

Remember way back in the day before the microwave when the go-to appliance was the toaster oven?  While you don’t need a toaster oven per se, this recipe is definitely inspired by it.  Just use your oven or even a large, covered sauté pan to briefly heat your creation, and voila!  Quickie Quesadilla, just like that.  It’s so easy, you might encourage your kids to put together this tasty sandwich-alternative high-protein lunch or snack.


  • Whole grain or brown rice tortilla
  • ¼ cup shredded mild cheddar or Monterey jack cheese (plant-based or hormone-free dairy)
  • ½ avocado, peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup black, pinto or kidney beans
  • Optional:  mild salsa for dipping

For oven cooking:  preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle beans across the top of the tortilla, then cover with cheese.  Place the quesa on a cookie sheet, then cook for five minutes until cheese is melted,.  Remove from heat, fold in the middle, slice up pie-style and serve.

For stovetop preparation: place a saucepan (with a cover) on the stovetop, heat to medium.  Sprinkle beans across the top of the tortilla, then cover with cheese.  Place the quesa in the saucepan, cover then cook for five minutes until cheese is melted.  Remove from heat, fold in the middle, slice up pie-style and serve.

Baked Kale Chips


Kale Chips

2-4 servings

Baked Kale Chips make a tasty alternative to the standard bagged snack.  Some of the most die-hard veggie-phobes have been known to change their tune after just one bite.  Fortunately they’re a snap to make, and surprisingly kid-friendly too!


  • 1 bunch kale, washed and dried
  • 1 tsp. mustard
  • 1 tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie or baking sheet with parchment paper.

Break or cut kale leaves from stems, break into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.  Whisk remaining ingredients together in a cup or small bowl.  Drizzle the mixture over the kale and toss to coat.

Spread kale leaves over the baking sheet and bake until the edges of the kale are browned but not burnt, 10-15 minutes.  Serve at room temperature.  Store for up to one week in an airtight container.