Savory Pumpkin Sauce

Thanks to inspiration from a friend, I came up with this scrumptious, fast, and easy sauce that has become a regular part of our dinner schedule this Fall. I like serving it over spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs.

To make the sauce, you need:

  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 can of pumpkin
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • salt, and pepper
  • vegetable broth is optional

Here’s what you do:

  1. Heat some olive oil in a skillet and add your onion.
  2. Saute until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
  4. Pour in ⅔ of your can of coconut milk and all of the pumpkin.
  5. Stir until well combined and let simmer on low for 5 minutes.

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CSAs Are Great + A Yummy Recipe

This year my family is part of a CSA (community-supported agriculture). I’ve always wanted to join one, but the timing has never seemed quite right. Then, finally, it was! It’s been so fun to get fresh fruits and veggies while supporting a local business and being forced to try new recipes in order to use them. I would recommend joining a CSA to everyone!

One of the greatest benefits of being part of a CSA is how it’s helped my daughter try some new foods. She’s always been a picky eater, with verystrong preferences based on texture. At one point in her life she would only eat crunchy food; she survived on freeze dried fruit, and green bean and beet chips dipped in hummus! Thankfully, we’ve moved beyond that, but we still have a hard time with new foods. There’s something about going to a farm, however, seeing where the veggies are grown, picking them out ourselves, and carting bagfuls of them back to our house, that makes them seems more appealing. I have found, too, that leaving them on the counter where she can see them (and reach them) is helpful. As we unload the bags, or as she walks by the veggies sitting out in the kitchen, she’ll ask to try them. Since the start of the summer, she’s tried: scallions, grape tomatoes, chard, radishes, beets, zucchini, peppers, eggplant… so many new things! Her favorite has been the little cherry tomatoes, which shocked me. But they’re just the right size for her, and we started calling them “squirty tomatoes;” since then she thinks they’re really fun to eat. She will frequently grab one when she sees them out in the kitchen. Continue Reading →

Be Aware – Eating Out

All of September, our PowerFull Fitness crew focused on being aware!

One thing we need to be aware of – is what we order when we eat out.

Now…before we EVEN start – does this mean you can’t go out and have a big juicy burger and fries? NO! In fact every now and again, I want you to. Without those splurges we won’t be able to maintain a FIT balance – we’ll feel deprived and sad. (Because life without pizza IS sad).

But these splurges can be an occasional part of your week. If you are going to maintain a FIT style, it is important to know what you are putting in your body and balance the splurges with nutrition. But life is life right? So sometimes we have to eat out – it is just necessity. WHAT can you do order when aren’t looking for a splurge but have to pick food up to go?

One restaurant we frequent here in NOVA is Chipotle.  So how can you be AWARE there?

Check out these stats:

Healthier Option: 
Chicken Chicken Burrito Bowl:
Chicken, black beans, fajita veggies, salsa, 1⁄2 guac
460 cals, 19.5g fat, 21.5g fiber, 42g protein

Vegetarian Option:
Rice and Bean salad:
Romaine lettuce, brown rice, black beans, corn salsa
420 cals, 8g fat, 15g protein, 18.5g fiber

I don’t have nutrition facts but I always get a salad bowl – so lettuce with double chicken, double veggies – no rice or beans. I put guac on the side and yum!

Maybe compare to a not so FIT choice:
Burrito with Carnitas:
Carnitas, white rice, pinto beans, sour cream, cheese, chips and salsa
1690 cals, 71g fat, 25g fiber, 56.5g protein

Just a few simple swaps and subs can keep you on track with your fit goals and macros.

Enjoy friends (with caution!)


Smoky Sweet BBQ Rub

I found this recipe in Southern Living years ago and it has been a staple in my pantry ever since.  I usually double the recipe, put it in a Mason jar and use it for nights when I am in a hurry.  It is delicious on anything.  Pour it on chicken breasts, salmon, chicken thighs, or pork chops and let marinate for at least 15 minutes (when you are in a hurry).  Obviously, the longer the better.  Bake or grill your meat and it always comes out fantastic.  My brother will even mix it into black beans, peas, soups or roasted veggies. It is not spicy, so my kids love it.

You can buy most of these spices in bulk at Costco.  A few years ago, I made a huge batch then went to Walmart (or World Market) and got some cute glass jars.  I filled them with the rub and gave them as little Christmas gifts.  You can do that now and they will be ready to go when the crazy Christmas season hits! (because you have nothing to do right?) I hope y’all enjoy this as much as my family does.  I wish it didn’t have so much sugar, but I realized while writing this that I will try a version with half the sugar.  I’ll let you know what I think!


  1. ¼ cup salt
  2. ¼ cup brown sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  4. 2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons paprika
  5. 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  6. 2 teaspoons pepper
  7. 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  8. 1 teaspoon cumin
  9. 1 teaspoon ground ginger

Mix all ingredients together.  Store in a sealed container.



Sausage Casserole – Surprisingly Delicious

So I found this recipe the other night and I honestly thought it would be a #fail.  Like for realz.  But I love cauliflower and I love my chicken apple sausage so I figured I’d give it a go.  Hello! DELICIOUS!  This thing was sooo good.  My husband thought it was POTATO casserole and Elli thought it was mac and cheese.  What? It was that rich and creamy. So Jackson as always likes nothing.  No surprise there. Actually I didn’t ask him to even taste it. Next time I will.

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Sloppy Joe – A Weeknight Fave

Here is one that will keep you on track with your goals and the kids will love!  SLOPPY JOES. Sooooo yum.

Let me give you the way I have designed the recipe.

  • 1 lb of extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp of worcestershire sauce
  • 15 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp of tomato paste
  • .25 cups of bbq sauce (we use Stubbs original)

Last night I threw in some chopped onion too.

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Leeann Likes – Sweet Potato Toast. Is this #reallife?

What is up with Sweet Potato Toast??

Let’s talk about sweet potato toast.  I feel like it hit the internet by storm.  I LOVE sweet potatoes.  Sweet potato fries are on the top of my favorite food list.  But for some reason I was weirded out by the idea of toast.  Maybe because I was scared to cut those suckers that way.  But see something enough times and you just need to try it.  I found two methods of cooking.  Some people use the toaster, other people use the oven.  I went with the oven because I think sweet potatoes taste better when cooked low and slow.  I can’t imagine how many rounds it would have taken them in the toaster.  I make a a lot, stored them in the fridge and then toasted them each morning for breakfast or in the afternoon for a snack.  I was really surprised.  It was great and I can’t wait to make it again!

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Pool Side Dinners – Summer 2017 Laura’s Menu

With a week of swim team, dive team and swimming lessons while school is still in session, we have to be at the pool from 5:30 – 8:00 pm every night. So we have four nights of pool side dinners (you can bet we ate out on Friday!)

Some ideas are more detailed and creative than others but maybe it will give you some ideas.

Night One: Make your own chicken tacos with shredded chicken from the crock pot.
Kids ate it so I call it a win!

Night Two:  Ham and cheese sandwiches served with:
Yogurt tubes frozen
And roasted veggies

Just a cooler full of yummies

Night Three:  Grilling out!

Grilled salmon for mom and dad
Grilled hot dogs for kids
Veggie kabobs for all
Fruit assortment


Night Four – Chicken pita pockets

Chicken skewers from Costco (Jackson ate 2!!)

Parent version:
Sautéed peppers, Greek yogurt, and feta for topping in st Joseph’s mini pitas!

Jackson version:
No pita and skewers dipped in ranch

Elli version:
Skewer in pita with ranch and Greek yogurt

Served with go-gurt tubes for kids and salad for parents with fruit for all!

Night Five:  Chipotle people! This mom got tired.



Pool Side Dinners – Summer 2017 PowerFull Moms Menu

As I was sharing some of my pool side menu last week, I had some awesome moms share their pool side cuisine as well. The more ideas the better! Check out these two options…

Amy’s Idea:  Steak Salad.

Grilled steak
Roasted veggies
And a orange sesame dressing!


And Aspen shared taco options!: I made taco filling, rolled up the kiddos some soft tacos, and made Dave and I some 6 layer “dip!” Taco meat, cheese, lettuce, salsa, black olives, and sour cream, plus chips to scoop! It was fun to have dinner by the pool.

Perfection! Bring on summer!!!


Get In Your Veggies! Without Having to Hide Them

I am so excited about spending March focusing on nutrition.  Are you Ready to Be…MindFULL of Nutrition?  Does that scare you a bit?  Do you ever wonder HOW MUCH produce you need?

I turned to Choose My Plate as a great resource for this. Check out their website here.

General guidelines have women ages 31-50 needing about 1.5 cups of fruit daily. This is for women who get less than 30 minutes of exercise daily so it can be increased if you are more active!  In case you’re wondering – children ages 4-8 also need about 1- 1.5 cups of fruit a day.  You can check this chart for more on what a cup of fruit looks like depending on the type!

For veggies, women ages 31-50 need 2.5 cups of veggies daily (again this is for women who get 30 minutes or less exercise each day so it can be increased with increased activity).  Children need 1.5 cups (ages 4-8).  If you want more on this or for other recommendations based on kids age and gender check here).  This page also has a really cool chart based on how many veggies per week you need from each sub group – kinda cool!

Please note these recommendations are generalizations and can change based on other factors!  

So we know we need them….how do we do it?  This is where my great friend Valerie from Nalls Produce.  Valerie is a great resource for all things veggies and produce.  Our family LOVES OUR CSA  with Nalls but it can be tough sometimes to figure out HOW to get the veggies in.  But Valerie never fails to help  – check out her NINE tips I love her involvement in the community and her desire to bring healthy meals to our homes:

Valerie shares:

You want to eat more fresh veggies. You really do. You want to have a crisper that is full of vegetables that you know are good for you and your family, and you want to USE them. You want children that won’t turn up their noses at cabbage steaks. YOU don’t want to turn your nose up at cabbage steaks. But you know that pureeing butternut squash every other day to include in your mac and cheese is not realistic either.

Most of us with moderate to low levels of willpower, children, and responsibilities, the “want” is not enough. New habits are really hard to create. Period.  But you WANT to, right? Try these tricks to make it happen!

    1. Write down your goals. Make them quantifiable and specific. Just saying “I want to eat more fresh vegetables and fruit” is not enough. To be quantifiable and specific you need to say something like “ I want to eat fresh fruits and vegetables with dinner at least 4 nights a week for the next 30 days”. This gives you a specific number that you can measure. The 30 days part – of course you will want to extend this habit beyond the 30 days, but your brain can better handle the challenge of achieving this goal if there is a set end point. At the end of 30 days you will want to look back and evaluate your performance and set a new goal for the next 30 days.
    2. Track your progress Make a chart with 120 circles on it and color in the circle every time you have a fresh veggie with dinner. Place this chart where you can see it every day and have written on it “Fresh Fruits & Veggies with Dinner 4x weekly for 30 Days”. Marking off the circles is a fun way to get your kids involved, too!
    3. Prepare yourself for success!  Stock your kitchen with enough fresh veggies to make this happen. If you come home in the evening late on a weekday and you have no fresh veggies in your kitchen, it is going to be hard to make it happen that night. Buy enough to have plenty on hand.
    4. Buy plenty!   See trick number 3. Also, most of us have a compelling need to not waste food. If you have an abundance of fresh produce but you know it is going to go bad soon, you are more likely to hurry up and use it.
    5. Try new recipes!  If you enjoy playing in the kitchen, find new recipes to experiment with. It can get you excited to play around with new ingredients!
    6. Repeat winning recipes!  There is nothing wrong with knowing you love roasted cauliflower and incorporating it regularly into your meal planning. A veggie eaten is a veggie eaten, it doesn’t have to be a new, exotic, exciting recipe to “get credit”
    7. Reverse plan your meals!  Instead of thinking “What’s for dinner?” think backwards. “I want my dinner to include cabbage, so I will make cabbage steaks. Kielbasa goes well with that, and I will add whole wheat dinner rolls to finish the meal” This works even better when you have the veggies on hand. “I want to use this cabbage — what can I make? Oh, cabbage steaks, plus kielbasa and rolls”.
    8. Grow your own!  Tomatoes and peppers are fairly easy to grow, even for those of your with self-proclaimed “Black Thumbs”. If you have grown the veggies yourself, you won’t want them to go to waste. You will have pride in your accomplishments and will be eager to reap the rewards! Visit a independent garden center, they can get you set up to handle a few plants successfully, even if you have your doubts.
    9. Join a CSA!  Many farms or produce shops offer packages of pre-selected produce on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, or CSAs. They will include a variety of items that are in-season and ready to eat. This forces you to try new things, based on what you receive that week, fills your crisper, and, best of all, forces you to use it relatively quickly. You know that you are receiving another share soon, and you will need the space in your refrigerator.  Hopefully you can try these methods and get some more fresh produce into your diet easily! Sometimes it’s best to just think about ways to manipulate your brain and thought process rather than just thinking about the desired outcome!

Ahh – these tips are great. I specifically love the idea of setting specific goals and CHARTING them. That makes it fun for the family and makes your progress tangible.  Thanks so much Valerie for sharing with us.

Valerie Nalls is the manager of Nalls Produce, 50+ year old family operated garden center and fresh produce shop in Alexandria Virginia. Learn more about the Nalls CSA program at