DC Spring White Flowers

Weekend Recap + How to Lighten-up Mashed Potatoes

It is officially spring in DC!

DC Spring Flower Blossoms

I no longer think we are at any risk for another snow storm, and oh man is that a wonderful feeling! The sun was out this weekend, we got to 85ºF with no humidity, and no rain- I couldn’t ask for better weather.

DC Spring Flowers

Friday night, Aaron and I took the non-traditional route and visited the DC cherry blossoms at night. The cherry blossom trees are gorgeous during the day and make a lovely addition to the already picturesque DC skyline. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the tidal basin where the views are best until after sunset, but we still got a chance to take in the sites from the MLK memorial.

DC Jefferson Memorial Cherry Blossoms

Saturday morning, we headed to Great Falls National Park in Virginia with a few friends for rock climbing! It was my first time out since last summer, and man did that wall of rock kick my butt!

Great Falls National Park Virginia

The great part about rock climbing at Great Falls is the climbs are right on the Potomac River. No matter if you are halfway up a climb or just lounging on the rocks waiting for your turn, you have some spectacular scenery.

Great Falls National Park VirginiaYesterday, our friend invited us over for a Passover potluck! Passover doesn’t officially start until this evening, but we started the celebrations a bit early. The host prepared the brisket, so the rest of the group tackled the sides. As I replied late to the potluck, the matzah ball soup, charoset, and macaroons were already taken! So I decided to incorporate horseradish, a seder plate staple, and do a Passover take on mashed potatoes: Lightened-up Horseradish Mashed Potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes with Chives

Mashed potatoes are super easy- peel, boil, mash, eat. That is my kind of dish! In case you wonder why I eat potatoes as a dietitian, check out this post.

Many traditional mashed potato recipes are full of sour cream and sticks of butter, so I tried to lighten them up with just a few tablespoons butter and lots of non-fat plain Greek yogurt. The dish was still light and creamy, but the Greek yogurt has 70% fewer calories than sour cream. Plus, the horseradish added a nice unexpected kick.

Mashed Potatoes Bay Leaves

The recipe yielded enough for the 10 people at the potluck, plus leftovers! If you plan to make it for a family a four, I would definitely cut it half.

How was your weekend? Did you get to take advantage of the weather and head outdoors?To those celebrating Passover tonight, happy Pesach!

Lightened-up Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
Yield: 10-14 servings
5 lbs white potatoes, peeled, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 c non-fat plain Greek yogurt
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp prepared horseradish
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 c chives, chopped

1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with water. Add bay leaves and bring to a boil uncovered until potatoes are cooked enough to mash, about 20-25 minutes. Drain potatoes, discard bay leaves and return to pot.
2. Add remaining ingredients except chives to potatoes and mash with a fork until well mixed. Add salt and black pepper, to taste.
3. To serve, garnish with chopped chives. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Frozen Meals2

5 Foods I’ve Stopped Buying Since Becoming a Dietitian

Going to grad school to become a dietitian was an amazing and life-changing experience for me for many reasons. Clearly, becoming an RD was a big event for me. I also met a ton of wonderful RD friends that I am glad to have whenever I have nutrition questions myself. Maybe just as significantly, it changed the way I eat.

Before I started studying nutrition, I thought the key to healthy eating was to cut calories and fat. The only nutrition class I took in undergrad focused on the very basics of food and nutrition, with a large emphasis on nutrition science, such as the chemical structure of glucose vs. an amino acid. Pre-grad school, I ate lots of fruits and vegetables and that hasn’t changed. But I have definitely made some big changes to my diet to have a truly healthier lifestyle.

Below I have listed five foods that pre-RD Jackie never would have believed she’d stop eating. Some of my favorite foods pre-grad school are no longer a presence (or much one) anymore! These include:

Most Granolas
I ate a lot of yogurt with granola in college and parts of grad school. I thought “what a simple way to add crunch to yogurt and add protein!” Well, then I realized how important it was to check the nutrition label and ingredients of my granola. So many granolas were loaded with sugar and not very high in protein or fiber. Plus a serving of granola tends to be pretty small but still high in calories. As a result, I thought it was easier just not to worry about the sugar content of my granola and haven’t bought much of it recently. This week was actually my first time making homemade granola!

Homemade Granola

This batch was  delicious but I have some tweeks to make before I share it with you all. Stay tuned!

Diet Coke
This was a hard one cause I used to be addicted to Diet Coke. Like 4-5 cans a day addicted. I made those all-you-can-eat and drink meals at the student cafeterias count in undergrad with the amount of DC I could drink! Then I realized that I drank almost NO water all day. I might have a few glasses of water after the gym, but mostly, it was Diet Coke. Worst of all, I noticed that Diet Coke didn’t quench my thirst or hunger, so I just drank more of it and snacked more often. Now I try to stick to a routine of coffee in the morning followed by lots of water throughout the day. And maybe a beer or glass of wine at night. :) But I rarely ever purchase Diet Coke or any other soda anymore.

Low Calorie Cereals
CerealJust like the granola, I often bought cereals for a quick breakfast to be low in calories. Along the same lines as the granola, I quickly realized how much added sugars were in the cereals without having enough protein and fiber to keep my full until lunch. Now when I buy cereals, I try to find brands low in sugar and high in protein and fiber. I focus much less on the calories, and more on the ingredient label.

Salad Dressing
I am one of the lucky ones that actually enjoys a good salad. I don’t eat them every day by any means, but I like the crunch and variety of a well balanced salad. Unlike my pre-RD self which bought lots of low-fat dressings, I am much more likely to whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and Dijon mustard for a super simple and delicious dressing. Less artificial ingredients, less sodium, less money. A win-win situation!

Frozen Meals
Frozen MealsOk, this last one is a “mostly stopped buying” item because I still buy frozen foods on occasion. But while I keep a frozen meal or two in the fridge for super lazy day meals, I am no where near as stocked as I used to be. In college and grad school, I purchased up to a half dozen frozen meals a week. I loved that there was portion control built in and I didn’t have to cook. However, I was NEVER full or satisfied after eating one of those meals. I also hated that I paid more for those meals than if I’d made the same thing myself and frozen the leftovers for later. Now I try to keep several frozen items on hand for fast and simple meals, such as frozen sausages, frozen shrimp, and frozen vegetables. Even on my laziest day, I can still whip up a basic stir-fry using these freezer staples, in barely much more time that it would take to microwave a frozen meal.

I won’t ever claim that I have the perfect diet and I’d be lying to you if I said I never ate any of the foods mentioned above at all. But I am happy with the changes I have made since becoming a dietitian. My focus on calories and fat has drastically been refocused to the quality of the ingredients in my meals. How has your diet changed over the years? Are there foods you used to eat which you now no longer consider healthy?

Grilled Collage

Weekend Adventures, Firing Up the Grill, and Easy Chipotle Turkey Burgers!

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was delicious!

My foodie weekend started off Friday morning, actually, when I added chocolate hazelnut spread to my oatmeal and banana at work. Very tasty, almost like dessert for breakfast :)

photo 3

Friday night, Aaron and I tried out the new ramen place in our neighborhood, Sakuramen. This ramen is much more noodle-heavy than the other ramen place we have gone to more often. The atmosphere and decor was pretty cool though. It had some sort of urban, hipster feel.


Saturday morning, Aaron and I went to Philly to visit his family and my brother. We had a great time catching up with family all day on Saturday. Then Sunday morning before hitting the road, Aaron made breakfast! He went through his parents’ fridge and prepared a delicious green bean and mozzarella omelet with baked breakfast potatoes.

Aaron Cooking

He did such a good job!


Sunday was a gorgeous and sunny spring day, so Aaron and I wanted to take advantage of the warm weather once we got back to DC and dust off the grill! We decided to make chipotle turkey burgers, which my good friend Liz  made me before. I didn’t have her recipe so I improvised with what I could remember. They were so delicious and flavorful with only a few ingredients (see recipe below). Normally ground turkey, especially turkey breast, makes dry burgers, but the adobo sauce kept the burgers nice and juicy.

Chipotle Turkey Burgers

We topped the burgers with a slice of pepper jack cheese, sliced avocado, romaine lettuce, and tomato. SO. GOOD.

Grilled Dinner

We enjoyed our burgers with grilled mushroom caps and grilled asparagus, steamed in a foil packet with black salt, chili pepper flakes, and lemon juice.

Grilled Asparagus

A grill-a-licious dinner!

How was your weekend?

Chipotle Turkey Burgers
Yield: 5 burgers
1.3 lbs lean ground turkey breast*
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
1-2 tbsp adobo sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 c onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
100% whole wheat buns, pepper jack cheese, romaine lettuce, tomato, avocado for toppings

1. Mix all ingredients through cumin in a large bowl and form into 5 equal patties.
2. Grill over medium heat for about 8 minutes per side, until cooked through.
3. Enjoy with your favorite burger toppings, such as lettuce, tomato, avocado, and your favorite cheese.

*Note: I use 1.3 lbs as that was how the ground turkey breast was packaged. If you use 1 lb, then use 1/2-1 tbsp adobo sauce to yield 4 patties.