Healthier Hashbrowns

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A few weeks ago, I woke up in the mood for some crispy hashbrowns but decided to try a new method since all my previous attempts have been a failure. In the past, I have attempted to make hashbrowns in the skillet but it usually results in using more oil than is healthy and not the right level of crispiness.  So instead, I decided to try it in the waffle maker because if you think about it both sides are being pressed together which helps to keep them together and to get a crisp outside and soft inside. I gave it a try and it was hands down the best decision I have ever made. The result was perfectly crispy hashbrowns that were still nice and fluffy on the inside. The best part about these hashbrowns is that it uses very little oil and also contains carrots which help to lower the starch content of the potatoes while also contributing vitamin C. These have very quickly become a household favorite and one of my go-to breakfasts.  The carrots help to add a slight sweetness as they become crispy and takes these hashbrowns to another level.  They can be made in advance and stored in the freezer and when you’re ready to eat them you can heat them on the skillet for a quick breakfast. Now that you know why these are a better choice, let’s get into what you will need to make them yourself.

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Chilaquiles

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One of my all-time favorite brunch items is chilaquiles because for one it’s an excuse to have tortilla chips for breakfast, and two they are so easy & almost effortless to make. Today I will FINALLY be sharing with you my recipe for the most delicious chilaquiles you have ever tasted. It’s taken me some time to get around to posting this but only because I was finishing up the last of my spring semester. I am happy to say that I completed the final 2 courses I needed in order to apply for my masters! It feels so good to finally say that as I honestly didn’t think I would survive this last semester. Now that I am done with school, for now, I will finally be able to get back to what I love and give Life at the Mesa my full attention. In my absence, I have been working on various recipes so as the weeks go on I have many new exciting recipes to share with you. Anyways, if you made it this far then I’m sure you just want the deets on these amazing chilaquiles so let’s go ahead and jump straight into the recipe.

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Double Chocolate Muffins

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Almost immediately after I posted the recipe for my orange-chia & chocolate chip muffins I started thinking about trying to make double chocolate muffins. A few days after I posted that recipe I got to work on developing this recipe and very rarely does it happen that after the first batch it’s perfect but this recipe was. The first time that I made it, it was an absolute hit from the get-go. I tried this recipe out on members of my study group for Ochem, my friend’s parents/sibling, and of course my loyal guinea pig Adrian who is the greatest partner a girl could ask for. After so much ranting and raving I decided to make another batch just to be sure of the quality and OH MY GOSH. This recipe is incredibly moist, filling, and decadent. If you’ve been with me from the beginning, you would know that there is always a catch with my recipes. I always strive to create healthier versions of classic recipes and this one, in particular, is completely free of refined sugar just as all my recipes on here typically are. As usual, I substituted refined sugar for wholesome and delicious dates. But this recipe is so special because I utilized dates from the community I grew up in. I grew up in a very small agricultural town called Brawley and in making your way to Brawley, there is an even smaller town called Westmorland. It is quite possibly the smallest town in California, but they are well known for their delicious dates. The particular shop I adore is called the Westmorland Date Shake and obviously based on the name, they are known for their amazing date shakes. However, I recently learned that they are now selling their delicious dates online that you can order which is why I am mentioning them for the first time in this blog. Their dates are superior BY FAR to those that can be found in the produce section of the grocery store and can now be conveniently ordered to your home! I mention this because I truly think the quality of their products made all the difference in this recipe. One of the greatest compliments I received for this recipe was “you don’t even need milk” and that is one of the greatest things a baker can be told. So if you’re not already intrigued to try this recipe then let’s discuss the nutritional value of it.

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Falafel + Yogurt Sauce Recipe

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Happy Sunday!

I hope you have all had a wonderful and refreshing weekend after what I’m sure has been a busy week for everyone. I myself have had quite the last two weeks so I made sure to spend some time pampering myself this weekend. One of my favorite things to help me decompress is to develop new recipes. When I’m in the kitchen it’s like all of my sources of stress disappear and I find myself to be calm, cool and collected.  This weekend I had a flood of recipe ideas that I can’t wait to share with you because you are going to LOVE them! For today, I will be sharing with you one of the recipes I finally perfected after much time and that is my beloved falafel recipe. The first time I had falafel was in a local Greek restaurant in the form of a pita sandwich. I loved how filling and fresh it was and couldn’t stop thinking about it for a while. I decided to give making them at home a shot with one major modification– I would avoid deep frying them in oil. One of the best parts about falafel is the crispiness of the falafel itself, but I figured I could make them just as delicious by simply pan-frying them instead. After making a few tweaks to the recipe I finally landed on a winner and today I get to share it with you. These falafels can be used to make lettuce wraps, pita sandwiches, salads, and so much more as they are extremely versatile. They provide a healthy serving of fiber and plant-based protein along with an abundance of vitamins and minerals. These falafels require very minimal heating which makes them great as we dive deeper into the warm weather season!  I especially like to make these at the beginning of the week to keep them in the fridge so I can quickly make a meal. The necessary ingredients are very minimal which also makes this recipe incredibly budget-friendly! Let’s get started by getting into what you will need to make this recipe.

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Orange-Chia & Dark Chocolate Muffins

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Happy Saturday!

I usually don’t post recipes on the weekends because typically they are my only days off from work and school but this week has already been so unlike my typical week I figured why not. I have spent the last week studying EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for all the exams I have coming my way. With that being said, I have been attempting to develop recipes MORE because for me cooking is a way to decompress and to relieve some tension. Nothing makes me happier than experimenting in the kitchen and boy was this recipe an experiment. The inspiration for this recipe started about 3 weeks ago when I was thinking about a cake my mom used to make because it was my grandma’s favorite. The cake is called Williamsburg cake and essentially it is a vanilla cake with orange zest, walnuts, and cream cheese frosting. It is absolutely incredible and one of my all time favorite cakes. Anyways, as I was thinking about it I thought what if I could make that into muffin form and of course without using refined sugar because that’s what I like to do. I love to healthify some of my favorite recipes and while I did that, I also made some tweaks and ended up coming up with a muffin recipe that isn’t exactly similar to my grandma’s favorite cake but they are SOOOO good.

After playing around with different variations I ultimately decided to swap out the walnuts for the more affordable chia seeds. Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, protein, and a variety of micronutrients (ex. magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and manganese). On top of swapping out the nuts, I decided to switch out the all-purpose flour for some whole-wheat flour which adds in the B-vitamins which play a role in the health of our hair, skin, and nails. Last but not least, I decided to throw in some dark chocolate chips because who doesn’t love chocolate and more importantly because dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants which help to fight signs of aging. With all that said, I have to tell you that this recipe is the product of lots of trial and error and about 3 “bad” batches. I spent hours in the kitchen trying to get it right and after the 4th or 5th time I finally got it right. So often prepackaged muffins are loaded with refined sugar which is not horrible from time to time but I wanted to provide you with a recipe that you could have for breakfast, as a snack or even as a dessert that would contribute more than a spike in your blood sugar. The orange packs a punch while the chia seeds give a slight crunch and the dark chocolate is unbelievable in combination with both. All in all these muffins are incredibly moist and will blow your mind. Get ready for the best muffin recipe you’ll ever try, I know that’s a bold statement but that’s how good these muffins are.

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Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

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Growing up, I used to spend hours watching the Food Network. Some of my favorites were Giada De Laurentiis, Rachel Ray, and Ina Garten. I would sit there in front of the t.v. like a sponge absorbing everything they said and keeping their flavor combinations in mind. Very seldom would my mom ever follow their recipes but there is one I remember and still think about and that was Rachel Ray’s chicken tortilla soup. What stood out to my mom and myself about her chicken tortilla soup was the use of chorizo in the base of the soup. It looked so good and as we sat there salivating for the remainder of the show, we decided to give the recipe a shot. Let me just say that was the best chicken tortilla soup I had ever had. Fast forward to now and obviously, I realize that a vast majority of the recipes Rachel Ray and for that matter, any other Food Network chef made weren’t very healthy. Naturally, I decided to make it my mission to lighten it up a bit and so about a few months ago I had one of my good friends over and I made my version of the chicken tortilla soup and he absolutely loved it. Instead of utilizing regular pork chorizo which is high in saturated fat, and cholesterol I swapped it for soy chorizo. In addition, I also added in black beans for extra fiber and protein.

Although my version of the chicken tortilla soup was a huge hit, I got to thinking if I could make a vegetarian version that would be just as delicious. Now, if you wanted to still make this a chicken tortilla soup, all you need to do is swap out 1 cup of beans and 1 cup of quinoa for shredded chicken (total of 2 cups). After lots of tasting and tweaking, I found a winner and man is it satisfying. Today I will be sharing with you my recipe for my vegetarian tortilla soup.  In order to create a soup that would be hearty and feeling just like traditional chicken tortilla soup, I decided to use quinoa because as I have mentioned many times before, quinoa is one of the only plant-based options that is considered a complete source of protein. Quinoa is a grain that contains all nine of the essential amino acids we must obtain from our diet which is why I decided to use it in place of the chicken. Quinoa is also high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals so it’s a great way to boost this soup. In addition, I also added in some extra veggies for an extra serving of fiber.

This recipe is so easy and comes together in a total of 30 minutes as it is just a matter of dumping things into a pot and allowing them to simmer together. The longer it sits for, the better it tastes as it gives the flavors a chance to combine. Now let’s get into all that you will need to make this dish.

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Lentil Sloppy Joes

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With the semester in full swing, I’m on the hunt for recipes that are both nutritious and quick. After a long day at school, the last thing I want to do is spend hours in the kitchen. With that being said, today I will be sharing with you one of my favorite recipes that is packed with plant-based protein and comes together in under 30 minutes- lentil sloppy joes. Growing up, I remember my mom making sloppy joes during a busy weekday as it was quick, delicious, and sure to fill us up. When I was playing around with some dinner ideas, I immediately thought back to that recipe and decided to replicate it but to substitute lentils in place of the ground beef. As I’ve mentioned before, I personally enjoy eating mostly plant-based as I find that is what keeps me feeling the most energized and focused throughout the day. Additionally, lentils are a great source of plant-based protein and are loaded with fiber and iron as well. Lentils are one of those foods that I feel are completely underrated as they are loaded with nutrients but also make a great substitute in many recipes that call for ground beef. I always have lentils on hand and typically try to eat them in some form or another at least once a week. Before  I ramble on for too long I’ll cut it short and simply say that whether or not you are a vegetarian I am certain you will enjoy this recipe. My boyfriend who is incredibly picky couldn’t get enough of this and enjoyed the leftovers the following days which is huge because he is not a fan of leftovers. Now, let’s get into what you will need to make these delicious lentil sloppy joes.

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My Journey to Becoming an RD

Hi guys!

I hope you are having a wonderful week! I mentioned about a week ago on my Instagram that I wanted to start being more personal on here and share more of my experiences to give you a better sense of the person behind the blog. So I figured I would talk about how and why I decided to pursue a career in the field of nutrition and dietetics. The road that has led me to the career path of a registered dietitian has not been linear, to say the least. Just like every other first-time college student, I was overwhelmed by all the potential career choices I had right in front of me and at the age of 18, I could not pinpoint what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I always knew that whatever career path I chose had to deal with helping people because that has always brought me such joy and fulfillment. However, with so many careers that do just that, I was lost as to where to begin. I knew I was fascinated with the human body & all of its complex processes as I had taken an Anatomy & Physiology class right before graduating from high school but I didn’t know how that was going to translate into a career. I knew I was not interested in becoming a nurse because for one I am super squeamish with needles/ blood and two I am way too emotional to be a nurse. When the time came to put in my college applications, I decided to go with the major of Biology since I figured that could translate to just about any career within the healthcare field.

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5 Minute Peanut Butter & Chocolate “Cookie Dough” Bites

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When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle one of the most important factors is preparation. Preparation is key to making sure you set yourself up for success as it can mean the difference between having healthy snacks at your disposal or buying on a whim snacks high in sugar or sodium. By keeping healthy snacks on hand, not only do you manage to save yourself some extra money, but you can also save yourself some extra calories by being sure of what is in your food. The recipe I will be sharing with you today is made up of simple ingredients most of which you probably already have on hand, and when put together yield a nutrient-rich snack that will be sure to hold you over in between meals. These 5-minute “cookie dough” bites are high in fiber, protein, and B vitamins which will help to keep you energized throughout the day.  You can add in nuts, dried fruit or really anything else to change up the flavors and to keep things interesting.  I encourage you to get creative in your combinations so that you don’t get bored and aren’t tempted to spend money on the overly processed choices at the store. Now let’s get into the recipe!

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Flatbread Two Ways

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Superbowl Sunday is fast approaching and if you’re hosting the party, chances are you’re looking for ideas on what to feed your hungry guests. Well in combination with my panko crusted cauliflower wings,  I think these flatbreads will be the perfect appetizers to serve your guests. Not only are they vegetarian-friendly, but they are also packed with flavor so that even your picky eaters will never notice the difference. Flatbread has been a recipe that I have been playing around with for such a long time and after going back and forth between using whole-wheat flour & regular flour, I ultimately decided to stick with all-purpose because nothing else compares.

Now, as much as I talk about making healthy choices and their importance of contributing to a long and healthy life, I also want to be sure to share with you the importance of balance. I’m someone who does not restrict and if I feel like having a piece of cake or a cookie, I let myself have it. Why? Because when you allow yourself to have little indulgences here and there, it helps to prevent you from going overboard. So for that exact reason, I don’t feel bad about sharing with you this delicious recipe for flatbread that is not whole-grain but sure does make you feel good inside.

Just because I decided to stick with traditional white flour for this recipe, that does not mean that this recipe is not healthier than flatbread you would get at a restaurant. Instead of focusing on making a completely nutrient dense crust that would have probably tasted very similar to cardboard, I decided to deduct some extra calories by being more mindful of the amount of cheese and oil I used as well as by using my own marinara sauce. By making your own flatbread at home, you are able to control the amount of cheese and oil you put into it because it is your own version. I am so excited to share these with you as they were definitely a crowd pleaser! Now let’s talk ingredients.

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