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Lifestyle & Wellness

Ways to Add More Nutrition to the Foods You Already Eat

Simple & fun strategies to add more nutrition to the food you already eat like adding nuts and seeds, greens, a side salad and trying a new vegetable or fruit.

If I were to ask you right now what’s something you could do to improve your diet, would you answer with one of the following?

  • exclude desserts
  • remove gluten and dairy
  • exclude sugary drinks
  • exclude sugar in general
  • eat less
  • stop eating after dinner
  • limit carbs

Do you see what all of these things have in common? They’re all about removing, excluding, limiting and restricting you from something in your diet. While, yes excluding sugary drinks is a way to make your diet healthier, taking things out of your diet is not the only way to improve the quality of your diet.

Through the media and diet culture we’ve been conditioned to think that improving our diets is synonymous with removing something that’s in them and today I want to talk about how changing that perspective can help better your relationship with food and simultaneously improve the quality of your diet.

Adding things into your diet to add more nutrition to the foods you already eat is a small strategy that can have a huge impact when it comes to your overall nutrition and your journey to healthy eating. It’s also way less overwhelming than overhauling your entire diet and can introduce new foods that you might end up loving to your diet.

By focusing on what you can add to your diet to make it more balanced and nutritious instead of all the things you have to take out, you’re taking a more positive approach to food and eating that is mentally more enjoyable as well. It’s one of the pillars of my approach to eating called food confidence. More on that to come!

Here are a couple of ways to add more nutrition to the food you already eat that are simple and any one can do. These things are so easy that once you start putting them into practice, you won’t even realize that you’re doing them!

Easy ways to add more nutrition to the foods you already eat

Ways to Add More Nutrition to the Foods You Already Eat

  1. Add Nuts & Seeds
  2. Add a Handful of Greens
  3. Add a Side Salad
  4. Add a New Fruit or Vegetable

  • Add Nuts & Seeds. Think nuts on a salad or paired with fruit as a snack, or a tablespoon of ground flax seed in your morning smoothie. Nuts and seeds are a concentrated source of plant-based protein, fiber and healthy fats, aka omega-3s. Small but mighty when it comes to nutrition, they’re easy to use in a bunch of different ways boosting your food with more nutrition per bite. I like sprinkling hemp seeds on top of my peanut butter toast and using chopped nuts as a coating for fish!

  • Add a Handful of Greens. We often buy a big container of greens with the best intentions to use it up and it ends up wilted and sad at the end of the week in our fridge — ugh it happens to me too! Commit to adding a handful of greens to things like stir fry, smoothies, omelets, etc. Liven up leftovers with a handful of greens or a green base that you can put them on top of. The small ritual of adding a handful of greens to things you’re already eating is a great way to add more vitamin C, A, K, fiber and antioxidants to your diet every day.

  • Add a Side Salad. Side salads don’t have to be synonymous with boring. In fact, pairing a simple side salad with something you’re already eating like pizza, pasta or leftovers is a great way to add more nutrition to your diet, round out your meal with fiber from vegetables and use up produce before it goes bad. Win, Win — win! I love this Mediterranean chickpea salad that goes with everything.
  • Add a New Fruit or Veggie. The next time you go grocery shopping I want you to pick out one fruit or vegetable that you haven’t tried before or thought you didn’t like (tastebuds change and evolve!) and try alongside something you typically eat. Expanding our palate is one of the best things we can do for our health. Not only is trying something new mentally stimulating, but it also introduces another way to get more nutrition into our bodies. You could end up loving whatever you just tried which could inspire you to try something else or be more open to new foods when you go out to eat. All positive things! Research has shown that people who eat upwards of 30 different types of plant foods a week (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, grains, etc) have a more diverse microbiome which as we know is connected to so many different parts of our health including immunity, mood, digestion and more.

Which one of these ways to add more nutrition to the food you already eat feels the most doable in your life?

13 attainable nutrition tips during quarantine

If you’re not already, I’d love for you to join the Once Upon a Pumpkin community on Instagram. Here’s a reel I recently made on this topic.

If you’re hungry for more check out these posts and some of my favorite recipes below!

My current favorite fun & healthy recipes:


A Nutritional Guide To Fall Produce

This time of year the grocery store and  farmers’ market are filled with vegetables that mimic the colors of the season and are filled with nutrition! This is a complete nutritional guide to their benefits. It’s a great time to challenge yourself to pick up a few of the squashes or other cold weather veggies that you haven’t tried before and have fun with them in the kitchen! That’s why I created this nutritional guide to fall produce as a guide for choosing and using all of the fruit and veggie superstars of the season!  They just might surprise you with their taste and versatility.

Continue reading “A Nutritional Guide To Fall Produce”


Summer Eating Done Smarter

It’s officially summer which means if they haven’t already the parties, BBQs, graduations, and wedding are in full swing. You know I’m a fall girl but I do love this time of year when the weather is nice, the days are longer and my tan is happening!

It’s also a time when our eating habits change, we crave refreshing drinks, watermelon and s’mores on that family vacation to the lake. We’re traveling for long weekends, hitting happy hours, and sleeping less because it’s still light out at night. Ovens are used less and al fresco dining is the new norm on a Saturday night. We’re so excited to finally get to do all of these things and at the same time I realize many people struggle with “balancing” it all of the fun with their healthy habits. 

When the weekends fill up with all these fun things it’s harder to prioritize a workout or go grocery shopping and plan for the week ahead. I get it because I too struggle with the annoying voice in my head saying “we have food at home” and the feeling of being torn to go out and be social or come home and rest. Daytime events, nighttime parties and weekends away can make it hard to make healthy choices. You’re surrounded by friends and family and food is such a huge part of that, which is why I hate seeing the guilt and feeling of “badness” that people associate with a weekend of making less healthy choices. Or the stress that comes with attending an event and navigating the food choices that may not fit with the normal way that person would eat.

That’s why I created this Guide to Summer Eating Done Smarter to help you make small changes when you are faced with different, new, or challenging food choices. I’m taking the stress out of it for you so that you can fully enjoy where you are, with the people you are with in that moment of summer joy. And I hope I am putting the FUN back into it! Making healthy choices is possible even when you’re in the middle of nowhere driving up a mountain. You just need to plan ahead a little, and it doesn’t have to be complicated!

I also asked some of my fellow registered dietitian colleagues to offer up their best advice for healthy summer travel, parties and adventures. Think you can’t have a bachelorette party and still involve an aspect of health and fitness?! Think again! Incorporate some of these ideas into your next party or trip and focus on the memories you’re making this summer rather than the stress you feel about making unhealthy food choices


Mary Ellen Phipps, RDN from says: “It doesn’t matter the type of trip, we always pack our own snacks and breakfast foods… and then we’ll usually hit up a local grocery store wherever we’re going once we get there for produce. Saves us money and helps us start the day with foods we’re used to and know will keep us energized and not sluggish!”


Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT creator of the couple nutrition blog and podcast and says: “For Bachelorette Parties, consider doing a fun group activity that includes an element of fitness. I teach SUP Yoga and lead paddleboard outings near my home at the Jersey Shore and we do a ton of Bachelorette parties. It’s something fun, different, and not something many people will do on their own. Coming out with a group makes it a ton of fun and doesn’t feel like exercise is being forced on the group.”


Lindsey Janeiro, RDN, CLT of says: “I personally have food allergies, so I’m a big fan of bringing food with me because my options are often limited. If my family and friends are planning a potluck or barbecue, I offer to host or I’ll offer to bring a healthy dish with me that I know may be enjoyed by others and will be satisfying enough if it’s one of the only things I can consume. Even with trips, I always bring food with me! We’re going on vacation soon and I’m already stocking up on my essential allergy-friendly products, like my favorite bars, crackers, fruit, dehydrated veggie chips, and chocolate. Perfect for road trip, hiking, and cabin snacking!”


Anne Mauney RDN, of says: “Don’t let yourself get too hungry! Pack a bunch of snacks and keep them with you just in case meals end up being unexpectedly spaced out. It’s really hard to eat slowly and not to end up too full if you are going into a meal starved.”


Grab my Guide to Summer Eating Done Smarter HERE


And while were on the topic of all things summer, be sure to check out this post about summer grilling with my favorite beef!

And as always, if you have a specific question on a summer nutrition topic that wasn’t covered here please feel free to email me at!




Butternut Squash

Kale & Butternut Squash Pizza

Pizza night gets turned up a notch in terms of nutrition with this kale & butternut squash pizza! Customize is how you may, but I think this homemade kale and butternut squash combinations tastes delicious and is a healthy alternative to some of the other frozen pizzas out there. Made with Nature’s Greens ® kale that is pre-washed and bagged for connivence, this pizza take less than 25 minutes to make from start to finish.

This blog post is in partnership with Nature’s Greens®, but all opinions are my own.

Sure, the flavors are reminiscent of fall, but in my opinion they are great to enjoy all year long. I opted for frozen butternut squash that I defrosted and threw onto the pizza. When sautéing greens, make sure you always keep the heat on low to retain the most nutrients. Depending on the crust you use, this recipe makes great leftovers for the next day too!

kale and butternut squash pizza

Kale & Butternut Squash Pizza

Once Upon A Pumpkin
Pizza night meets harvest flavors! Kale and butternut squash come together for this delicious and nutritious homemade pizza that can be whipped up anytime of year.


  • 1 store bought pizza crust can use cauliflower, gluten-free depending on preference
  • 2 cups Nature’s Greens kale
  • 1 tbps. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. minced garlic
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup butternut squash cubed and roasted (can use frozen)
  • ½ cup spicy kale and lemon pesto
  • ½ avocado
  • balsamic glaze optional


  • Preheat oven according to pizza package directions.
  • Heat a medium saucepan, adding olive and garlic until fragrant. Add kale and gently sautee on low heat until kale begins absorbing the olive oil and looks moist.
  • Spread pesto on top of pizza crust and top with sauteed kale, parmesan cheese, and butternut squash.
  • Bake pizza according to package directions, remove from oven and top with sliced avocado, and drizzled balsamic  Slice into pieces and enjoy!



Lifestyle & Wellness

Add More Nutrients To Your Diet In 4 Easy Ways

March is National Nutrition Month which is a great time to think about different ways to add more nutrients into your diet! Maybe right about now (or a month ago) we pushed our New Year’s resolutions about eating healthy to the side, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get right back to them with a couple of easy, no-fuss additions and tweaks to our diet. Take fiber for example, a nutrient that we don’t get enough of, but that is abundant in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. So let’s start there. Having something like a smoothie with beets, or cutting a half of an avocado for our salad require little to no effort (ok, plus adding them to our shopping carts, but you get picture!) with a lot of reward (hint, hint, fiber equals a happy gut and healthy digestion!).

Simple additions, and edits to the foods we’re already eating can really add up. It doesn’t have to be super fancy, and best of all it doesn’t have to be expensive to make your food work harder for you in these ways. You’ll catch me making these tweaks and additions to my weekly meals regularly, not because I feel like I have to, but because I feel more energized, satiated and nourished from eating real foods in fun combinations with other real foods!


  1. Rethink your starch. I’m not saying you can’t eat regular or pasta and still get the nutrients you need, but why not switch it up every once and a while with a low carb, higher nutrient version like spaghetti squash and cauliflower rice. You’ve heard me root for spaghetti squash, time and time again and that’s because it’s a great source of fiber and vitamin A, and doesn’t weigh you down or make you feel super sleepy like a big pasta dinner can sometimes. Don’t know how where to begin? Watch my short video on how to cut a spaghetti squash, and check out my favorite recipe for spaghetti squash pad thai.
  2. Mix it up with a smoothie. Some days are harder than others to get in your fruits and vegetables. I get it! What I love about smoothies is the fact that you might actually put in a vegetable you’ve never tried before or thought you didn’t like since it’s going in with other fruits, and perhaps some nut butter, yogurt or almond milk. It’s the perfect time to throw in beets, avocado, frozen cauliflower and zucchini or keep it simple with greens like spinach or kale. I challenge you to get creative and find one that you’re going to crave after a workout or make the night before for the next day’s breakfast. A great rule of thumb to follow when you’re packing your blender is to think: protein, fiber, greens, good carbs, and healthy fats. Build it based off of those and you’ll be hydrating and fueling for success.
  3. Don’t fear fat. Long gone are the days of low-fat everything, and for good reason. The healthy fat we need in our diet, called monounsaturated fat plays a huge role in heart health, keeping cholesterol levels in check, and keeping you fuller longer thus preventing the constant urge to snack. By incorporating foods like ground flax seed, walnuts, avocados, olive oil, salmon, and eggs into the foods you’re already eating and your overall weekly meal roundup, you’ll also be helping your body increase absorption of those fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. I don’t know about you, but this time of year in Chicago I could use all of the vitamin D (remember this is the one we get from the sun that helps to keep our mood up!) that I can get.
  4. Sneak fruits and vegetables into sauces and desserts. I will definitely be tricking my kids into eating vegetables by hiding them in desserts and sauces one day and you should too! But seriously, you can easily whip up a butternut squash “cheese” sauce made by blending roasted butternut squash, almond milk, and garlic in a blender and putting it on top of chicken or pasta. Another option if you are not lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy would be putting in half or a fourth of the cheese you would in a normal cheese sauce. This again is upping the fiber, vitamin A, potassium and healthy carbs you’re getting with every bite. Another crowd favorite is avocado chocolate mousse! Say what? Yes. Get out the food processor, and put it to work by combining 2 avocados, a 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/3 cup of maple syrup. You’ll be amazed at the whipped textures. Also a great idea for party treats!

Watch me on FOX Chicago this morning talking about just how fun & easy some of things are to do!

p.s. a lot of you were asking about my dress, it’s from Express and I got it on during their after Christmas clearance sale for $18 bucks! Talk about a steal!

If you try any of the foods I mentioned in my segment, I’d love to know! Tag @onceuponapumpkin or use #onceuponapumpkin on Instagram.