Weeknight Dinner from the Pantry

Weeknight Dinner from the Pantry

Baked Salmon Meatballs


Have you ever pinned a mouthwatering recipe, added all the ingredients to your shopping list, and even gone as far buying them, only to have “life” happen and all those fresh delicious products you bought die a poor and expensive death.   Oh, right, me neither. I created this recipe on a desperate night digging through my pantry. This recipe is simple and all the ingredients can be kept on hand for a busy night.

These “meatballs” are amazing as the protein on a salad, or over zucchini noodles. But sticking with the all in the pantry theme you can toss some pasta with a little olive oil and these would be the icing on top of the cake.

Nutrition: Serving Size: 1 “meatball” (recipe makes 9)

Calories: 65  Fat: 3 grams, Carbohydrate: 1 gram, Protein: 9 grams 

Baked Salmon Meatballs
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Baked Salmon Meatballs
Print Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine oats and spices in a blender. Pulse until it resembles a breadcrumb texture.
  3. In a medium bowl scramble the egg.
  4. Add the oat mixture and salmon to the egg. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  5. Form mixture into balls and place onto a cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until slightly browned and cooked through.
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Trader Joe’s Tuna Pesto Salad

Happy Take Your Child to Work Day!



In honor of take your child to work day I thought I would share a lunch-friendly recipe.  Let me start by saying, I love tuna. Tuna salad is one of the few quick meals that both my husband and I really enjoy. When I worked in the corporate world I had the unfortunate pleasure of sitting near a woman who also LOVED tuna. She would crack open a can, any time of the day, with no warning! We all know it, no matter how much you like tuna, it can definitely stink up an area. But my co-worker had the right idea, tuna can be a great lunch option. It is a lean source of protein and high in Omega-3 fatty acids (the healthy fats). My pesto tuna salad recipe is definitely lunchbox-worthy but please be kind to your coworkers and enjoy it in a well-ventilated area.


On a recent shopping trip to Trader Joe’s I spotted their new (or at least it was new to me) Pesto and Quinoa spread. The price was right, so I decided to give it a try.  After successfully trying it as a meat marinade I decided it was time to venture out, so I created this Pesto Tuna Salad.

Pesto Tuna Salad

Pesto Tuna Salad

Pesto Tuna Salad

1          can chunk light tuna, canned in water, drained

2          Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt (or mayonnaise)

2          Tablespoons Trader Joe’s Quinoa and Pesto

1          Tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

1          teaspoon olive oil ( I recommend a flavored olive oil, I used a Tuscan infused oil and it was perfect!)


Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Serve warm or chilled.


Tip: You can also make this with pasta for a tuna pesto pasta salad (say that five times fast). Add 2 cups cooked whole wheat pasta and add an extra tablespoon of both the greek yogurt and pesto.

Chipotle Fish Tacos

Chipotle Fish Tacos

Happy Taco Tuesday!

Three things that surprised me about this recipe:

1. I usually prefer soft taco shells over crunchy taco shells. After trying this recipe with both, crunchy taco shells are the way to go. The crunchy-ness adds the perfect match for the flaky texture of the fish.

2. I dislike spicy foods. I like my food to have flavor and I want to live to talk about it. This recipe has a nice not over-the-top spice for people who like spicy (you can always add more) and great flavor for those who don’t!

3. Avocados, Avocados, and more Avocados! Don’t skimp on the avocados in this recipe. The creamy taste of the avocado balances out the smoky chipotle peppers.

Chipotle Fish Tacos

Chipotle Fish Tacos


4          4 oz tilapia filets

1          cup chicken broth

2          Tablespoons orange juice

1          Tablespoon Mexican seasoning blend (I recommend using one that is salt-free)

2          teaspoons cumin

1          can chipotle peppers, in Adobo sauce (don’t worry you won’t use the whole can)

1          can black beans, rinsed and drained

1          bunch cilantro

8         crunchy taco shells

1          avocado, sliced

1          cup cheese (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Chop 1-2 chipotle peppers and reserve 2 tablespoons Adobo sauce. See tip below.
  3. Combine broth, juice, spices, chopped peppers and 2 tablespoons Adobo sauce in a medium bowl.
  4. Place tilapia filets in gallon zipper topped bag and add sauce.
  5. Marinate for 4-8 hours.
  6. Spray baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour entire contents of bag into pan and cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes, remove foil and cook for 10 minutes more or until fish is flaky.
  7. Meanwhile, drain beans and cook in a medium saucepan until warmed through.
  8. Spread beans in bottom of taco shells, top with fish, cilantro, avocado, and cheese.

Tip: FREEZE IT: The KC dietitian loves the smoky flavor of chipotle peppers. One of my secret ingredients in many recipes are canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce but I never need to use a whole can. Whatever I don’t use I pour into a small plastic container and keep them in the freezer until next time.


Kansas City Dietitian Learns to Hum

When I was in high school, I picked up my best friend every morning on the way to school. It never failed that Sue would come bouncing out of her house humming and smiling. I was tired and cranky. Sue just smiled and hummed.

I have decided it is time for this cranky dietitian to learn to smile and hum. I’m just not sure where to start. I guess I will just try by doing what I know best.  

Yes, today I will Hum with Hummus.  

What is hummus, you may ask? Basically, hummus is blended and spiced beans. This may sound weird but it is terrific! It tastes divine when served with fresh veggies. 

Here is my daughter’s basic recipe. Play with it. Make it your own.  

Bean Hummus

Note: I usually add half of the reserved bean liquid and half of olive oil to make it creamier. Or I have also topped it with a little olive oil.

1 clove garlic
1 (15 ounce) can beans-your choice of black, red, garbanzo, kidney; drain and reserve liquid
2 tablespoons lemon juice (Lime juice adds a little extra zing)
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini  (toasted ground sesame seed paste)
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt  (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Mince garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Add beans, 2 tablespoons reserved liquid, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, tahini, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper; process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add additional seasoning and liquid to taste. Garnish with paprika and Greek olives.

And now Wonder Dietitian has taught you how to Hum.  At this point you might want to review my blog on how to sing.  

Next I believe I will teach you how to jello wrestle.  Wonder Dietitian – the dietitian with talents that make you wonder….

What’s for Dinner?

Does this question strike fear in your heart? Is it 5:00 and you have no idea what you are going to eat tonight? I am happy to report that there is hope. 

There is a new Topic on my absolutely free website called Speed Cooking. Speed Cooking is designed for the harried person who is tempted to drive through the fried chicken place on their way home.

The key to Speed Cooking is buying the right things at the store. Click on  Speed Cooking Shopping List.  It will take you to a list of food items that I keep on hand at all times. 

My dinner plans for tonight:  

Menu–Tagine Salmon with red peppers and steamed broccoli.

Place frozen salmon purchased from Costco in Tagine (if you don’t have a Tagine you might want to invest in one. I got hooked on it after my daughter came home from a medical mission trip to Ghana and talked about the meals prepared in them. I now have an American version. It is a wonderful way to add flavor and keep nutrients in foods. The cooking food produces steam that collects on the slanted sides of the Tagine and falls back on to the food.)

Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on the tagine surface before adding the salmon. 

Top the salmon with slices of fresh red peppers, also from Costco, slices of onions and a couple of cloves of fresh garlic. Sprinkle fresh ground pepper, salt free lemon pepper, and red pepper flakes on top.

Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, and then flip everything over.

Cook about 10-15 minutes more.

While this is cooking, place a huge amount of fresh broccoli, also from Costco, in a microwave dish with a lid. Add about 1 Tablespoon water.  Cook in microwave for 5-6 minutes.

Take off shoes, put on slippers. Sort mail. 

Dinner is ready.

Now what’s for dinner at your house tonight?

Quiz question for today:  how do you pronounce Tagine? 

My Oklahoma/Texas relatives would say Tay-jayn-ee. They would also prepare this dish in an old iron skillet with a lid. And it would be just a good prepared this way instead of some fancy-shmancy cookin pot.


The basic recipe:
1/8 cup whey protein isolate (It is OK if it contains creatine or other minerals. Should not contain sugar.)
1 Tbs. milled (ground) flaxseed (optional)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
1/8 tsp. vanilla or almond flavoring (optional)
½ cup berries – blue, black, raspberries
½ cup other fruit of choice (cut into pieces before adding) – peaches, bananas, strawberries, etc.
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup water or fat free milk, soy milk, rice milk, almond milk
Add sweetener if desired – Splenda, Truvia, Agave Nectar, honey, etc.

Calories-165, Protein-16 grams, Carbohydrate-17 grams, Fat-3.5 grams, Fiber-5 grams

You should play with this basic smoothie recipe to help it to fit your taste buds. You may need more or less of any of the ingredients. The key is to include at least 1/8 cup (or more) of whey protein.

Why Whey?

Whey Protein.  What is it? Whey protein is a group of proteins found in cow’s milk.
Why whey protein is a preferred protein
Whey protein is the easiest protein to digest. It is easier to digest than eggs, beef, or soy protein.
Whey protein is a complete protein. It contains all of the amino acids that our bodies need. Proteins found in corn, nuts or beans are incomplete proteins meaning they have only some of the amino acids required by our bodies.
How Much Protein Does A Person Need Each Day?
Current RDA for an active adult is 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight:
          Example: 150 # Person would need 60 grams per day
                              200# Person would need 80 grams per day
Maximum Usable Protein Amount for Adults under stress such as intense exercise or wound healing would be 0.9 grams per pound of body weight.  Your body will excrete excess protein through your kidneys. If you have a compromised kidney function, you would want to be careful not to exceed the recommended protein amount per day of 0.4 grams per pound of body weight.

Why Whey Protein Might Be Good for You:  It
• Is an excellent aid in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A and E.
• Enhances the ability to absorb calcium.
• Contains immunoglobulins which enhance immunity.
• Contains albumin which may be beneficial in controlling blood pressure.
• Inhibits bacteria in the mouth limiting dental plaque and caries.
• Stimulates the body to produce cholecystokinin, a hormone that is released after eating to give a sense of
• Inhibits the growth of bacteria like E.Coli and Salmonella.
• Promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria that helps establish good microbial flora.
• Has good antioxidant properties that may help reduce inflammation.
• Is being studied in the area of cancer prevention. 

Why Flax?

Facts about Flax
One tablespoon serving of flaxseed provides:
• 1.0 Gram of Protein
• 30 Calories
• 3 Grams of Monounsaturated Fat
• 1.7 Grams of Fiber

Fifty-seven percent of the fat in flaxseed is the very healthy Omega-3 fat. Flax is the most abundant source of omega-3 fat in the plant world. This omega-3 fatty acid is called alpha-linolenic acid. It is a necessary fatty acid for health. The body converts this fatty acid into the same form as that found in fish oil. The conversion rate is 5-10%.

How to get more flax in your diet:
• Flaxseed can be purchased as bulk seeds, flour or as a coarse meal similar to cornmeal.
• Flaxseed should be ground and stored in a refrigerator or freezer. .
• Flaxseed can count in your total number of grains to consume per day.

*Note: Flaxseed oil, while high in omega-3, doesn’t contain lignans, nor does not have any fiber. It also scorches easily so it is not good as cooking oil. It doesn’t stay fresh for very long, even if stored in the refrigerator.

Why Cinnamon?

• Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic
• Cinnamon stimulates insulin receptors
• Cinnamon increases glucose uptake
• Cinnamon increases glycogen synthesis
• Recommended daily intake:  ¼ – ½ tsp