Stock a Healthy Kitchen

I’ve put together this guide to help you prepare for healthy eating success!

Are you ready to lose some weight and improve your health? The first thing you need to do is go through your kitchen and purge all the unhealthy foods. Give them away or toss ‘em out. This includes things like cakes, cookies, candy, chocolate, crackers, chips, ice cream, sugary cereals, sodas, juices, beer, mac n’ cheese, and other processed foods. You know, the stuff you’re most likely to overeat in a moment of craving, boredom, worry, or exhaustion. Take it from me, if you keep only healthy food in your house, you will eat healthy food at least 70% of the time! There’s research to back me up on that. Furthermore, if you bring snack food into your house, at least 50% of it will be eaten within the first 6 days of bringing it home, even if you bought a Costco-sized package of it. Once you’ve cleared out the junk food, use this guide to re-stock your kitchen with the right foods that will help you improve your body composition and overall health!


In the Fridge

Skim or 1 percent milk, or fortified soy milk. Almond milk is a good option too, but it’s lower in protein.

Eggs. Whole eggs or liquid egg whites are good option.

Fresh fruit. Keep at least one kind of fruit washed, cut, and stored in a clear plastic container where you can see and grab it easily.

Hummus. Dip veggies in this chickpea spread.

Plain Greek yogurt. Sweeten with fresh or frozen fruit, Stevia, and vanilla extract.

Cottage Cheese. It’s high in protein and tasty with fruit. If you’re not a fan, try it blended in a smoothie for a shake that tastes more like a cheesecake dessert than a post workout recovery drink.

Bagged salad. Look for darker greens like baby spinach or a mix of multicolored lettuces like mesclun or field greens. Bagged spinach is handy for everything- you can easily add a handful to smoothies, ground meat, eggs, etc.

Lunch meats like turkey and lean roast beef. Look for under 4g fat and 400 mg sodium and as few ingredients as possible. Typically the meats that you buy from the deli counter taste waaaay better than the pre-packaged kinds.

Tortillas. Use corn or whole wheat flour tortillas, no larger than 8”. An easy meal is a quesadilla made with low fat cheese, shredded chicken, spinach, and salsa… mmm!

Fresh veggies. Keep veggies front and center in the fridge! Buy your own to wash and chop, or pick up prewashed, precut veggies like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, snow peas, and celery. Need a tasty veggie dip? Try this: Combine 1 avocado, 1 cup plain greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons ranch seasoning, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. SO GOOD.

Low-fat cheese. Stock reduced-fat block cheese such as 2 percent milk cheese, reduced-fat string cheese, Laughing Cow minis, Babybel, and part-skim shredded cheese.

Rotisserie Chicken. SO handy! Pair a chicken breast or leg with some veggies and beans or whole grains for a quick and easy meal. Use the leftover bits in salads and toss the bones in the slow cooker with a carrot, stalk of celery, half an onion, and a bay leaf to whip up chicken stock. No part goes to waste!

Cold Brew Coffee. Concentrated coffee is handy as a quick pick-me-up pre-workout or as an easy mix-in for protein shakes.

Butter. Make a healthy spreadable butter by combining equal parts butter and olive oil in the blender.

Sriracha Sauce. Ok, am I starting to sound like a hipster now? Take my word for it, this stuff is awesome on everything from breakfast sandwiches to roasted cauliflower!

Club Soda. When you’re tired of drinking plain ol’ water, go for the fizzy stuff! Hint- combine with a shot of vodka or tequila, a few drops of stevia, mint, and fresh lemon or lime juice for a guilt free cocktail ;)


In the Pantry

Sweetener of choice. Top picks are local honey for mediating allergies, maple syrup for depth of flavor, and stevia or Splenda for the calorie conscious. A word of caution: your goal should be to cut back on all sweeteners overall, even the calorie free ones.

Garlic, Onions, Tomatoes, and Avocados. Don’t store these in the fridge, but have them on hand because they work well in lots of different recipes.

Lemons and Limes. Use citrus fruit and fresh mint to jazz up your water. This will make it easier to stay hydrated throughout the day and keep from snacking excessively.

Red Wine Vinegar and Balsamic Vinegar. Mix 1 part vinegar with 2 parts olive oil along with some garlic power, salt, and pepper for a quick and easy vinaigrette dressing.

Whole-grain pasta and Quinoa. Both cook in 15 minutes or less.

Canned and Dry Beans. Try black beans for southwestern soups and salads. Lentils are versatile and cook up quickly.

Oatmeal. Choose whole oats or unflavored instant. You can grind oats up in a blender to use in place of breadcrumbs when making meatloaf.

Whole-grain bread. Check labels for brands that have at least 3 grams of fiber per slice.

Applesauce. Look for an unsweetened brand.

Dried or canned beans. Chickpeas, black beans, and fat-free refried beans are rich in protein.

Whole wheat couscous. cooks just as quickly as the regular kind and can be used in cold salads.

Brown rice. A great source of whole grains. Cook up a bunch and keep in the fridge.

Sweet potatoes have lots of vitamin A.

Whole-grain breakfast cereal. Aim for at least 5 grams of fiber and fewer than 8 grams of sugar. Rather than serving up a huge bowl of cereal, measure out ¾ cup into your yogurt or use as part of a trail mix.

Nuts and seeds. Go for almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and sunflower seeds.

Salsa. A zesty way to sneak in more veggies.

Jarred pasta sauce. Add extra veggies like shredded zucchini, diced mushrooms, onions, and spinach.

Dried fruit. ¼ cup counts as a serving of fruit. Choose unsweetened varieties to mix into homemade trail mix. Trader Joe’s carries unsweetened dried fruit.

Canned salmon and light tuna. For salads and sandwiches. Swap an avocado for the mayo to make tuna salad extra healthy and satisfying.

Peanut butter. or other nut butters.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. Use unsweetened cocoa in your protein shakes, coffee, or mixed into almond butter with a few drops of liquid stevia (homemade Nutella without all the sugar!).

Whey Protein Isolate. This protein powder, whatever the brand, should pack in 20-25g protein per scoop with <1g fat and sugar. Whey protein isolate is absorbed quickly, so it’s perfect as a post workout supplement.

High Quality Protein Bars. Look for 20g protein with as little sugar and as much fiber as possible. Quest bars pack in 20g protein with 17g fiber and only 1g sugar… hard to beat that! Use these as a snack ONCE per day! Remember to eat real food too ;)

Chia Seeds and Ground Flax. Opt for cold-milled flax for the most omega 3 benefit. Stir this into yogurt, smoothies, and cereals for a boost of fiber and protein. Flax and chia seeds help keep you feeling full and satisfied between meals. Craving dessert? Stir 3 tablespoons of chia seeds into ½ cup of milk with sweetener of your choice and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes and you’ll have a healthy pudding to snack on!

Olive and Coconut Oil. Use these for cooking. Keep some of your olive oil in a spray bottle to mist vegetables for roasting.

Spices. Keep a variety of spices on hand to add flavor to your food without too much salt. Mrs. Dash blends are great.


In the Freezer

Boneless chicken breasts. Grill a bunch and add to pasta, salads, stir fries, and more throughout the week.

Lean ground beef and bison. Buy 90 percent lean.

Salmon and other low-mercury fish such as cod and tilapia.

Frozen veggies. Besides the basics, pick up high-protein edamame.

Ground turkey. Look for 93%  lean and drain after cooking.

Veggie burgers made from soy protein or black beans.

Frozen fruit (no sugar added) to eat from the bag or add to smoothies. Freeze your own by peeling and slicing bananas and storing in Ziploc bags.

Do you have anything to add? What foods keep you prepared and in control of your eating?

Plan for a Cooking Demo in 10 Steps!

Have you considered doing a cooking demo? Don’t feel overwhelmed! Cooking demonstrations may seem daunting, but they’re a great way to show clients how to cook a healthy meal. Here is a step by step guide to planning your first cooking demo.


1. Find out how many people you’re cooking for.

It’s important to know how many people you’ll be making samples for and what kind of space you’ll be working in so you can plan accordingly. I recommend an audience of no more than 20 unless you have a professional show kitchen setup available to you.

2. Find out what kind of space you’ll be working in.

It’s also critical to be aware of the space you’ll be working in. Will everyone be able to see what you’re doing? Is the demo in a kitchen, or better yet, a demo kitchen with overhead mirrors?

3. Find out what equipment will be available to you.

Find out if you will have access to a refrigerator, sink (very important!), countertop or table, oven, stove, microwave, blender, etc. Based on the equipment available to you, you can plan the recipes you want to demonstrate.

4. Find out what additional equipment you’ll be able to bring in.

Depending on the location of your demo, you might be able to bring in some of your own cooking equipment. It’s nice to have some portable equipment available to you if you plan on doing cooking demonstrations on a regular basis. I have a blender, slow cooker, food processor, toaster oven, rice cooker, and induction cooktop with pots and pans that all come in handy depending on the type of demonstration I’m doing.

5. Find out what your audience wants to learn.

It’s good to know what your audience is interested in learning. Are they interested in practicing basic knife skills? Are they intimidated by the idea of healthy cooking? Do they want to see some quick breakfast meals prepped in real time? The possibilities abound, but it’s very helpful to choose recipes based on what your class will find most beneficial.

6. Find out how much time you’ll have.

Clearly, time will be a huge factor in the recipes you choose to demonstrate. I recommend having 30-60 minutes available for the class.

7. Find out who will be responsible for purchasing food, paper plates, napkins, and plastic silverware that you’ll need. Set a fee for the class and budget for the ingredients.

You don’t want to leave any of the details for after the demo. It’s important to find out what you’ll be reimbursed for and who will be doing the shopping. I strongly recommend that you are the one responsible for doing to grocery shopping and asked to be reimbursed after. There’s nothing worse than showing up on the day of your cooking demo to find that some ingredients are missing or incorrect! Base your fee on the amount of time you will dedicate to planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up. Don’t sell yourself short by only charging what you would for an hour of your time. There’s a lot of work outside of the demo itself!

8. Figure out which recipe(s) you want to make.

Use answers to the previous questions to direct the recipes you will demonstrate for your class. Choose recipes that use a limited number of ingredients and that you are confident you can make well. It’s very important to practice ahead of time to make sure they taste good and that you can prepare them in the amount of time you have for the class. For an hour long class, you can probably plan to make 3 different items start to finish.

9. Practice ahead of time!

To finalize your recipes, practice making them at home and make adjustments as needed. Time yourself and consider what you will talk about as you go through each step of the process. It’s nice to have some talking points about what you’re doing and why you’re using the ingredients you chose. Is there a special nutritional benefit? Is there a trick to prepping the item you’re making? How do you know it’s ready? Practice cooking and talking at the same time.

10. Make a checklist of EVERYTHING you will need to bring so you don’t forget anything!

Don’t forget your ingredients in a cooler, knives, dish towels, cutting boards, measuring cups & spoons, spices, cooking oil, and any other knick-knacks you might forget in the rush of cooking demo day.

10. Depending on time restrictions and audience size, make samples ahead of time. 

The morning of or night before your class, you may need to prepare all your samples or do some prep work to make good use of your time in the class. For example, I’ve done a 15 minute cooking demo showing students how to make an easy stir fry. Since rice takes longer than that to cook, I set the rice cooker ahead of time so the only things I needed to make during the class were the protein (scrambled egg) and sautéed vegetables (broccoli and tomato).


I’m doing a couple of cooking demos this week. I used to get very nervous about them, but now that I’ve had some practice and the process is more streamlined, the classes are something I look forward to immensely! I’d love to host a hands-on cooking workshop and/or present a video recording of meal preparation. Hopefully those will be things you can look forward to seeing from Karolina’s Kitchen in the near future!


Naked Fish – Sushi in Las Vegas

After a busy couple of weeks, Colby and I enjoyed a sushi date night at Naked Fish. If you’re in Las Vegas, definitely check out their happy hour menu, 5-6pm daily. For $21 you can get 3 sushi rolls and a beer, or order items a la carte. A glass of Chardonnay was $3 and a large seaweed salad was $4. I love the unique texture of seaweed salads, and while they’re high in sodium, seaweed is nutritious because it is rich in calcium, antioxidant compounds, and iodine (which isn’t present in many dietary sources!)


We also got a cucumber salad free for checking in on Yelp! You can choose between that and an order of edamame when you check in. The salad was pleasantly sweet and crunchy.


For $7 per order, I chose the yellowtail jalepeno and salmon yuzu, which were both very refreshing. The salmon was my favorite of the two because of the delicious marinade it was served in and there were more pieces included in the happy hour price!


Thr yellowtail jalepeno!


The salmon yuzu!

Colby ordered sushi rolls. The Japanese lasagna roll was served warm with melting cream cheese on top:


This one is the Roppangi roll, filled with spicy tuna and topped with more tuna and eel sauce. Delicious! 


I love that this meal was as much a feast for the eyes as it was for the taste buds! We finished off our dinner with a shared order of mochi ice cream ($4). The mango and strawberry flavors were both tasty. The also have a black sesame mochi that sounds intriguing!


Next time you’re in Vegas (with a car), head over to Naked Sushi for an awesome happy hour meal and friendly service! If you’re interested in seeing more restaurant reviews and/or healthy dining tips, please let me know!

Juicer Pulp Turkey Burgers

January’s Recipe Redux theme is “Start Smoking in the New Year!” The idea is to flavor up recipes with a bit of smokiness or spice. My base recipe was a turkey burger, but I wanted to find a way to bulk it up with extra vegetables and impart a smoky, savory flavor. I loved’s guide to adding smoky flavor to foods! I used a few of the ideas listed for my turkey burgers. I also added some pureed vegetables leftover from my juicer to make the burgers extra moist and nutritious. If you don’t have a juicer, you can use any of your favorite grated or pureed vegetables!

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1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
1/2 cup pureed or shredded vegetables (I used pulp leftover from kale, celery, and cucumber juice)
1 large egg
1/4 cup oat flour (dry instant oats pulverized in a blender)
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs minced onion
1/2 tbs minced garlic
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste (Don’t taste the raw meat! Instead, cook a bit of it on a hot skillet to test the flavor)
High heat stable oil, such as avocado or canola


1. Gently fold together all ingredients in a mixing bowl until well incorporated.
2. Wet your hands to form the mixture into four 4″ diameter burger patties. Refrigerate for 20 mins – 2 hours to allow the flavors to combine.
3. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Oil the grates or the burger patties to prevent sticking. Grill 5-10 minutes and flip with a grill safe spatula. Cook until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Transfer to a plate and cover with aluminum foil; temperature should increase to 165 degrees F while the burgers are resting.
4. Serve over lettuce or on toasted buns with Sriracha sauce, roasted red peppers, and pepper jack cheese.

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Check out other Recipe Redux ideas for January 2015!

Anniversary Dinner in Berkeley

After the last time I posted, Colby and I flew on a red eye flight from Kauai to Los Angeles and drove for 8 hours to Northern California. We made this drive on our 2 year anniversary! It was a rough drive after getting virtually no sleep on the flight, but I’m glad we got to spend the whole day together! Last year we were apart on our anniversary.

The day was made much better by meeting up for dinner with one of my best friends and her boyfriend. They took us to a wonderful restaurant in Berkeley, Gather. Gather is described as the “omnivore’s solution” and “a Micheal Pollan book come to life” because the food served is locally sourced and sustainably farmed. Our meal was beautiful and delicious!

The appetizer:


It looked like a work of art!


The pizzas were yummy too. I especially liked the sausage pizza with egg, but the zucchini pizza was delicious too!


Yum yum yum! My friend never fails to pick an incredible restaurant to take us to in the Bay Area.


After dinner we headed over to Ici for dessert and Jupiter for live music and silly conversation. I can’t believe we didn’t take any pictures together on this trip! I must have been delirious from lack of sleep. Here’s a shot of us from a few years ago when she visited me in Reno:


This girl always makes me smile :)

The anniversary dinner Colby and I shared with our friends at Gather was only part of our trip. I’ll be posting a bit more about our travels to Kauai, Huntington Beach, and Reno. The vacation felt like a honeymoon! Being married to this man has been awesome, and now that he is finally finished with school, I am looking forward to more adventures together.


Starbucks Breakfast

You can count on decent breakfast options almost anywhere since Starbucks Coffee is found all around the Western world.


Conveniently, Starbucks provides calorie counts on display and nutrition brochures are readily available.

Here are some good options for breakfast at Starbucks:


– Banana and almonds

– Egg white sandwich or wrap (my favorite is the one with turkey bacon and white cheddar)

– protein box (egg, roll, fruit, and cheese)

-Greek yogurt with honey and granola

-Oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts


Pair any of these options with iced tea, coffee, or a skinny latte/ macchiato/ frapuccino. There you have it! Enjoy a breakfast with enough protein to hold you over until your next meal!

Make a Perfect Smoothie

Good morning! Today I took a trip to Jamba Juice to get inspired for the next week or two of recipes for Karolina’s Kitchen. I’ll be posting lots of healthy protein shake and smoothie concoctions for you!

Jamba Juice gave me some ideas to get started.


There are lots of great choices on the menu- smoothies, breakfast wraps, oatmeal… But what caught my eye today were the yogurt parfait toppers.


I like that these are part smoothie and part parfait. Frozen fruit is blended with nonfat greek yogurt and topped with granola and banana slices for a smoothie that has some extra bite to it. I picked the 12 oz berry topper. The chunky strawberry banana topper (with fruit and peanut butter) sounded great, too!


Yum! As I was enjoying my snack, I checked out their “boosts” brochure. Boosts are options you can add to your smoothie to customize it. You can add soy or whey protein, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, caffeine, multivitamins, oats, or immunity boosting zinc and vitamin C to your smoothie. I’ll be putting boosts in my creations, too!

The boosts I plan to use are:
-Chia seeds
-Ground flax
-Whey protein isolate
-Greek yogurt
-Nut butter

Check back for smoothie recipes soon! Until then here’s how to make a perfect smoothie every time:
– 1 – 1.5 cups of fruit
– 1/4 – 1/2 cup greek yogurt
– 1/2 – 1 cup liquid

Happy creating!

What to order at Chipotle

Chipotle is by far my favorite fast food restaurant! I love that you can build your meal exactly how you want it to be. Their barbacoa shredded beef is to die for. If you’re looking for a flavorful, filling, yet healthy meal, Chipotle is the place to be.


Here’s my go to meal:

Bowl with brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, barbacoa, double portion of mild salsa (pico de gallo), and shredded lettuce. Sometimes I leave off the rice or beans and add guacamole, but that costs a little more so I usually only get it when someone else is buying ;)


If you want to build a healthy chipotle meal, here’s how to do it:

1. Pick a bowl or salad

2. Choose brown rice over white rice (or no rice!)

3. Pinto and black beans are both great options (or no beans!). Be sure to get the fajita veggies too!

4. Pick a protein. They’re all good options- chicken, carnitas, steak, barbacoa. The new tofu option is a little more processed, but may be a good choice for vegans and vegetarians.

5. Get any salsa you like, but skip the sour cream and cheese. Ask for a large helping of lettuce on there, too! For healthy fat, pay the extra $2 or so for a scoop of guacamole, or just skip it.

6. Say “no” to the chips and soda. Go for a free water cup and help yourself to the fresh lemons if you need some flavor in your agua.

This meal will be around 500 calories, full of fiber, protein, complex carbs, and vegetables. It will also taste amazing!

Protein House

Hey local (and visiting) Las Vegas health nuts! There’s a unique restaurant in town you should try out.


Protein House is a fairly new restaurant in town catering to bodybuilders, fitness competitors, and athletes. It’s cool to see they don’t have a soda machine in this place! Just a water dispenser and assorted juices.


The employees are all very fit! Don’t piss off the cook, he could probably crush you. The menus are printed on cards for you to customize.


I pulled a breakfast card. I love that breakfast is served all day!


Colby went for the burger card. Check out the Muscle Boy burger! 12 oz of bison!?


While waiting for our order, we discreetly checked out the ultra fit clientele and flipped through some of the fitness and nutrition magazines stacked in the lounge area. I was really excited to get our food! This restaurant is such a neat place.


The longer we waited, the more cool stuff I started to notice. Bottles and bottles of sriracha? That must be a sign of good taste. They also have homemade reduced sugar ketchup, sugar free syrup, Truvia, and other “guiltless”condiments out. The walks are lined with signed photos of fitness competitors.

When our food came out, it didn’t disappoint! We both loved our meals. I had the PH hash (bison, sweet potato, egg whites, and veggies).


Colby had the delicious PH Burger (bison, fat free cheddar, egg whites, tomato, and lettuce on a whole wheat bun).


The bison was very juicy and flavorful.. and how did they get the fat free cheese to melt so well? I’d definitely come back here for a healthy, tasty meal! I was impressed that Protein House doesn’t sacrifice flavor for nutrition. Check it out if you’re in the area.