BBQ Chickpea and Quinoa Bowl with Spinach and Roasted Red Peppers

This incredibly simple dish combines two things that I love; BBQ and bowls.  Buddah bowl recipes are so easy to make, very filling and can be packed with loads of  protein and fiber.  To reduce inflammation, I stick with plant based proteins.  They are cleaner and don’t create an inflammatory response in the body like animal proteins do.

Because chickpeas contain lots of fiber- they help keep you feeling full for longer periods of time.  This means you’ll be less likely to graze on junk which could help you in your quest to lose some excess pounds. Chickpeas also help to stabilize blood sugar levels and offer protein, vitamins and minerals including manganese, folate, copper, iron, zinc and more. They are the heart of this dish, along with the quinoa which- also offers a great serving of protein and fiber.

I wilted down three cups of spinach to add to the dish.  Spinach is rich in iron and actually has about 3 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces.  If you want glowing skin- add spinach to your diet.  It is an excellent source of  folate, chlorophyll, Vitamin E, magnesium, Vitamin A, fiber and Vitamin C. Due to their antioxidant abilities, Vitamins C, E, and A are especially great for your skin.  The magnesium in spinach is helpful in calming nerves and anxiety. In fact, a magnesium deficiency can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.

To make this dish, sauté 1/2 cup chickpeas with 1/3 cup sliced grape tomatoes in BBQ sauce over a low flame until tomatoes are soft.  To cook the quinoa, combine 1 cup quinoa (this will cook up to about 2.5 cups- use the left overs for other meals or with fruit for breakfast) with 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 1o minutes. In another pot, wilt down 3-4 cups of spinach.

If you want the roasted red pepper sauce it’s incredibly easy.   In your blender combine 1/3 cup roasted red peppers with 1/3 cup Earth Balance ‘mayo’.  Blend.  Taste and add a dash of salt and garlic if you would like.

When everything is done, assemble your bowl.  My portion was

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup tomatoes
  • 3 cups baby spinach, wilted down
  • 1/2 of an avocado, sliced
  • Drizzle of roasted red pepper cream sauce on top

My portion had about 14.5g of protein.

About Ultimate Fit Zone’s Boot Camp in Monmouth County

Four different methods of training, one membership at our boot camp gym. Now you can keep your workouts fresh and challenging.  Take advantage of Cross Training (Zone 360), Interval & Circuit Training (IT 360) High Intensity Interval Training (HEAT) and Spin (priced separately).  Scroll down to read descriptions of each.

Your unlimited monthly membership at our boot camp/cross training gym in Monmouth County also entitles you to one complimentary consultation each month with our Holistic Nutritionist on staff.  Get questions answered about nutrition, weight loss and more.  We have special support for beginners.  For more information about beginner boot camp fitness please give us a call at 732-428-2111.



Protein Packed Portobello Steak with Creamy Polenta and Kale Salad

If 40 is the new 30 and silver/grey hair is now in style- I think it’s safe to add portobello mushrooms to the list of trends that make us look and feel younger.  Food is no longer just a palette pleasing opportunity.  The realization that the foods we put inside our bodies can help us look better on the outside means that our diet is perhaps just as important as our hair stylist.

Portobello mushrooms offer a huge opportunity for us to literally nourish our bodies from the inside out every time we enjoy a meal.  Packed with protein, vitamins and minerals- this vegan-portobello-mushroom-steak-recipemushroom should become a staple in your weekly meals.  Bellos can help keep blood pressure at a healthy level, reduce cholesterol, are great for your skin, keep your heart healthy and boost your immune system.  Take a look at what the world renowned Dr. Mercola has to say about this mushroom:


“…Portobellos are an excellent source of copper, which your body needs to produce red blood cells and carry oxygen through your body. They also offer three important B-complex vitamins: riboflavin for maintaining healthy red blood cells; niacin for supple skin and properly functioning digestive and nervous systems; and pantothenic acid, which aids in the release of energy from the fat, protein, and carbohydrates in the food you eat.

Just one cup of mushrooms has the potential to release at least 15 different vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. A single Portobello contains more potassium than a banana – 630 mg per serving – which helps maintain normal heart rhythm and muscle and nerve function, as well as a balance between your fluid and minerals. This in turn helps control blood pressure.” (source)

My favorite way to eat portobello mushroom caps is lightly brushed with olive oil and then grilled on the indoor grill pan for just a few minutes on each side.  These mushrooms release a lot of moisture and will wilt quickly- so be careful not to overcook at too high of a temperature or for too long.

Serve over creamy polenta (recipe below) and an iron-packed kale salad and you have a meal that has about 15 grams of protein (2 mushroom caps, 1 cup polenta and about 2-3 cups kale salad), loads of fiber, vitamins, minerals and disease fighting anti-oxidants.


  • 2 cups of corn grits
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter
  • A sprig of rosemary (do not chop)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Slowly add the two cups of corn grits, while stirring, and immediately reduce heat to a very low simmer. Stir in the butter, rosemary, salt (if using) and nutritional yeast. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

About Ultimate Fit Zone’s Boot Camp in Monmouth County

Four different methods of training, one membership at our boot camp gym. Now you can keep your workouts fresh and challenging.  Take advantage of Cross Training (Zone 360), Interval & Circuit Training (IT 360) High Intensity Interval Training (HEAT) and Spin (priced separately).  Scroll down to read descriptions of each.

Your unlimited monthly membership at our boot camp/cross training gym in Monmouth County also entitles you to one complimentary consultation each month with our Holistic Nutritionist on staff.  Get questions answered about nutrition, weight loss and more.  We have special support for beginners.  For more information about beginner boot camp fitness please give us a call at 732-428-2111.

Traditional Tempeh Bolognese Sauce – Vegan & Gluten Free

This traditional tempeh bolognese sauce is very authentic tasting, packed with protein and goes amazing over pasta OR zucchini noodles for a low carb option.  This is as high or higher as any tempeh-bolognese-recipe-veganbeef bolognese and it eliminates your intake of harmful residues found in animal meats including antibiotics, synthetic sex hormones, environmental toxins, cholesterol and more.  This is such a clean way to enjoy a heart ‘meat’ sauce.  Even meat-eaters have told me that they absolutely LOVED this version and would definitely make it over a traditional beef bolognese.

The original recipe is from 

Since sauces tend to thicken as they sit, I modified the recipe slightly to include crushed tomatoes.



Traditional Tempeh Bolognese Sauce

A vegan and gluten free on the classic beef bolognese.  Packed with protein and flavor, this sauce will satisfy any pasta lover. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine gluten free, Vegan
Servings 6 people
Author ultimatezone


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion Diced (I like vidalia)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (I buy mine already minced)
  • 1 Package organic, non GMO tempeh- crumbled by hand Let the tempeh become room temperature so it's easy to crumble)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 can diced tomato (The can is approximately 411 g)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes Same 400-415g size
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup water (You may need more water- this is to dilute the sauce to a consistency of your liking)


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet and add the onion.  Saute 2-3 minutes until it softens a little. Add garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add tempeh crumbles. Stir all together to incorporate flavor of onions and garlic into the tempeh.  Let all cook together about 5 minutes.  Add oregano, thyme and chili. Stir together and cook for a minute.  Add diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, nutritional yeast and a little bit of water (as needed).  Reduce to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes. 




Sundried Tomato and Herb Chick Pea Salad

vegan-chick-pea-salad-sandwich-ideaThis is a really good, quick recipe to make that can satisfy may desires.  You can have this Italian inspired chickpea salad over pasta or brown rice with some balsamic vinaigrette, as a sandwich or even spread onto a bagel. Because it’s made with chick peas and white beans, it’s high in protein and fiber.  Eating a diet high in protein and fiber will help you feel full for longer periods of time.  This means you’ll be less likely to snack and crave junk foods.

I was going to make just a regular white bean and chick pea salad with some Earth Balance mayo, lemon juice and parsley…but I wanted something different and then I got the idea to do sundried tomatoes.  I had mine over short grain brown rice with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Other ideas would be to add in broccoli or wilted spinach.


Sundried Tomato and Chick Pea Salad

Course lunch, Snack
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Author ultimatezone


  • 1 14 oz can chickpeas- rinsed and drained well
  • 1 14 oz can canellini beans- rinsed and drained well
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan mayo
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6-7 Whole Sundried tomatoes (mine were packed in oil, I drained them as much as possible first)


  1. Place all ingredients in food processor and process until well incorporated. 

About Ultimate Fit Zone:

UFZ is a cross training and boot camp gym in Monmouth County NJ.  We are owned and operated by husband and wife team, Eddie and Stacey Albert.  Eddie is a long time and well known personal trainer in NJ and Stacey is a certified holistic nutritionist.  The gym offers high intensity boot camp classes coupled with health focused weight loss and nutrition programs to help members get the most out of their training.

Crockpot Sweet Potato Chili (Vegan) Over Wilted Baby Spinach

With fall around the corner and winter fast approaching, I’m in the mood to experiment with all different types of chili dishes.  Chili is a quick and easy way to get a good portion of protein, vegan-sweet-potato-chilihealthy carbohydrates, fiber and veggies.  It’s everything you want on your plate combined into one simple and healthy dish.  Making it in the crockpot is an added bonus. I put everything into the crockpot in the morning and by dinner time, it was cooked to perfection.

Using Beyond Beef Feisty Crumbles instead of turkey meat or ground beef saves you over 100mg of cholesterol per serving.  Cholesterol is the stuff that clogs up our arteries, when consumed in excess, and causes the nation’s number one killer- heart attack. You won’t miss the cholesterol and you certainly won’t miss the taste.  This chili tastes as authentic as they come and I don’t even think meat eaters will notice the switch from beef to Beyond Beef feisty crumbles.

But wait–there’s more…everyone knows that chili is best enjoyed with sweet, buttery cornbread!  So how about a recipe that is sweet, buttery tasting but without the damaging saturated fat and cholesterol??  Pair the chili with Agave Cornbread muffins and I promise you’ll be going back for seconds!

I slightly modified this recipe from the original version found on


Crockpot Sweet Potato Chili Recipe (Vegan)

Servings 8 people


  • 28 oz can diced tomato
  • 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Add more for extra spice)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (If you don't have- do 2 teaspoons paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or omit)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink sea salt
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (Peel and cut into chunks)
  • 1 Vidalia onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 14 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 14 oz can black beans
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 package Beyond Beef Feisty Crumbles (or omit)


  1. Combine all ingredients in your crockpot.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Optional- add Daiya cheddar shreds or avocado on top. To add extra veggies- serve over wilted spinach.

White bean salad sandwich (vegan)

This is a good vegan replacement for a chicken salad sandwich.  The beans pack protein, fiber and iron.  Fresh herbs and lemon juice provide plenty of flavor.  I make my sandwich with chardonnay dijon mustard but a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette would also work well.  This is an easy gluten free lunch if you just use your favorite gluten free bread or wrap.

Here’s the recipe for the vegan white bean salad sandwich.  Enjoy!


White Bean Salad Sandwich Recipe - Vegan

This is a great vegan replacement for chicken salad.  Using white beans, chick peas, vegan mayo and some herbs, this has a filling texture and great taste!

Servings 4


  • 1 can small white beans or any white bean
  • 1 can chick peas
  • 2 tablespoons vegan mayo
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 3 teaspoons dried chives
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


Rinse and drain beans and chickpeas. Add all ingredients to food processor. Pulse until smooth but still a little chunky.

Buffalo Cauliflower Recipe – Vegan

It’s a no brainer that hot sauce + ranch sauce = mouthwatering delight.  This tasty combination is most often ordered up in the form of chicken wings and provides no nutritional value.  Switching to buffalo cauliflower bites instead of wings packs the same great flavor while providing you with the amazing health benefits of cauliflower.

Check out the recipe below for Buffalo Cauliflower AND a simple vegan ranch dressing.  But, before you do, take a look at some of the top health benefits of cauliflower:

  • Cauliflower is a member of the cancer-fighting cruciferous family of vegetables
  • Contains the sulfur compound Sulforaphane which improves blood pressure and kidney function
  • Helps reduce inflammation within the body
  • Aids your body’s natural detox

And so many more!  Try the recipe below and let me know how you like it 🙂


Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Course dinner, lunch, Salad
Servings 4


  • 1 head cauliflower cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup favorite hot sauce


  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with tinfoil and spray with non-stick spray.

    Put your bite sized pieces of cauliflower in a very large bowl (preferably a tupperware that has a lid but not necessary). In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, water, salt, garlic, pepper. Pour the flour mixture over the cauliflower, cover container with lid and shake vigorously to toss the cauli and coat evenly (set the container aside you will need it again).

    Spread onto baking sheet evenly.  Bake for 15 minutes, flipping half way through.

    Combine the melted butter and hot sauce.  After 15 minutes of baking, put your cauli bites back in your tupperware container and now pour the melted Earth Balance and hot sauce over the cauli. Cover and shake to coat evenly.  Put back in the oven and bake another 25 minutes.  Check to make sure they aren't burning but you want them a little bit crispy. 

    See below for ranch dressing recipe!

Recipe Notes

This recipe is from



Homemade Vegan Ranch Dressing Recipe


  • 1 cup Mindful Mayo
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • sprinkle salt
  • dash pepper
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill-weed I use a heaping 1/4 teaspoon because the dill make it taste amazing!


  1. Whisk ingredients together in a bowl and enjoy 🙂

Recipe Notes

 This recipe is slightly modified to fit my taste from its original version on


Ceviche Bean Salad Recipe – Perfect for Meatless Monday in Summer

This vegan ceviche bean salad has all of the fragrant flavors of a Mexican summer night.  Fresh lime juice, chopped coriander, red onion, cucumber and more come together to make this simple salad the perfect accompaniment to a Mexican Meatless Monday or any Mexican dish.


I’m usually lazy and use lime juice from concentrate- but for recipes like these, it’s completely worth it to use fresh lime juice. It makes a huge difference.  I have one of those little hand-held things that you squeeze together to juice the lime. It’s simple and you’ll love the fresh taste.

This recipe was slightly modified from the original recipe in The China Study Cookbook.


Vegan Ceviche Bean Salad Recipe

This vegan ceviche bean salad recipe brings together the fresh flavors of cilantro, lime juice, red onion, cucumber and more.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 3 cups
Author ultimatezone


  • 1 15 oz can small white bean Any bean would work
  • 1 small red onion if using a larger red onion, only use about 3/4 of it, or to taste
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or more to taste
  • 1 avocado If you don't have a ripe avocado- omit avocado and instead top salad with a tablespoon of store bought guacamole
  • 2 limes- juiced
  • Pinch pink sea salt and pepper


  1. Combine onion, cucumber, tomato and cilantro in a medium sized bowl.

    Mix in beans, avocado and lime juice.

    Add salt and pepper to taste..

    Ready to serve!

White bean, sundried tomato and herb veggie burger

If you’re tired of bland veggie burgers, give this vegan, gluten free white bean burger a taste.  The sundried tomatoes add a touch of sweetness while the parsley and especially thyme add a fresh, herbed flavor.  I had mine on an Ezekiel English Muffin with roasted red pepper vegan mayo spread (I included the recipe for that as well), but you could opt for a low carb option and serve this over a huge green salad with lots of veggies. The Ezekial English Muffin adds an extra 8 grams of protein.


White Bean, Sundried Tomato and Herb Veggie Burger

Vegan, gluten free white bean burger with sundried tomatoes and herbs. 

Cuisine gluten free, Vegan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 95 kcal
Author Stacey Albert, Holistic Nutritionist


  • ½ Vidalia onion , chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes (packed in oil)
  • 1 can small white beans
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons oats (gluten free if needed)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Sprinkle of fresh black pepper
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs (gluten free if needed)


  1. Place chopped onion, garlic and sundried tomatoes in food processor. Pulse 5-6 times. Scrape down sides and make sure no large pieces of onion remain. Pulse another 1-2 times if needed.
  2. Add remaining ingredients EXCEPT the breadcrumbs. Pulse together until a sticky mix is formed. Be careful not to over-process but it all should be well combined.

  3. Remove mix from food processor and transfer to a bowl. Fold in breadcrumbs gently.
  4. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop out mix and form patties. Cook on medium heat about 3 minutes per side.
  5. Serving suggestion: Top with roasted red pepper mayo spread: In a blender, combine ¼ cup roasted red peppers with ¼ cup vegan mayo of choice. Blend until incorporated.

  6. Approximate calories (excluding bun and mayo)
  7. Per Serving: Cals: 93/ Carbs:18/ Fat: 1/ Protein: 5/ Sodium: 243/ S

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal Recipe

recipe-chocolate-banana-peanutbutter-oatmealKids love something sweet for breakfast (and let’s be real – so do we!).  It’s time to ditch the flavored, packaged oatmeal that can be loaded with sugars, sweeteners, artificial colors and other junk.   It’s so easy to make your own, homemade flavored oatmeal for the kids and yourself!

Here’s a recipe we made this morning to satisfy our craving for something sweet (at 6:30am!)

All Natural, Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal – No Sugar Added


  • 1/4 cup quick cook oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon all natural peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon cacao powder (or cocoa for kids- the cacao powder may be too bitter)
  • 1/2 banana sliced

Just combine the oats and water first and zap it in the microwave for 55 seconds.  Then add the rest of the ingredients. I also added a splash of almond milk to mine.

No sugar, no additives, no crap.  All natural goodness that tastes good and is good for you!

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