Thanksgiving Nutrition Survival Tips and GF Cranberry Orange Pecan Stuffing

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Christmas comes close, but neither is about the food or the presents. Both mean family and friends to me. Growing up I was blessed to have both sets of grandparents living within a 2 hour radius of my family. So that meant I got to spend time with both. I didn’t know any better or that others didn’t have the same thing, but I loved it. Of course the food was good, but spending time with loved ones is what it’s about. Now as Brett and I are in TX, we are far away from family, but we are thankful to have good friends 20 minutes away who invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them. And in an awesome fashion, two sets of our new neighbors just asked if we had plans. They knew our family was far away and didn’t want us spending the day alone (if we didn’t want to). I am grateful for them and their kindness. I could spend this entire blog talking about how grateful I am for my family, my parents especially, our friends, careers, etc. But then I wouldn’t give you the tips I want to share. So let me end with, I am grateful to live in a country who allows me, a female entrepreneur to start her own business, I am grateful to Brett and my family that believe in me, I am grateful for friends for posting comments on FB when I fear no one will and I am grateful for everyone who has signed up for the Fueled and Focused meal plans and who is willing to give me a shot. Thank you!

 Thanksgiving Nutrition Survival Tips:

  1. Have a hearty breakfast-this will start your day off right and you won’t be starving when dinner comes
  2. Drink plenty of water-keeping hydrated and feeling full from the water will help you from being tempted to overeat
  3. Bring a dish or side dish you know you’ll want to eat-that way, you’ll know there is something you feel comfortable eating
  4. Watch the appetizers- appetizers are generally calorie bombs. And they are so small they are easy to grab and eat without thinking about it. Bring a veggie tray that way you can load up on veggies.
  5. Use smaller plates- Using a smaller plate means less food can go on it
  6. Portion out small amounts-Start with just a little of everything you’d like to try. Don’t heap food on and then realize 10min later  you’re stuffed to the brim.
  7. Practice mindful eating-Really think about how hungry you are, if you’re feeling full and whether you really want seconds or thirds
  8. Listen to your body cues and stop eating when you are 80% full-Our body takes some time to catch up when we’ve had enough. Slow down and listen to when you’re starting to get full.
  9. Turkey Trot or family walk/hike after-Going to a Turkey Trot before you eat, and then going for a family walk/hike after you’re done is a great way to help with the additional calories you might consume.
  10. Don’t feel guilty- lastly, the most important tip. If you over eat, or if you have foods you don’t normally consume, erase the guilt. Guilt is not something I want you to allow yourself to feel. Help yourself my acknowledging it’s a special occasion and no matter what, your self worth is not dictated by the food you consume.

Special Holiday Recipe: Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Pecan Stuffing (serves 6 as a side dish)

Cranberry Orange Pecan Stuffing

*the term stuffing is only loosely used here. The is not a traditional stuffing, but a yummy side dish that those that are Celiac or gluten intolerant can enjoy instead of traditional stuffing.*


  • 2.25 cups prepared quinoa: this is 3/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion chopped
  • 3/4 cup celery chopped-about 2 stalks
  • 1 cup mushrooms chopped
  • 1 cup raw cranberries halved
  • 4 seedless mandarin oranges peeled and divided-two whole and two sliced into chunks
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning-I used salt free
  • 1 tbsp French vinaigrette-I used Brianna’s Homestyle-French vinaigrette is an oil, vinegar and mustard based dressing
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup pecans chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


*Prepare quinoa ahead of time-I believe this recipe could also be prepared cooking the quinoa after you saute the garlic, onion and celery (with broth), however due to quinoa sometimes needing to be drained, this is a surefire way to have the dish be successful.


  • 1. Slice two oranges in half and squeeze juice into a small bowl. Discard the flesh or consume :).
  • 2. Add the poultry seasoning, vinaigrette and maple syrup. Stir to combine.
  • 3. Set aside.

Quinoa Stuffing:

  • 1. Heat a large saute pan or a stock pot over medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 2. Add the garlic and onion and saute, 3 minutes.
  • 3. Add in the celery and cook an additional 3-4 minutes or until starting to soften.
  • 4. Add the mushrooms and cook 1 minute.
  • 5. Stir in cooked quinoa, mixing well.
  • 6. Stir in cranberries.
  • 7. Add the dressing and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes until mixture is heated through and cranberries are starting to soften. The dressing should also be mixed in and no liquid left at the bottom of the pan.
  • 8. Remove the quinoa from the heat. Stir in the two sliced oranges and the pecans.
  • 9. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired.
  • 10. Serve as a side dish
Nutritional Data:
187 Calories (kcals)
27 Carbohydrate (g)
4 Protein (g)
7 Fat (g)
4 Fiber (g)
180 Sodium (mg)
*Plus 100% RDI for vitamin A


My Mission and Promises to You

I hope my excitement and passion comes through your screens, as I’m very excited about the launch of my nutrition site. I am writing this blog post because I felt it very important for me to share a few things about me, where I see Fueled and Focused going and in essence, my mission to both those on my blog, my website and through the newsletter. This will also be part of my first newsletter set to go out tomorrow. Now, if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet,  go to and click “join newsletter” at the bottom. Or feel free to reply on here with your email. And better yet, sign up for the $1 meal plan trial. That way you’ll stay on top of the latest and greatest in the world of science, nutrition and performance.

I am an open book. Those that know me and work with me face to face, know I have no poker face. I am a very honest person, I believe that ethics and integrity are of the utmost importance, I try to treat everyone equally and my athletes (nutrition and coaching) mean the world to me. I would not be doing what I am, if you didn’t believe and trust in me. Thank you.

My mission: (non necessarily the traditional company mission)

To deliver nutrition based education and recipes in a way that lifts the athlete up, helps them to succeed in achieving their goals, while making nutrition fun and less fearful. My goal is for every person to strive to be the best athlete and person they can, using nutrition as a tool to help them succeed and to help them get there. And finally, to help every athlete know, that how they look or perform does not make them who they are and no matter what, food does not make you and it should not define you.

My promise to you is three fold:

I promise to always use science first and foremost. Science is our guide, and while nutrition is also an art, unless we use evidence based science, it’s hard to know exactly what is true and what isn’t. I am a big believer in education and to always strive to better myself through knowledge. I will continue to pursue advanced degrees, certificates or diplomas, while working with, alongside or under fellow scientists, dietitians and nutritionists. Science is always changing, and we see that from day to day and year to year. One year low fat diets are the key, the next year, high fat diets. It gets complicated, and I promise to stay on top of what’s going on. And while I will use what I learn from science, I’ll always think outside of the box to help athletes. Just because science says one thing, does not make it true for everyone. But we need to start somewhere.

I promise to never use nutrition as fear. I will never use the words “Detox, Toxin or Chemical.” Boy do I hate those words. I just want to scream NO NO NO over and over again when I see people post on these.  The media and so called nutritionists/doctors are using those words to instill fear into you. Instead of looking at the evidence, some nutritionists or media personalities use these words to line their pockets with money, they fear monger and want people to buy this product, or that product. I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but when that opinion is based in fear, and broadcast to thousands and millions or people, it isn’t right. I am not going to pretend to be a smarty pants because I certainly am not, so instead I am going to say “do your own research, seek out answers from those in the field, follow scientists on Facebook and Twitter.” There are so many people trying to spread the truth, but the fact is, it isn’t sexy. It isn’t sexy to say there is no evidence that GMO’s cause health problems. There are 1700 studies saying this. Or, that chemicals are poisonous and we need to be careful of what we put in our body. Yes, of course, some chemicals are not healthy, however all food is chemistry. And yes we do need to be careful of what we put in our body, but it’s different when people are advocating for untruths. When I write carbohydrate, I write CHO. This is because carbohydrates are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. So even the healthiest fruits and veggies are chemicals. And lastly, if you see anyone telling you to “detox,” run away, even if they have credentials behind their name. Our body does a wonderful job of getting rid of toxins by using our kidneys and liver. We don’t need to detox with food or lack of food.

I promise to never post pictures of myself or other athletes scantily clad in order to promote my site through sexism or unattainable goals. Since starting on Instagram and sometimes on Facebook, I’ve seen pictures of everyday people, athletes, fitness celebrities, etc. promoting and putting high on a pedestal, bodies that are not attainable or healthy for everyone. Daily I see pictures of men flexing their huge muscles and women wearing skimpy bikinis and super short shorts in provocative and/or sexual poses.  We were born with a specific body and a type of musculature/stature. This is mainly genetic, and while we can manipulate it, it is only to an extent. For example, there is a person/site on Instagram promoting big butts. I kid you not. There are photos of before and after shots of women who supposedly did this fitness routine, or ate these foods, and miraculously their butts grew. I’m sorry, but there is only so much someone can increase the glute muscle. It’s all about genetics. I am not saying to glorify unhealthy bodies. What I am saying is, everyone’s body shape is different. If you or another athlete is training hard and eating healthy, then they are doing what they need to do to have their best performance ever and you shouldn’t have images of fitness models/athletes in your face or heads who are doing things that allow them to look a certain way. I want to highlight that every athletic body shape is different, and just because you see pictures of a size zero model, or a female with 10% body fat, does not make that what you should strive to be like. We are athletes and depending on our sport, different body types are drawn or perform best with different sports. A swimmer like myself, will never have a runners body. It’s just how it goes. If in the future we add before and after photos, they won’t only be of someone at 125lbs going to 110lbs. It will be anyone who wants to post. And in reality, how cool would it be to have a before and after time vs picture. Because it’s not about a number on the scale.

Instead of promoting the latest detox, preaching that chemicals will kill us, saying to only eat lean meats and veggies to look like this person, posing in skimpy clothes in provocative postures, I promise to use science, not educate through scare tactics and promote everyone’s healthiest body. My nutrition site may not grow very quickly, as I’m not promoting fasts, detoxes or throwing out promises of losing 15lbs in one month. And I am ok with that. I want to promote nutrition and health not because I’d like to make a quick dollar, but because I believe it can really help us to be healthy, feel good, live long lives and perform our best. Food is a fuel and a tool we use to help us excel in our sports. It is not something that makes us feel shame, guilt, fear or any other negative thought. We need stop judging ourselves and others on what we eat, and encourage better choices. Not because we all want to be 0% body fat, but because we all want to be the healthiest and the best we can, both from a health and performance standpoint. The recipes that I post will range from meats, to salads to pastas, to breads, to desserts. There isn’t one right way to eat for everyone. It’s definitely possible to be vegetarian and be successful, it’s possible to eat meat and be successful, and it’s possible to eat or not eat gluten/dairy and be successful. While I’ll always teach to consume a mainly plant based diet with plenty of fruit, beans, nuts and legumes, the other choices you make are up to you. Everything is truly ok in moderation. If you eat the way I described 80-90% of the time, having occasional unhealthy meals and foods is just fine.

So to sum up and end this on a calm and relaxed note, my goal is to help you be successful in whatever that means to you. I love helping others and I’ve been given the opportunity to do this through nutrition and coaching. I’d love to help as many people as I can. I’m open and willing to listen to suggestions, needs and wants. I can’t promise to be able to fulfill everyone of them right away, but I will try.

If you’ve gotten to the end of this letter, thank you. I really appreciate you letting me share with you, my mission and promises. I’d be honored if you shared Fueled and Focused with your friends and team mates. Please like my Fueled and Focused Facebook page, and you can find my on Instagram as Fueled and Focused_nutrition. Thank you for allowing me to serve each of you.