Something for Sundays: Roasted Fennel & Butternut Squash

Amy Rizzotto Butternut Squash Move Well DC

Big batch recipes are where it’s at! Save yourself time, money, and brain space by making a sheet pan full of roasted vegetables, 4-5 servings of a healthy whole grain, and a pot full of beans or lentils at the start of each week to make workweek meals easy peasy. You can think of the recipe below like a formula – swap the veggies out for others you like (brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, etc) and change up your spices (cumin, red pepper flakes, curry, etc). Just be sure to keep an eye as you roast different combinations as some vegetables might not need as long to cook. Look for golden brown bits around the edges and avoid letting your vegetables get black and burnt – no carcinogens please!

Something for Sundays - Move Well DC - Butternut Squash and Fennel

Fennel Frond and Basil Pesto

I don’t know about you but I hate wasting food. I’ll eat the same thing day in and day out just to avoid tossing anything in the trash. According to NPR, Americans waste 33 million tons of food each year. Worse yet, a new study from Harvard Law School and the Natural Resources Defense Council, found that 22 percent of food waste comes from fruit and vegetables—often the most nutrient-dense and expensive components of our daily diets. Of the fruit and vegetables we buy, we discard 52 percent of them and only consume 48 percent. Yikes!

Understandably, not everyone wants to be a human garbage disposal in the name of saving food from the dumpster. We can, however, all learn to cook in a way that minimizes food waste and helps you get the most out of your vegetables. Deemed “compost cooking” by some, root-to-stalk cooking might just save you money, diversify your nutrient intake and draw out your culinary creativity.

My creativity was recently challenged when I received  a few fennel bulbs in my weekly From the Farmer delivery with a head of fronds that looked like a chia pet on miracle grow. Dedicated to using every ounce of seasonal, local food I receive each week I developed this yummy recipe for Fennel Frond and Basil Pesto. Give it a try and you’ll quickly see how easy and rewarding it is to make use of the parts of vegetables that typically get thrown away. Hopefully this will inspire you to give those dark and dreamy beet greens and silky broccoli and cauliflower leaves a second look before ditching them in the disposal.

 Basil and Fennel Frond Pesto 2

Fennel Frond and Basil Pesto

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 cups firmly packed fennel fronds
  • 2 cups firmly packed basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup manchego cheese, grated
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 oz pine nuts, toasted*
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

How to Make It:

  1. To toast pine nuts, lay them out in a single layer on a baking tray and bake in a 350 F oven for 5-7 minutes until golden brown.
  2. In a food processor, combine all ingredients—adding the oil and lemon first—and blend until smooth.
  3. Adjust for seasoning and serve over fresh pasta or sautéed Portobello mushrooms baked chicken if you’re avoiding gluten.


Basil and Fennel Frond Pesto

Tasty Tidbit: If you’re not a huge fan of the spiciness (or stinkiness) of raw garlic, you can roast the cloves or lightly sauté them prior to blending.


{This post originally appeared on The DC Ladies Blog, July 30, 2014}

Gluten-Free Pie Crust

Whether you are one of the estimated 3 million Americans living with Celiac Disease, have a known allergy or sensitivity, or are just curious to see how you might feel, making the switch to a gluten-free diet isn’t easy. Gluten hides in sneaky places like salad dressings, soups and even cosmetics. Beyond deciphering which food and beauty products are truly gluten-free, we all still want and need to enjoy life, and a big part of that big picture happiness is eating. That’s why one of my main nutrition counseling aims is to help those that want or need to be gluten-free learn how to shop and cook without sacrificing on flavor and enjoyment.

Let’s face it, life without bread, pancakes, pasta and most desserts would be pretty devastating for me and most people. Luckily, there is so much culinary creativity out there these days that you can have your gluten-free cake and eat it too. While I’m not tackling an actual cake in this post, I am bringing you the foundation of endless sweet treats: Gluten Free Pie Crust. This crust is light and flaky and can be made vegan by swapping coconut oil for butter. Fill it with your favorite seasonal fruit, a hint of healthy sugar (coconut palm sugar, agave, real maple syrup), a squeeze of lemon and some fresh herbs for a surprising and yummy twist and you’ll forget you’re eating something considered “alternative.”

Gluten Free Pie Crust

Gluten Free Pie Crust

What You’ll Need:
  • 1 cup spelt flour (or your preferred gluten-free flour)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup organic butter or coconut oil
  • 1-2 tsp coconut palm sugar or cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
How to Make It:
  1. Soften butter or coconut oil in microwave until just melted.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add your liquid and mix again.
  3. Form into a ball and refrigerate for at least a half hour (you can also freeze this for up to 3 months).
  4. When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator and place between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll it to desired thickness with a rolling pin. Drape the flattened dough over your preferred pie dish or tart pan. Don’t worry if the dough falls apart a bit, just press it into all corners and all the way up to the rim and make sure it’s distributed evenly so it cooks through.
  5. Bake at 400 F for 10 min on its own then reduce to 350 for another 35-40 min with your desired filling inside.

Christmas Came Early to the MOARfit Kitchen!

For years I’ve wanted to get on board with a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program but have always found an excuse–I travel too much, the food will go to waste, I only cook for one, etc. I love the farm-to-table movement and I fully understand the importance of supporting locally grown, healthy fresh produce. By doing so you reduce your carbon footprint, support small farmers and, if you haven’t tried food fresh from the soil that hasn’t had to travel by land, air and sea to reach your plate, it also tastes better.

This May, my excuses ran out and a golden opportunity to dive into the farm-to-front-door movement arose that I couldn’t resist. As you may know, MOARfit is now partnered with Yoga Heights, the yoga studio and wellness center I co-own here in Washington, DC. I’m offering my health coaching services to our awesome community with one-on-one nutrition consultations, seasonal group detoxes and educational workshops (details on our website). This partnership has recently turned into a triple threat as we’ve partnered with the stellar people over at From the Farmer. Their approach, passion and product hooked me instantaneously. The proof’s in the picture. Check out my amazing first bounty of goodies below.

From the Farmer Basket

If you live in DC, you should give it a try. Here’s why:

  • Each week From the Farmer hand selects what’s local, most delicious and in-season and deliver it right to your door, stoop or apartment complex;
  • Even better, you can customize your basket each week so you receive what you want and decrease the likelihood you’ll waste any beautiful food;
  • AND you can even suspend your baskets on a week-by-week basis if you know you’ll be out of town one weekend or have a bunch of social events lined up that will keep you from your kitchen.

They’ve made it so easy. With all our busy schedules it should be a no brainer when ease and health go hand-in-hand. Not yet sold? Use code MOARfit at checkout and you’ll save 20% on your first 4 deliveries. I go with a half bushel and it’s easily enough fresh fruits and veggies for two busy working professionals for the week.


Their philosophy is simple: be local, passionate, sustainable, and connected. And when they say local, they mean local. All of their farm partners and artisanal producers reside within 150 miles of DC. I can’t wait to go and see where the food comes from first-hand one of these days!


The weekly produce has been inspiring me to be more creative with my cooking and to keep it simple so as to showcase these fresh ingredients in all their flavorful glory. From baked tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and stuffed with fresh herbs to a gluten-free strawberry balsamic tart with mint (recipe coming soon!), these farm fresh goodies are bringing out my culinary A-game!

Tomatoes in a Bowl

Get on board and celebrate summer with tasty, real food all the while doing your part to support family-owned businesses and locally grown produce!

Saffron Fennel Bread

For the past 6 months, I have had a little golden packet of a special spice called saffron staring back at me from my kitchen cabinet. Saffron has a complex flavor that is often used in French bouillabaisse, Spanish paella, Milanese risotto, and many Middle Eastern dishes. I called it a “special” spice because not only is it quite pricey, but a little goes a long way when it comes to Saffron’s audacious effects on the palette.


Good news for all you natural remedy lovers out there! According to my girl Oprah, a 2008 study found that 76% of women who took daily saffron supplements reported a 50% drop in PMS symptoms like mood swings and fatigue (your welcome, in advance to the men in our lives). The spice has also been linked to the alleviation of mild to moderate depression. According to another study, saffron supplements were as effective as a common antidepressant in reducing symptoms related to depression.

This taste tantalizing and feel-good spice met its maker last weekend when I decided to dust off my dutch oven and get back to my bread baking roots. It all started because I realized I was in need of some bread to accompany two upcoming recipes–my meatless Monday Sweet Potato Bean Burgers with Maple Chipotle Mayo, and my slow-cooker Tuscan Lentil, Barley, and Kale Soup. Rather than running out to the store for a pre-made loaf, I got out my flours and yeast and got to cooking. I’ve been enjoying the bread for the last week and saved half in the freezer for when my schedule gets hectic with work travel. Give it a go and add a little something “special” to your sandwich or soup entree.

Saffrom Fennel Bread

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 tbs active dry yeast (or one packet)
  • 1 tablespoon raw cane or coconut sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached, bread flour (plus a little more for kneading)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tbs kosher salt
  • 1 tbs whole fennel seeds
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal (for coating)

How to Make It:

  1. In a large bowl, mix water, yeast, and sugar. Add 1 cup of bread flour and stir until blended.  Wait 5 minutes.
  2. Once the mixture is slightly foamy, add salt, fennel seeds (crushing them lightly in your hand as you sprinkle them in), and saffron, and stir to blend. Add remaining cup of bread flour and all the whole wheat flour, little by little.  Mix the dough until it is too stiff to stir with a spoon.
  3. Place your dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead with your hands, adding additional bread flour when the dough gets too sticky. Knead until dough is smooth and consistent in texture, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Place dough in a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size (approx. 1 hour).
  5. Dust a baking sheet with cornmeal. Punch down the dough while still in its bowl, then form it into a firm ball and set on baking sheet. Cover with a dry cloth and let rise again until doubled in size (approx. 1 hour).
  6. About 40 minutes into the second hour, preheat the oven to 400°F with your dutch oven inside.
  7. 20 minutes after preheating, give your dough a good coating of cornmeal allover, then place it in the center of your (hot!) dutch oven. Bake bread covered for about 35 minutes, then uncovered for an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown. Set on a rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.