I Always Wanted Lunchables...

By Kate Kaufman

Somehow it worked. Growing up with a personal trainer, football coach, and passionate Italian father has resulted in a full indoctrination of his oldest child into his ways of eating and living. There isn't a single breakfast I can remember from the time I was school-aged when my eggs didn't at least have a heaping amount of kale, tomatoes, pepper, and onions. I was the kid who showed up at the lunch table with Italian style tuna fish (red onion, Italian flat leaf parsley, olive oil, salt, pepper) and whole wheat matzah crackers, a red cabbage salad (with olive oil and vinegar, not ranch, of course), and NO fun pudding dessert. Lunchables, Little Debbies, Gushers, and Coke were not a thing in my household.

I know, you're probably feeling so sorry for my childhood and how scarring it must have been. I thought this as well until I was set out on my own and shot into the independent world of college, where I got to grocery shop and could buy as many packets of Oreos my little 5-year old damaged heart could desire. However, this desire to buy what was always kept from me quickly resulted in a revolt from my Julian Kaufman trained body, and I soon found that these desires were not sustainable. 

What is now the result of this indoctrination? The Vegan Daughter. I am two months in my vegan adventure, and I haven't cracked yet! If you know my family at all, you know how hard cheese is to give up since cheese is one of our main food sources, given the king of cheeses comes from our beloved motherland: Parmigiano Reggiano. But I'm doing it, and I want to invite you all to join me in this adventure in helping our planet, helping your body, and helping our communities who are so affected by our food choices. 

All of my recipes will be super quick and super cheap, because the Ramen diet in college is a real struggle and temptation, and I need something to substitute this desire. All are welcome to join in: mommas and dads, businesswomen and men, students of all ages. Here's my first recipe I made for me and my three roommates! Feel free to add or substitute whatever veggies you have with you!

Buon Appetito! 

Spring Rolls with Almond Butter Dipping Sauce


For the Rice Paper Rolls:

  • 6 sheets of Vietnamese rice paper
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 small carrots
  • 1 mango
  • 3 green onions, cut into rings
  • 1 cup purple cabbage
  • About 6 radishes
  • 1 cup fresh mint

For the Almond Butter Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3-4 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoons sriracha sauce (optional)


  1. Cut the avocado, the carrots, the mango, the mint, the radishes, the green onion, and the purple cabbage into thin stripes.

  2. When you're done cutting the veggies, fill a shallow bowl with water and dip the rice papers in water so they get moderately wet on both sides. Don't let them soak too long, so they don't get too soft.

  3. When you soaked the rice papers, fill them with the veggies and wrap them like a burrito. I think it's best to center the filling and then roll it up and fold in the two side flaps.

  4. Then make the peanut dipping sauce: In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter with the soy sauce, the garlic, the warm water, and the sriracha sauce.

  5. Serve the rice paper rolls with the peanut dipping sauce.



Blame it on the Holidays...

I have posted this before, but it is a good reminder on this day - HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

I hear it every year. It was the holiday's fault.

First it is not the holiday's fault. How many holidays are there? Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentines, St. Patricks, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and Halloween ... ten days caused the weight problem??? Ok, so there were several holiday parties plus different events through the year like birthday parties and vacation. I will give you 52 days of total indulgence. 

Do not worry about the holidays and holiday eating. Enjoy it! The worry and stress over it is worse than a bit of weight gain. Try to stay on your exercise schedule even if eating healthfully is more difficult. If you are out of town and don’t have access to your gym you can use your own body to do push-ups, planks, lunges and go for a walk. Some exercise is better than none and a little goes a long way. 

Remember it is your lifestyle habits the other 300+ days that make the real difference. Make those 300 days count for your health and enjoy the holidays!

Recipe of the Week - Avocado, Lettuce and Tomato Pita Pockets


  • 1 large ripe avocado 
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 
  • Pinch fine sea salt 
  • Pinch ground black pepper 
  • 2 whole grain pita pockets 
  • 4 butter lettuce leaves 
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves 
  • 2 medium tomatoes, each cut into 4 slices 


In a small bowl, mash avocado with vinegar, salt and pepper until smooth. 

Cut pita pockets in half. Stuff pita pockets with lettuce leaves and basil. Evenly divide avocado mixture between pita pockets, spreading it on the lettuce leaves. Add 2 tomato slices to each pocket.

Nutritional Info: 

Per Serving: Serving size: 1/2 stuffed pita, 180 calories (70 from fat), 8g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 220mg sodium, 25g carbohydrates, (7gdietary fiber, 2g sugar), 5g protein.



Recipe of the Week - Gluten-Free Cranberry Maple Pear Bars


  • Filling
  • 2 firm but ripe pears, such as Anjou or Bartlett, cored and cut into 1/4-inch pieces 
  • 1 cup dried cranberries 
  • 1/3 cup Grade B pure maple syrup 
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest 
  • Topping
  • 1/3 cup gluten-free rolled oats 
  • 1/3 cup pistachios, roughly chopped 
  • Crust
  • 1/3 cup pistachios 
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats 
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour 
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch 
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free baking powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom 
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced, plus more for the pan 
  • 1 egg 


To make the filling, combine pears, cranberries and maple syrup in a small saucepan, set over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until pears are very tender. Remove from heat and stir in orange zest. Let cool, then reserve 1/4 cup of the filling to use for making the topping. Transfer 1 cup of the remaining filling to a food processor or blender and blend until it forms a jam-like consistency. Add blended filling to remaining filling and stir to combine.  

To make the topping, combine oats, pistachios and reserved 1/4 cup filling in a small bowl.  

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking dish. Place pistachios in a food processor and pulse until finely ground, being careful not to create a paste. Transfer to a large bowl and add oats, brown sugar, brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and cardamom. Stir until well combined. Using a pastry blender or 2 butter knives, cut butter into oat mixture until coarse crumbs form. Add egg and stir to form a dough. Press dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  

Spread filling over dough, then sprinkle topping evenly over filling, pressing lightly so it adheres. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely, then cut into 16 squares.

What do I Eat??? Week One...

My name is Julian Kaufman.  I own Forte Fitness, and I am so grateful for our team of trainers and clients.  I am often asked, "What do you eat?"  Well each week I am going to send you a meal I have actually eaten and prepared.  I desire to eat beautiful food that tastes great and is nutritionally diverse.  I focus on eating whole foods, mainly plant-based.  I try to include as many different plants, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds as I can each day.  

This is a breakfast I made and ate this week.  (Sorry the picture is grainy - I will try to get better ones as the weeks go on!)  I am busy like you.  I get up in the 5s or 6s each morning and work until 7pm or later.  I only mention this to say if you want to be a healthy eater, you can.  It just takes your commitment.  You owe it to yourself and your family because what you eat will determine your health.  

The breakfast you are looking at is no cheese omelet.  I sliced thinly small red, yellow and orange bell peppers.  I threw them in a pan with a little olive oil. I also chopped up some kale and threw it in the pan.  Then I cracked two free range eggs.  Meanwhile I steamed 4 asparagus.  I seasoned the eggs with sea salt, black pepper, and red chili flakes.  I seasoned the asparagus with a little olive oil and sea salt  I drank a glass of green tea with it.  

It was delicious and healthy.

Give it a try.  It is not hard to do.  And this was just my plate.  I made this for my son that I had to take to school as well.  Not only is he eating a healthy breakfast but he is learning to appreciate good, healthy food and to take the time to make it.  

Grass-Fed versus Grain-Fed

In 2000 there were approximately only 50 grass-fed animal operations in the United States.  Today there are 1,000s.  Anyone who has been to a local farmer’s market or specialty grocery store has seen the grass fed animal products.  Why does it matter?

Animals that are raised on grain / corn based diets are held inside in very tight quarters eating out of a feed trough.  These conditions do not allow the animals to exercise and move naturally.  The result is the animal has higher levels of saturated fat and lower levels of omega 3 fatty acids making the meat significantly less healthy for consumers.  These unhealthy conditions lead to disease and the use of medicines and antibiotics.  The overuse of antibiotics leads to mutations by bacteria and eventually the antibiotics are no longer viable.  The tight conditions and constant feeding are the result of one concern – the bottom line.  Mass produced animal products come down to how much meat one can produce per square foot to be profitable.  

The problem is that it is a short sighted bottom line.  It may cost us less at the cash register, but it is not the only place consumer’s pay.  The negative effects of concentrated animal feeding operations are paid for by consumers in other hidden areas because of the environmental costs to air, water and soil, increased use of fossil fuels, increased heart disease for the consumer and increased health insurance costs for us all.  

Grass fed animals are in the pasture walking, running, galloping and eating.  The exercise creates a healthier animal in general, lower in saturated fat content and as much as twice as high in omega 3 fatty acids.  Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to human health.  They act as a barrier to the pre-cursor of many of our modern diseases including the number one killer, heart related diseases.  

Grass fed animal products may cost more at the cash register but they cost less everywhere else, especially to your own health.  As one builds their grocery budget, decide how much will go to animal products.  You will not be able to purchase a greater quantity, but the quality will be better and it will be better for all of us.  

Forte FitNews - Build Strong Bones

Building strong bones is a key to living a long life, maintaining a high quality of life, and keeping one’s body functional.  Contrary to popular opinion, eating dairy is not necessary to building strong bones.  In China and Japan osteoporosis rates are lower than in the west without significant dairy consumption. Here are 6 keys to building strong bones.  

1.       Eat your grapefruit!  This may come as a surprise but grapefruit enhances bone mineral deposits.  

2.        A Spanish study found that the Mediterranean diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil causes the body to circulate more osteocalcin which is a marker for healthy bone density.

3.       Sardines!  Give them a try.  They are arguably the most nutrient dense fish.  Because of their small size there is not a concern for mercury, and they have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.  Sardines are high in calcium and vitamin D.  A can of sardines has more calcium and naturally occurring vitamin D than a glass of milk.  Try them with some whole wheat crackers and hot sauce!

4.        Nut-butters! Try some almond butter, cashew butter, walnut butter or use nuts in pesto recipes.  The oils in nut-butters decrease the rate of bone breakdown.  This helps to create a positive balance in terms of bone building.

5.       Green vegetables!  Greens are possibly the most bio-available source of calcium.  This means that the calcium is absorbed by bones as it is delivered by the blood stream.  As a bonus greens are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.

6.       Weight bearing exercise builds bone density.  At the very least, begin doing body weight exercises: push-ups, lunges, and squats... but even better is to include weight lifting in your exercise routine 2 days per week.  Make sure to do full body workouts.  

Three Nutrition Tips

Jonathan McClellan a dear friend and former trainer on our team now owns his own personal training business in Atlanta, GA.  He shared the following tips this week on his blog.  With his permission I am passing them along because they are good tips.  Recently, a client asked Jonathan for his number one nutrition tip.  He answered with his top three. 

1) Avoid packaged foods, processed foods, and food by-products

The idea is to focus on eating as many whole foods as possible.  When one eats something that comes in a package, the item tends to be highly processed and contain food by-products that few of us can pronounce.  These processed foods and food by-products are not whole foods and truly are not foods at all.  

2) Eat foods full of color.

Eat a diversity of plant foods every day.  Seek to include as many colors as possible green, red, orange, yellow, red, blue and purple.  Diversity of color insures a diversity of nutrients will be delivered to our 300 billion cells supporting life and wellness.

3) Eat frequently.

Rev up your metabolism.  Simply speaking when we go too long without eating our body learns to slow down our metabolism and store fat.  We must eat frequently so our bodies will use our food as fuel and make sure that the foods we are eating honor number one and two above.  

Recipe of the week...Bison Chili


  • 1/2 pound ground bison 
  • 1 large onion , finely chopped 
  • 1 large carrot , finely chopped 
  • 1/2 head cauliflower , stemmed and cut into small florets (about 3 cups) 
  • 1 medium green bell pepper , finely chopped 
  • 3 large garlic cloves , finely chopped 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin 
  • 2 tablespoons no-salt-added chili powder 
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 can no-salt-added diced tomatoes 
  • 1 can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 can no-salt-added kidney beans , drained and rinsed 
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves , chopped 


Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over high heat. When the pot is very hot, add bison and brown it, stirring often for 5 minutes. Add onion and carrot, and cook, until both begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water to deglaze the pan, scraping brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the water evaporates.

Add cauliflower, bell pepper and garlic and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add cumin, chili powder, vinegar, tomatoes and beans along with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are fork tender, about 45 minutes.
Serve garnished with chopped cilantro.

Nutritional Info: 

Per Serving: Serving size: , 250 calories (25 from fat), 2.5g total fat, 0gsaturated fat, 35mg cholesterol, 180mg sodium, 36g carbohydrates, (13 gdietary fiber, .12g sugar), 24g protein.