Protein Packed Veggie Burgers

veggie burger over greens

We may have created the simplest veggie burger recipe to ever exist (you're welcome)! Often, veggie burgers are grain-based, meaning they lack protein, which otherwise helps to keep you feeling full and satiated. These patties, however, provide sufficient protein via the black beans, egg, and ground flax, so you will actually feel full! We recommend making a big batch and freezing them, as these are always a good option when you're tight on time. Get creative with toppings: sliced avocado, hummus, dijon mustard, or a slice of cheese. They are great on a bed of greens or with a whole grain english muffin. Say goodbye to freezer aisle veggie burgers!

Ingredients (makes 4 patties):

Patties before being cooked

Patties before being cooked

  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (we used a vegetable peeler and chopped into smaller pieces)
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon all purpose meat seasoning (we used a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion, and paprika)


  1. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and mash together with a fork. The egg should make it easier to gel together 
  2.  Add 1 tbsp of oil to grill or saute pan and cook until golden brown on each side, about 4 minutes per side
  3. Serve however you please!

Tovita Tips: Overcoming Sugar Cravings


Are you the type of person who craves something sweet at the end of each meal? Chocolate? Cookies? Candy? If this sounds all too familiar, take comfort in the fact that you are certainly not alone. But don't get too comfortable... 

Sugar cravings are not to be scoffed at! In fact, they are a very real phenomenon for many people. Not to mention your nightly ice cream habit could be keeping your at arms length from reaching your nutrition goals. In the spirit of bathing suit season, we've decided to share a few tips on how to reduce the frequency of succumbing to your sweet tooth. 

1. Are you eating enough during the day? Sometimes hunger is suppressed when we are stressed at work and hits us later at night when we're finally relaxed. While not feeling hungry during the day may seem like a good thing, our bodies try to compensate later for the calorie deficit by seeking a quick energy fix, unfortunately in the form of simple sugar. Our first tip is to eat regularly throughout the day: 3 meals and 1-2 portioned snacks that all combine protein and fiber!

2. Are you aware of your danger zones? Do you find yourself with a box of cookies while you are watching TV? Is your danger zone that time between getting home from work and dinner? Or are you a post-dinner snacker? We recommend keeping a food journal for at least one week to start noticing your habits and patterns. When you realize your triggers, you can intervene. 

3. Do you have healthy alternatives? Once you know your pitfalls, you can start creating solutions. Maybe it's brushing your teeth after dinner to prevent yourself from creeping back into the kitchen, or maybe it's making a bowl of fresh berries or natural popcorn while you watch TV. Perhaps it's taking a walk before dinner to keep you from grazing, or making a relaxing cup of tea when you start to feel the urge. Know yourself and what will actually satisfy your cravings. Are you someone that goes for quality or quantity when it comes to snacking? If you just like to munch, have low calorie alternatives like Skinny Pop Popcorn. If you simply need a bite of something rich and delicious, go for the foods that are portion controlled (hint: think individually wrapped). 

4. Do you choose empowered indulgences? We are all about indulging in your favorite foods once in a while, but we want them to be empowered indulgences rather than mindless grazing or binges. We allow clients "discretionary" foods each week for a good reason. Save these indulgences for times that its worth it. Skip the stale cookies at the office and save it for your favorite dessert when you're going out for dinner. Keep your indulgences to small portions that you can feel great about, rather than succumbing to the vicious cycle of guilt, skimping on meals the next day, and overdoing it all over again.

There you have it, our tips for overcoming sugar cravings. Remember, sugar cravings don't go away overnight. Breaking a habit takes patience, time, and motivation. If you need some extra reinforcement, that's where we come in! Email us to learn more about our package options and services to keep you in check :)

Curry Chicken Salad

We love a good curry chicken salad, but not when the chicken and warm curry flavor gets lost in a tub of mayo. We've got your solution! We use Greek yogurt in place of mayo to boost the protein and lower the fat content for a lunch you can feel good about. This chicken salad is great on its own, on high fiber crackers, or on top of greens.

low fat curry chicken salad

Ingredients (~5 cups):

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, boiled 
  • 1 cup nonfat plain Green yogurt
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried apricots, diced
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1.5 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Shred the chicken and place in a bowl
  2. Chop the celery, apples, and dried apricots if you choose to use them and add into the bowl with the chicken
  3. Add the Greek yogurt and lemon juice 
  4. Add the spices and mix well until a light yellow color


Watercress and Mushroom Salad

This week we are all about finding ways to add greens to your dinner in new and delicious ways. On Monday we talked brussels sprouts, and today we're giving you watercress. If you're looking for a light and easy salad to start your meal, this is the dish for you. It is quick, easy, and super tasty. Watercress has an abundance of health benefits, including cancer prevention. Watercress has a high level of antioxidants that prevent your DNA from damage. It also contains high levels of vitamins A, C, and K, which is excellent for bone health. Watercress also provides chlorophyll, which helps block carcinogenic amines that are created when grilling meats at high temperature. 

Mushrooms, a member of the fungi family, provide a meaty flavor and consistency to the salad. They help boost the immune system by increasing the killer T cells in the body which go after the bad guys. Mushrooms also contain choline, an important nutrient that aids in sleep regulation, muscle movement, learning and memory. It also helps reduce inflammation in the body. Never thought you could do so much for your body before getting to the main course?!

watercress and mushroom salad

Ingredients: (serves 4 as appetizer or side dish)

  • 3 shallots, cut into 1 inch slices
  • 1 pound oyster, crimini, or shiitaki mushrooms, stems removed and cut in half
  • 5 oz watercress, cut and torn 
  • 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
  • 2 ounces shaved parmagiano cheese (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil to sauté shallots and mushrooms


  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons whine wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon leaves
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Combine all of the dressing ingredients besides the olive oil in a food processor and blend until evenly chopped. Transfer to a bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Mix to create dressing consistency
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat and add mushrooms, sliced almonds, and sliced shallots. Cook about 7 minutes until tender and the shallots are browning
  3. In a serving bowl, transfer the mushrooms, shallots, and almonds and add the watercress. Mix together and add a dash of salt and pepper. Option to top with shaved parmigiano cheese. 
  4. Dress lightly, toss, and serve

*You can also dress lightly with simply 2 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper 


Vegan Spaghetti Squash Carbonara with Shiitake Bacon

Can you remember the last time you ate a bowl of spaghetti carbonara with bacon and felt great about it?

(recipe adapted from By Chloe's very own vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli)

(recipe adapted from By Chloe's very own vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli)

Didn't think so. Well, we're about to change that. We have put our touch on one of the least diet-friendly dishes to make it completely Tovita approved. We hope you are as excited as we were when we discovered this recipe. We love using spaghetti squash as a substitute for pasta but feel free to use zucchini noodles, whole wheat or quinoa pasta, or shirataki noodles as you prefer! 

Spaghetti Squash: 2 spaghetti squash serves 4-6 people

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper
  2.  Cut spaghetti squash in half using chef's knife and scrape out the seeds with a fork
  3. Place squash face down and bake for 30-40 minutes until fully cooked
  4. Scrape out the spaghetti squash with a fork and place in a bowl
shiitaki bacon

Shiitaki Bacon


  • 1 pound shiitaki mushrooms
  • 1/4th cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Toss mushrooms with oil, salt, and pepper on baking sheet
  3. Bake for 30 minutes turning frequently with a spatula until crisp

Vegan Carbonara Sauce


  • 14 ounces soft organic tofu
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Chopped parsley to garnish


  1. Heat olive oil on skillet over medium heat and cook onion and garlic until soft and browned. Remove from heat 
  2. In blender, combine the onion, garlic, tofu, water, lemon juice and salt. Blend on high until creamy consistency. Should be around 2 minutes. Let the sauce sit for about 5 minutes to allow to thicken
  3. Add the sauce to the spaghetti squash and top with the shiitaki bacon and parsley garnish. 


TOVITA X ELITE DAILY: To Eat Or Not To Eat - 2 Major Myths Behind Snacking Debunked

Clients and friends are always asking us about the latest nutrition fads and there is nothing we love more than setting the record straight so that you can focus on what matters without all the riff raff. In our article for Elite Daily, we give a little science lesson in order to debunk two of the latest nutrition myths. 

tovita nutrition

These days, the tremendous amount of nutrition information you can find surfing the web can be overwhelming.From juice cleansing to the raw food diet to the grapefruit diet, understanding how to maintain a healthy diet can be downright confusing.

That’s why we’ve brought over Leah Silberman and Molly Rieger, the dietitians behind Tovita Nutrition to set the record straight.

Today we are going to debunk one of the latest two-part health myths: firstly, that a meal must be fully digested before you can send more food down; secondly, that it is dangerous to eat fruit when you haven’t fully digested a meal because it rots and ferments in your digestive tract.

We’ll begin with some Biology 101, so follow closely.

Digestion begins the moment food enters your mouth and ends the moment it exits your body, past your colon.

So, let’s map it: Your food travels from your mouth, to your stomach, to your small intestine, large intestine and finally, let’s just say, it exits. This entire process generally takes between six and 10 hours. Think of your stomach as an acidic blender.

The cells in your stomach secrete hydrochloric acid in response to the presence of food, which helps to break down anything you’ve swallowed. It churns this mixture until it succumbs to the consistency of a liquid-paste. From there, it slowly moves into the small intestine, where actual absorption begins to take place.

Now you might be starting to put the pieces together. Typically, you probably get hungry every three to four hours. If you had to wait for digestion to complete before you could eat another morsel of food, you could be waiting up to 10 hours until your next meal.

So no, you should not wait until digestion of a previous meal is complete before you send your next meal down.In conjunction with the above myth, you may have heard that eating fruit after a meal causes the fruit to rot and ferment in your stomach. 

Again, the pH of your stomach is very low, meaning it is a strongly acidic environment. One of the reasons your stomach is so acidic is to prevent bacteria from proliferating and making you sick. Fermentation takes place when bacteria are present, and your stomach contains very little bacteria.

Once fruit enters your stomach, it is broken down by enzymes, regardless of any other foods that may be simultaneously present. Generally, the more macronutrients you consume in a given meal (ie. proteins, fats, or carbohydrates), the longer it takes to digest in the stomach, which is totally fine!

In fact, combining nutrients in a given meal will help keep you satisfied for longer. Have you ever noticed that if you eat an apple alone, you’re hungry again after an hour or so?

On the contrary, if you were to eat an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter, you would stay fuller for much longer. This is simply because the protein, fat and carbohydrates from the apple and peanut butter combined take longer to digest.

The bottom line is, no matter when you eat fruit, it will ultimately be digested, the same way any other food is; there is no “correct” order to eat it in. As for fermentation, the only place fruit or any food can ferment is in the colon, which is a bacterial haven. Just remember, this is not a bad thing! (Hello, probiotics!)

So, yes, you may resume eating fruit with or in-between meals, as you prefer. And no, please don’t wait until you have completely digested your breakfast before you sit down for lunch. But, if you do, be nice and give your coworkers a heads up, so they don’t take your hangry attitude personally.

Asian Sesame Tofu "Croutons"

We all love a good Asian style salad but between the fried wonton strips and the heavy peanut dressing, we succumb to the black hole of hidden calories and saturated fat. That's why we've put the Tovita touch on one of our favorite meals. These versatile tofu-croutons are the healthy crunch factor your salad needs.

tofu croutons.jpg


  • 1 block of extra firm tofu, drained and sliced into ¾ inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or low sodium soy or tamari sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds 
  • ¼ cup halved cashews (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil or spray with oil to prevent sticking
  3. In a bowl, toss the cubed tofu, sesame seeds, and cashews in the sauce
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tofu becomes crunchy and crouton-like

Add to Asian style Salad pictured with:

  • 4 cups baby kale and spinach
  •  1 bell pepper, chopped 
  •  1 Cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Red onion, chopped
  •  2 stalks celery, sliced
  •  2 Tablespoons sesame ginger dressing (we like Annie's Organic Sesame Ginger)

(serves 2)

*Option to add avocado, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, or your favorite veggies. Get creative!

Other ideas:

  • Add to zucchini noodle pad thai
  • Asian style stir fry with brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower “rice”, or buckwheat noodles

Gluten: Friend or Foe? Get in the Know

Health trends always come and go, but the gluten-free craze has stuck around for quite some time now. Experts predict that gluten-free food sales will exceed 16 billion dollars by 2016. Talk about a lot of dough! In spirit of our Fox News interview last week where we discussed the controversial gluten-free fad (and shared one of our own client's journey) we think you deserve a little fact versus fiction from your trusted dietitians when it comes to the breadbasket.

Let’s first define gluten so we’re all on the same page. If we've learned anything from Jimmy Kimmel’s “what is gluten”  video last year, it’s that square one is the best place to start. Gluten is a protein commonly found in foods containing wheat, rye, and barley. It provides many starch products with shape, texture, and elasticity. So, there you have it. Gluten is not some people-eating-cancer-causing bacterium that’s destroying humanity one bagel at a time. It’s just a protein, and it’s been the foundation of the Western diet since the start of civilization.

So why now does gluten have such a bad rep?

Celiac disease (CD), widely known as a gluten allergy, is an autoimmune condition that occurs in response to gluten consumption and can ultimately destroy the small intestine if not properly handled. This is a very real condition that should not be taken lightly. A blood test is used to screen for and an intestinal biopsy can further diagnose CD. The only treatment is strict, lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet. For some people, the allergy is so severe that using a utensil that had previously come in contact with gluten can leave them with painful GI symptoms for days.

In the early 1990’s CD was under-diagnosed. Now, the National Institutes of Health estimates that 1% of the population suffer from CD. This is largely why gluten has made headline news so often in the last decade.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) seems to be the condition that has people most confused. People with NCGS test negative for CD; however, they experience painful GI symptoms when they eat gluten-containing foods, similar to those of people who have CD. Furthermore, many people find that their symptoms subside when gluten is removed from their diets. Hmmm.

While scientists are working to configure an explanation for these people, research has provided some interesting theories. Some recent studies have shown that these GI symptoms may be due to other components found in carbohydrates. These other components referred to by their acronym “FODMAPS”  (which we will discuss in a future blog post) draw water into the intestine and can cause aggravating GI symptoms. In many instances gluten may not be the culprit after all.

Are there health risks to going gluten-free?

There are no major health risks to going gluten-free. However a common misconception about gluten-free food is that it is healthier than gluten-containing foods. This is completely false and in fact, processed gluten-free foods are more likely to lack certain vitamins and fiber than gluten-containing foods. We are all in favor of a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and gluten-free grains like quinoa and brown rice. Gluten free cupcakes and pizza? Not so much.

Gluten-free food tends to be expensive. If you’re not certain that gluten is the reason for your GI discomfort, you may want to think outside the box.

What should I do now?

If you have CD, you already know that you are GF4L (gluten-free for life). If you think you have NCGS and you feel better on a gluten-free diet, then keep it up! If going gluten-free hasn't helped your GI symptoms, then perhaps it’s time to take a closer look into your diet. We suggest using a food journal to help you recognize triggers. The triggers may be,  but are certainly not limited to, portion size, stress, or specific foods. 

A nutrition plan is not "one-size-fits-all." We're simply here to educate you. Now that you're in on the gluten gossip, the choice is yours!