Staenberg Kooper Fellman Campus

Trainers in the Kitchen

Good nutrition doesn’t have to be boring! Our personal trainers have taken to the kitchen to share some of their favorite healthy recipes and tips.

Green Bean Pasta with Cashew Pesto

A tasty twist on lasagna, this vegan casserole recipe swaps out noodles for polenta, layered with a saucy filling of lentils, kale, and bell pepper. Every forkful is a delicious mix of the fluffy grains, tangy marinara, and tender veggies.

¼ cup raw cashews
4 cups fresh spinach
1 cup fresh basil
2 to 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 tablespoons lemon juice
8 oz. dried whole wheat spaghetti
8 oz. fresh thin green beans, trimmed & halved lengthwise
15-oz. can no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
Sea salt & black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
Crushed red pepper (optional)

For pesto, place cashews in a bowl. Add boiling water to cover. Let stand 30 minutes; drain. Combine cashews and the next six ingredients (through lemon juice) in a blender or food processor.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions, adding green beans the last 2 minutes of cooking; drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water. Return spaghetti to pan. Add pesto and cannellini beans; toss to coat. Add reserved pasta cooking water a little at a time to achieve desired texture, tossing to combine. Season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with pistachios and, if desired, crushed red pepper.

Recipes from

Spicy Freekah Soup with Meatballs

Freekeh is a whole grain nutrient super-star that comes from smoking durum wheat grains. Find it in most health food sections.

1 ¼ ground lamb, or beef
1 small onion, diced fine
2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled, cut into ½ in chunks
2 celery sticks, cut into ½ in cubes
4 large tomatoes, chopped
3 Tbsp tomato purée
1 Tbsp baharat spice mix
1 Tbsp coriander
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp natural sugar
1 cup cracked freekeh
2 cups beef stock
2 cups chicken stock
3 cups hot water

In a large bowl, combine meat, onion, parsley, allspice, cinnamon, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Using your hands, mix well, and form the mix into ping-pong size balls (about 15 total). Roll them in flour and fry in a large dutch oven over medium for a few minutes, until they are golden brown on all sides. Remove the meatballs and set aside.

Wipe out the pan with paper towels and add the olive oil for the soup. Over medium heat, fry the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook for another 2 -3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, sugar, 2 tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper and cook for another minute. Stir in the freekeh and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the stocks, water, and meatballs. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for another 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the freekeh is plump and tender. (At this point the soup should be thick.) Add a little water as needed. Adjust the seasonings. Serve with fresh cilantro and lemon wedges.

Savory Tamale Breakfast Bowl

Instant polenta or grits stand in for masa harina in these bowls that get their. Southwest flavors from prepared salsa and a dash of chili powder. Feel free to swap out the kidney beans for whatever legume
you have on hand (even lentils) and load the bowls up with extra veggies.

• 1 cup instant polenta or grits
• 1 (15-oz.) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
• 1 cup prepared salsa
• 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, sliced
• Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Cook the instant polenta according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine kidney beans, chili powder and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat 2 minutes, or until warmed through.
Divide the polenta among 4 bowls. Top each serving with ⅓ cup kidney beans, ¼ cup salsa, ¼ avocado, and a sprinkling of cilantro leaves.

Recipes from Darshana Thacker –

Chickpea & Kale Curry Stew

This Indian-inspired chickpea stew features a mouthwatering combination of flavors and textures, with slightly crunchy kale complementing the more fork-tender ingredients. Taking time up front to dice the potatoes will help them cook more quickly and evenly. Note that this recipe calls for cooked rice, so be sure to have that ready to go.

• 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
• 1 Yukon gold potato, cut into ½-inch
cubes (1 cup)
• 1 tbsp curry powder
• 2 tsp garlic powder
• Dash cayenne pepper
• 2 cups chopped kale, with stems
• 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
• 1 cup unsweetened, unflavored plant-based milk
• ½ of a 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
(¾ cup), undrained
• 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
• 2 tbsp lemon juice
• ½ tsp sea salt
• 1½ cups cooked brown rice

In a large saucepan combine the first five ingredients (through cayenne) and ¼ cup water. Cook over medium 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add kale, chickpeas, milk, and tomatoes. Cook about 5 minutes more or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in cilantro, lemon juice, and salt. Serve stew over the cooked, warm rice.

Recipes from Darshana Thacker –

Zesty White Bean Chili

This healthy chili is a great way to warm up on a chilly Autumn night.

• 3 bell peppers (any color), seeded and cut into ½-inch dice
• 1 medium onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
• 3 celery stalks, cut into ½-inch dice
• 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
• 12 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano
• 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons salt-free chili powder
• 2 tablespoons paprika
• 3 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
• 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
• ⅓ teaspoon sea salt

In a large pot over medium heat, combine the bell peppers, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, cumin, and oregano. Cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water as needed, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a
time, to prevent vegetables from sticking. Add the tomatoes, chili powder, paprika, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce heat to a simmer, cover pot, and cook 10 minutes more.

Add the beans, corn, vinegar, lemon juice, half of the cilantro, and the salt. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the chili thickens.

If desired, garnish with the remaining cilantro and serve hot.

Big Breakfast Burrito

Loaded with sweet potatoes, peppers, and onions, this breakfast burrito makes it extra-tasty and ultra-versatile. The filling is made by sautéeing vegetables with a few choice seasonings, and then adding some eggs. It can be prepared
ahead so it’s ready to roll in tortillas on busy weekday mornings, or you can make a big batch of it for a weekend brunch. For more Mexican flavor, include some sliced tomato, onion, and avocado along with a few drops of hot sauce
before rolling the burritos.

• 1 cup peeled and finely chopped  sweet potato
• 1 cup chopped yellow onion
• 1 cup chopped red sweet pepper
• 2 tablespoons dried basil, crushed
• 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
• 6 eggs
• ¼ cup nutritional yeast
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Salsa of your choice
• 4 whole grain flour tortillas (10 inch)

In a large skillet, cook the sweet potato,onion, and sweet pepper over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed to prevent sticking.
Add basil, turmeric, garlic, and thyme; cook and stir for 1 minute or until garlic is softened. Stir in the eggs and yeast, and season with salt and black pepper. Spoon the mixture and salsa onto each
tortilla, just below the center. Fold the bottom edge of the tortilla over the filling. Fold in opposite sides; roll up tortilla.

Recipes from Darshana Thacker –

Easy Peanut Sauce

Mix stir fried vegetables, a cooked protein source, and whole wheat noodles with this delicious sauce for a complete meal.

• 1⁄2 cup smooth, natural peanut butter
• 1⁄4 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
• 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
• 1⁄4 cup brown rice syrup
• 1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, and whisk together well. Sauce can be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Cilantro-Cashew Dressing

Whip us this dairy-free dressing in 5 minutes! Use it on your salad, drizzle over a pizza, or even as dip tor tortilla chips.

• 1⁄2 cup cashews
• 1 cup fresh cilantro
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1⁄2 in. piece serrano pepper, seeded
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
• Sea salt, to taste

Using a blender of food processor, blend the cashews with 3⁄4 cup water until it reaches a creamy texture. Add the cilantro, lemon juice, serrano pepper, garlic, hot sauce (if
using), and salt. Continue blending until smooth and fully combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Recipe from Darshana Thacker

Grilled Chicken Burrito Bowls with Avocado Salsa

1 ½ cups dry quinoa
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp ancho chili powder
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken
1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
1 2/3 cups frozen corn, warmed*
1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, warmed with liquid then drained*
Non-dairy/vegan cheese*

Avocado Salsa
3 medium roma tomatoes, diced
1 ½ medium avocados, diced
1/2 cup chopped red onion, rinsed
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
* optional ingredients

In a saucepan stir together quinoa and broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 minutes or until broth is absorbed. Remove from heat. Let rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a grill (indoor grill, panini press, or stove top grill pan) to 425 degrees. In a small bowl whisk together ancho chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound chicken breasts to an even thickness. Brush both sides of the chicken with olive oil and season using all of the chili powder mixture. Grill chicken about 4 minutes per side or until center registers 165 degrees. Transfer chicken to a plate, cover, and let rest 5 minutes. Cut into pieces. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Prepare avocado salsa by tossing together tomatoes, avocados, red onion, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide quinoa equally among serving bowls. Top with chicken, corn, black beans, cheese, avocado salsa. Serve immediately.

Vegan Jambalaya

By: Maggie Thomas
“This hearty recipe not only tastes great, but it warms you up and fills your kitchen with the best smells! Serves a crowd or freeze your leftovers for easy weeknight meals and lunches.”

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
4 gloves of garlic, minced
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 can crushed tomatoes (14 oz)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp smoky paprika
½ dried cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
2 tbs Tabasco sauce
2 tbs soy sauce
Black pepper, to taste
2 cups uncooked brown rice
3 cups beans (use your favorite)

Heat the oil over medium high heat and sauté onion and garlic. Add celery and peppers and sauté lightly, keeping some of the crunch. Add the crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, all herbs, spices, and sauces. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the rice. Cover and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes on a low heat. Stir occasionally to keep rice from sticking. Once the rice is tender stir in the beans and cover for another 5 – 10 minutes to heat.

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese with Broccoli

Spiced butternut squash blended with nutritional yeast and a little plant milk makes a delightfully rich and “cheesy” sauce for pasta and broccoli. Pumpkin, acorn squash, or delicata squash will also work in this vegan-friendly recipe.

• 1 medium butternut squash
• 1 onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• ½ tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
• 2 cups unsweetened, unflavored plant
milk (almond, soy, cashew, rice, etc.)
• 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
• 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
• 3 cups whole grain penne pasta (8 oz.)
• 3 cups small broccoli florets
• Fresh basil leaves

Peel squash; halve squash and remove seeds. Cut squash into large pieces. Place squash pieces in a steamer basket in a large pan. Add water to saucepan to just below
basket. Bring to boiling. Steam, covered, about 12 minutes or until tender. Heat a large saucepan over medium. Add onion, garlic, thyme, and ¼ cup water to pan. Cook about 10 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally and adding water, 1 to 2 Tbsp. at a time, as needed to prevent sticking.

Transfer onion mixture to a blender. Add squash and the next five ingredients (through pepper). Cover and blend until smooth. Pour squash mixture into a large saucepan.
Cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccoli the last 5 minutes of cooking; drain. Add drained pasta and broccoli to squash mixture; toss to coat.

Serve warm topped with fresh basil.

Recipes from Darshana Thacker –

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs

By: Heather Bucksner
“Even my kids enjoy this low carb, healthier version of the classic spaghetti and meatballs. Plus, it is a super easy recipe. It’s great for the winter months. I use vegan meatballs, but it would work with the meatball of your choice.”

1 medium to large spaghetti squash
1-2 jars of spaghetti sauce of choice
1 lb frozen meatballs

Wash the spaghetti squash. Carefully cut the squash in half, length wise. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and membranes. Toss the seeds in the trash. Place the squash, cut side down into a large crockpot (6 qt+). Pour the sauce around the sides of the squash. Place meatballs around the sides in the sauce. Cover with crockpot lid. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, or high for 3-4 hours. The squash is done when you can easily pierce it with a fork.  Use tongs, carefully remove the squash from the crockpot and place on a plate. Use a fork to pull out all the squash from the shell. Plate the desired servings of squash and discard the shell. Using a large spoon, scoop the sauce and meatballs out of the crockpot and place on top of the squash. Enjoy! Yield: Approximately 4 servings

No Bake Granola Bars

“I always make a double batch and put some in the freezer. When my kids want granola bars, I feel better about giving them a snack where all the ingredients come from by cupboard!” – Maggie

½ cup creamy peanut butter
1 ½ cup virgin coconut oil
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup flaxseed meal
1 tbsp chia seeds
½ cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup chopped roasted almonds
¼ cup unsweetened coconut shreds
2 tbsp dark chocolate chips
½ tsp coconut oil

Add peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, vanilla and cinnamon to saucepan on medium heat. Stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in oats, flaxseed meal, chia, almonds and shredded coconut.
Once combined place in 8”x4” baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Press firmly into pan.
In original saucepan melt ½ tsp coconut oil and dark chocolate chips. Once melted, drizzle chocolate over bars.
Cover pan with foil and place in refrigerator until hard, 30 to 60 minutes Remove from frig and cut bars.

Yield: Approximately 8 servings

Portobello Mushroom Burgers

“This is an excellent meat free option the whole family can enjoy. Play with the toppings, cheeses, and choice of bread to make it your own. You can also grill, skip the cheese and add to a salad!” – Heather

4 portobello mushroom caps
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
1½ tsp steak seasoning
4 thick slices red onion
4 oz thin sliced, reduced fat Swiss
4 thin slices tomato
1/2 avocado (sliced thin)
baby spinach
4 whole wheat, low calorie buns

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, oil, rosemary, and steak seasoning. Place mushrooms in the bowl and toss to evenly coat. Let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, turning a few times.
Heat the grill or grill pan over medium heat. When hot, brush the grill grate with oil or lightly spray the grill pan. Place the mushrooms on the grill. Reserve marinade for basting. Grill for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until tender. Frequently brush with marinade. Top mushrooms with cheese during the last minute of cooking. While mushrooms cook, grill onions for about 1 minute per side. Grill the buns until toasted. To finish, place the spinach and grilled portobello mushrooms on buns. Top with grilled onions, sliced tomato and avocado.

Serving: 1 loaded burger / Calories: 295 cal, Carbs: 31g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 13g, Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 6g

Greek Goddess Pasta Salad

“Perfect for picnics, work lunches, or potlucks. This healthy salad doesn’t sacrifice flavor!” – Maggie

  • 12 oz. zita pasta, cooked 3 green onions, fine dice
  • 1 small carrot ( about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 orange bell pepper, fine dice
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, diced
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbs Green Goddess dressing (sold at any grocery store)

Cook Pasta according to instructions on package. Rinse with cold water, shake dry and place in a large bowl. Add prepared veggies (green onions, carrots, pepper, cucumber, tomatoes) to the pasta bowl. Add salad dressing. A little goes a long way, start with 1-2 tablespoons and add as needed.

Strawberry Lemonade Protein Shake

“Beat the summer heat with this nutritious but yet light protein shake. During the summer months, it can be hard to get down those hearty and heavy protein shakes with the warm temperatures. This strawberry lemonade protein shake is a great way to have a refreshing drink after a tough workout, while still meeting your protein needs.” – Josh

  • 8-12 ounces of water
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Stevia 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder

Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend to desired consistency. Enjoy.

Snow Blizzard Smoothie

By: Josh Dolph
“This snow blizzard smoothie is appropriate for the season. It can be a nice change from all those kale or berry smoothies. Enjoy for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.”

2 cups plain yogurt, regular or Greek
2 cups milk, dairy, non-dairy, or almond
1 banana
1 apple
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
ice (optional)

Combine all ingredients in blender. Add ice if desired. Blend to desired consistency.

"Did you know" Fun Food Facts

By: Heather Bucksner

  1. The serving size for nacho cheese Doritos is eleven chips. Eleven. Chips. Really? 150 calories.
  2. Those little fruit stickers are edible. Like the stickers on apples. Yep, apparently you can eat them.
  3. Hydrate! 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
  4. Potato skins have six grams of protein per 100 grams.
  5. Eggs have thirteen grams of protein per 100 grams.
  6. Bananas contain 450 milligrams of potassium. The recommended dietary amount for adults is 3,500 milligrams per day. Time to munch a bunch.
  7. Grapes explode when you put them in the microwave.
  8. Variety inspires. Challenge yourself to eat a new fruit or vegetable each week. Find something off the wall.
  9. Apples are made of 25% air, which is why they float.
  10. Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the top of your mouth. (Yes, this is a real fear.)
  11. It may not taste as good as Yoplait or frozen yogurt, but greek yogurt has double the amount of protein in it than all those other leading brands. So, walk past the Go-Gurt and grab the Chobani. It’s worth it.

Pineapple Fried Rice


4 cups cooked brown rice (chilled)
2 cups pineapple chunks
1 red pepper, diced
¾ cups green peas
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
½ cups red onion, diced
3 gloves garlic, minced

4 Tbsp tamari
1.5 Tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp garlic powder
¾ tsp hot sauce
½ tsp ground ginger

Whisk together sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Quick fry pineapple chunks for about 5 minutes. Set aside in a large bowl.
In the same pan cook the bell pepper and onion. Transfer cooked peppers and onion to the same bowl as the pineapple.
Place the red cabbage into the pan and cook until it starts to wilt. Add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant.
Next add the cooked rice and peas. Mix together. Pour in the sauce and warm.
Remove from heat and add the peppers, onions, and pineapples back in. Mix together gently.
Top with fresh cilantro, scallions and sesame seeds or a splash of lime juice.

Berry Smoothie

Berry Smoothie
“Stay on top of your workout nutrition This smoothie is loaded with protein, fiber, healthy fats, and probiotics.” – Josh

• 12 ounces of water or milk
• 2 cups mixed berries
• ½ cup plain, low fat yogurt
• 2 scoops vanilla protein powder

Combine all ingredients in blender. Add ice if desired. Blend to desired consistency.

Serving: 1 smoothie / Calories: 500, Carbs: 54g, Protein: 57g, Fiber:14g, Fat:11g

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