Butternut squash and Black bean Enchiladas

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

Makes 6 enchiladas


2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed

1 small butternut squash, seeded, peeled and diced into bite sized pieces

3 Roma tomatoes, diced

4 t cumin, divided

2 t paprika, divided

1 T chili powder

6 Large whole grain flour tortillas

½ recipe enchilada sauce

2 cups Mexican blend cheese

  1. Roast butternut squash: Toss butternut squash with 2t cumin, 2t paprika, salt, pepper and enough olive oil to coat; place on foil lined cookie sheet; roast at 400 degrees for 20 min or until soft and slightly browned tossing every 10 min
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté garlic, onion and peppers until soft (8 min); once soft add the rest of the cumin, paprika and all the chili powder. Stir in tomatoes, black beans and roasted butternut squash. Remove from heat.
  4. Prepare 9×13 baking dish by covering the bottom with a light layer of enchilada sauce.
  5. Place filing in tortillas, roll up and place in pan seam side down
  6. Top with enchilada sauce to cover the tortillas, and then top with cheese
  7. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees
  8. Top with sour cream and guacamole
  • Add summer squash to the onions and peppers, in addition to or as replacement to the butternut squash
  • Make this an enchilada bowl by skipping the tortillas, adding the enchilada sauce directly to the filling in the pan in step 3 and heating through. Serve on top of brown rice, topped with cheese, sour cream and guacamole.


Enchilada Sauce (adapted from skinnytaste.com)


2 cloves garlic, minced

1T chipotle chilis in adobo sauce

15 ounces diced tomato (canned)

1 t chili powder

1 t cumin

1C vegetable stock



  1. In medium sauce pan, over medium high heat sauté garlic in ½ T olive oil for 30 seconds, add chipotle peppers, chili powder, cumin, stock, and tomatoes.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Set aside until ready for use

Can be stored in airtight container in fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for 1 year.

Saying No to Say Yes

I’m a little overwhelmed this week, with hockey games literally every other day and trying to prepare for my back surgery, and the 2-4 weeks of activity restrictions. I had a few social invitations as well, and even though I really wanted to go and visit with some friends, I had to decline a few so that I wouldn’t overwhelm myself even further. I am a little anxious about having this surgery to begin with, at the end of the day, although the visit would be pleasurable, I could see the stress that would be created down the road so I chose to attend to the things I need to get done.

I have been saying no to alcohol, with a few exceptions, since my diagnosis. anti-inflammatory medication like Naproxen can cause stomach and esophageal bleeding, and that risk is exasperated with alcohol. Also, I’ve been having a hard time finding a pain medication that doesn’t make me nauseous, and i can’t see how drinking on top of the medication can make that better. I figure my body has enough to deal with, why add another substance to the complicated mix.

Kinda like my diet in the weeks post surgery. My husband isn’t known for his cooking skills, let alone his healthy meal choices, so I really need to do some planning. I would love to just let him handle it, but that would mean burgers, steaks and potatoes for a veggie; it wouldn’t help my body heal itself or my waistline. He also would go out to eat every night. Either would create more stress for me in the long run, so I have to sacrifice my time now in order to make in less stressful for me later.

The problem with getting take out or going out to eat is we always treat it as a “special event”, so we tend to indulge ourselves. We’ll order the burger or high calorie alcoholic cocktail, how often do we get the opportunity to go out to eat? Realistically, for our family, some weeks we eat out 4-5 nights of the week. Was Wednesday a ‘special occasion’? no. I am not sure what was so special about Friday (other than it was Friday, and aren’t all Fridays special?). I won’t be choosing restaurants that I know have limited options for me to make good, healthy choices. And I won’t be ordering the fries (I almost always get the side salad with dressing on the side. But I may steal a few fries from my husband).

Knowing that the next two weeks will consist of plenty of Netflix and couch time, and the boredom munchies that will accompany that time, I’ll be making sure i have healthy, low calorie/nutritionally dense snacks on hand. Some things i’ll be saying yes to, the many scrumptious fruits and veggies coming into season.

Fruits: Apricots, berries, cherries, dewberries, grapefruit, melons, peaches, plums, lemons

Veggies: artichokes, asparagus, avocados, leeks, lettuce, wild greens, spinach, spring onions, radishes, mushrooms

I also anticipate several cups of air popped popcorn in my future (yeah for fiber)! I plan on utilizing the Whole Foods prepared food section, as well as Flower Child and Grabba Green, for the first few days of recovery to make things easier for everyone. I’ll post links to their sites and let you all know what we liked, or didn’t like.

I’ve been processing a lot these last few weeks. Always listen to your body and mind. Practicing mindfulness helps me determine when I need some down time to recharge my batteries, both mentally as well as physically. In hindsight, I should have either said no to more events leading up to the race, or have said no to the race. Trying to train and be socially active, lead to me skimping on the training portion, which meant i wasn’t physically prepared to run, which lead to my injury. Taking care of yourself should be your priority; if you are not taken care of how can you take care of others? Every one suffers. I’m learning that lesson every day.

If you’d like to follow my nutrition inputs and see which foods I say YES to, I use myfitnesspal, user name: DawnLawson30

Eat well!



Back in January, I ran the PF Changs half marathon. It wasn’t my fastest time, but 2:47 isn’t the worst time (3 hours is the official time, but there was a 15 minute bathroom break at the 3.5 mile marker). The week before, during a short training run, I thought I had pulled a muscle in my back, and maybe hamstring. It didn’t bother me at all during my run, but it was the warning sign by body was sending me to stop running, and since I basically ignored the sign, I haven’t been able to work out in any meaningful capacity since. It’s been over 9 weeks.

Turns out I herniated a lumbar disc, and the material being squished out is putting pressure on the nerves that run down my left leg. Currently, I have no feeling in my left leg from my hip down to my toes, and my calf is in a constant state of cramping. The cramps in my hamstring and hip are intermittent. So far, we have taken a conservative route: physical therapy, epidural steroid injections (I had 3, the max you can have in a 12 month period) and rest. Last week, I was told we are out of conservative options and we need to remove the material that is impinging the nerves. Now, I could opt to forgo surgery, continue with physical therapy and eventually my symptoms may improve. I’m going with the surgery.

Luckily, I am fairly young, and active, therefore a fusion is not necessary at this time. I am feeling VERY fortunate for that, a fusion would be a life changer. As it is, even though my surgeon and PT have said I could, my time running 13.2 miles is probably done. I’ll probably stick to shorter 10k’s and 5k’s from here on out. And do more cross training. Maybe some boxing. Definitely more weight lifting.

So, this blog is supposed to be about nutrition and fitness. Since my fitness regime is at a stand still, I am super focused on my nutrition right now, since that is the only thing within my control. This week, I am prepping my house and life for surgery and the 2 to 4 week down time that comes with it. This means I will not be doing a lot of cooking and will be eating meals prepared by others (restaurants, husband, etc) which tend to be laden with fat, sodium, added sugars and empty calories. Over the next few weeks, I will try to guide you through my decision making process and share my tricks for maintaining control, staying on a healthy diet, lending itself to help my body heal itself. I’ll also share my reviews of some of the new ‘healthy’ restaurants that have popped up in the valley like Grabba Green, Flower Child, and Fit Foods.

Stay tuned!

Minding our Macros – Carbohydrates

carbs 2

What are Macros

Macros nutrients include the nutrition what we need in large amounts: Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins. The calories we ingest can be divided into these three overall categories. Each macro provides our body with the micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) that it needs to run efficiently. The average adult should divide their calories into 45-65% carbohydrates, 20-35% fats and 10-30% proteins. The difference in percentage depends on body weight and age; it is also influenced by type of exercise and energy requirements. For example, endurance athletes like long distance runners require more carbohydrates and fats than an average person.


Carbohydrates are the bodies preferred fuel  source. They are formed by chains of sugar molecules called saccharides; the more saccharides in the chain the more complex the carbohydrate. Energy is created by breaking apart the chains. When we consume carbohydrates and don’t use the energy right away, it is stored in the muscle and liver as glycogen. Consuming more carbohydrates than we burn over an extended period of time leads to weight gain. There are 4 calories in every gram of carbohydrate.

The following chart shows how many grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight certain activities require. The average adult needs 3 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per day. To estimate your own carbohydrate requirements, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2; this is your weight in kilograms. Then locate your activity level on the chart and multiply your body weight in kg by the numbers in the chart. For example, my weight in kg is 75. I am not participating in any activity so I will multiply 75 by 3 (very low, light intensity) which is 225 grams of carbohydrates a day. Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, so I should try to consume at least 900 calories of carbohydrates a day.

Next week, we’ll discuss how we count fats and proteins into our daily calories.

Eat well.

level of intensity/duration g/KG of body weight Activity
High Intensity/very short duration, <1 min 5 7 sprinter/power lifter
High intensity/Short duration, 1-30 min 5 7 track, swimming, short distance cycling, rowing
High intensity/short duration w/rest, 1-30 min 5 8 gymnastics, boxing, wrestling
Moderate intensity/mod duration, 30-60 min 6 8 10k runners (elite)
high intensity intervals/mod duration, >60 min 6 10 hockey, tennis, soccer
moderate intensity/long duration, 1-4 hours 8 10 Distance runners, cycling, swimming
moderate intensity/ultra long duration, >4 hours 8 12 distance cycling, running
Low intensity/long duration, 1-4 hours 5 7 golf, baseball
very low intensity, any duration 3 5
Body building 5 10 depending on stage of training
american football 5 8 depending on position

Get off the Diet Train

Dieting, known as reducing your caloric intake to levels that prohibit your body from having enough fuel to do body things, and forcing it to use, in theory, stored fuel sources like excess fats and proteins, is not a long term weight management plan.

How to find your daily caloric requirements

  • First, covert your weight in pounds to kilograms: Pounds/2.2046
  • Next, convert your height in inches to centimeters: inches*2.54
  • Plug the numbers in to the equation
    • women: 447 + (9.25*weight in kg) + (3.10*height in cm) – (4.33*age in years)
    • Men: 65 + (13.40*weight in kg) + (4.96*height in cm) – (5.82*age in years)

This number represents the least amount of calories your body needs to live if it were to lay on the couch and not move every day. Of course, when we start adding physical activity to the equation, the body needs additional calories to fuel those activities. For example, someone who works sitting at a desk all day will not need alot of calories beyond their BMR; likewise, someone who does earns a living as a competitive athlete will need double, almost triple their BMR to meet the bodies needs. This table assigns a numerical value to physical activity levels so that we can measure how many extra calories the body needs:

Physical Activity Level (PAL) Max example
Extremely inactive 1 1.4 Bedridden
Sedentary 1.4 1.69 office/desk job
Moderately Active 1.7 1.99 construction worker/runner (1 hour/day)
Vigorously active 2 2.4 Swimming 2 hours/day
Extremely active 2.41 2.5 Competitive athlete

The BMR gets multiplied by the PAL, which is the amount of calories required if you plan on moving away from Netflix in the next 24 hours.

The biggest reason dieting in it’s modern form doesn’t work as a long term weight management plan is that it isn’t sustainable. Eventually your body is going to get sick or injured because it lacks appropriate nutrients and fuel to do it’s thing. And you are going to be hungry. And irritable. So then you when you cave in and eat food, you’ll end up eating foods that aren’t very good for you because your body will start craving foods that are calorie dense (a lot of calories without a lot of nutrients); that’s your bodies way of telling you it needs more food!

Another reason that calorie restriction is unrealistic long term is due to the fact that your body wants to be efficient, and trying to convert stored nutrients such as fat, into an immediate energy source, isn’t very efficient. We’ll discuss this more in depth when we cover macro-nutrients in the coming weeks.

Next week, I’ll explain the concept of macro nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and how the daily amount of calories should be split up between them, depending on your goals! Stay tuned!


Eat well.


Hello world!

Like many women in the United States, I started experimenting with diet fads in my early teens. So naturally I thought I was well informed, until i started studying nutrition. Nutrition in our early years can be directly linked to health issues as we age, knowing this, my goal became to reverse, as best as I can, the damage I have likely caused to my body. For me, now, it is more about making sure my body has the proper nutrition to heal itself, and perform at it’s best so that I can continue to accomplish the goals I set out to conquer.

I have certification in Nutrition for Wellness awarded by Scottsdale Community college, and I have taken every academic class on nutrition that has been offered at that institution. I am currently working towards my certification in Personal Training. I try to make sure that all my fitness and nutrition tips are from reputable sources and have academic research to back them up when possible. Personally, I have ran 2 half marathons (2:30 and 2:47), I practice yoga as often as I possibly can, and I meditate daily. I also love hiking, indoor cycling, paddle boarding, and am always looking for new adventures.

My nutritional philosophy is ‘ Eat a large selection of real food in moderation’.  This means I advocate a diet rich in all varieties of fruits and vegetables, protein in all forms, mostly from beans and legumes but include some animal sources as well, and even some grains, in appropriate portions. I discourage eating margarine, and instead encourage butter; things that are labeled “low fat” or “low sugar” are also discouraged, as is anything that has a label (nix the boxes and cans when possible).

Thank you all for helping me discover me coaches voice; the voice that will guide you and offer encouragement. I am still finding it, so I appreciate any feedback on the things you find helpful or something that I can say or do differently. I struggle with this portion of the program, and I appreciate your patience!

I will be periodically posting links to recipes and adding work out tips to help you discover your healthiest you! The latest health and fitness product reviews as I try them, and restaurant tips.

As always, if anyone has any questions, you can email me whenever. Follow me on twitter @RulesByRed

Eat well

Rules & tips for living healthy through fitness and nutrition