Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps or Rice Bowls



Hi my NEMs!

Some of you might remember that I competed in my first bikini fitness competition back in November 2013.  At the event, I met an awesome mom of 4!  We instantly connected and have remained friends ever since.  I would like you to get to know Melanie better and I hope you enjoy her Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps/Rice Bowls recipe!

me and Melanie - nov13

….here’s Melanie…


Asian flavors can be so bold and comforting, almost a healing effect probably from the ginger and garlic.  Great ingredients to use for our children especially entering cold and flu season.  I also enjoy a recipe that allows and encourages the kids to use their hands, lettuce wraps are a fun way to also get them to eat a little salad without even knowing it … I’ll start with who I am before I get into our healthy dinner options.

Me… I’m Melanie Spampinato, formerly Melanie Jones some 13 ½ years ago.  My husband and I actually attended high school together, me a freshman and he a senior, however it wasn’t until we were in our twenties that we officially met.  We were married in February of 2001.  We welcomed our first child in August that same year, a son named Jacob who is now (crazy as it seems) a teenager!  Our second child was a girl, our Elle, and our little family was complete – we thought.  Almost six years later we welcomed our third child and second daughter, Brooklyn, into our now family of five and decided this is good… well sometimes life has its curve balls and fourteen months after my tubal ligation we found out we were expecting baby #4.  I had lost all of the 65+ lbs I had gained while pregnant with Brooklyn and became quiet depressed that the weight gain, body changes, mood swings, sleepless nights and overall stress with the thoughts of this ‘unexpected’ pregnancy.

melanie and kids

You see I’ve always admired fit people, athletic individuals who accomplish these amazing goals and have wonderful abilities.  As a child my family didn’t have the funds to put any of us into a sport and our religious goals were a priority over engaging in after school activities with those outside of our faith.  But as an individual I knew I needed something physically engaging.  Once I was old enough for a gym membership I signed myself up.  While attending Junior College I also took a weight class that was more of what most gyms call a total body class.  This started my passion and drive and although I had a job (which turned out to be my first career) I still made a point of incorporating fitness and healthy foods into my lifestyle as well as my family as it grew.

After baby #3, Brooklyn, our finances allowed us to make the decision of me becoming a stay at home Mom.  I had anxiety leaving my last child (haha now) and going back to a demanding work schedule.  Once this decision was made I decided to focus on my passion once again in fitness and work off the excessive weight gain from that pregnancy.  With diligent work outs combined with basic clean eating I lost the weight and was getting ready to pick my first bikini competition, a goal I had put on the back burner since 2005.  Well I wasn’t feeling my greatest and when I finally figured it wasn’t a lengthy flu I took a pregnancy test and it was correct, I was pregnant with our fourth child Peyton.  Even though I kept active with this pregnancy, I still put on 60+ lbs and now I was even more determined to get my body to a place I would feel proud to put on a stage.  This took me 16 months and I DID IT!!!

 melanie at bikini

Recently I’ve had many requests for healthy eating assistance and I love to give advice and assist others.  Well this has turned into an opportunity to combine my fit passion and love for food into a business which we started this past May.  Fit Fuel OC provides weekly meal prep for those with busy life styles and desiring healthy go-to quick and easy meals.  Check us out at or my IG page @fitfueloc … I am also working on a Fit Fuel cookbook and hope to have something to release by the beginning of next year.

In the meantime how about that recipe 🙂


  • 2 lbs. Ground Chicken (I used half breast meat only and half thighs)
  • 4-5 Crushed and Minced Garlic Cloves
  • 2-3 Tbsp Minced Ginger (peel and crush just like garlic)
  • 1 Small Red Onion, Minced
  • ¼ Cup Soy Sauce (Coconut Amino’s, Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s or Tamari are all great substitutes)
  • ¼ Cup Hoison
  • Splash Spicy Chile Oil
  • 2 Tsp Sesame Oil
  • ½ Cup Coconut Oil
  • 3-4 Shredded Carrots
  • 5 Sliced Scallions
  • ½ Cup Cilantro Chopped
  • ½ Cup Chopped Cashews (Peanuts or Almonds)
  • 1 Head of Iceburg
  • Cooked Rice

 How to cook it:

  • Heat a large pot (I prefer this over a skillet due to the spitting oil) with the coconut oil and hot chile oil. 
  • Add the garlic, ginger and onion to flavor the oil on medium heat. 
  • As it becomes fragrant add the ground chicken and cook through stirring to break up the meat.
  • Add the Soy sauce, hoison and sesame oil and stir incorporate into the cooked meat, add the carrots and allow to cook for another few minutes on medium high heat.
  • Before starting chicken decide if you’ll want the rice, it will add a complex carb to the meal which is essential in protein absorption. 
  • Start rice prior to chicken since this dish cooks quickly.
  • Break down iceburg by slicing down the middle and removing core.  Then simply pull apart the leaves so you have individual leaves for wrapping.

 Serve cooked chicken on a large platter (I chose to put it over rice) and top with chopped scallions, cilantro and nuts.  Wrap in leaves and enjoy!

This meal will easily serve 6-8 individuals and makes great left overs for the next day’s lunches… something that we do often.

final dish

I hope you enjoy this recipe and the little intro to me 🙂   … Please don’t forget to check out other great food ideas and recipes at my IG page.  I’m on this journey of life and I think sharing is the best part about it cause let’s face it, we all have our own story. Xoxo, Mel

melanie's family

Well, there you have it NEMs!  I hope you enjoyed getting to know Melanie and her family!  Let us know how you like the recipe by posting your comments below!

Until the next recipe 🙂







NEMS!  I’ve been blogging about lunch and dinner recipes so thought it might be fun to do my first video blog on something we all love… SNACKS!  This one is especially easy and FUN for the kiddos!

Snack #1:  Grapes & Colored Goldfish

grapes goldfish

What you’ll need:

  • Washed grapes off the stem
  • Big box of golfish
  • 3oz. dixie cups for service


Snack #2:  Strawberry shortcake


What you’ll need:

  • Strawberries
  • Graham crackers
  • Soft cream cheese
  • Seedless raspberry or strawberry preserves

Now, just click on the video and watch how easy you can make these snacks!




Chili that Everyone can Enjoy!

Hello fellow NEMs!

I’m bringing to you an easy and HEALTHY CHILI recipe that my best friend Kim found online at (click here for original recipe)!  We make this all the time and it’s great to make a big pot of it to take to work or for the kids to have for any meal!

What you’ll need:

Original recipe makes 8 servings   
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil




Time to Prep & Cook:

(*** If you are using lean ground turkey, cook this first)

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat
  • Stir in the onion, and season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and salt 


  • Cook and stir until onion is tender, then mix in the celery, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and green chile peppers
  • When vegetables are heated through, mix in the vegetarian burger crumbles (or your cooked lean ground turkey).


  • Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Mix the tomatoes into the pot. Season chili with chili powder and pepper.
  • Stir in the kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans.


  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 45 minutes.
  • Stir in the corn, and continue cooking 5 minutes before serving




Flavorful Pork Chops


Happy Friday NEMs!  Have you figured out what you want to make the family for dinner tonight?  If not, here’s a quick and easy recipe if you like Pork Chops!  This recipe from my best friend Jennifer who has a full time career and two boys ages 5 and 3 and is also a fellow NEM.  She whipped this dinner up last night for me, her, and the three boys:  Ryker, Kai, and my son Maddox in less than 15 minutes!  The recipe does call for a few pats of butter…but it’s OK to splurge a little!  😉

Prep Time:  5-10 min   Cook Time:  12 min


What you’ll need:

  • 4 boneless pork chops (about 1/2 – 3/4 inch thick)
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 pats of butter
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Salad of your choice w/dressing
  • Easy make Quinoa & Brown Rice (Costco)
  • Broccoli (or veggie of choice for the kiddos)

Let’s Cook!

  • Salt and Pepper both sides of each pork chop

raw chops

  • Steam your broccoli (or veggies)
  • In a frying pan, add 1/4 cup of olive oil

olive oil

  • Add 2-3 pats of butter and mix in with olive oil- cook on HIGH
  • Once the oil/butter are slightly sizzling, place the pork chops in the frying pan, cover and let cook for 3 minutes

chops in pan

  • Turn the pork chops over and cook for another 3-4 minutes on MED heat (or until desired meat temp) If you are also giving this to the kiddos, you should cook the meat thoroughly

photo 4

  • Remove the pork chops
  • For the remaining sauce, turn the heat back up to HIGH and let the sauce get to a “bubbly” texture then turn off stove

bubble sauce

  • Make the Quinoa & Brown rice mix according to the package


  • Serve the Quinoa/Brown rice, with veggies, and pour some of the sauce on top of the pork chops for awesome flavor!

pork  chops final

Let me know what you think! 🙂  The boys really loved this dish!

boys eating



Quickest Turkey Pasta Dish that the KIDS will LOVE!

NEMS!  Ever find that by the time you pick up the kids from school, run them to soccer, swim, and gymnastics it’s just about past dinner time?  Well, here’s a really quick, easy, and a pretty healthy dish that I promise the kids will LOVE!




Prep Time:  5 min.   Cook Time:  15 min.

What you’ll need:

  • Pasta noodles
  • CLASSICO “Sweet Tomato Basil” red sauce
  • 1lb. Lean ground turkey
  • Small can of Hunts garlic sauce
  • Garlic Salt
  • 2 pats of butter

How to make the quick din-din:

  • Empty the Classico & Hunts sauce in a sauce pan and simmer on low

sauce       hunts

  • Next boil water and add the pasta noodles and cook as instructed on the box

pasta noodles

  • While the pasta is cooking, place a pat of butter in a pan and cook the lean turkey (you can also use PAM or olive oil)  add some garlic salt

meat (1)

  •  Once the pasta is done, drain, but keep the noodles in the large pot,  add the turkey (you can drain the juice, but I leave it for added taste)
  • Stir the noodles and turkey together then add the sauce
  • Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes
  • You can add a salad or a side of chopped fruit

final pasta

This will make 4-6 servings.  The leftovers make for a great school lunch the next day! 🙂


Sweet Potato Snack!

Eating “good carbs” is important when you are trying to #EatClean! Here’s an easy sweet potato recipe that has NO SALT added.  This is a GREAT snack for the kiddos too! 🙂

Prep time:  10 min    Cook time:  40 min

This is a quick and easy dinner, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes

  • olive oil

  • dried oregano

  • pepper

  • cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes then cut into 1/2 inch rounds

  2. I’m LAZY! So place foil on a baking sheet for easy clean up 

  3. Place the rounds on foil and first add olive oil, sprinkle some oregano, pepper, then some cinnamon – YUM! 

  4. Cook for 40 minutes or until your fork-test gives you the firmness or softness you want. 

That’s it! Pretty easy stuff right?!?!? I’m no Betty Crocker, so I like quick prep, put in oven with timer and BAM!


4th of July Egg White Protein w/Oats Pancake!

Happy 4th NEMs!  What a better way to start out the morning of the 4th with some egg white protein powder w/oats pancakes!  (Try saying that three times really fast!!! LOL!)  I got this awesome recipe from my old high school friend Dimar Owens!  We actually JUST had our 20 year high school reunion last week!  I will say though, we are feeling way “younger” than we did back in the day. 😉

A little bit about our NEM  Dimar Owens….

dimar owens

1.  Tell me about your family

We are an active family of four who do our best to work hard so we can play hard. Married ten years with two sassy girls, 4 and 7 years old.

2.  What do you do for work?

I’m the proud owner and lead graphic designer at A Vibrant Wedding for over 12 years now. We are a full service custom invitation and stationery design studio located in San Diego, California that ships nationwide. A Vibrant Wedding specializes in designing all stationery including wedding invitations, save-the-dates, matching wedding day stationery, custom birthday invitations, birth announcements, baptism invitations and much more. (

3.  What motivated you to get into fitness and do a show?

I have always been an athlete from kinder to college so it was just a matter of time after having my babies, getting them potty trained and finally getting enough sleep through the night that I would get back into fitness. I saw a church member whom I barely new post her photos of her bikini competition in 2012 and I started inquiring about Body Building and the different levels. After getting the scoop on what it meant to compete in a Body Building competition and convincing my family, I hired an experienced trainer with body building experience and never looked back! Little did I know I would do so well in my first show. It was probably the hardest thing I have ever experienced in my life but well worth it. What made it so hard was trying to fit the training, meal prepping and eating in to my already busy life with my family, kids and my business. But I found a way, better yet… I MADE a way and till this day, this experience has changed my life in more ways than one.

” My healthy pancakes are by far my favorite meal of the day. I can literally eat Egg-white & Oats Pancakes for breakfast lunch and dinner. LOL!  (Note: this recipe still works great without the whey protein powder. Just substitute a little more oats for the protein powder.)”  ~ Dimar

What you’ll need:

~  1 cup Egg Whites
~  1/4 cup Rolled Oats
~  1/2 scoop of whey protein powder
~  Sugar Free MAple Syrup
~  1/3 cup of Berries
~  Pan Oil Spray


Mix the egg whites, whey protein powder and oats in a bowl.



Lightly spray pan with oil and then heat the small pan, pour pancake mixture into warm pan, cook pancake on low to med heat for 3 minutes than flip pancake when firm, cook for one more minute and serve.


Top with fresh berries and sugar-free syrup.  To be festive for the 4th, add some bananas (for the “white”)  🙂


Recipe makes one pancake. Delicious, healthy, and filling!

YUMMY!!!  Let us know how you like this recipe by leaving a comment below AND please SHARE on your social media!




Filet Mignon Stir Fry

NEMS!  Do you love beef?  I DO!  Here is an easy, quick, healthy, and most importantly TASTY recipe!  (As always, you can substitute the beef with chicken, shrimp, or tofu)



What you need:

Notice that I don’t use the “name brand” items – every market has a comprable brand that is as good or even better and the best part is that it’s always CHEAPER! 😉

  • Mushrooms
  • Green beans
  • Sweet Yellow onion (1)
  • Carrots
  • Filet Mignon steak (or beef of choice)
  • Oyster Sauce
  • Brown Rice
  • Pat of butter or Olive oil

How to cook it:

  • Make your brown rice


  • Chop up the sweet yellow onion
  • Slice the Filet Mignon (which I waited to buy until it was on sale) into medium thick slices


  • Wash the mushrooms


  • Cut up the carrots
  • Trim the ends of the green beans and wash

green beans

  • In a pan, you can either use a pat of butter or olive oil and saute the onions and carrots
  • Next add the sliced filet mignon – I LOVE my filet cooked medium rare – but if you are serving children, medium-well is your best bet.  The meat will still be tender 🙂
  • Add your Oyster Sauce  don’t be shy with it.  Notice that we are not using salt at all in this recipe – it’s because the oyster sauce has enough salt in it for taste.  You can find the oyster sauce at any market in the Asian/Mexican aisle


  • Add your green beans and mushrooms

pan food

  • Stir until you get your desired tenderness of the filet and veggies
  • Serve on top of your brown rice and be sure to add some of the sauce

final dish


If you have any questions about the recipe you can always contact me on Facebook! 🙂

~ Meeshie



Quinoa Chicken Salad – (served cold)

You are going to LOVE this Quinoa Chicken Salad!   Last week I went to my friend Izabella’s house for a play date and she made this dinner for us.  Of course, once I saw and tasted it I knew that this was the perfect recipe for NEMs!

Prep Time:  20 min


What you’ll need:

  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • Package of Quinoa (the one shown here is from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • Bag of baby carrots
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1-2 lemons
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon  Pepper
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette


  • First rinse and chop your chicken breasts bite size pieces or your choosing

chicken breasts

  • In a pan, add the olive oil, chicken, and season with lemon pepper and cook thoroughly, set aside to cool

cubed chicken

  • Make your Quinoa according to package instructions. For this recipe I just used 1 cup of the quinoa and saved the rest for another recipe 😉


In a large bowl, combine the following:

  • Wash & chop into small pieces:  Red bell pepper

bell peppers chopped bell peppers

  • Wash & chop into small pieces:  Cucumber (with skin)

chopped cucumbers

  • Wash & chop into small pieces:  Baby carrots
  • Drain the canned corn and add
  • Drain the black beans and add

canned items

Now all you have to do is combine all the ingredients.  Cut up 1 lemon and squeeze over the bowl and stir.  This will help keep the salad fresh! 🙂

final quinoa

When you are ready to serve, add some balsamic vinaigrette, and ENJOY!

If you have leftovers, just plop that into the fridge.  The next time you are hungry and want something healthy and already made, just squeeze some lemon juice on your dish, stir, and ENJOY…AGAIN! 😉





Tomato Risotto – Vegan & Kid Friendly!


One of the new things I am bringing to you as your Recipe Blogger is a variety of meals for your family AND kids!  I recently found a wonderful mom Brandi who has her own blog on VEGAN dishes! 

The online interview…

Meeshie:  How many children do you have and how old?

Brandi:  Hi Meeshie! I have 1 little girl, she is 2 1/2 yrs old.

Meeshie:  What was the deciding factor to start The Healthy Flavor then move your blog to the Vegan 8?

logo - vegan8

I started The Healthy Flavor because I had to become really creative in the kitchen to come up with recipes because of my husband suffering severely from gout, a very painful form of arthritis. Through many years suffering and trials and research, I learned that the main causes of gout are animal products…dairy and meat. When I started The Healthy Flavor, we were vegetarian, but soon after that we went vegan after discovering how acidic dairy is to our bodies, and especially my husband’s. Once fully going vegan, he stopped having horrible gout flareups and was able to stop living on crutches. We have been able to control a lot of his gout by going vegan and of course my health has dramatically changed and my daughter has been raised vegan as well. I switched to The Vegan 8 after discovering the popularity of my recipes were all 8 ingredients or less (not neccessarily including salt & water) and I found that people made the recipes that were fewer ingredients, easier and those got the best feedback. I wanted to reach more people with my passion of living a vegan lifestyle, so I decided on that concept of 8 ingredients or less and to my amazement, it has really taken off! I’m very grateful and love getting feedback from so many readers who love my recipes and how it is helping them to eat vegan and be healthier. 🙂


TOMATO RISOTTO:  What you’ll need


  • 10 oz package grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
  • 11 oz arborio rice (1 1/2 cups) (I used a wild rice blend, but any arborio rice will work)
  • 4 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt


If your little one is allergic to nuts, like my son Maddox is, then just exclude the walnuts on top.  What’s that you say?  There are 9 ingredients?  No no no, remember, salt doesn’t count – so there’s your “8“!  😉


For recipe instructions:  CLICK HERE

Enjoy NEMs!

~  Meeshie