Celebrate Earth Day, Go Vegan!



I’ve been hearing lots of people talking about Earth Day, and the truth is, I honestly feel as though my diet and lifestyle celebrate the Earth and all of her beauty every day. Since I have a plant-based diet, I know I am making healthier choices for myself and leaving kinder footsteps on the Earth. Plus, I’m pretty sure that animals are very happy that I love to play with them and not eat them :).

I believe that one of the best ways that we can take care of ourselves and our planet is to cut down on our meat consumption. In fact, the Environmental Defense Fund states that, “if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads” – wow! Imagine what participating in Meatless Monday might do. Or, better yet, going meat-free for an entire week. Or forever! There is no denying that a vegetarian diet would save countless lives and help save the environment.

If you are interested in knowing how a vegan diet may benefit your health, read about Loma Linda University’s Adventist Health Study-2. The study started in 2002 and followed 69,120 Seventh-day Adventists; what’s special about this study is that people were divided into several categories (non-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, and vegan) based on their responses to a questionnaire that asked them how often they eat over 200 different kinds of food, so researchers were really able to determine how certain foods affect our health. In the end, researchers concluded that vegans have an overall reduced cancer risk – yay! Vegetarians had less gastrointestinal cancer, especially among lacto-ovo-vegetarians (those who do not consume any meat products, but eat dairy and eggs); and there were less cases of female specific cancers in the vegan group. I would also encourage everyone to read T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health. I could go on and on about the health benefits of veganism, but I want to share more on how eating meat is hurting us and our planet.

We are currently using too many of our resources to feed livestock that are being bred for the sole purpose of consumption. These animals are confined to tiny cages and are forced to “live” in miserable, filthy, inhumane conditions. The majority of meat sold in stores comes from factory farms, so if you eat chicken, eggs, beef, turkey, and/or pork, you are contributing to the suffering of animals and to the increase in greenhouse-gas emissions that we have been experiencing for years. In fact, PETA reports that, “a German study conducted in 2008 concluded that a meat-eater’s diet is responsible for more than seven times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as a vegan’s diet is” – that’s crazy!

If you’ve been thinking about reducing your meat and dairy consumption, consider making a delicious, vegan smoothie for breakfast. Enjoy a yummy veggie burger or scrumptious tempeh bowl or even a chickpea salad for lunch, and a vegan quiche, shepherd’s pie, sushi, sautéed Brussels sprouts, green beans, tortilla soup, or roasted sweet potatoes for dinner. If you think you’ll miss all of your favorite foods, enjoy these vegan nachos with friends and/or family members for a delicious appetizer. Last night I made vegan chocolate covered strawberries and they were amazing! I meant to make them for Easter, but I felt that we had so much food already, so I waited to have more treats later and they were worth it! I used Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips and the organic strawberries that I bought from the farmers’ market on Sunday. I wish that I would have taken a picture, but they were gone so quickly after my boyfriend and I made them! I used to have such a sweet tooth, but after switching to a cleaner, plant-based diet that’s filled with fresh, healthy foods, I indulge in sweets on special occasions, instead of constantly reaching for chocolate like I used to.

I have lots of people in my life who love ice cream, so I set out on a hunt to find a vegan ice treat that’s not filled with GMOs, artificial colors/flavors, and other junk. I discovered Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss and it’s amazing! I know that some people think that vegan foods are bland, but that’s just not true. I want people to explore more plant-based options, and it’s important to me that people enjoy what they’re eating.

Since I am a Health Coach and I believe in the healing power of food, remember to fill your plate with lots of greens, such as organic kale, organic spinach, broccoli, collard greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, and more. Explore new whole grains such as organic quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, organic brown Jasmine rice, and much more. Make smoothies, eat lots of fruit when it’s in season, and indulge in your favorite veganized treats every once in a while. You will feel so much lighter, healthier, refreshed, and at peace knowing that you are doing what’s best for yourself and the environment. Start slowly. Skip the eggs and bacon for breakfast and have a smoothie, oatmeal, beans and rice, miso soup, or something else that you would enjoy. Instead of getting a beef burrito from Chipotle, try a vegan bowl filled with brown rice, beans, vegetables, guacamole, and salsa. Have a bbq with tons of veggies and skip the meat. It’s easier than you think. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Happy Earth Day!

Are You Struggling to Eat Healthy Foods on a Budget?


For some reason, most people I know think that in order to eat healthy foods, they have to spend way more money on their groceries. When I work with my clients, I take a look at their receipts and see where they can make some improvements when they are shopping, so that they can buy foods that are good for them, but not spend a fortune in the process. Here’s what I’ve noticed: most people spend a lot of money on packaged goods that are marketed as being healthy. When you are trying to save money, the best foods are whole and natural. Below is a list of foods that you should stock up on and some that you should avoid.

1. Beans, Lentils, Rice, Oats, and Whole Grains

These foods will be your best friend. Things like canned beans are inexpensive and when you purchase dried beans in bulk, they’re even more inexpensive. Stock up on lentils, oats, and a variety of rice (try brown rice, brown Jasmine rice, etc.). Not only are these foods affordable, they are also packed with protein, fiber, and lots of vitamins. These foods will keep you full and are a great addition to every meal you make. Try having oatmeal for breakfast, adding beans and rice to your lunch, and enjoying a lentil soup for dinner – yum! Consider becoming a member of Thrive Market’s community, where you’ll be able to purchase healthy foods at wholesale prices. Here you’ll find beans, rice, pasta, lentils, and much more. Thrive Market believes in bringing healthy, affordable food to everyone. In fact, for every person who purchases a membership, a low-income family will also receive a membership. For more information, please contact Thrive Market’s team.

2. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

The easiest way to save on produce is to buy as much food that does not need to be organic as possible. Broccoli, cauliflower, onion, garlic, bok choy, cabbage, and mushrooms are all powerhouse foods that are packed with nutrients and they don’t need to be organic! Eggplants, sweet potatoes, sweet peas, and asparagus are all also really good for you and don’t need to be organic. There are several fruits that are affordable and healthy, too: pineapple, kiwi, persimmon, and pumpkin don’t need to be organic. Apples, imported grapes, and berries should be organic so splurge on these when you can. From my experience, shopping at farmers’ markets is much more affordable than most other places. And farmers’ markets are great because you know that what you are purchasing is local and in season! I often buy organic kale from the farmers’ market for just $1.00 – it doesn’t get much better than that! Use lots of delicious vegetables to make a yummy stir fry. Enjoy it with a salad, rice, and soup and you’ll have plenty of healthy food to keep you happy and satisfied.

3. Eat What’s in Season

If you’re looking for berries in winter and persimmon in the summer, you’re making things harder on yourself! Find out what foods are in season, and eat those ones. This will help you be in harmony with nature and believe it or not, it will also keep your grocery bill down. Foods that are in season are abundant and often go on sale, so keep a list of what’s in season handy and go from there.

4. Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

These are not my ideal choices, but they’re actually really helpful when you’re trying to save money and time. Stock up on frozen vegetables such as sweet peas, okra, and even broccoli. I like to buy frozen, organic berries and keep them handy for when I’m making smoothies.

5. Skip the Alcohol, Sweet Drinks, and Starbucks

Things like beer, wine, soda, lemonade, and your morning latte will cost you a pretty penny in the long run. They’re not friendly on your wallet or your waistline, so do yourself a favor and easily transition out of drinking these unnecessary calories. Try swapping your morning latte for a homemade smoothie, or if you must have coffee, make it at home. Why spend your hard earned money at Starbucks and Coffee Bean when you can make the same drink at home? Plan in advance and watch those savings increase.

6. Limit or Avoid Processed and Packaged Foods

Even though many food companies are working hard to make you believe that their packaged foods are healthy, don’t believe them! Just because a box of cereal has the words, “natural” and “healthy” on it, it usually doesn’t mean anything. Chips, cereal, and other processed foods are often expensive, especially when they’re trying to be promoted as being good for you. Kale chips in particular are way too expensive, especially when you can buy kale, season it, put it in the oven, and make chips yourself. Stick to whole foods, and leave your favorite packaged goods for a time when you can splurge. And when you’re ready to splurge, buy your favorite items from Thrive Market at a reduced price! Enjoy free shipping on orders of $49 or more and be sure to search their vegan products for delicious treats to enjoy.

7. Limit Dairy, Meat, and Sugar

I don’t purchase dairy and meat, and I’ve limited sugar intake, so I feel that these are great places where I save money. I also don’t buy eggs, so that keeps my grocery bills down a bit, too. By the way, if you do eat these foods, this is not a place to skimp on quality. Processed cheese and ground beef are not the way to go when you are trying to save money and eat healthy foods! Think of all the chemicals, additives, and preservatives you’re eating and hop right over to the produce section of your store instead. If you’re looking to replace meat, try organic tofu and tempeh instead. I buy tempeh from Trader Joe’s and it’s only $1.99 a block! Tempeh is filling and I enjoy making things like tempeh tacos and even tempeh sandwiches – yum!

8. Cook at Home

Eating out gets expensive, fast. Try to plan your meals in advance so that you have food at home. I like to make a huge batch of lentil soup on Sunday, so that I have it for the rest of the week. I also make brown Jasmine rice and keep it in the fridge for a few days, so that I don’t have to make a new pot every day. Make sandwiches, wraps, and salads and fill up on things like beans, broccoli, and oats. Splurge on a meal at your favorite healthy restaurant every once in a while, instead of eating out every day for lunch because you forgot to prep in advance.

In conclusion: load up on beans, oats, lentils, legumes, whole grains, and drink water. Purchase as many fruits and vegetables as you can that don’t need to be organic and try as much as you can to cook at home and not eat out. I hope this helps!

If you’re struggling to eat healthier and lose weight, a Health Coach is an amazing resource to have. Learn how to eat foods that are good for you, without spending a fortune. Get the time and attention you deserve to talk about your health and wellness goals with someone who will listen and help you live the life of your dreams and get the body you deserve. Contact me for your free initial consultation and we’ll get you started on looking and feeling your best, now!

Should We Thank Healthy School Lunches for Better Behavior?


When I was younger, I used to wonder how my mom could wake up early every morning to make my entire family breakfast, pack us all homemade lunches, and work a full-time job. I always thought, “I could never do this. I’d rather sleep.” Now that I am older, I thank my mom for taking care of us and I know that I will do the same thing – I just can’t risk my family eating artificial, processed foods several times a day (there’s the health coach in me!).

I remember the number of kids who didn’t have breakfast when I was in school; I wondered how they functioned. I was hungry a little while after I grudgingly woke up for school – weren’t they? The difference between the food that my mom made for me and the food offered at my elementary, junior high, and high schools was vast. My lunches weren’t perfect, but at least I had fresh fruits and vegetables every day; I remember having sandwiches, salads, and fruits for lunch while many other kids had pizza, burgers, fries, soda, and other fat-laden, sugary, processed foods. In high school my teachers always dreaded teaching class right after lunch – everyone was half asleep!

When I talked to my parents about school lunches, they told me that even though my mom made me breakfast and packed a lunch for me, I once requested that I be allowed to eat the school lunch. I saw the other kids chowing down on junk food and I wanted to be allowed to eat the same thing as my classmates (gasp!). My parents agreed and I tried out the school lunch. I was about 8 years old. Apparently I came home on the first night that I ate this school lunch and told my mom that I never wanted to eat it again because the meat was grey and gross! Sadly, I also got sick and my parents do think it’s because of the bad meat that I ate. My mom continued to make my lunch and my parents didnt mind that they had already paid for an entire quarter’s worth of food. I am eternally thankful for this particular thing that they did for me and I want to make sure that children and young adults who are eating school lunches have healthy options.

1. We Think Better When We Eat Healthy Food

It’s true that if we eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains we will be able to focus better. Why? These foods are blood sugar stabilizers and we will not have sugar highs and then come crashing down, which is what happens when we eat refined sugars, flours, and artificial, processed junk food. No wonder my classmates were falling asleep after lunch – they had just had a feast fit for Superbowl Sunday – how could they focus? It’s best to load up on fresh, healthy food and skip fatty burgers, fries, and shakes. This is especially true when you want to focus and think better – and who doesn’t want these things?

2. Violence and Misconduct Decreases When People Are Fed Better

Barbara Stitt is the Co-owner of Natural Ovens Bakery; she was a probation officer for over 20 years in Ohio and she says that, “correcting the food corrected the behavior” of people she worked with from the courts. She took this knowledge and worked with Appleton Central High School, which is located an hour from her bakery in Wisconsin. With her help, the high school eliminated trans fats, refined sugars, refined flours, and foods with artificial colors and flavors. She replaced the fast food that students were having for lunch on a regular basis and she got rid of vending machines. Instead, students are now enjoying a salad bar, real juice with concentrated omega-3 fatty acids, fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. What’s shocking is that Appleton High hadn’t had a kitchen in 7 years! Thankfully, this has changed and students continue to enjoy the benefits of a healthier diet. Tom Almendarez, a former student says, “For me, it makes me feel like I have a better attention span. I don’t feel like I’m tired all day.” In the first two years of these amazing changes, Appleton High was able to cut $5 million out of its operational budget because there was significantly less vandalism, litter, and violence. Barbara explains that the food they brought in to the school was the food that was mandated by the U.S. government in 1946; this consists largely of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and Barbara Stitt made sure to also include legumes, nuts, seeds, and water.

In the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s 2004 national school lunch report card it states, “Schools such as Central High…have noticed tremendous, health, behavioral, and learning benefits.” Indeed, Appleton’s drop out rate went from 10% to less than 1% after they switched to this healthier menu.

3. The Benefits of Healthier School Lunches Gives Hopes to Other Schools

Other schools have followed Appleton’s lead; in Olympia, Washington, schools have real juice, organic salad bars, and students enjoy local produce. In Des Moines, Iowa, schools now have fresh fruits and vegetables and students have access to an unlimited supply of these foods – most of which are gone before the end of the day. In Los Angeles, Monroe High School has shifted to healthier school lunches and saw a 74% decrease in violence within the 1st year of its program. Students asked for a salad bar and their wish was granted!

If you are packing a lunch for your kids, that’s wonderful; be sure to include water, fresh fruits, vegetables, and some whole grains. If your children are eating school lunches, check to make sure that they are offered a healthy selection of food. If not, get involved and see how you can make a change. Need encouragement? Check out these resources:

Want to learn how you can transform your diet and lifestyle so you can focus more, weigh less, and look your best? Do you want to make sure your kids are on the right track to staying healthy and fit? Join me for a free initial consultation so we can get started on your wellness journey!