My Childhood Favorite Meals: Plant-Based

Nostalgic & Nutritious Meal

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My Sicilian grandmother was a phenomenal cook and one of my favorite childhood meals was lasagna with her amazing gravy.  I used to love eating the gravy she made on everything, so naturally creating my own plant-based gravy and lasagna was one of my first plant-based meal creations.   I’m excited to share with you my gravy recipe and how I use one batch of gravy to cook two meal. Along with nostalgia, I want all my meals to be delicious, easy to make, and nutritious.

Gravy

Ingredients

2x Tablespoons of vegan vegetable broth

 3x Cans 28-ounce of tomatoes

1x Onion

4x Garlic cloves

2tsp. Thyme seasoning

Large bunch of fresh Basil (can use seasoning if fresh basil is not available )

Pepper to taste

Directions

  • In a large pot, start by sautéing onions and garlic in vegan vegetable broth about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  •  Add the three cans of tomatoes and then add the thyme and basil and stir together. Continue to cook on medium heat until the gravy starts to boil and then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes covered.   
  • Add pepper to taste, give gravy a final stir and your ready to serve.
 
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Once this easy to make gravy is done, I will use this one batch of gravy to make two meals: lasagna and stuffed peppers, and store the remaining gravy in the freezer to use another week.

 

Need some help making your childhood favorite meals plant-based?

 

Meal Creations

 Lasagna

Ingredients

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  • Homemade pasta (semolina flour and water. kitchen aid needed) or packaged whole wheat pasta lasagna noodles or Brown Rice lasagna noodles
  • 3x Sweet potatoes
  • 2x packages of silken tofu
  •  A leafy green of choice- my favorite to use is either spinach or  swiss chard
  • Veggies of choice- my favorites to use are mushrooms, onions, broccoli, and carrots
  • Spices 2tsp of each -oregano, parsley, basil, rosemary, pepper
  • Nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Cashews (optional)
  • Gravy

Directions

  • Chop veggies and mix with spices.  Use parchment paper on a baking sheet to bake veggies for 15 minutes 375 degrees. once cooked set aside.
  • Skin on sweet potatoes can be left on or peeled, your choice. I like to wash and leave the skin on. Sweet potatoes can either be baked or microwaved. Once your sweet potatoes are cooked mash them in a bowl and set aside.
  • Start to boil water for the lasagna noodles and cook noodles. Once your noodles are cooked you can start to build your lasagna.
  • In a deep baking pan start with a layer of gravy, then lasagna noodles, more gravy, add your veggies, then crumble the silken tofu (drain as much of the water as you can prior to crumbling over the veggies), add another layer of gravy, add a layer of lasagna noodles, layer of gravy, layer of mashed sweet potatoes, layer of leafy green over the sweet potato, layer of gravy, the last layer of lasagna noodles, and last layer of gravy.
  • Bake for 30 minutes on 375 degrees covered with foil
  • After 30 minutes remove foil and sprinkle nutritional yeast and crushed cashews over the top of the lasagna. Put back into the oven for 15 minutes uncovered.

 

Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

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  • 8 x peppers – any color. I typically will buy an assortment of  red, orange, yellow, green
  • Farro (you can use any grain that you prefer)
  • Leafy green of choice (kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, spinach)
  • Veggies-diced yellow zucchini, diced onion, shredded brussel sprouts (you can use any veggies you prefer)
  • Mint leaves 1/4 cup chopped up
  • Spices 2tsp each- oregano, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, basil.
  • 1x can of navy beans
  •  Gravy- 1 cup
  • Nutritional yeast  (optional)

Directions

  • Cook 1 cup of a grain in water or vegan veggie broth
  • While grain is cooking in a large bowl, combine chopped mint, all spices, can of navy beans, chopped up uncooked veggies, chopped up uncooked leafy greens into the bowl and mix together.
  •  Add one cup of gravy and mix again
  • When grain is cooked add to mixture in the bowl and mix again.
  • Add small amount of veggie broth to the cooking pan
  • Stand up peppers in the veggie broth (you may need to very carefully cut a small piece of the bottom of the pepper to make it flat). Add the mixture until pepper is full.
  • If you have left over mixture you can freeze or cook separately in another pan.
  • Bake on 375 degree for 30 minutes covered with foil.
  • Remove foil and sprinkle nutritional yeast on top of each pepper and bake for 15 minutes uncovered.
 

Ready to eat delicious and nutritious meals?

Meal Planning- Your Key to Success

3 Tips for Easy Meal Planning Success

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Think of the last time you come home from your day hungry, tired and unmotivated to cook only to open the fridge and find no prepared food. Next thing you know you’re eating processed food from a box, getting take out or especially when starting out on your plant-based journey reverting back to animal based foods.

An easy way to stay on track with your plant-based lifestyle is meal planning.
This will be your key to success whether your just starting out or have been living plant-based for years.

Need Support With Meal Planning?

3 Easy Meal Planning Tips

Plan ahead

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Having a plan is the best way to ensure that you will have enough healthy meals and snacks for the week and won’t have to resort to take out or eating processed foods.

Start with picking one day a week to complete your food shopping and cooking. 

Be prepare for food shopping by mapping out your breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinners for that week. This will make food shopping faster and cheaper.  Roaming around the grocery store without a plan can lead to a full cart of individual items but no actual meals. It can also lead to purchasing extra items that are not needed such as unhealthy snacks or duplicates of what you already have at home.

 

Keep a stocked pantry

Keeping your freezer full of frozen veggies and frozen fruit and your cabinet full of a combination of canned and dried beans and bags of grains is an easy way to stay on track if your schedule doesn’t allow for you to go food shopping on your regularly scheduled day.  Frozen veggies and fruit are great, just read the ingredients list to ensure that there are no added ingredients, it should just be the veggie or fruit in the bag. A grain, a bean and some veggie will allow you to quickly whip up a healthy grain bowl option.

To ensure all you’re meals are flavorful even when unplanned, play around with adding different spices. I also always keep some flavored balsamic vinegar on hand-my favorite is Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar to add some flavor.

 

Cook in double batches when possible

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Not all meals may be best for double batch cooking but soups, stews, lasagnas, veggie burgers and vegan pot pie are just a couple of examples of the types of meals that can be cooked in double batches half for your current week's meal and half to freeze for another time.

When freezing meals, mark the date that you place the meal in the freezer and use the meal within two months of freezing. 

 

Interested a Plant Based Lifestyle?

Plant-Based Athlete

From cheese addicted to

plant-based athlete

I thought I was in pretty good shape.  I went to the gym, ran at least three times a week, and ate what I thought was a healthy diet.  Over the years I noticed my run times progressively getting slower. The annual 10 mile road race I have completed for years went from 80 minutes to 85 minutes and then all the way up to 90 minutes a couple of years ago.  I was working just as hard training and was beginning to think that I was just slowing down because I was getting older. 

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I first heard about plant-based nutrition from my girlfriend who had transitioned to a plant-based diet from a vegetarian diet.  Relaxing on the couch on a Friday night watching reruns of The Office on Netflix become a thing of the past, as we now were watching documentaries and webinars about plant-based nutrition. Although this new information about nutrition and health was intriguing

 I thought “There is no way I’d be able to do that.  I’ll never be able to give up dairy and meat.  Where will I get my protein?”

 

Throughout my life I had been addicted to dairy.  Milk, yogurt, and (especially) cheese were staples of my diet.  I was going through at least a pound of cheese a week and a couple of gallons of skim milk.  My protein shake after a workout was filled with whey protein powder and skim milk.  When I decided to try out a plant-based diet I was 34 years old, weighed 215 pounds, and could only muster a nine-minute mile on average.  I didn’t dive right in to this new way of eating.  For me the process was one step at a time.  I started with meals at home. The deal I made with myself was that I would eat plant-based at home and eat whatever I wanted when dining out.  But after a little bit of time had passed I started noticing that anytime I ate out I was more sluggish than when I was eating my plant-based meals at home. This eventually turned in to an all plant based diet for me even when dining out.

The hardest thing for me was to give up was cheese.  It was my last stumbling block, the one thing I just couldn’t shake completely.  I grew up putting cheese on everything. About a year after I began going plant-based I was finally able to kick the cheese habit. I started eating cheese less and less and using plant-based substitutes like nutritional yeast or cashew cheese on foods I would normally have put cheese on.  

The results of my new food choices were remarkable!

I was then 36 years old, weighed 175 pounds, felt stronger then ever and recovered faster between workouts and runs.

The real results were in my running times! 

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That annual 10-mile road race that I last finished in 90 minutes, I crushed at 77 minutes and felt physically great after!

This new running time was exactly what I needed to fulfill my bucket list wish of running the Boston Marathon. I had never run more than a half marathon in my younger days, and that left me with shin splints.

I can now happily report that in my five months of training for the Boston marathon I have set personal records in both speed and distance.

So it turns out that I wasn’t “just getting older” as I had thought.  My food choices were setting me further and further back.  No amount of training could offset the unhealthy animal based food I was eating.  I now enjoy a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, grains, beans, and nuts.  As my marathon training has progressed I have been eating non-stop (or so it feels) and I feel great after every meal. I remember feeling sluggish, grossly full and tired after those milk based protein shakes that I thought were healthy. Even with the increased workload from my marathon training, my body has never felt better or stronger.

I can fully thank my plant-based diet for helping me to fulfill one of my life goals, running the Boston Marathon. 

And that nine-minute mile that I was doing on short runs two years ago?  It’ll be down around eight minutes flat for the 26.2 I’ll complete on April 16.

 

Are You Ready to be a Plant-Based Athlete?

De-Stress Your Work Day

4 Ways to De-Stress Your Day

While increasing productivity & happiness

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1. Create a List

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  • Start your day by making a list of tasks that need to be accomplished that day. This will alleviate stress by removing the possibility of forgetting something.

  • Prioritize your tasks.

  •  Start with the highest priority task instead of the fastest task to complete.

 

2. Monotasking

  • Complete one task at a time.

  • Multitasking will increase stress levels and hinder productivity.

  • From the list you created, choose your first task and set your phone timer for 45 minutes (turn your phone upside or place your phone in your desk drawer) and fully commit to staying present for that period of time on only the task at hand.

  • Turn off alerts and notifications on your computer and phone as they can create temptation to jump to an unrelated task.

  • Only keep open the computer screens related to the task you are working on.

 

Want to Stress Less?

 
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3. Take a Break

  • Take breaks away from your work space.

  • Change of scenery will reduce stress by giving your mind a rest and increase your productivity and focus when you return back to work.  

  • Preferably get outside for your break even if only for a few minutes.

  • If you can’t get outside take a few minutes to stand by a window and get some natural light.

  • While on your break: 

    • Put your phone and/or any other electronics away.

    • Take a few moments to think about something that brings you joy.

    • Catch yourself if you start thinking about your to do list or the task you were working on prior to your break and redirect yourself back to keeping this a time for you to relax.

 

4. Give Yourself Credit

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“Always concentrate on how far you've come, rather than how far you have left to go.” ~Unknown
  • Don’t forget to acknowledge yourself for everything you got done in your day!

  • Positive messaging will increase your mood and overall happiness & health.

 

Interested in more tools to de-stress your life?

Living My Yoga

 My Most Valued Life Lessons

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I remember my first yoga class, I thought people call this a workout?? What a waste of my time!  Still skeptical, I went back a few years later when a friend who taught yoga at my gym invited me to take her class. Surprisingly I enjoyed her class a little bit and started taking going weekly.  Eventually, I became curious about taking a class at a yoga studio and I signed up for my first heated yoga class. Finally, hot room yoga was the workout I had been searching for!  

Although yoga started out as a new workout to add to my workout schedule, 18 years later and still fully in love with heated yoga, I am a student of yoga not for the workout but because my yoga mat is a space where I have been able to learn and practice my most valued life lessons. 

Some of the most important life lessons I have learned on my mat.

Suffering is optional

We can’t always control our circumstance in life but we have full control on how we react to the situation and manage it. On and off the mat we can give ourselves the messages that struggling and suffering is an embedded part of life. On the mat we can push our bodies to over stretch or not rest when we are tired and in life we can surround ourselves with work environments or relationships that deplete our time and energy.   We can even struggle and suffer on our daily commutes- running through the train station to catch a train even though the next train comes in two minutes, stressing in our cars when there is traffic. Time on our yoga mats gives us space to practice our reactions so that that we can choose grounded presence and joy instead of suffering.

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Listen to yourself

There are time on my mat when I push through the poses despite my body being tired or modify because I'm fearful of trying a new pose, with good reason of course!  Past the age of ten jumping up into a headstand can only lead to an ambulance ride to the nearest hospital.

But when we take the time to slow down and truly listen to our inner voice on our mat and in life it’s the best guide to know when to step back, reset, and reenergize, or  to push through fear and self-doubt and jump out of our comfort zone and into a successful headstand (injury free!).

Trust yourself

Part of listening to yourself and being able to release suffering is the willingness to trust yourself. We often look outside ourselves for the right answer-  what does someone else's yoga pose look like, what does someone else's job or relationship look like? 

Instead, can you look inwards and trust  that you already have the answer within yourself?  So if you’re thinking,  but sometimes I just don’t know?!?! Can you trust that even if you don't know in that moment, that you have all the resource within yourself to figure it out?

 

Interested in mindfulness?

Gratitude

When we release suffering and are open to listening and trusting ourselves we pave the way for gratitude.  We can be bombarded daily with thoughts and messages of comparison  and lack, leaving little room to see all the things we already have to be grateful for.  It's easy to categorize things as good or bad -I had a good practice if I did all the advanced poses and had a good sweat or I had a bad practice if I was sluggish and rested in child pose a lot during class.  But when we release judgment and evaluation of ourselves and just allow ourselves to show up as we are, we practice compassion for ourselves and others.  When we live in gratitude, we pave the way for new possibilities and a higher levels of happiness.

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Community

On of my favorite parts of practicing yoga in a class setting is being surrounded by people that have made the choice to show up for themselves in a positive way and share that energy with everyone else in class. Easy enough to share positive energy at yoga, but what about off our mats? Can we show up for all living beings- humans, animals and the environment in a positive, inspiring and compassionate way?  When we choose to practice mindfulness we are choosing to understand that our individual daily choices matter and impact the community. 

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A lifelong student

So after 18 years you would think I know a thing or two about yoga, but I don’t. I am still a student of my practice.  At first yoga was workout, then it was my stress release, and now it is this evolving mind/body/spirit practice that allows me the space to show up every day just as I am.

Want to Learn More?

Quick & Easy Plant-Based Meals

Plant-Based Meal Ideas

Throughout most of my life I thought cooking was a tedious chore but since adopting a plant-based lifestyle I have found such a love for cooking, trying new recipes and eating delicious foods I never knew existed.

I now even experiment with my own recipe creations! 

However, some days my schedule may not allow me the time to experiment in the kitchen but I still crave the same nourishing and delicious food. So here are some easy to make plant-based meal ideas for when you’re either busy or just wanting to relax.

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My favorite quick & easy meal ideas

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal with blueberries (or any other fruit you love), flaxseed, and walnuts

Snack

  • Homemade trail mix- pieces of unsweetened dried mangos and raisins (or use your favorite dried fruits of choice), and unsalted cashews.
  • Make sure to look at the back of the dried fruit package to ensure that the only ingredient is the fruit and no additional sugar or preservatives.

Lunch

  • Hummus sandwich-2 slices of whole wheat bread, hummus (either you can make your own ahead of time or purchase hummus prepackaged from grocery store), uncooked spinach, uncooked arugula, tomato slices, cucumber slices and yellow pepper slices.

Snack

  • Kale Salad- kale sautéed in veggie broth & garlic over low heat. Once cooked add chick peas and diced sweet potatoes (sweet potatoes can be microwaved to save time and then cubed into pieces) splash of lemon balsamic vinegar

Dinner

  • Farro topped with baked veggies- zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, red onions, carrots (veggies seasoned with 2tsp each of cumin, parsley, oregano) black beans, avocado pieces and salsa (see below for my easy salsa recipe).

Snack

  • Fruit salad- 1x kiwi, 1x banana and a handful of raspberries (or assortment of your favorite berries)  
 

Interested in More Easy Recipes?

 

Bonus Salsa Recipe

Fresh Salsa

Tools needed: food processor, cutting board and a knife

Ingredients:

  • 4x large tomatoes
  • 3 tsp of garlic (minced)
  • ½ tsp of crushed red pepper flakes  (you can omit, add less or more depending on your preference)
  • Large bunch of fresh cilantro
  • Half of a fresh lime

Directions:

  • Cut tomatoes in half and place in food processor, then add the garlic, red pepper flakes, cilantro and juice of half of a lime.
  • slowly pulse until ingredients are the salsa consistency that you prefer.
 

Interested in a Plant-Based Lifestyle?

Time Drama

Time...Friend or Foe?

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Somewhere during adulting, being stressed, distracted, overworked and nodding off during the restful parts of yoga class became the norm. Fun, creativity and calm were going to become a priority again someday, you know, when I had more time!

I was in complete time drama. Ironically, I was an unlikely suspect for this self-sabotaging behavior, I go to yoga, meditate, eat my veggies and drink green smoothies. Wasn't that enough to ward off time drama??

 
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The problem, I was eating my veggies and drinking my green smoothie while simultaneously  thinking that I didn't have enough time and that I had more tasks on my to do list than I could possibly accomplish in one day.  I was constantly giving myself the message that time was lacking and that fun and calm were thing I would have to wait until the weekend to enjoy. Well, only if I had time on the weekend.

We accept this lack of time mentality as normal, even joke around about it with others.   

 

So could I change my mind that time was available to me in abundance? 

What came next shocked me! To end my time drama, I had to become friends with time.

After a lot of long late night talks, time and I made amends. Now that time and I were friends not foes, I decided that I would need stop bad mouthing time to everyone, stop blaming time for not being around to support me and even started to be thankful and grateful to time for being in my life. 

So why is it so important to become friends with time?
 

Because the power of daily messaging

What you think, you become.
What you feel , you attract.
What you imagine, you create.


— Buddha

Our thoughts become our actions. Everyone has the same amount of time each day, it’s our perception that either makes time expand or contract.  Feel bored at a work meeting, those clock hands move so painful slow. On an amazing vacation- days fly by never mind an hour. 

Negative self-talk is a distracting self-sabotaging behavior.  These constant messages of lack become so ingrained that this message moves from our conscious mind to our subconscious mind. On the subconscious level it becomes the norm and turns into what we expect from life. That life is busy, life is hard,  I have to sacrifice my happiness and health until I have time.

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Would you subject a loved one to the same demands, negative self-talk and busy schedule that you task yourself with? Probably not!  So be your own best friend and treat yourself with the same respect and consideration.  The constant negative self-talk about lack of time becomes a vicious cycle.

Daily messages are so crucial to our overall well-being. What we perceive becomes our reality and when we are perceiving a constant message of lack this can manifests itself into negative emotional and physical symptoms.  Emotionally symptoms can be displayed as feeling fatigued, stressed, unmotivated, frustrated, overwhelmed, and generally unhappy. Physically symptoms can be displayed as headaches, general pain, stomach problems, sleep problems, and can weaken the immune systems.

We can regain control of our time drama by paying attention to our thoughts and redirecting negative lacking thoughts to thoughts of abundance and self-compassion.  

 

Ready to Stop Time Drama?

Is Your Cell Phone Draining Your Battery?

Ways to stay recharged & plugged into your self-care

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I'm standing on the train platform at 6:30am Thanksgiving morning enjoying the rare quiet and slow paced energy of an early morning in the city, while waiting for the train to get to yoga.  As the train arrives and the doors open, I walk on to the train cart and to my surprise I'm the only person on the train car! I couldn’t believe it!

I have lived in the city for 12 years and I’m a regular train rider, which is usually jam packed with people, so this was surreal.  I immediately pulled out my cell phone to capture the moment. 

Our cell phones can be so amazing and convenient for taking a picture to capture the moment, sending a text to your spouse to add an item on to the food shopping list, or letting someone know when you're running a couple minutes late.

However, despite all these convenient uses when we use anything in excess it can drain us. Typically when I am on the train everyone is head down typing, swiping or scrolling on their phone.  This has become common practice to have our phones on us at all times and use them while we wait, commute, and even when we are spending time with others.

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We may be charging our cell phone battery more than we are charging our own battery!

 

 

Since we are constantly with phone in hand which offers us many different  beeps, chirps and rings to grab our attention it becomes easier and easier to live in a constant state of distraction being  bombarded with information from multiple different platforms.

Although having access to all this information is amazing, the drain occurs when we are scrolling and swiping on AUTOMATIC PILOT.

You may find yourself grabbing your phone to look at the yoga schedule, when you hear a beep and you switch screens to read an incoming text message.  From the text message you google information about something that was mentioned in the text message, only to find yourself interested in a blog post that came up during your google search. While reading the blog, you remember that thing you have been meaning to order off amazon and then your clicking on another link to something else that looks interesting.  FINALLY,  you come out of this zombie like haze and realize you just spent an hour between screen switching and watching cute cat videos on youtube instead of spending time with your real cat or completing the original task of looking at the yoga schedule.

Want to learn more about mindfulness?

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This automatic pilot zombie like haze can also reinforce the habit of  constant multitasking. We all love to think that we can do multiple things at the same time, but attempting to multitask actually slows us down from completing the original task.  Along with slowing us down, it also leads to higher rates of inaccuracy.  We have all seen what autocorrect on text messaging can do when we are texting and completing another task at the same time. It can be ducking ridiculous. Multitasking is also an energy drain because it can  leave you feeling stressed and rushed.

Here are my favorite ways to keep your battery charged and plugged into your self-care.

 

Use an alarm clock

As a minimalist fanatic, I strongly discourage throwing away your  alarm clock during your decluttering frenzy.  It can be convenient to use your cell phone as a camera, calculator, computer but using your phone as an alarm clock can make it too easy to start swiping, scrolling and typing even before you get out of bed in the morning.   

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Use your phone intentionally

Delegate times during the day when you will check emails, search the web, use social media or watch those cute cat videos on YouTube.  Removing notifications from your phone can be a helpful way to eliminate the temptation to jump on your phone unintentionally.

 

Go electronic free

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Set aside time each day to be free of your electronics. Whether it’s your cell phone or a computer it can feel like you’re in front of a screen most of the day.

Be more plugged in and mindful by:

  • leaving your phone at home next time you go out for a walk or when meeting a friend.
  •  Set aside quiet time,  electronic free to meditate, journal or complete gratitude statements.

 

 

 

Need support in recharging your self-care routines?

My Plant Based Story

How Mindfulness led me to a plant-based lifestyle

I grew up in an Italian family where cheese, eggs, dairy and meat were staples.  Despite these being considered normal parts of every meal, I remember as a teenager thinking that it was really gross to see meat sitting in the fridge or being prepared.  At 16, this thought moved me to declare that I was no longer eating meat. I didn't connect that milk, eggs, and cheese were also animal products.

Although, at the time I had never heard of the concepts of inner wisdom, intuition, or mindfulness, looking back now even at a young age my inner self and intuition knew something was not right about the consumption of meat despite not being able to understand the bigger picture.

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My family thought it was weird but they didn't make a big deal about it and treated it as a food I just didn't like. I was a teenager so I am sure I was doing lots of things my family thought was weird.  I often heard adults refer to me as a vegetarian because I didn’t eat meat and I thought sure, ok, if that’s what it’s called.  Many were concerned about my protein intake or thought I would become anemic. The most common advice that I received was that I better load up on dairy if I wasn’t going to eat meat.

I had never met another vegetarian, never heard the term vegan or plant based. Understand this was a time before iPhones and every person in the house having a laptop. The concept of Googling something you didn’t know didn't exist.

 As I continued through college and graduate school every now and then someone would ask me if I was a vegan, “No, I am not one of those weird people, I just don’t like meat”  I would reply. It seemed being this so called vegetarian was bad enough, I didn’t want to be upgraded to a vegan. I was still not thinking mindfully about my food choices and had yet to meet another vegetarian or this other rare species called vegan.

Through my twenties, I considered myself a healthy adult- no medical problems, no weight problems, I went to yoga and the gym regularly and ate what I thought was a healthy diet. Even my family and friends would refer to me as healthy.

Then my inner wisdom and intuition came to my aid again in my early thirties, somewhere in the course of adulting it wasn’t just my food choices I was on automatic pilot about, I also worked in a career for over a decade that left me depleted of time and energy.  When I got tired of being tired, I decided I wanted a lifestyle change.  I would no longer tolerate jobs, relationships or daily things  big or small into my environment that did not inspire and energize me.

 I started asking myself WHY?

Why do I work the job that I work, why do I have the daily routines and thoughts that I have, Why do I use the products that I use and why do I eat the food that I eat.  Just like I was curious about the energy that fueled my daily thoughts and behaviors, I became curious about the energy that created the products and food that I was using daily. I started reading labels of all the products I was using from food to hand soap and the common trend I was noticing was a long lists of ingredients with lots of words I couldn’t pronounce.  Again without being able to put my finger on it like my 16 year old self I thought something is not right!  

So like any intelligent adult, I went to google and Netflix for the answers.

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This led me to viewing multiple documentaries and webinars, reading numerous books and attending confrences and workshops from leading researchers, MD's and experts in the field of plant based nutrition, listening to numerous plant based summits and podcasts, and completing the Plant Based Nutrition certificate from T. Collins Campbell, eCornell.

I was shocked at the tremendous amount of scientific research that so clearly outlines how eating animal products (meat, dairy, cheese, eggs) are so devastatingly damaging to our health and that our consumption of animal products are the cause of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disorders, and some forms of cancer. I was also  disheartened that as a lifelong animal lover and cat mom that daily I was promoting and causing the abuse, suffering and death of animals by my food choices of egg, cheese and dairy.  Our individual choices matter and affect others, other beings that we may never know  or see.

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Wishing that I had found this information earlier in life, this became the natural progression for me to take my background as a licensed clinical social worker specializing in holistic behavior modification to help educate and coach others on how to adopt a plant based nutrition lifestyle.

It’s easy to get caught up in our day to day to do lists, be distracted and confused by the large volumes of conflicting health information we are constantly bombarded with and have an out of sight, out of mind mentality when it comes to the abuse and suffering animals must endure.  However, when we stay present and mindful, we are able to empower ourselves to take responsibility for our own health and happiness and realize how our daily choices matter and contribute in a huge way to the health and happiness of all living beings and the environment in a sustainable way.    

 

Want to find out more about plant based lifestyle?

The 4 Most Common Reasons to Adopt a Plant Based Lifestyle

Why a Plant Based Lifestyle?

We spend much of our day eating food yet most people have not taken much time to evaluate why they have chosen their nutrition lifestyle. This can leave us eating a hodgepodge of foods we eat because they are the foods we grew up eating, foods that are fast and easy to make, or somewhere we heard it was healthy for us to be eating it without checking the evidence based research behind the claim.  We are constantly inundated with conflicting and constantly changing information regarding what's healthy and which newest fad diet to follow. It can be very confusing!

What’s not confusing is that the standard America diet high in animal products, fats, and processed foods has caused numerous health problems as shown by an enormous amount of evidence based research. A staggering number of people are diagnosed with one or more chronic disease (such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity etc.) and take one or more medications to treat their chronic condition. In addition, chronic fatigue, lack of energy, depression, gastrointestinal conditions and autoimmune disorders are on the rise.

Your food choices matters!

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It’s very important to carefully choose a nutrition lifestyle that promotes and increases you health -physically, emotionally and mentally!   

A plant- based lifestyle is a simple way to  accomplish all that!

 

 

Ready to take the first step?

What you eat:

An abundance of delicious foods! 

  • Fruits- apples, berries, bananas, kiwis...
  • Veggies- lettuce, Kale, broccoli, peppers...
  • Tubers- sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, beets...
  • Whole Grains- brown rice, quinoa,  farro, whole wheat, oats...
  • Legumes- black beans, lentils, kidney beans, chick peas...

And these are just a few examples!!

What it Excludes:

  • Meat- including chicken and fish
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Highly refined foods- bleached flours, refined sugars, oils
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The 4 most common reasons to adopt a Plant Based Lifestyle

1. Health

A plant-based lifestyle has been clinically proven to prevent and reverse chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer, obesity and autoimmune disorders.  Emotional benefits include increased energy, improved mood and increased self- empowerment of taking back control of your health and well-being. Plant-based nutrition also makes maintaining a healthy weight easy-no more counting calories, measuring portion sizes, or feeling deprived. You will be able to maintain your healthy weight while eating an abundance of delicious foods. If your an athlete, plant-based nutrition has been proven to speed up your bodies recovery time between workouts.   

 

2. Mindfulness

Where does our food come from and what’s in it? We can easily fall into this "out of sight, out of mind" mentality about the journey of our food prior to it landing at the grocery store. However, part of being mindful and present in our lives means being aware of all of our habits and our food choices are a daily habit we don't want to ignore. Food choices are crucial to personal health and the health of all beings: animals and the environment.  Part of mindfulness is understanding that our individual choices have a rippling effect on all beings.

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Environmental Factors

Adopting a plant-based diet is the best thing you can do to help sustain our environment. Raising animals for food requires large amounts of land, food, water, and energy. This has caused and continues to cause a devastating impact on our environment through climate change, pollution from greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation to grow food for animals and house animals prior to slaughter. Raising animals for food requires large amounts of water to keep animals hydrated, water to hydrate the food to feed the animals and water to use for the daily operations of the factory farms. Along with land, oceans are also being damaged by commercial fishing methods that upset the natural process of the oceans and bycatch killing of ocean animals not intended to be caught.  Adopting a plant-based lifestyle can drastically reduce your carbon foot print.

Animal Welfare

A plant-based nutrition lifestyle is kind and respectful to all living beings. We go to the grocery store and buy our food without questioning where or how our food was gown. We look at the milk carton or chicken package that we place in our shopping carts as a food product instead of the living and breathing being with a personality and feelings that it actually is. By the time we see our food it is neatly packaged for us with a picture of a happy farm animal on it and a nice friendly word like "organic" or "free range."  However, that is not the reality. There is a great deal of suffering and abuse endured by each animal prior to the animals death. Terms like cage free or free range have become common and may sound nice for marketing purposes but unfortunately paying more for these products doesn’t change the end result of death for the animal or the inhumane treatment throughout their lives.   

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Get Clear on Your WHY

As with any healthy lifestyle change, getting clear on your why can help you stay focused and on track when implementing your new daily habits.

Need help implementing a plant-based lifestyle?

The 101 on Plant-Based Lifestyle

Plant-Based Lifestyle: What's it all about?

Curious about a plant-based lifestyle but wondering what it’s all about? Here are your most common questions answered.

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Why do people adopt a plant based lifestyle?

  • Health- Prevents and reverses chronic diseases. An easy way to maintain a healthy weight.

  • Mindfulness- Being aware of how your food choices effect all living beings-your health, animal welfare and the environment.

  • Environmental factors- It's an environmentally friendly & sustainable nutrition lifestyle.

  •  Animal Welfare- It's a kind and respectful nutrition lifestyle to animals as living beings.

Have more questions about why people adopt a Plant Based Lifestyle?

What Can I Eat?

An abundance of delicious foods!!!

  • Veggies- leafy greens (kale, collards..), broccoli, zucchini….

  • Fruit- apples, berries, bananas, kiwis…..

  • Tubers- sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, beets…

  • Whole Grains-brown rice, quinoa, farro, whole wheat oats, whole wheat pasta…

  • Legumes- black beans, lentils, chick peas, kidney beans, peas, navy beans…

  • Nuts & Seeds

And this is just a few examples of all the amazing foods included in a Plant based Lifestyle!!

Life coach-Boston- vegan-plant based- yoga- meditation- health-vegetarian

 

What It Excludes?

  • Meat- including chicken and fish

  • Dairy products

  • Eggs

  • Highly refined foods- bleached flours, refined sugars, oils

You don’t have to give up your favorite comfort foods. All you favorite recipes can be made plant-based!

What about Dairy?

  • Milk alternatives- coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk, rice milk, oat milk, hemp milk, hazelnut milk, flax milk

What about Eggs?

  • Egg Alternatives- flaxseed, bananas, apple sauce, chia seeds, silken tofu, egg replacer product, aquafaba

What about Protein?

  • Plants have protein!!

  • A plant-based diet consuming a wide variety of grains, bean, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds will provide you with the proper amount of protein and essential nutrients you will need.

  • Strong evidenced based research has shown that animal proteins cause chronic diseases such as heart disease, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, obesity and some forms of cancer.

  • Strong evidence based research has shown that plant-based nutrition can reverse and prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, obesity and some form of cancer.

Will My Food Shopping Bill Increase?

As with any type of food the ingredients can range from inexpensive to expensive and this is no different with a plant-based diet.

  • GREAT NEWS -plant-based foods are often inexpensive- Beans, potatoes, grains, vegetables and fruits are some of the cheapest foods at the grocery store.

  • Look through your fridge and your cabinets and see what you currently have in your home.  You might be pleasantly surprised that you actually have a lot of plant-based food already there.

  • Meal planning for the week can be a great way to reduce food shopping cost and ensure that you have plenty of healthy and delicious  meals available at home.

Life coach-Boston- vegan-plant based- yoga- meditation- health-vegetarian

How Do I Dine Out?

  • Happycow.com- a great website to locate vegan friendly restaurants.

  • Preview the menu prior to going to restaurant or call ahead.

  • Most importantly don’t feel like your bothering people by asking for accommodations. You are being responsible for your health and wellness.

Giving It a Try!

  • Start by choosing one meal to make plant-based. For example, try plant based breakfast for a week and then the next week add on plant-based lunches etc.

  • Work with a coach- This is a great way to get the information you need and fast track implementing a plant-based nutrition lifestyle with ease.

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Want Support Starting a Plant-Based Lifestyle?

2018 New Years Resolution

A New Way to Make a New Year’s Resolution

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New Year’s resolutions: exciting in January and forgotten about by March. Attempting to make radical changes all at once, full steam ahead, often leads to the demise of the resolution before it even gets a chance to start.

What if instead, your New Year’s resolutions could be a yearlong process?

 

Long lasting change is accomplished by a series of small, consistent action steps completed over time.  Changing the resolution speed to slow and steady will make your resolution manageable, fun, and successful. This gives you space to enjoy the process towards the resolution as much as accomplishing the actual resolution itself.

My 6 favorite tips to keep motivated on your resolution journey:

Practice Gratitude & Abundance

Allow your New Year’s resolution to come from a place of gratitude and abundance.  An inspired, motivated tone will start your journey off on the right foot! Set aside time with yourself in a quiet place with no distraction and make a list of all the ways achieving this goal will make you feel amazing and add value to your life.

Learn More About Positive Mind Set?

 

Take Action in Pieces

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Set yourself up for success by breaking down your goal into smaller pieces.  Working on smaller pieces allows you more flexibility in making the process work for you. Your resolution is not meant to be fully completed in January. You can add on once you have taken consistent action and accomplished a small part of your goal, and scale back when needed.

 

Have a Plan

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Have a written outline of how you decide to break up your goal into small pieces. Setting monthly goals for yourself is a tangible way to keep you on track. Blocking out time in your calendar to complete the action steps for the month will assist in making this a routine part of your schedule. If you’re building a new routine or habit, try using tools like a daily wall calendar where you can track daily achievements and progress.

 

Have a Back-Up Plan

A great way to be consistent in your goal is to have a back-up plan if needed. If your resolution is to attend a weekly yoga class at a studio, then have a yoga video picked out that can be completed at home. Life will bring up a day when you have to work late or study for a test. Being prepared with an alternative plan can help you stay on track.

 

Hold yourself accountable

Schedule an accountability date with yourself or your coach to review your New Year’s resolution and check in on how the current plan is working. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your plan so that the process feels motivating. Be in gratitude to yourself during your check-in for all the amazing work you have done towards your resolution.

 

Be Kind to Yourself

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If you get off track with your New Year’s resolution, remember  you’re human!  Accept this as a neutral fact and keep your energy focused on restarting a small action step to get back on track. Negative self-talk about why you got off track is a distracting, self-sabotaging behavior that will only move you further away from your goal.  

 

Life is not about always staying on track: it’s about having the courage to take imperfect action and keep getting back on track when you get off.
 

Need support with accomplishing your resolution?

4 Ways to Improve Your Sleep

You deserve a solid nights sleep.

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Often the last thing we do prior to falling asleep involves texting, emailing, surfing the web on our phones, watching TV, a combination of these activities all at the same time or just passing out for being exhausted from the day.

Having a transition period from your over stimulating daily activities is one of the best way to improve sleep and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning. Sleep is the time to replenish the body and mind that has worked so hard for us all day. 

 

1. Put all electronics away

Our days are often filled with lots of stimulating activities and many of them revolving around technologies. Continuing with stimulating activities prior to bed can cause disruptions in restful sleep. Putting all electronics away two hours prior to bed will ensures that you are giving yourself well deserved transition time.

 

2. Choose a transition activity, one that you love

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To slow your mind down from work mode to rest mode choose an activity that you are excited about and feels restful.  Transition ideas include: reading something inspiring and interesting to you, meditating or journaling.

 

 

3. Acknowledge yourself for all your days accomplishments

Often, we end the day thinking about all the things we didn’t have time to complete or worry about how busy tomorrow is going to be. Taking time to give yourself credit for all your daily accomplishments will create a calmer energy for improved sleep. 

 

4. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day

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Having a consistent sleep routine will help your body naturally slow down at bed time and feel energized in the morning.  Restful sleep will improve both your happiness and health.

 

 

 

Curious about how you can build your healthiest routine?

Building Your Best Morning Routine

Feel your best every morning

Mornings can feel like a blur rushing around as the clock moves extra fast. This time of the day can feel so dreaded that many people get their coffee pots ready the night before anticipating the need for morning motivation. So is it possible to wake up refreshed and ready to start your day without coffee?

Life coach-Boston- vegan-plant based- yoga- meditation- health-vegetarian

Have a healthy evening routine

The best way to ensure waking up refreshed is getting a restful night's sleep. Having transition time prior to bed will allow your mind to wind down from the day’s activity to rest mode which will improve sleep and set you up for an energized wake up.

 

Use an alarm clock

Using an alarm clock instead of your cell phone will help you avoid immediately jumping on your phone. It's far too easy when using your cell phone as an alarm clock to shut off your alarm and check email, read or respond to a text, or jump on the internet. Set the tone of your day with a relaxing way to get out of bed.

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Set an intention for your day

Take five minutes of quiet time where you can start your day by setting the tone for how you want to feel and what you want to accomplish during that day.  This can be a time to do some deep breathing and start your day from a mindset of purposeful intention and calm.

Eat breakfast

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Eat a breakfast that is well balanced and nutritious. My favorite breakfast is oatmeal with blueberries, apples, walnuts and flaxseed. This will give your body and mind the fuel it needs to help you have a productive and inspiring day.

 

A great start to your day can help you set the tone for a day filled with more calm, inspiration and fun!

Ready to have your best day?

What is a Coach & Why Do You Need One

Accelerate reaching your goals by working with a coach

Coaching is a dynamic and powerful way to help you navigate and establish momentum on your goals. Working with a coach can help you clearly identify your goals, explore options, break free from self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors, address barriers and discover new possibilities so that you can bridge the space between thinking about your goals and taking tangible action steps towards achieving your goal.

 

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Accountability

Life is not about always staying on track, but having the courage to take imperfect action and continuously getting back on track when you get off.             A coach will support you in staying  accountable to you! During times when it feels like you’re getting off track working with a coach is the fastest way to stay on track to create long lasting sustainable change.

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Another perspective

Our minds can be tricky and resist change by justifying why we should continue with our same patterns of thoughts and behaviors instead of making the new healthy habit lifestyle change you desire.  We can come up with many reasons why we should wait to be happy or healthy. Coaching will help you identify these barriers and self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors and will support you while you step outside your comfort zone.


Support

Change can feel challening even when it’s something we desire and having encouragement, support and a plan of action can be the difference of staying on track or staying stuck in old routines. Long term sustainable change requires consistent action and having a coach who can help you stay accountable to you will make the journey of reaching your goals a more easeful and successful process, even on the days when taking action seems extra hard.


Reach your goals faster

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Coaching provides a road map to get you to your goal faster.  A coach will guide  you in  creating a strategic plan that outlines manageable action steps, which will save you tons of time and frustration on the way to your goal.  Coaching will also help you uncover old limiting beliefs and replace them with new empowering views making the journey more peaceful and successful.

Most important, when you make the decision to work with a coach you are making the decision to invest in you!  

 

Are you ready to start taking action on your goals?

How to Dine out Plant-Based

Dining Out : The Plant-Based Edition!

If your feeling worried about dining out plant-based, fear not! It can absolutely be done.  With a little planning the ordering process will flow smoothly and you won’t get stuck with a side salad.

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Do Some Exploring

Prior to dining out take some time to explore your favorite areas  to see what restaurants are there that offer plant-based options.  Often times we will default to “our favorite place", but you will be surprised at how many amazing restaurants are out there that you may not have been to yet that offer delicious plant-based dishes.

Interested in Learning More about Plant-Based Lifestyle?

 

Review the Menu Ahead of Time

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With most menus being online, looking at the menu ahead of time will be helpful to get an idea if meals offered can be made plant-based. This will also help you ask more specific questions when ordering.

 

Call Ahead

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When looking at the menu if it doesn’t seem that any plant-based options are available call the restaurant and ask them if they could make a plant-based dish that is not listed on the menu. I have eaten some of my favorite meals this way!

 

Talk to the Server

I do recommend doing your homework and having a couple of meals in mind prior to ordering but please remember that the server is there to help you have a pleasant dining experience so let them help by nicely explaining to them that you eat a plant-based diet and let them give you some options that are possible.

 
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Happycow.com

This is a great website to search for plant-based friendly restaurants and stores. Being able to search by location is also very helpful if you’re traveling. 

 

Most importantly, keep a mindset of abundance and possibility. If you believe that there are lots of great plant friendly place to dine, the server is going to be helpful and your plant-based meal will be delicious- it will all happen. Stay focused on the things you want and it will become your reality.  Happy dining!

 

Want to know more about life changing habits?