Sunday, March 16, 2014


A short break during class yesterday led to two separate, isolated conversations with students about health. I'm continually amazed at the increasing awareness of health and the negative effects of dairy, eggs, and meat. Yes, I'm in an educational setting, but this is becoming quite a popular topic.

One conversation was about the powers of advertising from the meat and dairy industries, the environmental impacts of these industries, and how calcium is lost when consuming milk on a regular basis. I mentioned calcium loss here. Calcium is released from the bones to help neutralize the acid from animal products.

The second conversation I had among a few students in my class was about veganism. One girl mentioned she was vegan for two years in her late teens/early twenties, but she became skinny, pale, sick, and had sunken eyes. I, of course, chimed in and said I've been vegan for over a year and I'm "plump"! I suggested she probably wasn't eating enough, which she confirmed and attributed her health issues to her ex-boyfriend, problems with friends, and a few other events in her life at the time. I just wanted to say, "well, don't tell people you were sick from being vegan!" But I didn't. A few others started asking me questions. It seems the topic of veganism initially came up because one of the girls just switched to vegetarianism after being vegan for quite some time. A girl a few seats down told me she's been vegetarian for 17 years, but can't go vegan because she won't give up cheese. I understand, but if you really want to be vegan, then know that your taste buds will quickly change and you will very quickly forget about cheese (or you can try healthy nut-based cheeses). At least that was the case for me and other vegans I know and read about. So, two conversations within about 15 minutes about health, the environment, and veganism. I was happily surprised to see so much interest.

After two busy days in the classroom this weekend, I was finally free to enjoy some sunshine and go grab some food at Slice of Life in Sebastopol. I was craving some healthy mexican-inspired food, so I ordered the tofu tacos. These were SO good. The corn tortillas were perfect - thin and not falling apart. The tacos had a small amount of tofu, plenty of organic greens and sprouts, salsa, guacamole, and a little vegan sour cream on top. A few drops of hot sauce made these babies perfect.

Blackberries and mangoes have been on sale recently, so I've been eating plenty of fruit. I've also been making salads or stopping by the organic salad bar at Oliver's or Whole Foods. I still drink my banana cacao smoothie in the mornings, but without the cold-brewed coffee now. I blend together one cup of almond milk, one frozen banana, 1 tbsp peanut or almond butter, 1 tsp cacao powder, 1 tsp maca powder, 2 tsp chia seeds, and a dash of cinnamon. I look forward to my morning smoothie every day!

I stopped by Gaia's Garden this weekend for a huge salad and their popular lentil soup. Sorry, no picture, but it was very pretty and so good!!

I briefly mentioned in my "Veganniversay" post that I stopped off at Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley a few weeks ago before heading to a raw chocolate event. Here is a picture of our food at Cafe Gratitude from that night. I've nearly driven back twice just for dinner, but I stopped myself each time because it's an hour away! Cafe Gratitude is definitely worth checking out. Try the "I am Bueno" (butternut squash tacos with rice, beans, salsa, cashew cheese and salad)!

My good friend, Tony, finally started his own website after many people (including me) have encouraged him to do so. He has quite the following now and has helped numerous people on their health journey. Tony has been posting amazing health tips on his Facebook page for months, but these tips are now easily accessible and easy to reference at Check it out!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Gym Update

Today was day 6 at the gym! I feel like I've been going much longer than that. Everything is becoming quite normal and routine. I have yet to venture off the treadmill and onto the elliptical or any other machine, but I'm trying to take it one step at a time. I typically walk on an incline for about 45 minutes to an hour.

I walked on the treadmill tonight and then went to the POOL! I half battled with myself while getting ready. I changed my top, then changed out of it, then back into the rest of my swimsuit. What do I have to lose? When my health and well-being (and my love of swimming!) are on my mind, caring about what others think goes right out the window. I'm at the gym for me. The pool was great, but a little too salty!! I don't think a pool should be salty... And considering all the pool chemicals, I shouldn't go too often. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the swimming. I forgot my flip flops, so I need to keep a pair in my gym bag. The pool was quiet, but there were plenty of men in and out of the hot tub and sauna next to me.

I've been using an app called "My Fitness Pal" to track my food and exercise. I don't entirely agree with the daily nutrition guidelines, but I can easily track what I'm consuming. I'm so glad I started using the app. I was having a hard time with food for a week or two before signing up for the gym membership. Not only was I over-eating, but I was eating salty and sweet foods. Who knows what was going on, but I'm back on track and "My Fitness Pal" is helping so much!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Gym Membership

I survived my first real gym experience and I'm actually looking forward to going back!! That's incredible for me. I've always hated gyms. I joined the gym with one of my friends. Time was flying by on the treadmill tonight. I hope I will feel as comfortable even if I'm there alone. I just need to stick to it because it's vital for my health! This particular gym has a large pool with plenty of lanes, too. Hopefully I will feel comfortable enough to get in my swimsuit soon because I LOVE to swim. I'm definitely on a new adventure here and I'm excited!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dessert, Anyone?

This weekend was beautiful. I took today off work so I could enjoy a three-day weekend before school starts. I'll be taking two classes, one on weekends and the other on Monday nights. My professor already assigned quite a bit due next weekend, so I've been focusing on school work today. I'd rather finish reading The Minimalists: Essential Essays by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, but maybe I'll get to that later tonight! I think my cat was trying to tell me something too...!

Besides reading, I accomplished quite a few other tasks today. I did some laundry, cleaned up, cooked chickpeas I had soaking overnight, made cold-brewed coffee, and I also made fresh almond milk from raw, sprouted almonds I had soaking overnight. I saved the almond pulp and I was determined to use it this time! Using a food processor, I mixed together some of the almond pulp with a few pitted dates, cacao powder, maca powder, peanut butter, and maple syrup for a sweet treat. I rolled the mix into bite-sized pieces and covered each with shredded coconut. I tried one (yum!) and the rest are chilling in the fridge for later. Okay, back to reading. Happy Monday!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


February 17, 2014 was my 1 year veganniversary! I started writing this blog entry a couple weeks ago, but life got in the way and I couldn't post it on the 17th as I intended to. I want this to always be a positive space for me. With that said, today has been an amazing day. I woke up early for a hair appointment, enjoyed some coffee, had a great conversation with my hairdresser, went to brunch with an awesome friend, browsed a few stores, and now I'm writing this before spending the evening with two amazing people. The weather is perfect (70s or so and sunny!) and I'm feeling great. I know who I am and what I want in this life. I've been hung up on finding the right guy and having kids for so many years, but maybe that's just not in the cards for me. I'm moving forward and loving today for today. Loving and accepting this life as is.

I have to say, adopting a vegan, whole foods, plant-based diet was the best decision I've ever made. My life is focused on health and well being. I've read a crazy number of books and watched numerous documentaries. My Documentaries, Books, & Blogs page just keeps getting bigger! I'm always learning and moving forward. Every day is a fresh start. I've been very honest and accepting of what happens each day. By that I mean if I eat too much, have too much coffee, or don't do enough in my day, I accept it and move forward in a positive direction. I also don't restrict myself because if I do, I rebel. I instead choose health.

I've learned so many amazing things this last year. I thought I understood health before. Boy, was I in the dark!! I always preferred vegetarian food growing up, so the transition to vegan was pretty seamless. Not only did I prefer vegetarian food, but a few key moments really helped me realize that meat and dairy were not for me. I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer about six months before going vegan. That was definitely an eye-opening book. From there, I read Fast Food Nation, watched a ridiculous number of documentaries, and then continued to read anything and everything about health. I was moving toward a far more conscious, compassionate, and healthy lifestyle for some time. Although my reasons have always been an even balance between health and the treatment of animals, my main focus is now health and prevention.

I'll never forget what finally nudged me to eat a whole foods, plant-based diet. First it was a pain in my chest after walking up a very steep hill too fast, then it was consuming far too many Valentine's Day cookies in the office that left me feeling crazy with intense cravings for more sugar. Believe me, my day-to-day diet wasn't like that. I've always been very health-conscious, but the effects of the sugar just confirmed how poorly I treated my body that day.

In my opinion, optimal health does not include meat, fish, dairy, eggs, or GMOs, all of which are so heavily contaminated. Our drinking water and our oceans (even more so since the Fukushima disaster) are heavily contaminated as well. To me, health is organic, pure, and whole. Not only have I improved my diet in the last year, but I also quickly realized I was slathering my body with toxic potions! Just because a product is on the shelf at your local store, does not mean it's safe. I can't believe how many years I used a toxic, flammable (oh yes!) liquid foundation. I overhauled all my products. First, it was about using vegan products that were not tested on animals, then I realized not all vegan products are healthy and toxic-free (just how all vegan food isn't). I now use safe cosmetics, moisturizer, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and nail polish. I also use a shower filter (I explain more here) and hope to install a reverse osmosis water filter in my kitchen soon. I also use much safer cleaning products and I've even made my own shower cleaner using baking soda and vinegar.

My journey to health often led me to Whole Foods. Although Whole Foods used to scare me (the unknown!), it's now one of my favorite stores. I love checking everything out and trying new things (both food and products). I'll just pick up a new vegetable, take it home, and look online to see what to do with it. I think I've tried pretty much everything now! Food should always be fun. I feel lucky to have places like Whole Foods, Oliver's Market, The Sunflower Center, Gaia's Garden, and many others in the area that help support me on my journey. More and more people are learning about the benefits of an organic, plant-based diet and avoiding GMOs, gluten, and processed foods.

Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and a number of vegan blogs have helped me tremendously when putting meals together. Not only are these social media websites helpful for meals, but I am positively reinforced every day with tips, tricks, stories, and quotes.

I've become a better person in the last year. I feel it and see it. I've learned more about myself and my health. I'm a much stronger person in life and in my relationships. This is probably because I feel more comfortable with who I am. I appreciate my calm, stress-free life. I embrace it.

So now what? I want to continue to educate myself, incorporate more raw foods into my diet, avoid gluten, exercise more, continue to find healthier alternatives for the products I use, check out more vegan restaurants in the Bay Area, and attend far more local raw/vegan/holistic events. I checked out Cafe Gratitude and a raw chocolate event in Berkeley last weekend. I loved loved loved both!! I definitely want to check out more restaurants and events in Berkeley. I also want to continue to eliminate any unnecessary clutter in my home. I recently scanned all my HOA (Homeowners Association) documents and saved them to a flash drive. I requested to have all future documents emailed (eco-friendly!) instead of mailed. I get SO many documents because I'm on the Board of Directors. I want to continue to enjoy each day for what it is and just strive to live healthier every day.

Friday, February 7, 2014

2014 Food Matters Skin Care Buying Guide

As promised in my last post, I'll give you a quick update on one of my favorite Annmarie Gianni Skin Care products. I absolutely LOVE the Herbal Facial Oil for normal and combination skin. I wanted to really test out the sample before buying a bottle, but now I've finished the tiny sample and I'm anxiously waiting for more! The oil is hydrating, my makeup looks better than ever, I don't need primer at all, and my skin feels amazing. I love it!

Definitely check out the 2014 Food Matters Skin Care Buying Guide. Guess what rated number one for best au naturel skin care companies? Annmarie Gianni Skin Care. :)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Skin Care Products

In a recent blog post, I mentioned my new love of raw, organic, unrefined coconut oil and my soon-to-be new love of raw, organic, unrefined shea butter (I was waiting to receive it in the mail). Well, I can tell you I absolutely love mixing coconut oil and shea butter for an amazing body moisturizer. Not only am I using a safe product on my skin, but I'm saving so much money compared to the coconut body butter I was using. A little goes a long way and I'm very happy with the results.

Where I've changed my mind is using coconut oil on my face. Unlike on my body, the coconut oil is just too much for my delicate face. I started getting clogged pores and even dry spots! Switching to my previous Alba Botanica moisturizer for just a day cleared up the issues. With that said, I did some more research on coconut oil and alternative pure organic products for my face.

It turns out many people experienced the same as me. Coconut oil was great at first, but it's no good long term. Even my two favorite authors, Kris Carr and Kimberly Snyder, recommend using coconut oil on the body, but not the face. Kris Carr thoroughly recommends Annmarie Gianni Skin Care. She has been using Annmarie Gianni's products on her face for several years and she explains here that although many of the products are made with oils, the products don't cause breakouts or clogged pores. I ordered a sample kit (and received a $10 off coupon for next time) and I started using the products today. I'm hoping for amazing results. I think I'll be very pleased, so stay tuned for a review in the next few weeks.

Remember, the skin is your largest organ. Anything you put on your skin will be absorbed into the body.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

America's Bathroom Dilemma

In his book, Conscious Eating, Gabriel Cousens explains that Americans spend $725 million a year on laxatives alone. Holy crap!!

America's bathroom dilemma comes up in book after book. Who knew? I didn't!! I've never had any issues. A recent conversation with two young women about their health inspired me to write today. These two women both experience irregular bowel movements. I know, you weren't expecting me to write about this! By irregular, I mean they get backed up for many days. One girl explained that when she went to her doctor for something she thought was unrelated, an x-ray revealed a massive build-up!

Funny Confession Ecard: If 2 out of 3 people suffer from constipation, does that mean one person enjoys it?

So what is the solution? Fiber!! The Standard American Diet (SAD) lacks crucial fiber to keep everything moving as it should. Daily elimination is vital for your health. According to Kimberly Snyder, most Americans get about eight to fourteen grams of fiber each day, whereas plant-based diets or diets including plenty of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes can have upwards of forty grams or more.

Are you eating plenty of fiber and still having troubles? Consider food combining. I've discussed this on a few occasions. The stomach secretes different juices and enzymes to allow for proper digestion of certain foods. Some foods need a more alkaline environment, while others need a more acidic environment. A bad food combination can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Your body will use excessive energy (leaving you exhausted!) to deal with the issue. Also, the longer the food is in your body, the more likely fermentation will occur and harmful bacteria and toxins will be reabsorbed into the body.

The basic food combining rules are:

Good Combinations (leading to better absorption of nutrients, regularity, increased energy, less toxins in the body, etc)
  • Starches with vegetables
  • Proteins with vegetables
  • Fats with starches
  • Fruit (except melons) with greens
  • Melons should be consumed on their own

Bad Combinations (leading to a number of digestive issues)
  • Proteins with starches
  • More than one type of protein together
  • Fats with proteins
  • Fruit with proteins
  • Fruit with starches

Additional Tips
  • Due to the water content, eat melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc) on their own and preferably first thing in the morning
  • Allow fruit to digest for 30 minutes before eating anything else
  • Allow 3 hours to digest a starch-based meal (grains, potatoes, bread, etc)
  • Allow 4 hours to digest a protein-based meal
  • Greens digest well with everything 
  • Try to keep meals simple for better digestion (fewer ingredients = easier to digest!)
  • Eat in the order of light to heavy
  • Desserts can interrupt digestion and cause fermentation in the stomach. Try to wait a few hours (yes, a few hours!) before indulging in a dessert.
  • Be sure to thoroughly chew your food
  • Try to incorporate chia or ground flax seeds into your diet each day for extra fiber and omega-3s. I add about 1 to 2 tablespoons of chia or flax seeds to smoothies each morning.
  • Check out my other posts on food combining: Food Combining & Food Combining Charts

So, stop buying laxatives and get your body sorted out! Constipation may be common, but it is NOT normal and it is NOT healthy!! Food can heal, but you need to be eating the right foods and keep it simple.

Monday, January 20, 2014

What I'm Loving Lately

What's in my Kitchen?

I think I have far too much food in my house right now. My parents would be so overwhelmed to see this considering their kitchen is always bare. ;) To give you an idea of what's in my kitchen, I have:

  • 19 bananas - Oh, yeah! I usually don't have this many, but I freeze them to use in smoothies or make pure banana ice cream.
  • 3 mangoes - I love mangoes! I can't believe I didn't like them for the first 27 years of my life!
  • 7 satsuma oranges - Great snack! No seeds.
  • 4 meyer lemons - I drink water (either hot or room temperature) with lemon in the morning. Amazing for cleansing your liver, improving digestion, boosting your immune system, balancing pH levels, and hydrating the body when you wake up.
  • 1 small container of dates - I'm planning to make an easy raw dessert this week.
  • 1 plantain - Great in coconut-based soups
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 pear 
  • Oh, and frozen berries. Great for smoothies!

  • 1 butternut squash - I always have some kind of squash in my kitchen. Easy dinners!
  • 1 bunch collard greens - Mainly to use for collard wraps
  • 5 carrots
  • 1 bunch celery
  • 1/2 a head of broccoli
  • 3 red potatoes
  • 1 bunch bok choy
  • 1 leek
  • 1/2 an onion
  • Arugula and mixed greens for salads
  • 3 bells peppers - Great snacks! 
  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 small jicama
  • 1 container of sunflower sprouts
  • 1/2 cooked spaghetti squash from tonight's dinner

  • Wheatgrass powder - Great for veggie smoothies!
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Raw cacao powder
  • Maca powder
  • Dulse flakes 
  • Tempeh
  • Black beans
  • Cold-brewed organic coffee I made yesterday
  • Peanut butter - I use a little every day in my morning smoothie
  • Almond milk
  • And everything else in my cupboards - seeds, nuts, grains, dried beans, caffeine-free tea...

So, yes, I have far too much food, but it will keep me eating at home and I definitely won't want to eat out. All of my food is organic, so that right there is worth it to stay home! I made spaghetti squash with tomato sauce tonight. I just used tomatoes, onion, and garlic for the sauce. Love it. While dinner was cooking, I threw together a salad for lunch tomorrow with greens, mushrooms, bell pepper, cucumber, sprouts, and black beans. I also cut up a little broccoli and bell pepper for snacking.

My Daily Diet

My diet has been pretty similar day to day. I have water with lemon when I get up, a coffee smoothie for breakfast, sometimes veggies or fruit mid-morning as a snack, either salad or soup for lunch, and squash, sweet potatoes, soup, or salad for dinner. The more I think about it, it seems I'm unintentionally gluten-free. I need to get back on Pinterest for some dinner inspiration to switch it up.

I look forward to my coffee smoothie every day. I really should cut out the caffeine, but I only add a splash to my smoothie. The smoothie has almond milk, cold-brewed coffee, 1 frozen banana (or half a large), 1 tbsp peanut or almond butter, 1 tbsp maca powder, 1/2 a tbsp or so raw cacao powder, and either hemp, chia, or ground flax seeds. This baby is goooood.

Cold-Brewed Coffee

Wondering what I'm talking about when I say cold-brewed coffee? I first learned about cold-brewed coffee when I tried the New Orleans Iced Coffee from Blue Bottle in San Francisco. They add chicory to the New Orleans Iced Coffee and it's SO good. Click here for Blue Bottle's brewing instructions.

A Google search gives me mixed instructions for making cold-brewed coffee. Some say use coarsely ground coffee, some say medium ground is better. I went with medium this time and it turned out great, but it doesn't have to be perfect since I'm just adding a small amount to my smoothie each morning. I combined about 1 3/4 cups of medium ground coffee with 3 1/2 cups of cold water and let it sit overnight. If you want perfect, go with Blue Bottle's instructions and add some chicory! :)

Nut Milk Bags

I bought a nut milk bag recently. Best decision ever. I used it yesterday to make my cold-brewed coffee. The bag is SO much easier than using my annoying tiny strainer. The bag is really easy to clean with water and dish soap. I might buy a second one soon just to keep one for coffee and the other for nut milks.

I bought the Pure Joy Planet nut milk bag since it was recommended to me. Yes, it looks like a diaper. They all do!

I bought raw, organic, sprouted almonds from Whole Foods to make a homemade almond milk. I've wanted to make my own nut milks for a long time now, but didn't quite feel like taking the plunge. They're so easy to make, but I just had to follow my own pace. The carton nut milks in the grocery stores are convenient, but they have additives that are just not worth it to my health. So my plan is to make almond milk this week sometime.

What I'm Loving Lately

1. Kimberly Snyder's books: The Beauty Detox Solution and The Beauty Detox Foods


Not only do I love these books, but Kimberly Snyder always has such positive and inspirational posts on Facebook and Instagram, too. 

Speaking of social networking websites...

2. I'm loving all the positive, inspirational, and informative posts from a number of sources on Facebook and Instagram. Most people are on Facebook to read about their friends and to keep up on gossip. Well, I'm on Facebook and Instagram to get a daily dose of positive information about healthy living, healthy eating, healthy relationships, events, etc. I love it. I have plenty to complain about, but the positive reinforcement and constant reminders of what is good keeps me focused on what is important. Some of the pages I've "liked" on Facebook are:

  • Eco-Vegan Gal
  • FatFreeVegan
  • Food is Our Medicine
  • Fully Raw
  • Kimberly Snyder
  • Kris Carr
  • Life Vest Inside
  • Mind Body Green
  • North Coast Organics
  • Raw Guru
  • The San Francisco Vegetarian Society
  • The Vegan Society
  • Veg News Magazine

3. I'm loving Peggy Kotsopoulos' book, Kitchen Cures. This is one of my favorites! I bought the actual book (not the Kindle version) because it is that amazing. Peggy Kotsopoulos discusses the connections between food and mood, weight, beauty, and health. She also includes a number of recipes.

4. Oh, and I read some of Jessica Alba's book, The Honest Life, in Target last night. I'll be reading this one soon. I loved all her tips for clean and toxic-free living.


4. North Coast Organics!! This company is one of the best. Finding a healthy, effective, amazing deodorant was very difficult. I read blog after blog, review after review and I tried many recommended deodorants that just didn't cut it for me. North Coast Organics was a great find! Their deodorant has just a few pure, organic ingredients. I recently ordered lip balm and two lotion bars (lotion in a bar!) from North Coast Organics when I reordered the deodorant. I love all their products!

North Coast Organics USDA Organic Deodorant Lip Balm Vegan Lotion 

5. Raw, Organic, Unrefined Coconut Oil. I LOVE coconut oil as a moisturizer. This healthy living journey I'm on always leads me to better and better things. I use Artisana raw, organic coconut oil on my face and neck every day. It smells AMAZING. I feel like I'm having a spa moment every day. (UPDATE: Skin Care Products)

6. I will soon be loving raw, organic, unrefined shea butter. I ordered some through Amazon recently. I'll be using the shea butter as a much healthier alternative to the body butter I currently use. Apparently mixing coconut oil and shea butter is also amazing. I might try whipping it together. Should be fun. :) 

7. Flameless Candles. I love the way candles create a calm and relaxing atmosphere. Between the coconut oil and the flameless candles, I feel like I'm living in a spa. :)

8. Lastly, Hiking at Bodega Head. I have the healthy diet and healthy living down, but exercising is a struggle for me. I'm trying! I absolutely love hiking in Bodega Bay. I feel safe there and I love the ocean. I hiked around Bodega Head twice this weekend. I loved it! Here's a photo from last Spring. I can't wait until the flowers start blooming again this year. 



Saturday, January 4, 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

I'm surprised my last post was from October! I've been keeping busy with school, pet-sitting, the holidays, working on my house, and reading plenty of Kindle books (check out my favorites on the Documentaries, Books, & Blogs page!). The new year is here and I plan to be healthier than ever. I feel great. February 17th is right around the corner, which will mark one year as a vegan!

I've had a great Saturday. I enjoyed a tempeh scramble at Redwood Cafe in Cotati this morning (tempeh is less processed than tofu; always choose organic, non-GMO), wandered around a few stores during the day, and saw a movie in Santa Rosa. I made a salad for dinner with mixed greens, avocado, bell pepper, cucumber, sunchokes, freshly cooked chickpeas, sunflower sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, and a little fresh lemon juice. I'm still on a big soup kick. Soup is so easy to throw together. I've also been eating plenty of lentils, beans, squash, veggies, smoothies, and fruit!

We enjoyed butternut squash, brussels sprouts, parsnips, and roasted potatoes for our Christmas dinner. :)