Category Archives: Self-Help

What are you grateful for?

Plenty of times we lose sight of the important things in life. Sometimes I like to joke about first world problems, let’s face it, most of us are lucky to have those kinds of problems. You know, that difficult decision about what drink to get or what outfit to wear…

Grateful for my flowers

Grateful for my flowers

Every once in a while I like to focus on what is important to me and what I am grateful for, here’s my list:

I am grateful for the wonderful friends and family I have
I am grateful for the opportunity to do something different
I am grateful for the fur babies in my life
I am grateful to be able to live a life of compassion
I am grateful to live in a time that women can do so much
I am grateful for the rain we get since it will give me a beautiful garden
I am grateful for spell check

What are you grateful for?

Why the fuss over iron?

During my Diet Tech program we saw a big fuss over iron and as a vegan I’ve seen a big fuss over iron, should there really be such a fuss? Well yes, actually there should be.

Image courtesy of Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Iron is a trace mineral that aids in carrying oxygen throughout the blood cells and in metabolic reactions in all cells. There are two types of iron, heme that you get from animal flesh and non-heme that you get from plants. Iron deficiency is a real problem in the U.S. (it also happens to be the most common nutrient deficiency on the planet) and not just for those who abstain from animal products. Approximately more than 1.6 billion people have iron deficiency anemia, may of them preschool age children and expecting moms. Iron absorption is key to preventing an iron deficiency. While the heme iron is better absorbed dietary factors could inhibit some absorption, these include phytates, some vegetable proteins, calcium, and polyphenols.1

So does this mean that you shouldn’t have anything with your iron-rich foods? Nope, cause that’s going to get old really fast. If anything, you should have a variety of iron-rich foods, and make sure to eat them with a vitamin C source. I love to put lemon juice on my dandelion greens. Raw peppers are also a great source of vitamin C, they go very nicely on a spinach salad.

The iron needs for vegetarians are higher than for non-vegetarians. Since people that abstain from meats are not getting as much heme iron, the more absorbable form, they need to up their intake of non-heme iron (plant-based) by about 1.8 times more. The DRI of iron for men is 15mg and 33mg for premenopausal women. Good sources of plant-based iron include: fortified cereals, spinach, sea vegetables, beans, tofu, nuts and seeds.2

Iron deficiency, symptoms include fatigue, lethargy, decreased mental alertness and pale lips/gums, however, the one thing you should NEVER EVER do is self-diagnose or treat iron deficiency on your own. Is there such a thing as iron toxicity – you bet there is and guess what? The symptoms are similar to deficiency.

So if you suspect you may have any kind of deficiency please go to your practitioner of choice and get the appropriate tests.

Sources:
1. Understanding Nutrition by Whitney & Rolfes, 12th edition, 2011.
2. Vegan for Life by Norris & Messina, 2011.

Summer’s coming – let’s get fit!

Summer is almost here and for many the panic of showing arms and legs sets in. I know I get a bit of summer fever hanging out in the garden and trying to get a little Vitamin D on my arms and legs.

Image courtesy of Ambro/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Ambro/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So here’s a bit of perspective, a visually perfect body does not automatically equal fitness and health. I repeat, a visually perfect body does not automatically equal fitness and health. There are many “thin” people who have the same lifestyle diseases as the overweight and obese – they have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

So while you go beat yourself up because you can’t fit into those size 2 jeans, maybe instead you should celebrate the good things that came from your annual physical that shows that you are indeed in good health and feeling well.

And if you do need to get fit, well start slow and build up. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Finding your natural beauty

Everyone wants to have that natural beauty, the glowing skin, the great hair and the unbreakable nails. Who doesn’t want to leave the house without any foundation – maybe just a dash of gloss and a swipe of mascara… photo (3)

That’s what I do – I often get comments on my skin, I like to think that it looks pretty good for a 40-something. The funny thing is that I used to think that I couldn’t take any credit for my skin because I have great genes.

I don’t think that way anymore, yes genes have a lot to do with it but so does lifestyle. I try my darnest to get a full night’s sleep, I drink tons of water, I eat plenty of healthy fats, fruits and vegetables – no factory farmed animals for me! And I even get in exercise when I can. I’ve also started to make my own moisturizing oil that seems to feel pretty good.

That’s all well and good, we know that all helps to make nice skin wonderful but what about the glow from within? You know those people who may not have flawless skin but they have something even more beautiful about them. That’s the natural beauty that I aim for. The beauty that comes from living a life of compassion, giving, helping others and just trying to make this world a better place for those less fortunate.

This post is for all those natural beauties, please keep doing what you do. If you have a natural beauty in your life please let us know about them.

How will you celebrate Earth Day this year?

On April 22nd we will be celebrating Earth Day. This is the day when everyone goes out and cleans up a park or plants a tree and thus proclaims they love the earth… yeah whatevs!

"Eco Concept - Earth In Hands " by jannoon028 | via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Eco Concept – Earth In Hands ” by jannoon028 | via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What about the other 364 days of the year? If you really love the earth then do a little more, lord knows it needs it. Some of the easy things to do include recycling, not idling your car, walking, biking. The not so easy things include reducing your consumption to reduce waste, reusing items before getting rid of them, not replacing items that aren’t broken… you get the idea.

So now that we’ve healed the earth, how are you doing? Spring is the time for renewal, shedding layers (YES IT WILL GET WARM AGAIN) and a time for new growth. It’s also a good time to review what you have been doing with yourself for the last four months and re-evaluating. Do you need to fix your eating habits? Do you need to add more activity into your life? Do you have enough love and friendship in your life – all those little things that add up to make you that wonderful you that you are.

So while you’re helping to clean up litter on Earth Day don’t forget that there are 364 other opportunities to clean up the earth and yourself.

PS if you haven’t seen it I have launched a YouTube easy cooking series. Tell me what you think and what you want to see more of! April’s episode should be coming soon.

It’s National Nutrition Month!

It’s National Nutrition Month! Now what?

"Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".

“Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

I bet a lot of you had no idea that there is a  National Nutrition Month and that it’s in March. I know I didn’t until I started  my dietetics program. Isn’t that a shame. We get an entire month to celebrate beautiful dishes and healthy eating and hardly anyone knows about it.

How am I celebrating NNM? Well I like to think that I celebrate nutrition and healthy living all year round so I will keep doing what I am doing plus a few other things including trying new foods and new recipes. I have a NNM challenge for all of you. Try four new recipes and four new foods. So far I have made vegan tofu cream cheese and vegan chocolate chip cookies, I have also made mung beans which, believe it or not, I have never prepared.

mung beans

You may be wondering what to try, I think a trip to an ethnic grocery store could be a lot of fun. We have tons of Asian grocery stores and there’s always something interesting to try. I’ve been hooked on cassava, also known as yuca. I’m used to seeing it frozen in the bag but lately I have been buying the root and preparing it in the steamer. Something as simple as that will count for the challenge.

I saw and tasted a ton of great products at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, I don’t have any photos because I was too busy eating everything! Yay me! I have two more recipes to try and thanks to vegfest two new foods to taste.  Yikes and we only have a few weeks left, I have to think of what else I want to make and try, so do you! I would love to hear what you tried and made for my  NNM challenge. Please feel free to share in the comments section. And yes, the recipe and the new food can be part of the same dish.

PS I’ve launched my cooking show on YouTube here’s the latest episode!

Love yourself & Happy Veganniversary to me!

February always brings out the lovey dovey in me. Even though we have a good foot of snow in the front yard and another coming over the weekend I can’t help to feel the love.

San Francisco 3.2008 007

This marks the 4-year anniversary of my going vegan, the 4-year birthday of this blog and the 3-year anniversary of when we adopted our beloved Luke. So with all of the crap out there I have something good to hold on to.

Surrounding yourself with great things and appreciating what you have I think begins the journey to loving yourself. We all focus that Valentine’s Day love on so many others that some of you forget to focus on the one that needs the most love –  YOU!

So go ahead and love yourself a little harder this month, and find those things that make you happy and keep you going because you will project those good vibes on to others and I promise you that the lovefests will ensue.

PS: Stay tuned for monthly recipes shows on my YouTube channel. I am excited to launch the January (yes a little late) Episode this weekend!

New Year, New You, NO! BETTER YOU!!

The new year means getting bombarded with New Year, New You messages. I know because I have sent them myself. It also signals a time when people feel free to let you know that you just can’t cut it and a “New You” armed with resolutions looks so much better…

I say the heck with all those people who want to change you. I don’t want to change you, I want you to get BETTER!! A better you wants to make positive changes and improve on what you have already accomplished. A better you has goals, SMART* goals at that, and knows that the little things complete the big picture.

I don’t want to hear about your resolutions, I want to hear about your GOALS. I’ll share some of mine to get you thinking. Keep in mind that goals are very personal and really only matter to you. So go ahead and think about what you want to improve upon for 2014.

GOALS:

  • Fitness: Continue with fitness 45 min at least 3 times a week and add 10 min of yoga for flexibility; find a regular workout time by Feb.
  • Health: In conjunction with fitness, monitor food intake to reasonable levels (I can eat like no body’s business!) Keep a food journal and track intake 5 days a week.
  • Business: Work consistently and acquire additional clients (virtual assisting & wellness coaching) before March. Becoming more visible, somehow…
  • Family: Spend as much quality time as possible with my fur babies and stay in touch with the kids.
  • Social: Try to keep the social connections even if it means a quick text to say hey how ya doin? (This one is tough because of school and work).
  • Creativity: Read books for pleasure – read at least 2 books per month. Writing a book will come next year 🙂

Your turn! Sometimes it helps putting things “out there”, makes you more accountable

*SMART: Sustainable, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant, Timely

A Nice Fall Recipe

With fall here in full force, maybe a little too full force, I realize I haven’t given you guys a recipe in a while and thought that a nice recipe would make the season a little brighter.

20131118-232213.jpg

Autumn Japanese Maple by porbital

I love squashes, now I have to admit that I have not had the opportunity to try a lot of the vast variety out there, the old standbys have worked well for me.

So using an old standby, I wanted to make something easy with only a few ingredients, and came up with this amazing dish.

White Bean and Escarole with Spaghetti Squash and Roasted Garlic

Ingredients
1 Spaghetti Squash
1 Bulb of Garlic
1 Head of Escarole
4 Cups Cannellini Beans
Olive Oil as Needed
Salt To Taste
Fresh Ground Pepper To Taste

Preheat oven to 425. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Cut the edge off the garlic bulb – the one that doesn’t have root. Drizzle oil all over the squash and the garlic (keep bulb intact with peel). Bake for 30 minutes or until soft.

In a large saucepan sauté escarole, use the whole head since it will cook down a lot. Squeeze the garlic out of peels and add to the escarole. Add beans and more oil, white wine or homemade vegetable broth to sauce it up. In a separate dish take the squash and run a fork through it to get the spaghetti like strands.

Serve the beans over the squash and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Serves 4 to 6

Fitness

Some of you may have noticed that I have started posting my fitness regimen on my social media. I usually get like this a few weeks before a birthday – you know, gotta look good… But fitness has so many more benefits than just looking good.

"Dumbbell With Water And Towel" by Naypong

“Dumbbell With Water And Towel” by Naypong

According to the Mayo Clinic there are at least 7 benefits to being physically active and they include:

Weight control
Improving health to fight disease
Improving mood
Boosting energy
Better sleep
Better sex life
Fun

Exercise also helps raise HDL, the good cholesterol and it can help strengthen your body. I’ve noticed my knees and back don’t hurt as much as they used to.

I really enjoy doing interval workouts – I use the Interval Timer free app to help me keep time (check out my review of it here). The fact that I can control the workout keeps it fresh for me since I am always switching up the exercises. Another tip: great music can make or break a good workout – make sure you have tunes that will get your butt moving.

Here’s the workout I am doing today:

photo (2)

Everyone needs me time, make your workout or physical activity time non-negotiable. What do you do to keep yourself fit?