Saturday, September 12, 2015

Making Choices

I've been thinking today about choices... (this is what happens when I have a day off after 2 weeks straight of craziness and somebody dies suddenly). Prepare yourself. 
When I first started my vegan personal chef business 12 years ago I did it part-time while working another job, and then when I left that job three years later to focus on my business full-time, somebody said to me "you're lucky you can do that. It's easier to take a risk when you aren't married." I just thought, REALLY? Cause I had to sell my house and move into an apartment since I couldn't afford to pay the mortgage after I left that job. I had to downsize and overhaul my life. I had to take on ridiculous temp jobs to make ends meet. I had to figure out what the hell I was doing and not rely on anyone but myself. There was no one there to help me. But I did it anyway because the life I had been living wasn't fulfilling. I'm fortunate to have my parents, who supported me in spirit, and friends who were there to listen.
There have been other times in my life when I've made radical changes. I've quit jobs, I've bought and sold several houses and moved about a dozen times, I've had many painful breakups. I was married to my best friend who I loved and thought I'd be with for the rest of my life, but I was always learning, growing, changing, exploring and he was unhappy because I was no longer "the girl he married," so we got divorced (that's the short story). Through it all, one thing has remained constant, and that's the person I am. When something didn't feel right because it crushed my soul or sucked my spirit dry or compromised my zest for life, I knew it was incompatible with my needs. Even if it was just a faint hint of dissatisfaction, I've learned to trust my gut (though I still try to ignore it and hope that nagging feeling goes away). But here's my point: it doesn't go away unless you do something about it.
If you've ever had that experience and think patience, compromise and acceptance will make everything better, let me suggest that while that may be the compassionate approach that will make your situation tolerable in the short-term, ultimately you're sacrificing your personal long-term happiness to remain in a less than ideal situation. Self-help gurus and therapists probably won't tell you this. Most people would agree it's preferable to accept less than what you need than to risk everything and potentially be completely unhappy. But I think they're wrong. Let me assure you, losing everything is not the worst that can happen. It's really more redirecting you to the path that will lead to happiness. If you think you don't have it in you to make radical changes in your life, why don't you try and prove yourself wrong? A friend once said to me "I wish I was strong like you, but I'm too afraid to change." Again, I have to say, REALLY? How do you think you get strong? Each time you face your fears and do EXACTLY what you're trying to avoid ("Oh no, I CAN'T quit my job/leave my husband/stand up to my parents/be seen with those people/speak up at work/ETC.") you get stronger. You'll get through it. No matter how hard it is. 
Someone I know died in a car accident two days ago and he was an amazing person who lived a life with purpose and passion. I think of all the people he inspired, myself included, and I can't help but wonder: imagine if he had never taken a risk to start his own business teaching people how to be healthy by eating raw foods. Imagine if he had just played it safe, living unhealthfully like everyone else. Imagine if he had said, "nope, I could never do that." And believed it. How many people would not have healed themselves by changing their diet if they hadn't learned from him? 
If you've read this far, ask yourself these questions: What would your life be like if you continue to play it safe? What would your life be like if you do what you think is impossible? Which is preferable?
Live bold and brave. Today and every day. Because it could end any moment, and if you wait until you're ready, you may never get the chance.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Recipe: Gluten-free Vegan Blueberry Streusel Muffins

If your freezer is filled with bags of pick-your-own blueberries, this is the recipe you'll want to make when the weather starts getting cooler and you're missing the dog days of summer.  It's the perfect amount of sweetness that makes for a light dessert or yummy breakfast with a cup of hot coffee or chai tea.  The added crunch of toasted almond coconut streusel contrasts with the moist crumble of the cake, giving a very satisfying chew.

I returned to the set of WWLP-TV's "Mass Appeal" in Springfield, MA to demonstrate how to make this delicious recipe. You can see how easy it is to make this recipe by clicking on this link.

With just a 1/2 cup of oil, these muffins are low in fat and their sweetness comes in part from apple sauce mixed into the wet ingredients.  You can probably substitute more applesauce and make them entirely fat-free.

Enjoy some today!

Gluten-free Vegan Blueberry Muffins with Toasted Coconut Almond Streusel
For the Muffins:
1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 cup organic cane sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 Tbl ground flax seed mixed with 5 Tbl water
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbl vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup frozen blueberries
For the Streusel:
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3 Tbl organic cane sugar
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup shredded coconut
pinch of sea salt
1-2 Tbl melted coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine Streusel ingredients in a small bowl then set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, garbanzo flour, tapioca starch, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, sea salt and cinnamon. Add oil, applesauce, flax seed mixture, almond milk, vanilla and almond extracts and whisk together until combined. The batter should be thick but spoonable. Carefully fold in frozen blueberries. Line muffin tins with papers. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop batter into the papers. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of streusel topping over each muffin and lightly press down to ensure topping adheres to batter. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until tops are springy and sides of muffins are lightly browned. Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pans, then transfer to cooling rack to continue cooling completely. Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar before serving.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Vegan Movie Night: Speciesism

I'm so excited to be able to offer some free events through the Vegan Health and Wellness Meetup I recently formed.  In just two months we already have over 160 members, and I can feel the momentum growing after our initial meeting with 17 people, followed by a potluck with 23 people, and a movie screening last night with 36 very enthusiastic attendees.  This fills me with such hope that a vegan community is growing here in Connecticut. 

We had a fantastic event screening the groundbreaking film, "Speciesism:  The Movie" to a packed house which was followed by a lively discussion that continued into the parking lot after we got kicked out of the library as it was closing.  

Sometimes when you go to see a movie, people sneak out during the credits, or when there's a Q&A more people charge for the door. That was not the case last night: everyone stayed. There was such positive energy in the room that I hope everyone else left feeling as inspired as I did. I look forward to continuing the conversation at future events.

The positive comments flooded my Facebook event page and Meetup group when I got home:
"Wonderful event--thought-provoking film & discussion. Nice to meet so many vegans."
"This was my first vegan meetup and I am extremely happy I went! Feels amazing being in a room with like minded people. I look forward to getting to know all of you." 
"Thank you so much for putting it together! It was a great experience and it was great to be around people who feel the same way I do, when usually I'm surrounded by people who do not open their eyes to truth. I look forward to future get togethers as well!" 
"Insightful and useful." 
"Very powerful."
"Great movie, great event!"
And on and on.... The message was clear.  Films like this are so needed for people to come together and create a community of compassion, to feel connected, to be inspired to take action for the animals, and most of all, to spread the vegan message in everything that we do by being an everyday activist. 

Thank you to Mark Devries for this thought-provoking film and for asking some great questions.  I'm glad to have had the opportunity to screen it.  Thank you also to Tofurky for the generous donation of delicious products, coupons and recipe books, and to PETA, Compassion Over Killing and Vegan Outreach for the literature and DVDs.  Everything got gobbled up, and I'm sure word will spread far and wide about this experience! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Recipe: RAW "Zoodles" with Sundried Tomato Marinara and Cashew Parm

This is the perfect recipe for summer when you don't feel like heating up the kitchen but are still craving comfort food.  The flavors of the sauce will make you think you've been slaving away for hours, and yet it comes together in just seconds.

Instead of traditional pasta, the base of this dish is zucchini noodles, or "Zoodles," made with a spiralizer.  It's a fun little gadget that's great for kids or even the kid at heart.  You'll enjoy making these!

See how to make zoodles with sundried tomato marinara!

Raw “Zoodles” with Sundried Tomato Marinara and Cashew Parm 
Zucchini noodles or “zoodles” are made with a spiralizer and they’re a fun way to get kids involved in meal prep. The sauce can be whisked up in mere minutes with a food processor so you can have dinner on the table in no time.

Ingredients:1 zucchini
2 campari tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (about 8)
1/4 cup kalamata olives
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbl chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Directions:Cut ends off zucchini, slice into pieces that will fit easily into spiralizer, and spiralize on thin setting to make “zoodles” Pulse tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and garlic 5-6 times in a food processor or until coarsely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and pulse 1-2 times to combine. Use as topping for spiraled zucchini spaghetti.

Cashew ParmIngredients:1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked, drained & rinsed, then dried)
2-3 Tbl nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:Pulse together all ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped and well blended.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Announcing: Vegan Home School!

I'm excited to announce the launch of my newest endeavor, Vegan Home School.  For anyone new to the vegan lifestyle who wants to learn how to prepare delicious, healthful whole foods, plant-based recipes, this is for you!  


Vegan Home School offers opportunities such as one on one, hands-on private lessons, group classes, cooking parties, and family meal prep all in the comfort of your own home.

Classes are scheduled at your convenience, so you don't have the stress of arranging your calendar to meet somebody else's schedule or traveling to a remote location... and you don't even have to leave your house!  Everything is done for you...

  • Customized lessons based on your skill level
  • Menus developed according to your taste preferences and dietary needs
  • Delicious whole foods, plant-based recipes that you can eat and enjoy
  • Quick, easy, and affordable

Want to learn more?  Contact me to get started right away!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Recipe: Eggless Egg Salad

As the weather heats up and dinner moves outdoors, summer picnics become the solution.  Eggless Egg Salad is perfect for al fresco dining because no cooking is required and the recipe comes together effortlessly in just a few minutes.  I like serving it on endive leaves and cucumber rounds dressed up with edible flowers, but even on top of lettuce everyone will eat it up! 

 See me demonstrate how to make the recipe here.

1/4 cup green onion, finely sliced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 dill pickle, finely diced
1 package of extra firm tofu, drained
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup vegan mayonaise
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
salt to taste

Place green onion, celery, and pickle in a large bowl.  Crumble tofu into small chunks on top of veggies.  Sprinkle with turmeric and sea salt.  Gently stir in vegan mayonaise, Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar until color and texture resemble chopped eggs.  Add more turmeric if it needs to be more yellow, but be careful not to add too much or it will turn a day-glo hue!  Season with salt, as necessary.