• health
  • All Natural Cold Remedies To Keep You Healthy This Cold Season

    Are you sick right now? Or surrounded by other people who are? In this post I’m sharing exactly what I do to protect myself from cold germs. You may not know this about me but I work in a pediatric hospital so I am exposed to cold and flu germs on the regular. Not to mention all the exposure we get in our lives outside of work too. So I have a lot of experience knowing I’ve been exposed to cold and flu causing germs, and needing to get my body and immune system ready to fight them. Here’s what I take and what I avoid at the first sign of a cold.

    • Elderberry
      • My mom introduced this herbal supplement to our family years ago and we swear by it. We take it as soon as we feel the slightest cold symptoms, like a tinge of a sore throat, increased sneezing or a stuffy nose and watery eyes. It’s been a game changer for us all. According to Gaia, the company that makes the elderberry I buy, elderberry is an herbal supplement that has been used by traditional cultures to support immune function for centuries. The Gaia website also explains that in Native American herbalism “elderberry has been used by many tribes as a tonic medicine and food to promote health and vitality.” I use this elderberry extract and add it to water, but you can also get it in syrup and pill form. I get mine at my local Whole Foods.
    • Kimchi
      • Kimchi is a Korean superfood made from fermented cabbage and other vegetables. One Green Planet describes kimchi as a “supercharged form of sauerkraut.” It is a hot food (as in spice, not temperature) and it’s well-known as being beneficial for our gut health. I eat it even when I’m not sick because I like how it tastes. But in addition to promoting gut health, I always felt that when I ate kimchi at the first sign of a cold it would heat those germs right out of me. At first I didn’t do any research to back that up. All I had were some memories from college anthropology classes about hot and cold foods being used as medicine in traditional cultures, as well as the fact that I just physically felt that it diminished my cold symptoms. And guess what, as it turns out, I wasn’t making it up! The good bacteria that we ingest when eating fermented foods like kimchi can help counteract inflammation and the growth of disease-causing bacteria. AKA, when we put good bacteria in our bodies it helps us to fight off the bad bacteria, which makes total sense. You can read more about the benefits of kimchi here.
    • Drink so much water
      • This one is simple but it really helps. Drink a ton of water to help flush those germs right out of your system! The more you drink, the more germs you can help eliminate through urination. I try to drink anywhere from 8 to 10 large glasses of water a day when I’m feeling sick.
    • Fresh squeezed orange juice
      • We all know orange juice is said to be helpful when you have a cold because it’s high in vitamin C, which helps support immune health. When stocking up on your OJ try to get fresh squeezed so that it’s bursting with all those freshly squeezed nutrients and make sure that it doesn’t contain any added sugar. (I’ll explain why you don’t want added sugar later in this post.) If you have access to other fresh citrus juices that are high in vitamin C, those will work too. I often get a drink at my local juice shop that is a combination of orange juice, grapefruit juice and lemon juice all together. Plus, the liquid in OJ will help flush out those germs too, just like the water.
    • Green juice
      • Green juice is full of nutrients. Whether you actually eat your greens or get them from a juice, the nutrients in greens will help bolster your immune system even more.

    And last but not least…

    • Avoid all dairy and processed sugar
      • Dairy
        • I already eat a totally dairy-free diet, but here’s why you’ll want to avoid it too! As a kid I always remember my mom saying we shouldn’t drink milk when we were sick because it would make us more congested. And she was right. Dairy makes people congested. That was one of the big differences I noticed when I cut dairy out of my diet, I didn’t even know I could breathe clearer than I had my whole life. Dairy was a part of my everyday diet, so the way I would breathe in response to it was all I knew. And within weeks of cutting dairy out of my diet I was like, “WHAT?! I can breathe this clearly?! Who would’ve known!” So I’m guessing if you’re sick and reading this you’re already congested, so there’s definitely no reason to add to that discomfort by consuming dairy!
      • Processed sugar
        • You know when someone says something and it just sticks with you? I used to see a homeopath who once told me, “Sugar is a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria.” And I never forgot it. Now that’s not to say that the natural occurring sugar in fruit is bad, because it isn’t. It’s processed sugar that’s added to food that becomes a breeding ground for whatever germs we’ve got in us. Sugar lowers our body’s ability to fight off disease while at the same time fueling germs to grow and multiply. So I avoid processed sugar at all costs when I’m feeling sick, and you’ll probably feel a lot better if you do too! 🙂

    I hope you guys found this useful and that it will help keep you healthy this cold season. Do you have any other cold or flu home remedies? If so leave them in the comments section below, I want to hear what they are!



    P.S. About to go have some kimchi and rice for dinner. Not because I’m feeling sick, but because it’s healthy and delicious!

    P.P.S. Not all kimchi is vegan, so make sure to check the labels and go for the vegan ones.

  • food
  • 4 Easy Ways to Make Your Diet a Little Less Meat & Dairy-Based and a Little More Plant-Based

    more plants

    Interested in plant-based eating? Not ready to jump into it head first? Well that’s ok because today I’m sharing four easy ways you can make your diet a little less meat and dairy based, and a little more plant-based.

    After doing tons of research, completing my certificate program in plant-based nutrition and meeting many people whose health has been transformed by adopting a plant-based diet, I’m a firm believer that animal products wreak havoc on our health. You can learn about how they do this by reading any of these books on health and nutrition: My Beef With Meat by Rip Esselstyn,  Whole by Dr. T. Colin Campbell or the newest New York Times Bestseller How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger.

    Once you learn more about plant-based eating you’ll find that not only are animal products detrimental to our health in general, but part of the problem is that they are so overly abundant in our diets. We are so used to eating these foods that often we don’t even realize we’re eating something that came from an animal (versus something that comes from the earth). I can’t tell you how many times people have told me, “I really don’t eat that much dairy. I swear.” And then I say, “Ok…what did you have for breakfast?” To which they reply, “Coffee with milk (oh shit!) and yogurt (oh shit!)…”

    Meat and dairy heavy diets have become part of our culture. But it doesn’t have to be that way. So, even if you’re not feeling ready to totally change your diet today, we can definitely start with some small steps to get you on a path to a healthier you. Here are four simple things you can do right now to make your life a little more plant-based, which will benefit your health, animals and the planet.

    1. Use Earth Balance plant-based butter instead of regular butter.

    Earth Balance butter is made from expeller pressed oils instead of a cow’s bodily secretions (ew) and contains 0g trans fat. It also tastes exactly like the regular butter we’re all accustomed to, and it cooks and bakes just like it too. There’s really no reason to ever eat dairy butter again. (Wondering why butter and other dairy products are harmful to our health? Read this article, Health Concerns About Dairy Productsby the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.) And yes – if you’re sticking to a strict plant-based diet you might choose not to eat any oils…but remember these are baby steps we’re taking today for those of you not ready to change things up entirely. And that’s ok!

    2. Use non-dairy milk in your cereal.

    How many times have we heard that we must drink milk to get the calcium we need for healthy bones? Check out this excerpt from Getting Clarity About Calcium: “[Calcium] is found in the soil, where it is absorbed into the roots of plants. Animals get their calcium by consuming these calcium-rich plants. So even though we are all conditioned to believe that calcium comes from milk and dairy products, the real source of calcium richness is the earth.” You have so many options to choose from. Almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, hazelnut milk, cashew milk, soy milk, hemp milk, oat milk, etc. You can buy it at the store or you can make it yourself. Find the one you like and switch to that. Plus, the non-dairy milks are nutritional as well. For example, almond milk is a good source of calcium, vitamin E and vitamin A.

    3. Use non-dairy milk or cream in your coffee.

    Same as above. Starbucks offers both coconut milk and soy milk. And most small coffee shops offer milk alternatives as well. Think of it this way – if you’re drinking coffee with milk or cream everyday, over time that becomes a lot of dairy you are consistently putting into your body. That constant influx of dairy leads to a whole slew of health problems ranging from acne to diabetes. (Read more on this topic in Dr. Neil Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes or watch his Ted Talk Tackling Diabetes With a Bold New Dietary Approach.) You might think it’s only a little you’re consuming but it adds up to be a lot. Do yourself a favor and try a non-dairy milk in your coffee tomorrow.

    4. Find ONE vegan recipe on Pinterest to try each week.

    Pinterest will give you a million delicious recipes to choose from right at your fingertips. Go to Pinterest. Type in “vegan” and all the top vegan recipes will show up right there for you. These are going to be the ones that have been pinned over and over again because people love them, so you know they’re good. Peruse a little. Find the one that looks best to you and plan which day you’re going to make it. You can also check out the recipes I’ve pinned to my Pinterest here.

    And there you have it! Four very easy ways to make your diet a little less meat and dairy heavy, and a little more plant-based. Don’t have time right now to read a book about why animal foods are detrimental to your health and plant-based foods are beneficial to it? Check out the documentary Forks Over Knives instead.



  • food
  • Forks Fresh Meals

    Forks Fresh MealsForks Over Knives is an incredibly eye-opening documentary about health and nutrition that asks, “Why, despite the most advanced medical technology in the world, are we sicker than ever?” Many credit the documentary with changing their lives and their health for the better. I originally read a book (My Beef With Meat) that led me to change my diet, and once I watched Forks Over Knives it only further solidified my belief that a plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat. So, you can imagine my excitement when I found out that the people behind Forks Over Knives now offer a ready-to-eat, chef-prepared meal service called Forks Fresh Meals. All the food is plant-based, low fat, seasonal and made of fresh, whole ingredients. And because Forks Over Knives promotes not just a plant-based diet, but a whole food (aka not processed), plant-based diet, you won’t find any harmful preservatives here, only all natural good-for-you foods.

    This meal service can make your transition to a plant-based diet so much easier. When you first switch to a plant-based diet, because most of us are so used to having meat as the main attraction in our meals, there is an adjustment period where you are still learning exactly what to eat. If you use Forks Fresh Meals it will really help you get the hang of what a well rounded, plant-based meal looks like. It’s also great if you’re already eating a plant-based diet and simply don’t have time to cook.

    Forks Fresh MealsThe meals are delivered cold and packaged in individual servings. You can see how mine were delivered above. You can also customize your meals to accommodate any preferences or allergies. I got to try Forks Fresh Meals out for lunch and dinner this past week. My favorite dish was the sweet potato lasagna that’s made with swiss chard, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, spinach, onions and cashew cheese. It was so delicious. Here are some examples of meals you can order from Forks Fresh Meals this upcoming week.

    Fresh Forks MealsBreakfast:

    • Apple cinnamon museli
    • Banana pancakes
    • Potato pancakes
    • Slow-baked breakfast burrito casserole
    • Breakfast quinoa with apple compote

    Forks Fresh Meals (lunch)Lunch:

    • South of the border veggie fajitas
    • Curried millet cakes with red pepper coriander sauce
    • Creamy spinach soup and black-eyed pea salad
    • Roasted squash and cauliflower bechamel
    • Oven-baked chickpea ratatouille

    Forks Fresh Meals (Dinner)Dinner:

    • Mushroom stroganoff
    • Navy bean soup with quinoa arugula salad
    • Fresh mushroom and green pea risotto
    • Smoky chili with sweet potatoes and kale
    • Spanish black beans and rice with winter tomato beet soup

    You can learn more about Forks Fresh Meals, here. And if you haven’t seen Forks Over Knives yet be sure to check it out!



    *The meal pictures in this post are from Forks Fresh Meals*

  • health
  • Answers from the Experts

    Answers from the expertsThere’s an abundance of information out there when it comes to healthy eating. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the information we need in order to take the first step to transition to a healthier lifestyle. I’m constantly coming across articles that answer the very questions I get asked on a regular basis about eating a plant-based diet. So, today I want to share with you seven thought-provoking articles I’ve read recently. The articles cover a wide range of topics pertaining to plant-based nutrition and I thought you might find them insightful, helpful and/or informative. And these are just seven of many, many articles and resources out there.

    If you ever find yourself wanting more in-depth answers to your questions about plant-based eating, I’ve got a whole list of Must Read Books & Must See Documentaries that were all very influential in my choice to adopt a plant-based diet. But in the meantime, here are seven eye-opening articles on plant-based nutrition, coming to you right from the experts themselves!

    1. Oversaturation of Fat in the Media
    2. Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?
    3. Raising Plant-Based Children
    4. 10 Things I Wish All Americans Knew About the Meat and Dairy Industries
    5. The Only Three Food Groups You Need to Remember
    6. Meat is a Complex Health Issue but a Simple Climate One: The World Needs to Eat Less of It
    7. Does a Vegan Diet Conflict with Human Nature?