Tag Archives for " Tony Horton "

August 24, 2011

My Hormone Update – Part II

I know that many of you read my story about my hormonal health in my prior blog and I promised an update. If you didn’t read it, click here to get the first part of the “saga” -hehe.

Well to give you the update, I finally got all my remaining blood tests back and boy was it torture waiting. I started on some bio-identicals about 2 weeks ago after my first visit to see Prudence Hall, and I wasn’t feeling any better. Trust me, I know that this stuff takes time, and I’m willing to give it time. I had a follow up call scheduled with Cynthia, the amazing practitioner at the center who was to read me the results of my bloodwork and to check in with me to see how I was doing. I quickly told her I wasn’t feeling any different and she giggled, as I knew she would, and said, “I know honey, these things take time.” Isn’t that what I just said? Anyway, she thoroughly went over my test results with me and I was presented with the FACTS (finally) of what is happening in my body, hormonally, which ultimately leads to all balance in the body.

Now, you all know I eat healthy, I exercise, I don’t put any white sugar, animal products or other “bad” stuff down my hatch, yet I was feeling so unhealthy, tired and run down, and quite honestly, like a fraud. Well, I am happy to report that now I finally have ANSWERS to all of these symptoms and am on the road to balance and “recovery”…

Here is what my progress report showed when I had all my hormones tested:

LOW, LOW, LOW!!!

  • Testosterone – super low – supposed to be between 50-100 – Me: 17 (WHAT?). Yes, women have testosterone in their bodies and if it’s not properly balanced we can’t build muscle, or produce energy, or even have a healthy libido. Basically we have no energy TO DO ANYTHING! And we age quickly!
  • Estradiol or Estrogen – Ideal: 150-250 – Me: 102 – YIKES – this is responsible for healthy female ‘time’ – sorry to any dudes reading this..but it’s a fact of life!
  • DHEA – Adrenal Hormone – again responsible for energy, growth, skin elasticity, healthy aging, etc. Ideal: Above 200 – Me: 144.4
  • Pregnenelone – Adrenal Hormone – Ideal: 100-150 – Me: 81 (YIKES)
  • Cortisol – responsible for blood sugar, energy, etc – Ideal: 15 – Me: 9.3 (my cortisol being so off is why I cannot sleep at night. My body is releasing cortisol in the middle of the night, when it’s not supposed to, only to protect me, and it’s wreaking havoc on my sleep cycle – UGH!)
  • HGH – we all know what this is, and it’s responsible for energy, healthy aging, beauty and fantastical-ness (is that a word?) oh, that reminds me, I just took my HGH spray (all natural/homeopathic) – Ideal: above 200 – Me: 149
  • Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin – responsible for our sunniness, literally our happy from the inside out – ideal: 65 – me: 28.8 WHAT??? I Live IN LA for crying out loud. Apparently almost every American is severely low in this Sunshine Vitamin, so make sure you take a supplement unless you are George Hamilton!

So there you have it, not only am I low in everything, as you can see, but my adrenals are completely out of whack, which happens when we are under a lot stress, but come on…really?

I cannot tell you how happy I am to have a solution to help heal what has been going on in my body. I have only been on my natural hormones to help rebuild for about 6 days and already I feel a major difference. Monday night I had so much energy I thought I was going to explode..in a good way. I recently started another round of P90X and have been working out pretty hardcore and I can’t tell you how good it feels to have the energy to do this. I was jumping through the roof during Plyo at Tony’s house and my dear friend Phil told me how strong I am looking these days..I am only on week 3! Thanks Phil!

I’ve also received a few comments about how much younger I look, and only in 6 days (and I haven’t even been wearing any makeup.) Whoa there is something to this. I will continue with my regimine and pray that each day will bring more and more balance to my life. Yes, I have to swallow some pills and dab on some creams, but I know that they are doing my life and my body a major service. I am so happy to have found my energy again, to be sleeping a little bit better than I was, and to feel more balanced emotionally. Oh yea, that’s something else that has changed; my emotional state is a lot less dramatic…when stuff comes up, I can move through it quicker withough diving into the poor me doldrums..yes, I have a tendency to go there, but who knew that it was my hormones, or lack thereof, taking me there.

So, that’s my update. I hope I didn’t bore you and I hope that maybe this will help someone out there that is having issues with tiredness, lack of energy, low libido, sallow skin, bad sleep! Please do yourself a favor and see an endocrine specialist that knows what they are doing. They will tell you all the appropriate bloodwork you need done. A regular blood test read by a doctor will not tell you anything! Hall Health & Longevity Center is my place here in LA, but there are tons of places out there, just do your research! I am so grateful that I took these positive steps for my health and vitality. There is no price that we can put on our health, ever, so it’s extremely important that we take excellent care of our bodies while we are here on this earth, and that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while doing it!

Just look at some of the delicious recipes on my site that you can make and eat that taste good and won’t leave you feeling deprived! Until next time…

 

August 6, 2011

Hormones and Health..My Personal Story!

Ok, I’m going to get a little personal here..and I think that’s ok. I am human afterall, and I want to share what has been going on with me in case it’s something that resonates…and it might just help you!

I am a healthy chef, a vegan chef, the food guru, a wellness coach and nutritionist. I lead people, everyday to healthier lives through plant-based eating and teach them how to make positive changes in their life day-by-day for long term results. I cook for Fitness Guru, Tony Horton and keep him healthy day in and day out. I hear so many great results from my clients about how amazing they feel, how much energy they have, how much weight they’ve lost, how well they are sleeping and so much more.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this and I have to say that I feel like a bit of a fraud because I haven’t been feeling any of these things for about a year now. What?? I know you are probably shocked, as I live such a clean life, but here is how I really feel: always tired, lacking motivation, foggy brain, terrible PMS (sorry guys if you’re reading this), can’t sleep through the night, can’t even nap, no energy, dry skin,…and the list goes on..

Most recently my hair started falling out more than normal. At first I thought it was stress, as this happened to me once before when I was in my 20’s running a restaurant/nightclub on the Jersey Shore and working 80hours a week (will never do that again). I have been stressed running a business on my own, yes, but not that stressed. I felt a bit concerned. I know many of you may be thinking right now that it’s my darn vegetarian diet that’s doing it..not enough protein…not enough iron, not enough….WRONG!!!

Since I was feeling like a dead piece of meat on a plate (sorry kids), I decided to get my yearly bloodwork done to see if there was anything happening out of the ordinary. As usual, my cholesterol, protein, iron, etc all tested fine (thank you plant-based living) and in stellar range. What didn’t look so good, and has consistently not looked good over the last 4 years, which my doctors from past failed to point out to me, is that I have had a consistent low white blood cell count every time my bloodwork came back. No one said a peep, nothing, nada. It was not until my Chiropractor, yes, my chiropractor read my bloodwork and told me what this meant. Basically, my body has been working hard to fight some low-grade infection that has been lingering for years. What??? Me?? The queen of health!!! I was flabbergasted! Yes, I got sick a ton as a kid, but since I became first vegetarian and then vegan, I have had a clean bill of health. Very rarely ever catch a cold, or get sick at all. I knew this was not a food or lifestyle issue..I knew there was more.

My chiropractor put me on some Immune boosting herbal supplements, and told me that I should think about seeing an Endocrinologist that specializes in hormones and hormone balancing. Funny enough, because this thought did cross my mind in the last few years, and since I am not a spring chicken anymore (yes, it’s all relative), I took his advice. Women creeping in or already in their early forties, before menopause, go through a lot of change in their bodies and most of us don’t understand it because there are not many doctors out there that are schooled in knowing these things…or that even know about nutrition, or low white blood cell count!! SAD!! My thyroid even tested OK on my blood test…all came back looking hunky dory (I think I just aged myself with that saying) as my chiropractor thought that could be the problem. enough to make any doctor say, “You’re fine, you’re just stressed out…get some rest.”

I decided to make an appointment with the well-known Dr. Prudence Hall, seen on Oprah and Dr. Oz and she just so happens to be located here in Venice, SCORE!! One of the many reasons why I love LA!! A few my friends had gone to see her and their lives have been changed for the better in a few short months. I resisted because I really didn’t want to accept that I was getting old enough to have hormonal imbalances! YIKES! And I thought I would never get in to see her, but lo and behold I got the appointment one day after I made the call..hallelujah! Honestly, enough is enough…I am TIRED of feeling like C-R-A-P and I know it wasn’t anything I was missing in my diet or because of a bad diet. I live a clean life..I don’t even drink Alcohol for crying out loud..how could I feel this terrible??

I walked into the Hall Health & Longevity Center (I think the name says it all) and it was welcoming, inviting, serene and zen. I felt like I walked into a retreat center or a spa. Now this is what a doctor’s office should feel like! I was greeted with hot tea and a packet of paperwork the thickness of my book contract! I cozied into the couch where I was surrounded by Buddha’s watching over me, so I knew that I must be honest about my age!

To make a long story short and to get to what really matters, through a variety of more in-depth testing, made specifically to determine hormone health, what resulted was that I have hypo-thyroid, severe low estrogen (that’s where the PMS plays in) and low iodine, which is so important for the delicate balancing of all these feminine wonders. WOW! Who knew?? I knew something was off…but it was more than just a little something. There are a few more tests I am waiting on but I finally feel like I am on the right track. Prudence put me on all-natural, bio-identical hormones, which basically match the hormones in my body exactly, and my tired body just doesn’t want to produce them anymore..hey shit happens and thank god there’s treatment!

Basically my body has been attacking itself over the course of a few years, because I have not had enough hormones available to do their job, thus the low white blood cell count. It didn’t start to really show up until this last year, so it can start to happen little by little and most of us will discount it as stress or overworked. I must tell you how relieved I am to learn this, because it’s so utterly disheartening to take such great care of myself inside and out and still feel like doo-doo!

Well, let me tell you ladies..and gents too, because you can suffer from hormone imbalance as well. I highly recommend if you are feeling any of these symptoms that I have discussed above, then it might be time to check out your hormones from a holistic professional who will give you an all natural solution, not some prescription made from horse pee! Our bodies are our temple for the short time we are here on earth and when they are not running smoothly and perfectly, life can really suck! I teach people how to take care of their bodies and how to put good food into them so they can live a more happy and vital life. Well, I have to tell you that I am so happy I found a solution and took action for my health. I committed to ME! My spin teacher often says in class as we are pedaling at high speed and ready to call it quits, “Commit to YOU!”..man, he’s brilliant! And that’s exactly what I did.

I know I only scratched the surface of a much bigger subject which also include menopause, perimenopause and pre-menopause, so I highly recommend that you do research and also check out Dr. Hall and Dr. Brownstein’s sites (including Dr. Hall’s latest online kratom store selling natural herbal remedies) books and CD’s to learn more about hormonal health.

I am beyond ecstatic to know that I will be getting my energy, vitality and happy place back!! Lastly, make sure you check out this video of Dr. Hall on Dr. Oz talking about bio-identical hormones. This could save your life!

Karma Chow’s Recipes in Tony Horton’s book, “Bring It”! Yumalicious!

Kids, I know that most of you are aware that I wrote the recipes in P90X creator, Tony Horton’s book, Bring It, but not all of you own the book, so I wanted to share some of these delectable delights with you here on Karma Chow! Of course, this shouldn’t deter you from buying this awesome book, as Tony put together a revolutionary plan for all levels of exercisers, even non-exercisers that are thinking of starting. It even includes a simplified version of my 30-day Vital Life Cleanse, which has helped hundreds of people change their eating habits into a healthy lifestyle and build a new awareness around What they are eating, When they are eating and Why they are eating!

One of my favorite recipes in the book is the Brussels Sprout Saladwith Cranberries and Almonds. Most people don’t like Brussels sprouts but this recipe has converted a lot of those ‘haters’ into lovers of these nutrient packed, cruciferous orbs. This recipe was inspired by a salad that I love and eat often at LaGrande Orange in Santa Monica, which is now known as M Street Kitchen. I’ve gotten pretty close to replicating it, without the cheese of course! I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. Brussels Sprouts, end cut off and thinly sliced or shredded
  • 1/2 c. almonds, smoked or roasted
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries, preferably apple-juice sweetened
  • Lemon Vinaigrette (see below)
  • Sea Salt & Freshly Cracked Pepper

Blanch Brussels sprouts in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Once cool, place in a large bowl and add almonds and cranberries. Toss with vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. This salad will be better the next day when the flavors marry in the refrigerator over night! Great to bring to a party or bbq and share with your friends!

 

LEMON VINAIGRETTE

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. brown rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs agave nectar
  • 1 shallot, minced finely

Puree all ingredients together in a blender or shake in a shaker bottle. Save remaining dressing to use for other salads.

July 12, 2011

The Food Disconnect

Do you often find yourself eating on the run? Shoving a protein bar down your throat because you dont’ have time to get a proper meal? Drinking protein shakes instead of eating a REAL MEAL? Standing over the kitchen sink while you chew on a piece of toast for dinner? Buying processed and packaged foods for convenience?? GUILTY!!!

This is what I refer to as the FOOD DISCONNECT!! The majority of us Americans, especially those of us that live in the City of Angels, are oh-so-busy, and we don’t have time to sit and eat a proper meal or we are always eating on the go. Do you realize what this can do to your body??

First of all, FOOD, and I mean HEALTHY, WHOLE FOOD not the processed packaged junk, keeps us alive, along with water, air and sleep. Food is the fuel that makes our body go. And we don’t respect it. We plow through a meal without even coming up for air, we don’t take the time to really taste or savor our food, we treat it as an object rather than something that nourishes us and keeps us ALIVE! We count calories until we are blue in the face, deprive our bodies of real nutrients by buying “light” or “fat Free” or “natural” packaged foods. We use it as a tool to keep us fit, thin, skinny, deprived, you name it. Eating has become such a burden to so many of us, yet we don’t understand why we aren’t healthy or our digestion sucks when we eat what we think is “healthy”, or drink high nutrient shakes in place of meals. We can’t drop weight, and we feel like poo-poo all the time. We eat out 5 nights a week and make food part of a social event, we overstuff ourselves on holidays, and us Americans create every reason in the world to eat – Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Christmas, Hanukkah, Memorial Day..you name it. Did you ever notice that every holiday is centered around eating and drinking? And it’s usually not of the healthy nature

Our bodies are begging us to slow down by giving us indigestion, acid reflux, bloating/gas or constipation/diarrhea. This is the result of eating on the go, eating too fast, eating too much, combining lots of different foods together, eating processed, greasy foods and drinking liquid with our meals.

We need to connect to our food. Taste it, savor it, chew it slowly. Cut it, cook it, steam it and saute it. Find out where it comes from and how its made if not in our very own kitchens! Food is Life, Food is Vitality, Food is Health. So why do so many of us care so little about it or treat it like it’s last on our list of priorities? Why do we only care about how something will taste in the heat of the moment instead of the longterm effects it will have on us? Why don’t we see it and appreciate it for what it really is?

Connecting to your food will change your life. Listening to your body and what it wants will change your life. Your digestion will work better, you will find your natural body weight and your metabolism will normalize! Are you eating out of boredom, habit, cravings or emotions? These are the times when we are truly disconnected from our food.

When I work with my cleansers, I ask them to be very aware of What they are eating, When they are eating and Why they are eating over the course of the 30 days. This brings them in touch with their food and their habits. The majority of them realize that they have been mindlessly eating most of their life and never really connected to or tasted their food. I challenge them to use cooking as a way to really connect and see their food as the life it provides. To slow down, chew, breathe, cut out all liquids when eating and really get the full benefit of how healthy, whole food can provide us with all the nutrients and fuel we need.  To invite their families to join in and rekindle the family dinners when members would gather in the kitchen and cook meals together and then sit down as a unit and enjoy the meal…slowly. I am not implying that we don’t do that now, I know that we do, but what I am hoping to inspire in you is the opportunity to look at where you can make better choices for yourself and reconnect to the one really important thing that gives you life – YOUR FOOD!

So I am offering up a challenge, and that is to take notice of every time you put something in your mouth and why you are putting it in your mouth. Is it because you are truly hungry or just eating out of habit, or cause your traininer or workout program tells you to? Really start to listen to your body and what it wants, not what your mind wants. Most of the time, your body will give you the healthy answer. Tune in, slow down and connect to your food! Become aware of all your actions around food and I guarantee your relationship to it will change, and as a result, your life will too!

Here are FIVE great tips to help you Reconnect to your Food:

1. Chew more and savor the taste of the food.

2. Cut out liquids until at least 30 minutes before or after meals

3. Learn where your food comes from

4. Sit down when you eat & put your fork down as often as possible between bites

5. Give thanks for the food that is on your plate and for all the workers who helped get it there!

June 23, 2011

I’m a “Freak” because I eat healthy…

I had to write this post today because this topic comes up SO often when I work with my cleansers or anyone who is on the healthy eating path and I must say that it frustrates me to no end. My clients and cleansers more often than not,  tell me that their families/friends think they are freaks or show “concern” about them because they are not eating meat, giving up gluten or eating more vegetables and healthy food than not.

My clients and a lot of people I know on this path are also afraid of hurting someone’s feelings by not eating the high cholesterol, fat laden, processed food their host made for dinner, or the b-day cupcake at someone’s bday party, or the overly sweet, cardboard cake at their dear sister’s wedding. Sometimes they just eat it so someone else won’t feel bad, while they torture themselves and the result is that they feel bad physically because of the timebomb they just ingested. Or they will take a piece then only to throw it away when someone is not looking. What a waste of food! I also come across people who are afraid to be a “burden” at the dinner table when out with friends because of their special diet or when going to a friends house for dinner. When did eating healthy become “special?” Isn’t eating healthy a way to live longer, have more energy, combat disease and have a happier more vital life? I think it is..and I am living proof, as well as many others that live this way!

Well friends, I have to tell you this! STOP!!!! Yes, STOP!! STOP worrying about what others think about your “diet” or way of eating. STOP worrying about someone else’s feelings, and choking down a piece of cake so you don’t offend someone. STOP going to dinner parties without notifying the host of your healthy eating lifestyle and putting yourself in a positiion where you will lose, when it comes to finding something good to put in your mouth. STOP ordering food at a restaurant you really don’t want because you don’t want to be a “problem” at the dinner table.

Afterall, is this journey about YOU, or THEM??? Isn’t it your choice to be healthy and don’t you want to lead by example? When I go out, I don’t care about what anyone thinks about my way of eating..and I am a PICKY and sometimes High Maintenance eater. But, you know what? It’s the most important thing to me because when I eat healthy I feel good, have more energy, my skin is clear, I don’t get sick and I look younger..just to name a few of the benefits.

SO, I am going to give you some helpful tips on how to overcome these hurdles other than just telling you to STOP! although that would be a really good place to start! Remember that most people will question your way of life because either 1. they are interested in learning more or 2. they are threatened by it. Most of the time it’s #2. And the reason why, is that people are afraid to change. Yes, change is the only thing we can rely on that is constant in this world, yet we, as humans are afraid of it. Especially the change that we have no control over. We like the change that we are responsible for making happen, like reaching goals, finding a new job, making a choice to move to a different city, etc. But when we feel we are out of control, that’s when we hold on tight to the reins and fight against it.  But, it will happen and most of the time we have no choice over it. But, you can make a decision to change the way you eat and change the way you think about food and what others think about what you are eating!

Everytime I would go out with friends and not drink alcohol people would question me. And my response was, “it just doesn’t make me feel good.” And that was the truth and no one could argue with that. When I don’t eat cake, it’s the same response. It’s not worth the 5 seconds of creamy goodness on my tongue for the hours of torture I will experience afterward and the food hangover I will have in the morning. People feel threatened when they witness me saying no to these things and it’s because it brings forward parts of themselves that maybe they need to take a deeper look at. Most people don’t want to give up drinking or eating cake, and that’s fine. I am not here to tell them they need to, YET I am also here to tell them they will FEEL BETTER and possibly LIVE LONGER if they do! But really it’s about leading by example, not forcing it down anyone’s throat and I know that most people who witness me take care of myself, get a chance to look within to where they can make some change. And maybe they won’t be ready, but at least I know I have planted a seed…

So, here are a few tips as promised:

  1. When going to a friends house for dinner, call the host beforehand and explain your situation. Don’t be apologetic, but offer to bring something that will help him/her feed you. Also, maybe the host will be open to making something if you just tell them what you need. You can even offer to go early and help them cook it!
  2. When going to social events, prepare yourself by eating beforehand if it’s a cocktail party. If you don’t want to drink and are concerned about others making “fun” of you, have a glass of sparkling water in a pretty glass with a squeeze of lime. And don’t LIE about what it is…you don’t have to explain anything to anyone for making healthy choices to help them feel better.
  3. When eating out at a restaurant, do your research. Find out where you are going and call beforehand to see if they will accomodate you. Most restaurants today will always accomodate people with special diets and allergies, so ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED and do your best to NOT CARE what others think about you ordering special food. I guarantee your dish will taste and look better than all the others!
  4. Remember, this is about YOUR COMMITTMENT to yourself and no one else. Are you committed to YOU or committed to making a choice based on what someone else will think about you?? Well? If your family tells you that you are a freak, respond with, “Yep, and a healthy freak at that!”

You can be a leader in helping others to make healthier choices just by doing it yourself. Sometimes people can become preachy when they start eating healthy, trust me, I was one of them. But what I have learned is that people are curious about it and they DO want to know more. The soft approach of Leading By Example is what I find works best and that’s what you can do! Remember, stay true to yourself and your path and don’t let what others say or do push you off that track!

 

 

 

 

February 24, 2011

Stop Counting and Start Listening….

As a vegan chef and especially as the chef to P90x creator, Tony Horton, people constantly ask me for the nutritional information and calorie count of my food. Here is what I tell them; I don’t believe in calorie counting…What? You don’t believe in calorie counting? But aren’t you a nutritionist and a vegan chef? Aren’t you into health & fitness??

Yes..to all of those questions, and now I will tell you why I don’t believe. Ok, so that’s not fully the truth…I DO believe that calorie counting works for certain & specific arenas, especially for people who are grossly overweight and have just started exercising. They need a starting point and a caloric deficit, for sure. But this doesn’t mean that they get to still eat crappy food, just less of it…what they need is a plan that will work for them to help them achieve their goals, AND it needs to be a healthy plan, not one full of processed foods, and potions..as Tony himself would say…and it needs to be a plan that teaches them HOW to eat, not just what to eat. Check out Karma Chow’s Recipes in Tony’s New Book

So, if you want to know my reasoning behind my “disbelief” in calorie counting…well, there are quite a few (and of course these are my humble opinions, so you can take them or leave them, but I just know what works for people, and I have many testimonials to prove it). First, calorie counting, especially if you are fit, or even not fit, doesn’t teach you how to connect to your food. It actually disconnects you from your food. Instead of seeing your food for what it is, fuel & nutrition for the body, we start to analyze it, count every kernel and wonder how many grams of forbidden carbs are in it. We label it, measure it and scrutinize it as if it’s the enemy, when it’s just the opposite. We don’t allow ourselves to enjoy our food, to taste it, and to connect to it. We eat on the go shoving protein bars down our throats as we cart the kids off to school and we wonder why we are so dang tired at the end of the day. We drive through fast food joints and look at the calorie count of something on the menu, and think, “I can have that because it fits into my caloric intake”, when in fact the food is loaded with saturated fat and is just plain BAD for you!

Every time I host a new cleanse group, about a week after we are into it, I challenge my participants, many of who are Beachbody coaches and avid exercisers, to let go of the calorie counting just for 30 days. Most of them sneer at me and think, “This lady is crazy,” but when I explain to them why, they understand. And when they do it, they understand even more.

Yes, it’s true, as I said above…I am a chef and a nutritionist, and I am also an advocate for Intuitive Eating or Listening to Your Body. I know some of you may think, this chick is off her rocker and out in woo-woo land, but I must tell you, when you start to eat really clean and listen, really listen to what your body needs and wants, you will find a whole new relationship to the way you eat & live. Some of you may be thinking, yes, I listen to my body and it tells me I want; potato chips, or ice cream. And my response to that is, that’s not your body talking, that’s your emotions. Or your body may be so toxic that it really could be saying that. This is usually the case when people have addictions to sugar, caffeine and processed foods. But usually our bodies will want healthy, whole foods that are nutrient dense and loaded with fiber, complex carbs, healthy fats and lean proteins.

Another part of listening to our body, is eating until we are 80% full and then stopping. More often than not, we overeat, unless we are depriving ourselves with calorie counting, but we never really know if we’ve gotten enough food or enough nutrients. If you are truly eating clean, healthy, whole foods, you will really feel a difference and you will be fuller sooner and longer than if you eat processed foods, and you will get the extra added bonus of NUTRIENTS!!!

During my 30 day cleanses when people give up their calorie counting, what they realize is that they can eat as much as they want of all the healthy foods allowed on the cleanse, and still drop weight and have enormous amounts of energy (after they get through the god-awful caffeine withdrawls, that is). When you eat a diet that consists of mostly whole foods and minimally processed foods, your body will begin balance itself out and utilize your food for fuel instead of storing it. Now, this is only if you are eating WHOLE FOODS and not all the processed, sugary stuff. I say stick to 90% whole foods and give yourself a little window to allow for some healthy processed stuff, like brown rice crackers, sprouted grain breads or agave sweetened, whole grain chocolate chip cookies.

Calorie counting won’t teach you anything, except how many calories are in a piece of whatever. But, what intuitive eating will teach you is that you can actually listen and hear what your body wants and needs without depriving it. Calorie counting is deprivation. It’s a way to prevent ourselves from enjoying our food because we have to count it before it goes into our mouth and what fun is that? How about just chopping up some fresh, amazingly crisp veggies, and putting them together in a delightfully delicious recipe and eating until you are 80% full?? Now that sounds like a plan to me!

Lastly I want to say that part of reconnecting to our food is to cook it ourselves. And again, you think, this chick is crazy, I am too busy to cook. If you want to live a healthy, long life and have amazing energy, cooking your own food and knowing what you are eating is part of that plan! Bring it back to basics, back to the times when we used to sit with our families in the kitchen and share a meal. Involve your kids and show them how important food is to their well-being. It will help to bring you closer with your family and even your friends. I’m not saying you need to push vegan food on anyone, but what I am saying, is slow down, take some time, stop counting and reconnect to your food. Your life WILL CHANGE!!!

Spaghetti & Meatballs w/Zesty Marinara

Meatballs you say? How can they be vegan? Well, it’s easy. I was inspired when I saw Isa’s recipe in Veganomicon for her meatballs, but I wanted to come up with my own recipe which didn’t include any gluten, so that’s what I did and Voila…Gluten Free and Vegan “Meat”balls with GF Spaghetti!

This is one of many of my clients favorite dishes, even Tony Horton! The man loves his spaghetti and Meatballs, although I know they don’t compare to his Aunt Stella’s real deal, which he doesn’t eat much anymore!

Enjoy! I know your kids will love these too!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. Brown Rice Spaghetti or Ziti, prepared according to package directions (Love Tinkyada Brand)
  • 1 recipe of Mel’s Zesty Marinara Sauce (below)
  • 2 can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • ½ c. brown rice, cooked
  • ½ c. raw yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for browning meatballs
  • 2 tablespoons Braggs Amino Acids
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup gluten free breadcrumbs or find ground cornmeal.

Mash beans and rice together in a bowl with a potato masher until mushy but beans are still somewhat noticeable. Add onion, garlic, olive oil, Braggs, tomato paste Worcestershire sauce, and herbs. Mix well with a spoon or hands to combine. Add breadcrumbs and using hands, mix well and knead until doughy. Roll into small walnut sized meatballs. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with olive oil and brown meatballs on the skillet. Serve on top of spaghetti with a generous serving of marinara sauce.

 

MARINARA SAUCE

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ can tomato paste
  • 2 -28oz cans fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

In a stock pot heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion, garlic & mushrooms until soft & caramelized. Add thyme & oregano and stir to incorporate to release the herbs. Add crushed tomatoes & tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes. Add Braggs Aminos, maple syrup & balsamic vinegar & stir well. Simmer 5-10 minutes more. Season with salt & pepper and top with fresh basil.

Tony Horton’s Famous Vegan Burritos

Most of you know that I cook for that crazy guy, Tony Horton, creator of the phenomenal workout system P90X and some of you may be wondering, who the heck is this Tony Horton guy? Well, if you don’t know, you are missing out. And if you want to find out, click here to learn more about Tony.

Is this guy really 52?? No way!! Yes, that’s right, the guy is 52 and in better shape than anyone I know. The reason: consistent exercise 6 days a week and a CONSISTENT CLEAN DIET, which is mostly plant-based! Horton calls himself a “Flexitarian”, which means that he eats mostly a plant-based diet 90% of the time but will have the occasional fish, eggs or free-range, organic chicken if he is out and about and there are no other options. Otherwise, he keeps it clean; very little sugar (only in the form of agave, honey or brown rice syrup), no gluten, no dairy, very minimal processed foods and tons of WHOLE, FRESH food! This is how you get and STAY healthy! You can exercise your butt off, but if you aren’t putting the proper nutrients into your body, your efforts are worthless.

Did you know eating certain foods can help to ward off cancer and disease?? Yes, you heard me. So why not eat healthy? Why take a risk just to have some “fun”. And why is it that we equate bad food to having fun? I have plenty of fun eating my Organic Nectars Raw & Vegan Gelato, or even my Kale with Tahini over Quinoa..delicious!

Anyway, back to why I am here…the famous Vegan Burritos I created for Tony, that are his staple food and loaded with nutrients & flavor. And, guess what? They are simple to make too!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, de-seeded & sliced into thin strips
  • 1 Yellow bell pepper, de-seeded & sliced into thin strips
  • 1 Red onion, thinly sliced into 1/2 moons
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 -15oz can organic black beans, or 1-1/2 cups cooked
  • 1-15oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice
  • 1 pkg. gluten free brown rice tortillas (Food for Life Brand), or sprouted grain tortillas (Ezekial Brand)
  • Extras (optional) Avocado, Tempeh Bacon, Karma Chow Chipotle Cashew Cheese.

Heat 1 TBL of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add peppers & onions and sauté until soft – about 3-5 minutes. Add zucchini, cumin, chili powder and sea salt and continue cooking for 2 more minutes, stirring to incorporate all the spices with the peppers & onions. Add tomatoes and stir to mix. Lower heat and cover, cooking for about 5 minutes until peppers are really soft. Remove from heat. Add beans to pan and stir to incorporate.

Softening a Rice Tortilla on an open flame (ignore smudge on stove)Peppers, Zucchini & Onions Oh My!Ready to Rock and ROLL!!!

Heat tortilla shell over low open flame on stove to soften. Place the tortilla on a flat surface. Spread a very small amount cashew cheese, or cheese of your choice on tortilla. Add 1 scoop of pepper, onion & bean mixture to bottom 1/3 of tortilla. Top with 1 scoop of quinoa or rice. Add avocado (optional) or tempeh bacon and roll it up!  (If you are using the Gluten-Free tortillas, it’s best to roll each burrito made to order.)

If you are looking for more amazing, vegan Mexican dishes, check out these additional recipes from Simply Be.

Baked Ziti with Spinach & Cashew Cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb Tinkyada Brown Rice Ziti or Penne, cooked al dente
  • 2 c. Cashew Cheese (recipe below)
  • 1 cup organic, frozen chopped Spinach thawed
  • Mel’s Zesty Marinara Sauce
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 c. shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 TBL Tamari
  • 1 TBL Balsamic Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ can tomato paste
  • 2 -28oz cans Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp. Agave Nectar (leave out for cleanse or add 1 tsp xylitol)
  • 2 TBL Fresh basil, chopped

In a stock pot heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion, garlic & mushrooms until soft & caramelized. Add thyme & oregano and stir to incorporate to release the herbs. Add crushed tomatoes & tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer 20-30

minutes. Add tamari, agave & balsamic vinegar & stir well. Simmer 5-10 minutes more. Season with salt & pepper and top with fresh basil.

 

CASHEW CHEESE

  • 2 cups cashews, soaked for 4 hours & drained
  • Filtered water
  • 2 TBL Nutritional yeast flakes
  • sea salt & pepper to taste

Place soaked cashews in a blender cup with just enough water to barely cover. Blend until very smooth. Add nutritional yeast and blend. This mixture should be fairly thick, so if it’s too thin, add some more cashews. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Pour into a bowl and add spinach. Stir well to incorporate

Preheat oven to 400.

To Assemble:

Place cooked Ziti noodles in large bowl. Ladle in marinara sauce until well covered. Stir to coat. If you like more sauce, add more. Add 1 cup cashew cheese & spinach mixture and stir to incorporate. You can always add more if you want more. Pour into baking dish and ladle sauce on top to cover.  Sprinkle with additional nutritional yeast flakes. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes until heated through. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. MANGIA!!

Tony Horton’s Fave Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is a favorite of many of my clients, including Tony Horton. I include Cardamom in these which is is a sexy scented spice that aids in digestion and speeding up the metabolism! If you don’t like it, leave it out! But I guarantee you will!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 c. Spelt or Oat Flour
  • 3/4 c. Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 c. chopped Walnuts (optional)
  • 1 c. Grain Sweetened Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 3/4 tsp. Baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Cardamom
  • 2/3 c. Agave Nectar
  • 2/3 c. Coconut Oil, melted
  • 2 TBL Almond Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Place dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together. Add wet mixture to dry and stir together with a wooden spoon until combined. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Place by the tablespoon on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack.