I've been loving Trader Joe's chai steeped with some Irish breakfast tea. I love to add a little maple syrup to sweeten it and some coconut milk for creaminess and a slight coconut flavor. So autumnal!Read More
The other day I had a cozy day at home during which I was very productive. I also enjoyed delicious food, which you can see in the video below.
This week I want to share with you where I am in terms of reaching the goals I set out for myself this month and more of what I’ve been learning.
I’m going to share with you each goal I set for myself and where I am in reaching that goal and my next steps.
1. How to streamline and minimize monthly expenses:
To streamline expenses, one of my goals for this week will be to set up automatic transfers to pay certain bills online.
To minimize expenses I will look into car insurance rates and reducing amount of money budgeted to categories like clothes and home decor. I hope to find what I need or want at second hand shops for less money as well.
I also will use the cash envelope system for food, gas, pet supplies, and fun stuff.
2. How to still have fun while saving money:
I am allowing myself some spending money each month for dining out or entertainment type stuff. I will use the cash envelope system and choose activities wisely.
It's helpful to remember that being conservative now will help me save up a full emergency fund which will then allow me to start saving for retirement and investing, which will set me up for a more comfortable future and retirement.
3. What I need to have a savings account for emergencies, for fun, and for retirement:
Emergency fund: I opened up another checking account through my bank which I can withdraw from if need be, but it is not as easy to get this money out as it would be if it were in my standard checking account. I am and will continue to contribute to this fund on a weekly basis although the amount might vary month to month depending on what else is going on that month.
Fun: I mentioned last week that I opened a savings account to save money for a trip. After reading more of Dave Ramsey’s book, I think I should really save up a full emergency fund before contributing any precious savings money to a trip fund. So that’s what I’ll do. I just did my budget for October and I’m still giving myself some money to spend on fun stuff like restaurants and clothing.
Retirement: Dave also says to build the full emergency fund before starting to save for retirement. When it is time to start a retirement fund, I will do more research on the types of plans and accounts that are best for this. Dave gives us a lot of information in his book, “Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money” but it will mean much more when I’m actually ready to take the advice.
4. How, what, and why to invest.
As I just mentioned, I’m not quite at this point yet in my financial journey and when I have my full emergency fund I will take a closer look at this.
To summarize, what I’m working on is spending less and saving more. In addition to spending less money, in order expedite the process of saving up the full emergency fund, I am considering picking up some extra work and have a couple things I’d like to sell.
I’d love to hear about your financial goals and if you have any other strategies for expediting the emergency fund saving!
There’s not much I love more than a good recipe video. Watching other people make food is hypnotizing, inspiring, and eye opening. I’m especially interested when the food being prepared is plant-based and healthy.
I love seeing what different people eat and how they look at food.
Many of the YouTube channels I am subscribed to are focused on food or somehow related to food.
Food is life!
Today I want to share with you 10 of my favorite YouTube channels that inspire me to eat more deliciously, healthfully, and colorfully.
These are not the only channels I love related to food. I could probably make another video about 10 more that I love. Maybe I will.
Anyway, here they are in no particular order:
1. Jenny Mustard - Jenny makes super healthy, simple, yet elegant recipes and shares with us her food philosophies and habits. I’ve tried making her granola and her crisp bread and even though I didn’t have all of the same ingredients, both turned out great!
2. Holistic Habits - Sarah uses high quality whole foods to create delicious recipes that pack a nutritious punch. I loved her recipe for baked sweet potato rounds. So easy but SO GOOD.
3. Honey Bunch of Onion Tops - These recipes are sometimes simple and sometimes a bit more involved. They are always very impressive! Great for a parties or just regular life.
4. Deliciously Ella - Ella makes hearty and comforting recipes that are as decadent as they are good for the bod.
5. Mr. & Mrs. Vegan - These two advocate a whole starch low fat diet. I appreciate their quest for health as well as their quest for the most delicious food.
6. Cheap Lazy Vegan - Rose is all about eating cheap and lazy and vegan while at home and while traveling. Oh, also very healthy. Amazing!
7. Way of Gray - Sophie is a registered holistic nutritionist and gives us tips for being healthy as well as some simple and quick recipe ideas.
8. Megan Elizabeth - Megan was really the first YouTuber I ever watched and subscribed to. I still love watching her videos about mostly raw food recipes, travel, and health.
9. Fully Raw Kristina - Kristina was probably the second YouTuber I ever watched and subscribed to. Kristina’s recipes are as simple as a bowl of fruit to as complex as a raw vegan carrot cake. This girl turns fruits and veggies into any dish you’d want to eat, and makes it taste great.
10. Kristen Leo - Kristen vlogs and makes videos about traveling and being vegan. She has some inspiring “What I Eat in a Day” videos up from her travels, although she recently said she doesn’t enjoy making them and wants to go in a different direction. No worries, there are already plenty to watch!
What's your favorite healthy food inspiration? Please share in the comments, I am always looking for more! :)
This month, the month of August, I am focusing on health.
Healthy, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “having good health, not sick or injured.”
Today I want to talk about food and what I’ve learned about eating to have good health, and prevent sickness and injury.
What I’m going to share with you has helped my boyfriend and I improve our energy levels over the past 6-7 years as well as has changed our bodies.
You can see what I look like today in the video version of this blog post! :)
We do attribute these positive changes mostly to our food choices. We are not the most fit people I know, we could use some more exercise, but we feel good and have certainly changed for the better.
Figuring out what food is actually healthy sometimes makes me want to just give up and eat donuts all day.
For example, is fat good or bad? Many people say the right kind is good, many people say all fat is ok, and many people say low fat is best.
The information we are bombarded with on a daily basis via mainstream media and not so mainstream media, like this blog post for example, can be so conflicting.
I'm writing to commiserate and share with you what I have learned about what healthy food means, what I like to eat, and the sources I trust to give me true, factual, and well-intentioned information on what is healthy, not healthy, and why.
Why does anyone care about what’s “healthy”?
I don’t know why you might care, but I can tell you why I do.
I want to:
- feel my best
- look my best
- perform whatever I’m doing at my best
- live in a way that is sustainable and nourishing to keep myself around on this earth for as long as possible, because despite its infinite imperfections, I kind of like it here and want to stick around to make some positive changes
There’s so much information out there, how do we know who we can trust?
According to a study done by a Penn State professor of nutrition with a PhD, only a fourth of medical schools offer even one course dedicated to nutrition. The abstract of the study states, “…many healthcare providers are not adequately trained to address lifestyle recommendations that include nutrition and physical activity behaviors in a manner that could mitigate disease development or progression.”
What healthcare providers are trained to do is prescribe pills. I’m not saying doctors are bad people. Doctors become doctors, I think, mostly because they want to help people.
However, I think it’s easy to become part of this system when entering the medical field.
Dr. Greger writes in “How Not to Die” that as a medical student he “was offered countless steak dinners and fancy perks by Big Pharma representatives,” but never got a call from “Big Broccoli.”
He also writes that huge budgets drive the promotion of the latest drugs, which you hear about on tv, but you’ll never see a commercial for sweet potatoes because there’s little profit motive connected to the “power of foods to affect your health and longevity.”
When I look at a piece of information regarding what is supposedly healthy or unhealthy and try to decipher whether or not it is factual, I like to consider:
whether or not it could possibly make any sense
whether or not it is based on research
- whether or not the research study was funded by a group who benefits from the findings of the research
- and whether or not the party presenting the research findings might actually understand how to read and interpret the research findings correctly
When the information is coming from a singular person in the form of advice, I consider:
whether or not the person actually lives the way he or she is advocating
whether or not the person radiates health: is energetic, focused, and just overall walking the walk of health
When I do find sources that I trust to give me research-based factual information about health, I like to try to figure out where the information presented by those sources overlap. I like to find the commonalities. As I see it, the more agreement that exists by the sources I trust, the more likely it is that the information is true.
Two resources that I trust to give me the truest information they can possibly give:
“The Blue Zones” book, sponsored by National Geographic, written by Dan Buettner
- It looks at pockets of the world in which there is an abnormally high rate of people living past 100 years old (the pockets being the blue zones).
- It considers all aspects of life as part of the picture, including food.
2. “How Not To Die” by Michael Greger, M.D.
- Dr. Greger also runs the website NutritionFacts.org, which is a “nonprofit, science-based, public service providing free daily videos and articles on the latest in nutrition research.” Another resource I trust.
- “How Not To Die” is divided into two parts. Part I being how not to die from specific diseases and ailments in regards to prevention and even reversal through nutrition and lifestyle. Part II shares “Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen” foods we should eat each day for optimal health.
- Almost every sentence in this book has a footnote referencing a research study, which can be found in the notes section in the back of the book.
What my sources say about what’s healthy and not to eat:
In terms of food and longevity, “The Blue Zones” recommends avoiding meat and processed foods.
Dr. Gregor also advocates a plant-based diet free of all animal products in conjunction with other lifestyle recommendations.
Other more peripheral resources that conclude that a plant-centered diet is best for disease prevention and longevity include:
“The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell, PhD
“The Starch Solution” by John McDougall, M.D. & Mary McDougall
- “The 80/10/10 Diet” by Dr. Doug Graham
These resources have a lot of overlapping information as well as a good amount in common with “The Blue Zones” and Dr. Greger’s work.
Again, I like to see where my trustworthy sources overlap and go from there.
Every one of these sources agrees that plants are the way to go, however they don’t all agree on what types of plants to eat in what quantities.
Dr. Greger and “The Blue Zones” recommends eating all types of whole plant foods each day. “The Starch Solution,” recommends getting most of your calories from starches, like rice, beans, and potatoes. “The 80/10/10 Diet” recommends getting the majority of your calories from fruit.
The issue of whether dietary fat is good or bad is something else not all of my sources agree on. There seems to be a consensus among these sources regarding animal product based fats, food in all animal products, which is that they shouldn’t be part of a human diet for health and longevity.
However, some of the sources say eating whole plant foods high in fat like avocado and nuts is healthy and fine. “The Blue Zones” highlights an island in Greece in which olive oil is a part of the diet, while Dr. Greger and the other sources I mentioned say any plant oil is not healthy because most of its nutrition has been removed and is basically empty calories. He says, “Even extra-virgin olive oil may impair your arteries’ ability to relax and dilate normally.”
Dr. Greger seems to think that the mediterranean diet is so full of fruits and veggies and legumes that it is beneficial despite the olive oil, rather than because of it. Dr. Greger and “The Blue Zones,” are also big advocates of eating nuts.
Some of my sources, like “The Starch Solution,” and “The 80/10/10 Diet” say to keep whole plant-based fats like avocados and nuts low, to 10% or less of our caloric intake.
I follow people on YouTube who are eating low fat and oil free who seem to be thriving. I follow people who are eating lots of avocados and nuts and nut butters who seem to be thriving. I also follow people who include plant oils like coconut and olive oil who seem to be doing just fine.
It’s frustrating because all of them fit my description and idea of healthy people. The one thing they do have in common is that they do not include any animal products except for maybe some honey.
Perhaps eating a plant-based diet is enough to help us feel and look healthy, despite what kinds of plant fats and how much of them we eat.
To conclude this video on what healthy food means, how I decide who I can trust, and what I’ve learned so far:
- Food is healthy when it gives you energy, not makes you lethargic or induces pain.
- I trust sources who use unbiased research to draw conclusions.
- Everyone should do his or her own research as well and take a good look at who is giving you advice.
- I’ve learned from my research that eating a diet of whole plant foods will allow me the energy and well-being I need to get shit done, feel good, and look my best.
I’d love to hear about any resources you trust to give you honest and true information on healthy food.
In my video and blog post next week I’ll be sharing with you my favorite healthy food YouTube channels so don’t forget to subscribe if you want to see those and if you want to see some more health-related videos this month.
If you want to see what I’m eating, follow me on Instagram. I post pictures of my food quite frequently! You can find the link to my Instagram account down below. :)
The kitchen can be a sanctuary. The kitchen can be a grimy hell hole. Sometimes it's a little bit of both.
I think that to maintain an organized, tidy, healthy, and clean kitchen there are a few things to remember.
You can see how these tips have changed my kitchen for the better, as I show what my kitchen used to look like in my KonMari video here.
1. Clean with non-toxic and safe cleaning products.
The whole point of cleaning is to make it a healthier place to be, right? Why poison yourself with harsh chemicals? I make my own multi-purpose cleaner with a few natural and safe ingredients. I am going to post a video about the recipes I use next week. Stay tuned!
2. Clean often.
This is something that we're working on. Eventually, after decluttering more, I think it will be easier to actually clean surfaces on a more regular basis.
Matt and I have been really good about doing our dishes at the end of the night each night. We do have to get better at cleaning the refrigerator and floors at least once a week.
3. Use glass containers for food storage.
We are trying to figure out the best way to buy bulk items in an attempt to reduce the waste we produce. We have some jars for these items but might need to head over to the thrift store to find some more.
We also like storing our leftovers in glass containers rather than plastic. Plastics leach into our food when the temperature changes. Glass containers also last longer and I think they look nicer.
4. Get rid of items you don't use.
Keeping the amount of things in the kitchen to a minimum is important to me. Our kitchen is pretty small to begin with. We cook a lot so we need all the chopping space we can get.
We have a few items sitting on the dining room table in purgatory, waiting to learn their fate. Will they be sold or donated?
I also wrote a blog post about keeping the kitchen manageable, in terms of dishes and silverware. The idea I discuss has been a game-changer for me.
In my last video about our decluttering progress, you can also see the before and after of the under the sink situation. It’s MUCH better now.
5. Have a designated place for each item.
Giving each item a home in the kitchen makes it that much easier to put it away after using it. It keeps things looking tidy and you always know where everything is!
6. Incorporate plants into the kitchen.
Plants just add some freshness, color, and a sense of calm. The trick is to not go overboard and get so many plants that you can't keep them looking nice. I learned this the hard way.
If you have any kitchen tips to share, I’d love to hear about them!
Last month there were 5 things that I really loved.
1. "Woman Code" by Alisa Vitti:
I read Woman Code in about a week. I devoured it. It is information every woman and girl should have.
Woman Code is written by Alisa Vitti, who is a Holistic Health Counselor and part of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She founded the FLO Living Center in Manhattan, which has been open and helping women heal themselves for 10 years now.
She healed herself of PCOS with the protocol that she blesses us with in this book.
Woman Code is all about syncing our lives to our bodies; specifically our cycles. There are four phases of the menstrual cycle: follicular, ovulatory, luteal, and menstrual. Each phase has a different hormone focus, body focus, lifestyle focus, food focus, and exercise focus, allowing you to "perfect your cycle, amplify your fertility, supercharge your sex drive, and become a power source."
There is a lot to be said about her protocol and the information she presents. I suggest you read the book to get a better understanding.
I love this book because now I understand more about why a woman has a cycle, why I feel different throughout my cycle, and how I can nourish my hormones to allow my body to do its thing most efficiently and eloquently.
This brings me to my next June favorite....
2. Eating for my cycle:
Alisa recommends different foods for each phase of the cycle. I have been trying to incorporate more and more of those foods during each phase of my cycle. It's been about a month now and I can say that I feel good, feel energized, and less bloated.
Now I know correlation does not imply causation, but I'll keep it going and see what happens.
It's a fun way to get a lot of variety in as well!
3. DIY (and cheaper) White Board:
I wanted to get a really big white board for my work space. I didn't want to spend upwards of $30 for it. So I went Googling.
I found out that I could go to a Home Depot or Lowes and find a marker board for $10.
So that's what happened. All I had to do was get some velcro wall hangers and hang that bad boy up. So that's what happened. It's been a dream.
Here's what it looks like...
4. Editorial Calendar via Trello.com:
I have been wanting to create an editorial calendar for some time now. It's basically just a list of when I'm going to do what in regards to the Like Minimal YouTube channel.
It helps me stay organized and on top of the Like Minimal duties.
I heard good things about Trello and it's totally free. I checked it out and enjoy using it. You can see a short demo in my video above.
For the month of July I have decided that there will be a theme: creating a healthy and minimal home. Check out the video for more about what kind of videos I'll be making.
5. "The Bingo Theory" by Mimi Ikonn:
"The Bingo Theory" is a new book written by YouTuber and entrepreneur, Mimi Ikonn.
It's "A revolutionary guide to love, life, and relationships."
I have to tell you. I really enjoyed it. I feel like it helped me see the world a little differently and gain a better understanding of humans.
It's all about masculine and feminine energy. Each man and each woman has masculine and feminine energy within. Yet one energy is dominant in each person.
You can be a masculine strength male, feminine strength male, masculine strength female, or feminine strength female.
Masculine qualities include being logical, confident, competitive, and independent, while feminine qualities include emotional, intuitive, free-spirited, expressive, and open.
Mimi is not implying that all women are these qualities, and all men are the latter, rather that each person is a mix of both.
There is scientific evidence that points to why people have these qualities.
Anyway, the whole point of the book is to help us understand which energy is dominant for us and how we can become "a bingo," meaning the perfect combination of masculine and feminine energy.
Becoming "a bingo" will help us go through life as the best versions of ourselves, while enjoying the best relationships possible. If we're already in relationships, it helps us to understand our relationships and how we can improve them.
Another must-read if you ask me!
Let me know one of your June favorites in the comments. :)
Did Raw Til 4 really send me to the hospital? Did it make me constipated?
I want to be healthy and feel good. I enjoy reading about and learning about health and how food affects our bodies. When I read 80/10/10 and watched the 80/10/10 superstars on YouTube, I was sold. I couldn't afford to go fully raw, so I settled for Raw Til 4. Uhhh have you seen Freelee? Who wouldn't want that bod and energy?
So I went for it. Mostly. It was tough getting in all that water and exercise with the schedule I had.
Since finding 80/10/10, I have also read "The Starch Solution," "How Not To Die," "Woman Code," and "The Microbiome Solution," which are all about eating for optimal health.
In addition, there's a lot of information on the internet and YouTube about the healthiest ways to eat. You've got Deliciously Ella doing her thing with whatever she wants whenever she wants (whole foods, plant-based). You've got Mr. and Mrs. Vegan doing the "Whole Starch Low Fat" thing. You've got all the "High Carb Low Fat" dudes.
Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of overlap among these diets. But there's also a lot of conflicting information.
I want to trust Dr. Greger, who wrote "How Not To Die." Partly because he is a doctor and knows how to read the research, but mostly because he wants me to eat lots of yummy fatty plant foods in addition to the veggies, fruits, beans, and grains.
But does the optimal diet for each person depend on what issues, if any, the person has? Does it depend on whether the person is male or female? Does it depend on geographical location or genetics? Or is it the same for everyone because we're all the same species? Have we effed it all up since we've spread out all over the planet?
It seems that different people thrive on different versions of a plant-based diet. Will one of these groups outperform the others eventually? Who's going to live the longest most healthful life?
I'm just trying to not be constipated anymore, while eating foods that will make me feel good.
I made a video last year about my experience with the Raw Til 4 diet and lifestyle. If you haven’t watched it, you can find it below.
I talked about how I didn’t quite follow the lifestyle completely and ended up going to the Emergency Room with severe abdominal pain, only to find out I was just very constipated.
During this time and a month or so leading up to it, I had severe acne on my chin. So much so that my mom told me the parents at the preschool weren’t going to want me taking care of their children because they might think I have an infection or a rash.
Thanks mom. ;)
Anyway, the doctors at the hospital didn’t know why I was constipated but were quick to blame it on my diet. They said I could have shocked my system with all of the fruits and veggies and pasta. One of the doctors said I might have been ok if I had been eating more fat or just less food.
No one at the hospital could tell me why my chin had such severe acne either. A nurse asked me, "What’s going on with your chin?" I said, "You tell me!"
As an amusing aside...
I happened to have my period that day and I use a menstrual cup. I had to get an MRI. The doctor called to discuss what they had seen on the test. What he said was, “There doesn’t seem to be anything blocking you up… yada yada yada… but are you aware that there is a foreign object in your vagina?”
WHAT is in my vagina? JK yes, it’s a menstrual cup, doctor.
He said, “Oh.. how does that work? Wow.. do you need a nurse to help you take care of that?”
I got it, thanks.
So, all the nurses and doctors involved in my case, and some other random employees, learned what a menstrual cup was that day. A true teachable moment...
Anyway, I was frustrated. They were telling me eating low fat high carb was not good, they couldn’t tell me what was going on with my chin, and they had never heard of menstrual cups before.
I just wish doctors and nurses had a better understanding of how everything works together, and how parts of our body don’t work in isolation. It’s all connected.
The knowledge I had at that moment led me to believe that I had messed up my body by eating Raw Til 4.
The GI doctor gave me a laxative to take “forever for now.”
The dermatologist gave me an antibiotic ointment for my chin. Didn’t work, BTW. Might have actually made things worse according to “The Microbiome Solution” by Dr. Robynne Chutkan.
I went to a more holistic functional medicine doctor and he was pretty good but he is a big proponent of fish oil and wanted me to get $1000 worth of tests. I probably should have just done some of the tests I guess. But books are cheaper!
One good thing he did was advise me to start taking Triphala, which is an herbal version of Miralax basically. That keeps me pretty clear in my intestines as well as keeps my face pretty clear.
However, since that experience, I have done some further research.
There are some other possibilities as to what could have caused the constipation.
Maybe my gut bacteria was out of balance and the bad bacteria was taking over. After reading "The Microbiome Solution," I upped my probiotics, am steering clear of antibiotics if possible, have been trying to eat more fermented foods, and have been trying to stay away from harsh cleansers and chemicals. I think these things could have helped a smidge. It's hard to tell.
Or, maybe it’s a hormonal issue. Maybe my hormones are out of whack and aren’t being properly supported by my diet and lifestyle. I am reading “Woman Code” by Alisa Vitti currently and learning how to eat for my cycle to best support my hormonal function.
What I’m trying to get at here, is that it’s not fair to blame any one thing. I don’t know what happened. All I know is that my face has cleared up mostly as I am able to pass everything through more quickly than when I went to the hospital that day.
Another thing I think could be an issue in my health is how much I love vegan sweets like donuts, cake, donuts, and donuts. I also love wine, decaf coffee, and french fries.
While these things are great for vegans who are just beginning to transition to a plant-based diet, the food is still not healthy. Maybe if your hormones are perfect and your gut bacteria is balanced you can afford to indulge, I don’t know. SOMEONE TELL ME.
But I think until I give these things up for a while, I won’t have the success I’m looking for.
1. Learn how to eat for my cycle and put it into action to rule out the hormone theory.
2. Continue taking probiotics and living in a way that supports the good gut bacteria to rule out the microbiome theory.
3. Keep a record of the changes I'm making, what I'm eating, how I'm feeling, etc. on a daily basis to help me notice any improvements.
4. Perhaps try to blend the "How Not To Die" diet and lifestyle with the "Woman Code" diet and lifestyle.
Are you healthy? Like, really healthy? Does your body work the right way? Are there things that seem off? This is so fascinating to me.
I'd love to hear about your health story!
So I'm pretty lazy in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking, but most of the time I like the simplicity of food in its more natural state, i.e. baked sweet potato or rice and beans with greens and veggies.
One dish that I do crave and enjoy making is Thai coconut curry! I think if I could only pick one dish to live off of for the rest of my life (besides fruit) it would be Thai curry. I really love yellow curry, but will gladly eat green or red if yellow isn't an option.
So I've figured out how to make a quick vegan curry that is simple and delicious.
And just a heads up... I don't really measure. I eyeball it and do what looks good. So you'll notice I don't really include measurements, but to get an idea of how much I used you can watch the video above! Or just use what you think is good for you!
Here is how I do it:
Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry you all are
Takes about 45 minutes if you're cooking rice - probably closer to 20 if you are just making the curry :)
- coconut milk (I like "lite")
- curry paste of your choice (I used red this time)
- half an onion (or whole - up to you!)
- one sweet potato
- frozen veggies or fresh of your choice
- something to sweeten - coconut sugar, regular sugar, brown rice syrup, etc.
- brown rice to serve with
- Get your rice started
- Dice up your sweet potato, put it in a bowl, get a wet paper towel to drape over the bowl, microwave for 3 minutes
- Chop up any fresh veggies you'll be using (mushrooms, onion)
- Get the pan heating up, add the coconut milk and stir in curry paste
- Add fresh veggies & frozen veggies
- Let simmer for a bit while your rice cooks
- Stir it up
- When your rice is done, your curry probably is too - as long as all the veggies are cooked to your liking
- Serve curry over rice and garnish with fresh herbs if possible like cilantro, basil, and/or mint
Let me know if you try this recipe or have another curry recipe you think is even better!
This is my favorite breakfast smoothie to make. It's easy, quick, pretty cheap, and great for two people to share or just a really hungry one.
- two big handfulls of spinach
- as many bananas as your heart desires (I used five here)
- two dates
- one or two apples
- about one cup of blueberries (or any berry)
- an orange
- a tablespoon of ground flax seed
- two cups of water
Blend it all up and enjoy the sweet delicious taste of health and steady energy.
Do you have a favorite smoothie? Please share!
1. “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. He focused his work on logotherapy, which is based on the idea that finding meaning in ones life is the most powerful and motivating force for a human.
He tells us about his time spent in concentration camps and how he was able to survive. He also shares with us the three ways we can find meaning in our lives. He says that, “The quest for meaning is the key to mental health and human flourishing.”
A quote that really resonated with me from this book is, “It is we ourselves who must answer the questions that life asks of us, and to these questions we can respond only by being responsible for our existence.”
After reading this book, it was clearer to me how my mental health and happiness are my complete responsibility and not that of anyone else.
My copy of this book is completely full of notes, dog-eared pages, and underlined passages. If you could only read one book, this might be the one.
2. “Money: Master the Game” by Tony Robbins
I have read only about a fourth of this book so far and I already know so much more about saving for retirement and the best ways to maximize your investments.
For example, I learned the difference between index funds and mutual funds and why one is better than the other.
If you’re like me and never cared to learn about financial matters but are realizing that it’s actually pretty important and can hugely affect your life, this book is awesome.
Who better to learn from than Tony Robbins and the 50 “brilliant financial minds” he has interviewed for this book?
3. Aloe Vera Juice for Oily Hair
I heard that aloe vera gel can take care of excess scalp oil. Of course I wanted to try it. I had some aloe vera juice in the refrigerator that was still good so I poured some into an old rose water spray bottle and sprayed away on a greasy day. It seemed to work without leaving my hair as dry as my homemade dry shampoo leaves it.
I also think aloe vera is better for the scalp and hair itself than the dry shampoo mixture I keep on hand, as it has nutrients for the hair and doesn’t clog hair follicles.
Do your own research, try it out if you want. Let me know if it works for you!
4. Yoga in the Morning:
You know that feeling when you get a good stretch in as soon as you sit up to get out of bed? Doing yoga after I wake up is like 20 minutes of that. It’s so nice. And it’s exercise!
5. Going for a Run in the Evening:
Two to three times a week I’ll go for a run after work, before dinner. This has been a great way to release any pent up energy from the day and get some exercise in!
6. Vanilla Mint Tea (Rishi):
This stuff is so good. It’s a refreshing vanilla tea that is great instead of coffee. The caffeine is milder and the flavor is earthy. Love it in the morning!
I’ve been trying to reduce the waste I produce as a human being. I tend to get a decaf coffee on the weekend, so having a reusable cup I enjoy is the key to “remembering” to take it with me to the cafe. This Keepcup is beautiful and I love that it’s more like a mug than other reusable cups. Feels good, looks good. Thumbs up!
What have you been loving lately?
I went on a hike last weekend with my boyfriend. It was tough yet fun, and we ate a lot of delicious food that day.
What do you like to do on the weekends?
My perfect home situation is a cool, breezy day with windows open and white curtains blowing and a candle lit and sunshine shining in and music playing and fresh flowers placed on an uncluttered surface.
While not all of these things happen at once every day, the fresh flowers really pull their own weight and add a lot of sunshine and freshness to any room. I used to think flowers were a waste of money and just didn’t get it. These days, I like to keep one bouquet around at all times if I can help it. I’ll pick one up every other week or so during my food shopping trip. By the end of the second week they tend to stop looking so fresh, but the bright colors and the green have the same effect.
Dinner Parties at Home:
I haven’t had many dinner parties, but I find I really enjoy hosting people over for dinner at our house. I like making the house cozy, planning the menu, and sitting around the dinner table enjoying the food and the company. I like that I can control what I’m eating, since I’m the one making the food. I also like to share delicious plant-based recipes and food with the people who are dining with us. I think it’s important to show people that vegans aren’t missing out.
Last time we had people over for dinner I made bruschetta, roasted brussels sprouts, spinach basil pesto with pasta and roasted sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and sautéed Tofurkey sausage. For dessert we had Turkish figs, dates, and vegan pastries from Whole Foods.
There was wine and beer and coffee and tea. There were records spinning on the record player. There were candles and flowers. It was lovely. Other people can bring food too of course. If you are selective about what you eat, just be sure to respectfully let your guests know what you want to avoid.
Buying Dry Beans in Bulk & Soaking Them at Home:
As I try to move away from packaged products, buying beans from the bulk section of the grocery store is something else I’m trying to make a routine. It’s cheaper, avoids packaging and any possible BPA. It takes a little planning, but we’ve gotten into the routine of soaking some beans on Sunday and cooking them that evening so that we have them in the refrigerator for the week.
Making My Own Nut Butter & Nut Milk:
Similar to why I like soaking my own beans, I like making my own nut butter and milk. This way I can avoid any weird ingredients found in commercial products, avoid packaging (if I buy the nuts in bulk), and store the products in nice jars. Here are my recipe videos for how I make my milk and nut butter:
If you’ve watched my last two videos or read my past two blog posts, you’ll know how much I appreciate Colleen already. She is an author, speaker, and educator working for the animals. She’s the best kind of advocate, if you ask me - helping us to navigate our everyday lives with compassion. Below you can find my video about Colleen’s effective communication strategies as well as my video about Colleen’s 10 Stages of Veganism. In addition, I will link the video that introduced me to Colleen HERE.
What were your February favorites?
If you haven't read my post about making cashew milk, I'll fill you in. I bought a $7.99 bag of raw cashews at Whole Foods, hoping to use it to make enough of both cashew milk and cashew butter for the week. Eight bucks for both ain't bad.
My cashew milk turned out great. See here. However, I might have made too much of it, when I could have used another half cup of the cashews to help the nut butter blend better. Try saying those last four words 5 times fast. ;)
So the cashew butter was tougher to make because I only used about 2.15 cups of cashews. This made it hard for the Vitamix to blend it consistently because I kept having to scrape down the sides.
Even so, by the time my patience ran out I had a smoothish and delicious cashew butter.
I think it's safe to say I pretty much accomplished my goal and can tweak it next time for better results.
What's your favorite nut butter?
I bought a 16 oz. bag of raw cashews for $7.99 at Whole Foods.
They didn’t have any bulk raw cashews at the time - they might have been cheaper and of course would have avoided the plastic packaging. But I digress…
I was hoping to be able to use this same $7.99 bag of raw cashews to make a decent amount of cashew milk and a decent amount of cashew butter for the week. I almost pulled it off perfectly. Nut butter and milk can be costly. It’s also hard where I live (Philadelphia, PA) to find a nut milk that doesn’t have gross stuff I can’t pronounce in it.
I really like making milk out of cashews because after soaking them overnight, they become super soft and make a really creamy and smooth milk. If you have a high speed blender, you won’t even need to strain it, which is awesome because then you get all of the benefits of the whole nut when you drink the milk. As opposed to almond milk, which you need to strain if you want a smooth milk.
Here’s the recipe I used to make the milk in the video. Next time, I will use 1 cup of soaked cashews, reserving the rest of the bag of cashews for the nut butter. I will do this for two reasons: 1) I made more milk than I needed this week, and 2) the nut butter process would have benefited from another half cup of cashews to help it blend better in the Vitamix.
- 1.5 cups soaked cashews (I like to use raw and soak them in water overnight)
- 4 cups water (this might depend on how creamy and thick you like your milk)
- 2-3 dates (for sweetening if desired)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract (if desired)
- a pinch of salt
- cinnamon to taste (if desired)
I like to make a sweeter milk to be used in tea, oatmeal, and generally sweet dishes. If you want to use your milk for savory dishes, I would omit the dates, vanilla, and cinnamon.
1.) Blend your soaked and rinsed cashews with 3 cups of water for a couple of minutes, gradually increasing the speed of the blender.
2.) Add more water until you get the consistency you like. I added one more cup, making it 4 cups of water total. Also add the rests of the ingredients and blend again until smooth.
3.) If your milk is not as smooth as you'd like, go ahead and use a nut milk bag, really thin mesh strainer, or cheese cloth to strain the mixture to remove the “pulp”. You can use the pulp for baking!
4.) Transfer to your favorite container, refrigerate, and enjoy!
Do you make your own milk?
This post is intended for anyone living a plant-based lifestyle and anyone who is interested in or curious about what it's like to be vegan today. There is no pressure coming from me, as Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has helped me to remove that intention from my dialogues. It’s really just to serve as a reference and help us understand each other.
I wanted to share this with you after last week’s video in which I shared Colleen’s 10 strategies for effective communication, which I am so thankful I discovered. The video is below:
As Colleen has helped me to really become more cognizant of, I am not compassionate because I’m vegan. Veganism is just one of the many forms my compassion takes. I am vegan because I am compassionate.
OK, now onto the stages of veganism according to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
This information has been a revelation for me this month, even after being vegan for 8 years.
This information was so vital for me because I didn’t previously realize that I was stuck in one or two of the stages. I was feeling very frustrated and even angry. I will tell you which stages I was stuck in after I share the stages with you.
Also keep in mind, Colleen says that not everyone goes through these stages, or not necessarily in this order. This is what she’s observed over the years. I find the stages to be very accurate for myself thus far.
So here they are:
- Validation - Research and information consumption
- Guilt - How could I have contributed to such violence and suffering?
- Coming Out - Sharing our new perspective with others
- Evangelism - A lot of us will feel the urge to share this information with everyone we know in an effort to try to get them to also change their perspectives
- Grief (Anger and Sorrow)- Feeling frustrated with the systems in place and the perceived apathy of others
- Connecting/Finding Community - Connecting with people who share this perspective
- Communication/Finding Your Voice - Engaging in effective communication and being unapologetic for living from values of compassion and wellness - “learning how to speak to people who push back”
- Expansion (of Awareness and Skills) - Discovering all the great healthy and delicious foods, learning more and more about how this issue is related to other social justice issues
- Advocacy - We start to try to figure out where we fit in and how we can help
- Integration and Adaptation - Our lives are aligned with compassion and we adapt to uncomfortable or inconvenient situations because we are living from our values of compassion and wellness and social justice
So the stages that I was stuck in were number 4) Evangelism and number 5) Grief, Anger, and Sorrow. Because of how frustrated I was feeling with the treatment of nonhuman animals on this planet, I would become angry and sad when people would push back about my eating habits and lifestyle. I didn’t know how to handle those situations so sometimes I would just be sarcastic and graphically explain in an annoyed way why the meat and dairy industries are so awful. I wanted everyone to know the horrors and then stop eating animals and their secretions right away. Of course, this rarely happened.
Then I would allow myself to be even more frustrated, wanting to avoid those people all together. I think maybe when you think of vegans and some people think of judgmental vegans, it’s because they are really angry at the injustice and don’t know a better way to help lessen the suffering, so they take it out on those who they deem responsible. However, it doesn’t really seem to help the cause, does it?
Just having these stages laid out helps me to understand that I’m not alone in feeling these things and that it is more effective and enjoyable to speak my truth and come from a place of compassion and acceptance. Not acceptance for the violent system that is animal agriculture and exploitation, but acceptance of the people who are on their own paths. I can serve as an example of the joy and wellness that comes from removing animal products from my diet and lifestyle. Feeling so frustrated and angry at others might actually hold me back from making the positive change I want to and from being happy. Sometimes it’s hard to not feel guilty when I feel happy because I can think of all of the humans and nonhuman animals who are in this same second, suffering extremely. However, holding myself back from feeling joy won’t help anyone, as I can do more to help when I feel good and well.
I hope this was helpful for you and you know anyone who can benefit from this information, please share it with them today.
P.S. Do you find these stages to be representative of what you or someone you know is going through? I'd love to know! :)
A playlist of podcast episodes focusing on each of the 10 stages can be found here.
I recently watched a talk given at a conference by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Colleen is an author, speaker, and educator with decades of experience under her belt.
This talk focused on how to live in alignment with your own values and stop making excuses for living in any other way. I was blown away by the joyfulness and clarity of Colleen’s communication skills.
One of my biggest take aways from this 50 minute video was that if I’m living with compassion as a value, there’s absolutely no reason to apologize to other people for it.
For example, If I have removed all animal products from my diet because of the horrors of factory farming and the extreme suffering of those innocent, peaceful animals, there is absolutely no reason for me to apologize to anyone for my lifestyle of compassion, even if it inconveniences them.
It doesn’t matter where I am in the world, whose grandmother made me some special chicken soup to eat, or what they might think when I politely decline the offer. I can’t be responsible for someone’s hurt feelings for not eating their chicken soup because I’m living from my values. Values of compassion, wellness, and peace. There are honest and respectful ways to communicate with others who do not share or act on these values. I will share Colleen's 10 strategies for effective communication from her Podcast, "Food For Thought" below.
Animal cruelty and exploitation is a serious issue. Colleen is able to communicate the reality of the situation in a way that is welcoming, nonjudgmental, informative, uplifting, and inspiring.
I tell myself the story that I’m just not a good communicator. The truth is, I can get better by practicing and implementing Colleen’s 10 Strategies for Effective Communication.
The goal here isn’t necessarily to persuade anyone a certain way, but to simply speak my truth and find my unapologetic voice for living the way that I do, while listening to what the other person has to say.
It’s so easy to become emotional and reactive when someone is seemingly disrespectful or hostile in regards to my animal product-free lifestyle. We can all use these communication tools despite what we believe our truths to be, they’re not just for plant-based eaters.
- Create Intention: Before we begin any exchange with another person, we can set the intention for that exchange. Here's an example Colleen gives in her podcast: "To speak my truth respectfully and joyfully without being attached to how that will affect someone else.”
- Practice Active Listening: Giving the other person cues that show I’m listening to them and hearing what they’re saying
- Ask Questions: Makes the other person feel special, important, and heard - Can ask, "Why? What are you afraid of? Why do you think that?"
- Have a Sense of Humor: People can deal with discomfort by making jokes, which can lighten up a tense situation. If appropriate, we can laugh together.
- Know Where You End and the Other Person Begins: Don’t be attached to how speaking your truth will affect another person. On the other hand, let someone else have their say without getting worked up
- Find Common Ground: No matter who we're speaking with, we're guaranteed to have something in common. We can try to discover what those things are and find the common ground that will help us relate to one another better.
- Have Courage and Confidence in Your Convictions: Be honest, confident and humble: "I don’t agree, I haven’t read that particular article but I do know this…" Be sensitive and speak your truth.
- Clarify What You’re Hearing: We can often think we've heard something that was never even actually said. Ask questions to make sure what you're hearing is what the other person is actually meaning to say.
- Speak from the I: When making statements about people, it's better to say, "I or we do such and such," rather than, "When you do this, this happens." It's accusatory to speak from the you. Speak from the I or the we to be more relatable.
- DO NOT Have Philosophical Debates Online: Can’t really apply these other communication strategies via written text online. Often we react to each other with too much emotion without taking time to cool down.
I’m definitely guilty of not implementing these communication strategies. Especially lately, I’ve been posting a lot of animal advocacy links on my Facebook page, expecting the images and text to change the minds of my friends on Facebook. In reality they’re probably all just blocking me. There must be a better way to start a dialogue about certain issues I care about, without pushing people away.
So finding Colleen’s work has been a real game changer. I love structure and strategies that I can see make sense and will improve my efficacy as an advocate for compassion and health.
Colleen has a podcast called “Food For Thought” that just turned 10 years old! She also has books, videos, and a great informative website. We can really learn a lot from Colleen and her experience making compassionate change.
There are two episodes of her podcast devoted to these 10 Strategies for Effective Communication. I highly recommend giving them a listen to dive deeper into each of these strategies!
I like to make steel cut oats these days.
This is how I make my oatmeal every morning. I have yet to tire of it and even look forward to it as I’m going to sleep the night before.
For one person, I like to make one cup of oats. This makes a little more than a typical serving for one person, but I like to have the option to have a second bowl or bring the rest to work for lunch.
One cup of steel cut oats requires 4 cups of water to cook it in and about 30 minutes of your time.
What I’ve been doing is starting the oats before I work out in the morning and I stir them and check on them during the one minute breaks in my exercise program. I'm sure there are things you can do while your oats cook.
To make the best ever bowl of oats, you’ll need:
1.5 cups steel cut oats
6 cups water
1-2 bananas, sliced (I add banana while the oats cook because it makes the oatmeal taste like banana muffins or cake)
1 tsp cinnamon
Toppings of Your Choice:
whatever you like
- when water is boiling, add the oats
- stir the oats and lower heat to a simmer
- add in one sliced banana and a bit of cinnamon and stir again
- stir every 5 or 10 minutes while simmering away to prevent sticking on the bottom
- when the oats are the consistency you like, turn off the heat and spoon into a bowl
- add your favorite toppings
- demolish, yet savor
Here are some videos about why oatmeal is healthy:
What's your favorite healthy breakfast?
As an aspiring minimalist, I aim to be thoughtful and intentional in what I do and purchase. In January I found some things that I really deem worthwhile and joy-inducing, that were completely worth any money spent. They are all things that help me to live a more healthy and intentional life.
1. F.lux is an app you can download onto your computer to change the color of your computer screen from a white-blue light to a warmer reddish light when it’s dark outside. This is useful because when it’s night time and we expose ourselves to that bright white and blue light, it can trick our brains into thinking it’s still day time, therefore disrupting our sleep patterns.
Although I don’t think F.lux has been scientifically tested, I definitely notice a difference in how easy it is for me to fall asleep after I’ve been looking at my phone for a while before bed, versus after I’ve been on my computer with a warmer colored screen.
2. Himalayan Salt Lamps:
Proponents of himalayan salt lamps make a lot of claims about the benefits of having them in the home.
These claims include:
- neutralizing electromagnetic radiation
- purifying the air
- reducing asthma and allergy symptoms
- improving breathing
- increasing energy levels
- improving sleep
- improving mood
- reducing stress
No one really has been able to prove these things However, they are certainly worth while for the following reasons:
- They’re great for night time use as the light is very warm and pink so it won’t keep you up or disrupt your sleep
- I think that they look really beautiful and add a natural element to any room
- They’re great for mood lighting
- If any of the previous claims happen to be true, you’re not missing out if you have one
I’ve got three salt lamps throughout the house and they bring me joy daily!
In January I picked up two hydrosols. A hydrosol is flower water, made from steam distilling plant materials.
The first one I tried was this Rose Water hydrosol from Alteya Organics. It’s for spraying onto your skin to help rejuvenate, moisturize, and energize the skin. It also reduces inflammation. I use it for my face after cleansing, when I wake up, after exercising, and even after applying my makeup. It smells amazing and really makes me feel a bit more fresh. I spritz throughout the day.
The second one I picked up was this Lemon Thyme hydrosol made by Evan Healy. I bought this one because I had remembered hearing about research that found that thyme was really effective at killing the bacteria that causes acne. I have seen some improvement since starting to use this hydrosol daily in combination with the rose hydrosol. I do think that my acne issues are related to my digestive issues, but the hydrosols seem to keep my skin a bit clearer than usual.
When I’m finished with these products I think I can repurpose these nice glass bottles. Maybe I’ll even look into making my own herbal waters, as these hydrosols are not cheap.
4. Reusable Cotton Produce Bags:
I’m fascinated by the zero waste living concept. I think there is no downside to creating less waste. I am excited to learn more and do more to reduce my own waste.
One change that I have made in an effort to reduce the waste I generate is taking my own cloth bags with me to the grocery store to use for bulk items and produce instead of the plastic bags available at the store.
These bags help me save a little plastic each trip, they look nicer, are more durable, and of course they’re reusable. The stores I’ve taken them to allow me to use them no problem and have just asked that I get the bags weighed beforehand at customer service so that the cashiers know at checkout how much each bag weighs. I have often gotten a bit of a discount for using my own bags.
You can store your items in these bags or just use them for transportation, transferring the items to jars when you get home.
You can make your own bags, use jars, or purchase the bags that I have over at Bea Johnson’s store on her website, zerowastehome.com.
I find this process of trying to reduce my waste exciting and fun. I like this sort of challenge.
5. Way of Gray “Love Yourself Workout Guide” and video series
I like to exercise when I think the exercise itself is fun. I also like when I don’t have to leave the house to do it. This helps me stay consistent.
Sophie Gray is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer. She creates fun workout programs and diet guides for healthy living. At the end of December I purchased her “Love Yourself Workout Guide” and Diet guide package. In this program, she included a video to go with each workout. This is so helpful! She does the moves along with you and continually motivates you to keep going.
The workouts are fun for me because they’re only about 30 to 40 minutes long, they’re structured into 5 different parts, and it’s like I’m doing them with a very motivational friend. There are four workouts a week, Wednesdays and the weekends being rest days. It seems you could start your workouts on any day of the week. I just started mine on Monday.
There are three months worth of workouts and videos and I am on month 2. I am really enjoying the workouts and haven’t missed a day yet. I’ve noticed that I’ve become stronger and a bit more toned. I also feel great after a workout, even when she kicks my butt.
6. Steel Cut Oats:
So I’ve professed my love for oatmeal in the past and I have to admit, I’ve found something I love even more than rolled oats. My new favorite breakfast is steel cut oats.
Apparently rolled oats and steel cut oats are nutritionally very similar. However, I’ve noticed that after eating the steel cut oats, my digestion is better than after eating the rolled oats.
From what I’ve read, this could be because the steel cut oats have a larger surface area, which slows digestion. They also are lower on the glycemic index than rolled oats.
This morning I had steel cut oats with some frozen blueberries, raisins, homemade almond milk and a teaspoon of almond butter. It was heaven.
What were your favorite things in January?
So when I sat down to write this, I realized that it would be hard to say exactly what I’ve learned from each of these channels. From all of these channels, and the people behind them, I’ve learned about taking care of my body and mental health, about business, about working hard and about being authentic and doing what I enjoy. I’ve learned not to settle and that the life I want is only going to become a reality if I take action. What I should have learned in school, I learned from YouTube. Thanks, YouTube.
1. Mimi Ikonn
I found Mimi a couple years ago. She is so positive, radiant, and intelligent. I enjoy watching Mimi’s videos because she is such a role model for people everywhere. She genuinely wants others to succeed, shares her thoughts and experiences with us, and shows us that it’s possible to live the life we want if we work hard.
2. Alex Ikonn
I found Alex through “The Five Minute Journal,” which I heard about on the podcast, “The Lively Show.” You can imagine how my mind imploded when I figured out Alex and Mimi are married. Alex and Mimi show us a beautiful relationship. They are partners in life, business, and exploration and live a lifestyle that is truly exceptional. What is really special about these two is that part of why they do what they do is to help others see what is possible in life.
Light by Coco is a channel focused on “living light” and minimalism. Coco shares with us her tips and tricks to a light and minimal lifestyle, which allows her to live clutter-free, travel, and move around easily. Her aesthetic is chic and clean which I find very attractive.
Ahhh. This channel. So serene. Sarah shares with us her knowledge about healthy living, which is vast. She shares recipes and lifestyle tips that are not always commonly found. The way Sarah presents herself and the information is beautiful and inspiring. She walks her talk and we’re all better for it.
5. Laura Miller
Laura hosts “Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.” on the Tastemade YouTube channel. She also has her own channel in which she gives us tips to live more healthily. She’s hilarious and a serious California babe.
Casey is a real inspiration. He's a high school drop out who had a kid very young. He went from having to wash dishes and live in a trailer park to being a successful film maker, now with almost 2 million subscribers on YouTube. He vlogs pretty much every day and loves working more than most other things in life. His attitude is very positive and he doesn't like to limit himself.
Kassie is a down to earth, very smart and funny YouTuber. She shares her life with us as she aims to grow into a better version of herself each day. She has beauty videos, advice videos, healthy lifestyle videos, and now she even has a gaming YouTube channel. This girl's got it all.
Melissa's YouTube channel is all about minimalism and those things in life in which minimalism can be a part of. She advises her viewers on making the life they want, saving money, becoming more minimalist as far as possessions go, and eating and living healthily. She's got some experience under her belt in these areas so it's nice that she shares with us!
Ella has used healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle to improve her medical situation and feel the best ever. She has a few cookbooks out now that are receiving tons of press. Her recipes are delicious, plant-based, and healthy.
10. Hey Fran Hey
Fran's channel is all about natural beauty and a healthy lifestyle, which she knows go hand in hand. She's gentle and graceful, super smart, and experienced in her field.
I love watching these channels because they help me to know what's possible. They inspire me to maintain a healthy lifestyle and do good things.
What are your favorite YouTube channels?