Nothing says summer like fresh, sweet watermelon! It's always a perfect hydrating treat, and is always found at most picnics and barbecues! There are lots of ways to eat watermelon, but have you ever tried it in a salsa!? I created this recipe, because most of the ingredients are growing right in the school gardens around August-October. Salsa is a great ways for kids (and adults) to get their daily servings of fruits and vegetables! This recipe has been kid tested and approved at schools throughout Las Vegas. It's always a favorite. Have some fun in your kitchen with this one! Any time is good for salsa time!
Pizza! Who doesn't love pizza!? Gather your family and create a pizza night together. If you don't want to make the dough, then try pita bread or English muffins for the crust. Most kids I know, just like cheese and pepperoni on their pizza. Put some colorful toppings together (eat the rainbow), and challenge your kids to create their own veggie pizza. The sauce is easily made with canned and fresh tomatoes, garlic and fresh herbs or grab a jar of sauce from your pantry.
Load your pizza up with veggies! Here are some of my favorite toppings:
diced bell pepper
cheese (dairy free, if desired!)
What are your favorite toppings?
What vegetables come to mind when you think of Spring?! How about asparagus, snap peas, green onions, zucchini and mint! Add in some fresh lemon, avocado and lentils and you have a fresh, Spring bowl of flavor! I love using lentils and sometimes they are forgotten in the pantry. Lentils are a great source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein and fiber. My Spring Lentil Bowl combines all my favorite veggies, lentils and flavors of the season. Best of all, it's super easy to make! See below for a video demonstration of this dish and the recipe.
There are three things that I usually have in my pantry: black beans, brown rice and salsa. For nights that we need a quick meal, these ingredients can be easily put together. These black bean taco bowls are easy to customize with your favorite salsa and various fresh ingredients that you have on hand (and with ingredients that your family loves). Check out my video presentation below to see how easy this meal is to create. Black beans are a great plant based source of protein. These bowls make a simple, nutrient dense full meal. Ready to make them yet?!
"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants", I love this quote by Michael Pollan, journalist and food activist. "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food", another great quote from Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. These are two quotes that sum up my beliefs about food, especially the plant based diet that I have followed for the past 21 years!! I remember going to my first vegetarian cooking class at UNLV, taught by a woman named Yogi G. She made healthy eating look simple and fun as we learned how to make home made salad dressings and prepare meat free dishes. This class was life changing for me as I saw how easy it was to transition to a plant based, vegetarian diet. From this point on, it really wasn't hard for me to stop eating meat or dairy products. It was never hard for me to "give up" cheese or animal products. These things didn't really make me feel good anyway, so why not try a different way of living. I was never stressed about how I would get my protein as there were plenty of plant based options (even more so today)! My mom was a huge influence as well. We have attended many raw food and vegan cooking classes together over the years (and today I am teaching plant based cooking classes)! We had a food dehydrator and learned how to make healthy snacks and experimented with raw -vegan foods. My mom even helped start the first raw food meet up group in Las Vegas and hosted many pot lucks in her home. My father was also on board with this healthier lifestyle and also created healthier versions of favorite dishes. Over the years, the raw food and vegan community grew in Las Vegas and still is growing to this day! I attended many healthy workshops and cooking classes that always inspired me to continue this journey, and connect with many friends and professionals that inspired me to continue to follow this path. One of my favorite conferences was Health, Healing and Happiness that brought together many plant based doctors, experts, holistic healers and motivation for this lifestyle.
My journey to plant based eating wasn't a drastic measure to defeat major health conditions. For me, it purely was a journey to a healthier way of living. I had minor health issues, but all healed quickly due to the removal of dairy, meat and other animal proteins. I just felt better overall eating a fresh, plant based diet that consisted of fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes. I studied from many plant base doctors such as Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. McDougall, Dr. Neil Barnard, and many others doctors and plant based/vegan specialists over the years. I realized this journey was mine to create, and I continued to experiment with different super foods, herbs, essential oils and many healing foods over the years. Cooking, nutrition and food became a true passion for me.
My healthy diet was put to the test when I was pregnant in 2007. I was determined to have a 100% vegan pregnancy, and I thankfully was successful. I had tended to always test low in iron, so at one point when my iron was low my doctor recommended that I eat meat. Knowing that I could eat plant based sources of iron and take an extra iron supplement, I listened to my body and ate the plants that I needed. To make a long story short, I had an extremely healthy pregnancy, and ended up having a beautiful, drug-free home birth with the assistance of a mid-wife. I know that this was mostly due to the healthy preparations that I had made during my pregnancy.
Fast forward to the present, my diet has changed slightly. I have studied nutrition and many diet theories over the years. I have learned there is not one diet that will work for everyone. I have also learned that our bodies change so much as we age. I still eat a full plant based diet, but I occasionally incorporate minimal animal protein (turkey, fish, eggs) when I feel my body wants it and maybe sometimes craves it. I do this without judgement. I know it's not important to have a label on how we eat. What's important is knowing where our food comes from (eating mostly organic, unprocessed food), and knowing how we feel after we eat this food. Food is supposed to make us feel good, energized and satisfied, if it doesn't then we shouldn't be eating it.
In my current career as a Certified Health Coach, I inspire other to eat more plants, to eat the rainbow, to eat greens and nutrient dense superfoods (superfoods are defined as the most nutrient dense foods on the planet)! We live in a very processed, fast food world, and I want to make a difference by inspiring others to make small changes in their diet. It doesn't have to be drastic, and it doesn't have to be hard. You don't have to go 100% vegan or forever give up your cheese (but you might want too)! All you have to do is "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants", thank you Michael Pollan. My work has focused mostly on nutrition for children and families. I saw first hand with my own son, who is now 12, as I cooked with him, planted edible gardens in our backyard and taught him over the years. I also manage the Chef and Nutrition Program for Green Our Planet, which is the largest school garden company in the United States. I teach hundreds of kids and parents how to eat real food growing right in the school garden. I love the healthy journey that I have been on, and I love inspiring others.
Please reach out to me if I can help YOU on your healthy eating journey!
No bake cookies! Have you caught on to this healthy, perfect snack or lunch box treat idea that doesn't require turning on the oven? Stock your pantry with some simple basic items, and you can throw these "cookies" together in no time. You can even sneak healthy extras in like flax seeds! We make several variations, but my son has always liked this one that uses carrots. I even got him to help in my latest video. I do love baked treats in the oven, but sometimes it's nice to keep the oven off, especially in the hot summer months.
Below are some general ingredients that you will need to build your own No Bake Cookies.
Basic items needed for No Bake Cookies:
* rolled oats
*peanut butter, almond butter or nut free sunflower seed butter
* honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup
*ground flax seeds, chia seeds or hemp seeds
*shredded carrots or shredded zucchini
*raisins or cranberries
*chopped nuts: walnuts, almonds, cashews
*spices: cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, all spice, ground ginger, nutmeg
Make sure to get your kids in the kitchen to help and they can create their favorites!
Click below to find more of my recipes for No Bake Cookies and other sweet (healthy) treats!
I love making salsa, especially non traditional versions of salsa like this white bean and radish salsa! Salsa is made using lots of fresh vegetables and herbs. It's a perfect appetizer and snack anytime! I created this version, because I had an abundance of radishes from a school garden. Radishes are a great topping for salads, tacos, even pickled, but my favorite way to eat them is in this salsa! White beans adds some protein which makes it an extra healthy, nutrient rich snack.
To build your own salsa, chose your base, then add fillings, herbs and seasonings. Eat with chips (of course)!
Base: Tomatoes, watermelon, pineapple, black beans, corn, radishes
Filling (Choose one or more): celery, cucumber, onions, peppers
Herbs & Seasonings: parsley, cilantro, mint, dill
Seasonings: lemon or lime zest or juice, salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes
If making this with kids, check out my favorite book Chicks and Salsa!
Want more snack ideas for kids? Check out my Smart Snacking ideas in my blog post below:
Eat the Rainbow! You may have heard that phrase before. Maybe it makes you think of Skittles candy (taste the rainbow), or maybe you think of eating nature's candy. We all know that nature's candy (fruits and vegetables) is the healthier choice! Eating the Rainbow provides your body with a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which are all essential for optimal health. Here are just a few benefits of eating the rainbow:
Red: healthy heart, blood and joints, lowers risk of disease
Green: energy, strong bones and teeth, digestive support
Yellow/Orange: immune system, skin, hair and eyes, healthy joints
Purple/Blue: memory, brain function, aging, fights inflammation
White: immune system and heart health
Eating the Rainbow is simple! Just grab your favorite vegetables and/or fruits and create a delicious salad!
Kids love trying vegetables that are grown right in their school garden! I love that they are always willing to try new things! Make it healthy and fun and kids will love it!
Through my work with Green our Planet, (Creators of America's Largest School Garden Program), as the Chef Program Manager and Nutrition Chef, I educate students on how to use fresh garden produce and teach them the importance of eating healthy. I teach the students how to make fun and creative recipes, and show them how delicious and easy healthy eating can be! It's amazing to see how many kids love trying the dishes that I create for them. They always ask for second servings and can't wait to make it at home. I do get kids that are hesitant to try vegetables and refuse to try it at all, but a majority of them will try it. Maybe because they were trying things that grew in their school garden, maybe because their friends tried it, or maybe because they know it's good for them...whatever the case, I love inspiring these students.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in Las Vegas closed mid-March, and I could no longer deliver my program to the students. Green Our Planet found a solution by creating a Virtual Academy to bring nutrition and garden lessons to students. My kitchen once again became a studio for videos ( I was about due to start making them again)! I can't see the students in person right now, but I can see their smiles in my mind. Of course during this time, I will be experimenting with new recipes and testing them on my own son!
I always love teaching students how to make smoothies! They are always surprised at how good kale and spinach can taste! Smoothies are a great way to get so many essential nutrients in! Don't have time for a big breakfast or lunch? Grab a smoothie!
Some common items growing in the school gardens are lacinato "dinosaur" kale, spinach, cilantro, mint and chard. That is what inspired me to create this smoothie. The apples, dates and bananas add the perfect sweetness for the greens! This smoothie changes names depending on the season (The Grinch's Smoothie, St. Patrick's Day smoothie, Green Monster Smoothie...you get the idea!) Just always keeping it fun for the students! What would you name this smoothie?
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PLEASE NOTE: The information provided throughout my website pertaining to your health or wellness, is not intended to be a substitute for the professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by your own physician or health care provider. It is intended to be provided for informational, educational, and self-empowerment purposes only. This information should not be used to diagnose, treat or cure any illness or health condition. If you have, or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your physician or health care provider. A Health Coach is defined as a guide and mentor who empowers clients to take responsibility for their own health and supports them to implement and sustain lifestyle and behavior changes that will contribute to the achievement of their personal wellness goals. I became certified as a Health Coach because of my passion for health and wellness, and to work with others on incorporating positive and healthy changes in their lives.
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