Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving

IMG_8353Most people love Thanksgiving because they enjoy spending time with family and friends, watching football and stuffing their faces all day.  I used to do that, and then I would feel sick for the entire next week, yet continue to shove down the left-overs.

In 2008, when I was living in Atlanta I participated in the Atlanta Half marathon, I continued to run this race each year to follow until I moved in 2012. Now living in LA I don’t get up at the crack of dawn to run 13 miles, but I do try to get up and get in a workout before we enjoy the spread.

What’s better than Thanksgiving?… FRIENDSGIVING

Last Sunday I hosted my first ever 100% VEGAN Friendsgiving!  Sixteen friends, co-workers, and their significant others huddle around the dining room, watching football, chatting, and catching up, while experiencing a taste of my vegan culture.  We had a great time and there was plenty of delicious, yet healthy dinner choices.
I enjoyed cooking some of my favorites and also tried my hand at a few new dishes.

My menu included:

Vegan Ranch Dip served with veggie spears
fall trail mix
sweet pumpkin humus served with cinnamon pita chips
vegan stuffing
mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy
green bean casserole
roasted brussel sprouts
butternut squash soup
spinach, mushroom, sun-dried tomato Quiche
and a fall salad
For dessert: Mini Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

It was a great time with great friends.  Thanks to all who ventured out to part-take in my festivities.  Until next year…



Four years ago today I pledged to give up meat and make a lifestyle change to be healthier.  I haven’t looked back since; I’ve never once regretted giving up meat, and feel better than ever.  Though, many people may not understand why one chooses to become a vegetarian, it has to be your own personal beliefs and inspirations to make the change.  What I do know, and strongly believe, is that going vegetarian is better for your personal health, better for the environment, and quite frankly a break for your wallet.

Animal foods are higher in fat than most plant foods, particularly saturated fats, and plants do not contain cholesterol.

The number one thing I hear from so many friends and family is:
 “If you’re vegetarian, how do you get your protein?” 

On average 15-30% of our caloric intake is supposed to be protein.  Most people don’t realize that the average American consumes well beyond the minimum amount of protein than our bodies need each day (as much at 50% more), the only exception is pregnant women and body builders.
It is recommended that the average person take is between 40-70 grams of protein a day.  Of course many factors (age, gender, weight) can vary the actual amount needed for the body.  An individual who partakes in endurance and strength training should consume 0.5 – 0.8 grams per pound.  For example, say I weigh 150 pounds; the minimum protein intake to satisfy my body’s needs which is still only 75 grams.

So what are my main sources of protein, as an herbavore?

-Whole grains: quinoa (1 cup is 18 grams of protein), whole grain bread, brown rice, barley, tofu/soy products, beans, lentils, and legumes (these can include hummus, edamame, black beans, etc).  High proteins also found in nuts, nut butter= PEANUT BUTTER (who doesn’t love a heaping scoop of peanut butter on a banana, or on top of you favorite dessert?), and of course there are the meat substitutions that are typically slam packed with protein and you can always fall back on a protein shake post workout, or if you’re feeling lazy and do not want to put any effort into creating a colorful meal (one scoop, typically contains between 15-19 gram of protein)

Did you know there are negative side effects associated with High Protein Diets?

These include heart disease and some types of cancer.  It can also negatively affect your kidneys if you go a prolonged period of time eating a high-protein diet because it requires your kidneys go into overload working to eliminate the raised levels of urea produced.

I’m not here to convince you to give up meat and become vegetarian, but I do want to help people make the right choices and choose a healthier lifestyle by working out and staying active, and eating a healthy diet regularly (give up on those fad diets- they don’t work forever!)

To celebrate: a Spicy Black Bean Burger with the works!

Go For It: NASM Certified!

It was exactly 5 months ago today I ordered my study materials and registered for my National Academy of Sports Medicine course.  This is was something I’d considered for years, thought about constantly, and finally I made my dream a reality.  A little inspiration from my guy helped to, he reminded me if it’s something I want then GO FOR IT!

In the beginning it felt like starting kindergarten, I was excited to read the text and start learning right away.  Some parts came to me easily (nutrition)…others not so much, but I was determined to learn it all.

I was scheduled to take my exam in May, and the closer it got the more and more nervous I became.  In February I made the decision that I would attend my boyfriends Law School graduation, which meant, I needed to speed up my studying and take the exam early.  I juggled the idea for a while, but I couldn’t possibly miss his graduation, but I also did not want to put the exam off too much longer.  I aimed for taking the exam at the end of April, but had May 5th as a fall back week, just in case I really truly felt I wasn’t prepared enough.

As April 28th approached, I got more nervous, the test is pass or fail, 120 question; 20 of which are “research questions”, which they throw out, but you don’t know which ones, and you have 2 hours to complete.

TEST DAY: I allowed adequate time to drive to the testing facility and had to be there 30 minutes prior to testing.  My test was scheduled for 2:00 and I arrived, parked, took a potty break, and was in the door a quarter after 1.  (Maybe it was nervous, but I swore it took me longer to drive there the night before on my practice run.)  The proctor snapped a photo of me, checked my ID and AED/CPR cert card and I was ready to go.

My biggest fear going into the exam was I would not have enough time to finish, but it quickly came to my realization that I had more than enough time, as it kept track of your time, number of questions answer, marked, and unanswered at the top.  An hour and 20 minutes later I was finished and checking all the answers.  I felt confident but was still nervous.  Of course to delay you from settling your nerves and seeing your results right away, they make you fill out a survey before you’re actually done.

I headed out the door and approached the proctor, where he printed out my results…..I PASSED!! WAHOO! I have never been more relieved in my life!  I hustled straight out that door and celebrated with a trip to Yogurt Land on my way home!

I am now a NASM Certified Personal Trainer!