As a trainer I’m always trying to find new and clever ways to keep my clients motivated, accountable and confident. I want them to know and believe they CAN lose the weight they want to lose. And they can feel good, just the way their body’s meant to.
But for me, clients’ weight loss is just an added bonus. If it happens, great. But I’d rather shift their focus to changing their lifestyle and self-perception.
What Should They Focus On Instead?
Everyone (well most people) want to lose weight. Every model, even fitness models, the girls you look up to and think are perfect, etc.
I hate focusing training around weight loss. It’s true, I build it into my programming for high calorie burning exercises and teaching proper nutrition.
But really my training style is to build friendship. This builds trust and from there I can slowly help build confidence. Confidence is everything and women lack it massively.
I’m tired of that. Women are amazing!! They just can’t see it. So to help you ladies open your eyes to that, I’m starting a weekly blog featuring my clients. It’ll share the life of some of my clients who has truly blossomed over the past year.
We all have our hills to climb, but my client who wishes to remain anonymous, has been steep. She was in a toxic marriage for years. She found her way out only to be kicked out of her social circle. Anxiety and depression became a daily struggle.
She didn’t take this lying down. She moved forward and started a new life. She’s rocking her work life, using exercise as an outlet and is insanely funny. It’s ridiculous how funny she is!
Now that she’s in a better place, she has so much to give. And thankfully she’s turned that back on herself. She’s using her energy to work on burning weight off so her vibrance can shine through.
She’s come so far already but has a lot more work to do to reach her goals. I have no doubt that she will.
The emotional battles we all fight - learning to love yourself, finding healthy alternatives, getting over slumps and gaining confidence, all can be found in this blog. We’re working on chronicling this together, so you’ll see her journaling here as well.
So here it is, her honest journey of being in the 300's and trying to lose over 150 pounds. She’s already turned into a more positive, witty, happy, hilariously sarcastic and fit person. I really love being around her and I know you will too.
Here is the start.
Journey START - 353lbs
Current Goal by age 41 - Get under 300
Long-term Goal - 180
She is turning 41 in 7 weeks. Looking at the past year, she’s lost 32 lbs which is a huge feat for any client! So a round of applause for please!
She’s lost 42 lbs since starting her journey and is feeling so much happier and better about herself. To empower her to keep the momentum going, I had her begin this weekly journal.
If you’re thinking of going on a similar journey, get yourself a notebook, use Google Docs, or find whatever works for you. It’s such an important tool because it forces you to hold yourself accountable, but it also forces you to look at all the amazing work you’re doing. Take a minute to read through it every so often, especially if you’re having a low moment. I bet you as soon as you flip through it your view will change.
Here are the highlights from last week, interview style.
Me: What was your favorite breakfast this week?
Client: Green smoothies with almond butter and chia seeds. They’re fast and not too heavy. They help me start the day making a good choice and being nice to myself.
Me: What about lunch?
Client: Hmmm…. Probably when I pan cooked chicken breast in a smidge of olive oil and paired it with oven roasted asparagus. I like that I can make healthy food with my own hands.
Well, either that or the cheeseburger + tomatoes + avocado (no bun) I got from Habit. I’m happy that I can still eat out and make good choices.
Me: I love that too! Napa is so great about offering healthy options at restaurants. Gotta love that. So did you have a favorite dinner this week?
Client: This week I worked on my homemade spaghetti sauce. I love pasta so I still want that flavor but without all the carbs. So serving it over sautéed zucchini is fun, plus you can make it different by adding meat or keeping it vegetarian.
Me: The afternoon can be tough since it’s prime time for cravings. How did you handle snacks?
Client: Yea that’s true! This is the toughest time for me because that’s when I get to craving sweets. But it’s so easy to replace sugary foods with fruit. Why did I never before?? Rainier cherries are in season right now. I like them because they’re cheap and delicious.
Me: Ooh, I love those too! In season snacking is the best snacking.
Did you have a favorite workout moment this week? Maybe something new you learned how to do, or a moment you felt really powerful?
Client: Well working out has been hard. I’m not an exercising kind of person so I’m having to learn how to hold equipment and other basic stuff like that. I’m so glad I have you to help me with this! I would be clueless!!! This week I loved when you helped me see there is a light at the end of this tunnel and I can reach my goals. ! I really felt strong when we did that together.
Me: I’m so glad you liked that! And you felt strong because you are :) So tell me about your mood. Highs and lows for the week.
Client: Sleep’s an issue for me. When I get it, I feel hopeful. Like maybe I actually could get under 300 lbs before my birthday. When I don’t get it, I feel down. Frustrated with myself. Looking at myself. But I’m just trying to stay focused on one thing at a time. Baby steps....
As a trainer I ask my clients to say 5 things they like about themselves everytime they say something negative. The power of using our minds as a self-fulfilling prophecy is such a powerful tool! Think positive and you will be positive.
Me: Ok you know what’s next. Tell me five things you like about yourself. Go!
Client: Haha, ok ok. You’re right. I need to work on that. I guess:
Wanna see a detailed account of my clients mood, food and exercise, including the rest of her list? Click here.
Back to Tessa
Thanks for following her journey here with us. I can’t wait to tell you more as time goes on. If you’d like to follow more of my client's journey's to regaining their health on social media (in addition to here, ofc!), you can find us at @bare.health
To your health, always.
Hi friends! You’re about to read a post sponsored by Siren Snacks. As always I’ll share what I really think.
I’ve been a total fan of this super cute company for a while, way before they reached out to me. They’re a plant-based snack company that makes sweets that are actually healthy.
Their protein bites are all handmade with simple ingredients that are always grain-free, refined sugar-free, GMO free, soy free, and gluten-free too. And yet somehow they’re sooooo delicious. Amazing, right?
Long story short (because yes I can talk about sweets for a long time ha!!), they’re literally the perfect sweet substitute for my afternoon sugar cravings. A whole packet is only 200 cal with quality ingredients in it, so I actually can have my cake and eat it too.
Plus their marketing is amazing on their packaging and I just love them. So just like always, keep reading to get my real honest opinions plus some helpful tips.
Ok, enough fan girling haha. Thanks Siren Snacks!
Ok. Before I get into all the delicious details of Siren, I want to talk about sweet cravings. We all get them (me especially), but there’s a reason behind it. Your body is trying to tell you something.
While your cravings could be for a variety of reasons, here are some things to think about:
Why you are craving sweets
1. You’re stressed out (or tired)
We’ve all had stress. It’s not comfortable mentally, of course. But it’s not comfortable physically either. So your body is going to try to find a way to fix it, stat. Queue the sugar cravings…
If you’re tired, it’s pretty much the same story. Both stress and fatigue wear you down.
Your body will respond by looking for quick pick me ups, whether you know it or not. And weirdly, being tired has a chemical effect on your body that tricks you into thinking you’re hungry when you’re not!! Can we say “cruel”?
Try to remind yourself in these moments that coffee is a great energy booster with zero sugar. Unless it’s night time, and then an herbal tea will do wonders for you. My favorites are ginger when I’m in the mood for spice and chamomile when I’m looking for something soothing.
2. You’ve got low blood sugar or iron levels
This is a huge problem for women. One way to combat it is by tweaking your diet. The power of whole foods to cure our ailments is real. Luckily pomegranate seeds and leafy greens have huge amounts of iron in them and they’re easy to work into smoothies or other foods you’re probably eating already.
If your blood sugar is low, check in with yourself.
Are you eating frequently enough?
Are you eating too many carbs or processed foods?
Or maybe it’s the opposite. You’ve gone so hard on no carbs that your body has started craving sweets.
I’m all about reducing carb intake, but make sure you’re still eating natural sources like sweet potato, green beans and carrots. This will help your body to function at its best, which means more energy and less sweet cravings.
3. YOur gut bacteria is out of whack
This can happen for so many reasons. It’s weird because you actually want to have bacteria in your gut... but it’s got to be the good kind.
If bad bacteria starts to take over, you can run into all kinds of serious issues (bloating, gas, constipation, and lots of other not so cute symptoms). One thing that can really help here is incorporating probiotics or fermented foods like sauerkraut into your daily routine.
If you’ve been sick recently and were on antibiotics, this could be the cause as well. If this sounds like you, consider talking to a naturopath.
4. You’re sad :(
Nobody’s immune to feeling down. But if you’re going through a rough patch and your sugar cravings are peaking, this could be your body’s way of trying to cheer you up. Why? Because sugar releases serotonin, our natural happiness hormone.
If this sounds like you, first of all, *hug*.
Second of all, try reaching for tofu, pineapple, or walnuts, or get outdoors for some sun. Jogging will give you the benefit of exercise and sunshine - win win!
If you really want to help yourself, go for that jog outside and within 30 minutes of getting back home, eat a small snack made up of one of those serotonin boosting foods I just mentioned.
5. You’re not eating enough protein
This is hard for so many people, especially vegans. There are so many benefits to veganism, but you need to be methodical to make sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs.
If you think this could be you, try adding more nuts and seeds to your routine. These are easy to blend into your morning smoothies (almond or cashew milk + nut butter + flax or chia seeds + leafy greens and berries = DELICIOUS!).
I love having daal because it’s yummy, protein-heavy, international and so easy to make. Beans are great too and work well with all kinds of meals. Mushrooms are a super fast protein rich veggie I love eating raw or cooked.
While I always recommend looking at your diet to see how you can improve, sometimes you just want something sweet and that’s all there is to it. So that’s where Siren comes in.
I really like their story. You can read it here. It all started with Elizabeth’s autoimmune diagnosis. An autoimmune diagnosis is what started my vegan journey, so I immediately identified with her. Plus they focus on protein (which we already know is a possible sugar craving culprit) from a plant-based source: peas!
And literally on their website they say “the future will be powered by plants.” Don’t you just love that????
Elizabeth is amazing because she sent me literally every flavor they have to try: Snickerdoodle, Dark Chocolate Brownie, Cookie Dough and Lemon Poppyseed.
My favorite was Cookie Dough because I LOVE chocolate chip cookies. They’re totally my weakness haha and my go to sugar craving in the afternoons. But I never indulge in cc cookies because of the high fat / gluten. So it’s nice to have a snack in the afternoon like Siren that pairs perfectly with my coffee and feels indulgent.
I also really like the Poppyseed because I love poppyseed muffins and scones which once again I NEVER EAT, haha man! My fiancé Matt loves the brownie one since brownies are his weakness.
Protein ball recipe
These bites also work really well in homemade protein ball recipes. Hey do you remember last year when we made these with Abrah? Here is the recipe from my original blog post. I’ve been playing around to find the perfect combination. I think I’ve found just the right combo of ingredients:
Mix all ingredients in a food processor or highest powered blender until fine and able to form a ball.
Transfer to a bowl, and roll into small 1 inch balls.
Fridge for about 10 minutes, then roll in extra cacao powder.
Store in air tight container and keep chilled.
But that’s what’s perfect for me… everyone’s taste buds are different. So just like there’s no perfect smoothie recipe, there’s no perfect protein ball recipe either. Play around with it to find your dream combo, remembering to keep it as low sugar as possible.
PS - Isn’t Harley the cutest??? Love her <3 Thanks trainer Teal for sharing your pup.
how do you deal with your cravings?
So lovelies - now you know what I do when sweet cravings strike. I try to prevent them by making sure my diet meets my needs nutritionally.
But it’s not possible to be perfect all the time, which is why I’m so happy Siren is around. I get to be bad and good all at once.
So tell me - what are your favorite ways to beat your sugar cravings?
Special thanks to Talia Chakraborty
Hi friends - I’m so excited BottleRock Napa Valley is almost heeeere! For those of you new to BottleRock, it’s an annual music festival that began in 2013. Every year since it’s brought 40,000 people each day of the fest. This year it’s set to begin this Friday (May 25th) and will end Sunday the 27th.
BottleRock brings the most heavy hitter musicians ever. I love it! This year we get to hang in the Napa County Fairgrounds listening to Bruno Mars, Snoop Dogg, Phantogram, Earth wind and fire, Muse, The Chainsmokers, MY PERSONAL FAV (St. Paul and The Broken Bones), E-40, Low Cut Connie, and so many more musicians I really can’t type them all ha. And of course there are amazing aftershows in downtown Napa if you want to keep the party going.
Unfortunately BottleRock is sold out, though you can get your hands on some sold out tix here, gouging free! Either way put it on your radar for next year because it’s definitely worth a visit. And for all you BottleRock lovers ready to rock n’ roll, I’ve put together a short list of ways to keep it healthy while you’re jammin out this Memorial Day weekend.
Please please please take this seriously! Lather on some sunscreen that isn’t cancerous 30 minutes before you plan to arrive. Bring it with you so you can layer more on every couple hours (or more frequently if you’re sweating a lot).
Bring a hat and some shades. And bring some light layers too so you can cover up if you feel like you might be starting to burn. (Also do you love how my felt hat as dog hair on it jeeezzz Tessa get it together)
You’re gonna be camping out here for a while. Give yourself the best chance to enjoy every moment by eating a healthy breakfast (hint: smoothies are your friend) at Hudson in Oxbow before you go into the festival. Or of course you can always make your own using my go to smoothie recipe.
Now once you’re in is where it gets fun.
If you end up veering off course, that’s ok. Keep in mind that we are in the Napa Valley foodie nation here with fine dining and exquisite chefs, so you just need to look for something moderately healthy as all the food tends to be very decadent.
Anyway, I chose vendors based on visits to their restaurants. So while I’m not sure what they’re going to plate up, I assume their fest food will be at least sort of consistent with their restaurant.
Even though it’s not going to be super hot this weekend, you need to stay hydrated!! So prepare yourself to buy some expensive festival water. Your body will thank you for it.
And yes I know of course you’re going to be boozing haha... I mean they have some of the best wines in the world (it’s in Napa, duh), craft beer, cocktails and even a bourbon bar. But just make sure you’re pairing your alcohol and water 1:1 so you don’t get a nasty hangover in the morning.
This part is so important! There’s so much to take in in a festival like this. I think it’s really important to build in a little time to decompress and rejuvenate. My favorite way to do this is to visit the Spa. There will be Rapid Recovery Hydration Therapy (yes, that does mean IV hydration), Zeel massages, Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, Lush (G-d I love them!!) and more.
Lastly, let’s face it. It’s easy to lose track of time and get scatterbrained in the sun… So this tip is only sort of health related, but I’ll tell you anyway. Download the BottleRock App. It’ll help you with finding food, wineries, building your schedule, you name it. Bring some order to all this joyous chaos gf.
Ok, that’s it folks! Have so much fun this weekend!!!! 🎶
Miner Family Winery’s Spring Fling has Flung (aka YAY IT’S SUMMER!!)
Have I ever told you how much I LOVE blogging? It opens up so many opportunities to meet amazing people and do incredible things. For example - a few weekends ago I went to The Miner Family Winery’s Spring Fling Release Party with Vineliving (Mallory) and so many other blogger friends. Let me tell you, this event was LEGIT. It gathered foodie bloggers from around the Bay Area to celebrate the sun, err, the summer. Of course we celebrated in true Napa style - with wine 🍷
Spring Fling was co-hosted by blogger goddess Vine-Living, which should tell you right there just how special this was. And if you don’t know who that is, go ahead and hop on over to Bloglovin and follow this amazing woman right now. She’ll teach you all the things you need to know to be hip in Napa.
Anyway, Miner hosts this party every year to release summer wines into the summer season. You can really feel summer coming on with this event, so if you haven’t pulled out your summer dresses yet, it’s TIME.
I really loved this event because we were absolutely spoiled by Miner! They gave bloggers their entire second story which included unlimited wine, food catered by gourmet grilled cheese sandwich makers @grilledcheezguy (who are so talented they’ve won nine National Grilled Cheese Invitational trophies), and oysters by the infamous @billtheoysterman1996. Did you know he’s literally kidnapped people for private parties before and got paid for it??
Miner Family Winery
Miner is located right past the Oakville crossroad on Silverado trail. It’s absolutely stunning as their winery overlooks opposing vineyards. It was founded in 1996 by Dave and Emily Miner, though the caves there are serious and took 15 months to complete!
Dave and Emily married each other and released their first miner wines in 1999. Five years later Bon Appetit included them in the “Top Five” All-American wines. What a whirlwind! After more than twenty years of Miner, they’re still full steam ahead and their wines are as strong and beautiful as ever.
If you want to learn more about them before making your visit (because you really have to see it and taste it for yourself!), you can check out their blog or find them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
Anyway, back to the Spring Fling. If you’re lucky enough to go to one of these, you can expect to be treated to a truly delicious and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Rosato. But the specific blends and flavors are always different, so let me tell you about the wines we tasted this year.
2017 Rosato of Sangiovese
This is probably the summeriest wine of all the wines in the world. The French know how to welcome the sun in style, and it always involves a chilled rose wine! This rosé is made in the traditional Provence style using Sangiovese grapes. They’re pressed gently until a blush color is produced, leaving a dry, medium-bodied wine with cherry-pomegranate flavors. I really love this one, though it is slightly on the sweeter side compared to a red. Luckily it’s dry for a rosé though so I think even you dry wine lovers will enjoy a glass or two.
One of my favorite things to do when trying new wines is to think about the best vegan pairings to really bring forward all the right flavors. So I’ll do that for each of the wines I tried, starting with this one!
The Rosato practically sings with joy when you add a side of flatbread lightly smeared with olive oil. Or of course you can dunk for some added fun. But really any fat will work beautifully with Sangiovese grapes since it helps to balance the tannins. You can try other oils like avocado or walnut, or try drizzling oil over other foods like tomato and basil. If you want something non oil-based, hazelnuts, pistachios and fig work really well here.
2017 Sauvignon Blanc
This is a Bordeaux style white wine that’s crisp in all the right ways. This bright flavor comes from being fermented and aged in steel barrels. When you sip on this beauty, expect to smell stone fruit and fresh herbs while tasting grapefruit and melon. Interestingly this type of wine is best enjoyed in its youngest years, within 2-3 years after bottling.
I love pairing this with an English pea hummus and vegetable crudite. Basalt in Napa does an amazing English pea hummus. Did you know English peas and sweet peas are the same thing, and are actually garden peas? Did you also know I love geeking out about veggies? Ha!!
You can also pair sauv blanc with cucumbers drizzled with coconut aminos and black sesame seeds, seasonal green veggies like broccoli or legumes like green or fava beans. And of course a little vegan pesto pizza never hurt anyone….
This is a beautiful Rhône style white wine that’s also fermented in stainless steel, but in tanks instead of barrels. Before they make it to the tanks, they’re whole cluster pressed, which gives it a really bright tropical flavor. It’s a well balanced wine that’s also best enjoyed within the first few years of bottling and should be served chilled.
Viogniers pair best with a salad course. I like to make mine super colorful by adding fresh fruit like apricot, peach, blackberries, or mango. You can continue playing with your salad by adding microgreens, homemade dressings (it’s actually pretty easy and fun to make these!), nutritional yeast, and slivered almonds, sesame seeds, cucumbers, or anything that adds a little crunch.
If you’re not feeling salad vibes, first of all, I think you just haven’t found your salad soulmate yet, but ok ok, you could also pair with sweet root veggies like sweet potato, carrot or parsnips. Eating them raw will give you the highest nutrient bang for your buck, but feel free to roast them with a little cinnamon, ginger or turmeric if you’d prefer to eat them warm.
2014 Grenache Sierra Foothills
Miner offers two grenaches, which are Rhône-Style red wines. We tried their Sierra Foothills grenache, which comes from the Naggier family vineyard. Their other grenache is sourced from Hudson Vineyard. The Sierra Foothills blend has a light body, a strawberry/raspberry flavor and a floral and spicy scent. I know it’ll be hard, but try to drink it within four years of bottling. This one should be served chilled just below cellar temperature.
As far as food goes, Asian, Thai and Indian curries are my favorite to pair Grenaches. Any of them work, but if you’re really getting creative you can look into curries from other countries too! Grenaches usually have a fruity characteristic like strawberry, black cherry or raspberry. Vegan paella or vegan risotto works really well too, and honestly any world food works perfectly here because of the spices in Grenache.
2014 Syrah Stagecoach Vineyards
Instead of trying their other grenache, Miner treated us to another Rhône-Style red - their Stagecoach Vineyards Syrah. Stagecoach is located on Atlas Peak and offers classically dark, fruity flavors with a fun smoky spice.
Because of the smokiness, I love pairing syrahs with Mediterranean food like dolmas, falafel, hummus and pita, or Greek salad.
2015 Emily’s Cabernet Sauvignon
We ended with a Bordeaux style red wine - the classic Cab Sauv. In fact, it’s so classic that they offer 3 different varieties. Emily’s was named after the co-founder of Miner named…. You guessed it, Emily. They gave this one the honors of sharing her name because it’s as beautiful and expressive as she was. The wine is decadent and smells of black fruit, toasted oak, espresso and mocha. Though it’s labelled a cab sauv, it’s actually got a little merlot and petit verdot in there too.
This is my go to dinner wine and the one I was most excited to try. Whenever I am out I always get a cab. The bold flavor just calls to me and I know I’ll be happiest with this! So in my mind it pairs with every vegan dinner I make. Really this is the wine I would buy over and over again and love it equally the same at every dinner.
Now that you’ve heard all about these delicious summer releases, I hope you can make some time over the next couple of months to check Miner out for yourself. Whenever you’re ready to live a life of luxury and try these bad boys out in a CAVE, they’re ready for you. Bring your phones (haha, as if you’d forget!) and they’ll even snap some pics of you and your friends. Remember to use the hashtags #MinerGals, #MinerWines, and #DrinkMinerWines to get Insta famous. And don’t forget all their summer releases pair perfectly with vegan dishes, so have fun and get creative!
PS - for those of you event lovers like myself, Miner hosts a stage at BottleRock (May 25th - 27th) that will have music, shade and games. It’s super fun so make sure to stop by. There’s also going to be a First Friday Sunset Lounge Tasting Event on July 6th. If you’re into eating, drinking and sunset viewing, this is your jam. Space is limited so make sure to snag your spot while you still can.
Thanks for the help Talia Chakraborty
Your vegan vacation guide to Cabo San Lucas
Recently I went to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was sooooo pretty and the food was really on point. There’s no better way to destress than to eat guac with your toes in the sand, so Cabo was a dream come true for me. I got to destress and spend time with my super sweet aunt who will be moving there soon... Which hopefully means I’ll have many more trips to Cabo in my future :)
Where to stay
I had a great time lounging in a villa in Pedregal, which has a private beach and an off the beaten path, non-touristy feel. You can rent villas or homes there and I highly recommend it! But wherever you choose to stay in Cabo, I’m sure it will be great.
Once you get yourself situated, one of the first things you’ll want to do is grab something to eat. Hopefully you’ve brought your walking shoes, because the hills are serious here and you’ll need them to get around comfortably.
Now if you happen to find yourself in a villa, it’s pretty easy to eat vegan in Cabo. You can ask your chef to prepare healthy Mexican vegan meals so you’re not missing out. I highly recommend ordering skinny margaritas with fresh lime and your favorite tequila. And of course, enjoy all the fresh, made to order guacamole your heart desires. Just remember to ask for veggies for dipping instead of chips.
When you’re ready to venture out and try some local cuisine, you absolutely have to try these gems. I’m seriously still dreaming of them:
There are five global locations of OMNIA. Their newest location is in Cabo, which is funny because it’s actually in San Jose. Anyway, when you walk into the OMNIA you’ll immediately feel like you’re walking into the future. You walk through these incredible arches with wide open views of the ocean. Once you’re inside you’ll have a couple of options:
This place is literally on the beach, which means you can dine with your toes in the sand. As I said, Cabo makes dreams come true. The Office happily modifies anything on the menu to your specifications. And if you get veggie fajitas they’re not just bell peppers and onions. They also include carrots, zucchini and broccoli, their tortillas are off the charts delicious and the guacamole is insane.
Warning - try to avoid Rambo if you’re being good because he’s The Office’s tequila master. No joke, he’ll tip your head back and pour tequila down your throat!
You’ll need to make a reservation to get in here. It’s pretty pricey (as in, this place definitely uses US prices) but it’s worth every penny! The ambiance is killer since it’s on the Pacific Ocean and you can hear waves crashing into the walls of the patio as you eat. And since it’s in the Pedregal,it’s got a stunning and super luxurious feel.
I really like the story behind their location. It’s no accident that El Farallon is in the Pedregal. To put this marvelous restaurant and hotel where it is, the owner had to literally drill her own cave through the Pedgregal! I can’t even with that.
Other cool things they offer are live music, a champagne bar with stunning champagnes and a vegetarian menu. For our appetizer we had mixed salad with a lovely vinaigrette and asparagus soup, and for our main course I had a stuffed tomato with quinoa and extra veggies on the side (peppers, mushrooms, beets and carrots).
This place is surprising in the best way. It’s in San Jose which takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get to, and is a fully functional community farm in the middle of the desert. Imagine an oasis and you’ve got Flora Farms.
You approach the farms on a dirt road and the terrain suddenly shifts from sand to palm trees and lush veggies and flowers. The farm is set up like a little community with very posh storefronts selling everything from homemade chocolate bars and jewelry to painted bull skulls. They have a lovely restaurant that’s partially inside a barn and partially outside overlooking the gardens. The menu is seasonal and changes frequently, so you know whenever you go you’ll be dining on the absolute freshest ingredients of the day.
When we went for lunch they featured a variety of fresh local foods. One that stuck out to me was the wheat berries and kale salad with grilled onion, parsley, figs and lemon. They also have pizza, soups (one of which was a warm tomato soup with parmesan and black lentils and olive oil), and sandwiches like the local slow poached tuna with fennel, dill, lemon, sun dried chili and aioli on a ciabatta. And of course they feature their famous handcrafted farm cocktails pretty much any time they’re open.
I had a chilled asparagus soup with toasted almonds and olive oil and a massaged kale salad with thinly sliced beets. One of the most fun things on the menu is their “walk through the garden” appetizer selection of today’s freshly harvested vegetables. If you’re into seasonal produce, you’ve got to try it.
Still hungry for VEgan?
If you have extra time, these restaurants are also vegan friendly and will happily accommodate any special requests:
If you’d rather stay in and cook, California Ranch Market is the perfect place to stock up on vegan goods. Vive Organiko is great too if you have any snack or toiletry needs.
Keep in mind that new restaurants and hidden local gems pop up all the time. So to stay on top of the best food of the moment, follow my tips in this blog post. If you’re in a pinch, you can always try ordering a fajita with no meat. Skip the tortilla and rice and replace with extra beans and some leafy greens. Enjoy!
And though I stuck to skinny margaritas (“when in Rome…”), I wouldn’t be a Napa girl if I didn’t recommend some cool wine bars for you to check out while you’re there.
Annnnnd I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t give you a coffee recommendation. Interestingly, coffee isn’t grown in Baja California, the state that Cabo’s in. This means that roasters in Cabo need to import from somewhere in order to offer coffee, whether that’s mainland Mexico or anywhere else in the world. I really like Cabo Coffee Company’s solution to this. They import organic beans from a private grower in Oaxaca and then roast the beans daily themselves. You can really taste the difference between these beans and other imported roasts.
Things to do
If you ask me, food and drinks are the highlight of any great vacation. But there should be more to your days than that, so here’s a list of some amazing things to do in Cabo:
1. Scuba dive with Laura at Cabo Private Guide
We did an insane shark dive with her down to a shipwreck called El Vencedor. You can see a really neat short clip of sea life that typically hang out around the shipwreck on YouTube. We were super lucky and saw 11 bull sharks between the 7 - 12 feet long. This was an amazing experience for us, and would be really cool for any diver.
But if you want to take things down a notch she can host a variety of adventures for all skill levels ranging from snorkeling and searching for pretty fish to seeing a whale shark or even seals. She’ll get you covered at unbeatable prices, plus she’s adorable, so you really have nothing to lose.
2. Check out El Arco (The Arch)
This area is so pretty and makes for some incredible photo ops. It’s a great place to spot fish and birds and swim in the prettiest blue-green water you’ve ever seen. People love to visit by boat, snorkel, paddleboard, kayak, or really any way they can get over there. It’s pretty easy to get there so you’ll have your pick! You can even jump off of some of the rocks into the perfectly blue-green water if you’re feeling particularly adventurous. Some people also call it Land’s End because if you go south from this point, you won’t hit land again until you’ve reached Antarctica! So be careful to explore but not go too far
3. Relax on the beach
I really don’t think you can go wrong with any of the beaches here, but if you’re looking for the best of the best, check out Playa el Médano or Lover’s Beach (aka Playa del Amor).
Divorce beach is pretty too as long as you don’t swim there (it’s too rocky to swim safely). And don’t forget any of the beaches here make for a gorgeous run!
4. Treat yourself to a massage
I think most people go to Cabo to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Of course you also have your spring break crowd, but I’m pretty sure you don’t fall into that category :)
So since you’ve gone to relax, why not treat yourself to an incredible massage from Massages at the Sand Bar, where you can actually see the ocean during your massage if you’re somehow able to keep your eyes open?
5. Get your culture on
Did you know there’s a whole Gallery District in Cabo filled to the brim with local and folk art, including tons of high end paintings, sculptures, jewelry and anything else you’d expect to find in 14 major galleries? If you’re into this sort of thing (because why wouldn’t you be), you can catch an Art Walk every Thursday between October and June.
6. Soak in that gorgeous sunset
Don’t miss this! Find yourself a place to watch the view each night and take in all the beauty that Cabo has to offer. Most people prefer to do this from a beach, restaurant, or bar, though any balcony or really anywhere at all with a view will do.
But if you want to know my favorite place, I head straight to the Mona Lisa every night. Their Tattinger Terrace champagne bar is perfect for grabbing a few drinks and watching the sun go down over the iconic arch (El Arco). They also have a Michelin star trained chef serving up Mediterranean style food if you’re feeling hungry.
Some of my other favorite things to do were:
As you can tell, there’s tons of things to eat, drink, see and do in Cabo. It’s easy to fill your days exploring, but keep in mind you’re probably also there to relax. I recommend keeping an easy pace by choosing a few bucket list activities and leaving the rest of your schedule open so you have plenty of down time to soak it all in.
So tell me - have you ever been to Cabo? What were your favorite things to do there?
Special thanks to Talia Chakraborty 💕
Ok friends, I’ll come out and say it. It’s taken me a while to write this post. Between wanting to finish reflecting on the retreat and needing to make the time to write, I found myself moving this post further and further forward on the calendar. I thought at some point I would be done processing and would write then (and that I’d somehow magically have a ton of time to do it), but I’m calling it. It’s the same with fitness… you’ll always have an excuse to do it another day, so don’t give yourself the chance and just do it!
First, some background:
The Napa Valley Wellness Retreat was co-hosted by Bare Health and the Inn on Randolph. It began on Wednesday, February 21st and wrapped us and our five retreaters in luxury and calm all the way through the morning of Sunday the 25th. We had so many amazing local vendors that offered up special health and wellness services they don’t usually advertise. And the weather was GORGEOUS. Of course that’s no surprise because it’s Napa, but we were all really happy to take advantage of it!
Before I go any further, I want to profusely thank the vendors that poured their hearts into giving us this incredible experience. THANK YOU!!! They went way out of their way to accommodate us and it was obvious from the minute the retreat began until we hugged goodbye. We literally had some of the best food, wine, yoga, massage, and other experiences of my life. I can’t even list them all out here, but I’ll go into detail as we move along, so hopefully you can feel like you were there with us by the end. And who knows, maybe next year you will be. Because this really should become a thing. I can’t imagine going through a February without it!
Some of our vendors are well known and loved in the area and others opened up brand new businesses to us. Regardless, the quality was consistently high, leaving us blown away time and time again.
In no particular order, our local experience makers included:
So now that you know who played a part in our adventure, let’s move on to:
We gathered together as a small group to focus on improving our well-being. A lot of us were feeling anxious, so the retreat really honed in on teaching us how to release our tension into the air and out of ourselves. Our wellness approach blended health and fitness through a Napa Valley lens, because it really is possible to be healthy and drink wine daily too.
Every step of the way we were pampered by amazing local vendors. All of our chefs made custom designed and curated vegan foods for us even though they don’t usually cook that way. By the end, we felt reset, detoxed, and totally present in the Napa Valley moment.
The retreat was held at a local boutique luxury inn called - you guessed it - the Inn on Randolph. But boutique luxury doesn’t even begin to capture how cute this place is. Between the super soft linens, the champagne, and the Cabernet patio, I don’t think I’ve had a more lavish stay in wine country.
The Inn is located in a gorgeous olive toned 1800s home in Napa’s biggest historic district. You can feel its old bones before even stepping foot on the front porch. It has all the details you’d expect of a Victorian home like gorgeous wood trim and flooring, ample door frames, and tons of natural light from huge windows. Amazing touches include multiple fireplaces (I can’t even remember how many honestly, ha!), the most lovely outdoor hangout spaces, and PLUSH BATHROBES! I know they’re not part of the inn but I’m still dreaming of them... Anyway, it’s the perfect space for mindfulness as it sits on an acre of lush English gardens. And it was perfectly positioned for our getaways because it’s only a five minute walk from downtown!
Day 1 - Wednesday
Day 2 - Thursday
There was so much to squeeze into each day of the retreat that we woke up before the sun on most days. After getting ready, we all headed down for morning yoga (yes we really did do yoga or some other form of exercise at 7:30am every single day) led by Lindsey Kling of Dharma Movement. Since anxiety was very present in all of our lives at the time, Lindsey was super thoughtful and themed all of our poses and essential oils around releasing that energy.
After we’d gotten our bodies moving, we headed over to the dining room for a green smoothie based breakfast to help balance our insulin levels throughout the day. Chef Dianne is always a gourmet GF, local, organic, farm to table chef, but she usually doesn’t prepare vegan cuisine so it was really special that she went above and beyond to make vegan food. All of our breakfasts were inspired by my favorite vegan foodie blogger, Oh She Glows. If you don’t follow her, you absolutely have to, because she’s amazing! Anyway, each morning Chef Dianne would pair the smoothies with an additional vegan offering that changed daily. On Thursday we started with a veggie bang because the pairing was a new year glow smoothie bowl! The preparation was beautiful, perfectly smooth, and powered us for our second morning workout which lasted from after breakfast up until lunch.
Then we moved on to a postural analysis and pain relief session. Postural analysis is such an important part of what we do at Bare Health, but a lot of people don’t know what it is. When we shared this science based practice with our retreat mates, we saw instantaneous shifts and changes. Just by looking at them, we were able to find their pain points, locate where they hold stress, and where they’re pronating or shifting weight. Correcting their balance and giving exercises to continue gave them the tools to make some powerful changes to their everyday lives. This analysis was one of our biggest gifts to our retreat mates, and we’re happy to report that they’re all still practicing their postural exercises with positive results.
After training, we popped over to Oxbow Public Market for a vegan lunch at C Casa. Oxbow is a really cool, really huge marketplace with seating along the Napa River and tons of incredible local food providers. Everything is artisanal, local and carefully crafted. It’s great for groups because there’s tons of variety, so you know everyone will be able to find something they’ll love.
C Casa is a lovely little eatery that focuses on fresh seasonal foods - usually tacos and other things like that, but they also offer small plates, salads and more. Our plates were piled high with tons of mixed greens, cilantro, sweet potato and avocado, just as any good vegan lunch should be.
Thursday was such a great example of the Napa lifestyle because we worked ourselves hard, ate amazingly vibrant local foods, and after exercising we moved on to coffee and champagne!! Not together though, but pretty close haha.
After our afternoon workouts, we came back to Oxbow to visit one of my favorite coffee roasteries of all time, Ritual. They shared some of their favorite drip coffees with us, originating from all around the world. Their smooth flavors had huge range, going from juicy and complex all the way to a balanced bean forward (rather than fruit forward) taste.
Once we had a nice coffee buzz going, we thanked our hosts and walked over to Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant. We were really tired from walking so long, so they took pity and treated us to champagne! Just kidding, it was only a five minute walk haha, but the champagne was REAL! We drank it sitting by the Napa River, which was beautiful.
From here we took a little break until we headed over to Basalt for LITERALLY the best vegan meal I’ve ever had!!! Chef Nick prepared a five course dinner and everyone agreed he brought veggies to another level. He’s so brill. Here’s what we had:
During this incredible feast, Mallory McEligot (the super talented VineLiving blogger) poured wine for Silver Trident Winery. They came up with the smartest, best pairings for each dish. It was hard to stop eating and drinking, but eventually our hearts and bellies were full, so we went back to the inn to relax and get ready for an early morning ahead.
Day 3 - Friday
After some deeply replenishing, solid sleep, we woke up early for postural training to align the body before a killer but super fun run led by me and Matt. Bare Health offered a personal trainer for the postural analysis for every retreat member so they could get 100% individualized attention. Afterwards we were all starving so we went to the dining room for green smoothies and a sun-dried tomato, mushroom, and spinach tofu quiche (if you’ve never had a tofu quiche you have GOT to try it!! So good).
It was good Chef Dianne things it light because pretty soon after breakfast we met with Chef Fiorella of Stonehedge Winery to learn all about ayurvedic cooking. Ayurvedic cooking is a style of cooking that focuses on using food as fuel and healing the body from the inside out. I really love this style of cuisine because it pairs well with digestive and immune systems, something I’m always trying to make stronger. Chef Fiorella had a really fun approachable teaching style. By the end we’d learned how to make broccoli soup, poached pears with satsuma and dates, and farrato with butternut squash and kale. If your mouth is watering reading those dishes, don’t worry - I’ll share the recipes at the end of this post :)
Moving on! I’ve mentioned a few times now how anxiety was very present during the retreat. So in addition to providing ways to soothe that during the retreat, Matt and I gave a talk on stress management. This gave everyone a chance to learn techniques to take home with them so they could hopefully say goodbye to an anxious life. One really fun part of this class was when Gianni Nola and Maria Woodruff presented on essential oils as a powerful form of stress relief. Everything smelled so amazing, I just wanted to plant my nose in their oil droppers!
Aside from essential oil therapy, one of our favorite stress management techniques is to take a moment to go outside, be with nature, and get active when you feel yourself starting to get anxious. So after our presentation we followed our own advice and went on a gorgeous guided paddle boarding adventure down the Napa River (thanks Bailie!). And guys you won’t believe this - there was a SEA OTTER AT THE WHARF!!!! That seriously never happens. It was so special and it felt like he was there just for us.
To cap off our beautiful day, after our paddleboarding, we went to Aonair Winery for the coolest, most rockin out yoga session I’ve ever seen. Aonair Winery is set up in Howell Mountain and it is literally majestic. We arrived as the sun was setting, Grant was already outside over flowing champagne and being an amazing host with a ton of enthusiasm.
Literally Lindsey Kling led our private sunset yoga flow blasting the Red Hot Chili Peppers! It was so fun, I loved it. And of course, since we were already at a winery, after we were done with our yoga flow we moved on to a tour of wines and caves. Grant and Megan Long the owners of Aonair even spoiled us with a barrel tasting of unreleased wine, followed by a dinner of paleo naan with tofu tzatziki and roasted carrots cooked by Chef Mercedes. It was the best yoga, wine and vegan experience I have ever had.
Day 4 - Saturday
Saturday morning we felt ambitious, so we began our day with postural and pain relief exercises followed by yoga, green juice and basic chia seed pudding. During our morning grazing we held a smoothie challenge, which was so fun! The challenge had two main points: to teach retreaters how to make micronutrient fulfilling smoothies to power themselves through the day, and also to teach that smoothies can be totally different, even with the same ingredients, just depending on how ingredients are portioned out.
Everyone began the challenge with the same ingredients (which did NOT include protein powder!!!):
Once people were set up, they mixed smoothies according to taste. Since we encourage everyone to drink green smoothies as part of their breakfast routine (for health, not weight loss!), it’s important to find the right combination of flavors. The challenge was funny because everyone was given the same ingredients, but kept saying “wow, your smoothie is better than mine with the same ingredients!” Haha :)
Next we went for a power walk, followed by some beautiful vegan takeout meals curated by Chef Mercedes of Lady and the Vine. We dedicated the rest of the evening to relaxation and healing. This began with massages courtesy of Alexis Munoz, CMT of Body & Soul, who just opened up a new practice and is already killing it. After a few hours of deep relaxation, we opened our bodies and minds up to all the tuning forks, gongs, crystal bowls and meditation that sound healing has to offer. Then we were treated with acupuncture and sound healing. Faune soothed our anxiety with her acupuncture needles and Darleen and Susan focused on helping us release negative energy. Darleen and Susan guided us through a balancing and harmonizing journey via meditation, sound healing and reiki. I firmly believe these are two of the best forms of therapy money can buy.
At the end, we discussed our journeys. Everyone’s experience was different. Some fell into a light sleep, bodies floating mid-air. Others had flashbacks to childhood or beautiful visions. And some felt deep, consuming sadness and anxiety. These heavy feelings took center-stage at first, giving retreaters time to acknowledge them before they were released. We rediscovered ourselves through this experience and I don’t think any of us will ever forget it.
Spiritually joining hands after this, we moved on to a final dinner . We talked over the time we shared: our favorite parts, the things we need to work on, and life in general. This was a pretty nostalgic dinner because we knew the retreat would be ending soon, forcing us to return to real life.
Day 5 - Sunday
On our final morning together, we woke up and right away got to our postural exercises to align our body for the day and then practiced our last yoga morning session. We enjoyed some vegan banana bread baked to perfection and said goodbye.
Okay, thanks for sticking with me as I took you on our retreat. It was such a beautiful, life changing experience for me, Matt and our retreat guests. We loved filling our time with tons of green juice and incredible vegan food while focusing on building health, wellness and joy. And in true Napa style, we spent our days sipping on some of the best wine in the world. Ahhh take me back!!
This retreat could not have been held without our vendors. Our guests left with the knowledge and confidence to implement plant based nutrition, wellness, and stress and pain relief into their everyday lives. And of course, it was super fun to relax and enjoy all that Napa has to offer!
And guess what we are doing it again next year with the Inn on Randolph. So if you want to experience this trip for yourself you can sign up now! Dates will be February 27th- March 3rd. Email me at: email@example.com to reserve your spot or pre-pay on our website here.
You didn’t think I’d forget those magical ayurvedic recipes, did you ;) Here they are - enjoy and thanks for reading!
Special thanks to Talia Chakraborty for helping Bare Health with this article.
Hi! You’re about to read a post sponsored by Beanfields Snacks, chock full with helpful tips and honest opinions, just like always. Thanks Beanfields!
We’ve all been there, there’s no shame in it. And I am currently in Mexico where chips and guacamole are a staple in the diet! (Notice how I am in fact eating a bellpepper with the delicious guacamole). Sometimes it’s just impossible to resist the salty, crunchy deliciousness of chips! But when you get a craving, it’s important to understand WHY you’re having it, so your body can get what it really needs.
Possible Reasons Why You’re Craving Chips
There are tons of reasons why you might be craving chips. I mean, they do taste good after all. But some cravings are your body’s way of communicating with you, so it’s important to think about that before moving straight to chip land.
Here are some possible reasons why you might be cravings chips or other salty snacks:
1. You’re thirsty! Do I not always tell you to drink more water????
Did you know more than half of your body is water? If you don’t have enough you can run into serious trouble. To avoid evaporating into thin air, you’ll need to hydrate with some good old fashioned H2O.
Most of your liquid intake should be water. So if you drink soda, switch to La Croix or another sparkling water brand instead. Speaking of La Croix, did you know they have a Key Lime flavor now?? It’s hard to call anything key lime flavored a sacrifice. If you don’t need the bubbles but are bored to tears with flat water, try adding mint, basil, cucumber or other herbs or fruits to enhance its flavor. And although green juice holds a special place in my heart, you should keep it to one glass a day, as juice has naturally occurring sugars you’ll want to limit in order to feel your best.
To learn more about combating dehydration by following your body’s cues, read this.
2. You’re running low on electrolytes.
We’ve all heard how important electrolytes are… but what are they anyway? Surprisingly, electrolytes are salts! No wonder you’re craving a salty snack. If you’re feeling your inner scientist self, you can learn more about them by watching this video. Otherwise, go straight to refueling with Propel Sports Drinking Water, FATwater, or any other electrolyte-infused drink that focuses on natural ingredients and has low to no added sugar. You can also try your hand at making your own electrolyte drink. If you decide to go homemade, just be sure to use maple syrup instead of honey.
If you’re just not into the electrolyte bandwagon, there’s still a way to curb your salt cravings and give your body the nutrients it needs: take a multivitamin! Of course, you can always take a vitamin AND drink an electrolyte drink, since it never hurts to increase your mineral intake.
3. Your stress is running on high. This why I am in Mexico! Ha kidding....but actually.
It happens to the best of us. One of the worst offenders for increasing stress is feeling like you don’t have control over your thoughts or situations. When this happens, try incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine. While I’ll admit mindfulness is no chip, it’s really amazing because it allows us to bring awareness to our experiences, state of mind and emotions. This stress management technique reduces anxiety and leaves you in charge of your life. It also gives you the chance to identify your stress triggers so you can resolve them or learn to cope better.
Another great approach for reducing anxiety is to make a stress journal. Whenever you feel stressed, write it down. Eventually you’ll start to notice patterns that you can work to fix. Alternatively you can go for a run, meditate, call a friend, or take a shower. Find what relaxes you, whether it’s diffusing some lavender essential oils, using a Lush massage bar, or going on a scenic bike ride or hike.
4. There might be something more going on.
Don’t jump on the Web MD train just yet!! But if you’re craving salt on a regular basis, there are some medical issues that could be the cause. Try tackling the first three reasons before starting down the road of “Am I pregnant, PMSing, or something else?” If you’re still craving salt, feeling sluggish, or having other symptoms, consider making an appointment with your doctor or checking out our Nautropath services in which we can do hormonal testing and full blood labs.
Ok, so now you understand why you’re craving chips…. But…. you’re still craving chips. Ok, ok, I hear you.
Healthy Alternatives To Chips
While there are commercial baked potato chips on pretty much every chip aisle these days, there are several healthier chip alternatives you can grab when the craving hits. I’ve created a list below that you can turn to whenever your salt tooth strikes.
1. Kale or brussel sprout chips
These are pretty easy to make, delicious, and totally vegan friendly. Check out the Minimalist Baker’s recipe for kale chips or Jeanette’s Healthy Living’s post on how to roast brussel sprout chips.
2. Roasted chickpeas
While not a chip at all really, you might want to try your hand at roasting chickpeas if you’re into popcorn or happiness. Take Steamy Kitchen’s warning seriously though… these are addictive!
3. Apples / carrots / celery / radish / snap peas
Any crunchy produce will do. You can check the LA Times’ seasonal produce guide to figure out what’s freshest in California in any given month. Don’t forget that just like chips are more fun with dip (aren’t chips really just a way to shovel guac into your mouth as quickly as possible?!? Haha!!), veggies are too. So give yourself permission to pull out your favorite nut butter or vegan dip, and happy dipping!
4. Dehydrated vegetables
Broccoli, beets, cabbage, mushroom, mixed peppers… Really, any vegetable will do! Dried veggies are super useful because when you’re not snacking on them, you can still use them by throwing them in your salads, soups and more.
I’d recommend a veg option over dried fruits since they naturally contain less sugar. I’d especially recommend veg over fruits in this case because you’re craving something salty, ha. But feel free to go for some dried fruits from time to time too.
If you’re in a DIY mood, it’s pretty easy to dehydrate produce yourself.
5. Rice cakes
Rice cakes are an old stand by for toddlers and adults alike. They’re gluten-free, have a snappy crunch, are easy to take on the go, and last forever (or at least for several months when stored properly).
6. Kelp and seaweed (nori, wakame, iwanori, and kombu)
I have to confess that these are not some of my all-time favorite healthy alternatives to chips only cause I am allergic to them but they are good...so I hear. They’re green, light and delicious. They also taste great broken up and mixed into stir fries, soups and other dishes.
7. Bean and Rice chips
One more confession…. Well two.
One: Recently Beanfields Snacks approached me to ask if I could write about their bean-based chips. I’d never tried them before, so they gave several bags to sample. Their support is so appreciated, but I want to let you know that what I say below is totally my own (not sponsored) thoughts.
Two: Sometimes I really truly at the end of the day want a chip. Now that Beanfield has entered our happy home, when the craving hits, I turn to Beanfields chips. I like them because they’re loaded with protein, pack a fiber punch, are vegan (which is a requirement, of course), gluten-free, non-GMO, and taste amazing. My boyfriend absolutely loves them (I know this because he left me ONE CHIP before I had to go out and buy more hahaha), and I do too. I also love that they’re not fried in oil.
So far I’ve tried the nacho and sea salt flavors. The nacho one was great and reminded me of a Dorito (minus the guilt). But my favorite was the salt. The flavor is simple and pairs perfectly with my favorite snack buddy: guacamole. It also has the most perfectly satisfying crunch, and I get to skip the powder that comes on some of their more inventive flavors (like nacho, barbeque or pico de gallo). Although I will say that with their natural approach to chips, you don’t need to worry about their powders like you would with a more commercialized chip.
Now if you happen to have a bunch of these bad boys and want to get creative with them, I’d recommend using them to make vegan nachos, chilaquiles or chip crusted tofu tacos. How suitable for where I am at right now!
So friends, tell me! What are your favorite healthy alternatives to chips?
Vegan Vacationing is Easier than you Think
Winter’s finally over!! REJOICE. Now that we’ve kissed it goodbye, it’s the perfect time to travel. Well… any time is the best time for travel, but you get what I’m saying.
Since a lot of my favorite people are on the road, I wanted to share some tips on living your best life while enjoying every minute of your trip.
Lets Face it.
There are so many articles floating around about how hard vegan travel is. It’s easy to read them and get discouraged. And we’ve all heard of switching to vegetarian, pescetarian or meat inclusive diets during travel just to avoid the hassle.
But here’s the thing. We live in the age of the internet! Information is on our side. And of course, adventures are best when we feel our best. So here are some ways to power your trip of a lifetime, stress-free, every time.
Finding plant-based restaurants.
There’s a pretty huge group of vegans that love travel, just like you. And vegans usually love helping each other out, so it’s easy to find reviews of cool vegan friendly restaurants, cafes, bakeries, you name it.
Here are my most reliable resources when I’m on the go:
1. Happy Cow is where it’s at for vegan restaurant reviews.
This site is designed specifically for you, so go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief.
Enter in an address and choose your filters: restaurant type (vegan, vegetarian, veg-options), stores and more (think bakeries, farmers markets, etc.), and cuisine type. Remember to sort the results by “open now” so your heart doesn’t get set on something that doesn’t open for hours.
Veg-options will give you the most results, since the restaurants that appear won’t be exclusively plant-based but will be vegan friendly. Happy Cow has a presence in more than 100 countries and an app that’s well worth the $3.99 to download.
2. Yelp is your friend.
Yelp is a heavy hitter in the restaurant world and it’s hip to lifestyle diets. It has a presence in more than 30 countries, so is another great website and app to keep in your back pocket.
To find a place that hits the spot, type in the kind of restaurant you’re craving and select the filters you need. You can filter for vegan, gluten free, and more. If you don’t know what you’re in the mood for, type in “restaurants,” filter for vegan, open now, and the walking distance you prefer, and then hit enter so you can get the food you want on your plate fast.
3. Vanilla Bean knows where the veggies are hiding.
Another great app to add to your arsenal. Like Happy Cow, Vanilla Bean focuses on vegan dining. Restaurant can be narrowed down to vegan, vegetarian or restaurants also serving fish and meat. You can filter for gluten-free dishes, organic ingredients, local ingredients, fair trade, and even raw.
4. Instagram and Pinterest work too.
Dale Davies has some excellent tips on vegan travel, including using social media to your advantage.
Once you’re logged into IG, type vegan related hashtags into the search bar to find some great dining options near you. Popular hashtags include “#vegantravel” and vegan and the city you’re in (“#vegandenver” or “#veganchicago,” for example).
For Pinterest, type in “vegan, restaurant, [and the city you’re in]” (e.g. - vegan, restaurant, Miami) to find tons of great guides in the area.
5. Meetup can help you find hidden gems.
If you’re ready to make new friends that share your interests and have the inside scoop on the best local vegan fare, Meetup is a great way to connect.
While I truly believe that *most* of the time you’ll be able to find something satisfying and vegan in any situation, some world foods are just more vegan friendly than others. If a vegan or vegetarian restaurant isn’t an option, you’ll have the easiest time dining at one of these types of restaurants:
Deconstructing Menus to be more plant-Based
You’ve probably heard that calling restaurants ahead of time will make your visit a lot easier. You can ask all the questions you want in the privacy of your own home (or Airbnb, hotel, hostel, etc.) without feeling annoying or slowing down service for other tables. Most of the time the person answering the phone really does want to help, so don’t be shy.
But let’s say you’re with friends or family who aren’t the restaurant review reading type. Or the planning type. Maybe you were walking around, got hungry, and they smelled something good and just went in. Don’t worry - you can do this.
1) First thing’s first. Read the menu. All of it.
Whether the menu has a vegetarian section or not, there’s usually at least one or two accidental vegan offerings that work great.
Salads are an obvious choice. Appetizers and soups can work really well too. So get creative and order as many as you need to.
Speaking of vegan creativity, read the meat entrees.
Don’t eat the meat! Ha.
But it helps to read those entree descriptions because the meats come with sides, a lot of which end up being vegan. If you add a few of those together, you end up with a delicious, thoughtfully prepared meal that most restaurants are more than happy to offer.
2. Now that you’ve decided what you want, look for the fine (or missing) print.
Just because the ingredients listed are all vegan doesn’t mean something non-vegan hasn’t snuck into your dish.
While mentioning that you’re vegan works in some restaurants, in others it won’t have you totally covered. To be safe, get familiar with non-vegan ingredients found in different types of cuisine. Chicken broth and eggs are used in all kinds of food (remember pasta can be made from eggs too).
If you’re eating Chinese, Japanese, or other Asian foods, ask if your food has been prepared with fish sauce, oyster sauce, bonito flakes. If you’re having French or Italian, ask about dairy. And for more ideas, visit The Vegan Word.
3. If you’re really worried about being able to find something filling (or at all), it’s ok to eat a light meal beforehand.
There’s no shame in going to a restaurant prepared. You do you!
PS - If you’re traveling abroad, check out the Vegan Passport. Offered in 79 languages, its vegan words and phrases will give you the power to handle any situation clearly, sensitively and worry-free. And if there’s still a language barrier, it has pictures you can point to that get the message across.
Get Creative in the grocery stores
Packing snacks is not just for the moms in your life. It can make the difference between a successful vegan vacation or having to “compromise” when hanger strikes.
Here are some easy to find ingredients I buy for my own travels:
1. Green juice
I love starting my day with a veggie focused smoothie, but I’m not always within walking distance of a smoothie bar. Green juice is a close second that leaves me energized for the day ahead.
2. Fresh Fruit
My mornings are a love affair with fruit. You really can fill up on them if you eat enough. As with anything, seasonal is best. You can find the freshest, best options based on your vacation location here.
3. Alternative milk or yogurt and granola
Can you tell breakfast is heavy on my mind? It’s because most vegan restaurants open later in the day. Make yourself at home with a cozy bowl of cereal.
4. Peanut, almond or cashew butter
It’s the little things in life. Nut butters satisfy my inner child. I stay full and happy and I think you will too.
5. Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruits
Making your own trail mix is super easy! And you don’t have to pick anything out since it’s designed just for you.
6. Granola bars
This is the easiest to pack snack ever! It will stay good the entirety of your trip, fit in your purse or pocket, and be the security blanket you need for your trip.
Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Aldi and most other grocery stores are pretty vegan friendly these days. So make sure to stop in and have a look
If you’re into cooking (even really basic stuff), booking a place to stay that includes kitchen access is always a great idea. It gives you a healthy option for when vegan restaurants are closed, far away, or you’re trying to stick to a budget.
In addition to hostels, you can look for places to stay through Airbnb, Vegvisits, or Couchsurfing. Vegvisits is specifically designed for vegans. Airbnb and Couchsurfing have plenty of vegan friendly offerings too (like vegan cooking classes from Airbnb hosts or vegan groups on Couchsurfing). Feel free to send your host questions about amenities, restaurants, events, or anything else related to your stay.
You can do this!
If you’re in the US, there are tons of vegans living in the city you’re visiting. And wherever you might be, other vegans who have been there too. Which is why you can find amazing city guides by Googling the city’s name and “vegan restaurant guide.”
Occasionally your dinner might end up being a granola bar, but with a good attitude, a little preparation and some creativity, you’re almost sure find an amazing vegan foodie scene wherever you are. And at the end of the day, there’s at least going to be some good wine and coffee waiting to be discovered :-)
I love February because the month is all about LOVE! And really I am a sappy romantic. I eat up all the cheesy sayings and quotes from my man. This year instead of champagne and chocolate (although I feel like he / I would still really like that) I am inspired to give a healthy gift guide for the sweetest time of the year.
5 Health Based Gift Ideas for Him.
1. Napa Wine Train
Give the gift of romance on the rails. What guy doesn't like to eat? Dinner and wine on a machine. Sounds like a win-win to me. For the month of February locals get 50% off all tours and packages. All aboard the Napa wine train!
Purchase here: Napa Wine Train
2. Sign up for a Paddle Triathlon together
How cool is this?! Have you ever even heard of a paddle triathlon before? Instead of the traditional triathlon Half Moon Bay which is one of the most beautiful locations on the Northern California coastside presents a paddle board, bike ride and run tri. Here are your options:
Sprint: 1 mile Paddle – 10 Mile Bike – 5k Run
Olympic: 1 mile Paddle – 40k Bike – 10k Run
Race Day is April 22, 2018
Sign up here: Half Moon Bay Triathlon
3. Ritual Coffee tasting
Coffee is basically a religion for many. Ritual will give you a private coffee tasting which includes their nitro brew and a brief introduction to each coffee. Walk in and set up your tasting.
Located at the: Oxbow
4. Lake Berryessa Jet Ski Day
5. Bodega Bay Excursion
There are so many things to do in Bodega bay. I personally love having a picnic on the beach with our pups. But you can hike, whale watch, horse back ride or even take a kayak through the bay. If you want to take your dogs for some fun at the beach I would suggest Doran Beach.
5 Health Based Gift Ideas for Her.
1. Hot Air Balloon ride
This is literally the epitome of romantic! Melt her heart guys. Also its an incredible experience that any lover will bond over.
Purchase here: Napa Valley Balloons
2. Week off in the kitchen
What's better than having time off in the kitchen to make more time to do something else you love? Let a company like Thistle do the work for you. Thistle is an organic plant-based meal preparation service company. Each week there menu changes and they will deliver right to your door step.
Set it up here: Thistle
3. Personal Training Sessions
A little extra motivation never hurt anyone. Having a personal trainer to help keep you on track and guide you to be the best version of yourself is the perfect healthy valentines gift. Bare Health is dedicated to getting your health back to basics and making you feel good. Whether you have weight-loss goals, need pain relief, want nutrition help or even join the team in Bali for a wellness retreat - Bare Health has got you covered.
Purchase Personal Training here: Bare Health
4. Bike ride through Napa Valley with picnic
Bicycling to vineyards for some wine and a healthy picnic - sign me up! Start your day at Vallergas market off of Solano to stock up on some waters and snacks and then you can immediately jump on the bike trail and head to Trefethen winery for a tasting and maybe grab a bottle of wine for your picnic (maybe, is a YES!). Then for another 3 miles get into Yountville where you can grab a charcuterie board from Atelier and have a lovely picnic outside. If that doesn't scream romance I don't know what else does.
Maximum Wellness with Max Well
“It all started with lentils,” said Maxwell Eaton owner of Max Well, a plant-based restaurant in New Orleans. Plant based, vegan and healthy are not descriptions that generally come to the top of ones mind when describing the food scene in New Orleans. In fact, I would say the complete opposite comes to mind with the blend of French, Spanish, Caribbean and Cajun influence New Orleans has to offer. Gumbo, Po’boy sandwiches, jambalaya, oysters Rockefeller, beignets and bananas foster all embodies this unique culture that will tantalize your taste buds. Oh and did I mention butter? Because everything tastes better with butter and they truly have capitalized on this point.
With a mission to obtain the best vegan food in New Orleans I met with Maxwell Eaton, owner of Max Well restaurant off of Magazine Street, whom is capitalizing on the opposite of this rich cultural cuisine. With the objective to build a balanced menu this self-made chef and entrepreneur has shifted from his music career and into the wellness industry. In December of 2017 he brought to life his health passion by creating the physical location of Max Well. His concept for Max Well is simple, “Pick a salad, pick a protein and pick a dressing.” Everything on the menu is full of color, it’s plant based and quite frankly it’s “an infallible healthy menu - you can’t order something that will cause you harm. Everything is healthy on the menu.”
What I love most about Max is that his passion radiates throughout the entire restaurant. The design is modern, refreshing and clean with pops of color. We are attracted to color naturally and Max has exquisitely showcased this in both his food and the restaurant. So what is the chef’s favorite item on the menu? “Lentils and broccoli soup with a salad and almond basil dressing,” says Maxwell. And I can validate that his almond basil dressing tastes quite good on any veggie dish, salad or on the lentils.
But what about protein?
As a vegan, one of the most common questions I get is, “How do you get your protein?!” And the same goes for Max being a vegetarian and even more so owning a plant based restaurant. He is constantly facing the battle of educating the general public about vegetarian based proteins. One of the best sources for plant-based proteins is to start with lentils. And that’s exactly what Max started with. They are high in protein and other essential nutrients such as potassium, iron and some antioxidants as well. And what is even more special about lentils is they are low on the glycemic index, which means they won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar. More importantly, Max is trying to shift this concept of vegetarians and meat eaters being on opposite sides of the wall. The concept of “you eat meat only” and “you eat veggies only” needs to dissolve. Everyone from a health standpoint should have more vegetables in their diet. Just because you eat meat doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a plant-based meal. Many meat eaters on a weekly basis have meatless meals and don’t make a fuss over it because they are not putting a label on their food calling it vegetarian. I think this is what is great about Max Well. The restaurant is not in your face about being plant based, it’s just full of color and naturally we are attracted to that. I promise all of you, if you try Max Well you won’t be left feeling hungry or dissatisfied, and you won’t miss the meat.
As a vegan I am always curious about other people’s journeys to a more plant-based lifestyle. My own journey was based on health issues with an unfortunate diagnosis of Hashimotos, which is a thyroid autoimmune disease. As for Max, he got here from personal experiences and a conversation with his body. Living the music lifestyle which consists of late nights, not the best choices in food and drink and a perpetual hangover. He one day realized this lifestyle was not conducive to maintain a healthy mind, body and soul. With the motivation of bettering his body he took it upon himself to trial and error a multitude of his own plant-based recipes until each recipe was perfected to his liking. Overall he is looking to get “long-term satisfaction over the short-term desire.” With a plant-based mindset Max reprogrammed his senses of satisfaction, which ultimately led him to feel satisfied and happy to have a healthy meal. This lead me to my next question:
“How should humans eat?”
Max believes that food should be more preventative than curative and at Max Well the menu largely reflects that. With dishes that have every color of the rainbow, cold pressed juices and all organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts these dishes are packed full of polyphenols. “It’s easier to think of food as preventative rather than curative because by the time you go to the doctor you are already sick. It’s about trying to prevent before hand the result of what might happen.” People always want a quick fix but Max Well promotes more of an adapt to a plan and stick with it. If you don’t stick to a plan you will never fully reap its potential benefits – “marginal effort, marginal results or maximal effort and maximal results.” In the future Max Well hopes to provide people with evidence and reaffirmation in their choices to be more plant-based. Hopefully in the future Max Well will be able to provide more food demonstrations such as vegetable noodles, sprouting seeds and juicing as well teaching how to grow your own food through a small hydroponic farm area. Max recognizes the detachment our society has from what the earth provides to us and one day he hopes to bridge this gap.
Just another girl who is trying to inspire others. Passionate about health and fitness. And a love of coffee and peanut butter.