Getting Started with Weight Training


I received the following email the other day and it made me realize I have yet to really explain on the blog how I made the transition from flabby Cardio Queen to firm and fit Lifter of Heavy Things:

 Hi Emily.  I read your recent post about the importance of strength training. Nothing new. I KNOW all that.

But I can’t get myself to do it on a regular basis. Cardio, on the other hand, I do.

Why is it easier to do cardio? Because I feel the benefits immediately. If I’m stressed, even a brisk walk helps. Between forcing changes to respiration patterns and getting to the endorphin level, I have results when I step off the treadmill, and they can last for hours.

With strength training, well, first of all, I just don’t enjoy it as much during the workout. I don’t feel much immediate gain, in general. Maybe some, but not enough that I remember it as “gee, gotta do that again”. Then the next day, there’s likely to be pain. If I’m just starting up again–it might be even worse two days later. Now there’s a disincentive…. It’s not that the benefits aren’t there–but they’re far enough removed from the actual workout that it’s harder to link them for motivation.


So hey.  I could have written that five months ago.  I actually DID write that, right here on this blog, heaven have mercy, FOUR years ago! And yet, although I knew I needed to do less cardio and more strength training, I resisted and resisted and resisted.  And I resisted so much that it actually grew into one of those horrible things I started having anxiety about!

At the end of September 2013, an off-shoot FB group sprung out of the main Vegan Body Building and Fitness FB group.  A group only for women.  A group, that at the beginning, was small and intimate enough, that I felt comfortable to reach out for help.  My first post was something pretty much like what my reader wrote to me above.  “I know I need to lift weights but I can’t make myself start, and by the way, I think I have an actual phobia of the weight room.”

Support and accountability – forever the two things that have been behind every change or success I have ever accomplished.

I got both.  The ladies told me to hire a trainer so I wouldn’t feel like a fish out of water in the weight room, and I challenged myself to do so by the start of the following week.

I was almost paralyzed with fear, but since I had said it publicly, I felt I had to follow through.  I did.  It was fine.  Of course.

We are now five months later and I am on my second trainer, this one now virtual and vegan herself. I have seen my body change in ways I never knew possible. I’m not quite ready to share a Flex Friday photo, but hopefully by the time warmer weather rolls around, I shall be rockin my swimsuit with a confidence I have never had before!

Strength training, or body building if you will, does not mean turning into a muscled out Arnold. It’s actually pretty hard for women to build serious muscle. What lifting weight does do is give everything an overall firm and yummy appearance.  I used to rue the fact that after training six months for a marathon, I would stand at the starting line with flabbier thighs than when I had begun training!  That is because I lost muscle doing all that cardio.  How sad is that?

Aside from making you look flabby, want to know why else losing muscle sucks?

  • Because muscle is metabolically active, it burns calories.  Fat doesn’t burn calories.  So trading a pound of fat for a pound of muscle means you GET TO EAT MORE!  I am eating a crazy delicious amount of food and getting trimmer and slimmer, yay!  Contrast that with before when I was gaining weight during marathon training while feeling hungry all the time!
  • We lose muscle as we age. That lowers metabolism but also makes us weaker.  If we don’t actively work to build it, we will get flabbier and weaker naturally with the passage of years.  That ultimately can lead to falls and we know where falls in older people lead to…
  • We lose muscle when we diet too!  Then, because our metabolism has slowed, re-gain is SO much more likely!  Strength training is a MUST for permanent weight control efforts.

To answer my reader’s issues above – not getting that cardio endorphin rush and getting sore and achy from lifting:

a.) You WILL get an endorphin rush from lifting weights if you lift vigorously enough or if you do active recovery such as jumping jacks etc in between lifting sets.

It turns out that iron makes me just as high as asphalt ever did!  woo!

b.) Sore and achy does happen, usually after 2 days (DOMS = delayed onset muscle soreness), but it’s a great excuse for booking regular massages!  Soreness can also be reduced by stretching, foam rolling, eating enough calories and protein between workouts, getting enough sleep, taking glucosamine and using turmeric to spice your foods. And then there’s this bad assery factor whereby lifters come to perversely enjoy the fact that they can’t blow dry their hair two days after a shoulder workout b/c they are too sore to hold up the hair dryer!


Sore muscles mean you’re working and growing!

So, there my secret is out.  I promised there would be a new incarnation and a new sport after marathoning, and this is it!

Assuming I have convinced you to give strength training a try, how to begin, you ask? You can do what I did and hire a trainer at the gym to show you how everything works. Or if you have a basic gym vocab, you can start with Jamie Eason or Erin Stern’s free programs on (Those link directly to the programs. You’re welcome).  No gym?  Try body weight workouts such as Betty Rocker or Zuzana. There are plenty of free workouts on youtube and pinterest.  Or hire a trainer to your home or to meet you in a park where she will take you through the paces using playground and/or TRX equipment!

Let’s get out there with some sexy, yummy muscle ladies! And if sexy yummy doesn’t motivate you, did you read the part where I said you get to eat more food??

Here’s a little visual motivation:

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Vegan, Gluten-Free, Personal Pan Sausage and Cheese Pizza!

pizza large

On most of my social media profiles, I have dubbed myself “Kitchen Magician and Sorceress of Supper.”  A lofty and ambitious title.  But on normal nights, as I prepare my ten thousandth bowl of lentils, I often wonder where the fairy dust has gone.

Luckily, inspiration can still strike and a new wonder can be born.  Behold, such a wonder!  The Sausage and Cheese Personal Pan Pizza – veganized and de-glutened!

The base is just my chickpea flour omlette.  The “sausage” is pre-cooked, crumbled tempeh.  If the tempeh is ready, the whole thing comes together in 10 mins and cooks in another 15.  I have literally eaten this every single day for the past week!  Yummmmmyyy!!

This dish is also a nutritional powerhouse.  With just 360 calories, it has 28g of protein, 8g of fiber, 1/4 of your daily requirement for iron and 1/3 your daily requirement of calcium!

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Personal Pan Sausage and Cheese Pizza!

Yield: serves 1


  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 2 Tbsp salsa or tomato sauce or water
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • Topping
  • 50 g crumbled and cooked tempeh (just crumble in a pan and cook until lightly browned)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 slice vegan cheese or 2 Tbsp vegan cheese shreds
  • 2 Tbsp onion, sliced (or whatever veggies you like on your pizza)
  • several slices jalapeno or other hot pepper


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C / 400F.
  2. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and set aside.
  3. Mix chickpea flour, salsa or tomato sauce and water in a bowl and stir until combined.
  4. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high and spray cooking spray or add a few drops of oil to coat.
  5. Pour batter into hot pan, gently smoothing out from the center, until you have a round about 6 inches (15cm) across.
  6. Let cook for a few minutes until bottom is browning.
  7. Gently flip to other side and cook a few more minutes until lightly browned.
  8. Slide omlette onto center of parchment paper covered baking sheet.
  9. In a bowl mix tomato sauce and tempeh and then spread it on top of crust.
  10. Add vegan cheese, onions, peppers and any other vegetables you like.
  11. Bake 15 mins until all crisp and melty. You can broil for the last few minutes if you wish.
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This post is participating in Wellness Weekend!

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Ways We Can Be Together

First of all, I want to thank you all for your support after that last post on Fear.  Seems as though I am not the only one who struggles with the issue.  That felt nice to hear and it also felt wonderful to have been understood.

I know several of you said you would be interested in a Fork Your Fear Facebook group, and I shall be getting that organized and inviting those of you who wanted in.  We shall see where it goes!

In the meantime, there are things about how you and I connect in this big wide world that I want you to know:

1.  The Facebook Situation

I always hated Facebook business pages.  I vowed to never have one and collected all kinds of strangers as “friends” on my personal profile.  But then the combination of an unpleasant online encounter (imagine that!) and an SEO “expert” who informed me that I MUST have a separate business page, pushed me to cull the personal page and do the biz page thing.

And then FB changed everything around and no one sees my business posts unless I pay for advertising.  Great.

And that SEO expert?  I swear to you that she just published a post suggesting ways to use your personal page as a business page.  Grrrrr….

Anyhoo, when I work hard to publish useful content and FB tells me “12 people saw this post, pay to reach more!” I want to throw things at the computer screen.

So listen up, if you follow my FB biz page, and you want to actually see what I post in your newsfeed, you must click “get notifications” which will pop up if you hover over the “Liked” button.  Like this:

get notifications 2nd

This option is apparently not available if you are accessing FB from your smartphone, so get thee to a real computer.

The more you interact with posts on FB, the more stuff you see by that person. So if you like what I share, please “like” it, share it, and click on the links that interest you.

2.  The Chance to Peek Behind the Curtain

Speaking of smartphones, I don’t have one.  On purpose.  I blame the downfall of society on the smartphone.  But that was before I discovered the amazing vegan fitness folks posting the most incredibly useful and inspiring stuff on instagram.  Now I’m probably going to have to eat my words.

I still don’t have a smartphone yet, but have sort of hacked my way into instagram and am using it as best I can.  I’ve been sharing all the behind-the-scenes snaps of day-to-day life in Emilyland.  Things like…

yogurtMy Breakfast (soy yogurt, berries, sugar-free granola)

sweet and sour veggies

My lunch (sweet and sour vegetables)

fur babyMy adopted daughter


My sweaty face (as per usual)

protein pancakeMy pancakes supreme (Oat protein pancakes with peanut-silan sauce, strawberries and kiwi!)

palm trees

My favorite running route

meatball sub

A recent vegan meatball sub with onions and peppers


The sunrise from my very own balcony

and much, much more…

So…  if you’re on instagram and want to join me, I’d be delighted to see you there, it’s going to be a lot of fun.  I am @TriumphWellness.  Of course.

3.  Classes

It is indeed time for me to start offering some group classes again.  I have some PTSD about the whole dang thing, but BOLD in 2014 and all that jazz, so this is going to happen. I am saying it here and now so I will be accountable to doing it.

Because the way my business has developed internationally, I have decided there will be in-person classes for people here in Israel, and online classes for those of you who live elsewhere.  I have NO idea how exactly to make it happen but I know what I want to teach and why, so somehow…

Again, I ask for your support in helping me promote.  I’d love to see any of you in attendance, but if it’s not for you, please pass any info on to people who you think would be right up my alley.  nohecklersplease

deep. breath. big. courage.

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Fork Your Fear


I used to be a Bad Ass.  Seriously, it seems like whenever I used to have a major fear about something, I would just haul up an enormous amount of chutzpah and blaze right through it.

I remember being 16 and having moved to Santa Barbara for the year with my family.  There I was in a new school, with no friends, and no idea how this new place worked.  The day that stands out in my mind was the one when I screwed up my courage, and with my heart practically beating OUT of my chest in panic, walked through a packed band room, through the stares and whispers, right to the handsome young band director and told him why he might want to have me on his drill team.  I didn’t even know if these people HAD a drill team or would even know what I was talking about!  It turned out they were just starting one up and an import from a top Midwestern drill squad was exactly what they were looking for.  Being an integral part of that new squad positively shaped my entire year in Santa Barbara and gave me friendships that stand to this day.

Flash forward 10 years and I remember sitting in my office one day post college, wondering what to do with my future, when I got a strong intuition that I needed to go to NYC.  Now we are talking here about a small-town girl who went to a tiny college and had settled in an even smaller town.  NYC was like “HUH?”.  My parents softly suggested “Dear, maybe you should start with Boston?”  Yet, the intuition was so strong that I remember picking up the phone, mouth so dry I almost couldn’t speak, and calling the registrar at a NYC grad school I was in no way qualified to attend.  When she told me they couldn’t accept me because I didn’t have strong enough Hebrew, I went all by myself to Israel to learn.  When I arrived back in NY and enrolled in this MA program that was still way above my abilities, I remember being so freaked out I could barely leave the apartment.  My roommate let me live as a shut-in for 2 days before she gently pushed me through the front door and bid me “don’t come back until you have bought groceries!”  From that terrifying day on, agoraphobics have had my undying respect.

I remember an awful lot of fear-conquering during those NYC years. I stress-cried outside of dance studios working up the courage to walk through the doors.  I forced myself to drive all over NY despite enormous amounts of panic (Have you driven in NYC lately??)  I finagled my way into jobs, internships, and dates solely by virtue of the immense set of cajones I was throwing around.  One surprising day, I even asked my then boyfriend to marry me!  Yup, I asked him, and then I quite possibly had a heart attack or stroke or something because I literally remember nothing at all of the rest of that day. Apparently he said yes because we’ll be celebrating our 19th anniversary this summer.

I have boldly pushed my way through grad school (twice), opening a business (twice), public speaking gigs, private chefing gigs, auditioning and performing with dance companies, racing in first Half Marathons and then a Full Marathon (one of the scariest things I have ever done!), and embarking on the amazingly brave journey of uprooting my family from a life of comfort in the US to one of total unknown uncertainty in Israel!

If I am painting the picture of someone who maybe suffers from some mild anxiety disorders but has worked super hard to never let the fear stop her, then good because that is how I think of myself.

But…  (sigh, why does there always have to be a but?)

But sometimes I get thrown.  Some failures have unhorsed me so severely it was years before I could climb back into the Fearless Saddle.  Other times, it is not a failure that unseated me but just lack of inertia after a vacation or a period of stagnancy.

This last time, I don’t know what triggered it but for the past few months I have felt firmly and stick-ily stuck behind a Wall of Fear and I am not happy here.

This tremendous fear and anxiety that keeps me hiding feels like sucking quicksand.  In order to not drown in this morass of “safety” I am currently stuck two-feet in, I am going to have to do some things that are quite honestly scaring the pants off of me.  (Update: Since I wrote this post last week, and was then ironically too fearful to publish it, I have now accomplished the number one heart-stopping terror that was at the top of my list.  It didn’t go great, but I got through it.  Yay and phew!)

When I am spending too much time in Stuckville and Panictown, I miss that daring Emily girl with the giant cajones, who could walk through a ring of fire because she wanted what was on the other side.  I do not much like this current Emily, who safely settles for OK when it’s not really OK at all.

So, I’m committed to bringing Bold back in 2014.  But I also wanted you to know how terribly scared I am.  You will see me offering new programs and changing things around and maybe it will look all Cool Cucumber, but I want you to know it is anything but.  It is me here, behind the scenes, crying, puking, fainting, heart palpitating, head down between my knees, cold sweat covered, taking step by terrifying step.

I wanted you to know the back story for two reasons:  Firstly because it will hopefully inspire someone else who is stuck behind fear and anxiety.  Secondly, because I have a favor to ask of you.  I would really, really like to have your support, your encouragement, and your good thoughts.  I know the image I project is strong and together.  But before you read this, maybe you didn’t realize how hard I have to work at it.  I know I cannot control what mud people feel like slinging my way.  I choose to be out there doing my thing in public, I get that.  But seriously, before you throw harsh words, at ANYONE, just please stop to remember that your target is probably as self-conscious and vulnerable as you are, even if she seems like Miss Know-it-All. Thankyouinadvance.

Anyone else out there tired of being paralyzed by fear?  Maybe we could put a “Fork the Fear” group together on Facebook or something?  We could come clean with the things we are afraid of and procrastinating on and encourage one another along.  Would anyone be interested in that?  If yes, comment or email me at

Instead of running from the fear, how bout we run headlong into it, arms wide open, heart pounding wildly, knowing that the worst thing that could happen, actually, is staying locked behind our own iron doors.


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Hate Eating Salad in the Winter?

I hear it all the time (including from my own belly), “I am NOT in the mood for salads when the weather is cold!  What can I do?”

emily cold weather run(Seriously, it’s not even really cold here, but this is how I walk around my house.  Fellow Israelis will understand the “It’s colder inside than outside because everything is made of stone” issue.)

Anyway, salads.  How to eat them when it’s cold, whatever “cold” may be for you.  Well, the first thing you can do is just not eat them!  Yes, yes, raw veggies are super important for your health.  But a couple of months of cooked veggies instead is going to be just fine.  So go ahead and load up on vegetable-rich soups, and heartier cooked vegetable dishes during the colder months.

But for those of us who really feel our best when some raw veg makes it’s way down our gullet, I offer the following suggestions:

winter salad collage final

Add a warm, cooked vegetable to your raw veg salad.

  • One of my all-time favorite salads is augula (rocket) topped with warm carmelized onions and mushrooms and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  It is DIVINE!
  • Often I have leftover roasted veggies that I re-warm and top my lunch salad with:  beets and carrots, roasted chickpeas, roasted zucchini and yellow squash, cauliflower, eggplant or red pepper…

Put hot cooked food on top of your cold salad.

  • Top your salad with hot toasted nuts, leftover re-warmed grains or corn, or even homemade garlicky croutons.
  • Toss in a hot, chopped up veggie burger.  Heck, I even do that during the summer.
  • Cooked tempeh or tofu tastes good mixed into salad.
  • Cooked and warm beans, are always a great salad addition.

Try fermented or marinated veggies

  • Instead of a green salad, eat some sauerkraut or kimchi or other raw, pickled veg.


  • If you take raw kale and massage whatever dressing you like into it with your hands, really, really well for a few minutes, the leaves will soften as though cooked.  There is a famous avocado kale salad that uses this technique, that I used to make a lot back in the day.  You can google it, it’s easy to find.  Or try my cheezy vegan kale.

cheesy kale logo

  • Marinate raw vegetables like broccoli florets, carrot slices, quartered mushrooms and sliced onion in a mixture of olive oil, soy sauce and vinegar and leave to marinate for a few hours.  The result will be a softened, “warmed” vegetable platter that seems cooked even though it is raw.
  • Grated vegetables marinated in lemon juice and salt, also become gentler and sort of “cooked” .  Try my Moroccan Carrot Salad or Lemony Cabbage Salad and allow them to come to room temp before serving.

morroccan carrot salad


cabbage salad 2

Do you have any ideas I didn’t think of?  If yes, list them in the comments below.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go outside to warm up.

And thank you to reader, Lisa, for the post idea!  Keep the questions and ideas coming!

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So You Wanna Go Vegan in 2014

f02f701a866e85ae6ef465c48a7fe45cI have been seeing a lot of “Going Vegan for 2014!” activity on social media in the last few days.  Even Beyonce and Jay-Z have hopped on the vegan wagon!  I realize that many people are “going vegan” because it’s the latest fad or because they think it is like a cleanse, or will help them drop unwanted pounds.  Veganism is of course, none of those things.  Veganism is a lifestyle practice of causing the least amount of harm to other living creatures.  That it is also good for your health and for the planet are just wonderful fringe benefits.

But I realize that we often walk different paths to the same outcome,  so whether you are ready to take the full vegan plunge, or maybe you’re just starting with Meatless Mondays,  I’ve got you covered with the basics in this post.

1.  Start with the food!

It is easy to embrace veganism when still stuffed from the Christmas-New Year’s bacchanal, but when your tummy finally starts growling again and you reach for your old favorites only to realize that they are now off-limits… oy.

3ad3b8ee9ed860744d939b309bff9db8I suggest you make a list of your favorite, or go-to meals, and then seek out vegan alternatives.  Trust me, you can pretty much veganize anything these days!  You can eat vegan cheeseburgers with bacon, for heaven’s sake!  If you need help, message me with what you seek in the comments below and I will help you find it.

(The image on the right is the logo from a t-shirt available HERE).

There are loads and loads of vegan websites and cookbooks.  I was a judge for this year’s Vegan Food Blog Guide for 2013, so check out those blogs as a starting place.  Again, if you need specific cookbook suggestions, tell me below what you are looking for and I will help.

2.  Keep it simple

Often I get email from people whose child has decided to go vegan and they are at a loss for what to now cook for dinner.  When I list out our favorite dinners, they usually say “Oh, I already make those things.  Not sure why I didn’t think of those?”  You didn’t think of it because people think vegan food is something weird and “out-there” that will require eating hemp and smelling like patchouli, when in fact, you probably already eat quite a many things that are vegan in the course of a day.

Here is a list of some vegan meals my family enjoys:

Mujadara (Persian Lentils and Rice)
Homemade Pizza
Veggie Fried Rice
Vegetable Lo Mein
Chili and Cornbread
Baked Potato Bar (I cook a bunch of veggies separately, make vegan cheeze sauce, make a lentil bolognese, scallions, green onions etc and people put whatever toppings they want on their baked potato)
Tacos, Burritos, Chimichangas, Enchiladas, and Quesadillas (you can make the latter with vegan cheese and salsa or with mashed beans and salsa)
Quiche (tofu based or chickpea flour based)
Coconut Curry over rice
Moroccan Couscous with 7 vegetables and chickpeas

Jerusalem Artichoke
Sweet Potato/Pumpkin
Veggie soup
Red Lentil
Split Pea
Mushroom Barley
White Bean
Tomato Soup
Onion Soup
Broccoli Soup
Brazilian Black Bean
Miso soup

Here are my favorite vegan breakfasts
and my favorite vegan meals for one.

When meal planning, you need to escape the one protein-one starch-one veg plate format you are used to as an omnivore.  Most plant proteins (ie beans) are also starches, and vegetables are no longer sides, but now take center stage.  Be creative, have fun, and eat to your fill!

3.  Find other vegans

Go to google and/or Facebook and type “vegan” + the name of your town.  You will most likely find recipe groups, meet-ups, potlucks, vegan events, basically, OTHER vegan people, thank heavens!  Believe me, even if you live in a remote Siberian outpost, there are other vegans there!!  We are everywhere.  Find us. Join us.  Then you will not feel like a left-out freak, which can happen if you are on your lonesome.  Go to vegan dinners and events.  If you don’t find any, host your own!

4.  Listen to lectures, watch podcasts, read books.  There are loads.  These are some of my favorites:

5.  Work one-on-one with a vegan coach, such as yours truly, and get all the hand-holding and encouragement you need!
For whatever reason you are thinking about veganism, know you are not alone.  The world is waking up.  You can be part of it.  It is really the most wonderful thing.  I am SO delighted to live as a vegan!
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Roasted Beets and Carrots with Za’atar

beets and carrots 1

Can I even call this a recipe?  I’m not sure, but I made it and it was delish and maybe you will want to make it to, so yes, a recipe.

I seasoned this simple roasted vegetable dish with Za’atar which is a Middle Easten spice blend based on the herb Hyssop.  I love Za’atar and would pretty much put it on everything if I could.  If you don’t have it where you live, you can substitute Thyme.

Roasted Beets and Carrots

Roasted Beets and Carrots


  • 5 large carrots, peeled
  • 3 medium-sized beets, peeled
  • about 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Za'atar to taste (or substitute Thyme)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Cut carrots into little diagonal chip shapes. (or whatever shape you like)
  3. Cut beets into little cubes.
  4. Put both in a pan and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.
  5. Roast for 30 minutes. Then add the Zaatar and stir everything so all will cook evenly.
  6. Roast another 10-20 minutes until desired doneness.
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And since this post was a little boring, how about some photos of a recent Friday afternoon spent with my family strolling through the Shuk HaCarmel market in Tel Aviv?  The shuk is one of my favorite places in the world.  You can even buy fresh Za’atar at the shuk.  Favorite place + favorite spice + favorite people = Happy Emily Day.

strawberriesIt’s Strawberry Season!


And citrus season…


And it’s ALWAYS hummus season!


Fresh Juice

druze pita

 Some Druze women making fresh pita on a taboon.  (And yes!  They serve it with Za’atar!)

beachEvery happy day ends at the beach!

This post is participating in Wellness Weekends.  Please visit that link for lots of healthy vegan recipes!

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Healthy Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

spinach artichoke dip 1

I had Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip for the first time sometime in the 1990′s.  I remember thinking “Huh, what is this nasty looking thing and why is it hot?”  But one bite and I’m pretty sure time stopped for a few minutes there and I was lost in a gooey, cheesy, hot, rich, tangy, and utterly delicious vortex of yum.  It also left me gripping my stomach in pain about 30 minutes later, if I remember correctly.  But despite the pain, the memory of those glorious tastes and textures dancing on my tongue lived on.

Traditionally, Spinach Artichoke dip contains mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, cream cheese, and oh yeah, some artichoke hearts and spinach.  Problem One, not exactly vegan.  I mean, you can buy vegan versions of all those things, but it wouldn’t be healthy and might not even taste very good.  Problem Two, despite living in a place where artichokes actually grow, there are NO artichoke hearts for sale!  Yes, I could cook my own artichokes and remove the hearts, but that’s just not gonna happen.

I am not sure WHY artichoke hearts are not sold, because artichoke BOTTOMS are widely available both frozen and canned.  But bottoms won’t work for this recipe because the texture is all wrong.  (Trust me, I tried).  I am pretty sure it is a kashrut issue and probably to due to the impossibility of assuring artichoke hearts are bug-free.

But lo and behold, the other day in Hetzi Hinam in Hod HaSharon, I found canned artichoke hearts!  I bought like 10 cans, haha.

canned artichokes

Then a friend pointed out that they do NOT have a hecsher on them despite being sold in an all-Kosher store.  Well, I now have 10 cans so guess what?  I’m using them!  (Do not take kashrut advice from the likes of me.)

So then I perused several recipes online for vegan spinach artichoke dip and finally settled on this one on Happy, Healthy Long Life, because I have liked her recipes in the past.  It really ends up being a very healthy recipe!  It is high in protein, full of veggies, and low in fat.  I made a few changes based on local ingredient packaging size and changed the whole thing to metric.  If you are in North America, you can use her recipe as written here.  I also left out the basil because I didn’t happen to have any, but I’m sure it’s delicious if you include it.

Healthy Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Healthy Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 box spinach (about 150g)
  • 1 box tofu (300g), if you have get silken, use that, if not firm is fine
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (shmarei beera)
  • juice of one lemon OR 1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • several twists freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can (390g) artichoke hearts in water (reserve liquid!)


  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Lightly spray or grease a baking dish (4 cup capacity)
  3. Water saute onion and garlic until softened
  4. Toss in spinach and stir until wilted.
  5. Season with black pepper.
  6. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. In food processor, blend tofu, nutritional yeast, salt, and lemon or vinegar until smooth, adding liquid from artichoke can as needed. If you are using silken tofu, you probably won't need to add any liquid, but with firm tofu, you will need about half of what is in the can.
  8. Add artichoke hearts and pulse until chopped and blended but not entirely smooth. You want some texture here.
  9. Add the onion-garlic-spinach mixture and pulse just a few times until all is chopped and blended.
  10. Spread into prepared pan.
  11. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  12. NOTE: I had some leftover homemade breadcrumbs, so I sprinkled those on for the last 10 mins and broiled until lightly toasted.
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A Few of My Favorite Things: Inspiring Stuff!

can't wait for inspo

In my last post, I wrote about my favorite non-fiction reads for 2013.  While several of those picks were packed with Capital “I” Inspiration themselves, today I want to tell you about the inspiring websites, podcasts, and people I follow to keep my motivational engine humming.

I often hear from people that they were doing really well on their diet, new exercise program, healthy living lifestyle, and then got bored, lost their motivation, became uninspired, and went back to their old habits.  I hear “I just can’t stay motivated!” over and over.

Well, I must tell you that as far as I know, no one stays motivated all the time!  The trick is to keep working at it.  Yes, of course!  Like anything you are trying to learn, you have to practice and work at being and staying motivated and inspired!  For instance, you must keep your Big Why out somewhere you will see it everyday.  And crucially important, you also need to seek out and stay in regular contact with inspiring people who have similar goals as yours.

This is MY list of inspirational material for 2013.  This stuff is like a Goal Bath and I bathe in it daily:

1.  The Vegan Body Revolution.

This podcast by vegan trainer and body builder, Thomas Tadlock, rocks my compression socks.  I downloaded all of the episodes to my ipod and I listen while working out, hanging the laundry, and making dinner.  Brainwash!  Goal Bath!  In these podcasts, Thomas interviews all the top names in vegan body building.  He gets his subjects to spill all the minute details on exactly what they eat, including exact quantities,  favorite home recipes and even precise meal timing.  He also gets the straight dope on exactly what their workouts consist of down to sets and rep numbers.   Listen to these and you will never again have to wonder “I wonder how he/she got those great results?”  You will have ALL the info you need!  Implementation, well…  that’s another story.

2.  Frank Medrano

Frank is a vegan strong man and a “fitness personality” so says his tag line.  But all you need to know is that on Facebook page he regularly says things like this:


and does things like this:

(Oops, video won’t embed here.  I put it at the bottom of the post, but don’t skip ahead even though that body is…  uhn, just don’t skip!)

3.  Shrink Yourself

Sign up for Dr Gould’s daily emails on Emotional Eating and have things like this appear in your inbox:


4. Dr Furman’s Membership Forum

Whether you are a vegan or not, the lowest level of membership in the Fuhrman forums is a gold mine of healthy living inspo!  I pay $4/month and have read-only access to ALL of the forums, Ask the Dr questions, past webinars, newsletters and position papers, the recipe archives of thousands of recipes PLUS daily recipes sent to my inbox in case I am too lazy to actually go look any up.  With this stuff coming to me daily, I couldn’t forget about healthy eating if I tried!

5.  Moi

july 7, 2013

Uh, sorry if this is chuztpadik, but my entire sweaty, pumped, kale-eating existence is designed to motivate and inspire people!  Hire me for a 30-Day Detox or a 4-month health program and not only will you have me all up in your bidness 24/7, but I will never let you be free of me ever again!  Just kidding, that’s scary.  But seriously, I design all of my programs with the intent of PERMANENT LIFESTYLE CHANGE and permanent is well, permanent.  You won’t yo-yo after getting a serious, personal dose of some Emily!

For more passive inspiration, you can follow me at the following locations:

Facebook - amazing, fun, personal content, but FB is cracking down on unpaid advertising, so you likely won’t see what I’m posting unless you frequently click “like” on my posts!  (Hint, hint: LIKE my damn posts people!)

Pinterest - I am like the Queen of Pinterest. I have 3,000 followers and have grown The Vegan Woman’s page to over 10,000!  Sadly I can’t make an actual living as a professional pinner, but you can surely enjoy inspiration from my pinboards, particularly the one aptly named Mindset and Motivation.

Twitter - I suck at twitter, sorry.  It’s for people with ADD, while I’m not even a capable multi-tasker.  None-the-less, I am there, plugging away, sharing whatever content I think will be informative and inspirational.

My mailing list - currently neglected because I can’t decide what kind of content to provide that I don’t already provide in all these other places, BUT I will get on the ball, I promise.

My blog posts via email – you can sign up right there in the top right corner and blog posts will come to your email as they are published.

These are the food blogs I personally receive via email:

FatFreeVegan Blog - amazing recipes (not always fat free which is good by me) and great writing

OhSheGlows - the most original recipes ever and stunning photography

Healthy Girls Kitchen - Wendy reminds me of me and shares her kitchen and health adventures, warts and all.

Kathy’s Healthy, Happy Life - not always healthy, but often inspiring!

Fitness stuff I recommend (not necessarily vegan)

Precision Nutrition – interesting, well-researched and well-written fitness articles.  I’m pretty sure they also have a free read-only membership forum level although I haven’t looked at it for years.

Leigh Peele – as mentioned in the last post, this trainer is the real deal.  Follow her and read everything she writes.  You will be smarter and more empowered for it.

Tom Venuto – legendary, one of the greats, a published author with a yummy 6-pack.  Buy his books, read his blogs, you have enough inspiration here to last a lifetime!

For some reason, wordpress wouldn’t let me post this video up by Frank’s section, so we’ll have to settle for this little bit of jaw-dropping awesomeness here at the end of the post.  Ladies and gents, Frank Medrano, who eats only plants and can do all of this. (And if you listen to his podcast with Thomas Tadlock as mentioned above, you will know exactly what Frank eats and how he trains, woohoo!)

Go forth Inspired!

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A Few of My Favorite Things: The Book Edition

book collage 1

For other personal recommendations, see also my first “A Few of My Favorite Things” post from July of 2011.

second edition came of favorite things from June 2013.

And this post on my favorite books, websites and programs in March of 2011.

In this edition I want to tell you about the things I read and worked on in 2013 that had a positive impact on my personal growth.  None of these are affiliate links.  I am recommending solely from my heart.  I also just want to mention that I am an enormous bookworm and read over 40 books every year, mostly fiction, so these are just the tip of the book iceberg  These are largely non-fiction recommendations in keeping with the purpose of my blog.  Enjoy!

Online Programs/ Digital Books

1.  Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map.

desire_introducingI bought Danielle’s first multi-media product The Fire Starter Sessions back when I was just beginning my business and it helped me set the foundation for all that was to come.  The Desire Map, which can now also be purchased as a print book (the same way The Fire Starter Sessions turned into a print book called The Spark Kit), takes it to the next level.  Danielle turns goal setting and achievement on it’s head by asking NOT “What do you want to accomplish?” but rather “How do you want to FEEL?”  She explains a bit of the process in this interview with Marie Forleo here:  This is not a book you sit back and read.  Rather this is a workbook and series of writing prompts that will leave reams of scribbled upon paper across your desk.  Just the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it.

Incidentally, this book contains one of my favorite quotes of all time:  “The journey has to feel the way you want the destination to feel.” You have heard me say as much about the weight loss journey many a time.

The digital book also comes with audio and playlists and tons of cool interactive online components.


2.  The Fat Loss Trouble Shoot, by Leigh Peele.

fltI have been a huge fan of trainer Leigh Peele’s tell-it-like-it-is approach to body transformation for many years.  She has several great products, cookbooks (not vegan, but the vegetarian ones have vegan recipes), and a very helpful membership forum.    I bought her digital product The Fat Loss Trouble Shoot this year to learn how to help those clients who appear to be doing everything “right” and are still not achieving the results they want.  Leigh has the answers, but make no mistake, it is a bitter pill for many to swallow.  She explains down to the calorie and gram why most of us are still over-estimating the calories we burn and under-estimating the calories we eat.  The book is full of the best science, the coolest number crunching, the details on the hormonal impact of “dieting down” and why it is so damn hard for most of us to permanently lose weight.  Understand and practice what Leigh presents and you will achieve the results.   Yo-yo dieters, this is especially for you!   If however, you’d rather wallow in “I’ll just do it my way, not count or measure anything, and hope for the best. Or better yet, find the latest drop-fat-fast fad diet.” you will hate this book.   It’s the straight dope.  The digital book comes also with audio read by Leigh if you are a listening type learner.

Real Books

3.  Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins

downloadTwelve years ago, a chance encounter with this book changed the course of my life.  This year, I found and re-read the book.  It is stunning.  But again, for people who want to take responsibility for their lives and make actual changes in the ways they think, believe and behave.  I wrote more about it in this post HERE.




4.  Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, et all

download (1)The subtitle of this book is “Tools for talking when the stakes are high.”  I read it because my entire work revolves around having such conversations with people.  But truly this would be a helpful book for every single person on the planet!  One if the key concepts I learned to recognize is that when a conversation becomes “unsafe” for one or more participants, he/she will often turn to either Violence or Silence – lashing out or going silent.  To get things back to a productive place, you must ask yourself “What do I want to achieve with this exchange?”  If the goal is to irreparably offend this person but remain righteous and right, then continue on your present course.  But if you want to reign silence/violence back into productive dialogue, you will likely have to take steps to make the conversation safe again for the person(s) you are speaking with.  This should be required reading for every person on Facebook, heck, on the internet anywhere!


5.  Finding Ultra – Rich Roll

FINDING-ULTRA-COVER-FINAL1Rich Roll is a 40-something triathlete and a vegan.  This is his life story.  I found it shockingly, massively inspiring.  At one point Rich and a friend decide  “Hey, let’s do FIVE full triathlons in five consecutive days on the five different islands of Hawaii for no other reason but to say we did it.”  The things they put their bodies through and live to tell will make you take a long, hard look at your own seeming limitations (ie, you can do SOOOOO much more than you think you can!)



6.  Eat and Run – Scott Jurek

download (2)Also the memoir of a vegan endurance athlete, Eat and Run, is less swash-buckling than Rich’s book, but just as interesting and inspiring.  And it has delicious recipes for Scott’s favorite meals too!  Running inspo and vegan recipes -my idea of heaven on paper!




7.  Vegan Body Building and Fitness by Robert Cheeke

veganbodybuildingI read this years ago when it first came out and loved it, but was still not ready for weight lifting at that time.  As I hinted here, I am now firmly in the weight lifting camp and re-read Robert’s book for guidance.  Truth be told, Robert has since learned a lot more about nutrition and should probably do a re-write, as some of these recommendations are a little specious.  My personal favorite part of the book though is Robert’s Big Why:  His form of animal advocacy is by SHOWING what a human can achieve physically on a plant-only diet.  He works as hard as he does for the animals.  That speaks to me enormously!




8.  Drunkard: A Hard Drinking Life by Neil Steinberg

m3ktoQtLwaziTrQW4XvEcsQThe memoir of Washington Post columnist Neil Steinberg’s recovery from alcohol addiction.  If you are a food addict or wonder if you are a food addict, read this book and see yourself behaving with food the way an alcoholic does with alcohol.  You will also recognize Steinberg moving through the Five Stages of Change and understand that our recovery from any addiction must follow a similar course.




9.  Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott

Imperfect BirdsOK, this one is fiction and I actually read this last year, but Neil’s book made me think to include it in this list.  Anne Lamott is my all-time favorite author and I love her writing to the extent that if you don’t love her, I’m not sure we can be friends.  Imperfect Birds is the third book in the “Rosie” series, following Rosie and Crooked Little Heart, but it stands alone so you don’t need to have read the others.  This is another story of addiction, this time told by a teen drug addict, beloved daughter of a successful and high achieving family.  Again, as Rosie goes to greater and greater lengths to hide her addiction and it’s side effects from her parents and herself, so too will the food addict see herself mirrored in these deceptive behaviors.  This book will crack your heart open and humble you to the very core.  I read it alternating between madly underlining passages, scribbling out quotes, gasping at the incredible way Anne uses words, to sobbing my eyes out over the story.  I turned the last page a changed person where my own addiction is concerned.


10.  Eat to Live by Dr Joel Fuhrman

download (3)So now that you have come to grips with the addiction, what do you do about it?  Eat to Live is the manual for overcoming food addictions.  I have read it literally hundreds of times, sometimes rejecting it as all out impossible, other times seeing in it the truth of what must be done.   Dr Fuhrman’s Nutritarian diet is largely vegan, extremely high in plant matter and low in everything else:  no salt, very little oil, no sugar, nothing processed.  It is not easy to implement or stick with and normally that would make me disqualify it as a realistic long-term solution for anyone, but honestly, this way lies the path to ultimate food freedom, I feel quite certain.  Read it.  More than once.  Let it sink in.



OK, so next post will be my Favorite people to follow, blogs to read, emerging trends etc.  Until then, fire up the kindle!

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