How to Stay on Track with Healthy Food and Exercise While Traveling

Don't let your vacation doom your diet! How to stay on track and enjoy yourself while traveling.

‘Tis the Season for Travel!

There are those among my readers who will think this topic is inane. Who wants to diet on vacation?! What kind of life is that?!

Well, you know how people always say that to lose weight permanently, you can’t just go on a diet, rather you have to ‘change your lifestyle’?  So this post right here is what that Lifestyle Change looks like.

If like most of my clients, (and myself), you have worked really hard to whittle off weight and even harder to keep it off, then the prospect of going on a trip and not being in 100% control of your food and fitness regime can be really scary.  You fear not just losing balance during the trip, but also having a difficult time getting back on track when you get home. No one wants to watch all their months of hard work be undone in one gelato-ravioli-pizza infused weekend.

I am at an age and hormonal stage where I am honestly capable of gaining 5 lbs in 15 minutes – and I mean 5 real pounds, like the ones that take another 6 months to take off again!  So for me, as much as I look forward to traveling, going on a trip can be a real cause for concern.

But aren’t some of the reasons we travel to enjoy local cuisine, to drink more than usual, to rest and relax?  If you want it to be those things, then yes, by all means!  Eat, drink, travel, enjoy, and stop reading this post.

However, if you are searching for a way to be able to travel the world, eat maybe slightly off-plan, enjoy yourself, and not come home to that discouraging thud of “ugh, how can I possibly gain weight that easily?! I wish I hadn’t eaten so much!” then these are my time-worn techniques for doing just that.

#1 Decide What You Want, What You Really, Really Want

Decide if you WANT to stay on track or not. It is totally fine if you want to let go and eat your body weight in vegan nachos and do nada except lie in the sun on your Caribbean cruise. But if you are going to cut lose, then just enjoy it and don’t reprimand yourself later when you have to deal with the fall-out. Decide that this is your game plan and enjoy without guilt.  

But, if you have decided that you DO want to stay at least somewhat on track, decide how on track you need to stay. I have clients who are determined to continue their weight loss journeys while on vacation and they put in the exact same effort while traveling as they do at home.  So yes Virginia, if you focus and work at it, you can actually lose weight on vacation!

Most other folks would just be happy just to maintain their weight, or not gain more than a pound of two.  

Your desired outcome should guide your actions.  Get clear on what you want and decide how you will do it.

#2 Change your Perspective

I like to think of vacations as “health spa getaways”even when I’m not going to any health spa. I mean, I don’t have to cook meals, pack lunches, do laundry, or any of the other chores that make up my days at home. So I try to luxuriate in the experience of eating healthy meals cooked by someone else, rather than gorging on junk or fast food. Try a mindset shift like that and see if it doesn’t reduce any feelings of deprivation you might be prone to feel.

Nothing tastes quite as good as a salad you didn’t have to make – am I right?

Many people treat eating as the number one pleasure to top all pleasures.  Again, if you want food to have that role in your life and you are happy with your body and health, then rock on with your super foodie self.  But if you are struggling with over-eating and don’t feel well or don’t like how your body looks, it’s high time to find OTHER pleasures in life – things that feed your soul, your mind, and your heart – not just your mouth and stomach.

We are so out of balance when it comes to pleasure.  I hear from clients all the time “eating is the best part of my day.”  Eating is nice, but if it’s the best part of your day, maybe it’s time to examine your life a bit. 

When traveling, do the things you absolutely love doing – see shows, swim, snorkel, enjoy the beach, play games or sports, make love, see great works of art, architecture and history – whatever floats your boat.  Food is just one pleasure of many.  Don’t let it take over everything else.

#3 Choose where you will splurge

If you don’t want to gain weight, you have to keep your caloric intake similar to what it is back home.  You just can’t eat everything you want and expect to get away with it.  If alcohol is important to you, then choose to enjoy your favorite drinks, instead of dessert at dinner and ice cream in the afternoon.  To fit that gelato in, maybe skip the bread basket or go easy on the brewski.  You are going to have to make choices.

Whether you are staying in an apartment with a kitchen, or a standard hotel room, try to at least prepare a healthy breakfast with fruits, veggies and protein.  Stop at a market when you arrive and stock up on fruits and veggies you can eat with minimal prep, such as bananas, cherries, grapes, apples, peaches, plums, tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers, carrots etc. You can also buy a knife, cheap plastic cutting board, a few Tupperware type containers, and even a cheap cooler and cold pack at your destination if you want to save space in your packed luggage.  Pack some healthy snacks in your day bag if you are going to be out all day.

One thing I do when staying in hotels where a Continental Breakfast is served, is to bring my own “proats” (oats with protein powder mixed in). Before leaving home, I measure out individual servings of dry oats, vegan protein powder and cinnamon into baggies, one for each day of my trip. When I come down to breakfast, I empty one baggie into a bowl and cover with boiling water from the tea service. Cover the bowl with a plate and let it sit for a few minutes while you cut up some fruit, and make your coffee. Your oats will “cook” and you can eat them topped with fresh fruit or jam that is provided. You can see pictures of my whole proats set-up in my post about Eating Vegan in Italy.  (You can also cook oats in a microwave for 2-3 minutes if your hotel is so equipped).

Starting the day with complex carbs and protein fuels me up and makes me less likely to binge later, as I probably would if I just had pastry or bread and jam.

Here’s a sample of some Protein-Oats (proats) breakfasts of mine on the road. One is topped with jam and fruit, the other with a soy yogurt I found in a local market. As you can imagine, eating this kind of breakfast keeps me fueled up and full of energy for hours of touring!

healthy hotel breakfast

#4 Fill Up on Protein and Vegetables

This is pretty much the same advice I’d give to a client at home. Whenever possible, make sure your snacks and meals all include protein and veggies.  Carbs are easy to come by, super tasty, and generally high in calories.  There is nothing wrong with carbs and I am not saying you should limit them, I am just saying that when trying to lose weight, it can really help to prioritize protein and vegetables and then fill in with carbs after you have covered the protein-veg component.

If you are a vegan, protein on the road isn’t so easy.  Depending on where you are, it might be hard to find things like tofu and seitan.  If I am staying somewhere with a kitchen, I bring several boxes of shelf-stable tofu with me.  If you can’t find those, or you don’t eat gluten or soy, you will need to get your protein from beans, whole grains, raw nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables.

Bringing some vegan protein powder and a shaker bottle with you from home, can help you get enough protein that you feel full and are not as tempted to binge on carbs and sweets.

#5  Fitness on the Road

If it’s super important to you to workout daily, then plan ahead of time, book accommodations with a gym and/or pool or call ahead and see if you can get a temporary membership to a local fitness center. Bring your running shoes and map-out safe areas to run. Look realistically at your vacation schedule and make a commitment to getting your workouts in.

If you will be in one town, you can probably get a guest pass to a local gym, spinning or yoga studio. Run outside as long as the weather is good and the locals tell you it is a safe area to do so. Just a general tip: Do not wear your headphones when running in an unfamiliar area. You need to be able to use your sense of hearing to detect any danger. 

Search for “Hotel Room Workouts” on Pinterest and You Tube. You can get in an amazing body weight workout right in your room. If you have wifi you can even exercise along to a video! An active vacation, walking around, hiking, snorkeling, swimming, even shopping, can take the place of your usual formal exercise.

Here’s Erin Stern demonstrating how she gets in a full-body workout with minimum equipment at a hotel gym:

 

Staying on track and healthy while on vacation can be a challenge, but with some willingness and creativity, you can enjoy your trip and only have to pay overweight charges on your luggage.  Bon Voyage and safe travels!

Peanut Butter Cup Protein Parfait (vegan)

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Peanut Butter Cup Vegan Protein Parfait

Today I am sharing one of my favorite summer recipes! You might think that this one is high in calories or not appropriate for those of you working on your weight, but you’d be wrong!  

This delicious and satisfying breakfast, or post-workout treat, contains only 345 calories. Macros are equally divine at 39gC/11gF/29gP. (That’s a whole 29 grams of vegan protein for those of you not versed in macro-lingo).

I have shared here before, that a frozen banana, whirred in the food processor with just a splash of water, makes something eerily similar to actual ice cream.  But because it contains no dairy products and therefore, no animal cruelty, we call it “Nice Cream”.  Cute, or self-righteous, who cares, it’s wonderful.

In this version, I mixed my nice cream with a scoop of vegan protein powder and a spoonful of peanut butter.  Layered with a super quick chocolate sauce made out of maple syrup and unsweetened cocoa powder, the most time-consuming part of this recipe is washing up afterward.

Quick. Easy. Cravings Busting. Vegan. Fits My Macros. Delicious.  Ticks all the boxes for me!

My kids love this as well and I feel really good about making them such a healthy snack.  The last time I made it, one of them took a picture and whatsapp’ed it to all his friends.  I loved the stream of “Yuuuummm” and “I want!” that followed.  

I should open a Nice Cream Shop.  (But I won’t, so feel-free to steal that idea, oh entrepreneurial ones!)

Peanut Butter Cup Protein Parfait (vegan)

Serving Size: 1

Ingredients

    Peanut Butter Cream:
  • 1 frozen medium- large frozen banana
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 scoop vegan protein powder (I used vanilla flavor)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • water, see below
  • Fudge Ripple
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • enough water to get syrup texture, 1-3 Tbsp
  • Chopped nuts and coconut for garnish if desired

Instructions

  1. Put banana in food processor with peanut butter, protein powder, and vanilla.
  2. Pulse a few times to mash.
  3. With machine running, slowly add water 1 Tbsp at a time until a thick ice cream texture is achieved. Do not over-mix or add too much water or you'll have a smoothie!
  4. Layer peanut butter nice cream in your jar with fudge ripple.
  5. Top with chopped nuts and coconut flakes if desired.

Notes

Protein powder is not essential if you do not use it. I personally find that eating foods with a balance with carbs, protein, and healthy fats keep me (and my clients) feeling full and not binge-y. If you choose to leave it out, add a few dates for sweetness and thickness.

http://triumphwellness.com/peanut-butter-cup-protein-parfait-vegan/

30 Days Without Social Media – Now What?

30 days without social

On June 1st, while writing in my journal, I hit upon a stunning truth:  Social Media was taking over my life.  The only way I thought I could beat it? My usual MO: Cold turkey.  Not one for indecisiveness, I immediately set out to do a 30-day Social Media Detox, uninstalling Instagram and Snapchat from my phone, and deactivating my Facebook account.   And I announced my intentions publicly, because you know, shame is a big motivator.

It is now the beginning of July – more than 30 days have passed.  Do you want to know the results of my experiment?  I bet you do!

Did I cheat at all?

No, I did not take even one single, eeny, teeny peek at any social media! I thought I would be tempted, but it turns out I wasn’t at all.  Out of sight, out of mind.

What about FOMO?

FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, had been a big concern before I went off, but it turns out that because you don’t know what you are missing, it doesn’t even matter!  So I was not the first person to hear of Mohamed Ali’s passing, or of the tragedy in Orlando, or Brexit…  but I did hear about all of those things and kept abreast of news just fine without all the posturing and “I stand with Orlando” that I imagine went on.

What about my business?  

The real concern was whether I would still be able to run an online business and get clients without social media?  Well, I did not sign a single new client in the month of June, so yeah, that could be a problem.  But June is historically a slow month, and I did zero marketing.  I didn’t send out any newsletters or write any blog posts or make any offers at all.  I hadn’t intended to take the month away from my business like that, but without the continuous draw of social media, I just kept doing things away from the computer and phone (more below).  If I want to really judge if I can run an online business without social media, I need to keep up my marketing.  That will be the next goal.

I did however, get asked to review a pretty big vegan cookbook release this Fall. So although I wasn’t participating in the fray, I am not entirely out of the loop yet.  (There is going to be a give-away with that review so stayed tuned!)

What was life like without social media?

  • Holy Moly:  Time, loads of Time!!!!  I really hadn’t realized how much time I was spending staring at my phone, preparing and photographing meals, and watching other people’s lives (in the name of “finding inspiration” and “making connections”).  I literally found hours of daily life free!
  • My kids.  Again, I had no idea how disconnected I had become from them with that phone constantly in my hand.  I had thought it was them who were too busy and closed off to give me the time of day, but it had been my damn phone!  Can you believe that?  Do you understand how a stupid internet addiction nearly cost me the thing I value most in the entire world???  My kids and I just had the best month we have had together since they were little kids! If for nothing else, this was the greatest gift I could have ever received.
  • Reading.  I love reading but it had dropped off due to the time I was spending on social.  I tore through probably 20 books this month alone.
  • Home life.  One of the books I read was Mari Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  If you haven’t read it, and you struggle at all with clutter in your life, it is a MUST read!  With all my new free time, I embarked on a massive decluttering project that will finally have my home looking the way I want it to soon.  As per the book’s instructions, I started with my own stuff, but the kid’s saw and wanted me to help them with their stuff too.  My husband, the ultimate pack rat, just took 10 bags of his stuff to the donation drop, simply by observing my results.  I never said a thing.  It feels like a million pound weight has been lifted from us all and again, I didn’t even think we had that much clutter until I started working through this book’s novel approach!
  • Cooking.  One of my greatest joys in life is cooking.  Again, it had been side-lined somewhat by my time on social.  I had fallen into this pattern of rushing into the kitchen at 5pm with no idea what I would prepare for my family’s dinner.  It was stressful and dinner sucked.  Now I am pre-planning meals again, and thoroughly enjoying my creative time preparing them.
  • Weight.  I lost weight.  Probably because of the above cooking changes, but also because I am sitting still less and spending less time looking at delicious pictures of other people’s food, which in retrospect, was probably driving my hunger and cravings.
  • Privacy.  We went to Rome (We went to Rome!!) and I only took pictures for the family photo album.  I feel like I got us as a family unit back.  I feel these boundaries around us again and I literally don’t want to share the deliciousness that is my family with anyone else.  What was I thinking before, sharing our lives like that??
  • Personal Development.  Looking up from that little screen, I could finally see the Big Picture of my life again.  I decided what I want to do next with my career, which involves a little more school, which means better Hebrew, so I enrolled in a Hebrew class.  I haven’t even thought of moving forward or being able to do such a thing in the 9 years we have been here!  It took setting my phone down to see it!
  • Mental Peace.  No unwanted political opinions.  No articles screaming about the situation here and how we are all doomed.  No spewing of hatred or ignorance.  No rants or diatribes.  People, do you remember that we used to live like this before the internet?!  Why did we give up such a sense of peace??  I was never one to compare my life to other’s online lives, but I know that is a real problem for many and that Facebook in particular causes many people to be depressed.  While that wasn’t an issue for me, I did always feel like a voyeur and that was vaguely uncomfortable.  No more voyeurism!
  • Being in the Moment.  When I go to the gym, I am focused on my workout, not looking for photo ops.  When we go out to eat, I don’t share a picture of the food with anyone – I just enjoy it for myself.  My mind is right here, on what I am doing, not distracted, thinking of what to post when, waiting for 3pm because that’s the best time to catch the North American audience just waking up and checking their phones.  I don’t have to think of things to make to photograph or search for the best light.

I. Am. SO. Happy!!!!!

Will I go back to Social Media?

Are you crazy?!  Why ever would I do that?!  I just had the best month of my life!  I was talking to one colleague who said “But what if you find that you can’t run your business without it?”  My answer was “then I will close my business or think of another way to run it.”  Honestly, I feel that good.  I will keep the Facebook business page, and maybe, maybe set up Instagram as a business page only, but I don’t plan on following anyone on either platform so not sure if that would even work.

Why am I telling you all of this?

I suppose it’s because now that I am off my phone, I am more tuned in to how many of you are still staring endlessly into yours.  It’s a little epidemic, people.

When I published that last post announcing my plans, I got a ton of feedback.  About half of it was support from others who had already made the same decision, telling me how great it was going to be.  The other half all said “Ugh, I wish I could do that!  But I just don’t think I can.”  So I am here to tell you that you CAN and you will LOVE it!

How many of my clients complain of not having time to prepare healthy food and exercise? Yet I would see them every night “unwinding” with a little Facebook time.  I promise you, if you think that maybe you spend a little too much time on social media, you are really spending a TON of time there!  You won’t know how much until you stop it completely.  Your entire life opens up before you!

And the happiness and productivity!  And your kids and spouse!  My dears, what we think is harmless entertainment is robbing us of our entire lives.

Just try a 30-day break like I did.  If you don’t like it or don’t have these sorts of results, you can always go back to it.

One of my friends said “I feel so disconnected from everything as it is, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without even Facebook!”  To that I say, your life will be connected again!  There are real live human beings out there and exciting things to do and adventures to be had!  Don’t miss the big adventure that is your life, by staring at that small screen showing other people enjoying theirs.

Why I have left Facebook (and other social media)

why I left facebook

I made aliyah (immigrated to Israel), in the summer of 2007.  Soon after, an old friend, Sue (not her real name), who had been in Israel a bit longer than me, asked me how I was feeling.  “Like I’ve fallen off the planet!” was my reply.  Sue told me about a great new website she was using to stay in touch with friends in the US, in particular, our mutual close friend, Kaye (also not her name).  The website was Facebook and I was delighted to get on it and start communicating with friends near and far, especially my ole girl posse, Sue and Kaye, yeehaw!

Within a couple of years of Facebook fun, Sue and Kaye were no longer my friends.

Sue and I disagreed over politics and unfriending followed.  While Kaye and I had one of those notorious Facebook blow-outs: words were written, tone was absent, offence was taken, and without picking up a phone or talking human to human, a friendship of over 10 years was over in one simple “unfriend” and “block”.  I never spoke to her again.

I wish I could say they were my only casualties of Facebook, but it happened numerous times.  I wrote more about it in this post.

Facebook became like a traumatic accident I couldn’t turn away from.  Not only that, it became a time-sucking traumatic accident I couldn’t turn away from!

Understanding that I needed to take action, I pruned my friend list.  I stopped posting anything other than blog posts I wanted to share.  I disabled my news feed.  I never had the app on my phone – I had to log in to the website to use it so I never had to deal with notifications.  I only used Facebook for the groups I was in and those I administered.

And yet, I still somehow managed to be spending a ton of seriously unproductive time on it!  I also simultaneously managed to pick up two new internet addictions, Instagram and Snapchat.

I kept telling myself that all of this was “for my business”, but was it really?

During my 10-week to Summer online group program, I led participants through an exercise on defining our top five values in life and then designing lives where we spend the corresponding amount of time and effort on the things we value most.  I had done this exercise before, but somehow, this time, it totally changed my life and perspective.  Among other things, it caused me to take a hard look on how much time I was spending on social media and evaluate whether it was worth it or not.

  • Yes, I got clients from Facebook, but did the hours I was spending there justify the few people who found me via that platform?
  • Did the stress caused by reading drama and nasty comments bleed over into my mental well-being?
  • Sure, I made great connections on Instagram and Snapchat, but was anything actually coming from those connections?
  • Were all the damaged relationships worth it?? (Regrets, I’ve had a few…)
  • Was scrolling through pictures of other people’s meals, lives, workouts, becoming more important than living my own?  More important than paying closer attention to my nearest and dearest?

The final straw came when a little boy fell into a gorilla enclosure during a visit to the zoo, and the Facebook Judgement Squad went on a vicious blame-the-mother-crusade, without knowing the mother, or the circumstances, or what actually happened on that tragic day.  People were writing that the child should have been “left in the enclosure to die, as befits evolution!” and that anyone defending the mother should be “euthanized themselves”! Instead of reacting in horror over words like that, others were circling like sharks smelling blood. That mother was going to be torn to shreds by this angry mob of non bystanders! (Read, The Death of Harambe and the Rise of the Internet Mob for more).

Straw, meet Back.

For the first time in NINE YEARS, I logged completely out of my Facebook account.

I knew I was finally done there.  I deleted all social media apps from my phone immediately.  It turned out to be a lot more difficult to disengage from Facebook.  Facebook has it’s tentacles in you deeper than you think!  Every permission you have allowed to connect with FB;  every connection between Facebook and your website; it all has to be dismantled one at a time.  All the while, FB does everything it can to keep you there!  It was actually alarming in a VERY Big Brother sort of way!

I wanted to try to keep my business page, which you cannot do without a personal account.  I finally managed to delete my personal account and set up a new one, (with no friends), to be the administrator of my business page. I’m still not sure it’s going to work.

I declared to all that it would be a 30-day experiment for the month of June, but I am on day 5, and honestly, I could have never have predicted how happy being off of social media would make me.

  • I eat food that is maybe messy and imperfect looking, but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to post a photo of it to Instagram.
  • I walk the dog in the morning, and just enjoy the beauty of the dawn.  (I used to use that time to scroll and catch up on social).
  • I am writing again.  ( I didn’t have the time or interest before because I was too busy trying to think of something good to share on social).
  • My kids have my full attention when they are speaking.  I am not even tempted to sneak a peak at my phone because there is nothing on it to look at.
  • My kids AND my husband have expressed great delight to not be competing with the strangers who lived in my phone. (omg)
  • I have read three books in 5 days. 
  • I am so freed from the compulsion to not photograph and share everything!
  • I am so freed from the compulsion to watch the lives of other people!
  • I am now the one who chooses what I want to think about, not an algorithm, and not because the drama is impossible to look away from.

Now, if you are not this addicted and Facebook’s foibles don’t bother you in the least, then scroll on, dear reader!  But then again, I didn’t realize just how caught up I was until I got off of it.  So if thinking about taking 30 days off, makes you squirm a bit, maybe you want to look at that a little more closely.

And for those of you who will say “Hypocrite! You are sharing this very article on Facebook!” I will say, you are right. Maybe it is hypocrisy?  I’m not sure.  Or maybe it is me using Facebook, rather than allowing Facebook to use me?  I still after all, would like you to find and read my work and Facebook has managed to grab millions of eye-balls.

This is an experiment and an eye-opener for me.  I am not sure where it will end.  I do not intend to judge those of you who use social media.  I was very much one of you until just 5 days ago!  I am only sharing my own experience.

And maybe, just maybe, I will inspire someone else to take an honest look at how they are spending their own precious time and decide to make some changes.

Easy Tofu with Zucchini Noodles

tofu and zoodles with basil and garlic

Do you guys know about spiralizers?  They are a kind of vegetable and fruit slicer that turns your food into fun-to-eat ribbons.  I mean, come on, who gets excited over zucchini, just plain?  But turn zucchini into noodles and you’ve got ZOODLES!

(I may be easily amused…)

I bought a spiralizer years ago.  I used it from time to time, but it only made really thin noodles and if you cooked them they would get mushy.  It was a good way to get the kids to eat carrots though.

I was in the store the other day (Itzhak Cohen in Kfar Saba for those who will ask me), and saw this new spiralizer:

spiral slicer Israel

It was 199nis, again for those who are going to ask.  Someone else told me there was a baligam recently for same machine, same price.

It has four different blades for a variety of shapes and thicknesses.  I generally use the middle-sized one for zoodles and they come out perfectly!  I tried to do potatoes and then bake them in the oven, but that recipe needs to go back to the drawing board (too mushy).  I have created an entire Pinterest board for spiralizer recipes.  Next up is a beet-carrot spiralized salad with pistachios and mint.  After that I’m going to try a recipe for butternut squash noodles in a creamy curry sauce.  Lots of possibilities!  (In other words, I’m hoping this doesn’t become yet another cool kitchen tool I buy, use a ton for like a month, and then put away to gather dust.  Can anyone relate or is it just me?)

Here is a quick, healthy lunch I enjoyed today. So simple and delicious!

Easy Tofu with Zucchini Noodles

Serving Size: 2-3

Ingredients

    For the Tofu
  • 2 - 300 gram packages of soft tofu, cubed
  • 1/2 Tbsp oil (or oil spray and a non-stick pan)
  • 1 tsp onion powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika or cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • For the Zoodles
  • 2 medium-sized zucchinis, spiralized into ribbons with a medium blade
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Warm the oil in a frying pan.
  2. Toss in the tofu cubes and saute for 4-5 minutes, over medium-high heat, gently stirring, until tofu begins to turn light gold.
  3. Toss in spices and soy sauce.
  4. Remove tofu to a bowl.
  5. Return the same frying pan to the heat.
  6. In the oil still in the pan, saute the garlic and tomatoes over medium heat for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the zucchini noodles, and toss with tongs for 2 more minutes, until they start to soften and turn lightly brown.
  8. Remove to serving plate.
  9. Top with tofu and chopped fresh basil.
http://triumphwellness.com/easy-tofu-with-zucchini-noodles/

The Vegan Start Passover Cookbook

I have ANOTHER Vegan Cookbook to share with you lovelies!  This one is specifically for Passover.  How exciting to have all these new vegan resources for Jewish food, right??

But before we get into that, I want to thank you all for entering the Jewish Food Hero Book give-away.  The winner of the free book has been notified, so if it wasn’t you, you can pick up a copy of the book for only $9.99, right HERE.

On to the Vegan Start Passover Cookbook!

Vegan Start Passover Cookbook

You may remember that I shared this book with you last year (HERE) along with a sample recipe from it for Vegan Matzo Balls. But the book has since been updated with a bunch of new recipes and has been completely reformatted.  There is also now a print version that you can buy on Amazon for those of you who don’t like ebooks.  How cool!

Let me turn it over to author Rena Reich to tell us about her book:


Thank you, Emily for giving me the opportunity to share one of my favorite Passover recipes!

I’ve been vegan for over 5 years now. During the year, I really don’t think about what I’m going to eat. There is a lot of vegan fare to choose from. Passover limits my choices a bit. Over Passover, my main source of protein is nuts. During the year I gravitate more to seitan and soy products. Even though there is kosher for Passover tofu, I don’t do soy on Passover. My family is Ashkenazi and we don’t eat kitniyot (legumes) the whole week.

As a kid, I ate practically everything. My mother loved the fact that when other kids turned their noses up to liver, I would devour it. My tastes haven’t changed, but my diet has. Mock chopped liver is one of my favorite things to make. It’s really easy and it tastes so good. The main ingredient is walnuts, so it’s also an excellent source of protein. My kids love it as much as I used to love the its non-vegan brother. We eat it all week long.

During the week of Passover, we enjoy spending family time, especially going on hikes with our kids. Mock chopped liver is always my go-to food for them. It makes a great matzo sandwich stuffer.

In general, I’ve found my groove for what to make on Passover. I’ve created a vegan, kitniyot-free cookbook to share my recipes and tips for eating vegan and well on Passover. You can check it out on my website Vegan Passover or order in paperback or kindle format from Amazon HERE.

For vegan recipes all year long, visit my blog, Vegan Start .

I wish you all a Chag Kasher v’Samech!

~Rena

Chopped Liver Vegan Start Passover Cookbook

Vegan Mock Chopped Liver

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mushrooms
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • oil for frying
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in fry pan
  2. Add onions and mushrooms and cook on a medium heat until caramelized. Add oil as needed
  3. Put walnuts in a food processor and process
  4. Add caramelized onions and mushrooms and process until smooth
  5. Mix in salt and pepper to taste
  6. Enjoy!
http://triumphwellness.com/the-vegan-start-passover-cookbook/

 

GIVEAWAY! Jewish Food Hero Vegan Cookbook

50 Simple Plant-Based Recipes for your Holiday Meals

As so often happens in my world these days, I met Kenden Alfond through the internet.  Kenden is the founder of Jewish Food Hero, a website dedicated to nourishing the minds, bodies, and spirits of Jewish women around the globe. She offers vegan recipes which give a modern twist to  traditional Jewish meals, as well as resources to support greater health within the Jewish community.

Obviously she is my twin sister, separated at birth.

Kenden’s journey began in 2012 while Googling recipes for a family Purim meal.  All the recipes she found seemed dated and stodgy, unhealthy and old-fashioned, and were not reflective of her or her daughter’s more health conscious generation. She wondered if poor health and weight gain were the “price to pay” for engagement in Jewish life.  (Listening to most of my clients struggle with healthy eating on Shabbat and holidays, I often sadly wonder the same).

Kenden decided to create menus for every Jewish holiday that better reflected her family’s healthy values.  The Jewish Food Hero Cookbook is the result of her creativity and dedication.

I was given a copy to review and wow!  First of all, this is a very beautiful ebook.  The photographs by Matkonation are drool-worthy and inspiring.  The recipes are creative and fresh.  Every major Jewish holiday has it’s own menu and each comes with background and an intended mood and theme.  The Jewish Food Hero Cookbook will inspire the Jewish home cook, as well as emboldening us to step out of  our culture’s current unhealthy, heavy, and over-the-top indulgent holiday meal paradigm, and into one that has everyone leaving the table with a smile on their face and a spring in their step.

Kenden writes, “Cooking healthy holiday meals can be a form of creative expression, self-care, and love. I see a different food future for the Jewish people. I’m so glad you’re here and part of this vision.”
Below I am sharing a sample recipe from the book that Kenden was so generous to share with us.  It is from the Passover section and is perfect for your seder table. The recipe is vegan and does not use kiyniyot.

In addition to the recipe, Kenden has generously offered to give one copy of her cookbook away to one of my readers.  To be eligible for the give-away just comment below, or on this post on FB, or send me an email to Emily@TriumphWellness.com with your return email so I can contact you.  The winner will be chosen by Tuesday, April 12, 2016.  Contest is international – this is an ebook delivered via the internet.

 

To order a copy of the cookbook for yourself, a steal at only $9.99, go to the Jewish Food Hero website HERE.  This book would also make a lovely holiday gift.

Enjoy the sample recipe!

vegan shepherd's pie

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients

    Mashed potato topping
  • 3 pounds red skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pie filling:
  • 2 cups diced onion (from about 2 medium onions)
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms (from about 1/2 pound whole mushrooms)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (not low sodium)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 2 cups, peeled and sliced carrots (from about 2 carrots)
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets (from about 1 small head)
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Garnish
  • Steamed carrots, yellow summer squash, and zucchini (cut into rounds) **If you eat kitniyot during Passover, you can also use peas and thin string beans here.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Place the prepared potatoes in an extra large soup pot, and cover with at least 1 inch of cold water. Boil, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  3. Set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, sauté the onion and mushrooms in 1/4 cup vegetable broth or water for 10 minutes, adding more broth if needed.
  5. Add the sage, thyme, and carrots, and sauté for another 5 minutes
  6. Add the cauliflower and cook for 5 more minutes
  7. Add the vegetable broth to the vegetables in the skillet, reserving 1/4 cup to mix with potato starch
  8. In a small bowl, combine the potato starch with the 1/4 cup reserved vegetable broth. Mix well.
  9. Add the potato starch mixture, sea salt, and pepper to the vegetables
  10. Stir until thickened. Set aside.
  11. Drain the cooked potatoes and mash them, adding the almond milk, pepper, and sea salt.
  12. Assemble the dish and bake
  13. Pour the cooked vegetables into a lightly oiled 9 x 13-inch glass casserole dish
  14. Top with the mashed potatoes and smooth the surface with a spoon
  15. Bake for 30 minutes
  16. Prepare the garnish:
  17. While the casserole is cooking, chop the vegetables for the garnish, paying attention to maintaining a uniform and delicate shape
  18. Steam the vegetables for the garnish just enough so they retain their beautiful color and a bit of crunch.
  19. Arrange the garnish and serve
  20. Arrange the warm vegetables on top of the casserole in a design that inspires you
  21. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
  22. Serve family style on the table.
http://triumphwellness.com/giveaway-jewish-food-hero-vegan-cookbook/

Recipe reprinted with permission of Jewish Food Hero. Copyright©2016 Jewish Food Hero

All photos in this post are by Matkonation.

 

 

The Alchemy of Words

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.”

– John Greenleaf Whittier

I have been so busy marketing my new program, that I totally forget to blog about it!

Since this is my blog and not a newsletter or sales page per se, I am going to go with a more personalized and nakedly honest approach.

I became a health coach because I wanted to help other women heal their broken food relationships and weight issues, just as my coach helped me.

So I trained, and I started my health coaching business in 2006.  For ten years, I have been doing this same thing.  I have gained a tremendous amount of experience.  My coaching skills have improved ten-fold.  I have touched the lives of hundreds of people, through my blog, through workshops, through cooking classes, and through one-on-one clients.  It is my passion and I feel very fortunate to be able to pursue it.

For the most part, it is rewarding and inspiring.  But what people don’t realize is the sheer amount of marketing I have to do to get clients.  It’s a business, after all.  And I gotta tell you, times like right now, when I am in the middle of a program launch, I feel simply awful.

I spend so much time year-round, creating all this free content.  I try so hard to really give so much value here, in the other publications I write for, and in the free Facebook group.  But when it comes time to actually ASK people to step up, hire me, and enroll in my programs… well, if I didn’t already have issues with anxiety, this would have surely pushed me there!  And if I didn’t have a great support network, (thank you, you know who you are), I would just crawl into a dark, shadowy hole and hide.

So as I was sitting here at my desk tonight, feeling like “ugh, I literally cannot write a single word more to promote this program”, I got the following text:

text from happy client down 24kgs

 

That’s it. There isn’t really anything more to say.  All the words, all the copy, all the cajoling… the ONLY purpose for any of it, is so that people like that dear woman right there can find me, and hire me, and change the course of their entire lives.  Amen.

My 10-week online program starts next Sunday.  It looks like this:

Get Ready for Summer Program!

You can read all about it HERE.

You can read my answers to the most common objections and excuses I have received HERE.

If you have any questions for me, Emily@TriumphWellness.com

 

If you want your own success story, sign up.

If you are ready to make some changes, enroll.

If my words, words, words, make a difference for you, act.

I can write until I am blue, but it all depends on you, dear reader, to perform the alchemy that lifts these words off the screen and into the gold of prayers answered and dreams fulfilled.

 

Bread Machine Vegan Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Bread Machine

The weekend is over and as you turn your thoughts to the upcoming week and the lunches you need to pack come Sunday morning (in Israel) or Monday morning (everywhere else), if you’re like me, you always grumble, “Crap, we’re out of bread.”

It seemed like we were constantly running to stores in search of a good loaf of sandwich bread at all hours!  And we are picky about our bread, as any former New Yorkers are wont to be.  We like those artisanal breads you have to go to a special bakery to buy.  We are not big fans of the taste or additive levels of supermarket bread. And don’t even get me started on pita!  Basically unless pita is “baked-it-fresh-this-very-moment” fresh, I will absolutely make a disastrous mess of trying to stuff sandwich fillings inside of it. I think you have to be Middle Eastern born and bred to make proper pita sandwiches.

So one day at the airport, with time to spare before our flight, we wandered into the Duty Free electronics store, as one tends to do. As my roaming eyes came to rest on a bread machine, I saw a solution to my constant “we’re out of bread” conundrum.

I purchased the Morphy Richards 900g Breadmaker several years ago now and it has been in use literally 5 days a week since. My recipe and technique have changed over the years, but today I want to share with you the sandwich bread I make daily for my family, and exactly how I do it.

A few things first:

  • You will notice that I use a combination of 1 cup semolina (solet), 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 1 cup high-gluten bread flour (kemach lechem). For me, in this machine, this gives the consistency of loaf we prefer. The semolina gives the loaf a nice crust and airy texture and the high-gluten bread flour gives it beautiful lift and light, soft crumb. I’m sure you can play around with any mix of flours – I have used part spelt, part ground oats, part chickpea flour, etc – as long as your total is 4 cups.
  • You will also notice that I use 2 tablespoons of sugar in my bread and many of you will write me nasty letters about the evils of sugar. I agree that sugar is very bad for you. But we are talking here about 2 Tbsp in a loaf that makes 12-14 slices of bread. Do the math – it ends up being a VERY small amount of sugar in each slice. Don’t lose the forest for the orthorexic trees!  And besides, as I understand the science of baking, the yeast actually eats a good part of that sugar which is what gives your bread the rise. That said, I’m sure you could cut it to 1 Tbsp if that makes you feel better. You could also use a less processed form of sugar such as molasses or maple syrup but scientifically, it’s pretty much the same to your body.
  • I don’t bake in the machine.  You CAN put the ingredients in your bread machine, set it and forget it, and it will mix, rise, and bake the entire thing. I did that, but found that, firstly, the machine’s canister makes an awkward shape and size of bread for school kid lunch sandwiches. Secondly, I didn’t like losing what amounted to several slices on each end of the loaf – one side for the baked-in mixing paddle you have to dig out, which leaves a big hole, and the top side that bakes into a domed shape. So, I put the ingredients in the machine, set it to a 1 1/2 hour mixing and rising cycle called “Dough”, then remove the dough, plop it into a normal-sized loaf pan and bake it in the oven. Why use the machine at all you ask? Because the machine kneads the dough for about 30 minutes and if you have ever tried to knead dough for 30 minutes, you know why I would prefer to avoid it. Honestly, I used to make bread that was the consistency of a door-stop. It was awful. This machine kneads and rises the dough so beautifully, my bread could now win prizes for lightness and perfection!
  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE having fresh baked bread in the house every day. It smells amazing and makes my family feel very happy. I also make our weekly challah dough in the machine and take it out to braid it. It’s amazing. My bread machine is my most used and most loved kitchen appliance!  When this one kicks the bucket, I will definitely but another one. Recommended!

Bread Machine Vegan Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp sugar or any sweetener of your choice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups wrist-warm water
  • 1 cup semolina (solet)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup high-gluten bread flour (kemach lechem)
  • 2 1/2 - 3 tsp dry yeast

Instructions

  1. Place the ingredients in the canister of your bread machine in the exact order listed above.
  2. Turn the machine to the dough cycle only. (You can set it to whole wheat bread if you would like it to bake right in the machine (see my objections above)).
  3. When the 1 1/2 hour cycle is over and the timer rings, spray a loaf pan of the size you prefer with cooking spray.
  4. Spill a dollop of olive oil on the counter.
  5. Spread the oil around a little, coating your hands and your work space.
  6. Turn the dough out of the canister on to the oiled work space.
  7. Roll it tightly into a log, the length of your loaf pan.
  8. Place the loaf in the pan, seam-side down.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
  10. At the end of the 30 minutes, uncover the loaf and place it in a COLD oven.
  11. Turn the oven on to 180C (350F) and bake for 30 minutes.
  12. Turn loaf out on to a cooling rack to cool.
http://triumphwellness.com/bread-machine-vegan-whole-wheat-sandwich-bread/

 

My Favorite Workout Resources

Top Workout Resources

 

In 1991, I moved from Portland, Maine to New York City. For the first 9 months or so, I bunked with my childhood best friend, a fledgling actress busy with auditions and photo shoots. Keeping fit was the name of the game in that apartment. My roomie had a series of VHS tapes called The Firm, which were, a then, revolutionary combination of calisthenics and weight training. We Firmed ourselves Firm every single night.

I absolutely adored my first experience with at-home, follow-along workouts and kept up with The Firm for years to come, eventually moving over to DVD’s as technology changed. Being able to do a full-body workout in the comfort and privacy of your own home was a revelation to me. Prior to that, working out had meant jogging outside, joining a gym, or finding a jazzercize class in a church basement somewhere.

Fitness options have exploded with the advent of the personal computer and then the smart phone. There are tons of online workouts (many free) and loads of excellent phone apps (yes, free!)  If you are an experienced exerciser and know proper form on basic exercises, the info below will give you some terrific options to choose from. If you are a beginner, or someone who needs the accountability of other people to get your workout in, you probably will want to join a class or gym or hire a personal trainer. Know thyself.

Online Programs:

  •  BodyBuilding.com has several free online programs. If you click on Find A Plan you will see the full list from beginners to advanced, from fat burning to muscle building and everything in between. Their plans give you exact workouts for each day, as well as meal plans (not vegan, sadly). Each move comes with an instructional video or you can search their database to find videos of how to do exercises listed or what you can do for substitutions if your gym doesn’t have a piece of equipment or if it’s something you’d rather not do. Most of these plans do require access to a well-equipped gym with machines and free weights. Two programs I have done and loved were: Jamie Eason’s 12-week Live Fit Trainer and Erin Stern’s Elite Body 4-week Fitness Trainer.
  • SparkPeople.com is an online food tracker but it also has a gazllion of free workouts. Some you do right there in your office, in front of your computer, others are things like running and walking plans you can print and use offline.  You do need to be a member, but membership is free. These are good for beginning exercisers.
  • BodyRock.TV has tons of workouts online to do right there in front of your computer, some using easy to buy equipment, others without any equipment. You can find any workout you need here. There are some free sample workouts, but then series do cost a small fee.
  • TheBettyRocker, aka Bree Argetsinger, is a trainer who posts free kick-butt online workouts and group challenges. Many are free, some are for pay. I have done several of her challenges and they are HARD but fun. She gives plenty of modifications for beginning exercises. You will sweat blood, but be happy to if that’s remotely possible. Check out her youtube channel where she posts free workouts as well.
  • YogaToday posts daily yoga classes of all types. You can do a 2 week free trial before purchasing membership.
  • handstandingVegan calisthenics athlete Frank Medrano sells beginner to advanced calisthenics do-it-yourself programs from his website. I bought an earlier version of his beginner ebook and it got me hand-standing. There’s proof to the left…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apps:

  • Nike+Running is a free phone app that tracks your mileage, pace, gives you encouraging feedback and allows you to compete against others. This is what I use personally for running. I like that it allows podcasts or music to be playing while it’s running in the background.
  • Nike+Training Club (N+TC) is a free non-running workout app that gives you loads of workouts to follow with videos demonstrating each move, then voice cues while you are working out. You can workout at home or in the park or wherever. Some need equipment, some don’t. It’s a great app and I have used it a ton, but honestly the reason I don’t use it more is because I use an armband for my phone and if I can’t remember what an exercise is from the voice cue, it’s a total pain to unstrap my phone to look at it. Otherwise, it’s anything you could ever want.
  • MadBarz is a calisthenics app, also free, also amazing. So many apps, so little space on phone!
  • Freeletics, another free app, has a large European following which is fun to mix with other exercisers in foreign lands that have much worse weather than yours! (Hey look at those people doing burpees in the snow! Guess I don’t have any excuses…)

YouTube:

There are LOADS of free fitness programs on YouTube, just do a search. FitnessBlender and Zuzka Light are popular. BeFit is a storehouse for a ton of popular online videos like Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred and more.

Online Trainers:

Working with a trainer online sounds impossible, right? But for more experienced exercisers who know how to perform basics like barbell squats, deadlifts, and chest press with proper form, having someone remote write you a plan works just great. I worked for about 6 months with Vegan Body Builder Claudia Lailhacar and absolutely loved it. Claudia would send me weekly workouts and I would send her bi-weekly pictures of me in my undies (didn’t so much love that part) so she could see how things were coming along and make adjustments to my plan. If there were ever any exercises I wasn’t familiar with, or needed to make a substitution for, I went to bodybuilding.com’s video database (as mentioned above).

There are loads of online trainers, but be careful because this isn’t a well-regulated industry. In addition to Claudia, I can also recommend: Christy Morgan, Lori Brannen-Graham, and Di Hickman  (Bonus, they’re all vegans)

In-Person Trainers:

For people in my area, the Sharon region, in Israel, I can personally recommend personal trainer Mia Gabrielli (miabeth18@gmail.com) and Rella Itin’s Bootcamp Israel.

If you read all of this and thought “Great, but too bad I can’t motivate myself to actually start exercising”, might I humbly suggest you book an Intro Session with me? We will talk through your resistance, blocks, obstacles, and fears, and map out a plan to get you on a consistent fitness path. There is no obligation to continue on past that first session. You can see my calendar and availability HERE.  Sessions are conducted via phone, Skype or FaceTime.

Being fit, full of energy, flexible, and strong is not only a healthy thing to be, but it greatly improves quality of life across the board. I hope the above resources help you in your pursuit of a healthy life!