The Dark Side of Running an Internet-Based Business

dark side of running internet based biz

Several people have written to me and asked me why I haven’t been blogging.  The official answer is that I am still struggling to balance all of the things one needs to do when running a service-based business.  I am not just a blogger.  I have actual clients.  My clients (thankfully) have very real and pressing needs, and those obviously come first.  Then there are the other publications I write for that have actual deadlines and editors, and guess what? Deadlines and editors make you get your articles written. Not having either here on a personal blog, there is always another load of laundry to run, or another snack to eat, before I sit down to write.

Although all of that is true, there is something more insidious that has honestly distanced me from this space and from Facebook.  I want to take a minute to write about it, because I know many of my readers are struggling with the same issue, either as health coaches or other internet-based business owners, or just regular folk feeling the Facebook Burn.

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When Facebook first appeared on the scene, I was so delighted to suddenly be connected with and exposed to so many creative thinkers the world around. It was thrilling! It was also super fun to re-connect with people I had lost touch with over the years.

But the Facebook honeymoon is now over and the internet has become a place where everyone has an opinion that they MUST broadcast, while being completely intolerant of anyone holding a different opinion. It is all shouting and noise and bullying and arguing.  I was going to write out some of the comments I have received but decided that would be too “righteously wronged victim” -ish, so suffice it to say that I am too vegan, not vegan enough, too right-wing, not right-wing enough, too religious, not religious enough, amazing, inspirational and life-changing, as well as, disgusting, brainwashed, and stupid all at the same time.  I am apparently some sort of walking contradiction to be all those things at once.  Maybe that’s my bona fide super power – the ability to simultaneously aggravate all people everywhere!

I just post one word and it is either completely ignored, or simply wrong, wrong, WRONG and you are going to tell me why, I just know you are!  It will likely start like this “It is because of people like you that ….” (insert shockingly awful thing to say to someone here)

Now,  I understand this is all membership fees for participation on the internet playground and I wear my Duck’s Back Hate Repellent to help me ignore and delete, ignore and delete. But truthfully, I come to my website daily to do all the back-end stuff and I stare at the “new post” button and think “Is it really worth it?”

I am writing today to apologize for that.  I need to take an ego-check and remember that any talent I may or may not have, isn’t actually mine.  It comes through me from Higher Up and it is my job to be the faucet through which it can pour.

I have been a bad, bad faucet.

We cannot change the internet or the way people behave on it. But, as in all things, we can control our reaction to it.  We can also control how much time we spend on it.  We can evaluate daily if we are spending our precious time, adding something positive to the world or wallowing in the ugliness other people parade as “free speech” and “entitled to my opinion”.  

As for my personal facebook page, for those who have asked, at the moment, I am no longer using that page.  I keep it to post my blogs since more people see that than see my business page.  Months ago I disabled my news feed so the only way I see any of my friends’ posts is by going to their actual page.  So if you’ve had a baby and I didn’t wish you a mazal tov, I’m not a total schmuck, just an ignorant one.  I also deleted hundreds of “friends” who were not really friends at all. I did that last summer when I was spending my days running from rockets and those facebook “friends” were saying (loudly) that I deserved it. (I am generally fine with people having different opinions than mine, but there are uncrossable lines and that was one of them. Honestly, I think last summer changed the internet for a lot of us, especially those of us here in Israel).

Now, for those of you who have internet businesses and get stuck behind that wall of wondering if it’s worth putting yourself out there in a vast sea of haters and criticizers, I want to remind you of something:

It is not about you.

The criticism is usually not about you, but even more so, the service you offer is not about you.  If you believe as I do, that you are here to help people, then you have got to stop letting fear of criticism block you from doing so.  Here is a quote I jotted down today from Gina DeVee’s Divine Living Magazine:

I stopped asking “What will everyone think of me?” and instead asked “How can I best serve others?” Allowing myself to be guided by this simple question, I stopped thinking so much about what others thought (which is what caused my insecurity), and instead I concentrated singularly on my Purpose. ~ Gina DeVee

 

I chose two videos to share on this post.  In the first one, a youtuber who makes how-to make-up videos, shares a montage of the hate she receives when she appears in her videos without any make-up on.  Then she puts on make-up and is hated on for that as well, thus demonstrating the can’t win for losing state of affairs mentioned above.

The second video is an interview with one of my fitness heroes Dana Linn Bailey on how she handles all the internet haters. This is a stunning video reminding all of us the immense amount of inner strength it takes to put yourself out there in the internet age:

Final thoughts:

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
― Aristotle

“Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.”

-Andy Warhol

I am back to blogging.  Thanks for waiting for me.  More to come…

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Vegan Kubbeh

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Kubbeh are an Iraqi/Kurdish semolina and/or bulghur dumpling, stuffed with meat and served inside of variety of  soups.  Among many varieties, there is the extremely popular Kubbeh Hamousta, which is a sour green soup. There is also Kubbeh in Pumpkin Soup, Kubbeh in Beet Soup, kubbeh, kubbeh, kubbeh.

Yesterday afternoon, while trying to think of something to make for dinner that would be comforting, nourishing and easy to digest for my husband, sick with a tender tummy, I thought “If I were an Iraqi mama, I would have a pot of kubbeh bubbling.”  (Yes, I often pressure myself for not living up to the standards of glorified stereotypes).  I surfed through my pinterest boards and found this recipe (in Hebrew) for vegan Pumpkin Kubbeh stuffed with a mushroom stuffing.  Well, as these things usually go, I didn’t have pumpkin and I didn’t have mushrooms, so I had to get a little creative.

The end result was delicious, but I have to tell you, the kubbeh were a little too firm.  I looked at some other recipes online and all of them say to mix half semolina and half bulghur, so I am going to suggest you try that.  Or use all semolina, as I did, but don’t pack the balls too tightly when you are forming them.  Despite the hard balls, the soup was deeply perfect, soothing and divine.

Here is what they looked like on the inside:

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Vegan Kubbeh

Ingredients

    Kubbeh:
  • 250g Semolina (Solet in Israel)
  • 250g Bulghur (or use all semolina)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Filling:
  • 1 tsp oil or spritz of spray
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Soup:
  • 1 tsp oil or spritz of spray
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 large carrots, peeled and chopped (Or you can use pumpkin, peeled and cubed)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp smoked or sweet paprika
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar, coconut sugar, molasses, or silan (optional)
  • 5 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

    Kubbeh
  1. In a bowl, mix ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Set aside while you prepare the filling and the soup
  3. Filling
  4. In a large soup pot, saute the onion until soft
  5. Add the chickpeas and walnuts and stir fry until starting to brown
  6. Add the spices and mix thoroughly.
  7. Put into food processor and process until smooth.
  8. Set aside.
  9. Soup:
  10. In the same bowl you made the filling in, saute onion and carrots until soft.
  11. Add remaining ingredients.
  12. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  13. With an immersion blender, blend about half of the soup until smooth. You want to leave some texture. (This step is optional).
  14. Keep soup simmering while you assemble kubbeh.
  15. Assembly:
  16. With wet hands, take scoops of the dough and roll into ping pong size balls.
  17. With wet hands, flatten a ball, add about 1 Tbsp of filling and pinch ends up around to completely enclose the filling so it won't open in the soup. Just be careful not to compress the balls too tightly as I think that's what made mine so tough.
  18. Gently drop each filled kubbeh into the simmering soup.
  19. Stir a few times gently to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  20. Cover the pot and simmer for another 20-30 minutes to cook kubbeh through.
http://triumphwellness.com/vegan-kubbeh/

 

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Vegan Shavuot Recipes

Vegan Shavuot Recipes

Vegan Shavuot Recipes

Shavuot is the Jewish holiday that commemorates the giving of the 10 commandments to the Israelites at Mt Sinai. For various reasons that I won’t get into here, it has become associated with a dairy-laden feast of blintzes, cheesecakes, quiches and pasta-dishes. (It is also the last feast-based holiday in the Jewish yearly calendar, until Rosh HaShanah rolls back around in the Fall. For those of us watching what we eat and constantly challenged by our religion’s obsession with dietary indulgence, this is a real hallelujah! Yay!)

If you are a vegan, or are having vegan guests, have lactose intolerance, or just want to incorporate some dairy-free dishes into your Shavuot meals, I have assembled several options from my very own blog, plus a few others. Enjoy!

Please Note: Just because something is vegan does NOT automatically mean it is more healthy!  Some of these recipes contain white flour, sugar, margarine etc (although I tried to pick healthier recipes overall). If you are working at weight loss, healing a sugar addiction, diabetes or other health issue, some of these recipes might not be for you.

Appetizers, Starters and Sides:

non-dairy baked nut cheese

Baked Almond (or Cashew) Cheese

vegan pizza rolls, vegan pizza roll bourekas

Pizza Roll Bourekas

 mini tofu quiches

Tofu Mini Quiche Cups

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Creamy Eggplant and Mushroom Bourekas

vegan jerusalem artichoke soup

Sunchoke Potato Soup with Chives

sun-dried tomato bean dip, pesto bean dip

Sun-dried Tomato and Pesto Bean Spreads

Mains:

vegan moussaka, eggplant, potato moussaka

Isa’s Vegan Moussaka

swiss chard quiche

Swiss Chard Quiche with Sesame-Oat Crust

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Spanikopita with Nut Feta

cheesy kale logo Cheezy Kale

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Creamy Spinach Tagliatelle and Mushrooms by Vegan Miamstuffed-shells-1 Spinach-Stuffed Shells (no nuts!)

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Artichoke-Hazelnut Cannelloni with Lemon-Soy Bechamel Sauce

Desserts:

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Coconut Cardamon Rice Pudding with Rose Water and Pistachios

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 Raw Cashew Cheezecake by My New Roots

(by the way, cashew cheesecake is like 100 times easier to make than dairy cheesecake and will fool everyone!)

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 Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie by The Gentle Chef

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Blueberry Lemon Pie Bars by Namely Marly

For MORE vegan Shavuot recipes, including some real dietary indulgences, see my pinterest boards as follows:

Vegan CheezesVegan PizzasVegan PastasVegan Sweets

Happy Holidays!!

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Review: Vegan Start Passover Cookbook

cookbook3-500x579Today we have a review, guest post and recipe sample all wrapped up in one! Rena Reich of the VeganStart blog, has written a very special e-cookbook of Vegan, Non-Kitniyot Passover recipes. Before I hand it over to Rena, I wanted to say a few things: First of all, although there is an affiliate program for this book (ask Rena for details if you are interested in that), I am NOT enrolled and not receiving financial reimbursement for sales. I did however, receive a free copy of the cookbook to review as is customary. (Just wanted you to know I have pure intentions in recommending this book).

The second thing is that although every year I put up a post or two directing readers to vegan Passover recipes, I have not shared my own recipes for a very particular reason. The whole vegan, plus kitniyot-observant, plus Israeli issue is complicated and I am uncomfortable discussing it. I figured my Jewish readers already know what I’m talking about and my non-Jewish readers probably don’t care. But maybe I presume too much so let me explain the issue here briefly: for a food to be kosher for Passover, it cannot contain leavening of any sort. But there is an additional prohibition for some people based on one’s ethnic heritage, and that is against Kitniyot, which includes all legumes, and other some other non-wheat seeds and grains like rice and corn. So that means, a vegan Ashkenazi Jew (that’s someone who identifies as from predominantly European heritage), who follows their tradition’s prohibitions, cannot eat any beans, rice, corn, soy or derivatives of those during the week of Passover. So for instance, they cannot have hummus on their matzoh, nor can they spread it with peanut butter or tofutti cream cheese, or pretty much anything else save for jam. The only proteins this person can eat for the week are quinoa, non-legume nuts, and vegetables.  While, no one in a developed nation will die of protein deficiency from one week of low protein consumption, for someone like me, who feels like ca-ca without a substantial amount of vegan protein daily, it makes for a long, hungry, and sad week.  Personally I found my own “unauthorized” solution (I have adopted Israeli/Sephardic tradition and eat kitniyot) but for many, that is not an option.

What Rena has done with this cookbook then, is to throw many vegan Jews a life-line.  She has created some very creative vegan Passover recipes for those who do not eat kitniyot.  If you are in this boat, or know someone who is, honestly, this cookbook is going to give you hope. She’s got mayo and spreads, and kugels, desserts, and even matzo balls!  Nothing uses strange ingredients or things not readily available in a supermarket. Most of the recipes are quite healthy, others, like some of the desserts, less so.  Here are the details:

The cookbook is in e-format only.

  • You can download a kindle version from amazon HERE.
  • Or the PDF, MOBI or Epub versions from Rena’s website HERE.
  • The PDF version is 95 pages.
  • There are seder tips, suggested seder menu and seder recipes, then additional recipes for the intermediate days.
  • Recipes include: Matzo Meal Pancakes, Matzo Brei, Chopped “Liver”, several salads, soups, spreads, kugels, “meatballs”, burgers, gnocchi, and desserts such as Turtle Bars, Chocolate Truffles, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Almond Mousse and several other cookies and cakes. Yes, ALL vegan and all kitniyot-free.  It’s a little mind-boggling actually!
  • Not just for Passover, as these recipes are naturally gluten-free, these would also be great for gluten-free vegans year-round.
  • The price is only $4.99 (some readers have told me it comes up as $6.99 from amazon for those ordering from Israel).

Now, let’s hear from Rena herself and get that sample recipe!

Hi, I’m Rena. I’m so happy that Emily has given me the opportunity to write a blog post on Triumph Wellness about my new Vegan Kosher for Passover Cookbook. Let me tell you where this brain child came from: I became vegan after reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, about 5 years ago. There are some books out there that have a profound effect on your life. This was definitely one of them. I grew up with animals all my life. I’ve even built a website completely devoted to pet knowledge. It’s just one of my things. Once I had the knowledge of how our food was treated before it made it to the table, I stopped eating animal products cold turkey (I see the irony here).

When I became vegan, it was just starting to become a thing. You couldn’t go out to a restaurant and get more than a salad, and even then you had to ask them to hold the cheese and eggs and salad dressing. I can’t tell you how amazing it is now to be able to go out now and get a good meal, feel full, and not have to ask what’s inside it. Those of us that are in the know, are in the know.

Because being vegan wasn’t as popular as it is today, there was really no place to look for vegan Pesach recipes that had no kitniyot (legumes). I thought about asking my Rabbi for an allowance to eat kitniyot, but that really wouldn’t help me all that much – I still needed to make food for my family. Even if I got the OK for myself, there was no way that my children (who are vegetarians) or my husband (who is an omnivore) would be able to as well. I was not willing to cook twice – food for me and food for them. I had to come up with another solution.

That’s where my blog (Vegan Start) and cookbook have come in. All the recipes in my book are completely kitnyot free and Ashkenazi friendly. I like to call what I’ve put together Jewish Soul Food. They are mostly recipes that I have grown up with, with a vegan twist.

Passover is my favorite holiday. I hope that everyone has a fun and stress-free time. Perhaps now you will also know what you are making before the holiday starts. I hope that this recipe and my cookbook give a good place to start.

I want to wish everyone a Chag Kasher v’Sameach. ~ Rena

Here’s one of my more popular Passover recipes that I’d like to share with you:

Vegan Kneidlach – Matzo Balls (Kitniyot free)

Vegan Kneidlach – Matzo Balls (Kitniyot free)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup matzoh meal
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together
  2. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour
  3. Roll into balls and place in boiling soup
  4. Simmer in soup until they grow (about 20 minutes)
  5. Take out of soup with a slotted spoon and let harden for 30 minutes to 1 hour (If you don’t take the balls out of the soup, they will fall apart. Taking them out gives them a chance to get firm. Once they have firmed up, you can put them back in the soup without any fears.)
  6. Put the balls back in the soup about 1/2 hour before it's ready to be served to heat up
  7. Serve
http://triumphwellness.com/review-vegan-start-passover-cookbook/

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A Few of My Favorite Things #4

It’s time for another “Favorites Things” Post!  Whereby I share things with you I love and reccommend.

cocoa in hoodie

Some of the things on today’s list are exclusively for Israelis, and some are international. We’ll start with the Israelis.  Be patient the rest of you!

Please know that NONE of these are affiliate links.  I do not profit in any way, shape, or form by sharing these businesses with you.  I share because I like to help other small businesses that have products I myself enjoy, or that will help my clients.

1.  Super Juice by Janet

Super Juice by Janet is a super healthy, delicious, and nutritious juicing service that is made fresh each morning and delivered directly to you (delivery in Raanana only).

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I met Janet through clients who buy her juice and then she came to one of my cooking classes with some green juice samples for me to try.  Now listen, I myself don’t juice.  I have an amazing juicer and I used to use it a lot.  Now it gathers dust.  I have ultimately decided that I prefer smoothies that retain all the fiber of the fruits and veggies.

BUT some of my clients swear by juicing.  They love the energy it gives them.  They love getting a major serving of green veggies in that they wouldn’t consume any other way.  They feel it puts them in a healthy mindset that makes it easier to carry through on healthy habits throughout the day.  The one thing that maybe they do not love, is the hassle and cleanup of making it themselves.  Enter Janet, who will make the juice for you and deliver to your home.  Yes, it’s Raanana only, but if we make the lady uber successful and give her tons of requests for other delivery spots, who knows, maybe it’ll be the next big thing?

Janet says, “The Super Green Juice, which is the one I sell daily, is made of Cucumber, Celery, Kale, Spinach, Mangold (Swiss Chard), Apple, Lemon, and Ginger.  I mix it up sometimes with white cabbage, fennel, parsley, and kohlrabi.”  I myself tried it and it’s good, fresh and green.

Plus, she’s a nice person, smart and lovely.  She’s also a vegan.

Please call Janet at 054-424-7387 for more information.

 

2.  Enjoy Frozen Fruit

berry collage

I have posted about this company before HERE but I still get comments daily from Israelis who see my recipes and say “Where did you get those blueberries?”  “Where do you get all those raspberries?”  So I figured it is time to remind.

Ellie and Josh are distributors of 2 kg bags of frozen fruits from the US.  They sell berries of all kinds, plus any other fruit you could imagine, from acai, to papaya to sabras (prickly pear) and more.  They also sell a large variety of gluten free products, organically grown oregano oil, organic olive oil, many Asian products and other health food stuff you used to buy in the states.  They now carry Rusty’s nut butters made with love by my Instagram friend which I’ve tried and are super delicious!

Enjoy Frozen Fruit makes monthly deliveries to a set point like a school or parking lot, in the following communities: Raanana, Kfar Saba, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beit Shemesh, Efrat, Modiin, and weekly in Chashmonaim. For more info., people should email them at: enjoyfrozenfruit@gmail.com

I order a 2kg bag of raspberries and a 2 kg bag of blueberries every month or two and use them daily in my smoothies, in my oatmeal, in blueberry pancakes, in raspberry topping for Banana Nice Cream and much more (see pics above).  Their prices are more than half of what you’d pay for those frozen berries that come from Russia or France or wherever that they sell in the groceries stores here and 100 times sweeter and yummier!  The prices can change so you need to contact them and get on their email list that lists all products and prices.  I usually pay 192 nis for FOUR kgs of berries.  There are other fruits that are cheaper of course than blueberries and raspberries but I like what I like.

If for any reason they stop delivering, I’m moving back to Indiana.  I’m kidding, but sort of not, so do not let these people go out of business!!

Again, they are amazingly nice people.

Support nice people, get healthy, and eat delicious things = win, win, win

INTERNATIONALLY AVAILABLE:  The rest of these are for everybody, everywhere.

3.  Terra Teva Superfood Cosmetics

I met Raia through Facebook.  She’s a vegan from Greece, now living in Israel.  She makes her own natural beauty products out of super foods like cacao, pomegranate, and sea buckthorn.  She also has a raw vegan catering service and teaches workshops on beauty topics and vegan cooking.  I think she might actually be a Goddess, like a “big G” Goddess. I’m not kidding.  Check her out:

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And you know I am going to say it, she is in fact, a nice, lovely person!

If you want to know how my skin looks so glowy and gorgeous all the time, well I don’t really know, but I do know that Raia’s Superfood serum has certainly ramped up the glow a few notches.  The stuff is amazing!  It is this silky, magical oil with all sorts of amazing ingredients, that sinks into your face and makes you feel a little goddess-like yourself.  It smells incredible too.

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Raia also sells some aphrodisiacs and intimate body butters which I may or may not have tried and enjoyed and which I’ll tell you about one day when my parents aren’t reading.  Hi Mom and Dad!

Raia delivers all over the world and takes major credit cards and paypal.  Delivery in Israel is 25nis and arrives within days beautifully packaged with lots of love and a few free samples.  Now, this is not cheap stuff.  These are handmade products made out of the most amazing and expensive superfood ingredients.  But we are talking about your skin here and your health (and not putting petrochemicals on your skin!), and maybe even your sex life, so I call “Worth It!” just like I do with those berries.

Website:  www.terrateva.com

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/superfoodcosmetics.co.il

 

4.  Definition Magazine

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I have written for many magazines and websites over the years and can honestly say that Definition is the one I am the most proud of.  Here’s the backstory:  About 2 years ago, Christy Morgan (The Blissful Chef), started a Facebook group for vegan women weight lifters.  I joined it, met the most amazing women, got inspired to do some incredible things with my body, and general “changed my life” stuff followed.  Some of the ladies in the group decided to put all of their greatness and talents into an online magazine and Definition was born.  The design of this magazine is top-notch.  The articles are unique and incredibly helpful.  I am given a free hand to write whatever I want with no restrictive editing that white-washes out my quirkiness and character.  In the last issue, I wrote an article about using what you learned from 2014 to create an amazing 2015.  I used the phrase “shitstorm of suck” and they kept it in.  That made me forever grateful.  Anyway, that article is seriously one of my proudest pieces of writing of all times, and you should get the magazine and read it.  The next edition is due out on May 6th and will be all about Body Positivity.

The magazine is for active vegans/vegan curious in any sport, not just lifting.  Last edition’s cover story was on Roller Derby!  There is exercise advice, inspiration, recipes from some of the most creative chefs and food bloggers I know, transformation stories, vegan content, and even playlists to listen to while you’re working out!

Here’s the deal:  Past isues of Definition are free to read online here:  http://issuu.com/definitionforladies

But if you’d like to subscribe, for a mere $15/year (4 magazines), you get all the new editions to download and keep on your computer, plus a packet of exclusive digital freebies from our contributors, not to mention supporting our efforts to bring you our very best.

The link for subscribers is here:  https://gumroad.com/l/zPOk

The Definition website is here:  http://www.definitionforladies.com/

Facebook page (which I currently help out with) here:  https://www.facebook.com/definitionforladies

I hope you liked my recommendations and will be able to give some business to these wonderful people!

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Whip it Good? A Soliloquy on Self-Discipline

Welcome to Mount Writer’s Block, where we’ve got all Writer’s Block, all the time.

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Holy moly, People. What the heck? I promise you I come here every day (OK, not really) and try to write something (or nothing), but everything’s already been said (no it hasn’t), and getting a blog written and published takes so much time that I just don’t have (yes I do).

The truth of the matter is that just like everything else in life, writing and/or blogging consistently, just takes self-discipline and commitment. I have been blasting full cylinders of self-discipline in other areas of my life (gym, food, personal growth), but I’ve let my writing drop off. So as I work to claw my way back to regular blogging, I thought it might be helpful to model the process for you. Establishing good self-discipline as you work towards anything is pretty much the same process, so whatever I do here for blogging, you can apply to whatever you are struggling to get a hold on in your own lives.

We are often lead to believe that Self-Discipline means buckling down and forcing ourselves to do the things we don’t want to do. We are going to take ourselves in hand and for once and for all, Just Do It, damn it!

Then, because that sounds like such a repulsive sort of project, it’s no surprise that we are not terribly enthused about it.

What if practicing Self-Discipline was not about strong-arming at all?

Step One: (Sorry, I have to say it:) Know Your Big Why

I know, I know, I have covered this a million times before but I cannot tell you how often people just skip it and then their efforts to enforce discipline on themselves don’t work, because they don’t have a juicy and compelling Why to propel them forward.  For example, I “should” be blogging (eating healthier, losing weight, exercising, fill in your own blank), because it’s what someone with an online business does, right? The experts tell me I must. Google rewards frequent posts and will rank me higher and everyone knows that “content is king”.  Well blah, blah, none of that excites me at all. In MY case, I get awesomely great clients from my blogs and newsletters. Mind you, I get clients via word of mouth all the time and thank you to those of you who send your friends and loved ones to me. Please keep doing that. However, the people who are the super duper funnest, best clients and who get the greatest results, are those who I have the greatest rapport with, who understand what my process is and what will be expected of them, because they are the ones who come to me through my website. They’ve read a few posts and they “get me”, understand what I’m doing here, and want to be part of it. So really, my blog is the opening salvo in a dialogue with the fabulous people I want to work with. That’s a lot more inspiring to me than yucky, boring “content is king” and page-rank.

Step Two: Make a Plan and a Commitment

Despite the strong desire to, don’t overreach here. I want to say “I will post a blog 3 times a week, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.” But considering I haven’t blogged at all in months, it might be prudent to start off smaller. I’m going with Sundays and Wednesdays. If I get more published that’s icing on the cake, but if I set 3 times a week and fell short, I’d likely get discouraged and do even less. Again I see lots of people fumble this in personal growth goals. They set the bar too high and then just quit when they can’t hit it. I ask my clients to only set goals they are 90% certain they can reach without a huge stretch. That way, we move from success to success.

Step Three: Make it Public and Get Accountability

Goals that stay in your head are goals you can just give up on. Public accountability is powerful. Tell someone or hire a coach. I’m telling my readers. Now if I don’t so as I say, I will have to write another post eating crow. Crow is not vegan. I’d rather blog.

Step Four: Push Perfection off of a Highway Overpass into Oncoming Traffic

If everyday before I left for the gym, I thought my workouts had to meet some standard of perfection, I’d just stop going. The fact is that some workouts are going to be bad. Sometimes you’ll be weak and have to scale back. Sometimes you’ll try new things that don’t really work out for you. But you just keep going, through the bad and the good. The same will be true here. If I have to write the most epic of posts every single time I sit down, I won’t get much done, because epic doesn’t happen to come out of my fingertips every day. But if I don’t write at all until I feel epic coming on, the truth is that epic won’t ever show up! Perfection is the enemy of progress. And yes, I know that I publish content with typos and errors. It’s intentionally not something I am worrying about right now. Nor do the people who end up hiring me, bad punctuation and all.

Step Five: Address your obstacles ahead of time

What are the things that could trip you up?  List them, and think of solutions now, before they do. For blogging, I can look at my calendar and plan ahead. I need to get some posts pre-written and ready to post on days when other things take all my time. I need to map out a schedule of topics but not such a tight one that I feel locked in (see above re perfection).

Conclusion:

Self-discipline is a lot more than forcing yourself to do things you don’t want to do. In fact, if you go through all the above steps, force doesn’t really play much of a part at all. Self-discipline becomes more of a following your well-crafted, inspired and easy-to-follow plans. Eating well can be this way. Exercising can be this way. Losing weight can be this way and in fact, HAS to be this way if you want to maintain what you lose. Blogging, running a business, learning a language, no need to push and force.

Let Christian Grey keep the whip. Devo on the other hand…

Massive Motivation for 2015!

bravery

I just finished writing my latest article for Definition Magazine, an online fitness magazine for vegan women, to which I am a regular contributor.  You can check out Definition here to download all past issues, and have a gander at the stellar women I am delighted to work with here.

The article was about performing something called a Year End Review to help in goal setting for the new year.  The next issue will come out on February 4th, 2015, so you’ll have to wait a bit to read it, but basically it walks readers through the steps of evaluating everything that happened in the last year, in order to better understand your next steps and areas of growth for the year to come.  I performed my own Year End Review of 2014, and I want to share something with you.

It was almost a year ago January when I wrote a post fessing up to my intense anxiety and fears, and proclaimed 2014 the year I would “Fork My Fears”.  You can read that post here.  It was a doozy!

After I wrote that post, I received so much support and encouragement that I was able to summon the courage to get waaaaay out of my comfort zone and do all sorts of incredible things.  I also hired a new health coach for myself in February 2014, to support my fitness and health goals further.  We are just finishing up our amazing 10 months together.

I can safely say that 2014 was a record year of growth and progress in both my business and my personal life.  Fears were definitely forked!  I taught several classes and workshops – every single one of which sold out almost immediately!!  I worked with amazing, grateful, successful clients on three different continents and a multitude of time zones.  I established a group continuity program for clients who graduated their programs with me and wanted to keep in touch for accountability, motivation, and support.

In the personal arena, I completely conquered my fears of the weight room, got deep into bodybuilding, and have been changing my physique and my confidence as a result.  I made progress on the “Driving in Israel” fear and drove the car around a bit more.  I swallowed my pride and spoke (bad) Hebrew more than ever before.  I did all those mortifying medical tests you have to do but dread doing.  I got through a terrifying war with casualties, and air raid sirens, and daily rocket attacks, which also happened to coincide with my eldest son’s first call up notice for his military service and through it all, I kept my shit together.  (OK, more or less together).  I got really vulnerable and honest with my husband and we initiated some spectacular changes in our relationship.  All and all, I am deeply and reverently proud of the work I did in 2014.

But not everything was a rose garden of course.  I ignored my instinct on something and it blew up in my face in a very public and humiliating way.  It was a hard climb back from wanting to hide under the covers after that.  I wobbled on, but by the autumn, I seem to have run out of courage again.  I got sucked back into the comfort zone and forgot my business goals.  I let confusion reign.  I got a bread machine and as I joke with a friend, immersed myself in Procrasti-baking (hence the lack of blogging. I apologize, but… bread…)

So dear readers, here we stand again, at the corner of Play It Safe or Get Out There and Do It.  Who among you will walk boldly with me into a new year, not strangled by fears and insecurities?  I for one, am not prepared to live a life unchallenged, untested, unmastered, unexplored.  We have such a short time here and much to do.  We can do this.  We will do this.  Together.

I want you to get out a piece of paper RIGHT NOW.  I’m serious, go get paper and come back, I’ll wait.  Now, write on that paper ALL of the things you want to accomplish. All of them.  Next, look at the list and decide which things you want to tackle in 2015 and which will be for next year, the next 2 years, 5 years, etc.  This is important because quite often we write this giant list which in all reality we cannot possibly accomplish all in one year.  Then instead of accomplishing one or two great things, we do none of them.  So prioritize and don’t worry, you can change the list in the future if goals change.  The next step I want you to take, is for the goals for 2015, write out each and every step you’d need to take to make that happen.  The smaller the steps the better.  If something seems too hard, break it down even smaller.  Lastly, go get your calendar and write when you will take your first few steps – in INK!

I’d love to hear what you’ve got planned, so comment, or email (healthcoachemily@gmail.com) and tell me what fears you plan to conquer and what dreams you’re ready to birth.

For my part, I pledge to have some new programs mapped out and ready to roll by the start of 2015.  Watch this space.  And thank you, as always, for reading and sharing this life with me.  Happiest of Holidays to you all!

love, em

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Vegan in Italy

family collage

A couple of weeks ago my family and I spent a week traveling in Northern Italy.  Italy, particularly Venice, has been on my bucket list for as long as I’ve had a bucket list, so I was beyond thrilled to be actually taking this trip!  We visited Milan, Venice, the Italian Alps, the Dolomites, Verona, Padova, Bassano del Grappa, and village after village of adorableness.  Expectations we met and exceeded.  I foresee a long and romantic relationship between Italy and myself.

Now, after recent spontaneous weekend trips to Paris and Barcelona, where I found it challenging to find healthy, fresh, vegan food, I came into this trip better prepared and had a much better food experience.  In defense of Paris and Barcelona, there are several vegan restaurants in both cities and probably in most big cities the world around.  You can go to the website HappyCow.net, type in your destination and eat like a vegan queen.  However, my family is not vegan, and when not eating in my vegan kitchen, my husband in particular, wants animal foods.  Often we will compromise by finding an Indian, Asian, or North African restaurant where we can both order as we choose.  But other times, I am left staring at a menu where the only vegan option is bread, and maybe not even the bread.  This was especially true of Paris, where I was unable to even get soy milk for my coffee in any cafe in the tourist areas.  I’m sure it exists but not where I was.

Another great resource I have used for vegan travel in Europe is the blog Keepin It Kind.  Blogger Kristi has traveled as vegan throughout Europe and has written an extremely comprehensive guide of not just restaurants, but also of words you will need to learn and where you are likely to find vegan items on menus and in stores.  You can view her travel section here.

To start off, I knew from previous trips that in European hotels where breakfast is included, it is generally a bunch of buttery non-vegan pastries, bread, butter and jam, coffee and tea with cow’s milk, juices, meats and cheeses, and occasionally some fruit.  So the night before we left for Italy, I packed baggies for each morning of our stay with 1/2 cup dry oats, 2 Tbsp vegan protein powder (anticipating a protein-light week), raisins and cinnamon:

protein oats logo

I also brought with me small boxes of soy milk for my coffee. Our first night in Italy, we went to a supermarket to buy some fruit, and I also found some soy yogurt there. When we came down to breakfast each morning, I simply dumped my oats into a bowl, covered them with hot water and then a with a plate, and let them steam and soak while I prepared my coffee.    I generally topped my then cooked oats with a dollop of jam from the breakfast buffet, with fruit, and sometimes a soy yogurt.  My breakfasts looked like this and kept me full and satisfied for HOURS of touring around.

bfat collage

 

Next, restaurants:  One of the suggestions I learned on Keepin It Kind, was to order a “pizza vegetariano senza mozzarella”. It was possible to do this in almost any restaurant and it was a completely normal thing to order – no waiter ever batted an eye and my pizza always came correctly, topped with a variety of roasted veggies, tomato sauce, and no cheese:

first pizza logo

bruschetta logo

 

As for street food, there was always the option to get a focaccia topped with veggies and no cheese:

onion foccacia logo

pizza 2 logo

 

Most of the salads came with cheese or meat on top, but it was easy to ask for them without:

salad logo

 

The minestrone soup was made with a vegetable broth base and had no added animal ingredients.  I asked!

minestrone 1 logo

It was also possible to order plain pasta and gnocchi with tomato sauce, but again, you need to ask if the sauce is made with cheese or meat and if the gnocchi has eggs.  This one did not:

gnocchi logo

 

It was easy to re-stock on fruits often, as Italians seem to love shuk shopping as much as Israelis do:

shuk collage

By the way, see those chestnuts top right corner?  Although I suspect it’s a seasonal treat, we frequently bought little bags of roasted chestnuts for a hearty, warm, protein-rich snack.

The place where I could really see the advancement of veganism into Italy though, was at the gelato shops.  Almost all places we went have clearly marked “gelato vegano” signs!  I enjoyed two gelatos during the week, chocolate and hazelnut.  I’m not a big fan of ice creamy things, but these were really delicious!  The chocolate said it was made with rice milk.  The hazelnut was soy milk based.

gelato chocolate logo

gelato hazelnut logo

And of course, in Venice, we found the trademark marzipan fruits.  I am not 100% sure that marzipan is completely vegan, the colorings and glaze may have animal ingredients, so do your own research – but for me, they were vegan-enough:

marzipan fruits logo

The only thing I had trouble with was when we packed sandwiches for our family lunches al fresco.  We bought bread, cheese and pesto for the three of them, but I could not for the life of me find any hummus or tahina!  I even followed an Arab couple in the supermarket one day and finally asked them.  They laughed and said there was a Middle Eastern market, but it was not near where we were.  My other usual vegan sandwich option -avocado – didn’t work because the avocados were all hard as stones.  Clearly Italy needs to get on it and import our creamy, delicious Israeli avocados!  In one shop I finally found a carton of roasted veggie antipasti, so we just layered eggplant, peppers and zucchini into bread and I made do.  Incidentally, pesto in Italy is made with cheese so that was a no-go. (In Israel, pesto is quite often parve, or dairy-free).

Only in Vicenza, Italy, with it’s larger North African and Turkish population, did we find a falafel shop.  Actually it was a shawarma shop that sold some pretty crappy frozen falafel but I didn’t care.  I was in chickpea withdrawal.  Just be careful with Turkish falafel though, because the sauce they are about to pour on your sandwich that looks like tahina, is really yogurt.  Luckily I had been tipped off by one of our travel companions and I enjoyed my dry, but passable falafel:

falafel logo

 

We only had one afternoon in Milan before we flew back, and I caught a glimpse of these vegan chia puddings and soy yogurt parfaits.  I am sure there are vegan restaurants and treats aplenty in the larger cities such as Milan.

milan collage

 

For where I was for most of the week, in the countryside, away from tourist areas, in a group full of non-vegans, I feel like I ate really well.  A little heavy on the white flour carbs and not as much protein (beans and tofu) or green veggies as I eat at home, but I was satisfied, able to order and eat in all restaurants with my family, and never felt hungry or deprived.

One guess as to the first thing I ate when I got home…

hummus-post-2Hello old friend.  I missed you!

 

 

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MoFo 2014 Wrap-Up: Recipe Extras!

I’m so glad we had this time together,
Just to have a laugh, or sing a song.
Seems we just got started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, ‘So long.’

Can you name that jingle?  Hint:  family tv hour, 1970’s, USA.  Let me know if you get it!

So, 20 posts in 30 days and Vegan MoFo 2014 has come to a successful close.  I met lots of great new people – readers and bloggers, both.  Circle expanded, check!  I seem to have been offered a regular contributor position at a major vegan website (more on that once I make my final decision about it). Exposure and opportunity, check!  I provided you my readers with a bevy of new recipes and heard from many of you that you’ve already tried and liked many of them.  Extra points to those of you who sent pictures – I loved that!  Provided service and value, check!

But the final thing I join MoFo for – to discover new blogs and gather new recipes – didn’t really happen so much.  So many people were signed up but didn’t actually participate and many who did wrote an awful lot of product and restaurant reviews, rather than recipes.  And what was with the blogs participating and posting non-vegan content??  I think Vegan MoFo hey-day is over.  For me, at least.  This will be my last.

I don’t have a final recipe for you today.  Instead I thought I’d share some of the recipes I didn’t get around to making.  I would have held them over for next year but since deciding that there will be no next year, I am passing them on to you.  Ta da!  My Jewish readers still have the hurdle of Sukkot cooking looming ahead of them, so I’m hoping that some additional vegan recipes will help you plan your menus.

1.  First up is this Syrian Lentil and Swiss Chard dish that I was planning to make for Rosh Hashanah and then blog for you today.  Deep into my holiday cooking, about an hour after the stores had closed for the holiday, I opened my pantry to pull out the lentils and…  yeah, no lentils.  I don’t think I have been bereft of lentils EVER since becoming a vegan in 2009, but you know, Murphy had his way with me that fateful day and my lentil dish was not to be.  But it’s OK, because I can send you to the source:

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 Syrian Lentils with Swiss Chard

2.  Next we have Tofu Chraime by Ori Shavit.  Ori is a major vegan blogger and animal rights activist here in Israel.  She has a full blog in Hebrew and then a partial blog in English.  Chraime, for those who are not familiar with it, is a Moroccan dish of fish stewed in a spicy tomato sauce.  When I posted this recipe on Facebook the other day, Sivan, editor of The Vegan Woman, told me it’s her favorite recipe and she makes it all the time.  Sounds good to me!

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Tofu Chraime 

3.  I had planned to make the Pomegranate Tabouleh from an Israeli cookbook I own, but this one looks similar:

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 Pomegranate Tabouleh

4. Cardamom Spiced Pancakes with Homemade Date Jam from One Arab Vegan were on my list:

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Cardamom Spiced Pancakes with Homemade Date Jam

5.  Continuing the cardamom love, this Cardamom Rose Cold Brew Coffee caught my eye:

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 Cardamom Rose Cheap-o-chino

6.  Fellow MoFo’er Zsu’s Vegan Kitchen, who did a month of vegan burgers worthy of a looksie, shared this Tempeh Gyro Burger that fit my theme:

Tempeh Gyro Burger B Zsu Dever Tempeh Gyro Burger

7.  Hearty White Bean Soup with Spinach, Rosemary and Garlic would be delicious on a cool evening in the sukkah or at home:

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Hearty White Bean Soup with Spinach, Rosemary and Garlic

8.  Coconut Rice Pudding from one of my favorite blogs, May I Have that Recipe, looks divine!

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Coconut Rice Pudding

9.  These Sesame and Hummus Bites from another favorite blog, Coconut and Berries, is as close as you’ll get to baked falafel on this blog.  People kept asking me “Do you have a falafel recipe?” Folks, I just could not bring myself to do it.  First of all, falafel is deep-fried, that’s what makes it taste so good.  Secondly, I have falafel abundance at my fingertips here and would never, ever even WANT to make it at home, let alone, ack, bake it.  Falafel snob, sorry.  But these look interesting enough to try:

DSC_0202_thumbSesame Hummus Bites with Mango Tahini Sauce

10. I’m planning on using my leftover freekah to make this version of Mejadra, which is usually made of lentils and rice, here made of freekah and black lentils.  This recipe uses goat yogurt but can be easily veganized with vegan yogurt or just by omitting yogurt entirely:

majadra

 Mejadra Freekah

So my puppies, that should keep you busy for awhile!  I shall be back to blogging soon, but perhaps will take a week or two off.  A reminder that MY recipe posts for several years of Vegan MoFos Past, can be found on my recipe index page and by searching posts with the Vegan Mofo category tag.

selfie 1 with logo

Here I am, oven-mitt waving at you, in front of the very stove where I have been standing all month.  And yes, indeedy, short hair happened this month too!

Thank you all SO much for hanging out with me in the kitchen!!  All the best, emily

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Persian Rice Pilaf

persian rice 1

In the excellent cookbook The World of Jewish Cooking, author Gil Marks writes,

Rice was brought westward from eastern Asia to Persia at least 3,000 years ago, where it quickly became so beloved that no meal was considered complete without its presence.  Contact with the Persian Empire brought rice to Israel at the onset of the 2nd Temple Period, and Jews became almost as passionate about it as Persians, considering its whiteness a symbol of purity. By Roman times, Israeli rice had become an important export of which the Jerusalem Talmud boasts “There is none like it outside Israel.”

For those of you who don’t know, Persia is modern-day Iran and there are loads of Jews of Iranian heritage living in Israel.  I myself, was raised in America on Uncle Ben’s orange boxed white rice which was sticky and very starchy.  Persian rice, on the other hand, is dry, not sticky, with every grain of rice, fluffy and separate.  It took me a long time and many tutorials with an Iranian friend to get the consistency right.  The best way I have found is to first soak the rice, then rinse it thoroughly, par-boil it for 4 minutes in a large pot of salted water, drain again, lightly fry in oil and then steam with no additional water.  But short of that multi-stepped method, the below recipe takes a few short cuts to produce the same result.  The bit with the towel-wrapped lid is a MUST!  The towel absorbs condensation that forms on the lid and drips back down into your rice.  Just be very careful that your towel doesn’t touch down to the burner and catch fire.

Basmati rice is my rice of choice for this dish.  You can use brown basmati or even long-grain brown rice, but add about 20 minutes cooking time and maybe 1/2 cup more water if you use brown instead of white.

Persian Rice Pilaf

Persian Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp oil, divided
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 4 large carrots, grated
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds
  • 2 cups white Basmati rice
  • 3 1/2 cups water or broth
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Soak the rice in water to cover for at least an hour, preferably 2-3 hours
  2. Drain the rice in a strainer and rinse it thoroughly for a few minutes until the water runs clear, not white
  3. Set rice aside in strainer to drain
  4. Saute onion and carrots in 1 Tbsp oil until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes
  5. Add rice and stir to coat completely with oil.
  6. Keep stirring for a minute until a toasty aroma begins to arise.
  7. Add turmeric, raisins, cinnamon, salt and pepper, orange blossom water if using, and water and stir to combine.
  8. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 12 minutes, or until water is all absorbed and rice is to your desired consistency.
  9. Fluff the rice with a fork.
  10. Wrap the cover of the pot in a clean, cotton kitchen towel and replace it tightly on the pot.
  11. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10-20 minutes or until ready to serve.
  12. In the meantime, saute the almonds in the remaining 1 Tbsp oil just until lightly fragranced and golden. Be careful not to burn them!
  13. Toss almonds into rice and fluff again with a fork before serving.
http://triumphwellness.com/persian-rice-pilaf/

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