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In March of 2017, while we were still living in Kansas, we returned to Savannah for spring break. During that time my friend, Kathleen Benton, met my family with her family at CO Savannah for dinner. We took over the whole back corner with our 5 rowdy kids who were over the top excited to be reunited after almost a year separation. The two of us drew up a napkin official business partner contract, while chaos ensued around us. Just over 6 moths later, a tremendous amount of foundation has been laid for what we believe is going to be a pivotal piece in changing the trajectory of health for the community of Savannah, and very possibly many other communities in this country. In addition to our Flux Nourishment Health Coaching, LLC, where I coach individuals and groups for any length of time from 6 weeks to 6 months, we have established a separate entity geared at giving back; Flux Nourishment Community, Inc a 501(c)(3). 

Our mission is very simple. We believe that every person should have the right to choose a nourishing lifestyle; but along with many other experts, we recognize that this right is not a reality for a large sect of Americans. The most disadvantaged populations are consistently shown to be more susceptible to health risks associated with obesity. Multiple factors contribute to these findings, and as an organization we desire to address causal factors primarily in the nutritional realm. Disadvantaged families tend to make the following food choices:

  • High-fat foods dense with energy such as foods with high sugar content and processed meat products. These foods are more affordable and last longer than fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Fast food and convenience store foods instead of shopping in large supermarkets because of accessibility, lack of transportation, and cost. 
  • Economic insecurity leads to stress, and our innate physiological response to cope is by eating high-fat, sugary foods. 

Flux Nourishment Inc. Community believes we can begin to alleviate these obstacles prevalent in vulnerable populations within Savannah through the following avenues:

  • wellness coaching to all populations
  • engagement in educational events: cooking demonstrations, nutrition expert speaking events, sponsoring, hosting and/or participating in events and activities that promote nourishing lifestyle choices.
  •  partnering with and linking existing non-profit organizations

All of this will be made possible through amazing partnerships in the community; which we have established so many beautiful ones so far, but also through small and large financial donations from those that believe in the Flux Nourishment Community Inc. mission! Our efforts this fall and winter will be geared primarily in the following two projects:

  •  Quarterly classes at the Edel Caregiver Institute that will equip caregivers to prepare meals using fresh foods rather than being solely dependent on nutritionally inadequate processed foods. The first class will provide attendees with “healthy swaps” they can easily make on both a tight budget and time constraints. Financial donations will go towards the food used to teach and sample, marketing materials needed to promote the class, and teaching materials for attendees to take home. This is going to be an ongoing and developing partnership as we believe Edel and Flux Nourishment Community Inc. align perfectly. 
  • We recently were matched with a thriving organization in town, Park Place Outreach , and we are excited to see how this relationship will evolve. We know that we want to teach a class to the house parents who are responsible for preparing meals for the residents, as this was an expressed need by the director. I would also love for Flux Nourishment Community Inc. to sponsor a Local Farmbag once a month. Ideally, I see us also providing a Thrive Market box each month with nutritious prepackaged products that are more nutritious than what is currently available to them. 

There are many other exciting partnerships and projects that are evolving and changing daily it seems! If what we are currently doing piques your interest, please consider supporting us financially. Our excitement for the potential change to come in our own community is contagious and we want you on board with us! Tax deductable donations can be made through our new Flux Nourishment Community website. Upon donation you will immediately receive a letter confirming your tax deductible donation. We appreciate your partnerships and support far more than we can express through written word! Thank YOU. 

On Wednesday, I will be representing at the SmartWomen Expo and Luncheon! I’m really excited for our first true engagement with the community, and all of the resources we are rolling out in the coming year! I have officially been coaching for one year this month! Looking back on the last year, all the things I have learned, and ALL THE WOMEN who I have had the opportunity to work with, fills me with tremendous gratitude. One of the foundational aspects of health coaching that I appreciate the most, is how people are able to sustain the changes they make! In a short year I have watched a tribe of Flux Nourishment, plant eating women blossom!

In the last year there are reoccurring hurdles that women have expressed needing resources to overcome. One of these is packing lunches for littles. In my opinion it has less to do with a need for education, and more to do with doubt that their child will eat what is packed. It is amazing how our preconceptions of what you expect your child to do, often shape the actual outcome. Children are not born knowing that they are “supposed to be” adverse to vegetables! When preparing meals for small (and older) children, expect them to try it and like it! Allow them to surprise you, and for heavens sake, don’t make a big deal over it! Eating vegetables should be the expectation!

The first salad is suited best for a warm day, but it can also be made in the dead of winter, if you’re craving for a taste of summer. If you are serving to children, leave out the jalapeños and cayenne. The second salad is a perfect pot-luck option and is ALWAYS a crowd pleaser! Do not be shy about swapping out vegetables that are seasonal to you! I have used spinach instead of kale, and added roasted butternut squash instead of bell peppers. The lemon tahini dressing is shockingly versatile, and I suggest it as a healthy swap to ranch dressing. If you are packing it into a PlanetBox, pack it into the largest container with a lid. Allow it to cool before you pack up the lunch box.

ZESTY PICNIC SALAD

  1. 1. 2 1⁄2 cup cooked black eyed peas
  2. 2. 2 cups cooked quinoa
  3. 3.  2 cups thinly sliced celery
  4. 4. 1 3⁄4 cup organic cooked sweet corn
  5. 5. 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  6. 6. 1⁄2 cup chopped cilantro
  7. 7. optional, minced jalapeno without seeds
  8. 8. 1/3 cup chopped green onions

DRESSING:

  1.  1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
  2.  1 teaspoon cumin
  3.  1 1⁄2 teaspoon Oh She Glows 10 spice blend (cayenne optional)
  4.  3 cloves of garlic, minced
  5.  1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  6. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl
  • To make the dressing, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
  •  Toss the salad with the dressing until well combined. It is really best after it has sat a bit in the fridge, but is still good eaten right away!

WARM LENTIL SALAD WITH LEMON TAHINI DRESSING

LENTIL SALAD:

  1.  1 cup uncooked French green lentils
  2. 1 cup, cooked short grain brown rice
  3.  Splash of vegetable broth or water
  4. 1⁄2 red onion, chopped
  5. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  6.  1 red bell pepper, chopped (or whatever vegetable you like!)
  7.  3 cups kale, roughly chopped
  8. 1⁄2 cup fresh parsley, minced
  9. sea salt
  10. chopped green onion and lemon zest to garnish

LEMON TAHINI DRESSING:

  1. 2 large garlic cloves
  2. 1⁄2 cup fresh lemon juice
  3. 1⁄4 cup tahini
  4. 4 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  5. 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  6.  1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Rinse and drain the lentils. Add to a medium pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, simmer, uncovered for 15-20 minutes. They should be tender, but not mushy. This type of lentil holds its shape better than regular green or brown lentils
  • Prepare the lemon tahini dressing. Mince the garlic in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth. Set aside.
  • In a large skillet or pot, add a splash of vegetable broth, onion, and garlic, along with a pinch of salt. Stir and saute over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until the onion is softened.
  •  Stir in the chopped red pepper and saute for another 7-8 minutes.
  • Add the kale and lentils and stir to combine. Just until the kale is wilted. Remove the pot from the heat.
  •  Spoon the lentil mixture over top rice or a bed of greens. Drizzle the lemon tahini over the salad, serve with chopped green onions, and lemon zest. You can also eat the lentil mixture on crackers or toast!

Check out these ADORABLE cards my friend Ashley of The Paper Designery in Belmont, NC made to give away at the SmartWomen Expo!!!

I have debated over the last year about how much to share about my running to the Flux Nourishment community. As a health coach I strive to help people find their own form of physical activity that resonates with their bodies. I believe in natural movement and the flexibility to change preferred activities if one form ceases to be enjoyable. With all of that said, I’ve been a runner for over two decades now! What the what??!! I can’t even believe that when I type it! I started running when I was in middle school and didn’t stop! I’ve had my share of mediocre success, but never had the desire (or talent) to be “professional” or “elite”. I literally run for fun! If it stops being fun, I suppose I’ll have to find a new outlet. However, to my knowledge, the end is not in sight! 

This summer a running acquaintance asked me to join his relay team for the Chase the Sun Ultra Relay to support Liam’s Land. The mission of Liam’s Land is to advance the research and identify possible causes of lymphatic malformations by supporting a patient registry and funding further genetic testing and clinical trials. A cool guy and a great cause, sign me up! Initially I was going to use the race as a tune up for the Marine Corps Marathon I was registered for in October, but then I lost my childcare option and had to defer my registration for the MCM to next year. 

I didn’t really know what to expect for the relay, but this summer I didn’t shy away from the hot days and I made sure to get at least two, 2x a day runs a week. Then on the weekends I started buttressing long tempos and long runs together, so I would be prepared for running on fatigued legs both during the relay and hopeful marathon. All in all, I don’t think I would have prepared any differently! I consistently ran at my goal marathon pace (between 7:30-7:45) with the last 5-6 miles being at 7:10-7:15 pace. I actually started feeling stronger towards the end, which I think was attributed to the sun starting to give us an evening break. 

My fueling was far less complicated than I imagined it to be! I envisioned it being tricky to get the calories in with all the running and breaks between. However, I used Tailwind Nutrition throughout the day and it was PERFECT! I also brought some rice cakes, almond butter, jelly, and pumpkin apple sauce from Whole Foods. Between those things, and lots of water, I felt awesome and light all day! 

All in all I would absolutely do this relay again! I also made some really fun new friends in the Savannah Striders that I’m excited about spending time with in the near future. 

With all transparency, the first half of September was brutal for me. Expectations of what I thought would be, basically did not come to pass. At some point in the month I realized I was living in a fog of regret instead of gratitude and it was causing some serious attitude probs. When I hear my girls being ungrateful and bratty and it grates on my nerves, I know to check my own attitude. Normally what is being manifested outwardly by them is what they are either hearing or feeling from me. I want to be the type of person that sees a shortcoming in my life and instead of blaming circumstances, I do everything in my power to make it right. 

Soup isn’t a seasonal food in my house. Even as a child, soup, chili, stew, those were my jam. Don’t tell me that since its still 80 degrees out there that I can’t soothe my soul with some hearty vegetable soup. As a mother, it is also my weapon of choice to pack as many vegetables in my children as possible. Particularly if I have a feeling they are fighting illness or heartache. Black bean soup is freaking cheap to make, requires one pot, and is a nutritional powerhouse. 

Black Bean Soup 

Ingredients

1 pound dried black beans

6 cups cold water

1 teaspoon sea salt 

2 bay leaves 

6 cloves garlic

1 yellow onion, chopped finely 

1 roasted red pepper, chopped 

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes or 1 fresh tomato

1/2 cup vegetable broth plus a couple splashes

1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 

1 teaspoon cumin 

1 teaspoon smoked paprika 

2 tablespoons lime juice 

salt and ground pepper 

1. Sort through the dry beans and remove any particles or broken beans in a large bowl. Add cold, fresh water to cover the beans for overnight. After the beans have doubled in size, drain, rinse, and place in a large pot. Add the 6 cups cold water, bay leaves, and salt. Partially cover and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Skim off and discard any foam that forms on the top. Lower the heat to low, stir, and cover. Cook for 2-2 1/2 hours until the beans are tender. You will know that the beans are cooked if it mashes easily with your tongue at the roof of your mouth. There should be 5 cups of liquid once the beans are cooked, but add more water or broth if you would prefer a thinner soup. 

2. While the beans are cooking, prepare the vegetable medley that will provide flavor. In a large skillet, combine a splash of vegetable broth and garlic and bring to a sizzle over medium heat, cooking garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped onion, red pepper, and tomato. Stirring frequently, cook until the mixture is soft and liquid has mostly evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add lime juice, oregano, and cumin, and simmer for 1 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and set aside. 

3. When the beans are cooked, stir in the vegetable medley, making sure to scrape every morsel of flavor from the pot. Add the smoked paprika, stir, and partially cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30-35 minutes, until the soup has slightly reduced, then remove the bay leaves and discard. Ladle 2 cups of soup into a blender, puree until smooth, and stir back into the soup to create a thicker, smoother consistency. Season the soup with more lime juice, salt, and pepper if desired. I like to serve with a dollop of cashew cream, cilantro, and when in season some diced heirloom tomatoes. The soup can also be served with hot rice on the side! 

 

I served with sweet potato biscuits in this picture and it was an amazing combination! 

Everything about the morning is my favorite. This morning, I’m sitting in my favorite spot on the porch, after a smooth drop off of both girls to school. Sam is on his last day of 5 days of leave, and working on projects in the garage and yard. There is even a little breeze to accompany a very sunny blue sky for a nice change! I’m excited, terrified and energized for a busy fall as my health coaching business grows in Savannah. For some insane reason, I also committed to running another marathon in D.C at the end of October. The thing about a marathon is, you commit so far in advance, that the reality of what you have committed to doesn’t set in until it is too late. Thats really where I’m at right now, but last week and this weekend I had some smooth runs that gave me a boost of confidence. Maybe I’m not overreaching to commit to the many hours of training a marathon requires AND build a business AND raise two little girls AND volunteer AND build a non-profit AND AND AND……. 

I really believe these waffles have magical powers to sustain and energize small children through the morning, but also will serve as a bedrock for my long runs this fall. My girls are often satisfied with only a half waffle each and a side of berries. Double the recipe, pop the leftovers in the freezer after the waffles cool, and toast in a toaster or reheat in the oven. Very magical indeed. 

Oat and Casava Freezer Waffles 

3/4 cup oat flour 

3/4 cup cassava flour

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder 

1 tablespoon baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I use almond milk)

1/3 cup maple syrup 

1/4 cup almond butter (or sunflower seed butter for a nut free option)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oat flour, cassava flour, arrowroot powder, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, combine almond milk, maple syrup, almond butter, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to until combined. 

2. Heat waffle iron to a medium setting according to your machine’s directions. These can also be made as pancakes on a cast iron pan. I use just a shot or two of Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray when I first start cooking the pancakes, and I do not have to repeat spraying between pancakes. You will know they are ready to flip when the edges begin to lift and the batter bubbles on the top. Top with berries or just a drizzle of maple syrup! 

 

Shocking, I have some neurotic behaviors that will probably never die. In our early married years, Sam and I lived about 90 miles from Panama City Beach. Without children, 90 miles down the road was throw the towel and sunscreen in the car and lets go! Believe it or not, Sam was the one who really required more than a bowl of cereal before hitting the road. It was painfully annoying to me that he couldn’t get up before the sun, cram a bagel down his throat, put his swim trunks on and go. He wanted to wake up slowly (how ANNOYING), drink his coffee (UGH), eat a proper breakfast (THE NERVE), and then enjoy a leisurly Saturday drive on the country scenic road from Alabama to coastal Florida.

 Me and my love in the early days!

When I think back to those early days and my eating habits, it is not confusing while I always felt so crappy, annoyed, depressed for no reason, and bloated. On beach days this was a pretty typical run down of what we would eat. Sugary cereal for breakfast, wheat thins, fruit, fig newtons, and deli sandwich for lunch, and favorite dinner of pork chops, baked potatoes, and French bread for dinner. Thankfully, over time, a few things have changed. Sam still hasn’t recovered from the trauma of my frantic behavior to get to the beach as early as possible, so he gives me the side eye as I prepare a huge breakfast on an intended beach day. He is still surprised as he opens the cooler and sees the smorgasbord of fresh foods packed neatly into containers, but he is delighted that I’m MOSTLY even tempered and pleasant to be around morning to night. I do want to get to the beach well before lunch time, so I pack boxes with dividers full of fresh vegetables and some fruits.

A few ideas:

  • Avocado, sliced in half and cubed while still in tact in the skin
  • baby carrots, I slice in half because the kids eat them better that way, and the hummus stays on better
  • cucumbers and grape tomatoes, sliced: Hazel really likes balsamic vinegar, but Mabyl doesn’t
  • hummus
  • frozen pineapple or mango: I buy bags at Whole Foods, dump in glass containers and by the time we get to the beach they are still icey but easy to bite through
  • berries
  • popcorn: I pop my own, add about a tablespoon olive oil and then a little salt
  • seaweed
  • granola bars
  • cold legume and grain salad, so many different options to experiment with but I really like to pack salads with more sturdy vegetables, like kale or cabbage, as opposed to spinach or romaine.

We pack a few extra grocery bags to take away our trash/ recyclables, forks, spoons, and plastic plates. Everybody is happy for hours on the beach. No bloat, no crankiness, no problem.

 Avocado, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Plus little fingers and precious toes.

We are finally ALMOST settled into our new house in Savannah, GA!!! I had images of porch furniture, flower planting, and little naked butts sprinkler dashing by now…. BUT the garage that we started plans for months ago is STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION. I want to be kind to the guys who are working on it, but I can’t help but notice that not much work is actually getting accomplished day in and day out. So boxes that are intended for the garage are still consuming my porch, and I feel waves of anxiety every time I open the back door. Nevertheless, we love being outside so we just sit on the steps and pretend it doesn’t bother me. These fudge pops are our favorite to make on these hot summer evenings. I use a  Zoku Popsicle maker and they are ready to eat in 15 minutes! Alternatively, you could freeze in molds and serve the next day.

3 Ingredient Dairy Free and Refined Sugar Free Chocolate Fudge Pops (Makes 5 Pops)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

5-6 medjool dates, pits removed

1/4 cup unsweetened, cacao powder

Blend all three ingredients in a high speed blender, like a vitamix. Pour the liquid into the molds to the fill line. Wait 12 minutes, twist out the pops, and serve. I strip my youngest to her undies because these hot Savannah evenings make for messy popsicles!

Messy endeavor, but so delicious!  12 minutes is a really long time for a 6 year old.   Anything better than eating a popsicle in your undies?

I know, the title is abrasive and obnoxious. Completely intended because now of course you are into the second sentence of this blog. Almost all children like to exert control during meal time.  I’m not a child psychologist, but from watching my own children and hearing the stories of so many mothers, I believe MOST pickiness stems from two factors:

1. A child’s predisposition to good ole’ fashioned stubbornness.

A plate with sections allows the child to choose and see the colors. Often I will feed the kids parts of the main meal that my husband and I are eating. a lot of children prefer their foods separate rather than mashed together.

  • My children have written the book on “stubborn”. Even as I write that statement, I think most mothers would argue that, no in fact their children wrote that book. The brutal truth that I am known for as a health coach is: your children are animals and as long as there are no extenuating circumstances, they will eat when hungry.
  • Choices are overwhelming for children, so I try to limit choices to only 2. For example, would you like oatmeal or cereal? An apple or grapes? Broccoli or Brussels sprouts? Smoothie or muffin? If both choices are healthy and identified as foods that your child will entertain, both you and the child win. The third option is that they will be hungry. Refer to top bullet. Of course the work is in identifying the list of nourishing foods that your child will eat and like!
  • For the stubborn child that wants control over her circumstance, a sectioned plate is ideal. I preface each meal with, “you don’t have to eat it all, but you need to try some of everything.”
  • A caveat is that if YOU are eating potato chips, gold fish, cookies, and sodas, why would your child eat anything different?

2. Your child isn’t hungry because he or she has eaten too many snacks prior to meal time. I understand how this happens. It happens to the best of us. Most frequently the toddler at home is the habitual offender. Breakfast turns into second breakfast, then she doesn’t eat all her lunch, then she needs an afternoon snack, and then dinner isn’t ready but she’s begging for something to eat. A child’s plea for food is far too strong, so you cut another apple or dole out a handful (or three) of crackers. It is so subtle that we are confused, why will you NOT EAT YOUR DAMN VEGGIES?!

My most stubborn of the two giving the thumbs up to gimbap, a type of Korean sushi.

  • Intentionally sitting down with your child while he or she eats will encourage her to eat when meals are served. I notice that when I’m up and about, my youngest wants to be up and about too. If I sit down to eat all three meals with her, she usually eats at meal times.
  • If the snacks are inevitable, keep them light. Fruit, popcorn, apple sauce, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, a handful of cashews, or rice cakes with almond butter or hummus to name a few.
  • If the kids are hungry at 4:45, and dinner is ready, go ahead and feed them! I understand waiting for spouses, but I notice that when parents give themselves the freedom to obey hunger rather than the clock, they avoid the 5 o’clock meltdown. One client completely eliminated a toxic load of sugar from her daughter’s diet AND eliminated a chaotic bedtime routine by changing dinner hour to 5:30-6:30, instead of waiting for her husband to come home from work. There is still opportunity for a family to connect over the dinner table, even if the children have already eaten. This philosophy is especially true with the 5 and under crowd.

I understand and sympathize that this is a frustrating subject for many families. What I have learned by listening to mothers is that the answer is usually quite obvious; however, when we are so close to the problem we can’t see clearly what needs to change. Day after day we perpetuate the same behavior that creates a challenging home environment. I encourage my clients to try one recommendation at a time, and celebrate every single small win! As a parent, YOU know YOUR child better than anyone else. You have studied their preferences and behaviors since the day they were hatched, allow your instinct to guide!

Or you could use your cast iron to press tofu, whatever works right?

I come from a family of foodies. A lot of people tell me they come from a long line of foodies, but I have yet to meet any family that is as passionate about food as the Burleson Clan. I have fond memories of sitting around the kitchen with my Grandma and Papa amidst the friendly bickering over sauces, fluffy rolls, tender meats, and perfectly baked pies. These folks know how to cook. My Dad can look at a fridge of literally nothing and create a mouthwatering masterpiece. Two main principles that I learned as a child:

  • It isn’t complicated.
  •  Multiple appliances are handy, but aren’t necessary

The question is, what does a home cook really need? I am going to start with what I believe are the essentials, and then I am going to give a second list of items I believe are extra convenient.

We lived in a 115 year old apartment this past year, and the kitchen was TINY. I learned how to maximize the space I had! Oh, also there is my husband on Easter Sunday helping me out with some prep.

  1. A cast iron pan: I have an entire set of really nice All-Clad pans that I love and use, but without a doubt the over 100 year old 10 inch cast iron pan, passed from Sam’s mother, receives the most attention. I bake, sauté, and re-heat to perfection in this one pan. After I’m done with pancakes, cornbread, pizza, baked tofu, or any other endeavor, I simply wipe it out! Simplicity at its finest.
  2. Vitamix Blender: Yes it is possible to cook without this blender; however, I believe that it is one of the best investments you can make for your health. I love smoothies, but to be honest that is not why I love the Vitamix. I blend flours, whip up sauces, create nut butters and milks and puree soups. It is easy breezy to clean and if I’m going to be away from my kitchen for more than 3 days, I travel with it.
  3. Zyliss julienne peeler and Y- peeler:  I acquired my julienne peeler when I was hanging out with my friend Katie. I was rummaging through her kitchen drawer while we were making dinner, and I asked her what it was. She responded that she didn’t know what it was for but it was gifted to her at a wedding shower. She said I could have it if I wanted. I took it home and realized I had struck gold. It spiyralizes zucchini, carrots and cucumbers with no fuss at all! I also own a Paderno Spiralizer, but I find myself far preferring this simple $7 tool for the minimal hassle. I use it almost every day for salads, and it is small enough to travel with. I bought the zyliss y-peeler this year because the one I had wasn’t working very well. I use the y-peeler to make large ribbon zoodles for veggie lasagna, peeling butternut squash effortlessly, and any other skin peeling that needs to go down.
  4. At least one descent and sharp knife: I will be the first to admit that I really don’t know very much about nice knives. When cooking plants, you don’t need a super nice knife, but you do need a sharp knife to prevent injury. Not to mention how frustrating it is when you are trying to cut a pepper or a tomato and can’t break through the skin. In short, to keep your fingers and prevent tremendous frustration, make sure you are using a knife that is sharp.
  5. Metal utensils: I like to use metal pans and utensils because they don’t melt when they get hot. To me, it seems pretty common sense, but a lot of kitchens I have been in, have only plastic because of the non-stick pans they are trying to protect. A cascade of consequences! As long as you are cooking at the right temperature, a high quality metal pan will not stick. I use very little to no oil when I’m cooking, and in most cases a little vegetable broth or water can also prevent sticking.
  6. A bamboo cutting board: Honestly, any cutting board that is NOT plastic, is a good choice. A lot of people have plastic because they can be cleaned with a dishwasher. I get that, but understand that when you are using sharp knives on plastic, it is very likely that plastic is in your food. Yikes.

Tools that are handy, but aren’t deal breakers:

  1. Cuisnart Food Processor: This is the food processor that I have, but I’m sure many others would do the job! I like this one specifically because it has 2 attachments that slice and grate. It cleans up very easily, and I use it almost daily. There are some things that the food processor does better than the Vitamix. Hummus, protein balls and pudding to name a few. I love the ease of chopping veggies extremely fast!!
  2. Kitchen-Aid Mixer : I struggle if this one should go in the absolute essential tools because of how useful it is. However, it is pretty bulky! For the tiny kitchen, it can be a burden. I also don’t use it every single day. I like it for mixing veggie burgers and making cookies obviously.

As time marches on, I most certainly will add to this list. Recommendations and suggestions are always welcome!

After almost a year of working with women and their families who are trying to make healthier lifestyle shifts, I learned that it is almost impossible to please everyone with any one type of meal plan. What works for me and my brood may be a complete bust for you and yours. A few months ago while trying to put together a spring eBook meal plan, I came across the idea of making hotdogs out of carrots. It became one of our favorite meal options, so why not put it on the eBook for the group I was coaching?? Long story short, it was a total bust outside of our family and became the punchline for every “so you’re a vegan?” joke. When coaching busy mommies, my philosophy is always KEEP IT SIMPLE! I like to write recipes and try new things, but the reality is that my normal every day is cooking what’s available in the fridge and making something out of nothing. Better if I can do that and clean it up in less than 45 minutes. However, it has taken lots of practice to get to that point. So, it is better to have a PLAN, even if it is a scrappy one. Here are a handful of guidelines that work for most people:

  •  3-4 hour weekly marathon meal prep is all over the internet right now, and it works for some people. It doesn’t work for me, and I notice that it doesn’t seem to be sustainable for my client base either. Instead, I recommend ladies committing to 10-15 minute chunks of prep time a day, outside of cooking the meals for the day. This may involve chopping extra veggies, boiling rice or beans, or making salad dressings. The idea is that by the end of the week, all the fruits and veggies have been utilized and you feel like you spent minimal time in the kitchen. I usually make room for 1-2 flex days that re-purpose leftovers or use up extra scraps from leftover veggies. 
  • Building a pantry doesn’t have to be over complicated. I think of my pantry in sections:

Grains, beans, spices, seeds/nuts, canned (or tetra pack)

Begin with simple and useful grains, such as oats, brown rice, and quinoa. Lentils (red and green) and black beans are crucial. I LOVE spices and my top spices always on hand are chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. I like to have walnuts, sunflower seeds, and almond flour on hand because I can do a lot with those 3. 

  • I don’t buy anything unless I can think of at least two uses. I will use the above pantry items as an example of making at least two things with every pantry essential :

Oats: Standard morning hot oatmeal, veggie burger filler, or ground into flour for muffins. 

Brown rice: Beans and rice, ground into flour using the Vitamix for pancakes or muffins 

Quinoa: I often use quinoa as a way to “beef up” soups if I feel they are too thin, quinoa is also an awesome alternative to brown rice if you need a change. The best thing about quinoa is that it cooks up in less than 12 minutes! 

Lentils: Oh the ways I can use LENTILS!!! Lentil tacos, soups, and curries. Also, lentils can be prepared very quickly in comparison to other beans that are cooked from dry. 

Black beans: Rice and Beans and veggie burgers

Walnuts: Salads and oatmeal topping

Sunflower Seeds: “taco meat” and filler in veggie burgers 

Almond flour: sweet potato biscuits, cookie dough “power balls”

Other things that I keep on hand: tamari or coconut aminos, vegetable broth, green veggies (kale, broccoli, spinach), orange veggies (carrots and sweet potatoes), frozen blueberries and bananas (for muffins or pancakes), maple syrup, almond butter, baking powder, vanilla, medjool dates (for smoothies and baking), and non-dairy milk (I prefer almond milk for how it bakes). 

This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a bare bones list that can scrap together PLANT rich meals every single day! 

I’m including a link to a tool that you can use to help with weekly meal planning and grocery shopping. Click to open my PLANTiful Life grocery list. 

I hope some of these reommendations shed light on how you can simplify your pursuit of health!