Top 10 Tips For Healthy Travels!

So, it's become fairly obvious that this is a really important and hot topic . . . and that I actually need to write a book on the subject! Which I plan to do after my next book is finished this spring. After my usual post-book chill time, of course. ;-)

Healthy traveling is a subject very near and dear to my heart, as I travel quite a bit and am obsessed with the union of delicious vegan food and optimum health. However, I'm all too familiar with the challenges that traveling presents. Lack of healthy options on the road, figuring out how and what to pack, and not having access to a kitchen can be very tricky things to navigate. So, I will share some of the things that have worked well for me. Please let me know if you have a favorite tip of your own, and keep those great suggestions coming!

Top 10 Tips for Healthy Travels!

1. When I know I'm going to be traveling through a city, I use either Happy Cow or VegDining to find vegan-friendly restaurants. Even if you're only veg-curious, you'll usually find much healthier options there!

2. To stay vitalized while traveling, two things will help you immensely: veggies and water! To stay up on your vegetable intake, try packing veggies that travel well. I've found that the following work well for me: carrot and celery sticks, dried kale or zucchini chips, raw kale salads (such as those in my most recent book), cherry tomatoes, and sugar snap peas. As for water, that's pretty self-explanatory. Drink more of it.

3. If you're staying or traveling through somewhere with dismal options and haven't planned ahead, you can consult this vegetarian list of options for chain restaurants. It will help you to find something that will keep you, well, from starving to death.

4. Plan, plan, plan! Being a food nerd is sexy, I don't care what they say. Take out your little sheet of paper and sparkly pen and make a list of all of the healthy foods that you love - especially those that will keep well in a cooler for at least a few days. Some of my favorite items that always end up in my cooler on road trips? Bean salads, tabouli, hummus, salads, raw nut dips (such as cashew "tuna"), bean burritos, tempeh sandwiches, fresh spring rolls, veggie fried rice, quinoa salads, and whole grain Asian pasta salads.

5. Fruit will remind you that life is good. You can find it anywhere (well, almost) and it will fuel you with electrolytes, calories, vitamins, and fiber until your next meal.

6. You can often find reasonably healthy sustenance at a regular old grocery store. Possible options: Fruit, pre-made hummus (use with veggies, pita bread, or regular bread for dipping), nondairy milk and whole grain cereal, guacamole and organic tortilla chips, the makings for a pb & j, and instant oatmeal.

7. Even without access to a kitchen, you can do some magic of your own. In fact, I even travel with a portable burner (OK, I use it for food demonstrations - but I'd take it either way at this point!) and blender. I also take basic cookware, including a skillet, spatula, garlic press, cutting board, and chef's knife. With just those items, I can make the following: power shakes and smoothies, stir-fry, tofu and tempeh cutlets for sandwiches and wraps, whole grain pancakes, bean dips, and more.

8. Go raw! Raw foods travel well and don't require cooking (obviously). What are some raw food yummies that travel well? Dehydrated goodies (veggie chips, fruit jerky, raw granola, crackers, etc.), nut spreads (for wrapping in lettuce or tortillas), cashew cheese (for dipping in crackers), nori rolls, flax crackers, and so much more!
9. When traveling, I always have my cooler with me. Sure, it seems cumbersome, but it's so worth it! I learned a trick from my mom too, as far as keeping it cold all handy-dandy like: Freeze water bottles (or gallon jugs of water) and place them in your cooler. That way, they'll keep everything cold while you simultaneously drink ice-cold water and stay hydrated!

10. Need to pack items that don't require refrigeration or any sort of prep work? Here is a peek into what I bring in that sort of circumstance. I keep it by the driver's seat and call it my "snack bag" (really creative title, no?): Mary's Gone Crackers sticks and twigs (or any of their crackers), almonds (raw or tamari roasted), fruit (tangerines/oranges, grapefruit, and apples are hearty travelers), dehydrated kale chips, green powder (I mix it with my water), Two Moms In The Raw granola bars, Lara Bars (or, preferably, my homemade versions thereof), trail mix (walnuts, cranberries, cacao nibs, etc.), and, of course, a little organic dark chocolate.

Hope this helps you to get inspired for healthy, yummy travels. Please keep giving me your great suggestions and questions - I love hearing from you! xxoo

Ten Ways with Cabbage!

Cabbage! Yes, it deserves an exclamation point. It's not only jam packed with nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, and anti-cancer compounds - it's also delicious and versatile.

However, when I asked what veggie people were most unsure about how to use, cabbage was one of the most common answers. So, I wanted to dedicate a blog post just for the love of cabbage. Are you ready? Let's ride!

10 Ways to Use Cabbage:

1. Saute cabbage along with garlic, mushrooms, salt, pepper, and shredded carrots. Wrap in phyllo and bake for delicious "egg rolls." Dip in sweet chili sauce or plum sauce for an extra kick.

2. Toss shredded purple cabbage with lime juice, agave nectar, minced fresh ginger, and chili flakes. Salt to taste and serve cold.

3. For an easy, impressive Asian side dish: Toss shredded green and/or purple cabbage with toasted sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, agave nectar, tamari, garlic, and fresh ginger. Serve over spinach and top with crunchy sesame sticks. Garnish with a lime wedge.

4. I once hosted a potluck and one of the guests brought the most delicious cabbage rolls - you know, one of those dishes you just never forget! She simply made a stuffing of blended cashews, barley, lemon juice, shredded carrots, onions, sea salt, and garlic. Then, she placed a little of the filling in each cabbage leaf, wrapped them up, and steamed them until soft. So good! You can also do a more traditional tomato-based stuffing using crumbled tempeh or tofu along with Italian seasonings.

5. Speaking of potlucks, I attended one in Florida last month that included another unforgettable cabbage dish. The woman had just picked the (green) cabbage that morning, chopped it, and added the following: fresh ginger juice, turmeric, lemon juice, and sea salt. It sounds simple, but I had about four helpings. Freaking addictive.

6. For a simple vegan coleslaw, just substitute reduced fat (or regular) Vegenaise for mayo in your favorite coleslaw recipe. And yes, I do prefer the reduced fat Vegenaise, as it's made with better oils (flax and olive) than the other kinds. Most health food stores carry it.

7. For me, cabbage is one of the best ways to garnish Mexican fare. It adds color, nutrition, and crunch! I like to use raw, chopped red cabbage to top tostadas, burritos, tacos, and baked chimichangas.

8. Fresh spring rolls (aka summer rolls) always benefit with the addition of cabbage. In a soaked rice paper wrapper, place some red cabbage, shredded carrots, crushed peanuts, cilantro, lettuce, and basil. Wrap up and serve cold with sweet chili sauce for dipping. For those of you with my books, you'll find a plethora of detailed fresh spring roll recipes in both. Yes, I'm an addict.

9. I just asked my daughter (a cabbage lover from way back) what her favorite way to eat cabbage was. Her response: "Take a piece of lettuce. Put a cabbage leaf in it. Put a raspberry or strawberry inside and roll it all up." (I think anything with berries involved has a chance with her.)

10. For simple Thai curried cabbage: Stir-fry napa cabbage in some coconut milk, red curry paste, and fresh ginger. If desired, add some agave nectar and sea salt. Cook just until the cabbage is wilted and bright green (well under 5 minutes). Serve plain or with brown basmati rice.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

What to do with Cucumbers!

Cucumbers...those juicy little devils! Personally, I equate eating a cucumber with taking a dip in a lake on a hot summer day. They are so replenishing, nourishing, and alkalinizing to the body. And also quite delicious, especially when flavored up.

Here are my top five ways to use this cool vegetable:

1. One of my all-time favorite veggie recipes, from my book Radiant Health, Inner Wealth:

Indian Kuchumber Salad

Here is the boom-boom that I love to pile on my plate at Indian buffets. Except all organic-like.

1¾ cups diced cucumber (one medium cucumber), peel left on if organic
½ cup chopped tomato (or halved grape or cherry tomatoes)
¾ cup diced red onion (or white or yellow)
2 tablespoons each: fresh lime juice and non-virgin olive oil (or sunflower oil)
½ teaspoon each: sea salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Optional: 1 teaspoon untoasted (raw) black sesame seeds

Gently toss all of the ingredients together until very well combined. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Serves 4; 30 minutes or under! GF/SF/Green (according to the health guidelines in my books)
2. Toss thinly sliced cucumbers with fresh dill, lime juice, agave nectar, sea salt, and cracked pepper. Marinate in the fridge and enjoy cold or at room temperature.
3. Top sprouted grain toast points with herbed vegan cream cheese, very thinly sliced cucumber, and kalamata olives. Elegant, simple, delicious.
4. Toss with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, roasted garlic, olive oil, and sea salt. Marinate and serve at room temperature. Mmmmm.
5. For a simple, healthy lunch-on-the-go: First you get a nice, sprouted grain tortilla. Then you top it like so: hummus, chopped cucumbers, fresh basil, chopped tomatoes, spinach, and thinly sliced red onions. If you like, add some kalamata olives for extra flair.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
And I hope you are eating your veggies every day...and loving them! Cheers to a healthy, happy lifestyle!

Shift Happens: 10 Ways to Transform Sadness

And now for a brief interruption in our regularly scheduled fruit and veggie programming...

For those of you who "get" the creative process, you'll understand that you just gotta go with it when inspiration strikes. And it struck this morning like a spunky little slap in the face! So, I'm gonna get personal here. You've been warned. If you can't handle that, please see this post instead. It's about apple crisp.

OK, so if you're still reading, you can deal. Here's the scoop...I recently (as in this week) went through something that shook me up. Normally, I tend to take things in stride for the most part, making the best out of hard situations. But this had me crying. Yeah, it was over a guy. Boo Hoo.

Anyway, this morning I decided that I needed to get pro-active. I can't take feeling bad for too long without wanting to change my own state of mind and feel better. That said, part of what I decided was that it's OK - even helpful - to cry when I feel sad. Like the 70s song goes: "It's all right to cry, crying gets the sad out of you. It's all right to cry - it might make you feel better!" By the way, "Free to be You and Me" is a great Netflix choice if you want some nostalgia.

So, I sat in my car and cried, journaled, and listened to really loud bluegrass music (it's relevant). And by the time I was done, I had a strategic plan for healing my sadness. And I felt a whole lot better. Up until today, I hadn't really clarified to myself that I really do need to heal. I thought it might just go away. But it feels a lot better knowing that every day, I'm taking steps to shift from sadness to renewed happiness. So, what did I journal? You'll have to stalk me and steal my purse to find out. But I will share the highlights.

Here we go...

How to Transform Sadness and Shift into Joy:

1. If the feeling to "let it out" comes up, then cry. Just let it out. Tell yourself that it's actually mature to cry like a little girl - you're not being a baby, you're being real, healthy, and conscious.

2. Do you have a wise, kind friend who always says the right thing? I sure hope so. Because I feel incredibly grateful for mine. One of my girlfriends said to me (after I told her I didn't want to burden her with my problems) that "part of why we're friends is so we can always support each other, in good times and bad." And that she knew I would be there for her if she needed it, which is true. (I love you, Jennie!)

3. OK, I stole this from "Eat, Pray, Love." But it's fabulous and SO powerful! And I took it one step further. Whenever I feel sad, I send myself love and light. It may sound woo-woo, but I gotta tell you - it feels really good, like a fuzzy love blanket. And after that, I send the other person love and light as well.

4. Journal. That sh*t is amaaazing. If you don't already, I really do recommend it. It will help you immensely to gain clarity and make positive choices.

5. Love yourself. Tell yourself sweet nothings. Know that you are beautiful and lovable exactly as you are.

6. Be thankful for the beautiful lessons that you will inevitably get out of this challenging experience. Gratitude is the #1 way to make powerful, rapid shifts. I bolded that for a reason. It's that important.

7. Affirm something along the lines of: "I am open to a shift into joy. I allow a complete healing."

8. Visualize yourself as a healed, happy individual. Don't worry about "how" it's going to happen. Just KNOW that if you visualize it, it really will come about. It can't not.

9. Find your own inner core of bliss, peace, and love. And the best way I've found to do this is to meditate. For tips on meditating, you can refer to this blog post or check out either of my books.

10. Take notice when shift happens. Did you wake up feeling happy? Did you get inspired to start a new exercise program? Those are signs of healing. What you focus on is what will expand. So pay attention to the progress you're making...and you'll get more and more of it!

I hope you find these steps very helpful in your own life...and don't feel like you have to be sad to use them! They are wonderful tools to apply in your life, no matter what your current situation.

As my saying (and title of my first book) goes, Radiant Health, INNER WEALTH. We can't have truly ultimate well-being unless we have both physical health as well as wellness within ourselves.
Love! xxxooo

What to Do With Eggplant!

I used to be one of those people who looked at eggplant in the store and thought: "It's so pretty, shiny, and sexy....but what in the world would I do with it?" Well, since then, I can tell you: "Plenty!" Eggplant is now one of my most used and beloved veggie staples.

It's also one of those foods that has to be prepared correctly in order to be delicious and to have the right texture. Some of the mistakes many people make with eggplant are: Not cooking it long enough (undercooked eggplant = yuck!), using way too much oil, and not adding enough flavoring. Eggplant is like tofu - it's rather neutral and, if you listen closely, is begging quite persistently to be well flavored.

So, as I've also received requests for this lovely vegetable as part of my Fruits and Veggies month here on the RHIW blog, today is all about eggplant. Delectable, gorgeous, nutrient-packed eggplant!

What Do You Do With Eggplant?

1. Looking for a new addiction? These eggplant chips from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth are joneser. You'll want to eat the whole pan.

2. Cube eggplant (no need to peel) and saute in a large skillet with lots of fresh garlic, olive oil, and a little tamari. Stir-fry until very tender. So simple. SO good.

3. Slice eggplant very thinly and cut into strips. Marinate in beet juice, garlic, olive oil, tamari, and a little liquid smoke. From there, you can either "cook" in a food dehydrator or bake until crisp. And voila - eggplant bacon! Great with lettuce, tomato, and vegenaise on sprouted grain toast for an ELT sammy.

4. Cube eggplant and stir-fry with chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, coconut oil, onions, chickpeas, and your favorite Indian spice blend. When the eggplant is very tender, serve the curry over rice.

5. For easy peezy vegan eggplant parmesan: Slice thinly into rounds and dip in nondairy milk. Dredge in whole wheat pastry flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spray with olive oil and bake until golden brown. Top with organic pasta sauce, vegan cheese, and fresh basil. YUM.

Please tune in on Monday when the fruit or veggie of the day will be...