You are Enough

You are enough. Three simple, yet powerful words. Three words that need to be used more than they are. By me. And by YOU.

You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you lose your edge. Apologize for mistakes. Apologize for unintentionally hurting someone – profusely. But don’t apologize for being who you are. ~ Danielle LaPorte

Be unapologetically YOU.

My first name, Amanda, means “lovable; worthy of love,” yet I’ve struggled hard with feeling worthy and there have been so many days where I think I’m difficult to love. I’m not sharing any of this to fish for compliments or to be pitied, but rather to paint a picture of how society sets us up to dislike ourselves. That we need to fit within a certain box, otherwise we’re not worthy. This past year has been a game changer for me – tested me, pushed me, and opened my eyes to the heart of the matter. I want to share all of this with you because while I have felt a shift in my thinking, I know many still struggle.
I’m here to tell you that what you really need is to find peace within. To recognize that you are worthy at this very moment. You are ENOUGH. If you follow me on Instagram, you most likely saw the post I shared on my birthday along with this amazing poem:

“Never trust a mirror,

For a mirror always lies,

It makes you think that all your worth,

Can be seen on the outside,

Never trust a mirror.

It only shows you what’s skin deep,

You can’t see how your eyelids flutter,

When you’re drifting off to sleep,

It doesn’t show you what the world sees,

When you’re only being you,

Or how your eyes light up,

When you’re loving what you do,

It doesn’t capture when you’re smiling,

When no one else can see,

And your reflection cannot tell you,

Everything you mean to me,

Never trust a mirror,

For it only shows your skin,

And if you think that dictates your worth,

It’s time you looked within.”

~ Erin Hanson

Social media is a blessing and a curse. I have a love-hate relationship with it but lately it’s been getting better with adjusting my mindset. I have to frequently check myself and step away for my personal sanity, but I have watched it destroy others – to the point where they completely lost themselves or their self-worth hit an all-time low. 

My battle with self-love dates back to high school and got harder along the way with toxic relationships. I heard it all (from men and women):

“not skinny enough”

“fat face”

“big-boned”

“breast implants could help”

“not pretty enough”

“eyes are too big”

“too sensitive”

“needs a backbone”

I could go on, but it’s kind of depressing…and in the past. Disordered eating and body dysmorphia became a part of my life. Rather than looking within, I became obsessed with the reflection in the mirror and food…and not in a healthy way. It took a lot of hard work, time, and weeding out who I allowed in my life to get where I am today. Perfectly imperfect.


Going back to when I said social media is a blessing and a curse. When I talk about social media, I’m referring to Instagram (IG) because I left Facebook a few years ago as it wasn’t healthy for me. Instagram has connected me with so many amazing, inspiring, empowering people – some of them I consider my dearest friends, most of them I haven’t even met in person. And some of them are people I’ve known personally for years (former co-workers, school friends, family) – it’s a blessing to have an app to keep us in the loop of one another’s lives. To connect us. It feels good to be supported – to get a virtual hug, high-five, and the occasional “I’ve been there, mama” or “me too!”

Now the curse. The overly filtered, heavily edited, perfectly staged, selectively chosen pictures that are posted. Combined with the competitiveness and elitist attitude from some of the people…it can be a pretty toxic space…if you’re not careful. Did you know that I have received a quite few messages about how my photos could use some work or how to improve my blog or how to gain more followers? You probably didn’t. And while I try not to let that sort of stuff get to me, catch me on a bad day and I will over analyze everything and shut down. I’m not looking to grow my page or blog. To me, Instagram is my life in photos. Family, nature, food, and anything in between…I guess I consider myself a lifestyle page and to me, it’s kind of like a digital diary, an account of the delicious recipes I’ve tried, beautiful hiking spots, and my world…Willow. I post things that genuinely excite me or make me happy – I never post something as a way to impress someone or gain anything. Same goes for my blog – it’s more of a hobby for me. Something I genuinely enjoy because I write for me and if anyone happens to read my rambles, it’s just an added bonus. I don’t take the time to use a photo editor app or perfectly stage my food…nothing against those who do, for me, I just want to eat my food and I’ll occasionally snap a quick, in-the-moment pic, but that’s because I want to enjoy my food while it’s still hot or devour it before it melts. I can absolutely appreciate those gorgeous photos and even if I don’t photograph my food, I still make it pretty…does that make sense? But I need to digress because this rant is not where I intended this to go!

Back to curse. Not everyone on social media is genuine or compassionate. Just like in real life. It can be a selfish world and by that I mean, there are people who are only on there to benefit themselves, even if it means hurting others along the way. For example, there are accounts on IG who spend time commenting on random posts using fake compliments. Sometimes they’ll even go so far as to “follow” you and say, “I love your page” or “I love what you’re doing here.” All of this just to get your attention so that you’ll check out their page or follow them back. Ninety-nine percent of the time they’ll unfollow you once you’re following them. All they care about is growing their numbers. What’s sad is that I know a few people whom this has happened to and due to already low self-worth, it set them over the edge. They took it so personal, as an insult, that they became so depressed. If only people took others feelings into consideration before acting.


It is SO easy to get caught up in the comparison trap – those “perfect” photos can be intimidating and for some, they can be toxic. Here’s my message to you (and a reminder to myself):

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

You can’t compare a 38-year-old stay-at-home mother to a twenty something college student. While age doesn’t matter, getting older changes things. Bodies are different, lifestyles alter, priorities shift. I remember being in college. I remember working two jobs while taking a full course load. I remember my body being totally different. I remember having more time to myself. BUT, remember, pregnancy and birthing a child is no joke. I look at my cesarean scar and stretch marks as gifts and while I may never have a toned, flat stomach again, I am damn proud of my body. I am enough.

I’ve even been bad about comparing myself to other moms – I’d see “perfect” posts and think, ‘I need to workout more,’ or ‘I don’t do enough when it comes to homeschooling,’ or a general blanket statement…’I need to do more.’ Heck, there are some days when getting dressed is about all we do and guess what? That’s enough. When I take a step back and look at my life, what I’ve accomplished, my goals – I’m proud and I think I am enough. 

Don’t let those perfectly clean, organized house photos fool you. I have to laugh because I’ll joke and say that I need to snap a photo as evidence that it’s possible to have a clean house. Truth is, our house looks like a tornado ripped through it…95% of the time. Dishes piled HIGH, mail strewn about all over the counter, Willow drawings scattered on the floor, markers missing caps, crumbs EVERYWHERE, and blankets + couch cushions thrown about. We have an almost five-year old child and three fur babies. Our home is cozy, lived in, and messy. When Josh comes home from work, he’s able to follow the trail of the events by looking at the house. So, mamas, look at it this way. A messy house is a sign of having fun. A sign of living. It’s a sign that you’re feeding your family well. It’s a sign that you’ve found more important things to do than scrub the floors or dust the shelves…you’re being a present parent! Just because your house isn’t clean and organized like those posts on IG, doesn’t make you any less of a human being. Remember…YOU ARE ENOUGH. I am enough. (P.S. – also consider the fact that those so-called perfectly clean, organized homes were probably in disarray moments before or after they shared a pic).

What you can’t see in the photo below is our kitchen! Ha!! And to be honest, this is considered pretty clean…


Do not compare a blogger’s food photos to your own. Most bloggers have really nice cameras and props. Some have special lighting equipment. Most make a living off of creating recipes and taking stunningly beautiful photos. It’s their “job” and passion. More than anything, those bloggers put in hard work and effort to create a beautiful shot. It’s really easy for me to get caught up in this specific comparison trap. Being a SAHM I’m forever multi-tasking. Trying to snap a “perfect” photo is next to impossible because either (A) Willow is pulling on my legs or arms asking me to come look at something , (B) Willow is begging to eat what I’m photographing, or (C) I don’t have a really nice camera (just an inexpensive point-and-shoot Nikon or my iPhone), nor do I have any props. Once again, NOTHING against those who have all of this. I am simply stating why my photos aren’t much to look at. I AM a foodie though. I love the kitchen, I love creating, and I love trying new recipes created by others. Will my photos do them justice? Maybe not. But like I said, my posts are like an account of what I’ve made and enjoyed. I personally struggle sometimes to even post food pics because I think to myself, “these aren’t good enough” or “this looks nothing like so-and-so’s photos.” Stop that. Stop that right now. I’m talking to myself and YOU. Because remember…YOU ARE ENOUGH! So post those photos if they make you happy!

I intended on snapping a before photo, but she couldn’t wait to dive in and honestly, this photo makes me waaaaaay happier than a bowl of banana ice cream…


Do not compare someone else’s journey with your own. – Whether its spiritual, health, healing, diet, lifestyle, etc…DO NOT compare the path you are on to another person’s. Do not minimize your progress or success to someone else’s. Keep the focus within. What we all need to remember is that each one of us is different. Bodies. Mindsets. Priorities. Resources. Finances. All of it differs from person to person. Family to family. I do feel that it’s nice to have something to aspire to and occasionally it’s healthy to use someone else’s story for inspiration BUT not as an end all. Not as an “I need this in order to be happy, healthy, or beautiful.” Keep checking in with yourself. Are you happy? If so, you’re on the right path. And remember, no matter the case, YOU ARE ENOUGH.

– I struggled for a while with my own spiritual journey. I’d be bombarded by posts from others sharing what I needed in order to be truly spiritual. I began to feel that I wasn’t meditating enough, praying enough, unplugging enough, reading enough, minimalist enough. In a nutshell, I didn’t feel like I was enough, that while I thought of myself as spiritual, I began doubting that I actually was. That I constantly needed more. Truth is, after taking a deeper look within, I began to see that I was enough and that what I held dear to my journey – to my spiritual practice – worked for me. I began to phase out what others were throwing at me and focused more on what worked for me. Once I stopped comparing my journey with others, I was more at peace. I am a constant work in progress; forever learning how to be the best version of myself without the influence of others.

– In line with this thought, everyone’s idea of veganism (or diet in general) is different and for us to belittle one another over minor details is silly. What I consider healthy for me, won’t line up with the next person. What’s important is that we do what’s right for our own body and mind. Realizing that it’s enough – you’re not less healthy or less of a person because you consume more fat or carbs than someone else. 

Holy bright!!!! I swear this photo is unedited! I attempted to capture Willow being super silly,  but just as I snapped the pic, she ducked down in her car seat…but I managed to capture how truly happy I was…


I have to share an excerpt from Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (seriously read her books, I’ve loved them all). The last paragraph on the page below is so perfect…


Do it for YOU. The second you start posting for someone else’s attention or approval or writing what you think people want to hear, you’ve lost yourself. You’ve forgotten what it’s all about. YOU are important and what you have to share IS important. So don’t post something because you think it will get a lot of “likes” or “followers” – post from the heart. Post what makes YOU happy. Post what sings to your soul. When you do that, the right people will be aligned with your path.When you get caught up in what others like or what the “trend” is, you stop being yourself. What YOU have to offer is ENOUGH. For me this also means taking frequent breaks or unplugging for a few days – I’ve learned to be OK with not replying to comments the day they’re left or catching up on everyone’s page. Those who matter will still be there when I return. I choose to take care of myself (and family) before anything else.

If you find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth to someone, you have already forgotten your value. ~ Unknown


Do not compare numbers; in fact, ignore them. Just because you have less followers than someone else, does not make you any less important or valuable. Just because you only got 30 likes on a post doesn’t mean your photo wasn’t beautiful or meaningful. Know deep down that numbers mean nothing. Some of my absolute favorite pages/people have small followings and I adore them because their captions speak to me and their photos are  real, in-the-moment accounts of life. I enjoy interacting, engaging with other people and often times, the bigger pages just can’t keep up with comments or questions, which sadly, makes me less inclined to reach out to them. I love the pages that share unapologetically and a little bit of everything: food, personal, nature, quotes, motherhood…you name it. As long as they’re posting from the heart, that’s all that matters. So whether you have 20 followers or 100k followers, you need to remember that YOU ARE ENOUGH. Your worth is not determined by numbers. As long as you’re doing what YOU love, it is enough.


If you’re unhappy with who you are, what you look like, or where you are, I highly recommend digging down deep within and figuring out why. I say this because trying to change who you are or what you look like doesn’t always bring happiness, in fact, chances are, your feelings will remain the same. So choose to be happy now, not “when I lose 10 pounds,” or “when I get that promotion.” Embrace who YOU are and recognize your unique self and remember…

You are not your wrinkles, age spots, acne scars.

You are not the number on a scale.

You are not your pant size.

You are not your grades in school or your degree.

You are not your job title.

You are not your mistakes or shortcomings.

Your worth is NOT determined by the amount of followers you have or the number of likes you get on a post.

You aren’t less worthy if you “fail.” Choosing to put yourself out there and be who you are is a brave action. Vulnerability is not weakness.

The most delightful surprise in life is to suddenly recognise your own worth. ~ Maxwell Maltz

I had an epiphany a couple of days before my birthday (which is what sparked this blog post) and it was literally as if someone finally turned a bright light on after being in the dark for years. I felt a sense of freedom that was indescribable. Rather than living in a state of fear or walking on eggshells, I am now able to approach social media with a new mindset. New eyes. New confidence. I used to fear what others would think so I would hold back (filter) what I share. This last year was a whirlwind of emotions and struggles with health, creativity, relationships, love, loss, and change. I learned to follow my heart, my gut, and listen to my body…and ignored what others said was the “right” way. Through this journey, I have lost a few friends (real and online) because they didn’t agree with my path. And that’s OK. Hundreds unfollowed me on social media in a week’s span and while it stung at first, I count it as a blessing. I’m being aligned with those who truly matter; those who accept me for who I am…all of me. I learned the difference between true friends and those who only “liked” me when I was either making their recipes – only “supported” me when it was convenient or only talked with me when my life was positive (when I kept my struggles to myself)…a handful of those people unfollowed me on social media and while I’m grateful for what I learned from them while we were “friends” I am also grateful to not have artificial friendships in my life. I have grown because of them. I have learned that I AM ENOUGH no matter what. If I’m in a creativity slump…I AM STILL ENOUGH. I believe in supporting my friends wholeheartedly, even if their path doesn’t align with my own. Even if I am unable to make their recipes or buy their products, I support them with my words and energy. Realize that YOU ARE ENOUGH and if for any reason you doubt your stance with someone, it is time to let go and recognize that you should not have to fight to be heard by a “friend.”

I’ll share one last bit before I end this loooong ramble 😉

Becoming a mother opened my eyes in more ways than one. I’ve grown more than ever during these almost five years and have come to really recognize my strength. During these years, I have also been criticized more than ever – whether by random strangers on social media or family. Everything from diet, choice to not vaccinate, homeschooling, and me being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). I’ve been told that I need to do research, or I’m depriving my child, I need to listen to doctors, or get a part-time job. Yep. That last one really irks me. Get a job?? I may not punch in my hours on a time clock or receive a paycheck, but I hold many “job” titles and work 24/7. As with everything else, I’ve come to grow from the criticism or negativity. Why? Because I realize that my worth does not depend on what others think of me. And as far as being a mom, sure I have my bad days and moments of doubt, but I know deep down that I’m doing a pretty damn good job.


I think we all need to remember that we’re human. We might make mistakes, fall down, fail, do things we’re not proud of, but we are ALL WORTHY.

To anyone and everyone reading this, I’m sending you LOTS OF BIG hugs. Thank you for taking the time to read this to the end.

 

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde

Happy Friday, everyone! Today we’re getting to know the lovely, Corey, of @consciousnonblonde – mother of two, a huge source of positive energy, and creator of drool-worthy recipes. Her comments always brighten my day as they’re usually humorous and always uplifting. I imagine Corey is a phenomenal listener because each one of her comments is very detailed, proof that she’s paying attention and actually reading your captions, no matter how long they might be – it’s as if you’re sitting and chatting with her face to face. While Corey doesn’t have a blog (yet), she does share recipes right there in her posts, whether in the caption or within a comment. Her photos are beautiful, colorful and creative – so if you’re not already following her, please go check out her IG @consciousnonblonde.
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
INTERVIEW WITH COREY:
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I live in Atlanta. I like to be outdoors, travel, read, cook, plant. 
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
When did you go vegan? What was your “aha” moment?
I started into going vegan slowly first cutting meat, then eggs. I haven’t had any animal milk products in years though because my daughter is severely allergic to cows milk. My aha moment was 7 years in the making. 
What is the hardest part about being vegan?
Hardest part about being vegan is that people around you feel that they need to make the change to go vegan as well. I don’t want anyone in my family or circle of friends to think that their convictions should be the same as mine. And that it’s ok if I eat off the veggie plate at the party. I’m not going to starve  😉
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
What is your favorite cruelty-free product? And why?
My favorite cruelty free product is Tate’s miracle conditioner. Has been for years. It really is a miracle product. 
Who or what inspires you?
My children inspire me. They are constantly challenging the world around them and asking questions. Seeking their own path. I wish I had the same courage and inspiration when I was their age. 
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?
I really dig a Mason jar, handheld blender and spiralizer 
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
What is your favorite meal?
Vegan rolls, miso, vegan tempura veggies, seaweed salad and green tea. 
Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.
maple syrup, coconut oil and gf oats
Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle.
I read the China Study 9 years ago and that sparked a big change. Also, hanging out at farmers markets and getting to know the growers.
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
Favorite quote
“The most precious jewels you’ll ever have around your neck are the arms of your children.”
Three words to describe you.
 compassion, wit, grit
Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?
Any change no matter how big or small in moving towards a plant-based lifestyle is significant. It all matters. Even if you add one smoothie a day. Vegan culture comes from a place of love and acceptance and everyone should know that.
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Corey of @consciousnonblonde
Where can we find you via social media? 
Find me on Instagram @consciousnonblonde
Still thinking and debating with myself about sharing it all with everyone on a blog.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Brittany of @lentil_

Happy Friday, everyone! Today we’re talking with Brittany (of @lentil_) and if I could describe her in three words I would have to say: strong-willed, determined and honest. She’s not afraid to tell it like it is and won’t sugarcoat things…which at times can be intimidating, but also incredibly admirable. Coming from someone who lacks a bit of confidence, I look at Brittany and see strength and courage. She holds animal rights close to her heart and will shout it from the rooftops all the reasons why you should ditch dairy and meat. I learned about Brittany from a mutual Instagram friend and was immediately drawn to her natural beauty – You can tell that she takes care of herself inside and out.

INTERVIEW WITH BRITTANY:

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Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I always find introductions the most challenging part of blog interviews …. My name is Brittany. I currently reside in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia. I wouldn’t really say that I have any hobbies but I do gravitate towards what I call “introvert activities” such as: reading, watching movies and TV shows. My interests include health/fitness and animal rights issues, documentaries, self-improvement and holistic health.

When did you go vegan? What was your “Aha” moment?

I went vegan in September 2013. I watched a video on www.meat.org about factory farming and animal abuse and I decided right then and there that I would go vegan. I had previously dabbled in a plant-based diet so I was aware of what life would be like without meat and dairy. I was on the path to vegetarianism when I watched the video online but that didn’t seem like enough, I needed to cut everything that supported and funded animal cruelty out of my lifestyle. I began researching more and more about how I could live a sustainable, ethical and healthy lifestyle. To this day I am still learning and adjusting my lifestyle to be more natural and compassionate. It is a beautiful journey and not a day goes by that I am not thankful to have learnt the truth and found a lifestyle that I adore.

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What is the hardest part about being vegan?

This is a very loaded question. Some of the hardest parts about being vegan are dealing with criticism, negativity and unsupportive people. I am very lucky that my family and most of my non vegan friends support and respect my decision to be vegan. But I have also received my fair share of ignorant attacks from non vegans. I also struggle with the sensitivity that comes with the vegan lifestyle. Some days it feels like everything hurts and everything is offensive and those are the days that I want to whisk myself and my loved ones away to live on a completely vegan planet. I find it very hard to share a meal with people who are eating meat. It is hard not to take things personally because, for ethical vegans, the passion and motivation for being vegan becomes so close to your heart that animal cruelty begins to not only hurt animals, but it hurts you too.

What does natural health mean to you?

Natural health to me is living as closely to nature as you possibly can. Taking advantage of the myriad of powerful fruits, vegetables, herbs and plants that we have been blessed with. As I mentioned before I am very into holistic health so I always try to resort to natural and self-healing remedies for any physical or mental ailments that I encounter.

britt1

What is your favorite cruelty-free product (cleaning, beauty, etc.) and why?

We have a line of beauty care products in Australia called Sukin. All the products are free from parabens, synthetic fragrances, SLS, SLES and animal derivatives. Sukin has everything from hand lotion to shampoo to fake tan. I’ve been using their products for a few years and I absolutely love them. I also love the Hurraw lip balms. They have amazing flavours and they are raw vegan so the ingredients are very natural and healing. My favourite is the coconut flavor.

Who or what inspires you?

I get most of my inspiration from my vegan friends and from the raw vegans that I follow online. Sharing connections with other vegans has become really important to me. You already have a strong common bond and it’s such a beautiful thing. The raw vegans that I find are the most inspirational are Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram (fullyrawkristina), Ellen Fisher (ellenfisher or Mango Island Mamma on youtube) and Yovana Mendoza (rawvana). I also like to inspire myself. I reflect on how far I have come in my life and I work towards becoming a better version of myself.

A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?

There are 2 kitchen gadgets that I can’t live without: my juicer and my Vitamix. I absolutely love juices and smoothies! They come in handy for quick, lazy meals and meals on the go.

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What is your favorite meal?

Oh my gosh, you are really asking me what my favourite meal is? I cannot possibly answer that! I love so many different dishes. If I had to narrow it down I would probably say it would be a mono meal of fruit, most probably watermelon. I say fruit because if I had to pick 1 meal to live off for the rest of my life I know I could definitely live off fruit. I do love cooked meals as well. Mac n Cheese is definitely a favourite and so are tofu and vegetable stir fries/curries.

britt2

Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.

3 of my favourite cooking ingredients are broccoli, nutritional yeast and dill. I could eat broccoli with anything.  I love a few different herbs but dill is my favourite. It has a beautiful, clean, fresh taste and it works well with a lot of different ingredients.

Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?

My favourite vegan resources are The Skinny Bitch book, Earthlings, Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives.

Favorite quote.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

  • Anais Nin

Three words to describe you.

The 3 words that I think describe me best are: quirky, pensive and empathetic.

Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.?

Instagram: lentil_

Facebook: Brittany Allen

Twitter: lentil__

Thank you, Brittany!! It was fun learning more about you!

Thanks for stopping by!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Happy Friday, everyone! I apologize for the delay in posting these Friday Feature interviews – I fell behind during the day-to-day chaos of life (personal matters and projects), but we’re back in full swing. Today, we’re chatting with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef. Her Instagram page is filled with beautiful vibrant photos of her food creations and she usually shares the recipes right there in the post. Laura is multi-talented and has a heart filled with compassion when it comes to people, animals and the earth. I won’t ramble on anymore…let’s hear from Laura herself!

Interview with Laura…

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Originally, I am from Tempe, Arizona. I am a daughter of three, the middle child, so it’s a given that I am the most extreme when it comes to anything in my family. I am very much a free spirit. I love to travel, draw and paint, read and learn new things, experiment and create new recipes, listen to music, practice yoga, watch movies, and hang out with my friends and family. I truly enjoy helping people discover their health; enjoy food abundance, and educate them about healing cuisine. Also, I am very passionate about yoga. It has saved my life in many ways. It made me see who I am, and it has healed my body. I am a lover of the outdoors; walking, running, hiking, camping, spending time at the beach, swimming in the ocean, picnicking, bike riding, and gardening. I love animals and I have great deal of respect for their place on this Earth. Oh yea, and I love to cook!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

When did you go vegan? What was your “Aha” moment?

My “aha” moment was back in early 2013. A good friend of mine had invited me to her birthday party. She wanted me to meet a group of her friends that were very much into health and wellbeing. I had been working on a vegan cookie recipe, and I knew she loved them, so I baked a huge batch and went to the party. The woman who was hosting the party happened to be the Director of UCSD’s Center for Integrative Medicine. Long story short, we got to talking, she loved my cookies, and I loved her meal so she invited me to attend the Natural Healing and Cooking Program that was starting the following week. Thankfully, I helped run the classes by volunteering which turned into my training to teach the program! With no previous chef experience or teaching a cooking program, I successfully taught the program, created a holiday series, and trained new volunteers and instructors. During my training, I ate the cuisine that was prepared; macrobiotic, vegan and gluten-free, and it healed my mind and body within six weeks! Prior to this program, I had been searching for a higher level of health. I had been a vegetarian since the age of fourteen, but fell off the path a couple of times. I thought I had lived a healthy lifestyle, but deep down I knew there was something more. There was something better. The program is based on George Oshawa Macrobiotics and the China Study. I had never eaten a full-blown plant-based and gluten-free diet over a period of time. The plus side to the cooking program was all the leftovers. Every week, I was gifted with at least a week’s worth of food that truly set me up for success and consistency. After the end of the sixth week, out of the eight week program, I knew, I could never go back. My health problems that I had been treating for many years had healed.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

What is the hardest part about being vegan?

Based on my experience, I think it’s the psychological. Your mind ‘thinks’ it’s missing out or is being deprived of meat and animal products, but in reality, our bodies never miss it. If you are having “deprivation” cravings, you’re just not eating enough, and you’re not consuming an abundance of healthy vegan food. Daily, we are bombarded with excessive meat and dairy advertisements. Plus, animal products are found in so many food items. Our family and friends are not vegan. Many restaurants are not vegan, or the cooks do not have experience to prepare delicious vegan meals. Most simply, one does not know or understand how to live and thrive in a vegan lifestyle. Education is key. Support is very important as well. For myself, Instagram has helped me tremendously with experimentation, support, and different realms of veganism. I am so inspired. On the plus side, veganism is gaining popularity, and with social media, cooking programs, and culinary schools cheering us on, it is so easily accessible that the information is at our fingertips.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

What does natural health mean to you?

Health means that one can thrive in life without any hindrance of illness within the mind, body, and soul.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

What is your favorite cruelty-free product (cleaning, beauty, etc.) and why?

Call me a weirdo, but I go for anything all natural. I love essential oils, fresh herbs, sea salts, baking soda, white and apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and coconut sugar. You can easily clean anything without harming yourself, loved ones, and nature. The possibilities are endless with basic elements from the Earth. This past holiday season, I created a body scrub, sold it to friends, and they loved it!

Who or what inspires you?

This is a tough one. Anyone with heart, soul, truth, and wisdom. There are too many. To name a few, Einstein, Gary Yourofsky, Freelee the Banana Girl, Durian Rider, George Oshawa, Max Gerson, Neal Barnard M.D., Jennifer Cornbleet, Alicia Silverstone, Ellen Fisher, Amy from Fragrant Vanilla Cake, Angela from Oh She Glows, Ricki Heller, Amanda Bradley, Eduardo Longoria, Lauray MacElhern, Ella Woodward, Gordon Saxe M.D., Jean Richarson, Rachel Hosler, and all the beautiful vegans I follow on Instagram!!

A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?

Number one is my tea kettle. My food processor and blender score second. But my pure basic essentials would be my chef’s knife, paring knife, and bamboo cutting boards.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

What is your favorite meal?

Hands-down, brunch, because you can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes all at the same time!

Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.

In this moment, I would say, Oshawa Ume Plum Vinegar, Oshawa Tamari, Japanese Mirin, and Ginger.

Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?

Macrobiotic Guidebook for Living, The Kind Diet, Skinny Bitch, Rawvolution, The China Study, 801010, Wheat Belly,

Vegucated, OMG GMOs, Origins, Earthlings, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, The Gerson Effect, Forks Over Knives, Super Size Me, Food Inc., Black Fish, The Cove.

Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?

Perseverance is key. Seek others that model what you desire. Stay open, be humble, don’t be afraid to ask questions and for support. Change is always uncomfortable, but the long-term results are limitless, bountiful, and inspiring.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Favorite quote.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Three words to describe you.

I had to ask this question for a school project. One of them said, “Amazing, hard-working, courageous.”

Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.

Facebook: Vegan Healing Chef

Instagram: @vegan.healing.chef

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Laura of @vegan.healing.chef

Thank you, Laura for sharing with us!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Anna of @abundantlifevegan

Happy Friday, everyone! Today we’re talking with the beautiful Anna of @abundantlifevegan. Like all of the people I’ve interviewed as of yet, I was drawn to Anna’s positive energy and healthy lifestyle. She’s also incredibly compassionate, genuine and, of course, inspiring!

INTERVIEW WITH ANNA…

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Anna of @abundantlifevegan

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi, I am Anna Cordova. I live in Durham, NC. I work full-time in Community Mental Health. I am the Program Coordinator for Intensive in Home Services (for children and adolescents) at B & D Behavioral Health. When not at work, my passions are yoga, working out, and of course cooking. I admit to being a bit of a fitness fanatic! I run, cycle, and lift weights in addition to practicing/ teaching yoga.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Anna of @abundantlifevegan

When did you go vegan? What was your “Aha” moment?

I went vegan in 2012. I was influenced first by seeing movies like Forks Over Knives and Fat, Sick, and nearly Dead. Then I read Will Tuttle’s book, The World Peace Diet—and I knew that going vegan was about so much more than health. It was about compassion, connection, awareness, kindness and making the world a more peaceful place, one daily choice at a time.

What is the hardest part about being vegan?

Honestly, the hardest part is explaining to people that I am not “silently judging” them if they’re not vegan. I don’t want people to think I “disapprove” if they eat cheese pizza. I figure they just haven’t made the connection yet, and I know I was there too—just a few short years ago. I think the vegan movement needs more compassion, less judgment.

What does natural health mean to you?

Looking to be holistically healthy, mind, body and spirit, and relying on natural (non chemical) means of healing as much as possible. For me “natural health” implies that you are seeking a balanced lifestyle, and that can mean many different things to different people!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Anna of @abundantlifevegan

Tell us about your blog!

I have been so lazy about my blog lately! But it includes vegan recipes, creative inspiration, personal stories about frugality, spirituality, and creativity and mental health.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Anna of @abundantlifevegan

Rainbow chard, green & purple kale sautéed with red onion, garlic and tempeh – served over black bean pasta with a splash of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.

What is your favorite cruelty-free product and why?

I actually make a lot of my own products using essential oils. For example, I wash my face with a mix of jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, and orange essential oil. I clean my counters with water, lemon juice, vinegar and tea tree oil. I have fun mixing up new concoctions! Although I admit to using Method Brand to clean out the toilet bowl….

Who or what inspires you?

My vegan heroes are Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Lindsay Nixon, and Will Tuttle. I also love Angela Liddon’s blog (of course, who doesn’t??) I am also involved in a small microsanctuary, called Triangle Chance for All. (http://trianglechanceforall.org/) The founders, Justin and Rosemary Van Kleeck, along with board member Linda Nelson are amazing examples of living a cruelty free life to the fullest extent. My husband and I sponsor one of their rescued chickens. It feels good to be a small part of something I believe in!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Anna of @abundantlifevegan

The beautiful rescued hen, Annabell.

A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?

My vitamix. I love it and it was so worth the money!

What is your favorite meal?

Tough question!!! Probably Middle Eastern food—falafel, stuffed grape leaves, hummus and veggies.

Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.

Sweet potatoes, kale, peanut butter.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Anna of @abundantlifevegan

Homemade gluten-free vegan peanut butter cups!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Anna of @abundantlifevegan

Anna is currently a recipe tester for Allyson Kramer’s upcoming cookbook and while she’s unable to share the exact recipe, here we have Mac and Collards with queso sauce. YUM!

Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?

Ohsheglows.com (Angela Liddon), Happy Herbivore (Lindsay S. Nixon), Kris Carr are my favorite resources for recipes and cookbooks. Cowspiracy and Earthlings are the most inspiring documentaries. For nutrition, I recommend reading Vegan for Her: The Woman’s Guide to Being Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet by Virginia Messina. Life changing!

Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?

Gradual is good! Focus on progress, not perfection.

Favorite quote.

“May our daily choices be a reflection of our deepest values, and may we use our voices to speak for those who need us most, those who have no voice, those who have no choice.” –Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Anna of @abundantlifevegan

Three words to describe you.

Cheerful, Determined, Passionate.

Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.

IG: http://instagram.com/abundantlifevegan/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/anna.m.cordova.9

Blog: https://abundantlifevegan.wordpress.com/

Thank you, Anna for sharing with us! It was fun to get to know a bit more about a fellow introvert!

Thanks for stopping by!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Roshi of @roshibrian

Happy Friday, everyone!!! Today we’re talking with the incredibly kind and beautiful Roshi of @roshibrian. I found Roshi on Instagram through some mutual “friends” and was drawn to her encouraging comments that she scattered throughout the network. Scrolling over her page, I was immediately attracted to all of the colorful photos and energy she radiated. It would be silly NOT to hit the FOLLOW button! I love how she takes a recipe and puts her own twist on it or recreates an otherwise non-vegan dish and makes it legit – I often times find myself thinking, “why didn’t I think of that?” I was also drawn to Roshi because she is Indonesian – her posts remind me of family and it makes me smile any time she makes an Indonesian dish that I’ve tried. I may not have ever met Roshi in person, but she feels like family.

INTERVIEW WITH ROSHI…

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Roshi of @roshibrian

Tell us a little bit about yourself! 

My name is Poppy Roshiana but everybody calls me Roshi instead of Poppy because Poppy it seems to be an unusual name for a woman in this country. My schoolmates used to call me Hana and some of my family calls me Irma. I am from Indonesia which is a big Tempeh and Sumatra Coffee Country, with 26 islands and 26 different languages but Indonesian is our national language. 

I always like to read, when I am reading I forget about everything around me. Wherever I go I always carry a book with me.

I enjoy yoga, running …….short distances for now and I am trying to get better. I also enjoy cooking which has become a passion for me right now. I am always experimenting to try to make my recipes better.

When did you go vegan? 

You can say I am a baby Vegan, next month will be my first year of being vegan and I love it. Being from a seaside country I was kind of Pescatarian growing up. 

What was your “Aha” moment?

I was talking with my mom, and she reminded me to live a healthy lifestyle and to eat more fruits and vegetables. My mom was a meat eater and a lover of junk food. We had a conversation about it and she told me not to follow in her footsteps and it was a wakeup call to me. About a month after our conversation my mom passed away due to complications from an illness which could have been prevented had she been on a more healthy diet.

What is the hardest part about being vegan? 

I am a big fan of seafood and I’m not going to lie, it’s been really hard from the beginning of my journey to avoid it.

What does natural health mean to you?

I’d rather spend my money and time to buy healthy produce, natural remedies and learning to cook healthier rather than to buy medicine or go to the doctor.

I feel it’s important to nourish your body from the inside.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Roshi of @roshibrian  

What is your favorite cruelty-free product and why? 

I am in love with Mrs. Mayers products.

They are non- toxic, plant-based products, eco and vegan friendly.

Who or what inspires you?

My IG families. You, plantstrongmom, Eve, Leslieconn, cannedtime, whollyvegan, astigvegan, rose petalz, and many others. Also my boyfriend and although he is omni he supports my vegan journey.

A kitchen gadget you cannot live without?

I absolutely love my Vitamix blender. 

What is your favorite meal?

My favorite meal, especially on a cold day, is a large bowl of Tofu Pho.

Three of your favorite cooking ingredients.

My favorite cooking ingredients are Tempeh, ginger and lemongrass.

Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle?

Any cookbook relative to vegan cooking. I often have 20 – 30 books checked out from the library.

Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?

Begin by replacing one to three days of your week’s meals to vegetarian or vegan options.

Favorite quote.

Use the lemons life gives you to make some awesome lemonade! 

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Roshi of @roshibrian

Three words to describe you.

Friendly, talkative and funny.

Where can we find you via social media? IG, FB, blog address, etc.

IG and FB roshibrian 

Thank you so much, Roshi, for sharing a little bit about yourself! I’m so happy that we connected!

Thanks for stopping by!

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Sarah of @sarahmclaughlin

Happy Friday, everyone!! Today we’re talking with one of the most compassionate human beings I’ve encountered – Her love for animals and people is truly genuine. I was drawn to Sarah’s Instagram account because it is a beautiful mix of personal, nature, food and animals. You really get a sense about who she is and what she stands for. She’s raising awareness about animal rights by being their voice and also showing people that a plant-based lifestyle is easier than you think.

INTERVIEW WITH SARAH…

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Sarah of @sarahmclaughlin

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Sarah McLaughlin, I’m 20 years old and I’m a 3rd year Modern Literature student at the University of California Santa Cruz. I’m a copy editor for my campus newspaper, City on a Hill Press, and I’m hoping to pursue a career in Journalism or Publishing. I’m really interested in environmental and social justice issues and nutrition. I’m hoping my future will allow me to combine those interests into a career path. I love to hike, cook/bake, read, and spend time with my family. I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd and my guilty pleasure is binge watching shows on Netflix. Other than my human family, I share my life with four cats, a dog, and four rats.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Sarah of @sarahmclaughlin

When did you go vegan? What was your ‘aha’ moment?
I wish I had an “aha” moment where I suddenly went vegan, but for me it was more of a transition. When I was a sophomore in high school I watched the documentary “The Cove” about the dolphin killings in Japan. I was horrified and couldn’t believe the atrocities that went on. A few days later I came across an image online that said “just a little reminder that you can’t get angry at other cultures for eating animals like dogs, cats, guinea pigs, or dolphins when you do the exact same thing but with cows, pigs, chickens, and fish.” At that moment I made the connection to the animals on my plate and I stopped eating meat. I was vegetarian for 4 years, before I learned the truth about the dairy and egg industry and phased those products out of my life. It was more about living my truth and realizing that to speak of injustice and cruelty, but continue to contribute to it was hypocritical. Peace begins on my plate.
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Sarah of @sarahmclaughlin
What is the hardest part about being vegan?
The hardest part about being vegan is definitely NOT the food. Haha. I get a lot of comments about depriving myself, but I’ve never eaten a more diverse array of foods and flavors. The hardest part for me would be sitting down at the table with people I love and watching them eat animal products without a care. I know how they got there and the suffering involved and though I stay quiet it’s hard to deal with constantly. It’s also hard to deal with people laughing and making jokes in the face of immense suffering and death. It’s not a joke, and people would be horrified if it was happening to their companion animals or their family. So that would be the hardest part for me.
What does natural health mean to you?

Natural health means to me eating from the earth, as organically as possible. We live in a world where the soil has been ravaged of its nutrients, the water and air polluted; so it can be immensely difficult to ensure that I am doing all I can to treat my body well. I listen to my body and recognize what food it responds well to. It also extends beyond food though. Cosmetics and cleaning products, basically anything we expose our skin to can have negative effects. So I make sure that I avoid synthetic chemicals, fragrances and dyes. Balancing all of this with my state of mind is also important. It does no good for me to allow myself to become stressed and overwhelmed in my pursuit of natural health. So in all I believe maintaining a strong connection to our body and our environment is what natural health means to me.

FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Sarah of @sarahmclaughlin

Tell us about your blog!!
My blog is relatively new and progressing. It’s hard for me to post often because of school obligations. When I’m constantly writing and reading for school I don’t always feel like writing more, but I’m committed to regular posts in the future. My blog focuses on recipes, ethical veganism, and animal rights issues. It’s also a place for me to explore my feelings and deal with my pursuit for body acceptance. t’s also a place for me to connect with fellow vegans or those who are curious about veganism.
What is your favorite cruelty-free product?
Favorite Cruelty Free Product….Hmm. There are several, but I love Hurraw lip balm. I have about 5-6 tubes always rotating between my dorm and my backpack.  They use organic, raw, fair trade products and some in a wide array of flavors. My personal favorite in the red tinted black cherry lip balm. I’m not a huge makeup person, but a good lip balm is a necessity.
Who or what inspires you?
My parents are a huge inspiration for me, because their dedication to their work and community is so inspiring. My mom is a high school Biology teacher and one of the strongest people I know. She speeds so much time making sure her students get the best education they possibly can within a faulty school system. My dad spends so many of his off-work hours volunteering and co-chairing our local high school’s Booster Club.
Other than my parents one of my favorite environmental activists is Julia Butterfly Hill. Julia Butterfly Hill lived in a 180 ft tall, roughly 1500 year old California Redwood tree for 738 days between December 10, 1997 and December 18, 1999. Hill lived in the tree, affectionately known as “Luna,” to prevent Pacific Lumber Company loggers from cutting it down. I was always inspired by her dedication and perseverance in face of such an ultimate lack of respect for our Earth.
 FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Sarah of @sarahmclaughlin
A kitchen gadget you can’t live without…
My blender! I use it every day and it’s not unusual to use it twice a day. At home I have a Vitamix which is amazing, at school I have my Ninja blender which is also good. The Vitamix I use for everything from smoothies, hummus, soups, salad dressings, and nut butters. It’s a staple.
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal. That’s a tough one! It’s to hard to pick a home cooked one, so my favorite meal I’ve had at a restaurant is at Plum Cafe in Sacramento, CA. I had a sweet potato panini with avocado which was just absolutely fantastic. Sweet baked potato on ciabbatta bread with creamy avocado, and garlic aioli. Who said vegan food sucks again?
Three of your favorite cooking ingredients…
Chickpeas first and foremost, because hummus! I also love them roasted for a snack, or in curries, or in salads, or even in soups. They’re very versatile. Second would be basil, because I’m so hooked on the oil free pesto from Isa Does It’s cookbook. It’s also great added to smoothies for a fresh taste, and in salads, or sandwiches. And third maybe garlic? I use it in almost everything. I love it on roasted veggies, in stir fries, soups, curries, pizzas, pasta. It’s my most used cooking ingredient for sure.
Favorite resources regarding a plant-based lifestyle…

My favorite resources are the Oh She Glows cookbook and Isa Does It cookbook. Not only do I love them, but my parents cook out of their copies all the time! Anything that gets non-vegans loving vegan food is a winner in my book. I also loved reading Michael Pollen’s book, Cooked. It’s not exactly vegan, but it talks extensively about our culture’s movement from home cooked, slow grown food to fast food and convenience foods. It’s an interesting read for anyone interested in the benefits of home cooked meals. Documentaries are huge for me and I love Food Inc., Vegucated, and Cowspiracy. I cannot stress enough how great Cowspiracy is for anyone interested in environmental issues.

Any tips or words of advice to anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle?

Do not let people’s comments and judgements affect you. I know that if I did it would be hard to be happy with my choices. Your reasons for going vegan are valid and your decision is making a difference. Every day our choices influence our environment and affect others and we can choose to have a positive or a negative affect.
Another key thing for me is to be careful to not surround myself with too much negativity. I do care about animal rights, which I think many vegans do, but there’s only so much suffering and pain I can expose myself to. If I’m constantly sad with the state of the world I can’t make much positive change. So, just concentrate on all the good happening and the awareness being raised and try to raise some of your own.
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Sarah of @sarahmclaughlin
Favorite quote…
My favorite quote since the age of 3 is from The Lorax by Dr. Suess “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Three words to describe YOU…
Tender-hearted determined bookworm. Haha.
FRIDAY FEATURE: Interview with Sarah of @sarahmclaughlin
Where can we find you via social media?
My instagram is @sarahmclaughlin. I post a lot on there and love interacting with people so feel free to connect with me! My blog is https://samclaugblog.wordpress.com I also have a Tumblr blog where I post a lot about social justice issues, veganism, and feminism. (plus cute animal pictures) http://gimmicksandglimmers.tumblr.com
Thank you so much, Sarah!! You truly are a beautiful human being – inside & out…and wise beyond your years.
Thanks for stopping by!