Health and Wellness Redefined

A lot has changed since my last blog post, which was too long ago!    Firstly, in May of this year I embarked on a year long study to become a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which is an online study but located in New York. You can read more about them here.  It is by far the smartest thing I’ve done this decade, and my whole life has already changed as a result of it. To realize you can pretty much solve any health issues through your diet, and to be surrounded by peers who are as passionate about health as you are, is so comforting and eye opening, and the experience so far has been a revelation and inspires me each and every day. I will surely blog more about my experience as an IIN student in the future.

Secondly, this month I mark my FIRST anniversary as a vegan! It’s amazing how time flies and I can’t imagine going back to my old diet. I first and foremost became vegan for the animals, but I am just thrilled to have realized how much healthier a vegan diet is, and how much broader my food repertoire has become as a result.  Being a chef, I am always experimenting with new recipes, and it’s so wonderful to know that everything can be veganized, and most of the time the result is even tastier than the regular animal based recipe. One issue I still have is with cheese – there is just no vegan cheese that can make up for the real thing, but knowing how unhealthy cheese is in general, and how greatly animals have to suffer for us to just get that moment of “satisfaction”, I have no problem living without this item.

For the month of September, my goal is to exclude gluten and alcohol in my diet.  I currently work as a wine buyer for a large retail store, so you can imagine the challenges in not drinking at all. I constantly get offered free samples and bottles to take home to taste, and there are events and dinners to be attended, so naturally, wine and cocktails are flowing everywhere.  The more I’ve cleaned up my diet, the more I can feel the affect of alcohol on my body. I get more sluggish and have less energy in the morning and as a result even after only a glass or two, and as a result I feel my workouts are not optimized.  Needless to add, the empty calories and added sugar in alcohol is something I could definitely eliminate or greatly reduce, even though I do enjoy my glass of wine and most likely won’t stop entirely, but this month I am going for no wine.  How extreme, right? 🙂 Wish me luck!

With regards to gluten, I don’t consume much of this to begin with, as I generally avoid bread and pasta in my diet.  Every so often I will indulge in this amazing olive bread that my local farmer market sells on the weekend, and although it is delicious, my body definitely is not happy afterwards and I tend to become bloated and feel uneasy. So… I am very excited to experiment living a whole month without gluten and alcohol… and if I feel great and see some noticeable results, I will just keep going!

To kick off my month of experimentation, I’m adding in a recipe for gluten free pancakes (and dairy free and eggless too of course) that I made this morning – inspired by  the blog Oh She Glows, one of my favorite vegan blogs!


1 cup ground up buckwheat

1/2 cup brown rice flour

2 tbsp arrowroot

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 cup almond milk

1/3 cup maple syrup

2 tsp organic vanilla extract

1 heaping cup diced banana

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients.  Pour in the almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract and mix until there are no more lumps in the batter.  Fold in the diced banana and let sit for about 10 minutes.

Heat up a griddle on medium high heat, add a dollop of vegan butter or spray with an organic spray.   Using a ladle, pour the batter on the griddle and bake away! Serve with additional maple syrup and your favorite sliced fruit (I used extra banana and fresh strawberries).  You won’t even miss “regular” pancakes!


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