The Traveling Jain: An Icelandic Adventure


Iceland is truly out of this world. I am pretty confident there is no other place on this planet like it. Known as ‘the land of fire and ice’, Iceland’s landscape and environment is incredibly enchanting.

From volcanoes to glaciers, bubbling sulfur pits to geysers, pillow moss to reflective fjords, cute puffins to fuzzy Icelandic horses, black sand beaches to green fields…Iceland is a destination for the adventure seeker and lover of the unexpected.

After graduating from Pepperdine University in 2014, my best friend Haley and I embarked on a post-grad trip to Iceland and Norway. Little did we know what was in store for us. We booked our flights and a car…and that is about all the planning we did!

As the adventurous souls we are, we decided that we wanted to see the entire country in 7 days. So we embarked on the Ring Road, driving the entire perimeter of the country! We completely unplugged ourselves from our worlds, traveling without any GPS, internet, cell phones, or itineraries. And that was probably one of the best decisions we made. Our ‘unpreparedness’ threw out any sort of expectations, and we traveled with an open heart, and wide open eyes. To say we were blown away is really an understatement.


After months of dreaming of our epic road trip, we arrived at the Keflavik International Airport. We flew via Iceland Air, which I highly recommend! The airline allows free stopovers in Iceland for up to 7 days, so we actually booked our flight to Oslo with a layover in Iceland. From the airport, we took a bus to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. After a couple local buses, we picked up our Happy Camper Van!

Cozy and loaded with the necessities, we were set to hit the road. The Happy Camper Van included a gas stove, cooler, sink, pots/pans, and dining and flatware. This made cooking and eating Jain so much easier! Equipped with a sofa-bed, storage space, solar panels, and heating system, it was completely eco-friendly and gave us the flexibility to camp out wherever we liked. That’s right- as long as you are not on private property or ecological reserves, you can park and camp anywhere you’d like!

Cooking in our Happy Camper!

If you decide to road trip, I highly suggest making pit stops at grocery stores as you see them. They are easy to find when you’re in the larger towns, but not so easy to come by once you’re in the wilderness so to say🙂 As you drive through small towns, make your pit stop for groceries and gas!

Easy to prep meals are key for camping/road trips. For breakfast, I’d suggest chia pudding parfaits using Icelandic yogurt, Skyr, some warm oatmeal, and granola. Lunch time calls for quick sandwiches or wraps. For dinner, you could make some pasta, hearty soups, sautéed veggies with quinoa, or even Indian food from Rasoi Magic No Onion-No Garlic masala packets! Definitely pack some staples with you from home, like dried spices, superfoods, protein powder, and energy bars. Maybe even brew some hot tea to sip on while you stare out at the glacier lagoon!


Since we were traveling in May, summertime in Iceland, we never encountered “nighttime”. Instead, we had almost 20 hours of daylight! Of course, this makes choviar (Jain practice of not eating between sunset and sunrise) so easy!😛 To my surprise, there are hardly any bugs in Iceland. Guess that makes camping slightly more glamorous for those with insectophobia!

As I mentioned earlier, we didn’t travel with an itinerary or idea of sites to see. We wanted a raw experience, avoiding the tourist track. We started by walking around the captial, Reyjkavik. Although this is one of the largest cities in Iceland, it’s quite small. A couple days in Reyjkavik is plenty. It is a quirky city–filled with some amazing art, museum, and culture. We felt very safe in this city, and even couch surfed with a local Icelandic friend. If you prefer to stay in a hostel/hotel, I’d suggest Kex Hostel!

After exploring a bit of Reykjavik, we started our journey with the Golden Circle. If you are only in Iceland for a short amount of time, this is a great route to see some fantastic natural landscapes of Iceland. Some key stops include Þingvellir National Park, Strokkur Geyser, and the Gullfoss waterfall.

From the Golden Circle, we embarked to Southern Iceland along Highway 1 (the Ring Road). This was by far my favorite area of Iceland. Vík is a coastal village in the center of the southern coast, with spectacular black sand beaches, rock formations, a glacier lagoon, remnants of a crashed DC 3 plane, farms, and Icelandic horses!

We decided to camp out that night at the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. This is where chunks of the Jökulsárlón glacier are breaking off and floating into the ocean! The soft blue haze and crackling of breaking glaciers made for a relaxing and beautiful end to our first day on the Ring Road.


As we continued up the eastern coast, we encountered grazing wild reindeer!




And then, a beautiful herd of Icelandic horses! Obviously we had to pull over.



Of course, Haley couldn’t resist and had to get on an Icelandic horse…while I nervously hoped they wouldn’t take off with her! But seriously, what beautiful animals. They were so calm, hairy, and curious!

The southeastern coast was quite remote, but still, absolutely breathtaking!



As we continued north, we encountered some crazy weather changes. All of a sudden, we ended up in the middle of thick fog and snow!



As we continued into the northern region, we encountered the geothermal fields of Námafjall. We honestly felt like we arrived on Mars; we were surrounded by solfataras, boiling mud pots, sulfur crystals, colorful soil! The area was really smelly due to the sulfur, but you get used to it.

We continued up the eastern coast, enjoying more of the magical landscape of Iceland. Produce was difficult to come by in the northern region, we were glad we loaded up earlier.

Our next stop was Hraunfossar in western Iceland. This is a series of waterfalls pouring out of the lava rock into the Hvítá river. The area of Hallmundarhraun is a lava field created by the eruption of volcanoes underneath the Langjökull glacier.







As our incredible road trip was coming to an end, we knew we had to have one last adventure. In search of the Langjökull glacier caves, we ended up lost, “off-roading” in our camper van. We found the road that goes to the caves, but unfortunately it was snowed out! So instead, we just drove around in..the middle of nowhere.

Those teeny wheels were definetly not made for slush! We decided to stretch out from all that driving and do some yoga too🙂

As we headed south on the western coast, we passed the Western Fjords. If only we had enough time to see that area as well! The Western Fjords are beautiful and require an entire trip on its’ own!

While driving, we encountered the coolest little “self-service” market. There were crates of veggies, herbs, and fruit. No employees, just a small cash box at the door to leave your payment. The little market ran on honesty–how cool!


We ended our trip by visiting some more remote waterfalls and local farm about an hour outside of Reykjavik. It was baby animal season so we got to encounter so many cute newborns!




We then returned to Reykjavik to explore the city some more. We couldn’t leave Iceland without going to a cross fit class at Cross Fit Reykjavik, where Annie Thorisdottir trains! Unfortunately, we didn’t run into her, but nonetheless had an awesome workout. We later attended a small concert at Kex Hostel and a ‘cultures of the world’ parade.

We found a local Icelandic bakery and picked up some fresh cheese and olive oil to snack on.


As our Iceland adventure concluded, we flew off to Norway for the rest of our post-grad trip. I honestly can say that Iceland is my favorite country that I’ve traveled to. It is an incredibly unique destination that anyone can enjoy–families, friends, couples, or solo!

P.S. You might develop a Skyr addiction. Unfortunately, Skyr isn’t allowed through airport security😦


Tips for traveling in Iceland:

  1. Don’t be afraid of not having a detailed itinerary! If there is one place to be adventurous, it is Iceland. There is so much to see, and not many tourists, so you can take complete advantage of being present with nature.
  2. If you are doing the Ring Road trip, pick up produce/groceries whenever you see a supermarket; they are hard to come by once you’re in the more remote areas of the country.
  3. If you don’t mind missing the comforts of a hotel, go for the camper van! It is the best way to see Iceland, and allows you the flexibility park and camp whenever, wherever! You might need to figure out the showering situation though😉 (We were showering in bathroom sinks essentially…but hey, that is camping! Luckily public restrooms in Iceland are very, very clean)
  4. Essentials to pack: warm sleeping bag, hiking boots, road map, journal, tripod, and a really good camera/videocamera–landscape lenses are essential!
  5. Don’t skip all the “touristy” things; we were bummed we missed the Blue Lagoon! We were short on time but it would have been nice, especially after the long drive. Definitely take a dip in natural hot springs you come across. There are a few around Vík.
  6. Iceland (and the rest of Scandinavia) can be very expensive. Be prepared and know your budget ahead of time.
  7. Don’t worry about not knowing Icelandic. Most people do speak English. The only tricky part was reading out road names from the map–by the time I could try to sound it out, the turn had passed…haha.
  8. Just go. You won’t ever regret it!

What is Jainism?


Jainism is one of the world’s oldest religions, and simply stated- a way of life; the Jain faith is set apart by belief in and adherence to principles of non-violence (ahimsa), non-absolutism (anekantvaad), and detachment/non-possessiveneness (aparigrah).

Ahimsa extends to every form of life and refers to the abolition of violent thoughts, speech, and actions; this principle encourages universal friendship (maitri), benevolence (pramod), compassion (karuna), and forgiveness (kshama). Vegetarianism is a fundamental tenet of Jainism, based on the ideology that every living being in existence possesses an eternal soul; the preparation and consumption of a Jain diet involves minimizing violence, accepting only what is indispensable for human survival.
Mahatma Gandhi was a large proponent for the practice of Ahimsa.
Anekantvaad refers to the multiplicity of viewpoints; to understand the complete truth, every individual’s perspective and aspect of a given situation must be considered; this principle encourages tolerance, harmony and peaceful coexistence.
The story of the blind men and the elephant is a perfect example of Anekantvaad.
Aparigrah refers to detachment from worldly possessions, along with the overcoming of inner vices that contribute to uncontrolled desires; this principle promotes selflessness, generosity, and philanthropy. Jains believe that attachment and delusion (moh) is the leading cause of harmful elements that inhibit spiritual advancement.
Jain monks take a vow of aparigrah, renouncing their worldly possessions and living with only the bare necessities. Followers of Jainism may practice aparigrah by trying to limit their possessions and attachment to worldliness as much as possible for each individual.
 Jainism outlines a path of purification and self-realization; by acquiring the correct knowledge (samyak gyaan), insight/faith (samyak darshan), and conduct (samyak charitra), one progresses to achieve a supreme state of spiritual well-being and perfection.
Mount Girnar in Gujarat, India is a  holy pilgrimage site for Jains. Interesting coincidence: turn your head 90 degrees to the right and look at the picture–doesn’t it look like the facial profile of a Thirthankara?!

Mediterranean Bowl with Roasted Red Pepper Chutney

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Oh, this bowl is HEAVENLY.

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Just close your eyes and imagine taking a bite into the cool cucumbers, tangy olives, smooth avocado, sweet cherry tomatoes, chewy couscous, herbed zucchini, crisp pita triangles, and roasted spicy opo squash. This bowl makes for an eclectic array of textures, flavors, and colors.

But the most magical ingredient of them all is the incredibly flavorful and nutty, roasted red pepper chutney. It impeccably ties all the ingredients together to create the ultimate tastebud experience. You could even use the chutney as a spread on toast, or as a dip for savory crackers and veggies.

Loaded with protein, healthy fats, complex carbs, and vitamins–could there be a more perfect way to eat a wholesome and delicious meal?

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This recipe makes enough for about 3 hearty bowls. I’ve broken up the ingredients and directions for each component of the bowl below. Feel free to add or substitute different types of salads or dips. Maybe try some pickled cabbage, labneh, dried fruit compote, or falafel? Mmmm.

Mediterranean Bowl with Roasted Red Pepper Chutney:

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Roasted Red Pepper Chutney:

Makes about 1.5 cups (plenty extra for munching on later!)

  •  1 jar roasted red peppers (12-14 oz), or roast your own (~2-3 peppers)
  • handful raw almonds
  • handful raw walnuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tbsp Zaatar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Toss all ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend until you achieve a textured smooth consistency.

Sautéed Herb Zucchini:

  • 1 tbsp dried or fresh basil
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • lemon juice (to taste)
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Heat oil on medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds to hot oil. Once it starts to crackle, add zucchini and toss to coat completely. Cook for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Add basil and lemon juice, toss to coat. Cook for 3-5 more minutes until tender.

Parsley Couscous:

Cook couscous according to directions on packet. Fluff with a fork and mix in parsley, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Serve about 1 cup cooked couscous in each bowl.

Minty Cucumber Salad:

  • 2-3 cups chopped Persian cucumber
  • small handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • salt, pepper, lemon juice (to taste)

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl.

Roasted Opo Squash:

  • Opo sqash (aka dudhi), peeled and sliced (3 slices per bowl)
  • olive oil
  • cayenne
  • black pepper

Line a baking sheet with foil. Place opo slices and drizzle olive oil. Sprinkle cayenne and black pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes at 350F.

Additional bowl ingredients:

  • 1/2 avocado sliced (per bowl)
  • olives (kalamata or green)
  • sliced cherry tomatoes
  • toasted pita bread
  • feta cheese (optional, skip if vegan)

Assemble all salads, couscous, roasted red pepper chutney, and additional bowl ingredients in a bowl, and it is ready to eat! For a warm bowl, keep cucumbers and avocado on the side and microwave to reheat the remaining ingredients.

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Try it out and share your results below! I’d love to hear about the creative bowl mix-ins you come up with🙂

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Mistletoe Chia Pudding Parfait

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It’s Christmas morning! What better way to start your day than with a Mistletoe Chia Pudding Parfait. A perfect detox from all the holiday party sugar and also a great snack for kids–especially the naughty ones (see throwback below).


Chia pudding makes for a fun, low calorie, filling breakfast or snack. It is packed with protein, fiber, anti-inflammatory omega 3s, and probiotics to keep you energized and boost digestion. Feeling bloated? It may even help decrease bloating and abdominal cramping.

This recipe is so easy and quick. You can even make it ahead of time and assemble the parfait when ready to eat. With the chia pudding, just mix together the ingredients and store it in the fridge!

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Mistletoe Chia Pudding Parfait

You can enjoy the chia pudding layer on its own, but I love assembling it parfait style. A must for any parfait is some toasty granola. Since many store bought granola contain honey or high fructose corn syrup, I opt to make my own homemade granola. It’s cheaper, healthier, and only takes 5-10 minutes!

Parfait layers make this recipe so versatile. You can customize it to your taste and what you’re in the mood for. Non-dairy or dairy yogurts are great for layering. Also try fresh fruit, fruit puree, apple sauce, nut butters, or pureed pumpkin–the options are endless!

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Ingredients and Instructions:

For the Chia Pudding:

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup nut milk of choice (I like to use almond or coconut milk)
  • 1-2 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
  • Optional Mix-ins (dates, chopped nuts, dried fruit, seeds, shredded coconut)
  1. Mix chia seeds, nut milk, and natural sweetener together in a small bowl or mason jar for a ready to go breakfast. Let it set in refrigerator for 4-5 hours or overnight.
  2. Remove it from the fridge, and add in optional mix-ins for some more crunch. Be sure that the chia pudding is nice and thick. The chia seeds will have hydrated into a gel like consistency.

Parfait Layers

  • Dairy or non-dairy yogurt of choice (I used So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk plain yogurt)
  • Fruit or pumpkin puree (optional)
  • Nut Butter (optional)
  • Berries or other fruit of choice
  • Mint leaves
  • Homemade granola (see below)

Stovetop Toasted Coconut Vegan Granola

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  • 1 cup thick rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1-2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Fresh ground sea salt
  • Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, clove)
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Optional Mix-ins: chia seeds, flax seeds, chopped nuts, dried fruit, dates

Note: The key to getting a golden-brown toast for this granola is keeping a close eye on the pan. Watch how quickly it is browning and stir almost continuously so it doesn’t burn. You’ll know it is ready when the oats are crunchy! This usually takes me about 5-10 minutes.

  1. Heat coconut oil in a large pan on medium-high flame. When hot, toss in oats. Quickly stir to evenly coat all oats.
  2. Turn heat down on medium. Once oats are coated and starting to brown, add in maple syrup. Immediately stir to evenly coat the oats and prevent burning the oats.
  3. Add sea salt, spices, and shredded coconut. Mix quickly so these ingredients stick to the oats.
  4. Add optional mix-ins if desired, turn heat on low. Once oats are golden brown and crunchy, they are ready!

Putting it all together:

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Assemble alternating chia seed and parfait layers as desired. Top with granola and garnish with mint leaves and berries. To give it a Christmas holiday look, I created a ‘mistletoe’ topping by stuffing blueberries into raspberries and adding mint leaves.

Enjoy immediately!

Winter Wellness


Wintertime sure is the season of sickness, whether you are in the snowy midwest or sunny California. The change in season sure accompanied by bugs and viruses, but the cold temperatures aren’t entirely to blame. The common cold rhinovirus is not caused by the cold. Rather, what we do when it gets cold is the cause.

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Chilly weather draws people indoors, building air is recycled, and viruses or bugs are circulated between people in close proximity–whether it is in the workplace, classroom, or gym. Essentially, we are all sneezing, sniffling, and coughing on each other through shared air or items.


Not to fear! While it may seem impossible to avoid, there are so many ways to naturally boost your immunity– or if you’ve already come down with something, to ease the symptoms while you recover. Although no one cure kills off all strains of cold viruses, your best bet is to incorporate immunity boosting preventative methods to decrease your susceptibility to the cold.

Let your body’s immune system serves as a front line defense against the nagging cold virus, or flu bug, try using these natural remedies to ease your symptoms. A pocket-full of Ricola sure isn’t the only way to suppress the sniffles, sneezes, and sore throats.

Home Remedies & Natural Relief:

Turmeric Tea: For sore throats, cough, mucous, and inflammation.

A natural expectorant and anti-inflammatory, turmeric has been used for hundreds of years as an Ayurvedic and home-remedy for a variety of illnesses and symptoms. It is common in ancient Chinese herbal medicine as well as in the Indian tradition, where it is used in curries, lentil soups, and this magical tea.

For first-timers, mind you that turmeric is very potent. It might make you gag at first but I advise you to take it in small portions like a shot. Alternatively, you can use a straw to avoid tasting it and just get it to line your throat mucosa! Remember you can rinse out your mouth after, but try not to drink anything for at least 30-45 minutes after to ensure the turmeric is coating your throat lining and doing its work. Drink the tea 2-3 times a day, or as needed for at least 3 days while symptoms are present. You can even drink this once a day just to boost your immunity!

Turmeric contains many anti-oxidants that help fight free radicals in your body–this is especially important after heavy exercise when lots of free radicals that have been released during metabolism are floating around in the body. It may also help with those who suffer from arthritic pain due to its anti-inflammatory qualities. Unlike anti-inflammatory drugs which can be toxic to your system when used continuously, turmeric is a natural and safe method of healing.

turmeric tea

  •  A mug full of hot water, milk, or milk substitute
  • 1-2 teaspoons of dried turmeric powder (more the better, as long as you can handle it!)
  • A pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger

Brew all ingredients together and dissolve. Drink it down while trying not to taste it!

Cold Buster Tea: Cold, cough, sneezes, and sniffles be gone!


This tea is a soothing and warming remedy for congested airways and related common cold symptoms. The key kicker here is the cayenne. The capsaicin in cayenne helps stimulate the circulatory system, regulates blood sugar, and aids with indigestion. By increasing your body temperature, cayenne also helps increase metabolism. It is better too drink cayenne tea rather than taking menthol cough drops. Cough drops actually dry out your throat and paralyze the cilia hairs in your throat and airways (which normally help kick mucous up and out of your throat).

  • Echinacea tea
  • 1 tsp dried ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried cayenne powder (if you have a really sensitive stomach, you may want to hold the cayenne, or only add a little bit; however, this is a key cold-busting ingredient capsaicin)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp agave nectar or stevia (to sweeten–skip if you have a lot of mucous, glucose rich ingredients can increase it)

Simply brew the tea and add in remaining ingredients. Stir and sip!

Essential steam: Chest, sinus, and nasal congestion relief


Aroma therapy is a great relaxation technique used in spas all the time. This treatment combines the relaxation with added natural ingredients to help relieve congestion so that you can finally breathe from your nose! Additionally, it helps hydrate dry skin and open up your pores for a smooth and beautiful complexion.

  • a large pot of water
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • a few drops of tea tree oil (optional) or you can add a small clump of Vicks balm
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • a few pods of cardamom or lavender sprigs
  • a clean towel

Place all ingredients (except the towel!) into the large pot of water and bring to boil while covered with a lid. Transfer pot to a dining table of comfortable height and remove lid. Drape towel over your head and over the pot as you lean in. Take slow deep breaths in and out through both your nose and mouth. Relax and enjoy the aromatherapy while these natural herbs and spices open up your passages.

Warm Chest Compression: Chest congestion and aches

This is a comforting remedy my mother used to do when we were children and were having trouble falling asleep. It is best done with help from a family member or loved one.


Crumple up a clean kitchen towel.Warm a skillet or pan on high heat. Hold the kitchen towel clump on the pan, to warm the towel–be careful not to make it too hot or it may burn/irritate the skin! Press onto the chest firmly for 10-15 seconds around and below the “V” of the collar bones and along the sternum.  Repeat as needed.

Immunity Boosters

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Water: Drink lots of water and stay hydrated during the dry season! Water is necessary for your cells to function and for energy. Depending on your size, drink an average of 8-10 glasses a day. Personally, I have found a miracle water bottle that has gotten me addicted to drinking water: the CamelBak Chute. Because the water pours out fast from the ergonomic spout, I drink a lot more water each time I take a sip. The 1-L size is perfect and the larger second opening makes it easy to refill.

Chocolate: Yes, chocolate–you read that right! Not only is chocolate a great mood booster, but raw cacao is high in antioxidants. So take a bite of heaven with ALOHA’s vegan chocolate bar that blends in some superfood greens!

Probiotics: Keep your gut bacteria healthy and strong by eating or drinking foods high in probiotics, like yogurt, kefir, or kombucha. This will keep your intestinal tract free of bad germs and help digestion.

High Fiber Foods: Oatmeal is a great way to start your day in the morning. Not only is it super filling, but it is high in beta-glucan fiber. This type of fiber has antioxidant properties that help boost immunity. Opt for natural rolled oats or steel cut oats rather than “instant Quaker packets” which add sugar and processed ingredients. Instead, top your oatmeal with bananas, berries, almond butter, chia seeds, nuts, dried fruit, cooked quinoa, and flax meal for optimal nutrition!

Antioxidants: Along with vitamins containing antioxidant properties described below, snack up on superfoods like acai, blueberries, and blackberries that are very high in antioxidants. My favorite thing to do is make acai bowls using Sambazon unsweetened acai puree. Alternatively, you can use acai powder. Blend puree or powder with more berries, banana, and a splash of nut/coconut milk. Pour into a bowl and top with more superfood ingredients (goji berries!) and fruit. You can also add some greens into your smoothie bowl with ALOHA Daily Greens–a vegan whole food powder!


Vitamin C: Kiwis, oranges, mango, papaya, pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberries, yellow/red bell peppers, kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, peas, and tomatoes are all very high in Vitamin C! Make sure you are meeting your daily dose of vitamin C through incorporating these ingredients into your meals.


Vitamin B6: This vitamin helps make antibody soldiers for your body to fight diseases. So make some hummus!!!! Garbanzo and chick peas are really high in Vitamin B6, so why not make a bowl of healthy hummus with some tahini? Skip the garlic in traditional recipes and opt for roasted red peppers, oregano, and zaatar for more flavor and nutrients.


Vitamin B12:  B12 is necessary for cellular energy and a healthy nervous system. Often, vegetarians and vegans may find themselves deficient in this vitamin. For those seeking a vegetarian/vegan friendly B12 supplement, try this. Use as directed. Those who consume dairy can obtain B12 from milk, yogurt, and vegetarian cheeses (animal rennet-free).

Vitamin D: Simply spending time outdoors will help you absorb Vitamin D from our glorious sunshine! However, during the winter, some areas don’t see as much sunshine. Vitamin D helps with cell and bone growth, immunity, and anti-inflammation. So along with that turmeric tea, get some Vitamin D from fortified whole grain cereals, milks (almond, soy, or cow’s milk), yogurts, or vegetarian cheeses.


Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is very important for immunity. Sunflower seeds are extremely high in vitamin E and can add a nice crunch to your salad. Other sources include almonds, spinach, avocado, peanuts, swiss chard, and mustard greens.

Lycopene: Also high in antioxidants, lycopene can be found in tomatoes. So whether it is salsa, sandwich, curry, pasta, pizza, or bruschetta–make sure you get enough of this red fruit!

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: These super healthy fatty acids are inflammation fighters and brain boosters. Add a spoon of chia seeds or flax meal to your smoothies, truffles, oatmeal, pancakes, or baking to get a dose of omega-3’s. Green veggies and nuts also contain omega-3’s.


Riboflavin (B2): Another great disease fighting anti-oxidant, riboflavin is found in vegetarian cheeses, almonds, sesame seeds, and spinach.

Zinc: Zinc plays a role in the immune system, especially with the cold virus. Legumes, grains, spinach, broccoli, kale, nuts, and seeds all contain zinc.


Exercise: Keeping your body active is essential for long term health. Diet alone will not be enough to keep your body healthy, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health and weight management. Choose the right exercise program for you, and stay active. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum 30 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity, 3 times/week for healthy adults. Examples of aerobic activity include running, Zumba, dance, jogging, cycling, swimming, hiking, and skiing. Cardiovascular adaptations take at least 3 months of this type of exercise routine to be noticed; so don’t be discouraged when starting an exercise program, your body takes time!


Lucky for us, California winters aren’t that bad–

sorry  “Snowmageddon” friends🙂


Asian Lettuce Wraps with Chili Peanut Sauce

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Cool and crisp–lettuce wraps are a fantastic way to get your daily serving of veggies and more! These healthy wraps are high in protein and totally vegan. They are so simple to make and are perfect as a lunch or appetizer item.

Ingredients you’ll need:

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Dice the following ingredients for the filling:

  • 3/4 cup purple cabbage
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 medium orange bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup water chestnuts
  • 1/2 cup bamboo shoots (optional)
  • 1 bulb of fennel (sliced like in the picture above)
  • 3/4 cup of baby corn
  • 2-3 stems of celery
  • handful of cilantro
  • handful of pea sprouts or bean sprouts
  • 1 block organic extra-firm tofu
  • organic coconut oil
  • Sambal Oelek Chili Paste
  • low sodium soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • rice vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

For the Chili Peanut Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons Sambal Oelek Chili Paste (NOT the Garlic Chili Paste–make sure you read this correctly!)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter
  • 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • lemon juice to taste

To Wrap:

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce (or butter lettuce), leaves separated and rinsed

Let’s cook:
Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a sauté pan on medium-high heat. Next, add your tougher veggies (fennel, celery, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, peanuts, and baby corn). Mix together and cook for about 5 minutes; then set aside.

Next, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil, a drizzle of sesame oil, and a spoon of rice vinegar in the pan. Then, pan-fry the tofu until golden brown and crispy on the edges. Add in purple cabbage, bell pepper, and bean/pea sprouts; cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add initial batch of tougher veggies back into the mixture for final seasoning. Squeeze in lemon juice. Drizzle soy sauce and sambal oelek chili paste to evenly coat and toss the mixture. Don’t forget to add a twist or two of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper. Sprinkle cilantro over the filling and transfer to a glass bowl.


Get saucy:
Microwave or use a small pot to heat the peanut butter, soy sauce, and sambal oelek chili paste. Whisk ingredients together with some lemon juice to form a smooth sauce. Add black pepper if desired.


It’s a wrap:
Take one lettuce leaf and scoop a generous portion of the filling in. Drizzle the sauce over the mixture, fold up the leaf, and munch on your savory creation!


Avocado Corn Salsa



Did you know avocados are a berry, not a vegetable? Here are some quick stats on the lovely fruit:

  • Avocados are high in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, unlike most fruits which are high in carbohydrates. They are low in saturated fats (unhealthy fat).
  • They contain more potassium than a banana! Potassium is essential for blood pressure regulation.
  • The are abundant in Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin E

A quick trick to know if your avocados are ripe: Gently peel off the stem and look for a bright green color like below. Then your avocado is ready to go!



  • 2-3 ripe avocados, diced
  • 2 diced medium roma tomatoes or 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • fresh green chilli, diced (for spicier version)
  • 1/2 cup black beans (optional, but adds a good source of protein!)
  • handful of cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (or to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 tsp paprika

How to make:


Simply toss all prepped ingredients into a bowl and mix! Add lemon juice, spices, and salt as you mix to your taste preference. Pair with some healthy chips–here I used some black bean chips I bought at Costco. Feel free to use this mix in tacos, quesadillas, or on tostadas too.


Have any leftovers? This salsa makes for a great pizza topping! Just spoon some onto a pizza crust, naan, or flatbread, add tomato sauce, and sprinkle on vegetarian or vegan cheese of choice. Top off with some oregano or Italian seasoning.