Thursday, November 29, 2012

Unprocessed by Chef AJ: Book Review & Giveaway!

We're all looking for help in some way or another.  Advice from a family member or a friend.  A film to allow us to escape.  A book to shed some light on a topic or provide valuable information.

We're always looking for a new tool to add to our personal toolbelt, a new skill for our repertoire, a new resource to make sure we have everything we need for our heads, hearts, bodies, and spirits.  

My most recent resource that I added into my life was Unprocessed: How to achieve vibrant health and your ideal weight by Chef AJ.  I've only known Chef AJ for a short time but have learned so much from her, in person and through her book.  She has really worked her way into becoming one of the premier plant-based/vegan chefs and is incredibly accessible with information and recipes.  Currently, in addition to her website, Chef AJ's Healthy Kitchen, where you can sign up for cooking classes, workshops/events, and more, you can find her teamed up with The Plant-Based Dietitian, Julieanna Hever, in the fun and tasty videocasts, "The Chef and the Dietitian," where you can follow the two making recipes from soups to salads to smoothies to dinners to desserts.  It's a big delicious video experience.

So I recently read Unprocessed, and what I love about it is that Chef AJ leads you, the reader, through simple, relatable, easy-to-understand steps to benefit your mindset and journey toward eating an unprocessed, or whole-food, plant-based diet.  Starting with her very own life story - which you'll have to read yourself! - Chef AJ takes us through what easily could be your life experience or your life experience or your life experience.  Let me tell you, I was surprised to find out a lot about what's happened in her life. AJ definitely had to overcome some major obstacles in order to discover her passion, optimal health, and happiness.  Though many challenges were thrown her way, she succeeded - and the value of plant-based eating was definitely at the core of it.

After Chef AJ connects with you, as an author, as a friend, she continues on as a guide, a teacher, and a coach, breaking through the initially-legitimate (but ultimately flimsy) excuses for not wanting to or "being unable" to eat plant-based and unprocessed.  Once you realize "She's right!" and begin to think "Well, what do I do now...?" she swoops in like a superhero(ine), providing all of the basic information on why eating an unprocessed, plant-based diet is best for you - and then helpful tips on how to make it work in your life or your life or your life.  Finally, AJ opens up the vault and you get to cash in on over 100 delicious nutrient-rich and gluten-free recipes!  

That Chipotle Corn Salsa sure looks Smokey!
(courtesy of Forks Over Knives)
Unprocessed is personal, informational, fun, and so helpful in relaying how unprocessed, plant-based eating is valuable for everyone - yes, even you and you and you.  And when you're done, you can jump right in and enjoy with simple recipes that will wow your taste buds and contribute to (and not against) your health.

Here are some favorites that I've tried or that have caught my eye and will most likely end up in my tummy sometime in the near future:

Mmm mmm soup.
(courtesy of Forks Over Knives)

That's only 8.  Which means there are over 92 more for you to enjoy. How to do that?  Well, get the book, of course!  And I'll give you a head start!  

We're giving away one signed copy of Unprocessed to the lucky raffle winner of this last giveaway of the year.  It's super simple - you may already be a pro at this - just go to the Rafflecopter widget below, sign up for free if you need to, and follow the easy directions. The more items you complete, the more raffle entries in your name, the better chance you have at winning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All the best and yummiest to you.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Help Me Get to Bimini!

Everyone goes through life-changing, awe-inspiring moments.  Maybe it's just a minute or maybe it's a week-long event.  Whatever it is, it's a chance to self-reflect, to dig deep within and explore your life path, your passions, and any "light bulbs" waiting to go off with a sign, a clue, a direction.

I first met Tania Marie, creator of Emerald Bridge, through a coincidental connection on LinkedIn. We immediately started up a dialogue as our energies seemed focused in the same direction.  As a Reiki Master Teacher and intuitive healer Tania works with others - through various practices - to explore, discover, and channel their passions in a compassionate, conscious, heart-based way.  (Learn more about Reiki & energy healing here.)

Tania is teaming up with an beautiful facility in the Bahamas, called the Atlantis Rejuvenation Center (ARC), to host a life-changing, awe-inspiring retreat, consisting of yoga, meditation, raw vegan cuisine, swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat, and getting certified in Reiki (plus more).  

When I found out about this retreat, I instantly felt connected to it - as it represented numerous passions of mine, a future endeavor I was learning about (Reiki certification), and a dream since I was a child (swimming with dolphins). However, life leads a certain way, and, as of this moment, I do not have the funds to make it to Bimini.  In the midst of everyday responsibilities and finances, plus handling the little (or big) pesky ones that pop up unexpectedly, I've been slowly saving up for this retreat in December.  

It's officially crunch time.  I now ask you, my wonderful family, friends, Ahimsa Lifers, for your help in making this life-changing, awe-inspiring experience a reality for me.  

I've put together a "Bimini Kickstarter," a fundraising opportunity where I can give back for everyone who helps contribute to this amazing happening, this life-changing experience. From this retreat, I will have a brand new skill/practice that I will be utilizing along with my coaching, all of which I can provide for your health & well-being.  

I have a less than ONE WEEK before the retreat (Dec. 16th-21st) and will be accepting contributions leading up until Friday, December 14th to reach my goal. The cost of the retreat comes out to $2005, which includes all accommodations and retreat activities/events, certification in Reiki I & II, FL-Bahamas round-trip charter, and departure tax (flights/transportation separate).  I'm a little more than halfway to my goal.  Please help!

Here is the contribution help link: 

Below are the different tiers of contribution for which you will receive a valuable service to thank you for your generosity: 
  1. $1 or more: A special thanks blog post & the best shout out ever on FB/Twitter*
  2. $10 or more: A special thanks + promotion (for your business, project, etc.) blog post & best shout out ever on FB/Twitter*
  3. $20 or more: A one-time coaching email. You send me a question, concern, something with which you're seeking guidance, I'll send you back feedback and action areas you can explore.
  4. $40 or more: Call to Action session - in person, by phone or Skype.  45 minute session where we can explore a specific area of your life to release blocks, seek new avenues, and take action OR 1 Reiki Session**
  5. $75 or more: Call to Action month (3 sessions) OR 2 Reiki sessions**
  6. $125 or more: Call to Action month and 2 Reiki sessions**
  7. $250 or more: 3 months of Ahimsa Life Coaching OR Call to Action and 5 Reiki sessions**
  8. $500 or more: 6 months of Ahimsa Life Coaching OR Call to Action and 12 Reiki sessions**
*Applies to all tiers of contribution (above)
**Reiki, like coaching, can be done in person or from a distance. 

Think of it as preemptively contributing to your own life, investing in valued services that will greatly benefit you.  Of course, your investment, your contribution, your help will greatly benefit me - and, for that, I express my deepest gratitude and look forward to reciprocating with the gift in the corresponding tier.

***I've added new gifts to collection.  If you're not specifically looking for coaching or Reiki services, I enjoy being creative and bringing out my silly side - hopefully you can have some fun with these!  Thinking of something else?  Let me know and we can customize a tier for your contribution.

  1. $10 or more: I will create a professional high-quality personalized birthday/holiday/greeting card for you to give to a friend, family member, or other someone in your life (maybe even for you!).  You provide me with some basic information & pictures (in pdf or jpeg form) you'd like to use, and I'll create a ready-made card for you to send (or I can send it out myself from you).
  2. $20 or more: I will create a personalized video poem or performance for a friend, family member, or other someone in your life (maybe even for you!).  You provide me with information, and I'll create a video to you liking (and laughing).
  3. $33 or more: I will write a personalized song and create a music video for you.  You send over a couple of items that you'd like in the video, any basic ideas for my creative jumping-off point, and I'll work my MTV magic.
  4. $50 or more: FOR LA (or nearby) RESIDENTS - I will cook a homemade meal for you at your place or mine, starting with a meeting to plan out a menu.  While you relax over a glass of wine or a beer or non-alcoholic beverage, I will make a delicious dinner for you, walking you through if you'd like to learn how to make it (or you can just sit back and enjoy).  You provide the food, I'll bring the drink.
  5. $75 or more: FOR LA (or nearby) RESIDENTS - I will host and/or emcee your poker night or game night, my place or yours.  I'll provide snacks, games, cards & poker chips, you bring the rest.  I'll play dealer the whole night, Rulemaster, or any other role you see fit for the event.
  6. $300 or more: I will shave my head, leaving a little bit of hair - spelling out your initials for a week.  Or the reverse, I'll have your initials shaved into a fuller/buzzed head of hair.

These new, fun gifts can be used in combination with the original 8.  For instance, for a mere $550 you can get 12 Reiki sessions plus get a walking billboard from my "your-initial" shaved head.  Or for $20, a special thanks, promotion of your business, event, project, and a high-quality personalized greeting card for an occasion of your choice.  Keep an eye out for new ones!

Thank you for helping me on my journey.

Please make sure you include your contact information so I can contact you about your gift. Because this is not an organization-based fundraiser (i.e. Kickstarter), contributions are direct and immediate.  I will send updates to all who contribute about the fundraiser's status.  If, by chance, contributions do not bring me to a total that will allow me to get to the Bimini Retreat, I will reimburse all donations within 72 hours of the official deadline (Dec. 9th).  Email me at for any further information.  

All the best and yummiest to you.  Thank you.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Live With Passion!

It's Tony Robbins' mantra, his tagline, his salutation in emails, on his website, in his audios and videos. He encourages you to not just live life but live a life full of passion, of drive, of meaning, of purpose, of motivation, of inspiration, of momentum.  He recommends you follow your dreams and lead the way there through direction and commitment.  I haven't listened to an audio or watched a video in the past few weeks, but I can still hear his raspy, powerful voice say: 
"Live... with... Passion!"

A little over a year ago, November 3rd-6th, 2011, to be exact, I attended Unleash the Power Within, one of the many premiere Tony Robbins events.  UPW consisted of four full 12+ hour days at the Los Angeles Convention Center in a large hall of 4000+ people.  Led by Tony and Joseph McClendon III, the four day immersion intends to: 

  • turn fear into power, allowing you to breakthrough limiting beliefs that have held you back in life, featured by a "Firewalk," where you walk over hot coals around 1000 degrees F (give or take a couple hundred degrees)
  • introduce you to practical psychology and the 6 Human Needs, teaching you what drives an individual to do (or not to do) something; 
  • rile up a deep sense of hunger, or drive, of willingness and want to success, achieve, and grow, and provide the forward-moving focus needed with a pumped-up community energy
  • connect mind, body, and spirit with practical action steps to thrive with vital health and fulfillment
  • introduce techniques for you to condition your mindset and produce/live an extraordinary life
Needless to say, it was a life-changing, empowering experience (that I highly recommend to you, should you have the opportunity to attend a UPW or other Tony Robbins event).  I left UPW with a strength, a focus, a direction that I never had (or trusted I had) before.  Since then,
  • I've created Ahimsa Life Coaching and developed it into a coaching business and online platform/community: working with multiple clients toward living healthier, happier, more passionate and compassionate lives; created a contest of meaning with LogoQuestions 2012, inviting Ahimsa Lifers to explore their lives through a daily meaningful question
  • I've attracted my way into becoming the Community Manager with Forks Over Knives, a powerful, acclaimed film of which I already was a great advocate, setting my work and passion into the same realm
  • I've connected with other professionals to create opportunities and appearances to share my insight, expertise, and passion and make myself more known
  • I've established a life where I dictate my time, living my days with the time freedom for which I had once yearned
  • I broke through my fear of getting involved in improv and started classes (and even performing!) at iO West
  • I've developed a more effective and active fitness routine/program, putting on muscle & weight at a greater pace; participated in a Gladiator Run, testing my physical and mental strength and ability
  • and more...
This event easily could have been a one-time happening, a flash in the pan.  However, beyond my love and faith in what Tony Robbins teaches, I knew I needed something to anchor me to moving forward, to sticking to my promise to unleash my power within and set forth in achieving my goals with passion.  The first day of the event I purchased a wrist band that reads Tony's mantra, tagline, saying, and salutation: "LIVE WITH PASSION."  I have worn this wristband every day for the past year (now a little over a year - 370 days to be exact; if you've seen me, then you can vouch it's true), and every day it's reminded me to... you know... 

And I have.  And I will continue to live with passion in my extraordinary life.

Do you LIVE WITH PASSION?  What do you feel prevents you from living a life of passion and how can you live your passions in a greater manner?  What will you do starting TODAY to ensure your life is more passionate in health, work, play, relationships, etc.?  Please share in the comments!

All the best and yummiest to you.

P.S. I've added a new wristband to keep my LIVE WITH PASSION wristband company.  It's a maxim I've promoted and lived for the past 3+ years.  Check it out:

P.P.S. Are you interested in Unleashing the Power Within yourSelf? Check out the Tony Robbins' website for more information on upcoming events (including UPW in Los Angeles, March 2013!) and valuable tools from which you can truly benefit!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy World Vegan Day!



I am vegan because I love life - for mySelf and for others.  I am vegan because I am an animal lover - a true animal lover - and believe that we, as humans, have no right to abuse, confine, torture, or kill animals at our own will for our own selfish, personal reasons.  I am vegan because I would never harm or eat any of the four cats that reside with me in my apartment, and, therefore, should extend the same to other animals.  I am vegan because animal foods are one of the, if not the greatest, leading cause of global warming, environment degradation, climate change due to the horrendous practices of factory farming and the animal food industry.  I am vegan because animal foods are one of the, if not the greatest, leading cause of today's deadliest diseases and chronic conditions, led by heart disease and cancer.  I am vegan because my eyes were opened to the horrors of the animal food, clothing, entertainment, and testing industries, and I no longer wanted to contribute to them.  I am vegan because I care about my health and my body and eating plant-based is the healthiest choice I can make for mySelf.  I am vegan because I care about other people.  I am vegan because I do not want to contribute to global hunger; I want to help prevent it.  I am vegan because I want to live a long life on this planet. I am vegan because I promote and live by the ideals of Ahimsa, compassion, kindness, responsibility, accountability, awareness, consciousness, prevention.  I am vegan because there are plenty of foods that are available for me to eat.  I am vegan because all of the tastes and textures of the foods I ate when growing up and of my early adulthood are available to me with the variety of delicious food options.  I am vegan because I want to help others become aware of healthier, more compassionate ways to eat and live.  I am vegan because no living beings deserve to die for another living beings' pleasure.  I am vegan because it totally aligns with my values and beliefs of doing the least amount of harm while living the fullest, most fulfilling life through my passions and dreams.  

I am vegan, and today I celebrate World Vegan Day.  Will you join me?

Why are you vegan?  What does being vegan mean to you?  Why is living vegan important for the world?

All the best and yummiest to you.