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New travel blog and retreat update!

Hello friends! If you read my last post I was feeling pretty in the dumps last week. This week is totally different. Maybe it was hormonal? I don’t really know but I’m moving on and getting excited about my future travels.

You probably know I started a new travel business offering unique, affordable getaways in beautiful locations with special guest teachers. I also started blogging over at my new website, and I forgot how much I LOVE writing! Blogging has fallen to the waist side over the last few years, but when I’m passionate about something the words just flow.

Check out what’s going on over on my new blog here.

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Many put travel to the side because they are slammed with work, kids, projects, family, community, never realizing how important it is to take time for themselves. I truly believe that happiness develops from self-care, stopping to smell the roses, and giving yourself time away from your busy life. You deserve it! And you’ll be able to serve your family, community, and projects more effectively when you devote some time to recharge.

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Going on an organized retreat let’s you do just that. You don’t have to stress about where you are going to stay or how you are going to get your next healthy meal. No long hours are spent researching. You get to just show up and do the relaxing and recharging you need. And have fun! Maybe even make some lifetime friends.

Join me and Allison of Allison’s Gourmet in Bali this April. Save $200 if you put down your deposit by tomorrow. It’s now or never! I won’t have a retreat in Bali again (at least not for many many years!) so if you’ve always wanted to go to this magical place now is the time. I’ve done all the leg work and planning, all you have to do is make it happen on your end.

Trust that you deserve this. Say YES to YOU!

More details and to sign up: visit Blissed Out Retreats.

Posted on 01/21/2016 | Leave a Comment

Is it Mercury Retrograde or a deeper problem?

Trigger Warning: Body image

This week I felt amazing. My energy has been through the roof and my workouts strong. I tackled my massive to-do list like nobody’s business. I was able to stick my handstand for the longest yet. I experienced a new thing: Muay Thai kickboxing and ate at a ramen place that has the most delicious vegan ramen bowl ever. I was asked to come audition for a yoga teacher job at the gym. I had a cooking session with a 19 year old whose favorite food is pizza and got him to cook, eat, and love vegetables for the first time ever. I had a fun girl date and connected more deeply with a new friend.

Life is good.

So why am I feeling so much body hate? It’s not that time of the month. I went shopping and found myself gravitating toward clothing that hid my body like I used to do some 4 years ago before I got into fitness and bodybuilding. I looked at some old YouTube videos and couldn’t believe how incredibly fit I was just 2 years ago. A friend said to use that as inspiration but it just made me sad.

I wasn’t sure if I should post this blog and share my deepest thoughts with you. I don’t want to seem weak or like I don’t have my shit together. Then in yoga class today the teacher talked about how insignificant we feel a lot of the time, but we don’t realize the difference we make in people’s lives. I realized that I don’t have to be perfect to help people and make a difference. I’m human, with fears, and negative thoughts sometimes (though not often!!). So here I am opening up. They say it’s good to talk about things to release them.

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No matter what I do or eat my weight has stabilized at a pleasant, healthy place for at least a year now. Maybe this happens to most women in their late 30s? I have no feelings, either good or bad, toward what the scale says. I want to be able to perform, feel energetic and strong, not weigh a certain amount. Yet still when I look in the mirror I only focus on the parts I dislike.

One of the great things about last year is I stopped counting calories or exercising obsessively to reach a certain physique. So why is this body hate sneaking back into my head? I blame it on Mercury Retrograde. I blame it on all the bullshit “New Year, New You” propaganda all over the internet. I blame it on society, Hollywood and media for constantly telling me I’m not good enough, that I need to lose those last 5 pounds and have no wrinkles on my face. I blame it on all the social media stars that are 10+ years younger than me that I can’t compete with even if I tried. But it’s not about competition. I just want to feel happy in my own skin.

I’ve helped hundreds of women get strong, reach their health and fitness goals, and find love for their body. So why is it so difficult to practice what I preach? How do I build self-love for my body without changing it?

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The time when I was most fit, I was not happy in mind and spirit. I’m grateful for the journey because it opened me up to fitness and moving my body in cool ways. It blossomed a new facet of my career that allows me to help people even more deeply beyond what’s on their plate. But I don’t want to go through what I did before to look a certain way. I’m not willing to do the things that made me obsessive about food, had me choosing workouts over friends, preventing me from enjoying life more fully.

When I look back and compare what I look like now with the most fit I was (first photo above April 2014, second photo November 2015) there isn’t much difference. I can see more muscularity, leanness, etc but was it worth the suffering to only look a little better? With all that I know now can I find balance in my quest for good health without focusing on my outward appearance? What is it in me that wants to keep striving to be better and is that even necessary for my well-being?

These are the questions I’m asking myself this week. So I ask you can you be happy in your own skin and make choices that help your overall well-being without the intention to change your outward appearance? We know that what’s on the inside is what counts. There is no way to know how the inside is doing just by looking at the outside shell.

I wish I had some sort of magical glasses that allowed me to see on the outside how awesome I feel on the inside.

Because life is good. No matter what I look like on the outside.

(the beautiful photo of me in purple is by Melissa Schwartz and is part of an AMAZING project featuring vegan athletes and badass. Check it out here!)

Posted on 01/17/2016 | Leave a Comment

8 ways I rocked 2015 and faced my fears

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions but I felt a strong urge to set a mantra in 2015.

NO FEAR

I dedicated this year to taking risks, facing the things I feared most, while marking some things off a very long bucket list. I’ve noticed that a lot of people have been getting very personal on their blogs lately. Maybe some would say it’s “over-sharing”, but it seems that readers really like it. If you’ve read this blog for long you know I have no problem getting personal. I’m pretty transparent, not only about my views and opinions, but with my life. This year was a series of ups and downs. It’s ending off with a bang; I’m following my passion of traveling and teaching with a new travel business: Blissed Out Retreats. I even made it an LLC and feel so official. This year was full of profound introspection and getting deep into what I really want to do with the later part of my life. I guess your mid-30s does that to you haha.

Below are some of the highlights of the year of NO FEAR. I highly recommend this way of living. It can be a scary world out there, but living in fear is not a way to live. It can hold you back from doing all the amazing things you were meant to do. If you feel a connection with anything of these things tell me about it in the comments!

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1. I went to India
On my long list of places I’d like to visit, India is very near the bottom. I wanted to go before I die but the negative things I’ve heard scared me off. The extreme poverty, dirtiness, etc reminded me of what I didn’t like about Cambodia. But a few friends loved visiting India so it couldn’t be so bad.

When I started researching yoga teacher trainings, India came up many times. It turns out it was cheaper for me to fly to India and do the training then anywhere else in the world. With it being the birthplace of yoga and all that I thought why not. I had to get over the fear of being uncomfortable and dealing with a culture vastly different than my own.

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2. I became a yoga teacher
You can read about my training here and I’ll soon share the struggle that lead me to it but the gist of it is I had limiting beliefs that prevented me from becoming a yoga teacher. Even though I’m a natural educator and it’s my passion and mission to teach others I felt like I couldn’t be a yoga teacher because I can’t do the splits or other various difficult poses you see on Instagram yoga porn. I’ve practiced all kinds of yoga for over 17 years (though not regularly until this year!). Taking a lot of different classes with many types of teachers I realized that I don’t have to be perfect at every pose to be a teacher of yoga. Sharing my journey will help others who are also not the perfect yogi.

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3. I moved back home (that’s my childhood home behind me!)
My lease was up at the end of March in Austin. Rather than sign another lease I decided to move to Portland. But I needed time to save up money. On top of that I knew I’d be traveling so it didn’t make sense to move to Portland then pay rent for an empty room (or sign another lease in Austin). My dad welcomed me back and then I realized how he fell off the healthy eating path I set him on some 3 years ago. Moving back home gave me a chance to try one more time to help him make sustainable changes. So I sold most my things and moved back home. Living at home at 36 is not glamorous. But it’s allowing me to get out of debt, and devote time to that new businessSide note: Dad is doing pretty good! He’s eating better and exercising daily.

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4. I got my first tattoo
The pain is what I feared the most about getting a tattoo. Second, I didn’t know what I wanted to put on my body forever. It’s a big decision! After many months of brainstorming I came up with a design I knew I could live with: a lotus flower. I love how they bloom out of murky waters to shine brilliantly. The word “ahimsa” kept lurking in my mind; it meant so much to me. My life is dedicated to doing no harm to myself and all living creatures. And it’s the first Yama of yoga so often ignored. So my tattoo was born! And it was painful as hell! It’s located on my right side going up from my hip to my mid-ribs. My artist, Rianne at Golden Goat Tattoo, was amazing and quick. The whole process took about 25 minutes. I’m very happy with it.

5. I took a chance on love
It didn’t work out but at least I tried.

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6. I didn’t count calories
This year I switched from bodybuilding and CrossFit (and most intense activity) to yoga and cycling to help my ankle continue to recover. After doing a month long yoga challenge my ankle finally stopped causing me pain. I got centered with myself for the first time in years since I started bodybuilding. The obsessive nature I picked up fell away and I stopped counting calories. I stopped exercising obsessively. I started eating whatever I wanted (which is still pretty healthy imo) and didn’t count my macros. Intuitive eating became the name of the game again. And I don’t feel guilty about my food choices. It’s a wonderful place to be! I’m not as lean or muscular. I’m not going to lie, I sometimes miss that physique, but I can honestly say I haven’t felt this happy about my being in many years. As I inch closer to 40, and finally start seeing the signs of aging, this is a good place to be.

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7. I decide to move to Portland…then changed my mind to travel the world
This was a decision made in 2015 but when I decided to travel to India I pushed the move to spring 2016. When I decided I was done with Austin I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d want to live besides Portland. It’s my favorite vegan city in the country! Also my best friend lives there so it made sense. Then I got back from India and felt lost and disconnected. I pondered what my life would be like all settled down in Portland and it just didn’t feel right. I started looking at sites like Workaway and planning my next retreat. Why did I need to settle down? It just doesn’t suit me to have a traditional lifestyle! So I started Blissed Out Retreats. The whole thing came together very quickly so I knew I was on the right path. The plan is to be mostly out of the country in 2016, volunteering and teaching yoga all over the world. Details have been posted about our first retreat in April in bali and more info on retreats coming soon! Be sure to bookmark my new website.

8. I continued to not give two f*cks about what people think about me
I very much enjoy when people like me as a person, enjoy my classes, get benefits from my programs, want to spend time with me, etc. but when someone doesn’t like me I don’t take it personal or get all bent out of shape. I started not giving a f*ck a few years ago but have continued to put it into practice this year. This isn’t about lack of empathy, rather acknowledging that you can’t please everyone. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. Not caring what others think of you allows you to live more authentically, “live your truth”, and not be in constant fear of your actions and voice. It can save you stress, heartache, energy and brain space. Living this way has allowed me to strengthen important relationships and have more to give to important causes.

What ways did you rock 2015? Share your accomplishments in the comments below! Go ahead and brag! 

Posted on 12/21/2015 | 3 Comments

Travel log: Himalaya mountains and Trimurti Yoga Teacher Training

I know this post is long overdue! If you read my last travel log on Delhi we now continue through India to Dharamshala in the Himalayan mountains. As I left Delhi I had pretty much written off India. I was almost late for my flight because I was told domestic flights were at one Terminal when in fact Air India was in the International terminal. Delhi has a new subway line that goes straight to that terminal. To get to the domestic terminal you have to get off a stop earlier and take a bus (which you have to pay for). I did that and when I arrived at that terminal learned it wasn’t correct, so I had to take another bus to go to the correct terminal. I was doing all of this with my huge backpack so it wasn’t a fun time. Thankfully my flight was delayed so I didn’t miss it.

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I boarded the tiny plane to head to the mountains. I had no idea what to expect from the area, just knew it would be cooler and I would be in the sanctuary of my own room with vegan meals provided for me. I knew I was in for an intense 4 weeks schedule with 5 1/2 days a week of lectures and learning and 2 yoga classes a day with Trimurti Yoga. I would spend the next month immersed in yoga and with over 25 strangers who were also passionate about yoga. This experience was the true essence of my mantra of NO FEAR. You definitely need that attitude to subject yourself to a month long teacher training in India.

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From the moment I arrived and viewed the beautiful landscape my fears were calmed. A few travelers that arrived at the same time jumped into a cab with me and off we went to Trimurti. Everyone was nice and from all over the world. I checked into my room and unpacked my things. The next day we would have our official first meeting so I got to relax and take it all in. My room was modest but large, at the top of a hill up the way from Trimurti Garden where our yoga training was taking place. Everyone received private rooms, because it’s important to have a place to retreat after a long day of training and lectures. If you ever do an immersion program like this make sure you have your own room! I also highly recommend having your own bathroom. I’m so glad I paid a little extra for this as the shared bathroom situation was not my cup of tea.

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The teachers were all very kind and unique. Everyone brought something special to the training. I’ve been practicing a long time but I still learned new things! Cher showed me a new way to clasp my hands in headstand that completely revolutionized it! Dougie taught me about discipline and how to communicate effectively. Aliya taught me how to give in to releasing through yin yoga. Karo taught me how to practice from the heart but to know my shit (anatomy, alignment, chakras, five elements, it’s all connected!). Baskar taught me the true meaning of yoga. Arya taught me to be serious in what I do and have respect for others. And the other students taught me so much as well! It was a beautiful experience to connect to so many people. Though I mostly kept to myself I made quite a few deep connections. The other students also helped encourage me to try new things and push myself further. I had never tried the pose below before, and now I can touch my foot to my head!

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The reasons why I chose Trimurti Yoga?
Price – after comparing yoga teaching trainings all over the world it was cheaper to go all the way to India to complete it.
Teachers – Trimurti is a mix of teachers from the East and West, giving a more diverse view of yoga and it’s principles. We learned very traditional yoga philosophy, a great deal of western anatomy, and everything in-between.
Location – It’s India! The birthplace of yoga. Another place to mark off my travel bucketlist.
Immersion – I loved the idea of immersing myself in a month long program. I could have done a teacher training at home that is set over many months but I wanted to drown myself in a program. I love learning and education, so even though the schedule was intense, I thrived.
Multi-style – It was a big deciding factor to choose a school that taught different styles of yoga since I don’t want to specialize in one style. We learned Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hatha (Sivananda style as well), and a little bit of Yin. I feel prepared to teach those styles or create my own!
Hands-on Experience – Part of the program was about the art of teaching, how to teach, how to adjust and modify asanas, and we got to actually teach each other. This was so important!

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If you are looking for a yoga teacher training I can’t recommend Trimurti Yoga enough! I have no idea what the Goa location is like, but I loved Dharamshala. It’s a total hippie town with plenty of yummy vegan options and actual vegan cafes. The sweet lady that made our meals made vegan cakes that even the non-vegans devoured. I felt taken care of but was also allowed to do my own thing.

If you have any questions at all please let me know in the comments! 

Posted on 12/15/2015 | 2 Comments

Commit To Get Fit 2016 Specials!

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Now that I’m settled back in the States I’m ready to start taking clients again!

The new year is a time for setting goals, making resolutions, and hopefully committing to improving your life. We reflect on the previous year, see how we rocked it, and decide what we missed out on or what needs a facelift for the next year. I’ve decided to offer some pretty badass specials and new services to help you reach your health and fitness goals for 2016.

2016 COMMIT TO GET FIT

Worldwide

Sign up for the 28-day Wellness Reboot Online program and get a personalized fitness program designed for you for only $125 more! This will include 2 phone/skype check-ins over the course of the 28 day program (a savings of over $100!!!).

** For new customers only that have not previously done the reboot. Fitness program only valid within 5 weeks of signing up. Your Wellness Reboot starts the Sunday after you register online and your fitness program will be delivered before the following weekend.

DFW Only

Private yoga class
1 hour class $50
Add a friend for $25

In-home personal training
1 hour session $50
Add a friend $25

Call or email today to set up your session! 

Live 28-day Wellness Reboot (DFW only) – $325 per person
(a savings of $750!!! Food costs not included)

Looking for 2 couples or 4 friends who want to do the 28 day wellness reboot challenge together. Each week one person will host a live cooking session with Christy and the group to prepare your meals for the week.

One group cooking session costs $375 so you are getting four for the price of one!!

Please let me know if you have any questions about these services! I can’t wait to help you reach your goals and new year’s resolutions!

Posted on 11/13/2015 | Leave a Comment

Vegan Bacon & Brussels Pizza – Untraditional Thanksgiving Meal

I know I owe you a blog about my yoga teacher training with Trimutri. But first I wanted to share this awesome pizza my friend Nanette and I made on the fly! You can watch the video here.

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Since I was making this up as I went the ingredients are totally estimates. You’ll need a store-bought pizza crust or make your own about 10-12 inches in diameter. Feel free to adjust the spices as you like.
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Vegan Bacon & Brussels Pizza
Makes 2-3 servings

2 cups Brussel sprouts
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
Dash olive oil
Sprinkle red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon each thyme and nutritional yeast
Dash each red pepper flakes, black pepper, and sea salt
Upton’s bacon, half the package, cut in pieces
Pizza crust

Toss everything but the bacon and pizza crust together in a small casserole dish until well coated. Place in a preheated oven (400F) and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and toss with bacon. Cook another 10 minutes. While this is happening make your tofu cheese.

Tofu Cheese
One block extra firm tofu, crumbled
1/5 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons white or yellow miso
1 tablespoon each tamari and red wine vinegar

Mix everything together until well combined. Roll out your pizza dough and pre-cook for 5-8 minutes as needed. Layer tofu cheese across the entire pizza dough. Layer the Brussels mix on top of that. Bake for another 10-12 minutes depending on how crispy you like your pizza crust. Remove from oven and cut into 8 pieces. Enjoy!

Posted on 11/07/2015 | Leave a Comment

Travel log: Delhi and Taj Mahal

Marking things off the bucket list!

I got back from India last Friday. I’m officially a certified yoga instructor!! There’s so much I want to share with you but honestly I’m jet lagged and feeling pretty meh. I recall last year when I got back from Australia/Indonesia it took me 2 weeks to adjust back to normal. But nobody’s got time for that as I leave tomorrow for Mexico to lead the 2nd annual blissed out yoga retreat. Crazy times! I promise to tell you all about the yoga teacher training in due time :)

The last 6 weeks was a whirlwind. It went by so fast. The yoga teacher training at Trimurti was an intense 4 weeks. But before I headed to the beautiful mountains of Dharamsala I made a pitstop in Delhi to do a photoshoot and take a day trip to see the Taj Mahal. How could I go to India and not?

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Delhi was my first foray into Indian culture and food. I don’t recommend spending much time there because it’s hot, dirty, trashy, smoggy, and depending on where you stay you’ll be constantly harassed by taxi drivers and shop owners (I recommend Green Park area for a different experience!). There is however some amazing food to be had! I started by having a big fat dosa from a vegetarian fast food place called Haldiram. You order at the counter, and have a large number of choices from both North and South Indian cuisine. My lunch was a meniscal 150 rupees, which is like $2.50. Total score.

Keep in mind that most of India will not quite understand what vegan means. They LOVE their dairy. The phrase “pure veg” means vegetarian without eggs, while in some other countries it means no dairy or eggs. So it was difficult to explain and for that reason I only went to pure vegetarian restaurants to keep contamination to a minimum. No coffeeshops, except Starbucks, had soy milk, and I had to go to three markets to find a carton to take around with me.

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My first hotel was not so nice. The photos lie people! Since it was inexpensive compared to what you would pay for a hotel in the US, I opted to move to a nicer place called Bloomrooms. The area is right by the New Delhi Railway Station, which takes you to Agra where the Taj is, but beware that it is the busiest part of town. Bloomrooms was a sanctuary from the loud, smelly streets and it was the best decision to spend a little extra for my room here. I got a single room that was just like the photos, air con, free wifi, free filtered drinking water, and a nice big bathroom for about $30 a night.

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My next meal was an Indian thali from Navdanya Organic Cafe, a wonderful organization trying to keep organic farming alive in India. It’s located inside Dilli Haat market (Rs 20 admission required), which has handicrafts from all over India and is a great place to do all your gift shopping. The cafe is outdoors and is also a shop where you can buy organic grains and more.

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They happily switched out the non-vegan parts for me. This was probably the best meal I had in India all for around 4 bucks. I also bought some vegan cookies made of soy flour from the store.

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The next day I set up a photoshoot to document my new yoga journey amongst some of the coolest monuments of Delhi. We started bright and early, but it was still hot and humid. Thankfully the photos don’t show the dripping sweat all over my body. I haven’t got the final photos back yet but will share some when I do! Above is just a sample taken at Humayun’s Tomb with my lovely iPhone.

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The next day I took a train to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal! I arrived pretty early and it wasn’t too crowded. But of course it was sweltering hot! I was so uncomfortable that it was hard to enjoy my time in Agra. I hired a tuk tuk driver (these are all over Asia, it’s basically a motorcycle with a enclosed bench on the back) for the day for a cheap 800 rupees and he took me to a number of sites. My return train wasn’t until past 9pm and we were done by 5pm so I sat in the train station for 4 hours reading and playing solitaire on my phone. It was super annoying. If you are going to do a day trip to Agra take the earlier train back to Delhi!

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These sweet gals wanted to take a photo with me. I had strangers coming up to me all the time wanting to take my photo. But if you are blonde you will be harassed even more since they aren’t used to seeing anyone with light colored hair.

After a few more tasty meals around town I headed for the mountains. It was a turbulent situation getting to the airport and I had written off India completely. It wasn’t until I came upon the rice fields of Dharamsala that my mind was put at ease. Stay tuned for my next blog about yoga teacher training and finding vegan cakes and tofu of all things!!

Posted on 10/20/2015 | 1 Comment

Travel log: Barcelona Part II

Now we talk about the second half of my time in Barcelona! I apologize it has taken so long to get this out but my yoga teacher training is super intense! More than imagined it would be (more on that soon!).

So, back in Spain, that evening Marissa, Chris, and I met up to go to Rasoterra in the Gothic Quarter. I couldn’t wait to eat late so I had a little something before (a tofu burger from Veggie Garden that was super delicious) so ended up getting something small at Rasoterra. I wish I would have had a full course meal there because the menu was the most unique I saw and the few things I tried were amazing. They had tempeh! Rasoterra is fully vegetarian and we were happy with the vegan offerings they had available though small. Note that it does fill up with reservations so make one or come on the earlier side (we went at 8pm) to get a table.

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We started with the gyoza, which came inside a mini cast iron skillet where it was baked and seared. The appetizer of tempeh and eggplant satay was perfectly prepared with crispy tempeh and eggplant that wasn’t mushy. Then, you guessed it, we went for gelato. This time I had strawberry and chocolate and it was heavenly! Marissa and Chris had to leave for France the next morning so we called it an early night and I went to bed early.

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I had one more full day to explore and eat by myself and took full advantage of that. I wandered around town a bit, trying to catch anything I had missed. I stopped into Juicy Jones for a wonderful smoothie. It’s an eclectic place with brightly painted walls and free wifi. It definitely got me going for the day! I didn’t do the sights listed on the guidebooks (except Park Guell) while in Barcelona. I wasn’t really feeling like being a tourist. Not sure why, but it was definitely more of a foodcation for me than anything else, as you can see from my last post and this one.

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In the afternoon I headed to Veggie Garden for their pre-fix lunch menu, which I had seen was available when I got a tofu burger the previous day. There were so many amazing choices it was hard to choose! VG is purely vegan and with a huge menu so I highly recommend it when you go to Barcelona. It’s an eclectic mix of foods from Indian, to American, and Spanish. I loved the variety.

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The weather was beautiful so I sat on the patio. I was the first to arrive but it quickly filled up and I saw all the things offered on the lunch menu. They all looked amazing! Lasagna, a sweet potato tart, and what I ordered, the veggie crepe. I started with a black bean soup (I was tired of gazpacho at this point), the main was a thick crepe filled with sautéed veggies, served with potato salad and a green bean salad. Not sure what the sauce was, kind of like a creamy red pepper sauce, and it paired perfectly with the crepe. My belly was happy. I kind of wish I had stayed near VG so I could eat there more!

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After lunch I spent the afternoon at Park Guell, a famous museum compound type thing featuring the architecture of Antoni Gaudi. You can see this style all over Barcelona. The park is sort of a tourist trap but it was interesting to see how far out a style of building would be accepted back in the 1890. Barcelona is full of interesting architecture that goes alongside it’s turbulent past.

For dinner, HappyCow listed a vegan place right near me so I headed to Enjoy Vegan when they opened at 7pm. It was a pleasure going to eat out and not having to ask what was vegan or if such and such dish had dairy, etc. As a vegan you know what I mean!

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Enjoy Vegan has everything freshly prepared in a glass case for you to view. The guy working came out from behind the counter to try and explain everything to me in English. It was a bit tricky but I got the jist of what everything was. The menu was heavily Italian influenced since the owners are from Italy (they had gnocchi!). This was a nice change of pace from the other restaurants. I opted for the lasagna which came with a salad for 6.50 Euro. This might have been my cheapest meal in Barcelona. And it happened to be the best lasagna I’ve ever had in my life! You could also choose two options for 10 Euro but I wanted to save room for dessert!

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What was even more of a treat is that they had a selection of cakes and pastries. I didn’t find vegan cakes at any other place I visited. They had so many to choose from! I went with the one in the front of the photo above, which I can’t recall exactly what it was, but it was just sweet enough, moist, with a thin layer of frosting. Since I knew I’d be on a train to Madrid the following day I got the “meat”balls and a chocolatey cake to go. Those were both amazing too.

Again I wished I had more time to eat more meals at these wonderful places. People say that eating vegan is “so difficult” in Spain because they really love their meat and put ham in everything. But if you stick to the massive list available on HappyCow you will never go hungry. For me personally, I don’t even bother going to places not from that list because I don’t want to deal with the frustrations of communicating my dietary needs. I want to be able to go through the menu and easily decipher what is vegan or not. It makes traveling in a foreign country so much more pleasant. That’s just me. With HappyCow on my side I haven’t found it difficult to eat vegan in any country I have ever visited! We are privileged and blessed. Go forth and enjoy all that vegan food!

Posted on 09/26/2015 | Leave a Comment

Travel Log: Barcelona Part I

Ten days in Spain was not enough!

I guess I better write a blog (or three) about Spain before India completely envelopes my brain and memories. Let me start from the beginning. I decided around May that I would go to India to do my yoga teacher training. After doing days of research it was actually cheaper to fly there and do it than it was anywhere else in the world (and I really wanted to leave the US as an excuse to travel). With it being the birthplace of yoga and all it seemed fitting to go there. I found a program that spoke to me, Trimurti, and signed up even though I was a bit scared to go to India. More on those fears in a later post.

My retreat in Mexico was scheduled right after the training so I didn’t have the option to travel around after. I decided to make a pit stop on the way to India and chose Spain for that destination after a bit more research (I really wanted to go to Greece but everyone I knew discouraged that). It was only $350 more on my flight to take a little detour. I decided on 10 days, split between Barcelona and Madrid. Moving around a lot doesn’t usually appeal to me so this seemed like a good pace.

Let’s start in Barcelona (which after starting this blog post I realized would need two!). Many of my friends have said this is one of their favorite places in the world so it had quite a bit to live up to. I flew Lufthansa for the first time mainly because it was the cheapest flight. They make you layover in Frankfurt and this is seriously the most annoying airport I’ve ever experienced. You had to walk forever to get to a toilet. It’s like Germans didn’t ever have to pee. Also both times we landed our plane was parked off to the side and we had to take a shuttle bus to the gate. This coupled with a mediocre vegan meal will keep me from ever flying Lufthansa again. Maybe I’m a spoiled American, but I’ve flown on other airlines with more leg room, better service, and better meals.

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I arrived at 1 pm bright eyed and ready to settle into my hostel. A few days earlier my sleep schedule was moved a bit to get on Barcelona’s time zone. I always do this for out of country travel so I don’t waste any time with jet lag. I unpacked my things then hit the streets.

Barcelona is very touristy. If you plan to visit I would suggest trying to figure out when the slower times are because it is very crowded in September. Maybe it’s always like this but I’m not a fan of huge crowds. Since I missed the walking tour I opted just to walk all over on my own. Barcelona has tiny little streets that you can get lost amongst. That’s half the fun of new cities to me. Walking around, exploring, and eating vegan food of course! There wasn’t a day that went by where I wasn’t walking for miles. And each day I stumbled upon new vegetarian restaurants. Score!

Because of HappyCow I know where all the veg restaurants are whenever I travel and they are plentiful in Barcelona. Normally I would make many of my meals in (one of the main reasons for staying in a hostel is they have a kitchen, not only less expensive and best for solo travelers) but I literally ate every single meal out in Barcelona because there were so many restaurants to choose from. This is a great problem to have as a vegan!!

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I decided to have my first meal at BioCenter. When I turned up around 6 pm there was only one other couple there. Spaniards do things a little different with lunch around 2 pm and dinner sometimes later than 9 pm. That’s cool though; I didn’t mind being in an empty restaurant!

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I decided on the seitan in white wine sauce, which came with a side of couscous and I ordered extra veggies. It was so comforting and the seitan just melted in my mouth. Not bad for my first meal in Barcelona!

The next day I hit the free walking tour and learned all about the history of Barcelona. I had no idea it was so turbulent! My tour guide was a bit political and a pagan so it was an interesting morning. For lunch I searched for a restaurant I found on HappyCow but it was closed for the day. I had stumbled upon La Vegetalia the day before and our tour ended right nearby so I headed there for the set lunch menu (10 Euro). It was simple but filling. Gazpacho was first, then a vegan burger served with salad and rice for the main, ending with a mini fruit smoothie.

Pro tip: if you are going to eat out in Spain do so for lunch. Every restaurant has a pre-fix three or four course menu for way cheaper than you would pay ordering a la carte.

That evening my holiday got so much better. When I decided to go to Spain Marissa from Vegan and Beyond emailed me to let me know she and her brother would be there at the same time. I was thrilled to have company and someone to eat more vegan food with! We met up for dinner and started the night with a pitcher of sangria. Sidenote: I rarely drink (and neither does Marissa). Maybe once every couple of months. It’s a social thing for me. But I drank quite a bit while in Barcelona. No shame here. When in Spain!! Their drinks were incredible. The best sangria, mojito (I didn’t even like them before I came here), and gin/tonic I’ve ever had in my life.

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Then we headed for the famed Teresa Carles, an upscale vegetarian restaurant with other varying locations and a juice pressery. Marissa and I both took full advantage of the cold-pressed juices available and they were probably the best juice combinations I’ve ever had. The tempeh and pumpkin salad pictured above is probably the best salad I’ve ever had at a restaurants. We also had nachos and tempura. Teresa’s is a bit more expensive but totally worth it. With sharing and no drink my bill only came to about 15 Euro so it is possible to keep your budget in check and still enjoy the finer vegan restaurants.

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Of course we had to go for gelato at Gelaaati di Marco who had two rice milk gelatos (dark chocolate and hazelnut) along with 5 or so fruit sorbets. We subsequently went here the next two nights Marissa was in town. It was hella good.

The next day I grabbed takeout from Vegetart, which was inexpensive and filling. I met up with Marissa to head to Cat Bar in the evening. Everyone said it was a must. I thought there might be actual cats there but alas there was only drawings of cats on the walls. It’s a little hole in the wall with vegan burgers and beers on tap. The food was very salty and left us with tummy aches. Kind of overhyped if you ask me, but the beer was good!

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Then we headed out on the town! We planned on hitting up an indie, post punk club called Sidecar that evening, but it wasn’t set to open till 1 am. Yes, bars stay open till 6 am in Spain!! It is literally the country that never sleeps. So we walked around, got gelato, and had drinks at various places before dancing the night away. When I left at 3:30 am it was just getting crowded!

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The next day I slept in and then headed out on a mission to find vegan brunch. I stumbled upon DosTrece on one of my many strolls around town and it answered the call with daily vegan brunch food. I got the french toast and a side of tofu scramble. I was wanting something familiar and this hit the spot.

Stay tuned to Barcelona Part II!

Posted on 09/15/2015 | Leave a Comment

Vegetarian Summerfest 2015

As many of you know I’ve been focusing more on the fitness side of my business. This means that I’m giving more talks and fitness classes at conferences and vegfests. I had the opportunity to do both of those at this year’s Vegetarian Summerfest instead of a cooking demo like last year. Cooking is still a passion of mine and I do love getting people excited about cooking up their own meals. But broadening my horizons is the name of the game this year!

Last year’s Summerfest was so much fun I really wanted to go back this year. Thankfully, they were happy to have me and gave me the opportunity to give two talks and hold two bootcamp classes. The first talk was on meal planning, the second on weight training and why it rules, then Saturday and Sunday I gave early morning bootcamp classes and people actually came to workout at 6:30 am! I had a blast making people sweat and exposing many to HIIT (high intensity interval training) for the first time!

IMG_1053_2The food is always a big bonus about this conference. You can imagine the excitement that endless rows of vegan food brings and not having to ask if it’s vegan is priceless! Mark Reinfeld of Vegan Fusion runs the show and plans out the delicious menus with the help of his assistant, Chris Jolly, who runs the raw food bar. You will not go hungry! If anything you may gain 5 pounds. There are gluten-free and oil-free options available for every meal. I dabble in all the sections because my diet has #nodogma, and happily eat the desserts as well.

Some options at the raw bar are pictured to the left; the massaged kale salad and nacho cheese sauce were my favorites of this night. The creamy brazil nut soup with basil was my favorite on the first night. Other highlights were the “meat”balls, key lime mousse, and raw tacos. The raw food bar is probably the most popular because it’s all so unique and most people aren’t going to make elaborate raw foods for themselves at home.

I did not get enough photos of the food unfortunately because it went into my face verIMG_1064_2y quickly! Some of my favorites of the cooked food: I loved all the soups, the tempeh reuben was amazing, I rarely ate breakfast because I don’t normally eat it at home but definitely enjoyed the pancakes, tempeh bacon, and breakfast potatoes on the last day. Each night there is a party with more tasty treats.

I didn’t go to many talks this year, which I’m a bit disappointed about. There were so many great speakers I had never seen before. Glancing at the program gave many options for classes including those on healthy eating and diet, on animal rights, compassionate living, health oriented classes like reversing diabetes and weight loss tips. There really is something for everyone here! When you are teaching each day yourself it can be hard to fit in more stuff. Last week I was rear-ended, though it was a minor car accident it left me with a huge migraine on the first day that had me in bed for hours. I never get sick so when I feel anything short of awesome I turn into a big baby!

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Another great thing about conferences is connecting with like-minded people. I hung out with the ladies above at all our meals and throughout the conference and we had so much fun! I’m so grateful for the friendships that blossomed at Summerfest and all the friendly people I met. One thing I would like to see in the future is a greater range of age groups there. I didn’t find many people around my age and I know the 30/40-somethings crowd would have so much fun. So if you are reading this and in my age group consider coming to Summerfest next year!

What do you love about vegan conferences? Share with us in the comments!

Since I’m going to India in September/October I don’t have anymore speaking engagements on my calendar until Portland VegFest in November. If you’d like me to speak at your local vegfest or conference be sure to put in a good word for me with the organizers! I’d love to come to your city next year!

Posted on 07/17/2015 | Leave a Comment