Monday, December 10, 2012

Staying sane, merry, and light

I think my mom is Santa Clause. Actually, I’m pretty sure she is.

I’ll never know how, but somehow, someway, my mom manages to transform my childhood home into a winter wonderland, shop for everyone she knows, and cook an elaborate 5-course meal on Christmas day for 20 people, all while working a 50+ hour work week.

(Did I mention that she’s also the primary caregiver for my elderly grandparents and my unofficial wedding planner?)

The woman is a Saint. (Saint Nick, I think.) And while she certainly makes the holidays feel special for all of us, they leave her feeling utterly exhausted, stressed, and depleted. (Not very jolly at all)     

But my mom’s not the only one guilty of taking on too much at the holidays. Many of us get swept up in the commercial aspects of the season and lose sight of what matters most.  So how can we avoid the post holiday hangover, stay sane, and still enjoy the traditions that are near and dear to our hearts? Here are a few ideas:

  1.    Plan ahead: Does it feel like you live at the store? Make your list a head of time and choose a day or two to get all of your shopping done. You’ll feel less scattered and will free up the rest of the season for socializing and unwinding by the tree!
  2.     Ditch the traditions that no longer serve you: As soon as something you once enjoyed becomes a hassle, give it a rest. Maybe next year you’ll have more time to bake cookies, but if it’s just another task haunting your to do list, give yourself permission to scratch it off.
  3.     Create a budget and stick to it: The holidays are a time for giving, not debt. If you can’t afford to shop for everyone on your list, suggest a “Secret Santa” or come up with creative ways to stay within budget. It’s the thought that counts, and your January bank statement will thank you later!  
  4.    Put your health and wellness first: Your guests will be more dazzled by your glowing, relaxed demeanor, than your sparkling Waterford crystal.  Get plenty of rest, eat well, and exercise daily. Even a power-walk around the block or a few quick yoga poses will help alleviate stress.
  5.    Ask for help: Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Even Santa needs elves, and your friends and family will merrily rise to the occasion!
  6.     Help someone else: Volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate toys to a family in need. Helping other feels good and reminds us what the season is all about.       
  7.    Be merry and light: Burn the cookies, be late, run out of wrapping paper, and be okay with it. No one’s perfect and trying to be will only take away from the fun of it all.
  8.   Be grateful: The holidays only become stressful when we have loved ones to shop for, to host, to visit, and to celebrate with.  So count your holiday stresses as blessings and enjoy!  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Love is all you need

This post was originally intended to be a healthy Thanksgiving recipe guide. But as my city finds itself in the devastating wake of Hurricane Sandy, offering up healthier ways to enjoy sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie hardly seemed appropriate.  Not when there are so many New Yorkers who don’t know where their next meal will come from.  

For the past few years I have been urging my friends, family, and clients to nourish their bodies by choosing whole foods over packaged goods... Organic over conventional... Baked over fried...

But it’s important to remember that what we fill our minds and hearts with is just as important to our health as what we put into our bodies.  And in times of crisis, we must turn to loved ones, hope, optimism, laughter, and gratitude to keep us healthy and strong. 

We may not always have the ability to choose what we put into our bodies - but we always have the ability to choose with what we nourish our mind and spirit. 

Those of us who are fortunate enough to have a roof over our head, and a turkey on our table this Thanksgiving, choose to make your friends and family the main event. Because in the end, it’s love not food, that feeds us most.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I love being a health coach and here's why...

A little under a year ago,  a very special client came to me looking for a better way.
She was addicted to diet soda, eating processed foods, and feeling low on energy.

She knew she needed to make a change.
But what she didn't know, is just how many she would make.

Her eagerness and commitment to creating a healthier lifestyle was clear, and within days she was off of the soda and eating a predominately whole food diet. She was listening to her body, experimenting in the kitchen, and describing her energy levels as being "through the roof!"

And that was only the beginning...

"I started working with Stephanie to break my caffeine addiction. I drank 8-10 cups of black tea and 1-2 cans of diet soda every day and I was always tired. I was looking for a couple of easy changes to increase my energy.  Instead I changed everything.

Our sessions were supposed to be three months and I had a couple of goals to achieve. The more Stephanie taught me, the more I wanted to learn and set new goals for myself. After the first three months I added another three and kept extending our sessions until eventually I had worked with Stephanie for almost a year.
I changed my whole diet. I became keenly aware of what I eat, why I eat it, and how I feel after making  healthy choices. I made lots of little changes that quickly added up. I tried new foods that I had never heard of or tried before. I discovered millet, became obsessed with organic pumpkin seeds and even starting eating avocados for breakfast.

I also made significant changes to the beauty and cleaning products I use. The chemicals I put on my skin or expose myself to are just as dangerous as the ones I consume.

I did not expect our sessions to also be focused on life, happiness and career but Stephanie is just as good at providing life advice as she is at suggesting uses for kale. Whether it was a specific problem at work or general outlook on life, Stephanie could always offer a grounded and positive outlook. After my last call with Stephanie, my boyfriend said “You’re always happier after your calls with Steph.”

Ultimately, working with Stephanie was a lifelong investment in my health that I’m grateful to have accomplished."


I am so humbled by Erin's awesome testimonial. It was super exciting to guide her through all of these awesome changes, and while I'd like to take a little credit, the person she has the most to thank is herself.

Many people are afraid, or not quite ready to commit to their health.
They can't imagine a day without sugary cereals, Splenda-laden coffee, (read the dangers of Splenda here) or a bag of chips. They'd rather deal with the headaches, Pepto their way through an upset stomach, or band-aid their anxiety with a Reese's Pieces sundae. (believe me, I was once there).

But I'm here to tell you that there's a better way. An amazingly empowering, satisfying, and delicious way. All you need is a little love, and a big desire to live your healthiest, happiest, most scrumptious life yet!

If you are interested in finding out how health coaching can help you, contact me at to set up a free consultation.

To a sweet, healthy life!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Avocado bean supreme - a long way from my cheesy gordita crunch days!

Last night was  Sean's 30th birthday. After a fun filled weekend of celebrating, he was looking to do a chill taco night at home for his actual day of birth. (And not a modified, healthy taco night..a straight up beef, sour cream, taco sauce, shredded cheese kind of noche.) 

Although tempted to buy ground turkey along with healthier topping alternatives, I didn't want to disappoint him on the big 3-0, and decided  to go all out. 

The apartment smelled like a tex-mex dream, and seeing his face light up upon entering was worth all 16 oz of grass-fed beef. He was super pumped, but seemed to be even more excited that his health conscious fiance would be partaking in the fiesta as well. 

Sorry to disappoint, babe, but I actually had other plans for myself. (True, I have gone off the wagon for love in the past, but after some unhealthy decisions over the weekend, I thought it was time to get back on track.) 

Thanks to a  recipe I found on Find your balance, I was able to enjoy taco night just as much as the birthday boy! 

Introducing, what I've renamed, "Avocado bean supreme" 


2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 can black beans (rinsed) 
1/2 yellow onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped 
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 avocado sliced 

I eyeballed the ingredients, but you can follow these to the T. The recipe also called for chili powder and oregano, but I didn't have either, and found that it still tasted delish! Work with what ya got! 


Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, cook until translucent. Add garlic, cook until lightly golden. Add beans and stir well. Mix in other seasonings and stir until evenly distributed.

Spoon into taco shells and throw some avocado on top, and olay! Taco night just got a whole lot cleaner! 

Personally, I find it hard to turn down anything of the corn chip persuasion, but to make this dish  a bit healthier, you can toss over mixed greens or a serving of brown rice. 

Maybe next time, Sean will give Avocado bean supreme a try!

Arriba, Arriba!

Friday, February 24, 2012

17 odd jobs (and why we shouldn't take ourselves so seriously)

Every now and again, I'll have a "bad" moment at work and beat myself up over it. (Nope, not Mark Wahlberg FEAR style. I mean, mentally beat myself up.)

No matter how good the rest of the day may have panned out, my bedtime thoughts tend to rally around that one "bad" thing. And they might go a little something like this...
"Ugh, if only I had said this instead." "What was I thinking when I wrote that headline?" "I hope I didn't look nervous."

Of course these unproductive streams of negativity often manifest themselves into anxiety. That is until the next day, when I get to work and realize that nothing is as bad as it seems. No one cares about the stupid thing I said in the meeting, or noticed for that matter. And today I can start fresh...clean piece of paper, new ideas.

Although the competitive nature of my job can be stressful at times, I have to put things into perspective. I'm not saving lives or risking my own, and in all honesty I have it really good.

I'd also like to think I know a good job when I see one. After all, I have had about 17 of them... that is correct. 17 jobs, people! Casting director, Project manager, CBS "Early Show" intern, and Office bitch are just some of the titles I've carried over the years.

But please don't discount all of my summer and school year stints throughout high school and college...

While most kids were busy being star athletes, straight A students, or pot heads, I was busy being the following:

Waitress at "Franco's Cafe" in Saddle River - This restaurant no longer exists, which is for the best. I quit this job in a dramatic, life-changing performance. Tearing my apron off and telling Franco himself that he was "out of line" remains the biggest adrenaline rush I've had to date. I drove the whole 11 minutes back to Hillsdale, laughing, crying, and blasting Snoop Dog.

Golf Club worker -
You know the cute girl that drives around in a golf cart, serving old men beer and making mad tips? Try as I might, that job was already taken. I worked in the pro-shop making tee times and darting the sexual advances of a young man I will refer to as "Golf Club Roy."

Hollister sales associate -
You know the hot girl wearing a really short denim skirt who greets you at the door shyly, but also kind of condescendingly? Yeah that wasn't me either. I could be found somewhere in the middle of the store folding distressed boot-cut jeans and be-dazzled wife beaters.

Waitress at the Emerson Hotel -
It was actually here that I had my first brush with "sexual harassment." Just when I thought I was "in" with the kitchen staff, a man with a high pitched voice we fittingly called "F-cked nuts", molded pizza dough into a phallic object and chucked it at my head. It was also here that I witnessed a fellow waitress smoking crack in the bathroom during a slow lunch shift.

Lifeguard/Swim instructor at Stonybrook Swim Club -
Hands down, best job ever. Who wouldn't love getting paid to tan, flirt, and twirl a whistle? The only downside was the unflattering Speedo tan lines that 9 years later, I'm still not sure have fully faded.

Gate keeper at Stonybrook Swim Club - Also a sweet gig that involved checking badges and reading SLEEPERS. And yes, I'm not sure why, but it took me all of summer '99 to finish that book.

"Kool Kuts" receptionist in Park Ridge - I was fired from this one for being short $20 during close out. To this day, I have no idea where that $20 went and believe I was set up. As luck would have it, my parents were away and I had been planning a "small party" that same night. Things got out of control, and by 10pm it had turned into a full blown rager.
As soon as 20 seniors appeared in my kitchen, it would no longer be the day I got fired from "Kool Cuts." Instead, it would forever go down in history as the day a Bud Ice got lodged in the fridge ice-maker and someone stole our Nintendo Duck Hunt gun.

Hallmark cashier - It is with great hesitation that I include this one. The owner of the "Card Factory" in Westwood, was by the far the meanest man I've ever met. So mean, that I mentally shut down every time I hear David Gray's "This year's love" or Train's "Meet Virginia" (both were chart toppers that played incessantly at the time of my short lived employment)

Wrapsody Grill -
Short hand chef and cashier - No complaints really. I worked with my friends, it was spring, and those chicken wraps were delicious!!! However, I do remember it always being a race against the clock to close shop on Thursday nights. It was long before DVR and "Temptation Island" premiered that season.

Receptionist at Duquesne University Psych. Clinic - A "work-study" gig where I checked clients in and did homework in exchange for beer money.

St. John's Church rectory bulletin stuffer - Once a month on Saturdays, I'd stuff fliers into the weekly parish newsletter. The entire year I worked there, the priest mistook me for my older sister, but oddly enough called me Kathryn. (I do not have a sister named Kathryn.)

"News for the nosy" anchor
- A non-paid gig I co-hosted with my friend Lauren. Okay, clearly a pretend job, but someone could have thrown us a bone! At the ripe old age of 9, we were writing and broadcasting sensational news stories with headlines like "Woman dodges bullet with wooden spoon!" We also had stage names, (Mine was Marilyn King) and all the elements of a talk-show news know, kid-sized table and chairs, empty coffee mugs, fake flower centerpiece, and a Logo which was something along the lines of:

News 4 the [drawing of nose] -y

Too bad this was long before YouTube, or we would have given Sophia Grace and Rosie from the Ellen DeGeneres Show a run for their money.

So what's the life lesson in all of this? (Because you know I've got one!)

As I look back at all of these jobs, I'm sure that the douchey bosses and co-workers I often encountered, stressed me out or made me feel inadequate in some way. But years later, I recognize that these experiences have all helped shape the person I am today.

While my current career path as an advertising creative is very important to me, I have to remind myself that it's still just a job, and one that I'm grateful to have.

So...the point I'm trying to make here is that we can't take ourselves so seriously. All we can really ever do is work to the best of our ability, roll with the punches, and every now and again, try to find the humor in it all.

*Please note that my parents never pushed me to work during the school year. Summer jobs were a given, but I sought year round work on my own. I'm not really sure why exactly, but do know that they excused me from lame extracurricular activities like Spanish club, and afforded me my J.Crew, but mostly Loehmann's wardrobe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Is everyone hanging out without me? (and a few healthy comfort food recipes)

I love The office... And every character on it, with the exception of Dwight. (Although an integral character, he kinda creeps me out.)

That's why I was super psyched when my fiance surprised me with Mindy Kaling's book Is everyone hanging out without me? (Did you know that she and Rainn Wilson are real life "frenemies"??)

Although I'm only on page 24, I'm finding it hard to put down. So hard, that I opted to take the local train instead of the express to work this morning, just to get a few more pages in.

However, you should probably know that this isn't the first ridiculous thing I've done for the love of Chick-lit...

I once feigned an "upset stomach" at work to finish a chapter of Chasing Harry Winston. A dirty move, I know, but in my defense we were super slow. (It was during the recession and everyone was casting out in LA instead of New York, and bla bla bla.) Plus we had really nice private bathrooms that reeked of LA looks and Axe body spray. (This was zen.)

OK. Back to Mindy.

So far she's been talking a lot about her chubby childhood and love of food. And the weird thing is, I'm finding myself relating more to her than the "health enthusiast" I've become.

But then again, it was in fact, my processed carbs and ice-cream addiction that started me down this path...

After years of headaches, fatigue, and stomach problems, I finally discovered a holistic way of eating, and immediately noticed results. I felt better than ever, and simply put, my love of feeling good trumped my love of food. It just did.

But, let's be real. I'm human, and an American at that. And while I do find a nutritious way of eating very satisfying, there are still temptations to fall back to my old ways.

While the new Stephanie wants to be like "Mindy, I can TOTALLY help you overcome your margarine and diet-soda addiction!" The old Stephanie wants to be like "Hey Mindy, want to go back to my place and eat Pop-tarts and Phish food til we pass out?"

So how does one manage these conflicting impulses? For me, it always comes down to the following question:

"What will make me feel good and live a long, healthy life?"

And even though I've been known to derail from time to time, it's my desire to be the best I can be in both mind and body that keeps me on the health track. And so far, I think it's a pretty sweet track to be on.

What are some other ways I stay on the health track? That's simple! Finding healthy alternatives to the comfort foods I love! Here are a few of my faves!

Chocolate Banana Pudding (recipe adapted from Diary of a nutritionist)

1 medium-large ripe banana
1/2 large avocado
2-3 packets of powdered Stevia
2 drops organic vanilla extract
5-6 tbsp cool water
1 pinch of sea salt
1 squirt Agave Syrup (aprx 1-2 tsp) *Optional
2 tbsp raw cocoa

Blend all ingredients in your blender or Magic Bullet. It makes about 1 serving.

French Toast

(makes 2 slices)
1 organic egg
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon
2 drops organic vanilla extract
2 slices 100% Whole Grain or gluten free bread
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

Beat egg, milk, cinnamon and vanilla together. Heat griddle or non-stick pan over medium heat. Add coconut oil and dip bread in egg mixture. Place on griddle and cook for 3 minutes on one slide. Flip and cook for one more minute until egg is cooked through. Drizzle with organic maple syrup and more cinnamon if you wish.

Mac & "Cheese" (compliments of The Kind Diet)

3 cups elbow pasta (I use gluten free quinoa elbow pasta).
1 cup organic soymilk (you can use coconut or almond milk here…or any plain non-dairy milk, really)
1/4 cup tamari
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp paprika
1 clove garlic
1 tsp dijon mustard
2/3 cup canola oil (I use olive oil instead here)
salt & pepper

1) Cook the pasta al dente.

2) In a blender/food processor combine the garlic, nutritional yeast, mustard and paprika. Blend to chop garlic.

3) While the machine is running add the tamari, soymilk and canola oil and blend until creamy.

4) Heat sauce and mix with cooked noodles. Add salt and pepper to taste.

What are some of your fave comfort foods? Can you think of ways to health 'em up?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

10 Things I wish Paula Deen Knew...

Paula, Paula, Paula...
I've been entertained by you many times, and even had the privilege of seeing you in person when you hi-jacked Giada's cooking demo during the NY food and wine festival two years ago. So I don't want to lecture you, because it's like your good friend Oprah always says "when ya know better, ya do better!"
So instead, I'm going to tell you what I wish you knew, because let's face it-- your platform is a whole lot bigger than mine, and if I had the ability to tell America how they can not only prevent but REVERSE type 2 diabetes in 30 days, I would! But for today, I will reach out to the 25 people who will actually read this, and urge them to pass this on to anyone who might benefit.

*If you or someone you know is living with Type 2 Diabetes, please contact me for more information regarding these guidelines.

How to reverse diabetes in 30 days

1 - Drink lots of purified water - the only true way to detoxify your body
2 - Eat a protein, good fat, and fiber at every meal - Think: beans*, dark leafy greens, and avocado. *beans are the champion of protein
3 - Increase intake of WILD CAUGHT (NOT farm raised) fish rich in Omega 3 such as salmon, tuna, and halibut - Fish is also a great source of protein
4 - Eliminate processed foods from the diet
5 - Keep stress at a minimum
6 - Exercise everyday - *we burn more fat in the morning before we eat since we aren't utilizing energy to burn off sugar
7 - Get a good night's rest - 7-8 hours every night.
8 - Avoid artificial sweeteners - they are toxic foreign substances - use stevia instead as it will not effect your glucose levels
9 - Stay away from grains - even whole grains will convert to sugar
10 - Eat lots of dark leafy greens!


I am a Certified Holistic Health Coach. This information should not be taken as prescriptive advice. Information I share here has been found through my own experiences, research, and discussions with nutritionists and other holistic health-care practitioners. Any changes in your diet should be discussed with your medical doctor.