A dear friend recently asked me, “I’m thinking of going vegetarian.  How do you suggest I start?”  I must admit I was quite flattered.  Although I am a novice at the vegan lifestyle with just ten months under my belt, I had been vegetarian for over nine years, so I feel confident I know a thing or two about it.  I am certainly no doctor, so you should always consult your own practitioner before making any big changes to your diet (gotta throw that disclaimer in there!) However I would be delighted to share my research and own experiences!

#1:  My first recommendation would be to START SLOW. Just having the interest in eating less meat is half the battle.  No one says you have to go “cold turkey” overnight.  Maybe opt for a bean burrito rather than chicken chimichangas. Substitute a minestrone soup for beef stew.  Skip the meatballs and Italian sausage on your pasta and try something like pasta primavera (food has a delicious version at:  Just find a few recipes that appeal to you, and try them out.  There are numerous sites out there with ample recipes, including: offers “top 20 vegetarian dinners”.  claims to be “a great resource for committed vegetarians as well as those of us who are looking to eliminate meat.” is a site that boasts “the world’s largest vegetarian recipe community.”

I started my own Vegan Voyage with two free apps for my iPod.  One is the “21-Day Vegan Kickstart” that offers 3 weeks of menus.  The second one is called “Vegan YumYum”.  Both offer tasty plant-based dishes.

My favorite veggie blogs on my email list are:  (aka Vegan-Nutritionista), and

All three are chock full of great health information and inspiration!

My “go-to” cookbook is one my sister, Belinda, gave me years ago, titled 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles.  Everything from appetizers to desserts is crammed in this 598 page book.  A newer book I also refer to often is Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love, by Sarah Matheny.  The author and one of her daughters are vegan, while the husband and second daughter are vegetarian, so the recipes aim to please both, making it friendlier to a wider audience.  The author’s witty dialogue makes this cookbook an entertaining read alone.  Both books are available through Amazon. 

My favorite magazine is Vegetarian Times.  The VT website,, is great as well.  The magazine is delivered nine times a year, and loaded not only with vegetarian dishes, but a healthy dose vegan options as well.  You can save a few bucks on a subscription through Amazon ($12 for a year, or $20 for two years) as opposed to ordering directly through the parent site. 

I have recently discovered Pinterest ( as another awesome resource for meat-less recipes.  Pinterest is an online pinboard that you can share and organize things you love.  You can explore everything from Architecture to Gardening to Wedding Idea pins, or type in whatever else you are searching for.  Personally, I mostly look up crafts for kids, travel ideas, and, of course, vegan dishes!  You have to be “invited”, which is very simple by logging on through Facebook or Twitter, or just by submitting your email address. You are typically “accepted” within 24-48 hours.  Then you can start pinning away!  You make your own “boards” (like “crafts”, “recipes”, “travel”, etc.) where you then “pin” the posts that interest you most.  That way you can easily refer back to your own profile to retrieve the ideas that caught your eye.  It is a lot of fun, but I must warn you – it can be addicting! 

I am relieved to see that restaurants are finally offering more meatless dishes, or at least happy to make changes or substitutions by request.  T.G.I.Friday’s, for instance, offers a delicious new Sedona Black Bean Burger.  You can order it sans the pepper jack and cheddar cheeses for a vegan version.  A few weekends ago we grabbed a quick bite at a place called The Pita Pit in Indianapolis, IN.  Basically a made-to-order sandwich shop, they offered an array of meats, cheeses and fresh produce.  I devoured my Garden pita on wheat, with hummus and avocado extras.  They had a Spicy Black Bean pita that I am eager to try, now that I know that they are a chain restaurant!  Seasons 52 is wonderful for finer dining (for patrons looking for an extensive wine list).  I especially loved that they have Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten-Free menus on hand.  (See my earlier Seasons 52 Review post).

So here is a starting point.  The food you eat should be a lifestyle, not a diet. Again, start slow, and don’t judge yourself too harshly if you stray from your personal goals.  Remember no one is perfect, and there is always the next meal.  Do a little research from the plethora of resources out there, and select a few recipes that make your mouth water!  Over time, you might be surprised when there are more veg-based meals on your menu than meat! 

Coming up next:  Four more suggestions for persons looking to eat Vegetarian!

Yours in Health,



Happy Independence Day July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!!!  Click the link and enjoy 🙂


Yoga and COPD July 2, 2012

Chances are that you know at least one person that suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Decease (COPD).  Roughly 12 million Americans suffer from COPD.  COPD, either through chronic bronchitis or emphysema, impacts a person’s ability to breath.   This of course can have a profound impact on the quality of someone’s life.

I know because my mother has COPD.  Back in the 1980’s she quit smoking cold turkey.  Unfortunately, nearly 25 years later, she was diagnosed with COPD.  Based on my observations of her battle with COPD over the last 7 years, living with COPD is complicated and can result in a dangerous downward spiral of health.  Difficulty breathing and ongoing bouts with bronchitis limits your ability to exercise which often results in weight gain which further exasperates the issues with breathing.  You can see how COPD can impact both your quality of life and independence.  The true danger in this is the feeling of losing control of your health that then leads to loss of hope.  While this is not a disease that is limited to seniors, COPD is especially tough on seniors, because it can multiply the impacts of our natural reduction of physical ability that comes with age.

What does this have to do with yoga you might ask?  One of the challenges for people with COPD is finding a way to stay physically active or regain the ability to be physically active.  Exercise to build or maintain lung capacity as well as to maintain a healthy weight is very important in limiting the impact of COPD on those that have it and to maximize quality of life.  The first images that pop into your mind of people doing yoga may lead you to believe that yoga is not the answer, but actually yoga is an excellent option for people of all ages and physical conditions that suffer from COPD including seniors.

Why is yoga a great option for those that suffer from COPD?

  1. Yoga is all about breathing – The power of breath and breathing is a core principle in yoga.  In the treatment of COPD patients are taught how to breathe correctly.  Yoga teaches you to control and use your breath as well as helps build lung capacity.
  1. Yoga is all about movement – Yoga teaches you to couple breathing and movement.  Since movement equals exercise, it is a great way to build your physical capabilities.  It makes a great addition to your current exercise program and is the perfect way to get started again if you have not been exercising.
  1. Yoga is all about meeting yourself where you are – Many think yoga is only for the young and already fit.  Yoga, more than any other form of exercise, has the ability to meet you where you are no matter your physical capability or age.  You can start in Chair Yoga and build from there.  I would argue that yoga is the best single physical activity people with COPD can undertake.
  1. Yoga at YouYoga is all about community – When you are trying to overcome any challenge, it is always better to have support doing so.  At YouYoga we have built a community of likeminded people studying yoga for many reasons, but all wanting to do so in an inviting, safe, non-judgmental, supportive environment.

If you suffer from COPD or know someone who does, I encourage you to consider yoga as a way to minimize its impacts, improve your quality of life and to preserve your independence.


Sunday Inspirtaion 40 July 1, 2012




      “Be faithful in small things, because it is in them that your strength lies.”

      Mother Teresa