Category Archives: Events

My Evolution as a Meatless Eater + the Eat Drink Vegan Festival

When I first became a vegetarian, I was 10 years old. I was raised in a family of meat eaters (my sister has since become a vegetarian and my mom is mostly one), but I knew from early on that eating animals wasn’t for me. I can remember so clearly sitting at my parents’ kitchen table for dinner, poking at a pork chop looking at the veiny colors, picturing the pig running around at a farm, and not feeling right about eating him. I was probably 7 at the time.

Once I went meat-free, I never went back. But I do remember feeling almost embarrassed if I was at a friends’ house or a BBQ and had to tell people that I wouldn’t be eating a hamburger. I think I mostly didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that I was different, or be a pain in the ass to have over for dinner for that matter. My brothers relentlessly teased me about my diet, and my grandma asked me how I would ever cook for a boyfriend one day (In her defense, as an old Italian lady who cooked for people every chance she got, I think this may have been a real concern of hers!). It felt like everyone else thought it was normal to eat the hamburger, but I just never did.

As I got older and learned more and more about factory farming and the environmental and health implications associated with mass producing and consuming meat, my convictions strengthened. Learning about the Blue Zones – the areas of the world where the people are living the longest – and that one commonality was that the people in those communities ate little to no meat made a big impression on me. I saw family members like my grandpa get quadruple bypass heart surgery due to clogged arteries – which is largely caused by too much cholesterol in the diet building up and blocking your arteries – and realized more and more the role that diet can play in living a long, healthy life.

And so, I became confident in my vegetarianism. I also became more conscious of where my meals and ingredients were coming from, and in the last few years, I’ve reduced my dairy intake a lot and eat vegan most of the time. I realized that I didn’t have to justify my plant-based lifestyle to anyone, and if people want to be judgmental about it, that’s on them, not me.

I focused my energy into turning my love for meat-free food into a passion, and I began this food blog. I got to meet other vegetarian food bloggers, who I drew inspiration and learned a lot from (still do!). I went to nutrition school and became a certified health coach, where I get to share my healthy living tips and tricks with clients and support them in their health challenges. These days, I also get paid to be a food writer, and sharing recipes is something that lets me be creative and makes me happy. I know in my heart that I’m eating a diet and leading a lifestyle that adheres to my values, and I feel good about that.

So while my belief in a meatless diet has never wavered, I feel like I’ve come a long way.

What else has come a long way is the popularity of plant-based eating and the prevalence of veg-friendly eateries. Not only are there more options for vegans and vegetarians at grocery stores and restaurants, veg-friendly events have become more popular in recent years too. It’s pretty amazing!

Last weekend marked a first for me: my very first vegan food festival! The event was called Eat Drink Vegan, and it took place at Rose Bowl in Los Angeles.

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15 Interesting Food Trends & Finds at Expo West

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child

Last week I got to attend an expo where healthy food and conscious foodies collide: Natural Products Expo West. It’s an awesomely overwhelming show with every kind of food producer you could possibly imagine – from things you’d expect like protein bars, nut butters, and salad, to things you probably have never thought of, like brand new products that have never been sold before. There’s no shortage of yumminess, and brands are eager to have you sample their latest products. I sound like Captain Obvious saying this, but I love attending Expo West!

Today I thought it’d be fun to dive into 15 things that stood out to me at the show. Let’s get to it!

1.) Vegan food has gotten more delicious. Even as a vegetarian myself who eats vegan the vast majority of my meals, I used to shy away from some veganized products because they just didn’t taste that good to me. Well, that has changed, as brands are perfecting the art of meat & dairy-free food! Daiya’s vegan cheeses have gotten tastier and more melty, and I also liked their caesar dressing. Ozery Bakery introduced vegan brioche buns that were fabulous.

And Kite Hill is doing dairy-free deliciously too. I’ve bought their yogurts before so I already knew that I liked them, but I tried a bunch of their cream cheese spreads at the show… and trust me when I say that you wouldn’t even miss the dairy if you spread it on your bagel.

2.) Protein cookies are big right now. And I am not complaining about that! I like eating cookies and I like making sure I eat enough protein since I lead such an active lifestyle, so why not combine the two? Munk Pack came out with 4 tasty vegan, gluten free, non-GMO certified protein cookies flavors.

I also got to try Buff Bake‘s protein cookies, and their chocolate donut flavor was my favorite.

3.) Millet tots. For two days of the show, I was working at the booth of Rollin’ Greens with a blogger friend of mine, Laura. Since they’re doing something unique (& tasty of course!) in the market, I had to include them in this rundown. Rollin’ Greens is a Boulder-based company that puts their own healthy twist on tater tots, making them with the ancient grain of millet instead. They have their original flavor, and recently came out with two new flavors: an Italian herb + a spicy-sweet combo. Healthier takes on comfort food is one of my favorite things to create, so I love what Rollin’ Greens is doing!

4.) Cold soup bottles are the new green juice. Okay, I actually don’t know if I should take it that far, but know that soup in a bottle is a thing now. One company doing it is ZÜPA NOMA. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what I’d think of the soups… but in trying their flavors, I was pleasantly surprised to really like them! Their tomato gazpacho was full of fresh flavor, and I would totally buy soup bottles to drink on-the-go and get my veggies in.

5.) Sambazon’s new chocolate covered acai bites are delicious. Sambazon makes frozen acai packs that you can buy to make your own acai bowls at home, along with other acai products, and at the show they unveiled a new product: chocolate covered acai bites. They’re awesome, and I’ll definitely be buying them when I see them in stores!

6.) Tea with maitake mushroom powder is a thing. At the show I sipped on some organic tea from Blue Buddha that was made with ashwagandha extract and maitake mushroom powder. Sounds a little odd, but tastes good I swear! The company focuses on the tradition of using plants and herbs to help keep people healthy for thousands of years. The antioxidants from maitake mushroom help support a healthy immune function, while ashwagandha has been shown to relieve stress and increase mental focus. I’ll drink to that!



7.) Vita Coco gets the most clever booth award from me.
Vita Coco makes coconut-based water, milk and oil products, and their Expo West booth had the awesome above pictured display of a cow on vacation. I also thought their tagline, “Tastes like no udder” is pretty clever!

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IDEA World Convention 2016: Working Out with Jillian Michaels & Trying POP Pilates

If you’re an exercise enthusiast, the IDEA World Convention is a wonderful event to attend. Not only does it attract lots of personal trainers, but it also brings bloggers and health coaches like myself together, along with fitness lovers who don’t work in the industry and come solely to participate in the workouts and get inspired by motivational speakers in the fitness world.

IDEA World Convention

Last weekend I got the chance to attend this year’s IDEA World Convention. A few years ago I was able to go to Fit Approach’s Blogfest within IDEA World (recaps here, here and here), but unfortunately this year I could only make it up to Los Angeles for a day. There were some seminars that looked interesting, but I decided to keep it simple and instead participate in a few workouts, then explore the expo floor.

On Friday afternoon, I drove (more like crawled in my car – oh SoCal traffic!) up to Long Beach to spend the night with my cousin. I timed it up so that I could spend time with my cousin, then have a shorter drive in the morning to the Los Angeles Convention Center. We went out for drinks and to an event that the Long Beach Museum of Art was having.

LB Art Museum showcase

An art showcase at the museum

The museum is right along the water, and it was nice to enjoy a glass of wine outside while listening to the live music they had and checking out the art. Afterwards, we went to another bar for awhile.

LB Art Museum-cranes

A display of cranes in the museum

The night was a lot of fun, and while I woke up early Saturday morning feeling like I could have used another hour or two of sleep (and maybe one less glass of wine the night before!), I also woke up excited because…. I had the chance to workout with Jillian Michaels that morning!

IDEA World Jillian-3

If I had to name one person that I geek out about seeing in the fitness world, it would have to be Jillian. I love how she’s a down-to-earth chick who has worked really hard to become the celebrity trainer that she is. I’ve been doing her workouts for years, and got to see her speak at IDEA in 2014. After so many DVD sessions with Jillian on my TV screen, I was psyched to get to workout with her in front of me in real life.

IDEA World Jillian-5

As I walked into the ballroom for her BODYSHRED class, the energy was awesome. Everyone just seemed excited to get sweaty with Jillian Michaels!

That’s one thing that’s awesome about IDEA World in general: There are so many go-getters there that are high energy, dedicated to helping make America healthier and passionate about healthy living. It’s a great vibe to be around!

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3 Food Trends Seen at Natural Products Expo West

Hi friends!

How was your weekend? I spent my Saturday in Anaheim for my very first time at Natural Products Expo West. The event brings together brands from a broad spectrum of food, health, and beauty areas to showcase their products. Last year, the event drew in 70,000+ attendees and had 2,700 companies exhibit from 113 countries!

Expo West Collage

I met up with Sarah from Making Thyme for Health and Julia from The Roasted Root, who both flew in for the event, to explore the vast show floor together for the day.

Me, Julia, and Sarah posing at the Amazing Grass booth with some rather large props

Me, Julia, and Sarah posing at the Amazing Grass booth with some rather large props

It was definitely the largest industry event I’ve been to, and I was both excited and overwhelmed to see so many great companies there. There was no shortage of food to try. The yummy samples were seemingly endless! I munched on vendor goodies for a solid 8 hours straight, and today I’m sharing a couple of trends that I noticed around the show floor. 

Banza pasta

Image via Banza’s Instagram

Beans everywhere! From crunchy bean snacks to bean pasta from Banza, beans – particularly chickpeas – were a star of the show floor. As a lover of the plant-based protein source and proponent of its nutritional benefits, I dig this trend. I had actually just made garbanzo bean pasta for the first time a week or so ago, and I’m finding it to be a great alternative to regular pasta.  Plus it packs more of a protein punch!

Expo West-free2b

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A Trip to Lundberg Family Farms During their Rice Harvest

“LEAVE THE LAND BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT.” – ALBERT LUNDBERG

Supporting companies that make it their main priority to create their products in a way that is responsible and with their customers’ best interest at heart is important to me. I love getting to know more about companies, whose running them, and what’s going on behind the scenes. This is one of the big reasons why I love buying food at local farmers’ markets, nabbing produce from the farm stand down the street from me, and attending events where I get to learn firsthand about how food is made with love.

Lundberg Farms Collage

That’s why when Lundberg Family Farms recently contacted me inviting me to visit their farm in Northern California during their rice harvest, I jumped at the chance. Lundberg is an organic, non-GMO certified maker of all kinds of rice products, and I was excited to know more about what they do.

Last Thursday I flew from Los Angeles to Sacramento, then traveled to an area known as Chico for the blogger event that Lundberg was hosting. That night, the event was kicked of with a dinner at the Red Tavern. Five other food bloggers were in attendance, and we were joined by Bryce and Jill Lundberg, one of their sons and his fiancee, and Lundberg’s PR and marketing team for some yummy eats and wine.

rice croquettes

My favorite dish of the night was the above pictured stuffed mozzarella arancini with sweet pepper tomato sauce. I’m a sucker for a flavorful, crispy rice ball!

Red Tavern dessert

A dessert custom made for the occasion by Red Tavern incorporating Lundberg’s rice cakes

Bryce Lundberg is one of about 35 owners of the family run farm, and quite a character might I add. It was so nice getting to chat with him and his wife, who you could immediately tell were such sweet, down to earth people. Bryce seemed so passionate about the company, and was excited to answer questions and share some of the history behind Lundberg Farms. I found his infectious spirit to be a trend throughout the Lundberg family members that we met with.

Lundberg Farms sign

The next morning, we headed off to Lundberg Farms itself for a full day of farm fun. First up, the company’s CEO, Grant Lundberg, took us on a walking tour of the tiny town where the farm is located, called Richvale.

Rice Avenue

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ShiftCon Recap: GMO Talk + Giveaway of Goodies!

“Every time you buy, you’re voting for the world you want or the world you don’t want.”  – Gary Hirshberg, Chairman of Stonyfield and Founder of Just Label It & Only Organic

I found this to be the most powerful sentence I heard at last week’s ShiftCon event. It’s such a simple and somewhat obvious statement, but it brings to light the fact that when you purchase something, you’re supporting a product – and not only the product itself, but also how it was made.

ShiftCon Marriott view

The view from the Marriott in Manhattan Beach, where ShiftCon took place

ShiftCon took place last week in the pretty town of Manhattan Beach, and was an event geared towards health, wellness and green living. You can check out this YouTube video to get a better idea of what the conference is all about.  I randomly won a ticket to the event through my ambassadorship with FitFluential, and was excited to check out what the event had to offer. My cousin lives in the neighboring town of Long Beach, which was great because I got to crash at her place for a few days and spend some time with her.

The conference had an exhibit hall full of brands that I love, including Barbara’s

Puffins at ShiftCon

(Can’t wait to try their new pumpkin cereal! Sadly they didn’t have any actually at the show.)

Annie’s was there with their yummy snacks and pastas…

Annies ShiftCon

…and organic yogurt company Stonyfield had a big presence there. Their gingered pear Oh My Yog! was delicious.  Stonyfield Oh My Yog!

ShiftCon also had sponsored lounges, including one with Naturepedic that allowed you to zen out on their comfy organic mattresses while charging your iPhone.

Naturepedic lounge

(This was me entering their giveaway for a new mattress by tweeting a picture. I didn’t win, but winning a ticket to ShiftCon AND a mattress would have been just too crazy!)

During a conference focused on food and the environment, it was no surprise that THE major topic of the event was GMOs. With states bringing labeling laws to elections and the House recently passing what its opponents refer to as the DARK Act (Denying Americans the Right to Know), which if passed, would preempt states from requiring labeling of GMO food, we are a really pivotal time when it comes to GMOs. I’m disheartened to know that many Americans don’t have any idea what GMOs even are, and since I learned a lot of facts at ShiftCon about them, I thought I’d share some GMO stats with you all today:

Honey Nut Concealios

Big food companies like General Mills are pouring millions of dollars into getting the DARK Act passed

  • So exactly what are GMOs? They are organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.
  • What crops are GMO? They’re primarily in soy, corn, cotton, sugar beets and canola oil. This may not sound like many foods, but it translates to GMOs in 75% of conventional food in the U.S.!
  • With the increase of GMO crops, herbicide applications have also dramatically increased. The primary ingredient in Monsanto’s popular Roundup herbicide, glyphosate, was just deemed to be a probable carcinogen, meaning cancer causing, in the state of California.

Nutiva Real Food Manifesto

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Barre on the Bay + Nonstop Refreshing Eats {Weekend Recap}

Hi friends! How was your weekend?

The two themes of my weekend were 1.) consuming all things cold and hydrating, and 2.) working out outdoors – followed by #1 again because exercising outside these days = lots of sweat! Refreshing eats. Sweat. Repeat. 

My top refreshing eats included the below pictured smoothie bowl, which I made because I was craving ice cream…

Raspberry banana smoothie bowl topped with Zing bar pieces

Raspberry banana smoothie bowl topped with Zing bar pieces

…and then later in the day when I still actually wanted ice cream, I got a cup of deliciousness from Sub Zero, an ice cream maker that creates your dessert right in front of you using liquid nitrogen:

Sub Zero mint ice cream

{Low-fat “Magnetic Mint” ice cream cup}

Yum. Sometimes you just need the real thing!   

I also ate an obscene amount of watermelon, and came up with this smoothie concoction:

Mango Melon Smoothie

{Creamy Mango Melon Smoothie}

The recipe will be posted later this week. 🙂

I ate just a few non-smoothie/ice cream/summer fruit items, including kicking off my weekend by picking up burritos and heading to the beach to enjoy them and the sunset with my hubby:

burrito on the beach

Workout-wise, I had a nicely active weekend outside — just how I like it! My hubby had Marine Corps training, so on Saturday morning, just my dingo and I headed to our favorite nearby park for an hourlong hike. I knew if we didn’t get out early, it’d be too hot for Harley, and it worked out perfectly because when we got there it was cloudy and didn’t feel too hot for her.

Harley hiking with Giants bandana

{She’s obviously a NY Giants fan like me!}

I also did some swimming/lounging in my pool to beat the heat Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday morning, I headed into downtown San Diego for Daileyfest. As I mentioned last week, it was an event hosted by The Dailey Method San Diego that featured barre classes and food/health/beauty/workout clothing vendors.

Daileyfest

The event was held at Embarcadero Marina Park North – a beautiful area right along the San Diego Bay typically full of active San Diegans running, biking, and walking around enjoying the area’s shops and restaurants in what’s called Seaport Village.

Embarcadero Marina Park North

Seaport Village sign

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San Diego’s Fit Foodie 5K & Why Running is Not My Thing

It’s pretty easy to tell that I loving living an active lifestyle. On a daily basis I take my dog on a long walk or hike, and do strength training, yoga, kickboxing, barre, cycling, rowing, or any and every crazy workout that comes my way.

But running?

I can’t say that I’m a fan. However, last weekend I had to make an exception and go for a run, but not just a regular old run: San Diego’s Fit Foodie 5K race to be exact.

Will Run for Food

When I heard about the event, I knew that it was right up my alley. Put on by Cooking Light and Health, the Fit Foodie 5K race weekend is jam-packed with happenings that seem quite obviously fitting for a girl with a blog called Foodie Loves Fitness, including celebrity dinner and brunch events, a cocktail night, sunrise yoga session and bootcamp class, and a 5K with treats afterwards.

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Sweating it Out with Under Armour at IDEA World {Day 3 Recap}

Hi there!

Hope that you all had a fabulous weekend. My mother-in-law has been in town visiting from Jersey, so my weekend was full of showing her a good time in SoCal. More on that later, but today, I’m recapping my third day of the IDEA World Fitness Conference!boat pose

(Yoga posing in front of the convention center, of course.)

My Saturday morning began bright and early with a 4:45 AM wake-up call to get ready for a….

UA workout

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The IDEA World Fitness Convention: My First Time Doing PiYo {Day 1 Recap}

Hi friends! Hope that you all had a fabulous weekend.

It has been quite a whirlwind for me the last bunch of days attending the IDEA World Fitness Convention, which included 12,000 people from over 60 countries! Within IDEA World was Blogfest, a 2-day event specifically for healthy living bloggers. It was hosted by Fit Approach, a company that I’m at ambassador for, along with a lot of great people. Let me tell you, I’m just about to burst from experiencing so much awesomeness at my first ever blogging conference! Let’s dive right into the highlights for me of day 1 of the conference…

IDEA Welcome

The first morning started bright and early with a yoga session led by San Francisco yoga instructor Stephanie Ring. It was a nice way to begin the conference by stretching and sweating! A shot of the yogi group:

Blogfest yoga group(photo cred to Fit Approach)

Afterwards, we headed to the opening ceremonies for IDEA World, which were full of inspiring stories. I could just feel the excitement and energy of the room from the moment I walked in.

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