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How to Make Homemade Natural Deodorant

These days my life looks pretty crunchy. I’m a vegan who lives outside Asheville, one of the biggest wellness meccas on the East Coast. I mostly use herbal supplements instead of mainstream medications. I don’t wear much makeup. I teach yoga. I compost. I stopped using paper towels. And I make my own natural deodorant.

What? Yes. I make my own natural deodorant. If you’ve met me in real life, you’ll know I don’t stink! My husband Sam also wears my homemade deodorant — and he works a corporate job and can’t go in smelling like a dirty hippie. (He’s already known for wearing crazy socks and having long hair!) In fact, while I also use two commercially made natural deodorants, he exclusively uses homemade — and he was the reason that I began to make it in the first place!

 

The Stinky Truth: Most Natural Deodorants Don’t Work

I spent more than five years searching for a potent natural deodorant. I am an anxious person, and that means I sweat a lot. I don’t necessarily stink, but I sweat. I need my deodorant to last all day, so I stuck with my conventional deodorant because most natural deodorants don’t work for me.

I didn’t want to give up on natural deodorant. After all, I had transitioned to sulfate-free shampoo, mineral-based makeup and five-free nail polish. I had a drawer full of half-used sticks of natural deodorant that let me down at the worst possible moments, like when I was teaching yoga or in a meeting at work. Tom’s deodorant was sticky and wore off within hours. J.A.S.O.N. tea tree oil deodorant was the best, with Earth Science tea tree and lavender deodorant coming in a close second. I tried the crystal kind, too, but it was not strong enough and too drying. Reluctantly, I kept going back to the drugstore brand.

Why We Make Our Own Natural Deodorant

Finally, as I greened my life one step at a time, that drugstore deodorant stick was the product that just didn’t belong with the others on my dresser. I stuck with J.A.S.O.N., as did Sam, until he started to have a reaction to tea tree oil. That’s why we make our own natural deodorant.

If Sam hadn’t started to have a reaction to the tea tree oil in his deodorant, we likely would have been content with the “good enough” stick we were using. But about three years ago, he started to have irritation in his armpits. It got so bad that he developed a dry, itchy, scaly rash, and he had to stop wearing deodorant temporarily. He dusted his armpits with baking soda and wiped them with a soapy washcloth whenever he could, but he was working in customer service at a teahouse and couldn’t risk being stinky since he was working for tips.

We had to find a solution.

He found a recipe for homemade deodorant online, and I made him a batch. As soon as his armpits healed, he started using it — and he loved it! He hasn’t used anything else since. I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit, making it in larger batches and playing with the ratio of ingredients. We go light on the essential oils to keep it from irritating the skin.  

 

Why Choose Natural Deodorant

If you don’t stink and have no issue with your conventional deodorant, you might wonder why you should consider switching. One word: aluminum. Notice how I didn’t use the word “antiperspirant” to describe the product I make or those I currently buy. That’s because they aren’t antiperspirants, which usually contain aluminum salts. They are only deodorants.

The aluminum compounds in antiperspirants block sweat ducts and help prevent odor by inhibiting bacteria that feed on your sweat. That’s why products that contain aluminum are called antiperspirants. Those that only absorb odor or neutralize it are called deodorants.

Aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s and kidney disease, and though the link has been called weak, that’s not a risk I’m willing to take with my health. For the same reason, I no longer use aluminum foil (if it’s unavoidable, I use parchment between the food and the foil), aluminum pans or baking powder containing aluminum. (You can buy aluminum-free baking powder.)

There’s also a connection to breast cancer; some studies have said shown “a disproportionately high incidence of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant of the breast.” Think about how close the breasts are to the underarms, and when you shave, you open all those pores. We also spend much of the day with our arms down. Then we block a natural detoxification function of the body — sweating. Maybe I’m playing it too safe, or this is too “hippie,” but that’s fine by me.

In addition to aluminum, conventional antiperspirants contain endocrine disruptors like parabens, not to mention artificial fragrances and petroleum-based ingredients. No, thank you! That, my friends, is why I choose natural deodorant.

When I returned to 9-to-5 life in 2014, I picked up a “natural” antiperspirant from Tom’s of Maine. I wanted to have it on hand just in case I needed something stronger. Big mistake! I wore it once, and my armpits broke out. My pores couldn’t handle being clogged, and they swelled, along with my lymph nodes. I had to skip deodorant and bras for three days! (Thankfully, it was winter, so I could layer up.

OK, are you ready to make your own?

How to Make Homemade Natural Deodorant

Once you learn how to make homemade natural deodorant, you’ll see how affordable and easy it is. I bought shea butter over a year ago, and I still have plenty left. I like to switch up the essential oils based on the season or my mood. (Sam often prefers unscented, but I like lavender.)

I still need to experiment with putting this in a recycled deodorant stick. I am weird about getting my hands dirty (except for cooking!), so I don’t like having to put my fingers in the jar all the time. If you try it let me know. I think you may need a little less coconut oil for it to be thick enough for the stick.

As with the PPP stick (see below), this one will soften but not fully melt in summer. Just be sure to use a jar or container with a tight lid. We first used a one-cup Pyrex container, and it leaked a bit in Sam’s bag. We store ours in small canning jars.

Keep in mind that you’re using this on a very sensitive part of the body. You may not want to use very hot or cooling oils, like peppermint or eucalyptus. If you want more strength, add a drop or two of tea tree oil. Too much may irritate your armpits.

 

Yield: almost 2 cups

Time: 5 minutes of prep work, 1 hour to let cool

 

Ingredients

½ cup coconut oil

⅓ cup shea butter

½ cup baking soda

½ cup cornstarch

5-10 drops essential oil

 

Directions

  1. Melt the coconut oil and shea butter together in a small pan over low heat. Once the mixture is about ¾ melted, remove from heat. The residual heat from the pan will be sufficient to melt them the rest of the way.
  2. Carefully stir in the rest of the ingredients. I like to use a whisk and then a spatula.
  3. Divide between two jars with tight-fitting lids.
  4. Let cool on the counter for an hour, then stir to combine again. You can refrigerate it overnight if you want it to be very firm, or you can store it in the bathroom.

This amount will last us about six months.

 

My Favorite Natural Deodorants

I mentioned that I still use two commercially available natural deodorants in addition to the homemade one. (Not all at once — I’m not that stinky!) My favorite natural deodorants have ingredient lists similar to the one I make, and you may have most of the ingredients at home right now! I did, except for the shea butter.

 

Primal Pit Paste Royal & Rogue

$10.95

What they say:

Royal & Rogue Primal Pit Paste Deodorant Stick is a natural deodorant that actually works! Swipe away your stink with this convenient, easy-to-carry stick.

 

  • Neutralize body odor without aluminum
  • Get long lasting pit protection for the gym or workplace
  • Clean finish so your pits feel fresh and light
  • Handcrafted with real, natural, and organic ingredients
  • Jam-packed with natural goodness so you’ll be stink-free for all your adventures!

 

Royal & Rogue is warm and earthy with hints of Rosewood, Frankincense, Black Pepper, and Sandalwood. Great for men and women who like that “royal” feeling.

Deodorant should be simple — and good for you — with ingredients you can pronounce. That’s why our deodorants are natural with no harsh chemicals or aluminum… ever!

Royal & Rogue Primal Pit Paste Stick contains 8 ingredients.

What I say:

Full disclosure: This deodorant contains beeswax, so it’s not vegan. I didn’t realize that when I bought it (and I didn’t read the label — #veganfail!). I am using up my current stick. I like the smell of this deodorant, but it’s a little thick. If I had a stressful day in the office, it sometimes wore off around 4 p.m. It softens slightly in summer, but it won’t melt completely.

Schmidt’s Deodorant Charcoal + Magnesium

$12.38

What they say:

Schmidt’s Charcoal + Magnesium Deodorant is designed to help combat underarm odor. This deodorant features a blend of beneficial plant-based ingredients, including shea butter, jojoba oil and arrowroot powder.

What I say:

I wanted to roll my eyes at this deodorant when it showed up as a sponsored Instagram ad. I thought it would stain clothes or just be weird. Then I met the team at Expo West last year, and one of their employees gifted me a stick. I fell in love! It lasted alllll day at the trade show, and I didn’t have to do a pit test. I just bought another stick. I carry this one with me when I go to yoga or the gym. If you want to buy a natural deodorant instead of making one, choose this one. It looks and performs just like a conventional one.

 

And while I haven’t tried PiperWai yet, I want to based on the clever video featuring JP Sears:

 

How to Naturally Deodorize from the Inside Out

During my last yoga anatomy workshop, I realized how many muscles attach under the arm. Since then, I’ve had new respect for my underarms. They contain lymph nodes and are crucial to our natural detoxification systems. Here are some ways to keep your pits in peak shape and naturally deodorize from the inside out.

You are what you eat. A friend of mine once commented that she smelled better when she was vegetarian. I agree. Once I stopped eating meat, I smelled better. I wasn’t as sweaty. You may notice the same if you adopt a plant-based diet.

Keep the lymph moving. As I mentioned, your armpits are the attachment points for several important muscles: latissimus dorsi, subscapularis, pectoralis major, teres major and serratus anterior. They also contain lymph nodes, whose job it is to filter what the lymph transports throughout the body. (Lymph is fluid, and it helps transport nutrients and waste as part of the immune system.) Massaging the muscles and lymph nodes under your arms not only feels good, but it can stimulate lymphatic flow, which is a natural way your body detoxifies itself. After a shower, dig your thumbs into your pits and give yourself a good massage. You may find the chest muscles, your breasts, your ribs and even your shoulders start to loosen up afterward.

Moisturize your pits. Whether you use conventional or natural deodorant, they can be drying to the thin skin of your pits. At night, wash your underarms with warm water and gentle soap, then rub some organic coconut oil or cold-pressed (not toasted) sesame oil into your pits. I do this in winter to help prevent dry, itchy skin.

Detox your pits. If you feel really stinky, use a charcoal or clay mask on your clean pits once a week. This can help drawn out impurities just like it can on your face or elsewhere. If you have the time and privacy, why not do a head-to-toe bentonite clay mask?

Take a break when you can. When I’m working from home and know I don’t need to or anywhere, I sometimes skip the deodorant and let my pits breathe. It feels good, and it lets my pores breathe. You can also do this at night — and you should if you’re wearing conventional deodorant.  

Green your shaving cream. I used the satin, flowery-scented shaving cream in pink bottles all through high school and college. These days, I just use soap, and I have no issues with cutting myself or drying out my skin. If you need a shaving cream, choose a natural one or use coconut oil. (Or try this homemade shaving soap recipe.)

I hope this post has convinced you to rethink your deodorant — and give your pits the respect they deserve!

 

My 2 Favorite Matcha Lattes

I’m finally sharing my go-to matcha latte recipes! These recipes are an alternative to coffee if you’re not quite ready to quit caffeine. I find that matcha (green tea) has a different effect on me than coffee. Have you tried a matcha/green tea latte? (These are quite different than the ones at Starbucks.)

Here’s the back story: This summer was one of self-care. I’ve been working on some health issues behind the scenes, mostly anxiety and hormones. The two are definitely related, and I’ve discovered some nutrition and lifestyle triggers that I’ve slowly been removing and replacing. As you might have guessed from the title of this post, one of those triggers was caffeine.

Primarily coffee. I have always been sensitive to caffeine, but I thought that as long as I was drinking plenty of water, I could still have my beloved morning cup or two of coffee. Wrong!

I cut out coffee two months ago, replacing it with matcha, the caffeine in which has never bothered me. I haven’t looked back. I’ve enjoyed a couple of coffee drinks since then (a bit of coffee with some special herbs and spices I’ll share at some point, plus plenty of non-dairy milk), but I’ve been loyal to my matcha lattes. I started out simple, with just matcha, hot water and a bit of whatever milk we had on hand. Since I drink a matcha latte every morning, I’ve started integrating other ingredients, like maca.

Maca is an adaptogen, meaning it’s an herb that helps your body adapt to stress. It supports energy and stamina, and I use it to support healthy, balanced hormones, too. Maca is energizing in a nonstimulating way, so it won’t make you feel jittery like caffeine does. I can’t say enough good stuff about it! I find that the combination of matcha and maca gives me steady energy with no crash or anxiety (as coffee does). You can buy it in capsules or powder, and it’s the latter that you can use for cooking. Maca has a mild taste, slightly nutty and pleasant. Once it’s mixed into coffee or tea, I don’t notice its flavor.

What is Matcha?

If you’re not a tea drinker, you might not know much about matcha. Matcha is a special type of green tea that’s grown and then kept in the shade for a couple of weeks before harvest. The leaves are harvested, dried and ground into a fine powder. You consume the powder in your beverage rather than straining it out as you do with loose tea leaves or a tea bag.

Matcha has a vibrant, grassy, green taste that I love. It’s slightly bitter but complex, and it’s rich in chlorophyll (the pigment that gives matcha its bright color). Since you consume the whole leaf, matcha is higher in antioxidants, including EGCG, than regular green tea.

I’ve been drinking matcha since I lived in South Korea back in 2005, and it became a part of my regular routine when Sam started working for Dobra Tea shortly after we moved to the mountains. On cold winter mornings, I would drive down to the tea house when he was working, and he would make me a traditional matcha latte with a little bamboo scoop and whisk. (Sam’s quite the tea connoisseur after working at Dobra for three years.) I buy my organic matcha from Dobra, but you can find it at most supermarkets these days, and on Amazon.

How to Make a Matcha Latte

As I mentioned, I started with simple matcha lattes: matcha, hot (not boiling) water and milk. I make mine in my Vitamix because it’s easy, but you can also mix your hot water into your matcha using a small whisk. (Note that you want to mix the water into the matcha, a bit at a time, rather than the other way around. Matcha can clump if you don’t add the water slowly.)

And then I add some fun ingredients…

Dates: I now use one date to sweeten my drink instead of more processed forms of sugar. You can omit the date if you prefer, but I like the rich caramel flavor it adds. Dates are high in sugar, yes, but they also contain plenty of nutrients, including iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B6. I used to toss a pitted date in the blender, but it made a lot of noise and didn’t always blend smoothly. Now I fill a small jar with pitted dates, cover with water and store in the fridge for up to two weeks. The dates are soft enough to blend whenever I need one.

Hemp seeds: I use hemp seeds in my matcha for a boost of iron, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. (You can use any non-dairy milk, but this tastes better with a richer milk that contains some fat, like cashew or coconut.) As a plant-based eater, I need all the omega-3s I can get, so I consume at least one serving (3 tablespoons) of hemp seeds daily. Adding the healthy fats to my matcha latte gives it some heft, so it’s more satisfying and filling.

 

Ready for my two favorite recipes?

 

Lavender-Peppermint Matcha Latte

This is my favorite cool-weather recipe, and it’s inspired by a couple of beverages on the menu at Dobra. Peppermint is stimulating for the mind, and it’s traditionally used as an herb for memory. Lavender is calming and soothing, and I like the scent that it adds. Start with a small amount; adding too much lavender will make your latte taste like air freshener.

 

Ingredients

1 cup hot water

3 tablespoons hemp seeds (optional) or ¼ cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon matcha (OK, maybe 2 teaspoons when you’re really dragging…)

1 teaspoon maca powder (optional, but this is always in my matcha drinks)

1 date, pitted and soaked

½ teaspoon dried mint (or 1 dropperful peppermint tincture — not peppermint extract)

Pinch dried lavender

Pinch vanilla powder (optional; see tip)

 

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a blender. Put the lid on but remove the pour spout. Invert it and cover the opening so that steam can escape but your drink doesn’t spray all over your kitchen!
  • Blend until smooth.

Serves 1.

You can also make this as an iced latte. In that case, put the lid on the blender as normal.

If I want an extra boost of caffeine, I use an additional cup of jasmine green tea, and if I want to feel a bit calmer, I will use tulsi tea.

Tip: I like to use vanilla bean paste or powder rather than vanilla extract in dishes that won’t be cooked. Vanilla extract can have a harsh, alcoholic flavor in drinks. You can also split a vanilla bean and use the fresh paste — just a tiny bit will suffice!

Turmeric-Ginger Matcha Latte

This is my new favorite drink for fall — move over Pumpkin Spice Lattes! Seriously though, this even swayed Sam, who generally doesn’t like fussy tea drinks. (I also made him a coffee version.) It might look like a lot of ingredients, but it’s really not. See my tips below for prepping fresh ginger and turmeric.

I use both turmeric and ginger for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These plants are cousins, and they taste great together. Turmeric adds an earthiness to balance the other spices. Cinnamon helps balance blood sugar, so I sprinkle it on anything that contains sugar (natural or processed). Cardamom is so fragrant and delicious, and it’s good for the digestive system (it’s a carminative, meaning it helps dispel gas). All together with vanilla, these spices make a warming, comforting drink for cooler weather.

 

Ingredients

1 cup hot water

3 tablespoons hemp seeds (optional) or ¼ cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon matcha (OK, maybe 2 teaspoons when you’re really dragging…)

1 teaspoon maca powder (optional, but this is always in my matcha drinks)

1 date, pitted and soaked

½-inch piece fresh ginger

½-inch piece fresh turmeric, or ¼ teaspoon dried turmeric

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon cardamom

Pinch vanilla powder (optional; see tip above)

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a blender. Put the lid on but remove the pour spout. Invert it and cover the opening so that steam can escape but your drink doesn’t spray all over your kitchen!
  • Blend until smooth.

Serves 1.

You can also make this as an iced latte. In that case, put the lid on the blender as normal.

 

Tip: I have a tendency to let fresh ginger linger in the produce drawer, and I’ll find dried-up nubbins after bringing home a fresh knob. Oops. To prevent waste, I now slice fresh ginger and turmeric into ½-inch or so pieces, peel and all, then freeze. They’re ready whenever a recipe calls for fresh turmeric or ginger and can be easily blended, even with the peel.

Are you a matcha fan? How do you like to drink it? Any recipe requests or variations you’d like to see me make?

 

Book Launch Dinner Party at Plant

The day after we launched The No Meat Athlete Cookbookwe kept the celebration going with a dinner party at Plant to benefit the Literacy Council of Buncombe County. Heather Crosby, author of YumUniverse Plate to Pantrywas our co-host.

Jason Sellers is a culinary genius, and Plant is consistently voted one of the best vegan restaurants in the country, so to have him and his team interpret my recipes was a true honor. The food looked more beautiful than ever, and everything was fresh and delicious, of course. The entire night was gluten-free as well as vegan!

The chefs at Plant

Jason made our Switchel (aka The Original Sports Drink) into mocktails & cocktails. This is the mocktail version.

 

After starting with carrot-cauliflower tots from Heather’s book (gobbled too quickly for a photo!), it was salad time. This was my favorite course! Baby gem romaine & hidden treasure avocado salad. (The avo was stuffed — Jason, you know me well!) Plus pickled carrots, cucumber, lentils, smoked almond & olive mignonette, with chipotle ranch.

 

A ‘banzo bake, which is a chickpea flour quiche. This one has zucchini, asparagus, shallot & almond ricotta, plus mushrooms cooked with bitters, a baby Asian green salad and green on greens dressing (recipe in my book)!

 

Dessert! This was a mashup of my cheesecake and Heather’s, as well as Plant’s famous recipe. The crust was a sneaky mocha brownie, and the toppings were cacao candied peanuts, sharewell coffee, anise oil and a toasted sesame cookie. (Needless to say, such accoutrements are all Jason’s doing!)
It was perfect, but I was too full to manage more than a bite, so Sam ate it as a snack the next day. (And, confession: I’d rather have a glass of wine or an extra serving of salad than dessert

 

Me, Heather, Matt & Jason — such a fun night. My favorite local yoga teacher, Lewis, came, as well as my dear friends Rebecca, Jennifer and Christi!

 

“The No Meat Athlete Cookbook” Launch

After years of recipe development and writing and months of navigating the publishing process — which I can say does get easier the more you do it — our cookbook is finally out in the world! The No Meat Athlete Cookbook officially launched on May 16 (and promptly went out of stock due to unforeseen demand — yay and more on that another time).

May 16 happened to be the launch of another plant-based cookbook from the same publisher, YumUniverse Plate to Pantry. Matt and I teamed up with Heather Crosby, the author of that awesome book (which is also gluten-free and fabulous for those with allergies or food sensitivities), for a launch-day signing and panel discussion at Malaprops, Asheville’s best bookstore (it’s an indy that’s been around for 35 years!). Julie Wunder, of Running in a Skirt, was kind enough to be our moderator.  

My dear friend Sarah Whitmeyer, who also took our wedding photos, photographed the event for us.

Thanks to everyone who joined us and helped celebrate! I love chatting with readers about cooking. I look forward to more events like these!

 

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Recipe: My Favorite Tofu Scramble

In honor of the launch of  The No Meat Athlete Cookbook, I thought I’d do something novel. I’m sharing a recipe for my best tofu scramble. I’ve been so busy working full time and prepping for the launch (and freelancing and training for a half last fall and teaching yoga again and… you know… life…) that I’ve only shared quick recipes on Instagram. I want to thank you for continuing to read — and for your support with the cookbook. (And, I’m freelancing full time these days, so expect more posts — and reach out if you’re interested in health coaching sessions!) With that, I’m sharing one of our family favorites. I hope you love it as much as Sam and I do!   

Tofu scramble is a vegan breakfast classic, so common you’ll sometimes find it on brunch menus at non-vegan restaurants. I love making it for non-vegan house guests. It’s savory and packed with protein, and it looks somewhat like eggs to those who aren’t familiar with it. It’s always a hit. That said, I have a few requirements for my tofu scramble:

  1. It must contain nutritional yeast, to give it a richer flavor.
  2. It needs to be heavily spiced — I don’t just want sautéed tofu.
  3. It can’t be too salty. Salt is the cheater’s way of adding flavor to any dish. (It also can’t be greasy. Oil is another cheat.)
  4. It needs to be packed with vegetables. I want to see a little of everything: greens, root veg and aromatics. If there are mushrooms, even better.
  5. It must be yellow — this is purely for aesthetics, but it also means you get a dose of the anti-inflammatory powerhouse turmeric, on its own or in curry powder (I use both).

My beloved Park + Vine (RIP) had a delightful tofu scramble that met all of those criteria, but few other places make tofu scram the way I like it, so I often find myself drowning it in hot sauce.

I used to consider tofu scramble to be a weekends-only dish, but then I started making it in larger batches and omitting the greens (see #4 — greens are a crucial part of the dish for me) so it lasted longer. Now, we eat this every other week or so, usually with avocado toast or stuffed into a whole-grain wrap and toasted. Less than an hour of work on the weekends means several weekday breakfasts are ready in minutes. Now that we get up at the crack of dawn (5ish), every minute counts!

My secret is to load up on the herbs and spices. Thyme (and I sometimes swap in rosemary or use both) lends a savory note, while curry adds depth and heat. Smoked paprika is rich in umami, and its smokiness, along with the cumin, taste somewhat bacon-y (while I was never a bacon fan, I do associate smoky flavors with savory breakfasts). Tamari (instead of salt) adds more umami, as does nutritional yeast. Yes, there are a lot of herbs and spices, but that’s what makes it so delicious!

My Go-To Tofu Scramble 

Serves 6-8

15 minutes to prep (or less, depending on how fast you chop vegetables)

30 minutes to cook

Ingredients 

1 tablespoon grapeseed or avocado oil (optional)

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 bell pepper, any color, finely chopped

1 pint cremini or white button mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced

1 cup diced tomatoes or 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons yellow curry powder

3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 cup vegetable or mushroom broth, divided

1 large sweet potato, chopped

2 (1-pound) packages firm or extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled into bite-size pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

To serve:

Scallions or chives

Sauteed greens or fresh baby greens

Directions

  • Place a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, if using.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the onions and peppers. Cook for two minutes, stirring often, until they start to soften.
  • Stir in the mushrooms and tomatoes, and cook for five minutes, stirring often. Add the herbs and spices. Stir to combine, and cook for one minute, until fragrant.
  • Add half of the vegetable broth, and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan.
  • Reduce heat to medium, add the sweet potato, tofu and garlic. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the lid. Some of the tofu and veggies should be brown and crispy, and some will be stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add broth as needed to deglaze the pan again (this means “loosen the stuck-on bits” — this is another secret to getting more flavor from this dish with little to no added oil).
  • Add the tamari and nutritional yeast, and cook another 10 minutes, covered.
  • Remove from heat and serve, with greens and garnished with scallions or chives.
  • Or, if you’re batch cooking, allow to cool then pack into single-serve portions. Add the greens and scallions or chives before reheating.

Last Week’s Workouts: Power Outages and Schedule Changes

Last week didn’t go as planned, but I’m proud of myself for staying focused and not letting it get me down. It was one week, and in the long run, it doesn’t matter much. I spent Sunday morning in yoga teacher training, then ran errands and planned for the week ahead. I missed my window to run, then dealt with my old friend, insomnia on Sunday night. Monday it poured all day with strong winds (so strong it blew my front door open!), and we returned home to find our road closed to through traffic, a tree blocking the road just after our driveway and no power. We didn’t have power until Tuesday afternoon, so that thwarted our Monday night workout plans. It was still too wet and soggy to run or ride the dirt/gravel roads or the paths in the park, so we ran errands and went out for Korean instead.

Later in the week I got my groove back, then received some unexpected news on Thursday that spurred another weeknight out. I’ll share more about that soon, but I can say that I officially have no excuses for fitting in my workouts!

Here’s how the week looked:

Sunday: Yoga in the morning.

Monday: Rain and no power.

Tuesday: Morning yoga. Run 4. I ran the hills around my house while listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast, Big Magic. I find her, and especially this podcast, incredibly inspiring.

Wednesday: Morning yoga, brief, after another night with less-than-stellar sleep. (Not even valerian helped!)

Thursday: Morning yoga.

Friday: Run 3.5 — I let myself get too hungry, and I couldn’t go any further. Oops.

Saturday: Short hike with my mother-in-law.

Today: Sam and I drove to South Carolina to hike, only to find a line to park with an estimated 30-minute wait. Fail! So we came home, he hit the road and I did a bit of gardening. As soon as I publish this, I’ll head out for a run and do yoga after.

How was your week? 

I’m really excited for this week. I have some fun workouts planned, and it’s my first full week with my new schedule.

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I’m Back, with Last Week’s Workouts

After nearly three years of work, I’m thrilled to say that The No Meat Athlete Cookbook is here, almost. The book arrived at the warehouse last Monday, and my personal copies will arrive Tuesday. (Recipe testers, yours will be in the mail by next weekend!) The “official” launch is May 16, but copies could be showing up at your local bookstore this week!

Now that the hard work is over and a few more things in my life have settled down, I’m resuming writing here. I intend to use this space for my personal posts, recipes and my real-life eats and workouts.

That’s something else I have more time for these days: working out! I’ve started lifting at the Y with Sam a couple of times a week, and now that it stays lighter much later, I’m running more, too. With my psoas issues (mine cause low back pain for me, as they do for so many of us), my physical therapist has forbidden me from running on the treadmill. Darn — ha! That means that when it’s too cold, dark or rainy to run, I don’t. I do something else instead, usually the elliptical or stair stepper. Since that’s cross-training, it’s even more beneficial for me than the treadmill.

Part of my rehab for my back pain (and an elbow issue caused by an overzealous Ashtanga teacher I no longer practice with) is weight lifting. I struggle with hypermobility, so I need so strengthen and stabilize my joints to force my muscles to do the work, instead of dumping into the joints and letting my ligaments stretch out.

Lifting with Sam is a win-win: I feel more comfortable in the weight room when we’re together, and I get to spend time with him being active. Having him next to me puts me at ease, and he watches my form, which is, admittedly, not great. I am graceful on a yoga mat but am completely uncoordinated when lifting heavy objects. I have a tendency to let the ends of my kinetic chain (read: my long, not-very-strong limbs) do the work instead of the bigger muscle groups like my shoulders, back and glutes. My super bendy hamstrings mean that I have a bad habit of bending over instead of squatting, which I’m trying to break. Three months in, I look and feel leaner and stronger, and I feel comfortable enough to do some lifting workouts alone. (I still have mustered the courage to use the squat rack or load up the trap bar on my own.) I’m enjoying my weight sessions more than I did at the outset, and it’s a good reminder to always keep a beginner’s mind.

In past years, I’ve had a word that defined my year. 2014 was change. 2015 was abundance. 2016 was more of a theme: eye on the prize. 2017? The word is balance. I’m finding more time for stillness, rest and reflection. It feels good. Part of that balance is ensuring that I always make time for my workouts. Here’s what I made time for last week:

Sunday:

Lifting: upper body

Yoga: half primary

Monday:

45 minutes yoga

hips and core work

Tuesday:

Yoga: 2nd series to kapotasana (three times & I caught my toes once!)

Run: 4 miles of hills

Wednesday:

I normally do yoga in the morning, but I was fasting for a physical and felt pretty lousy. I was starving when I woke up so opted to sleep in.

Walk: 1 hour

Some restorative yoga at night

Thursday:

Yoga: 30 minutes, with pincha mayurasana (forearm stand) drills at the end. I nailed this pose six times, so I think it’s time to start pulling away from the wall.

Lifting: mostly lower body but some upper body and core. I have awful deadlift form, so Sam has me using the trap bar. It’s helping, and I feel myself getting stronger. My PT likes to say: Grow a booty, change you’re life. She’s right! Stronger glutes are helping me so much.

Friday:

Run 4.5 miles

PM: Yoga practice during teacher training module

Saturday:

Yoga practices (2) during teacher training module. I’m working on my 500-hour teacher training at Asheville Yoga Center. I started it a couple of years ago and recently decided to get serious about it. I will have al my modules finished by year’s end! This weekend I did a session on yoga and anatomy, with my PT, Libby.

This week, the weather looks beautiful for running. I am going to aim for three runs, two lifting sessions and five to six days of yoga, plus walks on rest days. How are you moving your body this week?

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Announcing: ‘The No Meat Athlete Cookbook’

9781615192663

The No Meat Athlete Cookbook — now available for pre-order!

The news is out, so I can officially announce the details of my next book! The No Meat Athlete Cookbook: 150 Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes to Fuel Your Workouts and the Rest of Your Lifewill be published by The Experiment in May 2017.

I spent a year and a half writing this book with my friend, running and goal-setting expert Matt Frazier, using the recipes I’ve developed since adopting a plant-based diet back in 2010.

You can read more about the book here, and I’ll update this post with a cover image and more info soon.

What’s Next?

It’s been a few months since I posted, and that’s not an accident. This summer has been a busy one, but I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. I’m healthy, I’m happy and I get to do what I love.

I spent time in the newly renovated professional kitchen at my day job, helping our wellness chef cook up organic produce grown just down the hill on our farm. Week One we made wood-fired pizzas, and it was so fun to return to my cooking roots, aka the only professional “cooking” job I’ve ever had. (In high school, I spent a summer working at a pizzeria in my hometown. It was your typical small town greasy pizza, nothing even remotely resembling the cooking I do now, but it was so much fun to work there with my friends.) The hours were long, and I felt like I had run a (half) marathon after three days in the kitchen that first week.

Last Tuesday I finished the manuscript for my first vegan cookbook, which I’ll formally announce later this week. We ended up with 163 recipes and 69,000 words, so we have some cutting ahead of us. The book-writing process gets easier the more you do it, I’m happy to report. I complained a bit at the end, but it was nothing like the nerves I felt when writing the first three.

I signed up for my fifth half-marathon, which will be in October. I’m four weeks into training and feeling great. I’ve swapped in a new, dynamic warmup that’s made a huge difference, along with these Brooks Pure Grit 5 trail shoes. (The purple color is called Passionflower, aka my favorite herb!) Now that I’m no longer writing a cookbook for endurance athletes, I can actually go out and be one again.

The rest of the summer will be spent running, hiking and foraging. I love living in the mountains and being immersed in such a healthy, active lifestyle. You don’t have to go out and find it! I promise to be back in days not months — with news on the book.

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35 of My Healthiest Habits

Today I turn 35.

To be honest, this feels like a major milestone, and it was a little tough to accept. I feel like a real grownup. I’m inching closer to 50 than 20, I’m married with three cats and I’m noticing that my body isn’t as resilient as it used to be. At the same time, I am as healthy and happy as I’ve ever been, and I’m proud the life I’ve created.

Instead of throwing a pity party, I am choosing to be grateful, just as my friend Faith did a few weeks ago when she faced this same milestone.

In the five years since I turned 30, I’ve co-written two books of my own, worked on another and signed a contract on my first vegan cookbook. I’ve been laid off, built a successful freelance business and landed an amazing position with an ethical company I respect.

Sam and I moved from Cincinnati to Asheville to put healthy living at the forefront of our lives, we downsized our belongings and learned to live with less. We grew closer and deepened out relationship by staying committed to clear and honest communication. We never yell, and we rarely fight.

I ran two more half-marathons, realized distance running was no longer helping me reach my fitness goals and learned to love strength training and intervals. I overcame my hypermobility and found the strength to stabilize my practice, and I emerged more flexible than before.

I became a health coach, helped dozens of clients achieve healthier, happier lives and found my passion for compassionate, mindful goal-setting. I studied herbalism and holistic nutrition, and I’m in the process of becoming a fitness nutrition specialist.

None of this happened by accident, and my continued health and happiness are intentional daily habits. In the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve reached this point in my life, particularly the habits that are now second nature.

At 20, I was battling anxiety and eating disorders and never exercised.

At 25, I was in the process of losing 40 pounds while still partying way too much and getting stuck in negative and toxic thoughts and relationships.

At 30, I was a new vegan and distance runner and was just getting to know Sam.

At 35, I’m where I want to be, yet I know there’s always room to grow.

Here are (in no particular order) 35 healthy habits that I’ve built into my life over the last 15 years.

  1. Drink lemon water upon rising. While I don’t believe this to be a panacea for perfect health, I do find that warm lemon water clears congestion and stimulates digestion. I just use organic bottled lemon juice for ease.
  2. Early to bed, early to rise.  Getting on a regular bedtime, thanks to Sam, is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I have steady energy throughout the day, fall asleep easily and awake without issue. When I have trouble falling asleep, I take Valerian.
  3. Cats. Petting them is like meditation. Dealing with their finicky behavior is a lesson in patience. Loving them is a gift. Everyone needs at least two.
  4. Running, hiking & walking. Cardiovascular exercise keeps my heart and lungs strong, and the impact helps keep my bones healthy.
  5. Yoga (almost) daily. It keeps my mind, body and spirit strong. It serves as a mirror for my real life, teaching me humility, grace and patience. And it gives me confidence, too.
  6. I’m never without my water bottle. Hydration keeps my mood steady, my digestion regular and my hunger in check.
  7. Regular strength training. After age 30, women can lose muscle mass every year, but strength training helps to preserve and/or build muscle tissue. Strength training helps keep body fat in check, as muscle burns calories even when you’re not exercising, and it helps preserve bone density.
  8. Daily magnesium. This mineral is crucial to good health. Along with calcium and vitamin D, it supports bone health. It also promotes a healthy mood, relaxes muscles and keeps blood pressure in check.
  9. 1 cup of coffee in the mornings. Coffee has plenty of health benefits, but by limiting mine to mornings, I keep my anxiety in check. Too much java makes me jittery, so by cutting back, I sleep better and feel better during the day. I’m really picky about coffee. I won’t drink anything that’s not organic and fair-trade, and I never drink sugary coffee like concoctions. We splurged on this automatic pour-over machine after the holidays. Totally worth it!
  10. No nail polish & minimal makeup & hair products. Your skin is your biggest organ, and it’s in charge of detoxification. Your skin is a literal barrier to the world, so why poison it with toxic chemicals? Giving up nail polish wasn’t easy, but my nails are healthier and stronger now. As for makeup, when I wear it, I feel like it’s a mask. I put on a bit now and then, but I choose to create an inner glow through my other healthy habits.
  11. No artificial scents, including cleaning products. I said bye-bye to perfumes (I use essential oils and rosewater), scented candles and air fresheners years ago, and I started making my own cleaning products when Sam and I got together. It saves money and ensures that both us and the cats are not exposed to endocrine disruptors and lung-irritating chemicals.
  12. Daily SPF, 365 days a year. I have good skin because I take good care of it. I wear SPF 15-20 in winter, SPF 30 in summer, and I wear sunglasses and a hat when I’m outdoors. My pale skin needs extra protection, so I wear short sleeves when I run or hike, and I try to stay covered and avoid peak sun hours. I love hiking because I get to stay shaded but enjoy nature.
  13. I never smoked. Ick. Gross. My mom smokes, and it is a habit that has always bothered me. I have zero tolerance for this unhealthy habit. (Yes, that includes vaping. Ew.)
  14. I make health a priority. I schedule my workouts, plan meals weekly and make time for myself. I learned that, in order to take care of others, I need to take care of myself first. That isn’t selfish. It’s insurance so that I can care for my loved ones.
  15. I’ve cut way back on drinking. I drank too much for a lot of years. I have made a conscious effort to limit my drinking.
  16. I manage stress. Busyness is not something to strive for; stress is not a point of pride. I used to believe that stress was a sign I was working hard, but in fact it made me less productive. Now, through my other healthy habits, I can manage my stress, not take things personally and focus on the things I am capable of changing and influencing.
  17. I eat a plant-based diet. Becoming vegetarian and then vegan were the two best diet decisions of my life. My body did not handle animal proteins well, and I do not miss eating them at all. It’s been a decade, and I feel great!
  18. I’m regular. A good poop is a sign of good health. I got myself on a “regular” schedule by taking triphala when I switched to morning yoga. Now, thanks to a regular bedtime and wake-up, I “go” upon rising, regardless of the time zone or what I’ve had to eat. The longer #2 is in you, the longer those toxins and waste products are in the body.
  19. I say no. I used to say “yes” to any request on my time and energy. Learning to say no to things that do not enrich my life and stress me out created the space I needed to pursue things that bring me joy. It’s so liberating to say no!
  20. I rid my life of toxic relationships. By saying no, I slowly weaned myself off some toxic people in my life, some of whom are related to me. While this might be controversial, maintaining my distance helps me stay positive and happy.
  21. I eat green veggies daily. I get cranky if I go a day without vegetables. I love the way they taste, and I know that they are nutrition powerhouses that are working their magic from the inside-out.
  22. A daily smoothie or salad — or both. Trying to get in enough vegetables? A smoothie or salad or both gets you there. They are also great ways to use up what’s left in the fridge.
  23. Tulsi & other herbal tea during the day. Adaptogens like tulsi (holy basil) keep your natural stress response healthy and happy, which keeps energy level steady. Drinking coffee all day gives you a jolt of energy, but you’ll crash later on — and adrenals are left to deal with it. Think of it like this: Adaptogens are like putting money in your energy savings account; caffeine and other stimulants are like using a credit card.
  24. I don’t hold grudges or keep score. My dear friend Dan introduced me to the work of Pema Chodron about seven years ago. She changed my life. I learned to not take things personally, not hold grudges and not keep score. The result? So much more space in my mind to focus on what really matters.
  25. I cook. Though I have days when I’m tired and not interested in cooking, I know that being in control of what goes in my food and in my body matters tremendously. Food is fuel for life, and putting that control in the hands of someone else is not something I take lightly. I also truly believe that food takes on the energy of those who prepare it. When I cook, I believe I am creating and sharing love.
  26. I pack my lunch. To keep energy levels steady throughout the day, I pack plenty of protein and vegetables. Grains and quick carbs are a recipe for an afternoon slump. Not to mention, takeout and fast casual food are usually loaded with salt and sugar.
  27. I eat breakfast. Unless I’m sick, I always eat in the mornings. If you want to start your day off on the right foot, with plenty of energy and a positive attitude, eat breakfast. Skip the quick carbs and sugar, and get some whole grains, lean protein and heart-healthy fat.
  28. I support my liver. I didn’t think much about the liver until this year, but it’s a majorly vital organ. It detoxes the body naturally and assists digestion. And, it’s in charge of the breakdown of hormones.
  29. I show my adrenals some love. The adrenals handle your stress response. Keep them healthy and happy to keep your stress levels in check. Paying attention to mine has changed my life!
  30. I get an annual physical. Every year, I get a physical to track my baseline health. The results are fun to see. It feels like getting a report card — and I was always an A student! Annual results allow me to see how my habits impact my overall health.
  31. I manage my anxiety. I lived with crippling anxiety for years, and I still deal with it most days. Now, I manage it through my other healthy habits, particularly limiting caffeine, regular exercise and a healthy support system. When I need a little extra help, I have some herbs I turn to, and I use a meditation app on really bad days.
  32. I eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Beyond just eating a plant-based diet, I limit foods like wheat, corn and soy. I choose to consume these only in whole, preferably sprouted form. That means that I rarely if ever eat seitan, which I find hard to digest. I choose tofu a couple of times a month, and I only eat organic, non-GMO corn. I build my meals around vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and fruits in a variety of colors.
  33. I (usually) eat mindfully. I still struggle with emotional eating now and again, but instead of stressing over it, I understand that food is more than just something that fuels the body. Sometimes, food fuels the soul. I focus on eating mindfully and cleanly most of the time, so those times when I am emotional (aka every 28 days), I don’t need to sweat the overall impact on my health.
  34. I eat what I want. I want to eat clean, healthy food most of the time. However, I sometimes want a donut or a plate of vegan nachos. When I do, I eat them. And then I get back to my regularly scheduled eating habits — no stress, guilt or negative emotion.
  35. I actively stay positive. I am not a naturally happy person, and I do not come from a positive, optimistic family. I wake up every day and, thanks to these aforementioned habits, have the strength and the resources to be able to choose to be happy and healthy. One begets the other in my opinion. Sometimes, I fake it until I make it. That’s OK.

And some to work on:

  1. Drinking even less than I do now. I would like to break the habit of overindulging with friends, even if it happens only a few times a year.
  2. Meditate more. I have trouble sitting still. This is a sign I need to sit still more often.
  3. Create more time for friends. I still struggle with being busy. I make time for what matters, but because we live far from town, fitting in time with friends is a challenge. They matter, so I need to make that more of a priority.

Thank you for reading and allowing me to celebrate my 35 years. Every day is a gift, and I am so very grateful for the gifts of health and happiness. I hope that some of these habits inspire you to take positive steps in your own life.