Tag Archive | plant based

Comfort Zone

I very clearly remember the first time I had to do a legit, grown-up, professional presentation. My manager and I had just completed leading our team through re-engineering our processes, consolidating functions with another business unit and converting to a new system. We were pretty proud of our work and it was noticed by the powers-that-be. We were asked to present our work to a leadership conference of about 200-250 managers, directors and vice presidents. We completely panicked!  We tried VERY hard to get out of it — begged, pleaded, offered alternatives — but deep down, we knew we had to do this, and we finally agreed.  This was big time out of our comfort zones!

We spent probably 100 hours (only a slight exaggeration) writing, rehearsing, stressing and getting pep talks in preparation. I recall there was a whole lot of swearing going on.  (How the &#$*^ did we get ourselves in this???) Right before the talk, we both thought we would be sick! In the end, it went fabulously well (those 100 hours really helped prepare us!), and we ran to the ladies room screaming with excitement!

That experience made me realize that, if I wanted even more of a leadership role in the company, I needed to figure out this public speaking thing. It couldn’t be an anxiety attack every time I needed to speak in front of people. I really needed to push myself out of my comfort zone.  And so I started looking for every opportunity to stretch.

I volunteered for business resource groups and offered to do introductions or even present. I accepted an invitation to speak to 400 people at the grand opening of the Philadelphia Hope Lodge (and even ended up on the Philly news). And I even agreed to make a commercial for the Philharmonic’s 4th of July show. Each one of these steps brought a bucket of nerves, self-doubt and self-consciousness. But I pushed through it each time and it got a little easier with each successive push.

Fast forward to present day…

This weekend I had the privilege of presenting at two wonderful plant-focused events as part of the community group, The Scranton Beets. First was a session at the local library (“The What, Why, How and Wow of Plant-Based Eating). As part of that presentation, I actually did a cooking demonstration, and my friend, Jean (www.theplantbasednurse.com), even put it “live” on Facebook (video is my next challenge to overcome). And then in the afternoon, Jean and I got up on a stage at the first (hopefully annual) NEPA VegFest to talk about plant-based eating for health and demo a wonderful kale salad.

Both were wonderful experiences that I would NEVER have done in the past. And I would have missed those experiences if I didn’t keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone — over and over and over again. It did get easier over time, and now I don’t even sweat it (much!). Public speaking has a big part in my future plans, so I’m glad I kept at it!

So what’s that one thing holding you back? What’s that one obstacle that requires you to keep pushing forward to achieve your dreams? Just take it one step at a time, one opportunity at a time — and go for it! Pretty soon, this new skill will start to feel pretty comfortable!


In case you are interested:  here’s the Creamy Kale Salad (from Plant Pure Nation) we demo’d at VegFest. I loved it so much I made it for dinner tonight — with kale, carrots, peppers and a few remaining green beans from my garden!  (You can really use whatever veggies you want!) The dressing reminds me of that wonderful ginger dressing you get at hibachi restaurants!



IMDb: Comfort Zone (2013)



The Silence of the Lambs

“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
~Dr Hannibal Lecter, “The Silence of the Lambs”

As I started to write this post, this quote came to mind. I remember going to see this great movie with my friend, Susie, and we clung to each other the whole time!

In case you are worried…no… I’m not cooking liver!  I did, however, cook fava beans for the first time ever!  Have you ever even seen a fava bean?? Those suckers are huge! (Or “yuge”, if you are following current politics.)

Yesterday’s dinner included: Isa’s Garlicky Thyme Tempeh (my first foray into tempeh), Lemon-Garlic Fava Beans & Mushrooms, and rice.

The tempeh was easy to do; basically cut according to the instructions, marinate for an hour or more, and grill or broil.  I actually seared on high heat in my cast iron pot which worked just as well. I will admit that, despite actually purchasing fresh thyme, I just ended up using dried. Minus the oil, I followed the fava beans recipe as is and both made for a delicious, hearty meal.

One more new recipe, also from Isa… Good Gravy Bowl with Broccoli & Seitan. The gravy is delicious; I actually doubled the gravy so I had some left over to top a baked potato for lunch. My only challenges with this recipe were related to poor planning. I felt like I used a lot of pots for this recipe for some reason and I didn’t plan the usage correctly. When I realized that I forgot to cook the quinoa, I only had a small pot available and I made a mess on the stove!  So plan ahead!  🙂

“Quid pro quo, Clarice. Quid pro quo.”  What delicious plant-based recipes have you tried lately?

IMDb: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Risk Factor

My employer has a website, powered by WebMD, that you can perform a health assessment, take various health challenges, and find recipes and other health information. In fact, they give employees a $150 check for taking the health assessment and performing 2 activities towards a healthier lifestyle. This includes things like smoking cessation, weight loss, exercise, eating so many fruits and vegetables a day for a period of time, and meeting with a health coach.

I had forgotten about the $150 until today so I logged on to my account to indicate that I completed my health challenges. While there, I read “Michele’s Condition Risk Report” for breast cancer and thought their six tips were worth sharing:

  1. Drink wisely.  Alcohol is a major risk factor for breast cancer. Even having one drink a day consistently can increase your risks slightly; drinking more than that can raise your risks substantially.  (Check. I might drink 1-2 a month; and rarely more than 1-2 drinks.)
  2. Get screened. Having a breast exam once a year by a health case professional will ensure that any changes to your breasts are detected early. It went on to specify mammograms, but I’m really on the fence there. I wouldn’t say don’t get them, but I’m not convinced they help — and they may actually cause harm. (But I can still say “check” on this one since I do have the site of my former breasts examined on a regular basis by several doctors.)
  3. Adopt an exercise habit. Moderate exercise reduces your risk. (Um. Check? Not sure if 30 minutes on the treadmill workstation at work counts as moderate… I was doing yoga for a while and need to get back to that.  I’ll give myself a 1/4 point here.)
  4. Stick to a healthy weight. Extra pounds have been linked to higher rates of breast cancer. (Ok, only a 1/2 point on this one. While I’m certainly not horribly overweight, the summer has not been kind to me. Five pounds gained on vacation back in June are refusing to depart, and then there’s the additional 5 I wanted to lose. But still working on this.)
  5. Eat plants. A diet rich in the antioxidants and fiber found in veggies and fruits may lower your risk of cancer. This was my favorite!!  I was so happy to see this on the list.  I thought the word “may” watered it down a bit, but I was still excited!  (BIG check on this one!)
  6. Stay positive. Finding ways to manage stress will boost your immune system, increase your well-being, and may ward off cancer. (While some days are easier than others, I think I’ll give myself a check on this one also!)

So how did you score?

IMDb: Risk Factor (2015)

Variety Girl

Over the past few weeks, I have talked to several people about the significant changes they have made in their diets and how it has transformed their health and their lives. It always makes me feel so good to hear those stories. I believe that we are the cusp of a major revolution in how people eat. Thanks to social media, the message of healing through diet is becoming more main stream and more people are open to it. While I am still mostly hearing about it from people who have serious medical issues, I am encouraged and hopeful that people will start making changes before they become ill.

The individuals I spoke to have lost 50+ pounds, reduced or eliminated medications, and seen symptoms disappear. It’s amazing! Feed your body the right foods and it will heal itself. The stories are so encouraging and I love hearing them.


One of the questions I get frequently is “isn’t your diet boring?” (As if meat and potatoes every night wasn’t boring?) Boring couldn’t be further from the truth!

We now enjoy a variety of cuisines. Some American fare, of course, but we also enjoy Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Spanish, Asian, and Indian! We are enjoying more spices and seasonings, and are all so much more open to trying new foods and flavors. Prior to going plant-based, there were a number of jars in my spice rack that had never been used. Now I’m using everything from coriander to cardamom. Thyme to turmeric.  I had never cooked with curry powder before, and now it’s a favorite. I recently purchased a never-heard-of-before seasoning: garam masala. I never used bay leaf and would never have thought cinnamon could be added to a dish that wasn’t dessert.  I’m even expanding my repertoire of peppers… serrano and poblano peppers just in the past week… and grating my own fresh ginger. You never know what flavors will show up on the dinner plate these days!

So boring? Not a chance!


One of our recent new dishes was another great one from the Oh She Glows Cookbook: Chana Masala. This dish is Indian/Pakistani and chick peas are the main ingredient. This was a pretty easy dish to make and everyone enjoyed it.  This dish called for fresh grated ginger, the serrano pepper, coriander, turmeric, and the new garam masala. The primary ingredients were tomatoes and the chick peas, and it was served over rice. I loved the addition of the fresh squeezed lemon juice, which gave the dish it’s tang.

A funny story about my serrano pepper…  I wasn’t sure how hot these particular peppers were, so I bought the smallest one I could find (it was about the size of my pinkie). I had it in my grocery cart, but it was so small that I forgot to put it on the conveyer belt and never paid for it.  I noticed it when I was putting my groceries in the car and my conscience made me go back in the store to pay for it. I thought it might not be worth it given the size, but I hadn’t looked at the price and didn’t know if it was an expensive speciality pepper, so I had to go back in. It barely weighed anything and ended up costing me a whopping $.04!!!  Ok, so maybe it wasn’t worth the trip back in the store, but at least my conscience is clear.  🙂


IMDb: Variety Girl (1947)