The plant based nurse

My family's excellent adventure to better health!

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Engine 2 Immersions: Enrich, enjoy, and get your discount here!

Whether you’ve been eating a plant-based diet for years or you’re just plant curious, an Engine 2 Immersion could be just the place for you! I just returned from a magical weekend at The Esselstyn family farm in the Hudson Valley in NY at a 2Forks Event produced by Engine 2 and Forks over Knives. We heard incredible speakers with invaluable information about the why and how plant-based eating prevents and reverses disease. We heard inspiring stories of recovery and self discovery from illness and addiction and met athletes who have achieved incredible goals, all with the power of plants.

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If hearing from and rubbing elbows with the plant-based experts and celebrities isn’t enough to entice you, think for a moment about the delicious plant-based food you will enjoy without having to ask what’s in it or if they can make you a special dish without oil.


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For most of us, just knowing all the right information isn’t enough. A 2Forks Immersion will also give you the practical tools you need to continue your plant-based adventure after you leave. With cooking demonstrations and talks that will give you insight into why it’s so hard to do the right thing for your health since the wrong thing feels so right, you will head for home empowered to make good choices and take your health into your own hands, or should I say your own fork!

Perhaps best of all, you will spend time making new friends and maybe even catching up with other plant-based friends you have met on social media. I find it fascinating to meet the real people behind the online personas and meet people from all around the country and the world. The experts will graciously sign your books, answer your questions, and sometimes even sit with you to listen to the other speakers.

You will leave tired but inspired, educated, and nourished.

You still have two weekend opportunities for fun with Engine 2 and Forks over Knives  this year and one coming up next spring!


September 30th – October 2nd 2016


October 28th – October 30th 2016


March 24th –March 26th 2017.

$50 Off Full Weekend Pass using code: BEETS50

2Forks Immersion – Seven Day Retreat 

Mago Retreat Center in Sedona, Arizona

October 3rd-9th 2016

Not only will 2Forks provide incredible plant-based meals to fuel you, but you’ll also experience a full menu of activities: hands-on cooking demos, yoga, hiking on one of the country’s “Top 10 Most Scenic Trails,” a stargazing party, bonfires, live music, plus a few other surprises.

$150 Off Immersion using code: BEETS150 

Visit .com to Register Today!

And remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!






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Engine 2 Nationwide challenge, Day 5, A practice becomes a habit, and then a transformative lifestyle!

As I made dinner tonight, it occurred to me that we have now been practicing our “new” plant based lifestyle for long enough that we have settled on some favorite meals and snacks that have now become “old standbys.” I never would have imagined two years ago when we set out to change our diet that we would get so used to this way of life that we would settle in and find new comfort foods.

I was so convinced when we started on this plant based adventure that this was the best way to eat and transform our health that I hoped it would become a new way of life, but I tend not to be disciplined with maintaining lifestyle changes. The only way I can explain our persistence in this venture is that this way of eating is self reinforcing. We started out practicing it by learning how to cook all over again and the food was so delicious that we made plant based eating a habit. It was not a habit that was painful, wearisome, or forced, but one I joyfully embraced.

Now as we not only enjoy our delicious food, but the physical and emotional benefits of eating a diet full of nutrients and antioxidants, I smile inside whenever I make a meal that we love that I can make without pulling out a recipe that will fill our bellies and comfort our souls. If you are on this journey, find foods that make your soul sing and in time, you too will be transformed!

Have fun with your food and enjoy!

Rice and beans day 5

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Engine 2 Nationwide challenge, day 3, “But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need!” -Rolling Stones

No time to cook tonight since we wanted to get to our instinctive meditation class after work, so we stopped off at a local Mexican restaurant where they often look at us like we’re out of our minds for leaving the cheese and sour cream off of our plate, but they always listen and adjust the dish to our needs. There is no veggie burrito on the menu, so we just ask them to hold the meat and add extra veggies and grill them or sauté them in water. I also asked for corn tortillas instead of the fried chips to have with the delicious salsa, and I had corn tortillas with my burrito instead of white flour tortillas. The beans are made with vegetable oil and this restaurant does not have the option of ordering plain whole beans, so I asked them to hold the beans and substitute them with extra rice et voilà, I had a huge plate of delicious, filling, and healthy food!

My husband recently had to attend a work function at a local restaurant and event venue that has no vegan options on the menu. He called ahead to see what they could do for him. When he called, he told whoever answered the phone that he wondered if they could prepare a dish for him without meat or dairy and told them he wasn’t fussy. He expected a baked potato and steamed veggies when he arrived. Instead, he was presented with a huge plate of quinoa and veggies with soy sauce that was beautiful and delicious! After all  of the omnivores at the table finished their chicken or crabcake dinners, Scott was still working on his plate and his dinner companions were all admiring his dish.

If you don’t ask, you’ll never know if your favorite restaurant might just accommodate you, too!

My food  today:

Breakfast: Blueberry banana oats with raisins, grape nuts and almond milk over a bed of raw spinach apple cinnamon tea

Snack: Apple and banana

Lunch: Leftover WW angel hair pasta with home made sauce and nutritional yeast and spinach

Supper: Warm corn tortillas with salsa, Veggie burrito with rice on the  side

Engine 2, day 3

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Plant curious? Step one: Watch Forks over Knives!

Considering taking a bold step to better health by eating a plant based diet? Step one: Watch “Forks over Knives.” You can watch it on Netflix, download it on the Forks over Knives website or ITunes, or buy the DVD from Forks over Knives or Just watch it! I love what Rip Esselstyn says about 2 min into the trailer, ” To me the answer is so simple, it’s criminal. It’s just people starting to take responsibility for their health and starting to eat more plant based foods!”

Check out the trailer below.

This documentary not only changed how we eat, it changed how we think about our food and where it comes from and how it affects our health. Perhaps even more important to the health of our family, it improved our mental health and my husband and I  began to rediscover that we not only liked one another, but maybe even still loved one another and enjoyed being together. I will forever be grateful to my friend Sarah and her friend Brittany for introducing us to this wonderful life changing film and to all the people we have met along the way who have helped us in our quest for better health and finding the most delicious, nutritious food on the planet.

Here is our friend Sarah who casually mentioned Forks over Knives to me and her hesitancy to watch it since her friend Brittany told her it was life changing. She wasn’t quite ready for any major change at the time, so I told her I would watch it. I thought maybe the film was about animal rights since Sarah mentioned something about wanting to eat fewer animal products and I knew she was working with a dog rescue so it made sense to me. I also love documentaries, so it was not exactly work for me to take 90 minutes out of my week to check it out on Netflix.

sarah and kids

Sarah and her wonderful children!

I was totally absorbed in the documentary and flabbergasted that I had never heard this science before about how plant based eating could not only prevent, but also reverse chronic disease. I had been taught a disease was “chronic” because it was irreversible and often progressive. The best a person could hope for was to manage their symptoms if they had heart disease or diabetes. This movie was truly revolutionary to me!

A little over a year after we began our plant based journey, I realized I had never touched base with Sarah’s friend who told her about FOK to thank her. Sarah gave me her name and I looked her up on facebook and sent her a message and had a wonderful chat with her. It is so exciting to see young people like Brittany and Sarah making changes and inspiring others and even more importantly, teaching their children a better way. They will not have to wait until they become ill in middle age to learn about better nutrition. They will be the ones preventing illness and suffering. How exciting is that!

Brittany kisses

Brittany cooking and blowing kisses in the kitchen!

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“Eat plants. Lose weight. Feel Great.” -Rip Esselstyn

I really should have called this post “Eat MORE. Lose weight. Feel Free!” I still find it absolutely hilarious that I can often eat more than my husband and yet I don’t gain weight. I did not set out when we started this way of life 2 years ago to hit a certain number on the scale, however secretly I was hoping to be fit and trim for the first time in my life. When I was in high school, I always thought 125 lbs would be a perfect weight. I have no idea where I got that number, but when I got to that weight last year and then dropped below, I was flabbergasted. I not only eat until I am full, but at times even eat until I am stuffed, an old throwback to my nervous eating. The only time I notice I gain weight is when I eat something too salty when we go out to eat or when we go on our mission trip in the summer and I’m eating a lot of peanut butter and bread.

The whole idea of eating more and losing weight seemed absurd to me. I had always believed the usual wisdom that the only way to lose weight was to “eat less and move more.” I had learned from my old Weight Watchers days that there were certain zero points foods that I could eat of freely without gaining weight. I used to open a can of green beans and put ketchup and mustard on them and eat the whole can, but I was still always hungry and never felt satisfied on their diet. So, I would go off of the plan and gain the weight back.

According to Dr.John McDougall, the reason I was never satisfied on Weight Watchers is that I had to limit starches or carbohydrates, the foods that give us energy and fuel our bodies. I was constantly distracted by my hunger and despite my success at losing weight, it was not enough to motivate me to stay on the lifetime maintenance program for very long. Besides, I became weary of measuring my portions and counting points and such. It was just a little to fussy and time consuming as far as I was concerned. So, about 8 months after I started my plant based eating journey, I burned my Weight Watchers Lifetime membership card.

Goodbye Weight Watchers!

I now can eat as much as I want, as long as I eat the right foods. The big  “secret” to this way of eating is that the food we eat is much less calorie dense than what I used to eat on the standard American diet. Not only are fruits, veggies, and whole grains less calorie dense, but they also have a lot of fiber, which helps you feel full. Win, win! Who doesn’t love to eat a lot and feel full?! Jeff Novick, RD, wrote a great article called “A common sense approach to sound nutrition,” which explains how to apply the principles of calorie density to weight loss. It can also be applied to help those who find they are losing too much weight and need to add more calorie dense foods to their diet.

Here is Jeff’s explanation of calorie density:

“Calorie density is simply a measure of the amount of calories in a given weight of food, most often expressed as calories per pound.  A food high in calorie density provides a large amount of calories in a small weight of food, whereas a food low in calorie density has much fewer calories for the same weight of food. Therefore, for the same number of calories, one can consume a larger portion of a food lower in calorie density than a food higher in calorie density.  On a day-to-day basis, people generally eat a similar amount of food, by weight.  Therefore, choosing foods with a lower calorie density allows us to consume our usual amount of food (or more) while reducing our caloric intake.” If you check out the full article you can read more about this simple approach and also see a list of food categories and how they rate for calorie density.

According to Dr. T. Colin Campbell, we can’t totally attribute the weight loss experienced by those on a whole food, plant based diet by calorie reduction or restriction alone. He notes studies that show that vegetarians who eat the same or more calories than meat eaters will be slimmer. He also talks about “thermogenesis” , or our production of body heat during metabolism, and he notes  “evidence that low protein diets can shift calories toward the production of body heat (thermogenesis) thus sparing its being used to make body fat.” (

In his studies with feeding animals a low protein diet, which is provided by a plant based diet, Dr. Campbell also found that “These low protein animals also were much more physically active, as shown by their voluntarily turning an exercise wheel attached to their cages.”

Dr. Campbell concludes: “Moreover, our human study in rural China supported this same interpretation. People consumed more calories, yet had lower serum cholesterol, less heart disease, less diabetes, less cancer, lower body weight and almost no obesity.This evidence suggests that a whole food, plant-based diet without added oil/fat minimizes overweight and obesity while simultaneously repressing cancer development and reversing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This points us to one cause (whole food plant-based diet), one effect (a constellation of diseases and obesity being prevented, even reversed), a long overdue idea that really works.”

We know that a whole foods, plant based diet can improve our health, keep our weight at a healthy level, and is delicious and loaded with great phytonutrients and antioxidants. So why isn’t everyone  in the health and nutrition field beating your door down to convince you to eat this way? Another post for another day!

So, Eat plants. Lose weight. Feel Great! – Rip Esselstyn, chapter 34, “My Beef with Meat”

Rip Esselstyn and me    at  Plantstock 2013

Rip Esselstyn and me
at Plantstock 2013