Just Breathe: A Lesson in Listening to My Body

I write a lot about food on this blog, but there’s more to life than food and there’s more to me than recipes. Sometimes I’m hit with truths about life that I feel compelled to share with you as they happen. If you ever feel disconnected from your body, dismissing what it needs in favor of what you think you “should” do, especially when it comes to movement, I invite you to read this post.  


“Should I take hip hop dance or yoga today?” I asked my friend, Lola, the owner of Movement Lab, a mind-body studio in Baltimore.

She responded in a way that I wasn’t anticipating.

If you close your eyes and check in with your body, what is it asking from you?

More dance, cardio, sweat?

Something deeper, more stretch, more mindful?

movement-labMy weary, rundown body knew the answer.

The body that said, “Yes,” to one too many commitments over the past few months. The body that started to get sick last week as a result of being so exhausted. The body that performs for me at such a high level each day, carrying me from one event, presentation, and meeting to the next.

My physical body wanted to keep moving at its normal, breakneck pace. Dance! Sweat! Work it OUT!

But my soul knew I needed something else.

Rest. Stillness. Peace.


As I made my way through rush hour traffic to get to class, a new song came on the radio. A song I hadn’t heard before. A song with a message that I needed to hear.

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

Off to yoga I went.

As I left class, Lola saw me, smiled, and asked, “Did you serve your body today?”

I smiled back, still experiencing the peace and stillness from class, “Yes, yes I did.”

I couldn’t help but reflect on the lyrics of the song, the class itself, and our conversation on either end of it.

What if we were more intentional about listening to our body, noticing what it needs, ignoring the “shoulds” and aligning ourselves with what would serve our body?

Have you ever forced yourself to work out and move your body in a way that ignored how it was feeling, neglecting to check in with yourself to find out what would feel best for you in that moment?

Maybe you pushed too hard on a day your body was crying out for rest.

Maybe every fiber of your being was whispering to you to slow down, but you added another mile to your run.

Maybe you wanted to take a peaceful walk in the woods or try a yoga class but didn’t think you’d sweat enough, so you didn’t do it because it wouldn’t “count”.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve ignored my body’s inner voice and pushed it when I needed to rest.

I want to be clear. This is not about slacking off or not trying.

Some days your body will tell you it wants to be pushed or that you have pent-up energy and want to take that kickboxing class, go spinning, hit the trail for a long run or hike, or dance until your feet hurt.

Other days it will tell you that it needs a quiet nature walk, a yoga class, a relaxing swim, or a Nia class.

I invite you to pay attention to your body this week, to heed its whisper.

To get curious and notice without judgment how you’re feeling.

To be honest about what would serve your body best in that moment.

To pursue movement that brings you joy, freedom, and restoration.

To breathe, just breathe


Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Walnuts

Isn’t fall food the best?

What’s not to like?

Soups, stews, chilis, squash, apples, Thanksgiving, and

Brussels sprouts!brussels-salad-closeup

I’ve always liked certain vegetables that other kids didn’t like, including Brussels sprouts, but I think the Parmesan cheese shower I coated them with as a kid helped hide the taste. I think I liked the taste of the cheese…not so much the bitter taste of the overcooked Brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts get a bad rap because most of us have only ever eaten them steamed or boiled to death, which releases all of the not so pleasant smells most of us associate with Brussels sprouts.

BUT it doesn’t have to be that way? Brussels sprouts don’t have to be awful.

They can be incredibly delicious, especially when roasted, sautéed, or prepared raw, which is what we’re doing for today’s recipe. I first served this dish at a Healing Foods cooking class I taught in Baltimore recently, and it was a hit.


It gave me an excuse to use the food processor, which I demo’d on a Facebook live video. Using a food processor is SO MUCH FASTER and more efficient than chopping things like Brussels sprouts by hand.

The brand I recommend and have had the most success with is Cuisinart. I have an 11-cup style and a 14-cup style, and the 11-cup is sufficient for most things I do on a daily basis. You can find the best deals on their food processors on Amazon.

Brussels sprouts are in the cruciferous veggie family, which includes all-stars like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, collard greens and kale.

The compounds in Brussels sprouts help activate cancer-fighting enzyme systems in your body and support detoxification (cleaning out the gunk). Upping your intake of these mini cabbages can also help reduce inflammation and your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

If you’ve always been a Brussels sprouts hater or skeptic, I encourage you to give this recipe a try. Serve it up to family and friends – I bet they’ll never know they’re eating Brussels sprouts!


Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Walnuts


1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1.5 lemons)
Zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp 100% pure maple syrup
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated or finely minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
1/4 cup naturally sweetened cranberries (optional)

1. Working in small batches, place brussels sprouts in feed tube of processor fitted with shredding blade. Pour shredded Brussels sprouts into large bowl.

2. Whisk dressing ingredients (lemon juice through black pepper) together starting with the lemon juice, streaming in the olive oil last. Toss with brussels sprouts to coat evenly. Add more dressing if needed. To soften Brussels sprouts, refrigerate salad at least 30 minutes.

3. Top with walnuts and dried cranberries.

This salad will hold up well for a few days in the fridge 🙂

Do you have any favorite Brussels sprouts recipes? Feel free to share them below!


Triple Orange, Fennel & Beet Salad with Arugula

Wouldn’t you love to know how to make the most of your food, so you waste as little as possible AND stay nourished with delicious food?

I’m here to help 🙂


In the first part of a two-part series I’m teaching about the restorative, healing power of food, I shared several anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense recipes. All of the recipes are free from wheat, milk, eggs, soy, shellfish, and peanuts, which are some of the most commonly allergenic foods.

In their book, The Elimination Diet, Tom Malterre and his wife Ali Segersten point out that 80% of their patients felt significantly better after removing dairy and gluten from their diet. I found that all of my symptoms – allergies, congestion, frequent colds, dry skin, acid reflux – were reversed when I changed my diet and removed dairy and gluten.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to share recipes and inspiration for you to make changes based on what your body is telling you it needs.

We made homemade almond milk, chocolate-covered cherry smoothie, white bean and fennel soup, sauteed greens with pumpkin seeds, and the recipe in today’s post. I was inspired to make a salad with beets and oranges as I was reading Dr. Michael Miller’s book Heal Your Heart. But I wanted to upgrade it by adding in some stomach-soothing fennel, anti-inflammatory avocado, and anti-cancer arugula.

Not only that but this recipe features all three components of the orange – zest, juice and whole segments. It’s a great way to reduce food waste and make the most of the dollars you are spending!



4 beets, diced (Love Beets is my favorite brand)
1 fennel bulb
2 oranges
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 tsp raw honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup pecans, chopped


  1. Prep fennel following these steps from The Kitchn and put in a large bowl. I used a mandolin to thinly slice it.
  2. Peel one orange, cut into slices, then pull segments apart. Set aside.
  3. Zest half of second orange using a microplane grater into a medium bowl. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl, being careful to remove the seeds. Whisk salt, ginger, and honey into bowl with juice and zest. Whisk in olive oil until it starts to thicken.
  4. Pour half of dressing over fennel and let sit for 10 minutes, so orange juice can soften fennel. Add beets and orange slices and toss to combine. Add arugula, avocado and pecans and toss gently to combine. Add additional dressing if needed. Serve immediately.

10 Tasty New Food Finds from Natural Products Expo East 2016

What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been!

From the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore to the Culinary Nutrition Expert Retreat in Toronto, a Holistic Health Conference in Madison, Wisconsin and the New Jersey Veg Fest yesterday, and teaching a few workshops in between, I’ve been on what felt like a natural health tour of North America.


I’ve also gotten some clarity around how I want to focus and what I want to share. I feel drawn to go deeper on this blog than I have been in the past few months. I’m grateful for your patience with me as I’ve been a bit less regular with posts over the past month, but the clarity I’ve gained during that time was worth it.

One of the reasons you’ve told me you come to me with questions or follow me on Instagram and Facebook is to be up to date on the latest and greatest natural food products that I use in my own home and recommend to you. I know one of the most frustrating aspects of starting to eat well and remove foods like dairy and gluten is the overwhelm you feel when you step into the store and blankly stare at a wall with 20 options for one product.

How do you know which to choose?

I’m here to make it easier AND to introduce you to some fun, new products before they hit stores. For the past three years, I’ve attended the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore as Press because of how much this community supports my efforts on social media (THANK YOU!).

img_7868 img_7892

I want to pay it forward by sharing with you my top finds from the expo. As with all of my recommendations and recipes, they are all gluten-free and dairy-free.

I think you’ll be excited to see what is going to be coming to grocery stores in the coming weeks and months!


1) Hilary’s Eat Well Breakfast Sausage Patties

I first found out about Hilary’s Eat Well veggie burgers two years ago at my first Expo. To be honest, I wasn’t someone who ate veggie burgers; I thought they were pretty nasty and full of a bunch of ingredients I wouldn’t have in my own pantry.

These burgers are different. They are one of the ONLY foods we have in our freezer at all times. Bill loves to have them for breakfast, topped with an egg or on top of a sweet potato hash, and we also love them toasted and then crumbled up on a salad. I featured these burgers in my mason jar salad recipe at the end of the summer. They are SO good!

To make things even better, they now have a breakfast sausage version. It contains all real food for ingredients (i.e., no weird soy protein isolates) AND is dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and egg-free. The two versions I tried were Apple Maple and Spicy and my favorite was definitely the Apple Maple.

Where to Find Them: Click this link to find a store near you where you can buy all of Hilary’s Eat Well products.


2) Farmhouse Culture Ginger Beets & Kraut Krisps

Since over 70% of our immune system sits in and around our digestive system, eating fermented foods is one of the best things we can do to boost our immune system, not get sick, clear up our skin, reduce bloat, and have regular bowel movements (at least 1/day!).

I’ve been a fan of Farmhouse Culture’s Kimchi and Sauerkraut for about a year now and a few months ago I started taking their Gut Shots to support my digestive and immune systems. When I stopped by their table and saw their new branding (love it) and their new products, I was stoked!

The ginger beets were amazing and would be delicious chopped up and put on a salad or just eaten as a snack. But one of the coolest snacks I tried all day was the Kraut Krisp. With almost 50% sauerkraut, organic corn masa and a shelf stable probiotic blend in the seasoning mix, this is a chip you can feel good about eating. The dill pickle is amazing! I’m hoping to see both of these yummy foods in my local store soon!

Where to Find It: Here is the link to their Store Locator. On the link is a Product Request form that you can print out and take to your local store!


3) Beetnik Organic Frozen Meals 

We discovered beetnik Organic frozen meals about a year ago.What I love about them is that they are made with real, whole food ingredients and taste more like a homemade meal than a frozen one.

They are Bill’s #1 go to choice for lunch at school when he hasn’t packed leftovers or planned ahead. As an elementary school teacher, he’s lucky if he gets 20 minutes to enjoy his lunch, so convenience is key, but so is staying fueled and energized throughout the day.

Bill has liked every single one he has tried, and I know he’ll be excited to check out some of their new flavors like Ragu Alla Bolognese, Pollo Alla Cacciatora, Organic Lemon Chicken with Cauliflower Rice, Organic Shepherd’s Pie with Grass Fed Beef, and Organic Beef Chili with Sweet Potato. The first two are pasta sauces, and the last three are paleo-friendly and grain-free.

Where to Find Them: I buy them at MOM’s Organic Market or Roots Market, but you can use this store locator to find them near you.


4) Miyoko’s Creamery {Dairy-Free Cheeses}

When you stop eating dairy, one of the things you miss the most is the creaminess of cheese. Fortunately, food has come a LONG way, and brands like Miyoko’s give us the opportunity to get that beloved texture back 🙂

At the Expo, they were sampling their Smoked Farmhouse, Fresh Loire Valley and Double Cream Chive cheeses as well as a few others. They also have Garlic Herb, Sundried Tomato Garlic, Winter Truffle and Herbs de Provence varieties. Organic cashews are the base of their cheeses and give them a rich and creamy texture

Where to Find It: I buy mine at MOMs Organic Market or Whole Foods but you can use this store locator to find where they are sold near you!


5) Soul Sprout Snacks

After undergoing a rebranding from Two Moms in the Raw (who I’ve written about here) to Soul Sprout, these snacks are better than ever. They have granola bars, almond butter truffles, nut bars, grain-free cereal, and almond protein crackers.

Their plant-based snacks are made with sprouted ingredients and have recently undergone a makeover in the ingredient list. They used to use agave as a sweetener but upgraded to coconut sugar, which is less controversial and even more delicious.

Where to Find Them: I buy mine at MOMs Organic Market, but Whole Foods and The Fresh Market carry their products as well. Look for them at your local grocery store or shop online on their website here.


6) Jackson’s Honest Chips

I first tried these chips at Expo East two years ago and fell in love. They have become our go to chip and I’ve introduced them to dozens of people through my workshops and cooking classes, and my coworkers are kind of obsessed with them, too. They’re perfectly crunchy and incredibly satisfying.

The founders of the company created the chips as a result of helping their son recover from an illness doctors couldn’t diagnose or treat. They discovered how powerful coconut oil was in his healing and use it as an ingredient in all of their chips. My favorite variety is the sweet potato chips, but they introduced two *new* products at the Expo – Maple Cinnamon Sweet Potato and Rippled Red Heirloom Potato Chips. All I can say is YUM.

Where to Find Them: I buy mine at MOMs Organic Market, Wegmans or The Fresh Market, but you can find them near you using their store locator here.


7) Cappello’s Cookie Dough

I first fell in love with their chocolate chip cookie dough two years ago at the first Expo East I attended. Their cookies are gluten-free, dairy-free, and grain-free and use almond flour as the base. They introduced three new kinds of dough at the expo: Double Chocolate, Lemon Zest and Ginger Snap. I have a pack of each sitting in my freezer right now along with some of their fettuccine and lasagna sheets that I can’t WAIT to use!

Where to Find Them: I’ve bought their products at MOMs Organic Market and Whole Foods Market, but you can find them near you using this locator.


8) Simple Mills Crackers & Baking Mixes

I fell in love with Simple Mills baking mixes when I met them at Expo East two years ago. They have the best boxed bread mix, pancake and waffle mix, cake mix, muffin and cupcake mix, and pizza dough. I use their bread mix to make this delicious paleo-friendly, gluten-free stuffing, perfect for the upcoming holidays!

At the Expo, they were introducing their new almond flour crackers. My favorite is the Sun-dried Tomato Basil version, but they also have a Fine Ground Sea Salt and Rosemary & Sea Salt variety. You HAVE to try them!

Where to Find Them: I buy their products at MOMs Organic Market, Target, Home Goods (hit or miss!), or online at Amazon. Use their store locator to find them near you.


9) Forager Dairy-Free Yogurt

I used to eat yogurt every day growing up. I didn’t like sandwiches as a kid, and yogurt was one of the few foods that was easily portable and filled me up. It took me 25 years to figure it out, but the yogurt I was eating wasn’t the healthiest. It was usually full of lots of sugar and the brands I used to buy (Yoplait and Dannon) rank as two of the BOTTOM FIVE of a list of 129 yogurts rated by the Cornucopia Institute here.

Most dairy-free yogurts have a funky texture and more gelatinous than smooth and creamy. Fortunately, companies like Forager are beginning to step up their game and bring us delicious dairy-free yogurts that taste closer to the real thing. I loved how velvety smooth their cashew milk-based yogurt was and think you will, too!

Where to Find It: I’ve found their other products at MOMs Organic Market, so I’m hoping they will carry the yogurt soon! You can find out more on Forager’s website.

img_827010) Coco-Roons Superfood Cookies

I have to admit it – I used to hate coconut. At Halloween, every Mounds bar or Almond Joy went straight into the trash. No thank you! Over the years, I’ve come to love coconut no matter what form it takes – coconut flakes, milk, oil, and butter. It’s so rich and full of flavor.

One of my favorite desserts are the Coco-Roons made by Wonderfully Raw. My usual go-tos are the brownie and vanilla maple versions, so I was super excited to find out that they rebranded AND introduced two new flavors at Expo – Salted Caramel (YESSSS) and Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Where to Find Them: The best deals are at Home Goods, but you can also buy them at MOMs Organic Market, The Fresh Market, Whole Foods, and Safeway. Check out their store locator for more store options!

Well, that’s a wrap, friends! Those are my first ten finds. I think you’ll love them and can’t wait to share another round of awesomeness in my next post!


HEX Ferments: The Difference, The Flavor & The Future

This is the second part in a two-part series. Did you miss the first post? To learn about the start, the art and the heart of HEX Ferments, click here

I had the privilege of interviewing Meaghan Carpenter, one of the founders and owners of HEX Ferments, a fermented food and drink company located in Baltimore. I was drawn to her story because of how her company embodies the core of my food philosophy – to connect with our food, where it comes from and how it makes us feel; to savor our food, prioritizing quality and taking time to enjoy it; and to nourish our bodies with vibrant, life-giving food.

The Difference

So, what makes HEX Ferments different than other fermented foods and drink companies? Meaghan had a lot to say about that and was passionate about the quality of what they create.

We source and ferment for peak flavor. […] We work with layering flavor. Our staff are all trained in the culinary field. We’ve hired people that know how to work with flavor. We don’t use a lot of dried spices. We use a lot of fresh herbs and spices and we source from local farms for about 90% of our produce. That helps us to get the foods that are the freshest and at the peak of their flavor and nutritional profile.

The health benefits of HEX’s products vary greatly from most products on the market, especially in the case of something like pickles. Most pickles on the market are made with vinegar, which acts as a preservative to make them more shelf stable. It’s used as an instant acidifier.

hex-picklesUnfortunately, most vinegars are denatured or killed, so the nutritional benefits of fermented food are lost; there’s no probiotic component to vinegar pickles. The way HEX produces their products preserves the nutritional integrity and gives us the host of benefits we expect.

HEX naturally ferments their products through the process of lactic acid fermentation, which creates the beneficial microbes that characterize pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi. The next time you’re in the market for a jar of pickles or sauerkraut, make sure you read the label. You want it to be a “living food” with live cultures, no heat and no vinegar.

Not only does HEX prioritize using high quality ingredients and best in class fermentation practices, but they are also particular about the vessels in which they make their products. Unlike most large companies, they don’t use plastic barrels lined with plastic to ferment. When you’re creating a food that acidifies itself, you’re creating a lot of microbes that are really powerful that can eat away at plastic. Because of that concern, the team at HEX ferments in stainless steel, which also helps to keep their products tasting the same as well. That is considered the gold standard for how to ferment.

What I was surprised to learn next gave me another reason to take pride in having HEX Ferments as one of our own. They are the only fermented food company in the U.S. that makes and sells everything at their storefront. This gives their customers a unique experience and the ability to taste and smell everything and talk to the people who have a hand in making the food.

The Flavor

People often come up to the stand and aren’t shy about their feelings toward fermented foods, “I hate sauerkraut.”

Instead of being flustered or offended, Meaghan responds gently, “I’m sorry to hear that. That just means you haven’t had really good sauerkraut. You can learn to like sour.”

If you’re new to fermented foods, it can take a little while to adapt to their naturally sour taste, but Meaghan gave me some suggestions that could help.

  • Pickles are a great way to start because most of us are already familiar with them and have tried them before. Try some cucumber pickles or other pickled vegetables.
  • Try kombucha. It’s an easy entry point because it often has a bit of sweetness to balance the sour, and people tend to like its fizziness.
  • Their carrot confetti made with pickled carrots is a good starter and converted a former sauerkraut hater into a weekly customer.
  • Mix and eat things like sauerkraut with food. If you eat salad, instead of adding dressing, take a few tablespoons of the kraut, chop it up, mix it into your salad and add some olive oil.
A few bottles of HEX's brightly colored kombucha

A few bottles of HEX’s brightly colored kombucha

So, how much sauerkraut should you eat? What amount of kombucha is best to drink?

Start small. Keep in mind it is a living food and you’re introducing billions of bacteria into your system.

Meaghan suggests starting with one tablespoon of kraut or kimchi a day with food (i.e,. chopped up on a salad, as a condiment, mixed in with grains and beans, on a sandwich, etc.) and see how your body reacts. Her stepmother swears by breakfast consisting of an English muffin with peanut butter and HEXs juniper caraway sauerkraut. I can’t say it appealed to me, but Meaghan’s enthusiasm about it might get me to try it!


Sauerkraut pairs nicely with tacos in this dish with Clavel’s tacos and watermelon radish pickles

For kombucha, Meaghan recommends starting with four to six ounces on an empty stomach in the morning. This has helped her and others with chronic constipation.

As with any food, slow down and pay attention to how your body responds and then increase the amount you’re eating or drinking or stay where you are. Over time, it’s likely you will be able to eat more.

The Shop (Where to Find It!)

To learn more about HEX Ferments and their upcoming events and for locations where you can find their products, check out their website at

Locally, you can find their products at MOMs Organic Market, Whole Foods, Graul’s, and Eddies Market as well as at the Waverly Farmer’s Market in Baltimore on Saturday mornings.

fullsizerenderIf you’re in the DC area, swing by Each Peach Yes! Organic Market at Capitol Hill, or the Arlington MOMs Organic Market for a jar of their famous kraut or kimchi. Hex also has a presence at the Silver Spring Farmer’s Market and Bethesda Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.

If you’d rather skip the trip to the store or market and order online, you can order their products through Washington Green Grocer, Relay Foods, Hungry Harvest, and Hometown Harvest.

The Future

HEX Ferments is experiencing a ton of growth and will be expanding to a larger production space just down the road from Belvedere Square, where their storefront will remain. They will gain over 1,000 square feet of space.

A sneak peek at the new space

A sneak peek at the new space

They have plans to teach a few workshops in the fall and look forward to introducing more people to the art of fermentation. I’ll be sure to keep you updated about those events through my Facebook page and this blog.

Over the years, Meaghan and Shane have grown to appreciate and embrace all that Baltimore has to offer. They look forward to continuing to build community through HEX Ferments, as they invite us to connect with our food, how it makes us feel and where it comes from; appreciate food as beauty and art; and nourish our bodies with living, healing food that will leave us looking and feeling our best.

Have you tried HEX Ferments products? Do you have a favorite? Feel free to share below!


HEX Ferments: The Start, The Art & The Heart

I had the privilege of interviewing Meaghan Carpenter, one of the founders and owners of HEX Ferments, a fermented food and drink company located in Baltimore.

I was drawn to her story because of how her company embodies the core of my food philosophy – to connect with our food, where it comes from and how it makes us feel; to savor our food, prioritizing quality and taking time to enjoy it; and to nourish our bodies with vibrant, life-giving food.

The Start

What is this place?

Aside from what she had seen in John Waters’ movies, Meaghan Carpenter knew little about Baltimore when she moved here on a whim 12 years ago. The heat and humidity of Charm City in August and her cockroach-infested apartment weren’t the welcome she had anticipated when she picked up her life in Minneapolis to relocate here. She says “a boy” brought her here, but she stayed for a different boy, Shane, who’s now her husband.


Over the years, Meaghan’s initial impression of Baltimore has faded, as she has grown to appreciate and embrace her new home.

I feel like Baltimore is this really incredible city that is this melting pot that never seems to fully merge. People come from all over the place. But everybody has a pretty strong identity here. It doesn’t feel like a homogenous city at all.

Meaghan always loved food, grew up spending time in the kitchen with her parents, and worked in restaurant kitchens for years but never considered food for a career.  Both she and Shane have been connected to fermented food since childhood. They grew up eating the harvest from their parents’ vegetable gardens and learned the art of canning at a young age (“You can only eat so many cucumbers, zucchini and carrots” Meaghan confessed.).

They were raised eating sour foods, a taste most Americans have not developed. It was their early introduction to sour, fermented foods that would eventually influence the business they formed together nearly four years ago, a fermented food and drink company called HEX Ferments.

When Meaghan was in college, she was part of a natural foods store co-op and learned how to make simple kimchi and sauerkraut. She noticed it helped the digestive issues she had in college that stemmed from her very poor diet. When she started sharing simple meals of rice, beans, steamed veggies and sauerkraut with the co-op staff, she noticed by how much better she felt. She carried that with her and it would come in handy years later.

schlossmanhex0422It would take two transatlantic trips to the U.K. before Meaghan and Shane would delve more deeply into the art of fermentation. Both she and Shane spent some time separately in Ireland, where Shane worked on organic farms in Wales and saw a different side of fermentation – wines, meads and preserved foods – the side most of us are more familiar with here in the States.

It was in Ireland that Meaghan first learned about the sour, tingly, fermented drink called kombucha. She fell in love with it, and as soon as she got back to U.S., she put out a flyer asking who had the culture needed to brew kombucha. Meaghan was in luck. She learned the simple instructions for how to do it and has been making kombucha for the past 15 years, well before the recent kombucha craze started.

Years after Meaghan’s introduction to kombucha, she and Shane quickly realized that when they got together, they loved playing with flavors and having food experiments. They had a garden and had an overabundance of cabbage and decided to make sauerkraut. So Meaghan dug out Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz, a book she first learned about through the co-op, and they got to work. Since then, they’ve visited Sandor’s farm in Tennessee and have been mentored by him along with another husband-wife fermentation team from the Cultured Pickle in Berkeley, California.

hexplusculturedI loved what Meaghan had to say about what happened once they embarked on the journey to come together and explore the art of fermentation:

We instantly got rehooked into it all. Once you make fermented foods and you learn about it, there is the potential to get bitten by its mystery and magic, and there’s no turning back. Once you’re hooked into it, that’s it. It’s an obsession. We became totally and immensely obsessed.

Their friends loved what they made and suggested they open a business, but Meaghan and Shane were hesitant. They were enjoying their hobby and didn’t think they wanted to have a business doing it, even though Shane had been in business for himself since the age of 17.

But sometimes your calling finds you, and if you’re meant to do something with your life, it can be nearly impossible to escape. Meaghan was working at a desk job where she was “totally bored”. She was also teaching and making art, but she was not satisfied and found herself researching how to start a fermented foods business. Fueled by their newfound obsession and bolstered by Shane’s entrepreneurial skills, they decided to go for it and start HEX Ferments. It’s been nonstop ever since.

The Art

Meaghan designed the HEX Ferments logo and partnered with a fellow MICA alum to render the logo and set the vision for their brand. The inspiration for the name comes from Hexology folklore, which uses signs and symbols to protect relationships, secure the harvest, and ward off the unwelcome. In the same way, fermented foods protect and support our body, digestion, immune system and overall health and well-being.


Through her work, Meaghan has the opportunity to combine her two loves – food and art. She doesn’t see a separation between the two and credits her art education at MICA with her visual, creative problem-solving skills, which have served her well in business.

I see what we do as art. We get to play with flavors, and textures, and colors and beautiful objects and we get to put them together and let them slow cook, also known as ‘ferment’.

The inspiration behind unique flavor combinations, like Juniper Caraway Kraut, Carrot Confetti, Lover’s Truce Kimchi, and Butterfly Lime kombucha, often stems from whatever is in season.

The HEX team scours articles, recipes, and books for inspirations as well and considers their experiments a form of play. Meaghan said naming them is like naming a child and she and the team come up with names together.

hex-kraut hex-kraut-jarsFor Valentine’s Day, an abundance of local beets inspired the creation of a complex kimchi called Lover’s Truce. And when Meaghan was given green tea and saffron tea from Afghanistan by her brother-in-law, it wasn’t long before Saffron kombucha was born.

Meaghan flavor preferences vary seasonally, so she didn’t have a go-to kraut or kombucha. If she had to pick, the plain sauerkraut that is currently at the peak of its ripeness and the Carrot Juniper kombucha were at the top of her list.

Customer buying habits are more particular. Some customers shop by color (i.e., “I only buy things that are red.”) while others have their standby flavors like Garlic Oregano and never waver from them. At times, Meaghan and Shane will come up with make something that’s “super crazy” in a small batch, and people will eat it up and come back months later looking for it. They like to keep things fresh, fun and seasonal.

The Heart

When I have the opportunity to talk to people about food and hear their story, what I gravitate toward most is their food philosophy and the language they use around food.

My approach toward food is to invite people to be curious about eating – to connect with why we eat, how it makes us feel and where our foods comes from; to savor food and make eating a joyful experience; and to nourish our bodies with energizing, life-giving, real food, so we can look and feel our best.

When I asked Meaghan about her philosophy around food, I discovered that we share a similar approach and both prioritize being connected to our food along with nourishment:

I see food in different levels. I see food as culture. I see food as commodity and food as nourishment. The level that we operate in is all three. HEX sees food and our food system in a holistic approach. We need to address the entire system of what brings food, nourishment and culture to our plate.

I couldn’t agree more.

It’s a privilege to have a company right here in my hometown that is so committed to upholding the integrity of their food and nourishing people every day.

Stay tuned for the second post in this series to learn more about what makes HEX’s products different from everything else on the market, get some tips for how to incorporate these foods into your diet, and get a sneak peek at some plans for HEX’s future.


Join Me LIVE for 2 Cooking Classes in Baltimore in October

Fall has always been my favorite season.

I love the colors, the weather, the crisp air, and, of course, the food.


Laura Toraldo Photography

But fall hasn’t always been a time of optimal health for me.

I used to suffer from seasonal allergies, which meant taking Claritin or Zyrtec, and I couldn’t make it through the fall and winter without dealing with multiple bouts of congestion, post nasal drip, sore throats, and bronchitis. I always had a steady supply of Mucinex, Throat Coat, and Advair inhaler discs. For a third of my life, I also dealt with acid reflux, which meant popping pills at Thanksgiving and Christmastime, in particular, because of all of the rich food I would overeat and then pay for later.

Because I know what it’s like to feel sick and not at my best, I’m passionate about sharing what I’ve learned and experienced as my health has been transformed over the past five years. I no longer take any medications, can get through the whole winter with NO congestion, and don’t deal with post nasal drip, allergies, reflux, or bronchitis.

If you had told me five years ago that that was possible, I would have been skeptical and cynical, but because I now live that reality, I know that it’s true and possible.

Changing my diet has been at the root of why my body has begun healing and continues to heal.

For centuries, food has been used to prevent illness, relieve symptoms, and even cure disease. I’m now in a position of optimizing my health, so that I can continue to feel energized, have glowing skin, and build a strong immune system.

I will be teaching a two-part cooking class series about Healing Foods at the Institute for Integrative Health in Baltimore on Thursday, October 6th and 13th from 6:00-8:00 pm, and I would love for you to join me LIVE


Laura Toraldo Photography


Laura Toraldo Photography

We’ll explore the power of food and discover how it can be used to prevent and alleviate inflammation, strengthen our immune system, and enhance our energy and vitality. Through recipe demonstrations as well as nutrition and cooking tips, I will show you how to eat for optimal well-being. Everything will be dairy-free and gluten-free, and you will find out why during the class.

University of Maryland nutrition researcher Chris D’Adamo, PhD, will be joining me for both classes to offer commentary and answer your questions. He’s a wealth of knowledge and it’s an honor to partner with him again.

Want to join us? Click the button below.


**There are a limited number of spots for these classes, and they are filling up, so if you want to snag your seat, click here to register! The early bird discount of $50 for BOTH classes ends on September 15th, when the price will go up to $60 for both classes. This is the best deal you are going to find for this type and quality of class in the area!**

If you have any questions, please email me through this link, and I will get back to you. I hope to see you there! 🙂


Laura Toraldo Photography


Sundried Tomato Basil Quinoa Salad {Gluten-Free}

We’ve been making the most of the last days of summer and have spent just about every weekend and multiple nights a week hanging out with friends and family.

We also went to the Zac Brown Band concert on Friday night with thousands of other people, and it was AMAZING! I highly recommend seeing one of their shows if you get a chance. Their music is fun, upbeat, and makes you want to dance!

Zac Brown band

Because of all of this, I’ve really felt like a little social butterfly lately…and I’m loving it!

As someone who used to prefer being alone over being with people, I’m enjoying all of the socializing we’ve been doing. One of the commitments my husband, Bill, and I made at the beginning of the year was to be more intentional about spending time with friends and other couples, even during what is often a busy week.

Why the focus on so much more social time?

In his book Wellbeing, Tom Rath writes about the importance of social time in reducing our stress and worry and boosting our wellbeing. To have a thriving day, we need 6 HOURS of social time.  That includes time at work, home, with friends, talking on the phone, and even sending email (scrolling through Facebook doesn’t count) – anything that gives us an opportunity to directly connect with another human being. If six hours sounds kind of daunting, even three hours of social time cuts your chances of having a bad day to 10%. That’s reason enough for me to be more social!

We had a socially-packed day this past Sunday and easily hit the 6-hour mark by spending a few hours at church in the morning, going to a friend’s party in the afternoon, and visiting my in-laws that evening.

The party we went to on Sunday afternoon was a potluck-style party, so I decided to bring a new recipe that I had first taste-tested with my friend, Jeanne, on Friday night.

I was inspired to make this recipe when I was munching on the Tomato Basil version of Chickpeatos, one of my favorite snacks and a great substitute for croutons.

“Hmmm, wouldn’t it be great to combine those flavors into a salad?”

tomato-basil-bowl IMG_7572IMG_7573

So, off I went to experiment with a combo of sundried tomatoes (oh my gosh, so good!), fresh basil and a base of quinoa.

This recipe looks like Christmas in a bowl with its red and green accents, so it’s a perfect way to celebrate the transition from summer to cooler weather. You’re going to love it!


Serves: 6-8


1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine mesh strainer
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped (I use these)
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or oil from sundried tomatoes jar)
1/2 cup Watusee Foods Tomato Basil Chickpeatos


  1. Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until almost all of the water is absorbed. DO NOT STIR QUINOA. Remove quinoa from heat and leave covered for 5 minutes to steam. Remove lid and fluff with fork. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic together, then whisk in oil.
  3. In a large bowl, toss quinoa with sundried tomatoes, beans, and basil with dressing and top with Chickpeatos.

Tropical Mango Lime Coconut Balls {Vegan, Paleo}

Of all the recipes I create, this kale salad, this sweet potato and egg casserole and these no-bake bites and balls are the most popular.

I love the no-bake bites because they’re packed with an energy-boosting combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats, and the possibilities for flavor combinations are endless! I’ve made about a dozen different versions of these little bites, but I wanted to try something different with this recipe.


Because of the warm weather, I’d been enjoying this Caribbean Island Breeze smoothie with frozen mango and was inspired to make a no-bake bite using some of the same ingredients.

I’ve taste-tested these little gems with over a dozen people, and they’ve been a hit each time! With sweet mango, tart lime, creamy coconut, and a zing of ginger, these bites are full of flavor and fun to eat.

You’re going to love them 🙂 


Tropical Mango Lime Coconut Balls

Yield: 32-36 balls


1 cup raw cashews
2 cups + 1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup hemp seeds
1/4 tsp + pinch fine grain sea salt
1/2 tsp grated ginger root
1/2 cup dried mango, softened slightly in warm water for about 10 minutes, patted dry with a paper towel, then coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
zest of 1 lime


  1. Put cashews, 2 cups shredded coconut, hemp seeds and sea salt in the food processor and process (about 30 seconds) until it reaches a coarse meal.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to food processor and process until evenly combined. You may need to scrape down the sides a few times.
  3. Roll into 1-inch balls and roll in shredded coconut. Freeze or refrigerate in a glass container.

Basil Pesto Hummus {Vegan}

Summer is full of vibrant colors and bold flavors. I just love this time of year! Today’s recipe highlights one of my favorite summer herbs that is in season right now and seems to be in everything.



I had some basil leftover from making this Basil Walnut Pesto and wanted to try something new and simple, so I decided to add it in to a basic hummus recipe.

We served it to our friends Lisa and Brody, and their son Beckett, at a recent dinner at our house…and everyone loved it! Bill brought it to school this week for a back-to-school potluck, and it went over well there, too.

The recipe starts with the basic hummus ingredients – chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil – and upgrades it by adding in an underrated but super potent herb packed with health-promoting benefits.

Just a few of the body-boosting properties of basil are listed below:

  • Its flavonoids protect our cells from damage and help protect our DNA
  • The oils in basil leaves have strong antibacterial properties, naturally reducing the likelihood of contracting a food-borne illness
  • Contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can provide relief for anyone with inflammatory conditions like arthritis or inflammatory bowel conditions
  • Rich in Vitamins K and A, which act as powerful antioxidants that protect our heart

basil-hummus-aerial basil-hummus-closeup

Basil Pesto Hummus


2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Put garlic, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, water, and sea salt in the food processor and process until evenly combined. You may need to scrape down the sides. Add basil leaves and process again.
  2. Stream in olive oil through hole at the top of the food processor and run for about 60 seconds until smooth. It may seem a little loose, but if you put it in the fridge to set, it will thicken. If needed, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin it out.
  3. Store in the fridge in a glass container and serve with raw veggies or chips.

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