Month: April 2015

Mediterranean Chickpea & Sundried Tomato Kale Salad {Vegan}

I’ve been a kale lover for a few years now and have fun coming up with new ways to incorporate it into recipes.

I even found these super cool kale-lover clothing items at a small store called Simply Local in San Diego that reflect someone’s serious obsession with this leafy green veggie.

Kale Clothes SD

Today’s salad recipe has some Mediterranean inspirations with lemon, olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and chickpeas. It comes together in a matter of minutes and can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner.

From the kale and garlic to the hemp seeds and chickpeas, this delicious dish is LOADED with cancer-fighting and fat-storage fighting foods known as GBOMBS. Click here to learn more about GBOMBS and why we should eat them daily.

The key to this salad is massaging the lemon juice into the kale leaves to “cook” and soften the kale and break down its bitterness; it’s always important to give your raw kale a little massage.

Speaking of massage, when I was in college I considered going into massage therapy and even went so far as to buy a KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) guide-book to learn the basics. Clearly I didn’t pursue that route, so massaging kale will have to do! 🙂

Mediterranean Kale Salad

What I love about kale salads (one of the many things) is that they “keep” for a few days in the fridge.

Any other greens’ salads will wilt in a matter of hours once you put dressing on it, but kale salad holds up for about 3 days, so it’s something you can make ahead of time and enjoy for several meals.

Check out today’s recipe, and let me know what you think!

Med Kale Saladkale salad 2

Ingredients

1 bunch curly kale, destemmed, washed and dried
Juice of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced (1 large clove OR 2 small cloves)
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup nutritional yeast (click here for all the info on this cheezy substitute)
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I use the brand Eden)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons hemp seeds (optional)

Directions

  1. Tear kale leaves into pieces and put in large bowl.
  2. Add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and sea salt, and massage everything into the kale leaves for 1-2 minutes, until the leaves are shiny, soft, and have reduced in volume by about half.
  3. Add the black pepper, nutritional yeast, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, and hemp seeds and toss until evenly combined. Add more salt or pepper to taste.
  4. Enjoy!

Two Moms in the Raw Cookbook Preview & Bill’s Favorite Breakfast! {Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free}

I love cookbooks. I wrote about some of my favorite cookbooks in this post around Christmastime.

I have lots of them and always SWEAR that I’m going to make 20 more recipes out of each of them before buying another one.

Cookbooks for me are like shoes or purses for a lot of women…I can never have too many!

I’m excited to introduce a brand new cookbook to all of you that I just found out about a few weeks ago after being contacted by a company that I met at the Natural Products Expo back in September – Two Moms in the Raw.

Two Moms in the Raw's booth at the Natural Products Expo. They're coming out with a new line of bars and granola made withOUT agave and with coconut sugar instead!

Two Moms in the Raw’s booth at the Natural Products Expo in Baltimore in September. They’re coming out with a new line of bars and granola made withOUT agave and with coconut nectar instead!

They gave me a sneak peek at some of the recipes from their cookbook and even let me make one of them and share it with you a few weeks before the cookbook is set to release on May 5th.

Having never made any of their recipes before, I didn’t know what to expect but hoped for the best.

All I can say is HOLY COW. This is what the final dish looked like…

eggs skillet

eggs closeup

The name of the dish was a little odd yet intriguing – “Beet Shakshuka” – but the taste was incredible. It reminded me of something I’d buy at a fancy restaurant for brunch.

Bill and I both devoured it, and he said it just shot up to one of his favorite meals we make!

The recipe comes from the new gluten-free, dairy-free cookbook written by Shari Leidich, founder of Two Moms in the Raw and is titled TWO MOMS  IN  THE  RAW:  Simple,  Clean,  Irresistible  Recipes  for  Your  Family’s  Health.

Shari and I totally align philosophically (which is the only reason I was 100% on board with promoting her book). She thinks of food as medicine and knows what we eat can truly change our lives.

Sound familiar? 🙂

The cookbook highlights both raw and cooked recipes that are focused on helping all people (good cooks and not-so-good cooks) upgrade their diet by adding in healthy and nourishing foods.

TMITR_hres.Book.Cover

TWO MOMS IN THE RAW has recipes for over 130 dishes, broken down into chapters based on meal: juices and smoothies; breakfast; dips; soups; salads; veggie mains; fish, poultry, and beef; and sweet treats and snacks.

From the Garden Jewel Salad and No-Stress Meatballs to Peanut-Free Thai Noodle Salad (pics below) and Single-Skillet Chicken Puttanesca, the cookbook is full of delicious meals.

And just like the other desserts on this blog, the dessert recipes in the cookbook ditch processed sugar in favor of natural sweeteners and power nutrients.

raw pic

In addition to the recipes, Shari offers insight on her preferred ingredients, kitchen equipment, and “household  healers.

I love when cookbooks offer more than just recipes and give practical information, too. When I write my first one, that’s what I plan to do, too.

Ok, so back to the food.

Do you want to try this amazing beet breakfast recipe for yourself? Here’s a sneak peek of the recipe before anyone else can see it. It’s TOTALLY worth making 🙂

Want to buy the Two Moms in the Raw cookbook? Pre-order by May 5th to take advantage of the sale price – it’s a great deal. You can pre-order it here!

Beet Shakshuka Recipe

eggs closeup

cooked beets closeupskillet

Serves 4 to 6

From Shari: I keep the way I eat interesting by swapping in a variety of produce whenever possible.If that means using a veggie that contains a little more sugar—in this case, fiber-filled beets with their beta-carotene-packed leaves—I’m fine with it as long as it keeps me harnessing the power of produce at every turn. A dish with roots in Middle Eastern cuisine, shakshuka typically consists of eggs cooked to perfection in a savory tomato sauce. I keep the flavor profile Mediterranean by seasoning the dish with cumin and add a healthy shot of raw at the end in the form of springy scallions and earthy raw beet greens, which contain immune-boosting carotenoids, including lutein, which protects the eyes.

Ingredients
2 pounds assorted beets, such as red, yellow, and Chioggia—whatever you have—including the beet greens/tops
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large bunch scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced
1 pound vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Separate the tops from the beets and rinse and dry the beets and greens. Thinly slice the beet greens to yield 1½ cups and set aside; reserve the remaining greens for another use. Peel and cut the beets into ½-inch cubes.
  3. In a heavy, ovenproof 10- or 12-inch skillet (we used cast iron), heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the garlic and scallion whites and cook until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the beet greens and cook, stirring, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the beets and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cumin, salt, and pepper and cook until the tomatoes release their liquid and the liquid is mostly reabsorbed, about 10 minutes. 
  5. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet. Using a spoon, create 4 to 6 wells in the beet mixture and crack an egg into each well. Cook for 2 minutes, then transfer to the oven and bake until the egg whites are set, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and garnish with the remaining ½ cup beet greens and the scallion greens. Serve straight from the skillet.

Click here to pre-order the cookbook for more recipes like this! 

Recipes and Photo from TWO MOMS IN THE RAW by Shari Koolik Leidich. Copyright ©2015 by Shari Koolik Leidich. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

This is a sponsored post. Please know that I only align with companies that 100% philosophically support my mission for health and well-being, and Two Moms in the Raw does.

Baltimore’s EmporiYUM: My Top Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Eats

If you love food, Baltimore is a great place to live.

I was born and raised here, and only in the past few years have I come to appreciate all that this city has to offer.

This weekend’s EmporiYUM event downtown was a great showcase of dozens of local vendors and companies who put love and passion into their food.

emporiyum

I volunteered at the event with a company that my husband and I have used for the past year and a half or so – Hometown Harvest.

They’re a doorstep delivery service of local fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, poultry and other foods from local vendors, including fresh pressed juices, granola, hummus, nut butters, and salsa.

It was fun telling the dozens of people who came through the booth about how much I love their service and how convenient it is for us to wake up on Friday morning with a bag full of produce and cage-free eggs for the coming week.

Hometown Harvest

After hanging out at the Hometown Harvest booth for a couple of hours, I ventured out to visit the rest of the vendors to see what dairy-free, gluten-free goods I could find. (If you’re new to this blog, I eat dairy-free and gluten-free because of what I’ve learned helps my body feel best!)

I also look for foods that are completely in sync with how I prepare my own food and don’t use ingredients like refined oils or sugars.

Here are my favorites from yesterday!

Some are familiar faces that I’ve mentioned before on this blog, but others were newbies and are worth checking out.

Plantbar

Daniela Troia, the owner of Plantbar, is one of my favorite food people in Baltimore and I’ve been a fan of her restaurant in Towson (Zia’s Café) for years.

Now that she’s set up shop with her juice, smoothie and raw/vegan/gluten-free and aptly named Plantbar at Belvedere Market (my favorite place in Baltimore), I’m even more of a fan.

Plantbar had a bright and colorful booth with samples of their coconut bacon and three kinds of fresh, cold-pressed organic juices. Thai The Knot was especially refreshing on a hot day.

Little Baby's

Wandering down a little farther, I stumbled upon a long line for Little Baby’s Ice Cream, which I soon came to find out is an ice cream vendor based out of Philadelphia that will be making its way to the Baltimore market (Whole Foods and MOMs) by the summer.

I was elated to find out that they had a dairy-free, gluten-free option that I could sample called Coconut Tea.

OH MY GOSH IT WAS SO GOOD.

They use coconut milk instead of cow’s milk, and the texture was JUST like regular ice cream.

The only hitch is that they use agave as one of the sweeteners, so I met the owner and suggested it might be worth considering making a version with coconut nectar instead because of the controversy around agave. He was open to it, which was really cool.

Soom Sesame

Making my way across the floor, I saw an eye-catching display for tahini-based dips (made from ground up sesame seeds) from a company called Soom.

I’m a big fan of tahini and use it in my Super Food Kale Salad Recipe as well as this Snickerdoodle Smoothie, so I knew I would be on board with their products.

I sampled a few of their dips and became an instant fan. With flavors like Classic Sesame and Spicy Sriracha to Thai Red Curry and Zesty Mediterranean, these dips were delicious! I asked about the ingredients and found out that they don’t use oils I avoid like canola oil, so that was a bonus! 🙂

They’re not in Baltimore yet but hope to make their way here. You can buy their plain tahini on Amazon though and check out this link for a list of where they sell in the Philly/NYC/DC/Rockville area.

Kate BakesI ventured up the steps to one of the upper levels and met a company I’ve been hearing about from Hometown Harvest for the past year or so – Kate Bakes.

After dealing with years of frustrating health issues herself, Kate was determined to make delicious treats that she could enjoy without gluten, dairy or any animal products. The bars are handmade in small batches using organic ingredients.

She does use agave as the sweetener along with a soy protein powder in the bars, so I emailed her to get more information about that and to see if she has plans for using alternative ingredients in future creations, since I generally avoid those two ingredients. She was prompt, thorough, and honest in her response (all things I really appreciate and respect!):

Currently we’re comfortable using agave for how it behaves in our recipes (texture and flavor profile) as well as it’s low glycemic index. Each bar actually has less than one serving (less than one tablespoon) of agave and the rest of our sugar content comes from the fruit we use in the recipes – bananas, raisins, dates, or cherries.  We use soy for the same reason.  When I was creating the recipes, I actually tried several different protein powders including rice and hemp.  The bars that came out the best (by far) were the ones using soy. Since I personally don’t have trouble with soy (and the list of things I do have trouble with is quite long!) I wanted to use it since I could eat it and felt it created the best tasting product. I know these ingredients may not be for everyone and I really appreciate you asking these questions to learn more.  As someone with a lot of restrictions, I completely understand there are many reasons why people may choose not to consume certain foods.

Click here to buy Kate’s bars online and to read more about her story.

Blind Spot

The next booth on my stop was Blind Spot Nut Butters, who I first found out about through Hometown Harvest. They sell them on their website, but I had never met the owner or tried more than one variety of their nut butters, so I was excited they had a booth at the event.

My favorite flavor is their Birds & Bees Almond Cashew Nut Butter, which is a great add-in to smoothies. Check out the ingredient list: Raw Almonds, Raw Cashews, Sunflower Seeds, Honey, Ground Flax, Millet, Chia Seeds. All real, whole foods. Just the way I like it!

Here’s where you can buy their nut butters in the MD/DC/VA/PA area and online on their website.

Jinji Booth

Tucked away in a back corner (but always with a line) was my favorite Baltimore chocolate maker – Pure Chocolate by Jinji.

I wrote extensively about how amazing her dairy-free, gluten-free chocolates are here and here. She sets up shop at Belvedere Market along with Plantbar and one more vendor I mention at the close of this post – Hex Ferments.

If you like chocolate, you HAVE to know about Jinji. Everything she makes is divine.

Cava Mezze

My second to last stop for the day was Cava Mezze, which makes Mediterranean dips like hummus, tzatziki, harissa, and tapenades. They had a veggie platter and a variety of their dips available for sampling.

I tried the roasted red pepper, spicy and traditional hummus varieties and they were all savory, creamy and reminded me of my semester abroad in Southern Spain. I love that Cava doesn’t use refined oils like canola oil in their products, unlike some other brands of hummus.

Check out all of their flavors on their website here or find them at MOMs Organic Market or Whole Foods.

Hex Ferments

The last stop on my gluten-free, dairy-free, journey brought me to Hex Ferments – a company I’ve known about for just over a year (mainly because they are parked right next to Jinji’s Chocolates at Belvedere Market).

As I’ve been in the process of healing my body and digestive health from years of antibiotics and acid reducers, I’ve incorporated more healing, nourishing foods into my diet, including some things I – as a picky eater – SWORE I would never eat.

Like sauerkraut and kimchi.

Both are fermented foods that support, protect and shield our immune system, digestion and overall well-being.

Hex was sampling their Sea Kraut and Miso Kimchi – both of which were packed with flavor.

Check out their shop at Belvedere Market and remember to “go with your gut!”

And, that’s a wrap 🙂

I do what I can to support local businesses by voting with my dollars and how I spend my money.

As the daughter of two entrepreneurs, I feel particularly compelled to buy local and support small businesses.

I know they appreciate the love and confidence from their customers and that it encourages them to keep doing great work dedicated to helping us be well while at the same time enjoying amazing eats!

Did you go to The EmporiYUM? What were some of YOUR favorite stops? I’d love to hear from you!

Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough Bites {Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegan}

After making this Cinnamony Snickerdoodle Smoothie a few weeks ago, I told you I would come up with a recipe for Snickerdoodle bites…so here it is!

These little treats comes together in about 10 minutes and are great to make with your kids. I was able to recreate the chewy texture and cinnamon-sugar flavor of traditional Snickerdoodle cookies without using refined sugar or flour.

The key is using blanched almonds. almond meal I bought mine at Trader Joe’s and dumped the whole bag in the food processor to grind them up until they reached a fine almond meal. You can also just use blanched almond meal if you have it, but the method I used is the cheaper way to go.

Most grocery stores sell blanched almond slivers in the baking aisle, so you should have no problem finding them. (I tried the recipe with whole almonds, and it didn’t taste as good.)

These bite-sized treats make a great dessert or after school snack.

They have an energizing combo of healthy fats, fiber and protein from the almonds and almond butter along with a hefty dose of blood-sugar balancing cinnamon. I know you will love this recipe! 🙂 cookie dough bannerSnickerdoodle Bites Yield: ~15 bites

Ingredients

Bites

  • 1 cup blanched slivered almond (or blanched almond meal)
  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted*
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Coating

*If dates are not soft, soak them in warm water for 15-20 minutes and drain them, squeezing out excess water before adding them to the food processor.

Directions

  1. Put almonds in a food processor and process until it reaches a fine consistency and no chunks of almond remain.
  2. Add the dates, almond butter, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon and process until everything is combined, about 60 seconds.
  3. Shape dough into small balls (press between your hands, so they stick together) and roll in the cinnamon-sugar coating (1/2 tsp cinnamon + 2 tsp coconut sugar).
  4. Store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy! 🙂

How to Live to Be 106: Lessons from The Blue Zones & Great Grandma

Whether you’ve read this blog for a while or if this is your first time here (welcome!), you’ll notice that most of what I write about is food – food for nourishment, fuel, healing, connection and community.

The past two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind (hence my brief hiatus) but have reminded me that there’s more to being well than food.

Although what we eat matters, other lifestyle habits can significantly impact our health and wellbeing, the quality and happiness of our lives, and even how long we live.

I recently spent 11 days in San Diego to attend two wellness conferences and relax with a much-needed vacation with my husband, Bill, to celebrate what has been the most exciting year in my career.

FullSizeRender

During the conference, I was honored by the Wellness Council of America and had the privilege of meeting and spending time with some remarkable people in the field of health promotion.

The second to last day of the conference, as my husband was preparing to fly across the country to join me, he called to tell me that his great-grandmother, Anna “Loucene” Trueworthy, had passed away at the age of 106.

It was a bit ironic yet poignant that the topic of the conference keynote that morning was Blue Zones of Health by Dan Buettner, a man who has studied the lives of the longest lived people in the world to learn their secrets of longevity. Dan is the author of the books Thrive, The Blue Zone Solution and The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.

Blue Zones Pic

Dan shared what he learned in his research as he traveled around the world, spending time with and studying the lifestyle habits of people living in “Blue Zones,” regions around the world with the greatest concentrations of centenarians – people who live to be 100+.

In his talk, he shared the lessons to a long life, and while diet was one of the key components, he and his team found that other factors impact a person’s longevity with genetics accounting for about 20%, as established by the Danish Twin Study.

As I’ve spent the past week or so reflecting on what Dan shared, I couldn’t help but think of Bill’s great-grandmother and the life she lived. She certainly had genetics on her side with a mother who lived to 99, just six months shy of her 100th birthday, and a sister who is now 97. Great Grandma even smoked for many years (which is not a free pass to smoke!), but it just shows us that aging well is a complex process and is never about just “one thing.”

Without even knowing it, Great Grandma was a living example of many of the Blue Zones lessons.

bluezones signed

“For Rachel – I dedicate this book to the memory and example of Loucene” ~Dan Buettner

I wanted to take a moment to honor Great Grandma’s legacy and highlight just a few of the ways she lived out these lessons.  For a full list of the Blue Zones “Power 9” longevity lessons, click here.

Move Naturally

Great Grandma didn’t spend hours at the gym. She didn’t have to. Much of her day was filled with natural movement – from doing chores, gardening, and taking after-dinner walks with her husband to square dancing and line dancing into her 80s, she moved naturally and enjoyed it. For people living in Blue Zones, being active without having to think about it was found to be a key to longevity. So many of us try to force activity and do things we don’t enjoy. Find ways of moving that make your body feel good and make you happy and incorporate them into your daily life.

Great Grandma and Great Grandpa dancing

Great Grandma and Great Grandpa enjoyed dancing

Hara Hachi Bu

This one might sound a little bit strange, but it is taken from the Japanese and means we should eat until we are 80% full or no longer hungry. Many of us eat until we are “stuffed” and fall completely out of touch with our body’s hunger signals.

As her granddaughter Susan shared during the eulogy, Great Grandma lived a life of moderation, never to excess. She was “the master of portion control” and never counted calories or fussed over what she ate, and unlike many of us today, she was never “on a diet.” She cooked a full meal every night for dinner, and the family ate together. We can all learn something from her example of listening to your body and eating to live rather than living to eat.

Purpose Now

Great Grandma had a reason to wake up in the morning. She lived on the family farm and lived independently in a small cottage until just a few years ago when she went to live next door with her daughter. Whether her purpose was to spend time with her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren or even great great grandchildren, she had a reason to live. She was also an organist and in the bell choir at her church and played piano for the Yankee Doodle Entertainers until she turned 100. She found joy in socializing, music, reading, and needlework. A sense of purpose is one of the keys to living a long time.

Great Grandma played the piano well into her 100s

Great Grandma played the piano well into her 100s

Downshift

Taking time to relieve stress was another lesson Dan shared with us. During her eulogy, Loucene’s son John commented how Great Grandma was never stressed. I would imagine she felt stress at times, as all of us do, but she knew how to handle and contain it in such a way that it didn’t impact her negatively. She spent time with family and her church community on a regular basis and found music to be relaxing as well. She was described by many as a devoted woman of faith, and her connection to God and her church also served as buffers to stress.

My mother-in-law told me that Great Grandma and the rest of the family observed Sunday as a day of rest and set it aside for family time and a big family meal each Sunday afternoon. Centenarians take time to slow down, reflect and downshift their lives and Great Grandma knew how to do that, too.

Great Grandma celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary. She was very social and made time to unwind and celebrate.

Great Grandma celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary. She was very social and set aside time to unwind and celebrate.

Belong to a Spiritual Community

Healthy centenarians have faith and are involved in serving and socializing with a spiritual community. Loucene’s granddaughter described the church as “the center of Great Grandma’s life.” She was involved in the Women’s Society, and she was a church organist and in the bell choir until age 100. She and her husband participated in the Couples Club, so the church was the center of her social life as well. The sense of belonging, purpose and connection that comes from being part of a spiritual community is one of the Blue Zones Power 9 keys to longevity.

Loved Ones First

The most successful centenarians put their families first. Great Grandma never missed a birthday and sent a card for all major holidays, which was no small feat considering she has two children, 9 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and 5 great-great-grandchildren.

Her great grandchildren described her as admirable, talented, honest, witty, resilient, unifying, encouraging, wise, gentle, warm, welcoming, and classy.

Great Grandma Loucene in the front row in the white with her younger sister, Eva, to her right in green, and her daughter, Cynthia, to her left in blue.

Great Grandma Loucene in the front row in the white with her younger sister, Eva, to her right in green, and her daughter, Cynthia, to her left in blue. Her great and great-great-grandchildren surround her.

She embraced technology and Skyped with one great-granddaughter in Haiti, another great-grandson in the Middle East and her first great-great-grandchild in New York City.

She lived independently with her daughter, Cynthia, until the last few weeks of her life when outside care was brought in to help. In a society where caring for aging relatives is often seen as a burden, her family revered her and rallied around her to support and take care of her.

During her memorial service, the pastor pointed out how Loucene’s life is an example to all of us of how to live fully. I feel blessed to have married into her family and to have had the privilege of knowing such a remarkable woman, who I’ve learned more about in her passing than I knew and appreciated while she was here.

kerrys wedding

As I listened to everyone share their stories and memories, I reflected on how much Great Grandma lived the Blue Zones lessons – from living a joyful, simple, purposeful life of moderation and low stress, to belonging to and serving her religious community, socializing, and putting family first.

The example of her life will continue to impact and influence the lives of all of the generations that follow her.

Here’s to Great Grandma and the love and inspiring legacy she’s left behind.

My WELCOA Moment: A Day I Will Never Forget

Each of us has days in our lives that we’ll remember forever. 

Tuesday, March 31st was one of those days for me.

In February, I found out that I had been named the Top Health Promotion Professional in the U.S. by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA).

I was overjoyed and shocked when I got the news and am pretty sure I didn’t stop smiling for about a week!

welcoa plaque

Doing the work that I do is rewarding in and of itself because I’m put in a position on an almost daily basis to impact people’s lives for the better and to give them hope that they can be well.

A super cool perk that was packaged with the award was a trip to San Diego to attend WELCOA’s annual summit, which brings together leaders in our field and serves as a source of inspiration, energy, and community each time I come.

On the second day of the summit, I had the privilege and opportunity of delivering an acceptance speech to nearly 400 of my peers, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

welcoa stage

I had spent several weeks working on what I wanted to say, crafting the words based on inspirations that came to me first thing in the morning, on a run, after conversations with my dad, and even in the midst of reflecting on what other speakers shared during the conference.

Our message was essentially the same: Tell your story. Stories are powerful.

As Ryan called me up on stage, I was so present to that moment and just took in everything I could. You know you’re doing what you’re meant to do when you feel so alive and excited you could burst with joy, and that is how I felt in this moment.

I was humbled by the kind words complete strangers, colleagues, and industry leaders shared with me afterwards. Several people commented that I should speak at a future WELCOA conference.

Wouldn’t that be the coolest?! 🙂

I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude for being given this honor and so humbled that what I had to say meant something to and touched so many people.

Some people wait their whole lives to feel how I felt on Tuesday

At the beginning of this year, I declared that I wanted to FEEL five things:

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The experience I had at the WELCOA Summit gave me the opportunity to feel all of them at once.

I felt so alive

I can hardly put into words how incredibly special and meaningful this experience has been for me.

It was a feeling, a moment, and a day that I will never forget, and for that, I am grateful.

Do you want to bring health and wellbeing to your workplace? If you want to learn more about how I can help, including leadership training and interactive health and nutrition workshops, contact me at rachel@silbs.com.

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