Jul 102014

Fresh summer produce gave me the idea for this Easy Vegan Three Bean Salad. There is nothing better than vine ripened tomatoes, hearty edamame and garbanzo beans, and crisp-tender green beans dressed simply with olive oil and sea salt.

Perfect Pot Luck Salad!

Perfect Pot Luck Salad!

For cookouts, beach days, and everyday life, this is the PERFECT summer base salad. What is a base salad? Something you can add to; sautéed tofu, cashew cheese, or any protein or cheese you like.

July 4th was a whirlwind.

There was lots of time for fun and a few points of reflection.

The holiday kicked off with a cookout, followed by a beach day complete with paddle boarding and body surfing, and later that evening we watched our daughter see fire works for the first time on the boat….now THAT was cool.  There was even an unexpected limo ride the next day!

We were at our second cookout of the weekend, when suddenly there was a limo at the front door. Our friend’s landscaper/part owner of a new restaurant had sent a limo by to fetch us to enjoy food and drinks at his new place.

Then the unthinkable happened.  I got a call from my mom who had been rushed to the emergency room with chest pain.

With thoughts of my Dad‘s sudden passing in my head, I drove to the hospital. After many tests and a weekend of hospital food, she was diagnosed with severe gastrointestinal issues (not from the hospital food, but that’s a whole other story). Since she never complains about aches and pains, the pain must have been really bad at the time.

On the way home I reflected how fragile life is. After losing Dad so suddenly, I could clearly see the possibility of losing both my parents, and what was left was devastating. It made me so grateful that she is ok and back home and that I have been able to make the changes I had yearned for – leaving Corporate America, becoming self-employed, loving every minute with my small daughter and relishing the ability to be creative. Every. Day.

Has it been easy? Not always. But worth it? Yes.

I further reflected on what kept me where I was for so long.


Fear that I might fall flat on my face, fear that I might be embarrassed, fear that I would have to work so hard and hate it, fear of failure.

There’s an old saying, if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. 

It is SO true. Yes I work hard, but I enjoy every day now.

And guess what else I found out. Failure is part of success.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. ~ Wayne Gretzky

This is my wish for you. Live every day as if it is your last. If you don’t like where you are in life now, begin to take steps to change it. Don’t stay where you are out of fear. Turn off the TV. Read books that will help you in life, like How to Win Friends and Influence People. Study people like Marie Forleo and Tony Robbins. Get up early, start dreaming, planning and taking action. Take a chance, let yourself fail, get back up and keep on going.

Don’t wait.

And while you’re dreaming, I have the perfect salad to fuel you.

Are you where you want to be? Do you have changes you need to make in life? What is holding you back?

Easy Vegan Three Bean Salad

Easy Vegan Three Bean Salad

Three Bean Salad

Serves about 10 rounded 1/2 cup servings
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe


1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
12 oz fresh green beans
12 oz shelled edamame
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup red onion (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp coarse ground sea salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 to 3 Tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice


1. Steam green beans until crisp-tender; about 10 minutes; remove from steamer and run under cold water and let drain. Cut into bite sized pieces.

2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss well.

Nutrition Facts
10 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 151.6
Total Fat 5.8 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 234.8 mg
Potassium 233.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 18.7 g
Dietary Fiber 4.1 g
Sugars 0.8 g
Protein 7.3 g

Vitamin A 13.0 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 14.1 %
Vitamin C 18.2 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 3.9 %
Calcium 6.2 %
Copper 6.7 %
Folate 12.6 %
Iron 9.7 %
Magnesium 6.6 %
Manganese 20.1 %
Niacin 2.7 %
Pantothenic Acid 2.6 %
Phosphorus 6.5 %
Riboflavin 4.0 %
Selenium 2.4 %
Thiamin 4.2 %
Zinc 4.2 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Three Bean Salad 

Feb 272014
Loaded Falafel Burger

These easy Loaded Falafel Burger with Roasted Vegetables use fresh roasted veggies along with premade burgers to save time on a busy weeknight.

Could there be anything better than eggplant, tomato and onion all roasted and caramelized? I think not.

Falafel Burgers

I give no apologies when it comes to dinner on busy weeknights.

Meals from scratch are best, but when it comes to getting home after a busy day and wanting to take a few shortcuts, I’m all for it. One of the cleanest burgers I’ve found is Sunshine Burger, and the falafel is delicious!

Here are the ingredients:

Organic cooked brown rice, organic cooked chick peas, organic ground raw sunflower seeds, organic cooked yellow split peas, organic Tahini (organic ground toasted sesame seeds), organic cumin, organic garlic, organic parsley, sea salt.

These are definitely something you can feel save feeding your whole family.

I don’t talk a lot about my personal life on my blog – I lean more towards chatting about the actual recipe and the benefits, but I’ll share a little of what has been going on and why I’ll be doing a fair amount of clean semi-homemade recipes instead of from scratch. Since leaving my corporate job in August life has been a whirlwind. Mornings (still) start by 5AM and I get right down to business. I’m a morning person though. I like to be sleeping by 9:30 or 10PM. I work for a few hours on events with Native Sun, my blog or my business. At around 7AM I get my daughter up to get ready and take her to school then head right to my workout to start my day. This has never been an “if I can make it” thing. No exceptions to working out! I head home and then it is off to meetings at Native Sun or business meetings. I absolutely love being out of the cubicle and in a self-directed environment. Sometimes I walk out of a meeting at 2:00 and into the sunshine wanting to yell – I’m FREE! I pick my daughter up from school and help her with her homework and sometimes take her paddle boarding on the river. Then after she goes to bed, many times it is back on the computer to take a training course, do an on-line business presentation or two or catch up on anything else. Self-development is another must. I never. stop. learning. We all are students, and if we don’t continue to learn, grow and change we cannot move forward. No, I don’t have time to watch much TV any more, but the old saying is so true – if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. After losing my Dad in May, I vowed that on my last two minutes of life I would look back with pride. I would not wonder what if. I will know that I did everything in my power to achieve my goals and dreams. I am not special. I am not unique. I simply made a decision to wake up and say to myself – I want more. It was a choice.  Though I have failed many times, and I will fail many times more, I look at each failure as an opportunity to learn. In the past two years I have learned more about people, how to listen and how much I enjoy helping others than the previous 34 years of life. I have found that through helping others, I naturally move closer to my goals and dreams.  On the days I think to myself – how am I going to do this? Am I deserving of making this work? I then think about all the successful people out there – many of them came from a world of hardship and rose to greatness. We all have 24 hours in a day. It is what we do with that time that sets us apart.

Plus, now you have this delicious sandwich to save you time.

Is there anything you would love to accomplish in your life? Are you moving towards it? If not, what might be holding you back?

Loaded Falafel Burger

Loaded Falafel Burger

Loaded Falafel Burger with Roasted Vegetables

Serves 4
Printable Recipe


1 eggplant, sliced
1 roma tomato, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 Tbsp oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper
4 falafel burgers, such as sunshine burger
4 Organic thin style sandwich buns
1/4 cup prepared hummus

Yogurt Sauce (Optional – use extra hummus if omitting)
1 container plain non-dairy yogurt (preferably Greek style)
1 Tbsp fresh parsley
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove minced garlic


1. Preheat oven to 350F; spray two baking sheets with oil or cooking spray; top with eggplant, tomato and onion slices; drizzle 1 Tbsp oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper; roast 25 minutes, turning vegetables half way through cook time.

2. In a small bowl, mix yogurt sauce ingredients if using.

3. Heat falafel burgers to package directions; toast thin buns. Spread bottom thin bun with 1 Tbsp hummus; top with one burger, 1/4 of the roasted vegetables and 2 Tbsp yogurt sauce; add top slice of thin bun and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 434.4
Total Fat 21.3 g
Saturated Fat 1.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 638.1 mg
Potassium 206.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 53.0 g
Dietary Fiber 13.6 g
Sugars 7.7 g
Protein 19.7 g

Vitamin A 0.4 %
Vitamin B-12 3.8 %
Vitamin B-6 6.4 %
Vitamin C 8.0 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.4 %
Calcium 16.9 %
Copper 5.8 %
Folate 5.8 %
Iron 24.0 %
Magnesium 5.4 %
Manganese 11.4 %
Niacin 1.4 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.3 %
Phosphorus 9.5 %
Riboflavin 6.5 %
Selenium 1.4 %
Thiamin 5.3 %
Zinc 2.6 %

*Percent Daily Values for Loaded Falafel Burger are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Feb 052014

Stick-to-your-ribs filling, my all natural and sugar free oats with nut butter and coconut oil are full of healthy fats, fiber, zero cholesterol and only 3 grams sugar. A perfectly delicious way to start your day!

Sugar Free Oatmeal

Sugar Free Oatmeal

My Nana always told me white sugar and white flour is the devil. Back over thirty years ago she already knew so much of the information that comes out nowadays as the latest and greatest health news.

Sugar Free Oatmeal

Sugar Free Oatmeal

Along with the flour and sugar comments from her, I would hear….eat mostly plants, pills are not the answer, you are what you eat, fast food will kill us.

She knew about the benefits of cayenne pepper, turmeric, macrobiotics, legumes ~ you name it, she was well versed in it.

A lot of my passion about natural food comes from my Nana. I remember browsing the aisles of small natural food stores, with their distinct earthy smell and natural light streaming through the windows. Life was slower, calmer and a little more relaxed when I stepped through the doors.  I could browse around and choose a healthy snack like dates rolled in shredded coconut.

She recently passed away right before Christmas ~ just shy of her 100th birthday. We miss her dearly but her long life was a testament to her health.

These oats are an ode to my Nana. She served me a similar breakfast every morning when I would stay with her.

Nana ~ we love you. Cheers to your long life!

Sugar Free Oatmeal

Sugar Free Oatmeal

Sugar Free Oats with Nut Butter and Coconut Oil

Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe


1 cup rolled oats**
1 3/4 cup unsweet vanilla non dairy milk or water
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 ripe banana
4 tsp nut butter
4 tsp coconut oil
1/4 cup nut/seed mix (raisins, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds etc.)

**Be sure to use gluten free oatmeal for a gluten free meal


1. Heat oatmeal, milk, salt, coconut and banana over medium high heat, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until oats are soft, about 7-10 minutes.

2. Divide oatmeal mixture into four mugs; top each with 1 tsp nut butter, 1 tsp coconut oil and 1 Tbsp nut/seed mixture.

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 252.6
Total Fat 16.2 g
Saturated Fat 4.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 161.3 mg
Potassium 208.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 23.1 g
Dietary Fiber 4.1 g
Sugars 3.2 g
Protein 6.1 g

Vitamin A 4.3 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 5.4 %
Vitamin C 1.8 %
Vitamin D 10.2 %
Vitamin E 20.5 %
Calcium 19.3 %
Copper 7.5 %
Folate 3.3 %
Iron 10.0 %
Magnesium 8.2 %
Manganese 12.7 %
Niacin 6.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.7 %
Phosphorus 5.9 %
Riboflavin 2.8 %
Selenium 0.8 %
Thiamin 3.6 %
Zinc 3.1 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Jul 202013

I have been very blessed by the people that have come into my life. Two of those people being my sister and brother in law – Kathryn and Matt.  You will never meet more genuine, caring and deeply devoted people. I’m so grateful to be part of their lives.

Kathryn and I were chatting recently about her husband Matt’s business and she told me that there are lots of exciting things going on.  Matt just so happens to be a massage therapist and President of Operations at Wheeler Body Works so I am so proud to support them by sharing their giveaway and information about their local Jacksonville business.

email_be_healthy_logo copy

Right now they are giving away a 60 min massage, a flexibility session, and a fitness consult w/ a personal training session! (Click the Giveaway Link.  Winner will be picked September 1st, 2013.)

PicMonkey CollageII


 Located @ I-95 and Baymeadows (near the 4 Rivers Restaurant)

Notes from Matt:

One thing that separates us from most is that we will soon have a Satisfaction Guarantee or Your Money Back (first 60 or 90 minute massage & on certain personal training programs.)

We also have “The More You Come, The More You Save pricing.” (Without signing a contract!)

About Us:
Our goal is to help build a healthy, active community.  We specialize in deep tissue and neuromuscular massage (injury and pain management massage) for those who don’t want to let soft tissue injuries keep them from their active lifestyles, and we provide one-on-one personal training for those who need a little motivation and instruction on how to get fit, stay active and be healthy.

For those who are looking just to decompress and relax a little, our therapist has about an 85% snooze rate.  Meaning there is a chance you could drool a bit.  :-)


Thanks Matt!
Good luck everyone on your chance to win a free massage, flexibility session, and a fitness consult w/ a personal training session with Wheeler Body Works!

Jun 112013

Quinoa Florentine

Before I get to my Savory Quinoa Florentine recipe – I’ll share a tidbit I learned over my long 35 year life. ;)

Laura S Walker State Park

Laura S Walker State Park

Make the time to do the important things.  What are the important things?

Think about what means the  most to you. How would you feel if that thing was no longer there? Could you just get another one?

Ah – there is the key.  With material things, we can always get another one.  But the people and the experience can’t be replaced.

When people ask me why I love camping “in the dirt and bugs”, experience is why I love it.  In a hotel room, you most likely won’t be outside as much. You might do some sightseeing during the day, go back to the hotel and watch some TV as you get ready for dinner. But CAMPING gets you outside – getting to feel, hear and see nature. (As long as you aren’t in one of the converted buses with your satellite dish outside.) No electronics in sight.

Some of the best things about last weekend’s trip…..

Watching my friend Justine enjoying the sunset as her son fishes. Taking my daughter kayaking.
The stillness by the water in the morning.

Laura Walker State Park

Laura Walker State Park

Chatting by the fire as a cool breeze blows, sipping a glass of chilled chardonnay.

Laura Walker State Park

Laura Walker State Park

My daughter – so proud of her little camper.

Laura Walker State Park

Laura Walker State Park

Roasting the perfect marshmallow.

Laura Walker State Park

Laura Walker State Park

Quietly spending time with my mom.

Mom Laura Walker State Park

Mom Laura Walker State Park

The kids fishing for Lilly pads.

Fishing at Laura Walker

Fishing at Laura Walker

 One thing that struck me recently while cleaning out my dad’s office was that all these things – small mementos, things he collected, art work….he wasn’t able to take anything with him.  He’s moved on to another place and all he can take with him is love, his experiences and the journey.

I came across a quote in a book about “the dash” that fits perfectly.  The dash is that space between the date of someone’s birth and death.
“For it matters not how much we own; the cars or the house…the cash, what matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.  So think about this long and hard….are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged. If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real, and always try to understand the way other people feel. And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more, and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before. If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile….Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.” – Linda Ellis

Take the time to enjoy life.  Put the phone down.  Cook a meal that nourishes your body and soul.

Quinoa Florentine

Quinoa Florentine

I love cooking with quinoa because it is one nourishing food we can take the time to cook.  15 minutes is all – and a quick five of rest.

Quinoa Florentine

Quinoa Florentine

Quinoa is versatile, and can be dressed up or eaten simply on it’s own – with a bit of salt.

Quinoa Florentine

Quinoa Florentine

This quinoa Florentine is more of the dressed up version – but simply and elegantly – with tomatoes, onions, garlic and spinach; cooked just long enough to give the vegetables a nice sweet caramelization, adding the spinach at the last minute to quickly steam it down and save those important vitamins and minerals.

Quinoa Florentine

Quinoa Florentine

Quinoa Florentine

Serves 4 rounded 1-cup servings
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe


1 cup quinoa**
1 1/4 cup water or veggie broth
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 tsp salt (plus extra, to taste)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup white wine
7 oz to 10 oz baby spinach


1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add onion; cook 7 to 10 minutes or until translucent; add garlic, cook an additional 2 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat water or broth over high heat; rinse quinoa with a fine mesh strainer; add to boiling water or broth; reduce heat and cover. Cook 15 minutes; remove from heat; let sit an additional five minutes.

3. Add tomatoes and salt to onion mixture and 1 to 2 Tbsp white wine; cover and cook 20 minutes or until tomatoes burst; uncover cook an additional 5 minutes, adding additional wine as needed; add spinach, cover and cook 2 minutes, or until wilted; uncover and stir well.

4. Reserve 1/2 cup quinoa for later use; stir in spinach mixture; toss gently.

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 181.5
Total Fat 5.5 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.5 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 196.0 mg
Potassium 312.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 26.9 g
Dietary Fiber 3.6 g
Sugars 1.0 g
Protein 6.4 g

Vitamin A 101.9 %
Vitamin B-6 6.6 %
Vitamin C 36.1 %
Vitamin E 7.1 %
Calcium 7.3 %
Copper 3.9 %
Folate 25.8 %
Iron 24.5 %
Magnesium 10.8 %
Manganese 27.5 %
Niacin 2.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 0.5 %
Phosphorus 3.1 %
Riboflavin 6.1 %
Selenium 1.2 %
Thiamin 3.1 %
Zinc 2.1 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Enjoy this Savory Quinoa Florentine!

Apr 222013

Let me take a personal journey for a moment in hopes that I will help someone else be able to say, I won the battle with depression and got off antidepressants.”  

Sunny Mila (Chia) Dreamsicle Smoothie

Sunny Mila (Chia) Dreamsicle Smoothie

I felt like a three ton weight was pressing on my shoulders and wanted to just lie in my darkened closet and not come out.

One of the hardest parts was that I looked normal.

It is not easy to share the details of my life in a public forum like this, in fact I’ve had this post written for a while and continued to put off posting it because I just wasn’t sure I wanted to put it out there, but I’m going to do so in the hopes that I might be able to help someone else.

My life was (and is) seemingly perfect. I have a supporting and loving family, husband and daughter, a wonderful home, a job, I have figured out my passion, I have all my limbs and hey, I live in Florida, how bad can things actually be?

I was suffering from major depression. What made it worse was that I should NOT be depressed, right?  I should have felt only happiness and gratitude.  And I DID, but I also had a cloud that hung over my head and no matter how much I tried to talk myself out of it, read positive books, think positive thoughts, it would still be there.  It was so bad that I would cry almost every day on the way on the drive to work and many days on the way home. When I got to work I would blow my nose, put some cover-up around my eyes, slap on some powder and put my glasses on to cover it up.  I was exhausted all the time, so much so that it felt like physical pain.  I would tell my mom this almost daily. Mom I’m so tired it hurts.

I had an aging (and very noisy) Labrador, Madison, that would wake me at night and afterwards I wouldn’t fall back to sleep which made the exhaustion worse.  One particular weekend stands out in my memory.  Some friends, Matt and Stephanie, came in town and several couples were going out for dinner. My hubby was busy doing something that I can’t recall so I was going to go myself.  I put on a beautiful new dress that had the colors of the ocean, blues and greens, and drove to my friend Justine’s house 45 minutes away from mine to see them.  Everyone was chatting and gathering their things to head to dinner. I tried to put on my game face but I was so worn down that I was wrestling with myself.  Just suck it up and go, you’ll be fine. And the next thought, I’m so tired it hurts. I just want to sit at home and wallow. The exhaustion won. I said I’m so sorry, I can’t do it. I have to go home. I’m exhausted.   I envisioned everyone mentally rolling their eyes at me.  Of course they weren’t, but I was so embarrassed. I’m still embarrassed about that day and sad that I missed seeing Matt and Steph. I was too young to be that tired. Anyone is too young to be that tired.

That memory always fades into another; my husband and I were staying in St Augustine to celebrate the “February Birthdays” with about five other couples, and I was so worried about even making it to dinner, never mind out afterwards for drinks and music.  I was so tired that I wanted to forgo dinner at the Floridian and just stay in my hotel room at the Edgewater by myself. I drank two red energy drinks and one and a half of those little energy bottles and was still exhausted.  I was so embarrassed that I would resort to drinking such chemicals when I have a food blog about eating a healthy, plant based diet.

The story of how I won the battle with depression and got off antidepressants.

The story of how I won the battle with depression and got off antidepressants.

I was on the highest dosage of Bupropion I could be on and I had tried many of the other antidepressants. Nothing seemed to work.  My poor mom is a saint for listening to me through all the crying.

On a particularly dark day I said enough was enough and called my physician to see if she would increase my dosage again. I told her I just want to be a zombie. Get through the day. Go home.  I don’t want to feel this weight any more.  She said no. You are on the highest dosage.  It can not be increased any more, Dawn.  I cried about that.

My hair was falling out so I fired my hair dresser thinking that he had over-processed my hair.

Then one day I got an email from my mom’s neurology nurse practitioner, Megan.  (My mom has Multiple Sclerosis.) Megan, asked me if I would do a talk on food, nutrition, recipes and my CSA (KyV Farm) for her MS group she runs and I told her of course, I would love to.  She said my mom had been telling her about my food blog and she got very excited because she is vegetarian.

Things would come up and I didn’t get around to it, but we continued to talk and become friends. She became a regular follower of my blog and we would occasionally discuss recipes offline.

A while later I did a few posts about flax and chia seed.  Once again she contacted me and said she saw I was eating chia seeds. I said yes, and told her how I was eating lots of organic chia and freshly ground flax daily.  She asked if I had tried Mila, a raw seed blend.  I said no and asked if it is organically grown and non GMO.  She said yes to organic and no to GMO. She said I’d be happy to share some with you.  I said as long as it’s one ingredient and is a whole, raw food, send it on over. I’d try it.

A few days later I got a large bag of seeds. Being the health nut that I am I cracked it open and began eating it.  About three weeks into it I noticed better digestion, more energy and I was falling back to sleep after Madison woke me up at night. Hmm…well that was nice.  The seeds I was eating before hadn’t had the same effects.  I started getting low and asked her for more.  About three months into eating it I noticed something about my depression. Not that I wasn’t getting upset, but that I wasn’t crying all the time. I seemed to be able to get over the hump easier.

Eager to get off any pharmaceuticals, I decided to cut out one day a week of taking them, after a week or two I cut out two days. And so on and so forth.

After a few months I was completely off pharmaceutical antidepressants, and for some reason I didn’t put two and two together.  But I finally thought about it and the ONLY thing I had changed was this food.

I did some research.  I found many studies about high amounts of Omega 3’s helping the symptoms of depression.  The blend I was eating has 3000mg per serving, I know other brands do as well, but for some reason the organic kind I was eating before didn’t touch the depression.

The fact that I had no idea this was one of the “side effects” of eating this whole, raw food until after I was off the meds was what really moved me.

My hair started growing back in.  I didn’t realize that many people experience hair loss on high dosages of antidepressants, so now that I was off them, my hair started growing back.  Now, over a year later, I don’t even take one medication, my weight is lower and I have more energy. I can’t remember the last time I drank a disgusting red energy drink or took those little energy bottles.  I have a cup or two of coffee in the morning because I enjoy it, and that’s all I need. I get up between 4:15 and 4:40 am and typically get to bed around 9 or 10 pm.

I’m so thankful that Megan sent me that purple bag of seeds that was so different than everything I had tried before that I think of her daily with gratitude.

The best part is that the three ton weight is gone.  And I’m happy to say I finally did do that talk for the MS group and had a great time.

This is my story. I’m not embellishing or exaggerating.  I still absolutely do get upset about things but am able to deal with them a bit better and find my moods much more even.  I did join the business with Megan in order to share information about my story and the food that helped me so much and I’m so proud to represent it.  I tell people about it like a good movie or good restaurant. If they want to try some, great and if not, that is fine too.  I am NOT by any means saying that what I found will cure anything whatsoever, and I’m NOT giving any advice on how to get off antidepressants, all I know is my own experience and how it helped me. Everyone’s bodies are different and react differently to foods.  Please also notice that I said it took THREE months. If I had been expecting the effects of this food I probably would have gotten impatient. Because I didn’t know this was a benefit of this food, it was like an added bonus. And what a bonus!

All I ask is that you treat yourself with love and consider the side effects of taking any sort of pharmaceutical BEFORE you start.  Your doctor will most likely NOT try to treat any ailment through food and nutrition before going to pharmaceuticals.  There are a very few like Megan and if you have found one, hold on to them like gold.

I have no idea what other ailments my body was suffering from those high dosages of antidepressants, not to mention the energy drinks but I am so thankful, every day, that I found this food.

I am so blessed to be able to say “I won the battle with depression and got off antidepressants!” If you have questions about my experience please contact me at chefdawn (at) hotmail.com.

“If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.”
Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Sunny Mila (Chia) Dreamsicle Smoothie

Sunny Mila (Chia) Dreamsicle Smoothie

Sunny Mila Dreamsicle Smoothie

Serves 1
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe


1 cup vanilla almond milk
2 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
1/2 frozen banana, chopped
1 scoop (2 Tbsp) Mila
**If using unsweet vanilla almond milk, you can add a bit of agave, honey or sweetener of choice


1. Blend everything together and enjoy!

“While it is true that many people simply can’t afford to pay more for food, either in money or time or both, many more of us can. After all, just in the last decade or two we’ve somehow found the time in the day to spend several hours on the internet and the money in the budget not only to pay for broadband service, but to cover a second phone bill and a new monthly bill for television, formerly free. For the majority of Americans, spending more for better food is less a matter of ability than priority. p.187”

― Michael PollanIn Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Nutrition Facts
1 Serving
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 252.4
Total Fat 6.8 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 184.5 mg
Potassium 460.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 43.9 g
Dietary Fiber 11.2 g
Sugars 28.2 g
Protein 6.5 g

Vitamin A 10.8 %
Vitamin B-6 14.6 %
Vitamin C 7.7 %
Vitamin D 25.0 %
Vitamin E 50.7 %
Calcium 53.3 %
Copper 4.6 %
Folate 2.4 %
Iron 10.9 %
Magnesium 7.7 %
Manganese 20.9 %
Niacin 1.4 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.3 %
Phosphorus 14.0 %
Riboflavin 5.0 %
Selenium 0.8 %
Thiamin 1.5 %
Zinc 0.6 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Everyone knows pills are the answer and wants to be able to say “I got off antidepressants“. If you want to try mila for yourself click this link and then click “shop” and use US11065661. Mila is retail $55 and wholesale membership club $45 for a monthly supply.

Feb 042013

For my Kale and Tofu Sandwich scroll down!


And the winner of the giveaway is #13 Anna Rabhan! Please check out her article at her website the Organic Adventurer on Palm Oil and Orangutans.


The long ago day when I overheard people talking about the book the China Study was the day that changed my life.  I had already been leaning towards a plant based diet, but the facts about the proteins in animals and dairy scared me enough to finally make that change.  The authors studied the instances of cancer, diabetes and heart disease in populations of rural China that ate little to no animal foods. They then took these findings back and performed laboratory studies where they found they could turn on and turn off cancer cells with the addition of the protein found in milk.

Even if it isn’t true the more I ask questions and facts I learn about the treatment of animals, especially dairy cows in most of the commercial farming industry, the happier I am that I found this book and the more I celebrate plant proteins like tofu, tempeh and legumes!  Do you ever wonder…..What happens when it is time to retire that dairy cow? What happens to the male goats? What about male chicks in the egg industry?   How do we harvest down and foie gras? 

Ultimately each person is free to make their own decisions absolutely free of judgement.  I encourage all of us to simply make informed decisions.  Just like in all areas of life, it is so important to edcuate ourselves on the facts as best we can and then select what is right for us.


For those of you that are thinking about adding more plant based foods into your diet but don’t know what to do with tofu, the first thing you need to know is that you have to press the water out of it to get a firm texture that is reminiscent of animal protein.  You can do this by putting a bunch of paper towels under the tofu and placing two plates, one on top and one on bottom, and topping with some weight (usually heavy books work well) for an hour up to overnight.  OR you can get this super easy tofu press!  My tofu press I bought from TofuXpress years ago is one of my all time favorite kitchen gadgets that gets used at least weekly.  I can’t tell you how much I love this thing! No more plates and messy towels – this press will not only press the water out, you can marinate right in it!

TofuXpress Giveaway from FCC!

TofuXpress Giveaway from FCC!

I am so excited to bring you a giveaway of a TofuXpress!

This press is a $40 value and I will ship to anywhere is the continental US.

To enter for THREE chances to win – tell all your friends!

Leave one comment: Entry #1 What is your favorite kitchen gadget? (Please share the love and share this giveaway with your friends!)

Leave a second comment: Entry #2 Like Florida Coastal Cooking on facebook AND share about the giveaway (If you are already a follower, thank you! Please simply share the giveaway and leave the comment you did so.)

Leave a third comment: Entry #3 Follow Florida Coastal Cooking on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway (If you are already a follower, thank you! Please simply share the giveaway and leave the comment you did so.)

The giveaway will end in one week on Monday, February 11th, 2013 5:30AM EST

Good luck!

Saucy Kale and Tofu Sandwich

Saucy Kale and Tofu Sandwich

This is one of my favorite ways to eat pressed tofu – SIMPLE, with kale, seasonings and a great dressing.  Lately a kale, tofu and Annie’s Light Goddess dressing salad is all I bring for lunch. The great thing is that the hearty kale can stand up to being dressed that morning so I don’t have to worry about it turning to mush and at the same time it can marinate to the tofu. Yesterday for lunch I decided to try it as a sandwich and it was really good. The toasted bun gives it a nice crunch and the flavor of the Annie’s dressing is a soy/tahini/cider vinegar base which gives it a nutty and slightly salty flavor.

It is important to season firm, pressed and uncooked tofu because, just like any animal protein, it needs some flavor.  Have you ever tried an unseasoned piece of chicken? I remember what it tastes like – bleck!

If you are not sure about leaving the tofu uncooked – you can marinate it in the dressing and then roast, grill or pan sear it.

Saucy Kale and Tofu Sandwich

Saucy Kale and Tofu Sandwich

Easy Saucy Kale and Tofu Sandwich

Serves 1
Printable Recipe


1 bagel thin, I used Rudis Whole Wheat Flatz
2 curly kale leaves
1/4 block pressed organic tofu
Coarse sea salt, fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/8 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp Annie’s Light Goddess Dressing


1. Toast bagel thin; top with 1 kale leaf; top with tofu; sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder and dressing; top with remaining kale leaf.

Full Nutrition info not available for this recipe
225 cals
12.8 grams protein
1/2 your daily calcium
Enjoy my Easy Saucy Kale and Tofu Sandwich!

Sep 022012
My life has been a whirlwind lately!  It’s amazing how things start to change when you focus on the positive.
I have no doubts that the next two years of my life are going to be very different than the last twelve.
I currently work a day job with a great company and some amazing people.  At the same time, I have some long term goals that include health coaching, children’s programs, writing a book, a cookbook, more recipe development and motivational speaking.

So why am I so sure things are going to be different?  Because my mom’s nurse practitioner at her neurologist sent me a bag of Mila, and after three weeks of eating it, I decided to create my own side business.  Through this new change I found the motivation to start listening to motivational CD’s, read inspirational books, and watch moving documentaries.  In just the few short months I have been doing this I have met many new friends that all have the same interests I do and I have now found the way I can reach my long term goals.  My mission is to help people – with their health and their lives, and this is my springboard.
Since starting up my business,  I appeared on First Coast News talking about CSA and KYV Farm, and I have achieved a little dream of mine – to collaborate with  Native Sun and do recipe development for them – Native Sun is a local natural food store that was instrumental in helping me with my daughter’s food allergies.  I am the most proud about this recent achievement! I hope you will visit their website and stores a lot if you are in the First Coast area.  Here is the launch post! http://nativesunjax.com/blog/featured-recipe-pineapple-tomato-chimichurri-over-teriyaki-tofu/.
Me, Dawn Hutchins, on First Coast News with Phil Amato
Last week was another Mila event – we enjoyed the view, drank a few cocktails and socialized, ate food made with Mila, talked nutrition and the importance of Omega 3s and fiber in your diet (as well as your parents, kids and even pets).
Here some of the pics of the event!
Tell me – What are your dreams?  What are the steps you’re taking to reach them?
I love hearing what people’s dreams and goals are, and who knows, maybe writing them here will help you lay them out and start on your path to achieving them!
Penthouse of the Peninsula Landmark Building, downtown Jacksonville, Florida
Delicious food made with Mila
Getting ready for the event
View of the Jags stadium
View of downtown Jacksonville, Florida
Mila, the little seed that’s making a big impact
Me, Dawn Hutchins, and Rachel Garcia
Jodi McLeod and her cute mom
The Lifemax/Mila event
Rachel discussing omega 3s and fiber
A great mix of people interested in nutrition
Theresa and her hubby enjoying the view
 Posted by at 12:56 pm  Tagged with:
Jul 142012
Tropical Grilled Pineapple Salad with Creamy Mango Avocado Lime Dressing
Oh my goodness I am one busy girl.  Not only has work been crazy but I’m also taking care of a sick little one, sharing Mila, doing yoga, hitting the gym, writing a food blog and cooking (to name just a few).  
And I have some exciting new to share with you!  I was asked to do a presentation at Baptist Beaches Hospital this Wednesday for an MS group there, Native Sun is now carrying some of my recipes (check it out!) AND I was invited to an exclusive media dinner at the Casa Monica’s restaurant, 95 Cordova, to review their new summer menu on August 10th!
Things are really moving along and gaining momentum.  In fact, last week on Tuesday I made the decision, after a particularly stressful day at work, to make peace with where I am in life and really have gratitude for what I have.  So I started a “Gratitude Board” where I write something I’m grateful for every day and really try to think about WHY I’m grateful for it.  Also, I began writing in a journal my goals and dreams in great detail as if they have already happened.  This little trick sets your subconscious up to be looking for ways to achieve what, in writing, has already happened.  I made a conscious decision to think of myself as a lucky person – and guess what.  I was on Native Sun’s blog and entered a little contest by guessing a secret ingredient and actually won!  The fact that it’s just a little (but VERY delicious) smoothie doesn’t matter….it’s the fact that when you get your mind right the universe responds to you.
Here are some of the things I wrote in my journal in a nutshell.
My first goals are to go back to school to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a Certified Health Coach like my friend Michelle at Find Your Balance.  To get there I will greatly grow my business with Mila so that I can share Mila with LOTS of people and change their health forever.  I want to continue doing seminars and presentations on health and nutrition and continue being the volunteer coordinator and event planner for KYV farm.  
I will make the world a better place than I left it. Ultimately, I strive to make a positive impact on people’s health and the environment.
How is that for a deep subject on a Saturday?  So where does food and recipes fit into this you ask?
I’m not sure, but the universe must have been telling me to try Cara’s Spicy Tomato Coconut Sauce because I found something my husband and I both love.  This was very surprising to me because I actually made this sauce for myself he isn’t a fan of tomatoes or coconut. I know, very selfish of me but I had been dying to try it.  Cara – the universe is talking and it’s telling the world to make Spicy Tomato Coconut Sauce.  It is perfect over some GF pasta.
Spicy Coconut Tomato Sauce

And for the salad – mangoes were on sale at Fresh Market 10 for $10 so I bought some and then decided on a tropical salad so grilled pineapple fit the bill.  I made this dressing for my friend Suzanne and her husband Dan who are oil free vegans that also eat Mila and lost a TON of weight. This dressing is sweet and creamy from the avocado and mango and the onion adds that hmmm factor and helps, along with the lime, to keep the avocado from oxidizing.

Tropical Grilled Pineapple Salad with Creamy Mango Avocado Lime Dressing

I will definitely be grilling more pineapple in the future. I haven’t done it in ages and I’ve been missing out. It turns even sweeter and caramelized on the outside….you don’t need dessert after this salad!

Tropical Grilled Pineapple Salad with Creamy Mango Avocado Lime Dressing
Tropical Grilled Pineapple Salad with
Mango, Avocado and Fresh Lime Dressing
Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten Free


4 slices pineapple, sprayed with organic cooking spray

1 ripe mango, skin removed and chopped
1/4 avocado
1/4 red onion
Juice 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp sea salt

6 cups spinach blend
1/4 red onion, sliced
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/2 green pepper, sliced


1. Preheat grill to medium high.  Add pineapple – grill 5 to 7 minutes per side or until nice grill marks form.

2. Meanwhile mix the dressing ingredients in a Magic Bullet or blender – set aside.

3. Mix the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Slice grilled pineapple into wedges.  Serve 2 cups salad mixture, 1 sliced pineapple around and a few Tbsp dressing on each plate.  The dressing can also be mixed in beforehand.

**You will most likely have dressing left over to reserve for another use.

Nutrition Facts Salad
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 59.6
Total Fat 0.6 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 37.1 mg
Potassium 399.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 13.9 g
Dietary Fiber 2.4 g
Sugars 9.4 g
Protein 1.9 g

Vitamin A 86.3 %
Vitamin B-6 10.5 %
Vitamin C 65.2 %
Folate 25.5 %
Iron 9.2 %
Magnesium 12.7 %
Manganese 91.2 %

Nutrition Facts Dressing
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 54.0
Total Fat 1.8 g
Saturated Fat 0.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 147.4 mg
Potassium 145.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 10.3 g
Dietary Fiber 1.8 g
Sugars 7.7 g
Protein 0.5 g

Vitamin A 8.3 %
Vitamin C 27.1 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Jun 232012

Losing Weight and Learning to Love Ourselves

We women are so hard on ourselves. I think back at how many times I looked in the mirror and said I am so fat. I HATE my thighs. Or beat myself up for eating that extra helping saying, I have NO willpower and I am so bad. The negative self image was a vicious cycle of self loathing, eating bad food, and then self loathing again. The thoughts, “what the heck is wrong with me? Why can’t I lose weight?” passed through my head all day long.

Our culture is not accepting of women that carry any weight, yet the standard American diet perpetuates obesity. Processed foods are full of chemicals, fat, sugar and salt and our brains are not programmed to be able to handle the man made levels of sweetness and saltiness. They go into hyper drive, releasing dopamine and giving us that rush just like a drug. The only problem is that next time we need more. We then eat more and berate ourselves for not having more willpower.

The only way to stop the cycle is to come from a place of love and acceptance of yourself. So that instead of forcing our bodies to lose weight through weight loss programs or crutches like pills and shakes (trust me, I’ve done it all), we make a change based on wanting to care for the body we have been given. Make a change to better it instead of forcing it and hating it.

So here is how you do that. Stop whatever you are doing right now and think about what you are thankful for. To the top of that list add your body. You only have one. Be grateful for it. Then start to think how can I take care of my one body? How can I FEEL better? Don’t even think about how to force the weight off. Instead of stuffing yourself into jeans that are too small or a dress that doesn’t fit, go out and get just a few things that will make you feel good about yourself right now – even if you think that where you are right now is too heavy. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you are giving in. The key to this is to give you a chance to feel good for a little while. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Ok now that you are feeling ok about yourself in your new dress that is comfortable and fits think about the one feature you LIKE about yourself. This is hard for us women because our eyes automatically go to the place we DON’T like. So think about what you feel pretty good about and play that feature up. For me it’s my arms and back. No matter how hard I work out, genetically by body is programmed to hold on to a bit of weight on my lower half, so instead of forcing myself into teensy shorts, I will wear a flowy, summery skirt and show off my arms that I work very hard at. For you, it could be your eyes or your shoulders, your gorgeous hands, or whatever.

If you can’t think of anything, that is ok. Just start to think about what you do want instead of what you don’t want. Think about how you want to feel not only that you want to be X pounds lighter. And how are you going to get there? For me, when I read the China Study and watched Forks Over Knives then subsequently gave up eating meat and dairy things started to change for me. I was able to let go of the guilt I carried over the environmental impacts of eating meat and the suffering of animals. My body felt lighter,my digestion better, I felt free. I didn’t make the change with the purpose of losing weight, I made the change for my health, and the weight came off later. But you need to do what works for you.

Find that reason to make a change other than to be skinny because that never works. Inevitably it will come back.

Think of youurself as a little child. Would you say the same things to that child that you say to yourself? No! You would never say you are SO fat and disgusting. Instead you would say I love you unconditionally and I want you to be healthy and happy.

Now that we’re coming from this place of love and acceptance think about the changes you can make to better your health. Start looking at the ingredients in food. The goal is to choose foods with one ingredient. Eat less meat, less processed foods, more vegetables and fruits but don’t beat yourself up if you slip. Just get back on the wagon and keep on trucking.

Set boundaries to make time. Say no to working late every night. Try and get to the gym at lunch instead of working through. Put yourself first so in turn, you will be healthy enough to take care of others. I know what you’re thinking, “I know, I know, I’ve heard that before”, but stop and seriously think about that one.

Plan to cook one meal a week, bring your lunch for one meal a week and to take one walk to start and add on from there. Or if you are already doing that think about what next step you could take to make you and your family healthier. Add a bike ride. Clean the pantry and fridge of processed snack foods – chips, Jell-O, Cool Whip, boxed Mac N Cheese, Lunchables…..

Some suggestions:

For quick snacks are natural almonds, apple and peanut butter, pre-cut fruits and veggies & hummus (you’ll save a lot by not buying processed foods, so if convenience is what you need than splurge on precut produce), non-dairy yogurt, dried fruit, natural granola (read the ingredients), ants on a log (celery stuffed with peanut butter and raisins), salsa.

Want something sweet? Try banana ice cream. Freeze peeled and pre-cut bananas and blend until it becomes a soft serve consistency. Add nuts and dried fruit or some unsweet coconut!

Stock your pantry with cans of beans, grains, nut butters, canned pumpkin and squash, vinegar and olive oil, oatmeal, cinnamon

Stock the freezer with edamame (soy beans – steam them for 15 minutes and add a bit of salt and olive oil), chopped spinach (to add to quesadillas), mixed veggies (to add to whole grain pasta), natural popcorn (yes it’s a whole grain! But check the ingredients.)

Stock the fridge with precut fruits and veggies, non-dairy milk and non-dairy yogurt

Once I learned more about meat proteins it was almost a no brainer. I wasn’t TRYING to lose weight any more; I was cutting out the animal foods to avoid heart disease, cancer and diabetes. There are so many things I CAN eat, which is what I focus on. Truthfully it makes food choices so much easier now. I think of it like the toothpaste aisle. Do we really need 492 choices of toothpaste? No! We maybe could use 3. Regular, whitening and Tom’s and I think we would get by just fine. From there I lost the last weight that I had been trying to lose. There was no forcing my body, no struggle; I don’t even get on the scale any more and I USED to weigh every day and obsess about every half pound. Then I added Mila and began to feel even better than I thought was possible. Even better digestion, I sleep all night, I am off my antidepressants, I have more energy. I always worked out but this even helps my recovery. I’m so thankful to be in a great place right now – don’t get me wrong, I’m not a size 0 and I have my struggles in life, but I have my health and hope for positive things to come in the future.

I promise that if you change the focus and figure out how to come from a place of love and acceptance; figure out what the goal is, the REASON is, other than just wanting to be skinny, you will succeed.

 Posted by at 11:15 am