Category Archives: Living

A Reintroduction

Hello! I’m back, 6 years later (almost to the day). I’ve been doing a lot of creative cooking recently. At the request of those enjoying the meals, I’m now writing down some recipes.

A lot has changed in the past 6 years – I started a cidery, got married, bought a house, lived through a pandemic – and notably for this blog, learned a lot more about my body and dietary needs.

After many years of learning and experimentation, I have a pretty clear list of what foods are good and bad for my body. I eat a primarily grain-free and plant-based diet. To go into more detail:

  • Avoid grains (absolutely no gluten)
  • Avoid dairy
    • Goat’s milk dairy on occasional has been okay!
  • Limit animal protein
    • Avoid red meat and poultry
    • Limit fish (1-2x per week)
    • Limit eggs
  • Limit sugar
    • Go for in-season fruit, coconut sugar, local honey, and maple syrup
  • Limit lectins (read more about lectins in Plant Paradox – overall it sounds a little out there, but eating low-lectin worked well for my body)
    • Avoid soy, peanuts, cashews
    • In season fruit and vegetables, avoid skin and seeds
    • Legumes pressure cooked or fermented only

So what do I eat? A lot of resistant starches (sweet potatoes, plantains, cassava), almond-based foods (almond butter, almond-milk yogurt), healthy fats, and fermented foods. You’ll see me building meals around tempeh, jackfruit, and hearty veggies often. And there’s a lot of great grain-free and almond focused brands that I love, including Kite Hill, Simple Mills, Siete, Mikey’s, and Soozy’s.

However, my approach to diet has always been that it’s personal. There is no one size fits all. While my recipes accommodate my needs, I will always recommend substitutions or alternative options so you can make them your own.


Tried and True Egg Substitutes

Tried and True Egg Substitutes | The Fresh Day
I have resisted seeing a nutritionist for years. Through all my digestive issues, I have read so much about nutrition and experimented with so many foods that I developed my own (fairly strong) beliefs and opinions. I worried seeing a nutritionist could mean spending time and money just to hear about things I already knew or had tried.

Recently, I got a recommendation from a friend for a nutritionist who is incredibly thorough, analytical, respectful, and understanding. Once I made an appointment, I was amazed how much her perspective and experience aligned with mine. I was able to get incredibly comprehensive tests looking at vitamins, minerals, antibodies, allergies and more, which she explained to me line by line. I learned hoards of valuable information about my diagnoses and deficiencies, but also a new allergy – eggs.

Honestly, this was not entirely surprising. While there are times when I really enjoy an omelette, sometimes just the thought of eggs make me a little nauseous. I’m not alone among my friends, and also know that eggs are one of the most common allergy-causing foods for children.

So what to do if you can’t use eggs? They’re harder to swap out than flour or milk, but in many cases, it can be done. I’ve got a few tried and true natural alternatives so that skipping eggs doesn’t have to mean giving up baked goods or breakfast scrambles.

1 egg = 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp warm water
Mix the flaxseed with warm water and let sit for a few minutes before using. Fairly versatile, it helps with leavening and binding – I would use for baking, breading, mixing into meatballs, etc.

1 egg = 1/2 banana
Good for binding in baking – think cookies. It does add some sweetness so adjust your recipe if needed.

1 egg = 1/2 cup applesauce
Good for binding in baking – just like bananas but a more mild flavor.

1 egg = 1/4 cup silken tofu
Helps add moisture to baked goods, but more important, makes for an awesome breakfast. Tofu can make a mean frittata, and I’ve had tofu breakfast scrambles that I liked even better than the real thing.

A Healthy Way to Cleanse

Between the holidays and the heart of cold season, January always leaves me feeling a little sluggish. After all the sweets, feasts, and drinks, it’s the perfect time of year to “reset” and initiate a healthy new year. For me, a cleanse is not a resolution or a diet, it’s just part of the plan to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I came across the Clean Program five years ago, the book was sitting innocently on a side table at my boyfriend’s parents’ house. His father had heard good things and bought it, but not yet read it or tried the cleanse. Struggling with chronic digestive issues and feeling all around lousy, I was intrigued by it’s claim to “restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself.” Willing to try anything to feel better, I embarked on my first cleanse.

These days, you hear a ton about cleanses. From talk shows to food magazines, the term is everywhere. Juice cleanses tend to be the most talked about, and the most criticized, for good reason. Juice cleanses, and many others, are less than a healthy choice. Anything that has you avoiding solid foods and consuming under 1200 calories is not a cleanse – it’s a crash diet. A good cleanse should provide proper nutrients and support your body’s natural process of detoxification.

The Clean Program does just that. The 21-day cleanse focuses on two main concepts: eliminating foods that are potential allergens or triggers of health issues, and providing the body ample time to clean itself up. The foods not allowed include sugar, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, soy, corn, and peanuts, among other things. You start the day with a raw fruit and vegetable shake, have a hearty lunch made from permitted foods, and then another shake for dinner. And you always allow 12 hours between your evening shake and breakfast. The goal is to condense the energy your body spends on digestion, so that the immune system can go to work elsewhere and the body can move on to detoxifying.

A Healthy Way to Cleanse | The Fresh Day

This week kicked off my fifth annual cleanse. It’s hard to believe I’ve been into it for this long, but the Clean Program keeps me coming back. It’s not a cure-all – in fact, that book states that flat out. But it’s safe to stay that you will feel the positive effects, which can be anything from cured headaches to better digestion to more energy. Before our first cleanse, my boyfriend was plagued with frequent sinus infections. Despite getting sinus surgery when he was younger, almost every cold he had turned into a full-blown infection and perpetual congestion. Since the cleanse, he hasn’t had a single sinus infection. Seriously worth it.

Several of the years I’ve done Clean, it has kept me cold-free for six months afterwards. With my track record for getting sick, that is nothing short of miraculous. So as I sit here fighting off the second of two back-to-back colds, I am really looking forward to the weeks ahead of cleansing and a fresh start.

If you’re interested, you can peruse the Clean Program blog and find the book on Amazon. I would definitely recommend doing the book version of the cleanse, as opposed to the kit that they sell. It’s expensive, and you can achieve great results without it.

A Day at the Yogi’s Table

It’s hard to think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than with an hour-long yoga class and a delicious, healthy chef-prepared meal. Conveniently, that is the very experience Onna Hepner and Stacia Nero put together for their guests at the Yogi’s Table.

A Day at the Yogi's Table | The Fresh Day

This past weekend, I had to pleasure of attending the Yogi’s Table, a yoga and dining event series recently featured on Be Well Philly. I was pumped to be a part of the experience, and to represent my CSA, Philly Foodworks, who provided local produce and products that were featured in the brunch prepared by Onna.

The event was hosted in the studio space of Full & Happy, a small supper club and cooking school Onna formed after years of working as a chef and food stylist. She transformed the apartment below her own into an enchanting yet functional space where the Yogi’s Table events have been happening monthly since May. Scheduled around brunch or dinner, the event starts with a challenging yet relaxing yoga session from Stacia, who is also an instructor at several studios in the city. As the class comes to an end, Stacia brings in freshly made green juice from the kitchen. The room is then transformed from yoga studio to dining room, thanks to some ingenious homemade portable furniture. The meal begins with a brief cooking demonstration, and Onna is enthusiastic about including some education in the experience. She told our group about the wonders of farro and barley – grains that are virtually foolproof and impossible to overcook (but note, they do contain gluten). Onna was careful to ask about food allergies up front, and the meal included options that suited us all.

Yogi's Table | The Fresh Day

Once we sat down at the table, we were joined by Onna, Stacia, and Onna’s assistant (who also happens to be her mother). The atmosphere was like a family meal – casual, comfortable, and conversational.

“I want people to leave feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and like they just did something great for themselves” Onna said,  “I also want them to learn something – about cooking, about food, about yoga, about themselves. We also love the idea of bringing eight strangers together for a really special experience- who knows who you might meet or where the conversation will lead?”

I have to say, Onna achieved exactly what she set out to do. The Yogi’s Table is a uniquely enjoyable experience, and a moment in time that allowed me to focus on my own well-being.

Email for more details, or visit the website. Tickets are $50, which includes the hour-long yoga class and the meal.

Upcoming classes are:
Thursday, December 11th 6:30 pm (there’s only two spaces left for this date!)
Thursday, January 8th at 6:30 pm
Thursday, February 5th at 6:30 pm

Where It All Starts

I never thought I would start a blog. I thought I didn’t enjoy writing. Turns out, I wasn’t writing about the right things. There’s a difference between interests and passions, something I’ve come to understand better recently. The idea is that if you pursue your passions – in writing, in work, in life – things are easier and more enjoyable. Well, it’s true.

I’m writing to help create and contribute to the community of creative recipe modifiers, green smoothie proponents, farmer’s market devotees, and fermentation enthusiasts. I want to cultivate open-mindedness and understanding of seemingly odd health habits. I want to make a healthier lifestyle attainable and enjoyable for anyone who’s intrigued. I want to share my thoughts and experiences with those who are listening, learning, and sharing their own.

A little background about myself – I grew up a rather typical American kid. Sandwiches, pizza, ice cream – I wasn’t a picky eater and I never had to give much thought to what I ate. Just before my 19th birthday, my health took a dramatic turn for the worse and then I couldn’t eat anything without experiencing intense pain and discomfort. I saw many local doctors, but my condition worsened until I was all but bedridden. I became a patient at the Mayo Clinic, and was able to improve to point where I could return to school and normal activities. But unfortunately, after this initial improvement, my progress stopped. Although my symptoms were more manageable, I did not have a single day or meal that wasn’t accompanied with pain.

At this time, I put a sharp focus on what I was eating. In the process, I learned a tremendous amount about nutrition – my eyes had been opened. I hadn’t found a cure-all, but had been convinced that the right diet and lifestyle changes will help you feel better physically, mentally, short-term and long-term. Healthy eating is particularly addicting. The more you do, the more you want to learn, and the more you learn, the more motivated you become.

This past year has been a major turning point for me. I’m feeling the best I have since my symptoms began six years ago. With the help of a truly insightful doctor, I’ve discovered I have allergies to dairy and gluten, as well as high levels of lead. For me, eliminating both gluten and dairy has been the trick, only one or the other, and I’m still a mess. It’s worth it – the transformation has been remarkable. I’ve got double the energy I used to, and I’m off prescriptions that before I could not bear a day without.

But that’s just my story. While gluten and dairy are common triggers, there are still plenty of people who can eat eat yogurt and drink beer every day and feel just fine (I live with one!). People should adopt the healthy habits that work best for their body and their life, the answer is not the same for everyone. I’m always going to be exploring and experimenting with ways to eat and live well. Sharing my experiences, I hope to inspire others, help them feel their best, and have a damn good time doing it. After all, it is my passion.