What does a “Plant Based Diet” mean? How did I get here?

My Cheerful Healthy PLANT BASED life?? Yep.

Have you ever thought about going “plant based”? And what does that even mean?

TO BE CLEAR: I am in no way here to try and make everyone become a vegetarian.  I am not trying to “change” you and make you eat like I do.  What I do focus on with my clients is helping them to break the dieting cycle and learn how to eat HEALTHIER than they currently are.  For most that means more label reading, less processed foods, and more fruits and vegetables.  AND, if they so desire, higher quality lean proteins and dairy.

Plant based means I’m not really a vegan….or a vegetarian.  But do land somewhere in between.

VEGAN – well, it goes without saying, vegans don’t eat meat of any kind.  What you may not have known is that vegans put the life of animals above everything and also do not consume: dairy, eggs, honey or butter.  They also don’t wear leather, fur or silk of any kind (ACK!).  Being a Vegan is about more than what you eat, and I completely respect my vegan friends, but love my leather boots….. this is currently NOT me :).

If I HAD to label it I’d say I eat a “plant based diet”.  Which just means I choose fruits, vegetables and whole grains first.

I do eat eggs occasionally and even fish once in a while.  I do stay away from dairy but to be honest, I find it hard to completely avoid.  Is it possible? Sure…and although I’m not a purist, I do the best I can to avoid.  That being said  my number one rule is I do believe in knowing what I eat (and I do strictly stay away from meat.)

How did I get here? Well, as you may have heard me mention, in recent years I have learned to question pretty much everything I’ve been taught about nutrition and food. There is so much contradictory information out there…..eat more meat, eat less meat, you need more protein…what is too much? Dairy is good, dairy is bad.  Lean meats are okay, but fats are good for our brain. Eat bacon (?!?!).  WHAT?? Are you as confused as I was?  Truly you can find any article about any of these subjects and I’m sure I can find you another research based article to dispute it.

BUT, what is the one common denominator in EVERYTHING you read about health and nutrition?


FACT: A whole food, plant-based diet has been scientifically proven to prevent, and even reverse, a litany of food and lifestyle-born illnesses, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

FACT:  You do not have to be perfect at this to see the health benefits.

So when I first began to question what I was eating, and why I struggled so much to maintain my weight…. I started there.  I began doing my best to just eat more plants and fruits.  I started small, just incorporating MORE.  Then, as I read more about whole grains I decided to include more of those.  Before I knew it, my energy was way UP and I was feeling dramatically better than I had in years.  Next thing I know I’m eating a baked potato with vegetarian chili (full of brown rice and beans) for dinner…something I NEVER would have considered a few years ago.  Eating a “lean & green” type meal – low starch veggies & protein, can be good for weight loss, but by eating more whole grains, more fruits & veggies and less (or no) meat….you cut calories, CHOLESTEROL, and bad fats right away.  Most people lose weight when transitioning to a plant based lifestyle, while feeling more satisfied.

CARBOHYDRATES.  They have become “bad” recently while “low-carb” has turned into a lifestyle for so many.  I’m not saying it doesn’t work.  What I am saying is, if you have struggled with the “low-carb” way of eating….maybe that is because it’s not for you.

Many people think I eat salads all day but that’s not at all true! A great description:

While leafy vegetables are an important part of the whole-food, plant-based diet, they are a very poor calorie, i.e., energy, source to be sustainable. We would need to eat almost 16 pounds of cooked kale to get 2,000 calories of food! We certainly don’t eat this way, and we wouldn’t blame you for thinking it sounds crazy—we think so, too! In fact, it is virtually impossible to get enough calories from leafy vegetables alone to form a sustainable diet. Perhaps the most common reason for failure in this lifestyle is that people actually try to live on leafy vegetables alone. If you try to live on these vegetables, you become deficient in calories. Not eating enough calories leads you to feel hungry, which over time may result in decreased energy, feelings of deprivation, cravings, and even binges. These issues are not caused by switching to a plant-based diet—rather, they are all related to not eating enough. Click here to read the whole article. 

You may be a perfect candidate for a plant based diet if:

  • You are someone who is never fully satisfied when eating a “lean & green” (protein/low starch veggies) type meal.
  • Crave pastas, potatoes and bread.
  • Not that interested in meat generally.  Eat it because you think you need the protein (that was me).
  • Enjoy a wide variety of vegetables.
  • Haven’t had success losing weight in the past and don’t understand how others stick to a “low-carb” plan.
  • Have high cholesterol.
  • Typically works best for people with a Type A, B, or AB blood type (many Type O are carnivores who crave meat).  This is merely a predictor, not a hard fact as I know many Type O vegetarians.
  • EVERYONE will have health benefits eating this way.

There is so much that can be learned about this lifestyle and trust me, I’m not perfect.  What I will say is that it’s easy to turn to processed, easy foods, when going plant based….and that is NOT what I advocate.  I still believe in “clean” eating so read your labels.  Stay away from “meat like products” and eat what your body craves.  Junk food vegetarians struggle to get adequate nutrition from processed foods.

If your body craves meat….it’s okay.  Then we can focus on QUALITY of the meat products you eat while still adding in more fruits and veggies for health.  If eating beef….grass fed.  If eating butter use REAL butter.  These are the things I go over with my clients to help them figure out what eating style suits them.

If interested in exploring a plant based diet a bit more I absolutely recommend doing my 26-day vegan detox….it was life changing for me and a huge eye-opener in helping me transition into a more plant-based lifestyle for long term.  If you feel strongly you need the protein we can detox with a Whole 30 program, or even a strong 30 days of clean eating.  Either way, I can support you as you get rid of the processed foods and sugars and focus on eating more real foods.

You can read more about my 30 day intensive here.


Do you need a Health Coach?

So what exactly IS a Health Coach?? This article sums it up pretty well I think. Lifestyle changes take time….and effort. Health Coaches are trained to help you overcome your “day to day” struggles and roadblocks so you can live to be a happier HEALTHIER you. <3


Read this article here that shows you how a Health Coach can bridge the gap between what you NEED to do, and what you WANT to do when it comes to your health.

health.com article

What kinds of programs do I offer my clients? Read about them under the “Work With Angela” tab on my website cheerfulhealthylife.com



Chinese Noodles in Ginger Garlic Sauce

This quick and flavorful dish can be made quicker still by using frozen veggies in place of the fresh. Chow mein or lo mein Asian noodles are good here, but it’s great with any other noodles, even spaghetti.  This recipe is from the Forks Over Knives Family cookbook. Lots of great family friendly meatless meals in there!



  • 8 ounces dry lo mein or chow mein noodles, or any other type of long whole-grain noodles
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 9 small garlic cloves minced (about 1½ tablespoons)
  • 7 to 8 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced diagonally into 1-inch-long strips (about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1½ cups broccoli florets in ½-inch pieces (about 5 ounces)
  • 2 baby bok choy, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons cashews, toasted and chopped (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water if necessary, and drain again.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the arrowroot powder (cornstarch), soy sauce, vinegar, and 1½ cups water until smooth. Set the slurry aside.

3. In a large sauté pan, place the ginger, garlic, scallions, mushrooms, carrots, and ¼ cup water. Cover and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are halfway cooked, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the broccoli and bok choy to the vegetables. Stir the reserved slurry and add it to the pan. Cover and cook until all the vegetables are crisp-tender and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

5. Add the noodles to the vegetables; toss until well combined. Heat over medium-low if necessary to warm all the ingredients and add a little water to loosen the sauce, if necessary. Garnish with cilantro and cashews (if using) and serve hot.

Great video on their website that walks you through this recipe as well. http://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/chinese-noodles-ginger-garlic-sauce/

Meatless Monday – Black Bean & Quinoa Enchilada Bake

This BLACK BEAN & QUINOA BAKE is SO yummy….what a perfect comfort food dish to help you begin incorporating a “Meatless Monday” into your life (why not?) 🙂

Your family won’t complain about this one, it’s a hit with everyone!  There are veggies and tons of PLANT POWERED protein from the black beans and quinoa – and cheese! (Add some ground turkey if you feel you need more).


Recipe & photo credit: twopeasandtheirpods.com

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed,diced
1 red pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 orange pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 cup corn frozen kernels
Juice of 1 small lime
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups red enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
Toppings: Sliced green onions, avocado slices, sour cream, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

2. Add quinoa and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Cover quinoa and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the peppers and corn. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add the lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and cilantro. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. In a large bowl, add the cooked quinoa and black beans. Add the sautéed vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Pour in the enchilada sauce and stir. Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese.

5.Pour the black bean and quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Cover the pan with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil. Bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and edges are bubbling. Remove from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Garnish with toppings, if desired. Serve warm.

Note-this recipe freezes well! If you need the recipe to be gluten-free make sure you use a gluten-free enchilada sauce.

This is another one of those super versatile dishes. If you’re worried about not having protein add a little ground turkey or beef. Add extra veggies if you want, put over a bed of lettuce to make a salad? Again, tons of options. THIS is how you make healthy FAMILY FRIENDLY dinners.

Cheerful Healthy MESS…..

Cropped Uglyfruit

Welcome to my Cheerful Healthy (sometimes messy) Life.

Let’s just eat REAL food. 

Let’s just DO healthy things.

Let’s just BE healthy….together.

How did we get here? By “here” I mean this self confidence thing.
The one that lets us define each day, and how we feel about ourselves….based on a number on the scale?

I mean….I know how I got here (you’ll learn more about me as we go) but how did you get here?

Truly one of the biggest things I have struggled with during my own health journey is how that daily number affects me.  

Anyone else? Maybe it’s just me…..

My advice?


Just do healthy things.
Move more.

That’s what I did.

One day I just got fed up.  I was tired.  Tired of trying so hard.  Is THIS healthy? Is THAT? Why this constant battle with what the scale says….or what I think it should say?  I don’t think I even realized how exhausted I was with the whole process until it just hit me.  After years of the watching….and the trying… the “being careful” and the “just screw it moments”. I finally decided…..I was done.

No more.  I’ll just deal with the consequences.  If it’s up, it’s up.

I’m TIRED of the head game. I think I just don’t care anymore.

So, for about 6 months, that’s what I did.  NOTHING.

I ate what wanted.
I exercised when I wanted.
I did, what I wanted.
No “good” food.
No “bad” food.
No weighing.
I just LIVED.

I experimented with my food a bit.  I ate pretty healthy overall because….guess what?  I AM pretty healthy.  Over the past 7 years I’ve started some pretty good habits, and they were still there.  The biggest difference was I didn’t freak out when I didn’t do so well.

Oh trust me, I KNEW when I had a bad night (or bad day, or bad weekend) and I just moved on.

So, six months later when I finally did weigh?
The scale hadn’t moved.  That’s right.

It didn’t move.

Even though I ate WAY too many chocolate chip cookies when I made them last week.

Even though I had pizza many (many) times….and even PASTA a few times (GASP).

What about that girls dinner we we all GOT OUR OWN dessert – can you imagine?? Oh, and I ate it.

And on vacation? Oh yes.  I splurged on vacation.  I drank wine AND had dessert ….and ICE CREAM almost every night?!?!
I don’t even eat ice cream at home!

And the scale still hadn’t moved.  
I mean, I’m sure it shifted over the course of 6 months, up a few….down a few….that’s how life goes right? But as far as what I saw? There was virtually NO CHANGE.

If this sounds anything at all like what you deal with then I’m glad you’re here.  Together we can focus on doing more of the GOOD stuff…..and the bad stuff?
Well, yes it is there, but we’ll focus on crowding it out with MORE good stuff.
When the good begins to overtake the bad you begin to LIVE.
You can even lose weight!

It can happen (I promise!).

A couple of times month I’ll be sending out this newsletter.  Hopefully it will resonate with you somewhat.  My hope is it will give YOU hope.  It will help you realize that your HEALTHY LIFE is there already, just waiting for you to live it.

Let’s live healthy RIGHT NOW.  We’ll start out with this delicious spiralized noodle recipe from below.  I’ve been OBSESSED with it lately – so easy to throw together and I use whatever I have in my fridge.  I add some grilled chicken for the hubs and extra veggies for me.

Guess what the number 1 thing is that healthy people eat? VEGGIES!
So you’ll see a lot of that in my newsletters and in my blogging (more of that to come).

-Embrace the glorious mess that you are. -


Noodles and Zoodles Primavera
Serves 6

2 TBSP Olive Oil
1/2 cup diced white onions
8oz white cut mushrooms
6+ garlic cloves, peeled & minced (c’mon….you can never have too much garlic right?)
1/2 cup loosely chopped fresh basil leaves
dash of red pepper flakes (gives it a kick, alter to your taste)
28oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 large zucchini’s – spiralized into “noodles”
4 oz whole wheat angel hair or thin spaghetti noodles, cooked. (WHOLE WHEAT.)
OPTIONAL – add cooked protein

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté until translucent, approximately 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are softened and tender.  Add garlic, red pepper flakes and basil, stir around a bit until fragrant. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, S&P and continue cooking until it begins simmering and reduce heat.  Continue to simmer until sauce is reduced. Taste and season if desired.Add zucchini zoodles, cook 2-3 minutes until softened a bit.  Add cooked whole wheat pasta noodles.  Stir to combine.  Serve immediately.Garnish with parmesan cheese if desired.One of the many things I love about this dish is the versatility.  Want to cut the noodles out completely and use only zucchini? Do it! Want to raise the nutrition value even more? Add some steamed broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, or any other veggie you have on hand. Need more protein? Add some grilled chicken or maybe some ground turkey? Frozen meatballs? The possibilities are endless.

Health Coach TIP: Try going meatless one or more nights per week and see what happens.  By adding the mushrooms to this dish it is quite “hearty” and you may not even miss the fact it’s completely vegetarian (which means you’ve cut quite a few calories as well – BONUS).



Confession….I don’t weigh anymore….

Yep, that’s right. I decided to stop. It’s not that I didn’t care but in fact….I cared too much. I got tired of trying to stay that magic number so I decided to take some time off. I decided to completely STEP AWAY FROM THE SCALE and it’s been the most empowering thing I’ve ever done. To continuously focus on losing weight, or trying to maintain a certain number, is EXHAUSTING (and not very healthy). The past year and half or so has been a huge SHIFT in my life…..which means huge shifts in my business as well.

My new mission is to help others be the HEALTHIEST they can be….and guess what?

THAT has nothing to do with a number on the scale….


Subscribe below and together we can focus on doing the right things.

Together we can focus on being healthy and doing healthy things.

Everything else will fall into place….

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