Don’t lose your marbles this Thanksgiving


Last week I went to see “Bad Moms 2” with my sisters and mom.  It had the usual humor, which was a bit awkward watching with my mom,  but it also addressed the stress of holidays, especially for moms.

Add the stress of trying to stay healthy during the holidays and we’re all bound to go nuts.

It starts at Thanksgiving and runs through Christmas, most of us make ourselves crazy trying to make the holidays perfect and magical for our families.  I can’t say that I get myself too stressed about decorations or presents, but I do try and make the food perfect.

Over the last few years my family has adjusted the menu to be more plant-based friendly.  We have eliminated dairy and crowded out the meat with beautiful and delicious vegetables and grains.

It’s been slightly amusing to watch the hesitant plant-based eaters gobble up more of the “good stuff” each year.

Of all the holidays Thanksgiving is my favorite, because of the food!  It’s a great time to be creative, especially when adapting old favorites to be healthier.

Take a chance this year, I know “Uncle Bob loves his turkey and sausage stuffing”, but add a few of these delectable plant-based dishes and see how he likes them too.

Don’t talk about how healthy everything is…just feed people the good stuff.

When foods are flavored with all those herbs and spices they’re so delicious no one knows they’re “healthy”.

I’ve adapted some favorite recipes, which you’ll find in the PDF below.  Some are quicker to make than others, but you can rest-assured that they’re healthier for you and your gut.

TotalTrueYou Plant Based Thanksgiving

We don’t have to be perfect, but we can strive to be a little bit healthier and not lose it completely over the holidays.  Plus, you’ll have energy to take a nice walk and enjoy the company of your loved ones.







Who are The Plant Partners?

Taking the First Step

Changing habits is HARD.  Really hard.  But you know what makes it easier?

Taking the first step.

I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning to run, it was too comfy, and what’s one run going to do anyway in the scheme of things?

However, I do want to lose more weight, break my college 5k record and feel energized for the day.  That certainly won’t happen while I’m hitting snooze.

Why is it so hard sometimes to drag yourself up and to make the change?  We’re intelligent people, we know what’s good for us.

We usually don’t even have trouble making the commitment….buying a new workout outfit, buying a juicer, getting a yoga mat, finding a prayer book, signing up for a class, etc,

Yet some of us have trouble getting started.   And truly, it’s usually because our goal and making that change seems SOOO far away and difficult.

Try taking the first step.  And the subsequent ones will follow as you realize it’s not so hard.   Before you know it you’re almost to your goal of making that change.  Just by concentrating on one step at a time.

Next time you feel discouraged about getting started, remind yourself of:

  1. Why you’re changing or going for a goal, and
  2. The importance of each step you take in that direction.

Planting Your Plant-Based Stake!


The kids asked me the other day: “Mom, aren’t we vegan?”.  I had to think a minute as to how I was going to answer.  Technically no, but kind of yes.

To an 8 and 9 year old that wasn’t going to be a good answer.  When you tell someone you’re plant-based they kind of look at you funny.  But if you say you’re vegan they immediately put you in a box.  The category of no meat, dairy or eggs ever passes your lips or is in the clothes you wear.

We eat plant-based for health reasons, based on lots of research, but we aren’t banned from every having a steak or eggs or a chicken wing.

Remember in geometry when we had to answer those “sometimes, always or never” questions: is a square a rectangle? Yes, ALWAYS; is a rectangle a square? SOMETIMES.

It’s the same concept.  Is someone who’s plant-based a vegan?  SOMETIMES, if they’re less than 100%.  Is someone who’s vegan plant-based?  SOMETIMES, if they eat whole foods and are not a processed vegan.

I came across this article from the HuffPost that explained it pretty well, give it a quick read and maybe it will clear up some confusion.

There’s A Big Difference Between A Plant-Based Diet And A Vegan Diet

A bowl of vegetables picked from the garden.
A bowl of vegetables picked from the garden.

Kids making cookies

total true you

total true you

At our latest Plantluck we had a couple of the kids do our demo.  They pick up on so much watching and listening to us –kinda frightening, but it’s also great when they adopt the good habits or traits.

Recently my eight-year-old came to me wanting to make these cookies.  I said no because I didn’t have time to help her.  Then I stopped to see that they were really quite simple, so I let her do them on her own.  They were great and she was SO proud of herself.

She’s made them several times since, including with our sitter, Rose.  They’ve also used mashed bananas for facials!

Here’s the super-simple and super-healthy recipe to satisfy your sweet tooth, have as a pre-workoutsnack, or pack in your lunch to share.  Enjoy!

Sara’s Cookies

My eight-year-old begged and begged me to make these cookies after she found them on YouTubeKids.  She scrolls through their DIY channel, looking for things to make for her breakfast or lunch and found this gem.  They’re super simple and I can let her do them all herself, except for taking them out of the …

  • Prep Time: 5m
  • Cook Time: 15m
  • Total Time: 20m
  • Yield: 16-20 cookies
  • Category:


  • 2 bananas, ripe and mashed
  • 1 c oats
  • chocolate chips, raisins, craisins, nuts, cinnamon, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mash bananas with a fork.
  3. Mix in oats.
  4. Add in any optional ingredients you fancy!
  5. Drop onto baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

We love Pho!

Total True You

Last night we had our new favorite soup.  We’re a big soup family, especially in the cold months.  You can throw anything into soup and have the family eat it…it’s a great place to hide good stuff!

Total True You

We tried this a few times with different broths and hoisin sauces and this version is our favorite.  Even the 3-year old loves this (minus the bean sprouts)!

Total True You

Right after we ate this we found a video on Facebook about a restaurant that does GIANT pho bowls with 3-5 pounds of meat and noodles!  It’s in Seattle, but the kids really want that giant – family-sized bowl.

Enjoy this awesome soup and let me know what kinds of things you put in yours!

Plant Strong Pho Soup

Total True You

This has become our family’s favorite this fall.  Slurpy, flavorful, different, delicious! Use our Hoisin Sauce recipe to keep this really delicious and plant-strong.


  • 12 c vegetable broth
  • 1/4 c miso paste, optional
  • 3 tbsp. ginger paste
  • 1 pkg green onion, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 pkg whole wheat thin spaghetti (or rice noodles)
  • 2 c mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 tbsp. hoisin sauce (see our recipe:
  • 1 pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • cilantro, chopped
  • fresh baby spinach
  • bean sprouts
  • hot sauce (like Sriracha)
  • lime wedges


  1. In a large pot, combine the broth ingredients: broth, miso, ginger, green onions and salt. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer while you cook the rest.
  2. Cook noodles, whichever ones you picked, according to package instructions. Once drained, add a few tablespoons of broth to keep it moist.
  3. In a large skillet over med-high heat, saute the mushrooms, adding a few drops of water to get things going. Mushrooms expel their own liquid so there is rarely a need for more liquid to cook it.
  4. Once mushrooms are soft, add a few tablespoons of the hoisin sauce to coat; about one minute. Then remove from heat.

To Serve

  1. Place noodles in individual bowls, add mushrooms, spinach, cilantro, pepper strips and soy sauce per preference, spoon broth over the noodles, add hot sauce and squeeze lime wedges to taste.

First Class and Sweet Potato Mini-Toasts

Total True You

This weekend the kids and I travelled to Manchester, NH to do a class for a few people at my sister’s house.  It was a maiden voyage for Total True You!

It was a great opportunity to share the information and some recipes that have worked for my family to keep us healthy.  I shared some information with them and then we did a demo, which included them tasting a few dishes.  In the end they took some of the dressings I made to use at home.  I will continue this class, along with adding more on specific topics in the future.  So stay-tuned.

My awesome helpers (sisters and mom) prepped with me to make a few great dishes to share.

Total True You

These Sweet Potato Mini-Toasts are my new favorite!  (Recipe below).  They’re a great addition to any party or holiday gathering.  I can’t wait to use them at Thanksgiving in a few weeks.


Total True You

After NH, we visited friends overnight right outside of Boston.  Here we enjoyed a fabulous feast made by our super-accommodating host, Emily.  She knew we are plant-based so she made a butternut squash chili and a butternut squash enchilada lasagna that were both delicious and had all of us O’Rourke’s going for seconds.  Luckily we had done a great hike to justify all the bowls of chili!

Sweet Potato Mini-Toasts

Total True You

These are great for parties and holidays.  Treat like a bruschetta or mini-toast, adding a spread and some veggies on top.

  • Prep Time: 20m
  • Cook Time: 45m
  • Total Time: 1h 5m


Sweet Potato Toasts

  • 2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into 1/4in thick rounds
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable broth
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1/2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in 4ths
  • 1/2 c radish sprouts
  • 3/4 c hummus
  • 1/2 c kalamata olives
  • 1 small bunch of basil leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss sweet potatoes in bowl with seasonings and broth to coat. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and line up sweet potatoes in single layer.
  3. Bake for 15-20 min on first side. Flip and bake another 15-20 min until golden brown and tender.
  4. Top with a variety of ingredients, starting with a spread like mashed avocado or hummus. Add a bit of balsamic vinegar, lemon or lime juice for a finishing touch.

Fun and Delicious Conversation at our First InforMeal

A couple nights ago we hosted our first plant-based community dinner – InforMeal!  There were eight of us gathered around our small dining room table to eat some delicious food and talk about plant-based nutrition.  We had a couple legends in the house – Dr Anne Bingham and her husband Ted Esselstyn.  Ted’s father is Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, who’s well-known for his work with heart disease patients and his book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”.  Also, Ted’s brother, Rip, and sister, Jane, do work sharing the plant-based message and helping people change their lives through nutrition.  The family was featured on the documentary “Forks Over Knives” – which we highly recommend you watch.


So needless to say they were a wealth of knowledge.  They had just returned from Plant Stock 2016 where they were on a panel discussing how they raised 3 children plant-based.  We loved their stories about the large Esselstyn family gatherings where they eat a constant supply of delicious healthy foods and do all kinds of athletic activities.  How awesome that the Esselstyn grandchildren are riding bikes with their grandparents — who are in their 80’s!

Anne, my husband Doug and I shared our perspectives of being in the healthcare field and seeing firsthand what poor health can result in.  We all would love for the average person to see that the decisions you make around the food you put in your mouth have a REAL impact on your health and therefore your life.  Being sick is a lot of work – doctor’s visits, tests, time off from work.  Anyway, I digress…

For the meal we had a Vegan Corn Chowder to start, followed by a bed of arugula with fresh tomatoes and basil with balsamic drizzled over the top.  And for the main course we had sushi bowls: brown rice, cabbage, peppers, cooked mushrooms, shredded carrots, pea sprouts, diced cukes and avocado.  To top that we had a couple different dressings a cilantro chimichurri (I used avocado in place of the oil) and a miso dressing (using avocado and hummus in place of oil).  I love passing around bowls of food!  The biggest hit were the dressings…the flavors are so delicious and that’s what makes or break a meal.  Even if you eat meat and dairy the flavors are an important component.

Finally, Anne and Ted’s daughter made us dessert: cupcakes with decadent frosting!  My kids had the left overs the next morning and wanted to be sure we had the recipe!

IMG_3919All in all, it was a great meal, lots of discussion on how we can bring this to the larger community and offer support for people who want to eat more plant-based.  We had some great input from Robin Reynolds, a good friend and neighbor, who has been working in the fitness industry for many years and from our other friends at the table too: Sarah Shapiro, Meghan Tucker and Heather Parker.  So stay tuned, we have some great ideas and we will be working on implementing them in the future.  We can’t wait to share the food and message with you too!

First inforMeal!


Curious about how a whole-foods, plant-based diet can help you achieve health, energy, weight loss and more?  Join us to experience the delicious food a WFPB diet offers and to discuss diet, lifestyle and healthcare so you can make informed decisions about your own health.

Also joining us will be Dr. Anne Bingham, a busy and well-respected OB/Gyn in Middletown, CT.  She uses WFPB nutrition as a way to help her patients and raises her family with these healthy practices as well.

Bring a friend, let us know if you’re coming and we look forward to seeing you!

InforMeal Aug