St. Nicolaus Day Brings Sweet Childhood Memories

My childhood holidays are filled of sweet memories. My mother, Bunny, made sure we were indulged in every way.

Bunny was an only child of Irish descent who grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. She was born to parents of the Greatest Generation who never forgot the lessons of the Great Wall Street Crash. My mother’s father, who we called Poppy, worked on Wall Street in 1929 and witnessed the devastation firsthand.

Because of this, my grandparents never invested their money in markets or in a home. My mother grew up in a one bedroom flat with very few frills or holidays trimmings. When she became a mom, she decided to celebrate in a very differnet way.

Back to the sweet memories. I mean, literally sweet. The celebrations started with St. Nicolaus day on December 6th, when Bunny would wake us to Christmas stockings filled with candy and gifts. That was just after we were given our own Christmas Chocolate Advent Countdown Calendars. Remember those? 24 Days of being rewarded with chocolate candy while you ticked away the days till the motherload.

Of course, there was the Christmas cookie baking extravaganzas and overflowing candy dishes abound.

When Christmas morning came, I’d lick a candy cane or two while waiting for the family tradition to be served, Petit Fours from Kirschbaum’s Bakery.This was the commencement of a two-week feast of sweets!

Now that I am more than grown up, and admittedly growing older, I’ve decided to celebrate in a differnet way. A healthier way.

Living a whole food plant-based lifestyle doesn’t mean sweets be shunned, but it’s not so nice to your body to overindulge in refined sugar. Sweet treats can still be enjoyed, but with healthier ingredients.

I’ve used substitutions to “plantify” goodies I’ve been making for years such as banana bread, pancakes and cookies. Perhaps you can enjoy some of your traditional sweets with plant-based ingredients so you can, as they say, have your cake and eat it too. 

This chart will guide you in making healthier swaps while still enjoying holiday sweets and baked goods.

Two recipes that I’ll be serving a lot of this season are made mostly with shelf stable ingredients. This means they require no refrigeration and can be whipped up quickly. Ideally, a food processor and high-speed blender are needed to make these recipes work.

*See note on high speed blender in Chocolate Nirvana Crème Recipe.

Vegan Coconut Blissful Balls

These vegan coconut bliss balls, which my sister insists I call Betsy Balls, are always devoured.  I’ve become known for them in my community and corporate workshops and have made many friends serving them. They are a wholefood breakfast, snack, dessert or any time of day kind of treat that fill you with wonder that they are actually healthful.

  • 1-1/2 cups sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 c. grade A maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a food processor cup fitted with the s-blade, grind the sunflower seeds, walnuts, coconut and sea salt to a crumbly consistency but leaving some chunks of nuts.

Add in remaining ingredients and process until the mixture forms into a sticky dough. Remove lid and scrape out into a bowl. Form into balls and roll in shredded coconut. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

Chocolate Nirvana Crème

This crème is heavenly warm or cold.  You can adjust the sweetness to your preference.

Serve as a dip with fruit, over pancakes or waffles, with sundaes or lick the spoon to your hearts content. This is a decant treat you can eat without regret.  

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 oz. medjool dates (about 10 large) soaked in hot water for 10 minutes to 1 hour
  • ¼ to ½ cup grade A maple syrup
  • 4 cups warm water

Using a highspeed blender with a heating element and the ability to cook food, add all ingredients to blender and blend on high for 5 minutes, or until creme begins to thicken. You will hear the motor slow down and the sound get louder as the creme gets to the right thickness.   Once thick, stop the blender and quickly transfer to a large container.  It will thicken more as it cools. Store in refrigerator.

If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you can use a standard blender, transferring mixture to a medium to large saucepan once blended. Stir over medium to high heat until desired thickness is reached.

A Tribute to Eloise – Black History Month

Black History Month is the time for celebrating and thanking black Americans who have inspired us and shaped our history. I’d like to take this opportunity tell you about Eloise, a woman who has impacted my life greatly. I met Eloise on the day I was brought home from the hospital. She greeted me with unconditional love. As I grew, her presence taught me a valuable life lesson that has guided my life.

I was born in Cincinnati, OH in 1965.  Mark Twain once said, “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati. It is always ten years behind the times.” 

But, in October 1965, the month of my birth, the Cincinnati Strangler was on the loose. The crimes continued, and it was several years later that a black man was arrested.  So much had happened by that time and racial tensions in Cincinnati grew so thick that Martin Luther King made a special trip to appeal for calm. So that was the climate in which I was born, very racially charged.

Eloise was my “mother’s helper” spending a day at our home each week, although she had 5 babies of her own to care for. Eloise was soft spoken with light blackskin. She was a warm hug on a chilly day.  I wish I had more time to tell you about her, but what is most important, is how much we loved each other. So much so, that as I grew and was able to speak, I would protest when it was time for her to go home and beg her to take me with. On occasion, my mom would give in and Eloise would scoop me up and take me to her house after work, which was no easy undertaking, because Eloise didn’t drive at the time.  It was two buses across town to get to her home in College Hill.

3 years old

The more than middle-aged woman I am today bears little resemblance to the spirited, chatty toe-headed girl traveling across town in a prejudiced society. My soul remembers, and Eloise would later recall, how we would get stopped. She would often be questioned about why she had this white girl in her charge. Children see injustice in the world, and because of my sensitivity and my vantage point, I could sense how the world treated her differently. I grew an antenna and became very aware of social injustices.  It’s been a hallmark of my life. I have been the defender of the underdog as long as I can remember. Not in always in an organized or heroic way, but in standing up for what’s right, what’s fair, be it kids being bullied, the homeless or the helpless.

Looking back, it makes perfect sense that I became a passionate defender of neglected and abused animals. After becoming involved in rescue work, it seemed odd that I would go great lengths to help certain kinds of animals but continue to eat others. Soon it led to the awareness that domestic animals are not the most abused and neglected. It’s the animals in our food system that suffer the most and that we seem to care the least about. I stopped eating animal foods and began to study health, nutrition and food policy, which led to the awareness that we as a society are suffering terribly because industry and government are influencing us to crave and consume large amounts of processed and animal foods. This creates disease, for which we are encouraged to take prescription pills that often make us sicker. All of which contributes to the destruction of this beautiful planet we live on, giving birth to my life’s work as a Global Wellness Consultant and the belief that a plant-based diet heals the root cause of much of the suffering and destruction mentioned.


I look at the first picture ever taken of me and laugh that I was born doing the fisticuffs. Born to defend. But it was Eloise, who from the very beginning, with her unconditional love, reminded me that it’s better to stand for what you believe in, not against what you don’t.   

Even though we moved from Cincinnati before my 4th birthday, she remained in our life, traveling on a Greyhound bus to Chicagland for occasions like my wedding and my 40th birthday. I visited her in Cincinnati over the years and spoke to her on the phone August 5th 2008, the day before breast cancer took her life. She whispered “I’ve always loved you like a daughter” to which I replied, you’ve always been my angel.

Her picture sits just over my left shoulder in my office and I send her love on the regular and include her in my prayers daily. Thank you Eloise Shelton, for gifting me a valuable life lesson that has guided my life.

It’s Black History Month I am glad for this opportunity to share Eloise with you and think about how far things have come, and how far they still need to go.

I am passionate about helping others reach their best physical and emotional body. Are you ready for a supportive, interactive approach in taking charge of your life and health? Are you ready to rewrite your story? If the answer is yes, contact me HERE.

Watch this inspirational video   “To Die For” A Double Entendre

Need help rewriting your story?    Let’s get in touch

Random Act of Kindness 5 Reasons to Go Plant-Based for 21-Days

Forget the New Year’s resolutions…… just be kind.

Most of us are very, very fortunate. We get to be kind to ourselves. We get to. It’s a choice we can make. Or not make. Not every human or being on this planet has a choice or a voice. And the ripple effect of being kind to ourselves impacts every cell of our body and every species on the planet.

This message is not for everyone. Some are already living a WFPB lifestyle and you know what that acronym means. Woohoo! Some may feel a bit offended, or not agree with this point of view, and to that I say, isn’t it cool to be kind?

Please hear me out….

5 Reasons to Go Plant-Based for 21-Days

1) You Will Feel Better!

Dr. Michael Greger M.D, author of “How Not to Die” says is best:

“Given the right conditions, the body heals itself. If you whack your shin hard on a coffee table, it can get red, swollen, and painful. But your shin will heal naturally if you just stand back and let your body work its magic. But what if you kept whacking it in the same place three times a day—say, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner? It would never heal.”

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is a BIG HAMMER. The flow of injury through our body in the form of processed food, saturated fats, meat, dairy, eggs, refined grains and sugar keep us from healing and is the largest contributor to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and countless other health conditions.

“You could go to your doctor and complain that your shin hurts. “No problem,” he or she might say, whipping out a pad to write you a prescription for painkillers. You’d go back home, still whacking your shin three times a day, but the pain pills would make it feel so much better. Thank heavens for modern medicine! That’s what happens when people take nitroglycerin for chest pain. Medicine can offer tremendous relief, but it’s not doing anything to treat the underlying cause.

If you choose to keep re injuring yourself three times a day, (or even once a day) you interrupt the healing process. You can choose moderation and hit yourself with a smaller hammer, but why beat yourself up at all? You can choose to stop damaging yourself, get out of your own way, and let your body’s natural healing process bring you back toward health.”

Why not try a whole food plant-based diet for 21-days to experience the healing process?  If after 21-days you want to return to whacking yourself with a hammer, at least you know what it feels like when you don’t.

In 2017 my sister was able to lose 30 pounds and reverse a host of medical conditions within just a few months of committing to a whole food plant-based lifestyle. She is certain that if she had not given it her all, she would not only have been forced to undergo a 2nd by-pass surgery, she believes she would not be alive today. She strongly encourages others to jump in, not wade in, in order to feel the powerful healing effects.

If you participate in a random 21-Day act of kindness to yourself by eating many plant-based meals, you will have an experience, a point of reference from which you can make choices with an expanded perspective.

2) Your Mood Will Improve!

Once I fully embraced a whole food plant-based lifestyle, I began to feel noticeably more centered, peaceful and joyful. This happens to most people that I personally know, have worked with or interviewed. Perhaps there is a spiritual element to this. A satisfaction about living in a kind and compassionate way 3 or more times a day.

I think about the animal-based adrenaline, cortisol and hormones that I am no longer ingesting as a significant contribution to my elevated happiness and contentment. If we store emotions and fear in our bodies, why wouldn’t that also be the case for the animals we eat? Animals who are mistreated and suffer unimaginable pain and fear in the food system.

From a more scientific point of view, Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine, refers to several studies in his February 2015 report that showed how foods fight depression. It was sighted that some people cannot tolerate antidepressants, don’t benefit from them, or are hesitant to take medications or seek counseling due to stigma. As a result, they miss an average of 19 work days per year, costing employers up to $44 billion dollars annually in lost productivity. Depression can aggravate other chronic illnesses as well, like diabetes and heart disease. There are decades of studies confirming that plant-based diets prevent and even treat chronic illnesses, but can they also improve mood? A study in the March/April 2015 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion demonstrated how a plant-based nutrition program improves not only depression, but anxiety, fatigue, productivity, and other markers of well-being. The 18-week study analyzed the health benefits of adopting a plant-based vegan diet in a corporate setting. Study participants, GEICO employees who were either overweight or struggling with type 2 diabetes, adopted a low-fat vegan diet, favoring high-fiber, low-glycemic foods. They learned about preventive nutrition and new cooking tips through weekly “lunch and learn” sessions led by a clinician or cooking instructor. They also formed bonds, sharing helpful health tips along the way and connecting with the group daily through an online forum. Study participants alleviated symptoms of anxiety, depression, and fatigue, and improved their productivity both at work and outside of work.

If you participate in a random 21-Day act of kindness by eating many plant-based meals, you might get your happy on!

3) You Will Save Animals!

Most of us love animals and many of us care for our pets as we would a family member. The average pet parent spends more than two thousand dollars a year, according to new research, totaling over $20,000 if a pet lives to be 10 years old. Some owners believe their pets have vastly improved their lives, 75 percent feel happier after adopting a pet, and 68 percent believe the animal gives them comfort. Some of us regularly cry to our pets and half have even shared a secret no one else knows about.  Having a pet can lead to better health and many dog owners credit their improved exercise habits to their pets.

If you do love animals, kitty videos, the Dodo stories ( ) and get enraged when you hear about animal neglect and abuses, why pay slaughterhouses and Big-AG  to commit the atrocious acts you oppose? Why participate in speciesism by operating from a paradigm that some species are worthier, are owed more, while others don’t deserve the same rights?

If you participate in a random 21-Day act of kindness by eating many plant-based meals, you will save, on average, 21 animals!

4) You Will Help the Environment!

Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change. According to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we may have as few as 12 years to cut global emissions by 45 percent to prevent global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avert a catastrophe.

Raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, and other forms of transportation combined. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, greenhouse gas emissions from raising farmed animals make up about 15 percent of global human-induced emissions, with beef and milk production as the leading culprits.

If you participate in a random 21-Day act of kindness by eating many plant-based meals, you will save 23,100 gallons of water, 630 square feet of forest land, and 420 pounds of Co2. In a nutshell, you’ll be significantly reducing your carbon footprint!

5) You Will Help Reduce World Hunger!

By some estimates, we could feed 1.4 billion additional people simply by giving up beef, pork, and poultry in the United States. Think of what we could do if the entire world gave up all animal products. The amount of resources required to produce animal products versus the amount of resources required to produce plants in the U.S. alone is astonishing:

We use 56 million acres of land for animal agriculture while dedicating only four million acres of land to growing produce; a staggering 70 percent of grain in the U.S. is fed to farmed animals rather than to people (The world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people — more than the entire human population on Earth).

It takes 4,200 gallons of water PER DAY to produce a meat-eater’s diet. A plant-based diet uses only 300 gallons of water per day. Additionally, a whopping 70 percent of our domestic freshwater goes directly to animal agriculture;

All resources taken into account, one acre of land can produce 250 pounds of beef. Sounds pretty good, but not when you consider the fact that the same acre of land can produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes or 53,000 pounds of potatoes.

If you participate in a random 21-Day act of kindness by eating many plant-based meals, you will redirect resources to those that are hungry.

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but going completely plant-based for 21 days is a choice, not a resolution. It’s a choice you can make that will have a positive impact on you and the world. Why not give it a try?

Here are several ways:

Join the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicines’ FREE 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. There is an APP you can download, videos, recipes and lots of information. Access here:

Let me guide you in your journey. I offer a variety of packages and ways to help:

I am passionate about helping others reach their best physical and emotional body. Are you ready for a supportive, interactive approach in taking charge of your life and health? Are you ready to rewrite your story? If the answer is yes, contact me HERE.

Watch this inspirational video   “To Die For” A Double Entendre

Need help rewriting your story?    Let’s get in touch

Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago, on 11/27/16, my mom passed away in the corner bedroom of our weekend home in the country. Bunny loved the country. If you’ve read my prior blogs, you know that food addiction and the resulting side-effects of obesity and depression nearly ended my life at age 16. (link to story here) That was my “To Die For” chapter in life. On the second anniversary of her death, I would like to share a little about my mothers final “To Die For” chapter, taken from her eulogy.

“In the year prior to her death, the baton had been passed from mother to daughter. The one who cared for me was now entrusted in my care. It was the greatest honor and gift to hold my mom’s heart and hand as we traveled this road together.

There was great irony in the hospice journey with my mother. She had a complete colon blockage and could not eat or digest food in any form. I was so worried she would suffer from hunger and cravings in her final weeks, until her oncologist told me about a loophole that would provide her comfort – “pleasure feeding”. Even with a complete colon block, in which food would not pass through and could cause the colon to burst, she could feed for pleasure. Any bites she enjoyed were taken from her system via a feeding tube that had been converted to stomach pump, attached to a gravity bag, hanging on the side of her bed. So here I am, a certified holistic health coach, a whole food plant-based diet activist, feeding my mom anything she asked for, because at this point, what did it matter? She requested a steady stream of toxic treats like mounds bars, ice cream sandwiches and pizza…. Followed by sublingual chasers of morphine, methadone and dilaudid. Did I mention she would exclaim “To Die For” when enjoying her drug of choice, favorite foods? I had become her mule.”

And I heard her exclaim it over and over. ohh…“To Die For”! It eventually took on a different context. Was the toxic food she craved all her life the cause of the suffering she endured and her eventual painful death? The cancer was the final straw, but she had a lifetime of battles with weight, Crohn’s disease, COPD, diabetes, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia and very painful arthritis. And even though in the years prior to cancer, when staying with us for extended visits, symptoms would abate as she ate the plant-based meals I served, she would eventually return home to her habits and to her pain.

My question is why? Why are millions and millions of us willing to suffer when deep down, we know we have the power to within us to heal? Even if we doubt most of the time, we are more powerful and capable of healing ourselves than we dare to believe.

Today, I am choosing to share a picture that, to some, might be difficult to look at. It was taken by my husband as I napped with my mother, unbeknownst to us, in the final moments of her life. She did not suffer alone. And because of her and the charisma, strength and grace she displayed, Barbara Elaine Burns aka Bunny, my shero, I will continue to spread my message (and my life’s work) of compassion, self-empowerment and self-love through nutrition and energy healing.

I love you bunches & bunches mom.

P.S. My mom’s last and maiden name was Burns and mine is Bruns. That’s what happens when an irish girl marries a german boy.

I am passionate about helping others reach their best physical and emotional body. Are you ready for a supportive, interactive approach in taking charge of your life and health? Are you ready to rewrite your story? If the answer is yes, contact me HERE.

Watch this inspirational video   “To Die For” A Double Entendre

Need help rewriting your story?    Let’s get in touch