An Ode to Our Baby: Yesterday we had to say goodbye to our little girl and best friend of 17 years, Isabella (7 years for Ricky, but it could have been 17 years given how much they loved each other). She was quirky and silly yet chill and gentle. She was confident-walked like she owned the streets. She was intelligent, an old wise soul (those who didn’t know her would often comment about her old soul). And she was the feistiest little 6.9 pound nugget.
But her signature was her smile. Bella touched every person that met her, even strangers. Rarely did someone walk by without commenting ‘That dog is smiling!' She smiled fully with her mouth and eyes. She radiated much light, love and happiness. Her other signature characteristic was her crossed legs. Always laid down like a little lady.
She loved to travel. We found each other in Georgia, moved to Philly then to LA and back to Georgia where she laid her little head to rest. We never left each others side. She would jog with me in the morning then come back to play with her favorite Scooby Doo Ball that was bigger than her. She had more frequent flyer miles than most people. Passengers were in awe of her ability to be so chill and quiet on the plane naming her the Zen or Buddha Dog (drug free). She loved to go hiking, camping, biking in the basket, boating, sneaking into dinner with us (and other various places) and traveling to Veg Fests in different cities representing NicoBella. She loved receiving kisses on her forehead and nose and giving kisses on the nose and eyes. She loved watching The Seahawks with her dad. She loved experiencing new things and actually thought she was cool jumping onto a hotel bed for the first time. She loved to share apple and peanut butter, sweet potatoes and oatmeal with me but her favorite meal was pasta with red sauce.
Her legacy of late was her strength. It’s been an ongoing joke with family and friends that Bella will probably outlive all of us. She was strong and determined with a fierce will to live. She had visited more doctors than she’d like the past year and every one of them had commented saying that, despite being poked and prodded, she either didn’t feel pain or she was the strongest little girl they had met. Despite being diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2013, and a prognosis of NO MORE THAN 6 months to live, she survived more than three more years. Two years ago she found herself with nerve damage and became paralyzed in her backend. The vet suggested a wheelchair if she wasn't better in a week since surgery was not an option and ability to recover from her nerve damage seemed grim. With a chiropractic visit (thank you Drs Kristy and Shoshana) and daily doggie yoga (which she loved) combined with her strong will, although a little unsteady, she walked again by the end of the week. This past summer she had a horrible stent with pancreatitis which is typically treated with a week of hospitalization and tons of fluids (the OPPOSITE of her treatment for CHF). After one day of minimal fluids the doctors sent her home and said they can't do anything else for her and suggested letting her go. I wanted to let her go, felt she had been through enough, but Ricky insisted we wait since she was on heavy doses of pain killers and he felt that was clouding our ability to asses her. Well, by the next morning she was begging for treats. This dog literally fought for her life with every incident. She wouldn’t let go and continued to smile until she became blind about two months ago. We feel that being blind really crushed her little spirit and will to live as she started giving us signs that she was ready. She was finally tired of fighting.
Ricky and I feel that it was a gift to be there with her as she passed peacefully in her favorite spot-on our bed with her favorite blankets surrounding her.
She is now at peace but her little feisty spirit remains within us. She taught us that:
-smiling is contagious, smile at everyone even strangers
-forehead kisses are comforting and soothing, give them often
-there is no room for fear, be curious and experience everything
-you can be silly and playful yet gentle and quiet
-you can fight almost anything if you love life and have a will to live
-surrounding yourself with love helps to heal
-if you want something bark for it
Long days at work
& Endless To-do List
often equates to drinking large amounts of coffee. Before you stop reading this, thinking a dietitian is yelling at you for your coffee habit, I am actually reminding you that coffee is a very healthy beverage in its natural form.
Did you know that Coffee:
- Is Loaded with antioxidants
- Has been showed to boost the metabolic rate
- May lower your risk of type 2 diabetes
- Has beneficial nutrients (manganese, potassium, panthothenic acid and riboflavin)
Did you know Chocolate:
- Is loaded with minerals (iron, magnesium, copper, manganese)
- Powerful source of antioxidants
- May improve blood flow and lower blood pressure
- Is great for your skin
All of these health benefits come from the beans of both coffee and chocolate plants. So what if they were combined to make a energizing and delicious chocolate treat with all of these health benefits?
To my surprise, it was done. Nicobella organics uses 75% organic and Fair Trade dark chocolate and added Brewing Good Coffee Company's organic and Fair Trade coffee nibs to make a Dark Chocolate Mocha Munch. Not only do they use the dark chocolate to get all of the benefits but they use the coffee nibs to create a powerhouse munch option. What's more, both companies are animals lovers and donate a percentage of sales to their favorite animal rescues. So, you can feel good about each bite knowing that you are doing something great for yourself AND for animals.
Eating the chocolate with coffee nibs brings about all of the healthy benefits and is a great treat to have at your holiday parties. Try a bag today and let me know what you think!
Written by Rebecca Vander Sluis
Rebecca is a Registered Dietitian with a passion to inspire healthy living around the world. Currently she works with Corporate Health Partners doing nutrition coaching through the Atlanta area. One of Rebecca's passion is traveling around the world learning about food and culture. Follow her adventures on Instagram dietitian_becky.
We hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving with family and friends. Now it's time to start the holiday shopping! Today through Monday, November 28, receive $5, $10 or $20 off your chocolate purchase using the discount codes below. Discount codes end Monday, November 28 11pm ET.NEW! Nicobella Gift Boxes are great for foodies, health enthusiasts, vegans, gluten free and paleo followers and, of course, dark chocolate lovers. Choose from one of the gift boxes below.
Nicobella Chocolate Lovers Gift BoxFor the ultimate chocolate lover who will appreciate the unique chocolate flavors! Each box includes a 6-piece variety box of truffles (blueberry almond, ginger green tea, pumpkin chai, pure cocoa bliss, walnut flaxseed, sunflower butter banana), 6-piece box of cinnamon turmeric spice and a 4-piece box of peanut butter squares.Chocolate Munch Gift Box
Our munch gift box is great for vegans, gluten free followers or nut and chocolate lovers. Gift box includes one of each: coconut munch, maple nut munch, omega munch, peppermint munch, mocha munch
Plant-Powered Protein Snack Box
Our protein packed snack box is great for paleo enthusiast, the generous host or health-conscious snackers. Gift box includes one of each: coconut munch, maple nut munch, omega munch, chocolate power bites, pumpkin pecan power bites, peanut butter and jelly power bites
Ps. Don't forget to treat yourself as well.
Are you ready for your Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends? Here are some cruelty-free ideas to make your guests feel extra special. Today through Sunday, November 20, take 15% off your order with discount code THANKSGIVING. Discount code ends Sunday, November 20, 11pm ET. Pumpkin Chai Truffles for Dessert
About: Organic pumpkin, a great source of beta carotene, is mixed with just the right amount of natural sweetener and spice for a delicious treat reminiscent of chocolate pumpkin pie. Made with organic and Fair Trade 70% dark chocolate.
Benefits: Pumpkin is a fantastic source of carotenoids, which are antioxidants that help to maintain skin tissue and prevent wrinkling. Pumpkin seeds are also packed with nutrients such as potassium, zinc and essential fatty acids.
A Little Gift at Each Table Setting
Place a cute 2-piece box of truffles or a bag of maple nut munch at each table setting as a fun way to let your friends and family know you are grateful for them.
Warm and Cozy Cup of Hot Cocoa
We love our hot cocoa with unsweetened almond milk, but any plant-based milk will make this nutrient-rich, pressed cacao powder even more rich and delicious. Top with dark chocolate shavings or drop a pumpkin chai truffle in the hot cocoa for pumpkin chai chocolate bliss!
Enjoy your Thanksgiving week with family and friends💜
The temperature is finally perfect for chili! Here is a take on a chili bread bowl without the bread. If you haven't tried Delicata squash yet now is a great time-it's in season, tastes delicious, hearty and packed with nutrition. It also makes for the perfect chili bowl. Who doesn't love to eat their bowl when they are finished with the chili!
We used Raw Spice Bar's Sun Dried Tomato Pizza spices to season the squash, but salt and pepper work just as well if you don't have the Raw Spice Bar monthly subscription box. Side note: Highly recommend trying Raw Spice Bar. You receive three new spices a month that inspire new meal creations and add lots of nutrients and flavor to your meals!
- 2 Delicata squash, peeled, ends cut off and squash halved
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes*
- 1 15 ounce can red kidney beans*
- 1 15 ounce can black beans*
- 1 15 ounce can white Northern beans*
- 1 organic yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 organicred pepper, diced
- 2 organic carrot sticks, peeled and chopped
- 4-5 organic garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 cups of organic kale (depending on how much you like)
- 1 tsp black mustard seed
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 1.5 Tbsp cumin
- 1.5 Tbsp Ancho chili powder
- 1 Tbsp crushed red pepper (more if you like it spicy)
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Raw Spice Bar Sun Dried Tomato Pizza Spices (Or you can just use salt and pepper)
- Handful of basil
How to Make**
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Once the squash is halved, scoop out the seeds.
- Brush 2 Tbsp of the olive oil throughout the inside and outside of the squash. Season with salt and pepper or use the Raw Spice Bar Sun Dried Tomato Pizza seasoning (contains sun dried tomatoes, garlic, chiles, peppercorns, onion, oregano, rosemary, thyme).
- Place the squash on a baking sheet with the inside facing down. Bake for 20-25 minutes (until a fork can easily go through the thickest point).
- Add olive oil to a large pot on the stove top, medium heat.
- Once hot, add the black mustard and fennel seeds. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add the onions and cook until translucent (about 2-3 minutes).
- Add the pepper, carrots and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Season with salt and black pepper, crushed red pepper if spicy is desired.
- Add two cans of crushed red tomatoes to the vegetables followed by the black beans, kidney beans, and Northern beans.
- Stir well.
- Add the cumin, Ancho chili powder, garlic, crushed red pepper, sea salt and black pepper.
- Add basil and kale.
- Stir well.
- Bring mixture to a boil the turn down on low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove squash from oven and place on a plate, inside facing up.
- Scoop chili into bowl.
- Garnish with basil.
- Top with nutritional yeast.
- Add more salt and pepper if needed.
*Recommend BPA free canned tomatoes and beans.
**If you have a crockpot, place all ingredients inside the pot (except for the squash, which will be baked) and cook on low all day. Super simple!
Enjoy this yummy dish that is packed with protein, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, folate, magnesium and lycopene. You'll feel warm, nourished and happy. :)
To sign up for a Raw Spice Bar monthly subscription and receive some INCREDIBLE and inspiring spices every month delivered to your doorstep use discount code FLAVOR6 and sign up at rawspicebar.com.
Happy World Vegan Day. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or just veg-curious, here is how small changes can make a BIG impact.
🌱 This is what would happen if every individual went vegan for just one day 🌱
•100 billion gallons of water would be saved
•1.5 billion pounds of crop that would be otherwise used to feed livestock could feed the hungry
•70 million gallons of gas would be spared
•3 million acres of land would be saved
•33 tons of antibiotic use would be avoided
Cool fact 👉🏽 According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal if chicken per week and substituted plant-based food instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off U.S. Roads
Sweet farm animal photos courtesy of Full Circle Farm Sanctuary 💚
- 1 c cooked brown rice*
- 1 c raw walnuts
- 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil, plus more for cooking (I used unflavored coconut oil)
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 Tbsp each chili powder (optional) and cumin powder
- 2 tsp garlic
- 1/2 tsp each sea salt and black pepper
- 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans*, well rinsed, drained and patted dry
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cook brown rice as instructed on the package.
- Heat skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add raw walnuts and toast for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden brown. Set aside and allow to cool.
- In the meantime, heat the same skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 1/2 Tbsp oil, onion and pepper. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until onion is fragrant, soft, and translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Once walnuts are cooled, add to blender or food processor with chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, pepper and coconut sugar and blend to a fine meal. Set aside.
- Add drained, dried black beans to a large mixing bowl and mash well with a fork, leaving only a few whole beans.
- Next add cooked rice, spice-walnut mixture, sautéed onion, almond flour and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon for 1-2 minutes, or until a moldable dough forms. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Form 1-2" balls with your hands (depending on size you prefer) and set on an oiled or parchment paper lined baking sheet .
- Line eye balls on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, turning halfway in between.
- Take out of the oven and add garnish eye of choice! Suggestions: vegan mayo, vegan BBQ sauce, carrots, tomato, or avocado.
- Happy Halloween!
Our new POWER bites are here! They are made with wholesome balanced ingredients including almond, walnut, sunflower and pumpkin seeds for a perfect energizing snack. Each serving has 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber with only 2 grams of sugar! They're perfect for a quick sustainable breakfast, mid-afternoon pick-me-up, endurance replenishment or as a kids' lunchbox treat. Flavors below include Pumpkin Pecan and Dark Chocolate Chip. Peanut Butter and Jelly coming soon, with protein-packed peanuts and high antioxidant cranberries! Take 10% off your purchase (including all chocolate) with discount code PLANTPOWER. Sale ends Wednesday, October 26 11pm EST.Autumn Veggie Ginger Spice Soup
It's time to start experimenting with autumn veggies! When you eat vegetables that are in season, you are receiving the biggest bang for your buck with delicious bursts of flavor and nutrient-packed goodness. Here is an Autumn Veggie Ginger Spice Soup recipe that will keep you warm during the cool Fall months while nourishing your body. Contest Alert!
Now through midnight, October 31, we are having a treasure hunt contest! Here's how to enter:
We will randomly choose a lucky person to win a case of munch (12 bags, you choose the flavors)!
- Find nicobella munch in your local store (HomeGoods, Whole Foods Market, or any other store in your neighborhood)
- Purchase your favorite flavor
- Eat it ;)
- Snap a photo of your empty bag
- Share the photo with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and tell us where you bought it
Winner will be announced on November 1.
Photo example :)
Eat Chocolate, Help Animals
Only one week left to make a contribution to Full Circle Farm Sanctuary through your chocolate purchase! For the month of October, we will be donating a portion of sales to the beautiful Warm Springs, GA sanctuary that is home to sweet farm animals that were saved from incredibly sad situations. Now they are living the happy life!Make it a great week, beautiful friends!
The first time during this season that I saw autumn veggies appear in the grocery store I became so ridiculously excited and giddy that I purchased several of each fall vegetable. Inspired by the beautiful colors, seasonal nutritional value and crisp air I was a little overzealous and probably purchased more than I was ready to prepare. Flash forward three weeks later I still had some of those veggies in my fridge. They were starting to look sad therefore I had to get creative since wasting food absolutely kills me. So this is my mash-up version of carrot ginger soup with random fall veggies, lots of spicy ginger and basil leaves from our basil plant (uh, tree) that is slowly taking over our balcony.
Makes approximately 12 servings
- 8-10 carrots
- 2 parsnips
- 1/2 c cubed butternut squash
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 c ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/2" pieces (less ginger if you don't love it super spicy)
- 1 large yellow onion or 2 small-medium yellow onions, diced
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup almond milk or veggie milk of choice
- 2 1/2-3 cups water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- basil and cashew cream to taste (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or brush with vegetable oil. Wash, peel and cut the carrots, parsnips, butternut squash and red pepper into 1/2-1" pieces. Place all in a large mixing bowl, add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Mix well until vegetables are coated with olive oil. Spread onto the baking sheet, making sure they are spread out nicely along baking sheet to ensure even baking. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until soft.
Meanwhile, on the stove top, heat a skillet or wok on high heat with the remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the onion and ginger. Cook on medium heat for 2 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes.
Once the carrot, parsnip, squash and pepper mixture is finished cooking add them to a blender along with the onion, ginger and garlic mixture. Add 1 cup of almond milk, 2 1/2 cups of water and salt. Blend on high speed until mixture is creamy. If soup is still thick add more water until desired consistency. Add pepper and red pepper flakes to taste and if you like it spicy! Add more salt if needed.
Alternative option: Instead of using almond milk and water you could add 4 cups of veggie stock to the veggie mixture. I did not have any on hand, therefore used the milk and water as the base.
For the topping you can use vegan sour cream, cashew cream, basil, leafy greens (mix them into the soup), nuts or seeds. Lots of options here!
Invite friends and family over because you'll have lots to share!
Let me know what you think. :)
Yum! Just the thought of eating grilled cheese again makes me feel very nostalgic and extremely excited. But this is for kids so let's focus on kids in this moment. No doubt that grilled cheese is a kid's favorite. What happens when you are trying to raise a vegan child? You have vegan grilled cheese. There are so many incredible vegan cheese options from which to choose that there is truly no excuse to never eat grilled cheese again. (Yes, I'm talking to you too, adults. No deprivation here.)
After I made this, I took photos and placed the grilled cheese in a container to test it later and see how it holds up in tupperware. After walking out of the room for no more than five minutes I went back to the kitchen to find an empty container and a husband with chipmunk cheeks, chomping away! Admittedly I was a little annoyed and let him know that it wasn't his, but at the same time was happy that they must have turned out pretty good! He made it up to me ten minutes later with a new grilled cheese sandwich. And, yes, it was indeed very yummy.
If you are vegan as well as gluten free you can always choose a vegan gluten free bread, but I chose Dave's Killer Bread because, even though I do not have a big affection for bread, I do love Dave's. It's super seedy, nutty, grainy and packed with fiber which makes it healthier than most on the market. Plus Dave's story is pretty awesome and, through it, he created the Second Chance Project, Dave's Killer Bread Foundation which empowers entrepreneurship and decreases negative impact of mass incarceration and recidivism in America. Pretty cool.
For the cheese, I chose Follow Your Heart American Slices because of the simple ingredients (Filtered Water, Coconut Oil, Modified Food Starch, Potato Starch, Sea Salt, Natural Flavor-Plant Sources, Olive Extract, Paprika Extract and Beta Carotene for Color). To be honest I wasn't sure how it would melt. It wasn't the most creamy, drippy, melty cheese, but I feel like it has a good balance between decent ingredients and ability to melt. Another favorite is Chao Cheese Slices, also because of the ingredients (filtered water, coconut oil, modified corn and potato starch, potato starch, fermented chao tofu-soybeans, water, salt, sesame oil, calcium sulfate, sea salt, natural flavor, olive extract and beta carotene). On a scale from one to ten it's meltability is about a five. But it's so delicious if you're really craving cheese and the ingredients are pretty simple compared to other cheese alternatives.
Because I feel that kids, just like adults, should always have lots of color with each meal through fruits and vegetables, I added sliced avocado, tomato and a layer of spring leaf lettuce to the sandwich. It's a simple way to sneak in some wholesome nutrients such as lutein and beta carotene (avocado), vitamin C and potassium (tomato) and iron and fiber (spring greens).
Yogurt is another kids favorite. So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Yogurt is tasty by itself. Add raspberries and coconut munch to it for a very serious treat!
Grilled Cheese With Avocado, Tomato and Spring Greens
- Sliced bread of choice
- vegan cheese of choice
- avocado slices
- tomato slices
- a few spring leaves
- coconut oil or vegan butter spread
How to Make
Just like the way you used to make it, not much instruction needed here. Spread coconut oil or vegan butter on one side of each slice of bread. Add a slice of cheese to one slice and a slice of cheese to the second slice. Top one slice with spring greens, avocado, and tomato then add the other slice on top. Grill on the stove top on medium heat for 2-3 minutes each side or until slightly browned and cheese is melted. Let cool and slice into grilled cheese finger bites. *Make sure to let it cool before adding it to tupperware to avoid it becoming soggy and you getting a full lunch returned from school.
Include raspberries and coconut munch in the lunch box with coconut yogurt on the side for fun dipping!