I’m a certified fitness trainer and plant-based health coach, everyday amateur athlete, and a passionate proponent of aging beautifully, slowly and healthfully through radical joyful self-care. I wrote the bestselling Bodyfueling when in was just in my 20s, in the 1990s, and now 20+ years later I’m writing NOURISHED: Radical Self-Care and a Sustainable Life—Made Joyful, Easy, Smart and Delicious (Field Notes from a Fit and Fearless Quarter-Century).
I love food and love to eat. In the spirit of an explosion of Well + Good and MindBodyGreen “what I eat in a day” articles—usually featuring celebs, pro athletes and nutritionists—I thought I’d wade into the fray with my perspective. People do ask me frequently!
So this is what I eat in a day—all while keeping sugar low, nutrients dense, and joy intense. Almost everything is organic and/or Non-GMO-project verified.
I used to do eggs and toast with greens and tomatoes over the 23 years I was a vegetarian, but as a vegan for the last year, I’m happy with a super-grainy (12-grain, 21-grain, etc) bread for my toast and a tablespoon or two of quality nut butter. I like to make my own high-protein nut butters by mixing quality organic peanut, almond and/ or sunflower butter with high-quality organic chocolate hemp/pea/pumpkin protein powder and very dark organic chocolate chips. When I don’t have access to my own concoctions, I like Santa Cruz Organic Dark-Roasted Crunchy Peanut Butter and Nuttzo 7-Nut Chocolate Nut Butter. If I’m extra hungry I might add some Amy’s breakfast sausage links which are made from grains.
I also eat 2-3 squares of 88% dark chocolate (often before the main breakfast, as first I sit for my meditation and journaling!). I have warm water with fresh lemon followed by hot tea in the cooler weather, and chilled herbal tea in the warmer weather. The rest of the day I drink both tea and sparkling mineral water.
Within a couple of hours I have breakfast part 2 / lunch part 1, which is this smoothie. Except in the coldest months, when I have instead a rich hot cocoa I make with coconut milk and unsweetened cacao, a tiny dash of date sugar, and cayenne/cinnamon or cardamom/ginger—or this hot chocolate turmeric milk.
To the smoothie I currently add ashwaghanda powder, shatavari powder, reishi powder, cordyceps powder, Amazing Grass greenfood powder, a small scoop of Aloha or Epic organic plant-based chocolate protein powder, and half a tablespoon of Healthforce Vitamineral earth. I prefer dark red cherries but if I’m out, I will use strawberries, raspberries or blueberries.
I change up the herbal powders depending on time of year and what my current health needs dictate, in consultation with my herbalist (and my co-author on Herbal Defense). Obviously, you could just do the smoothie without all the herbals. 🙂
For my “second lunch” I do either a burrito or a wrap (my favorite quickie homemade one is a Mi Rancho multigrain tortilla (made with flax and quinoa, it gives me 5g protein just in the tortilla!) with Miyoko’s amazing vegan Rustic Alpine cheese, a spoonful of hummus or tapenade, and some cherry tomato and spinach or other greens. SO good. In cooler weather I might have soup—homemade is best, but on the go might have Fig brand or Amy’s.
On the go I also like Sweet Earth’s Lighten Up burrito or Amy’s gluten-free black bean and quinoa burrito (I’m not gluten-free personally, but I like the lower calories and flavor of the gluten-free burritos.)
Another quick lunch for me is an Amy’s veggie burger (they have so many kinds! most made with grains, beans and legumes) with fixins’—pickles, green, tomato, mustard, Organicville BBQ sauce. I might do it without bread, or openfaced on one slice of sprouted toast. If I make my own veggie burgers, I always freeze a half-dozen for lunches.
For snacks in the later afternoon I might have a bite of low-sugar organic energy bar (I like some Nugo, Vega, or Clif varieties); a handful of nuts with dark chocolate; dark chocolate with a dollop of peanut butter on top; a piece of fruit (I do more fruit in summer, I’m not much for winter fruit), and/or some hummus or white bean spread with Mary’s Gone Crackers or Flackers (grain-free flaxseed crackers).
Sometimes I make a little mini quesadilla slider snack with a small organic local corn tortilla and several of these: Miyoko’s vegan cheese, guac or avocado, tomato, green onion, fresh cilantro, and a spoonful of beans if I have them around. If I don’t have fresh, Better Beans Roasted Chipotle bean dip is handy and delicious.
In hot weather it’s usually salad made with lots of spinach, bok choy, chard, arugula, tat soi or other dark greens plus plenty of cucumber, tomatoes, cabbage, basil or chives, red or orange pepper, radishes and a few olives. (I like olives to be garlic-stuffed or jalapeno-stuffed for extra immune boost.) I don’t generally use dressing because I find the salad so flavorful, but if I do, I make my own by simply mixing mustard with a little honey and water—that’s it.
For protein I’ll toss in walnuts and a few Tofurky slices, or baked sesame tofu cubes, or garbanzo or kidney beans, or one of the pea protein-based mock meats (like Beyond Meat “chicken” strips, cold or grilled). I often top the salad with hummus or eggplant spread, and crumble in some Miyoko’s cheese. My current favorite is Dr. Hummus jalapeno and cilantro.
This salad is HUGE, but if I’m really hungry I might have a quesadilla on the side, like the lunch one mentioned.
For a super-quick, classic, non-fancy summer picnic dinner—great when I have unexpected guests—I might do a organic veggie burger or organic Tofurky hotdog with fixings (ketchup, mustard, relish, pickles) and fresh organic corn on the cob, plus watermelon or strawberries for dessert. I also make home-made “ice creams” by simply blending frozen fruit with a bit of coconut milk. Peach or peach-strawberry and blueberry or blueberry-blackberry are my faves.
In winter, I do tons of soups (lentil/sweet-potato/greens stew is a favorite, or thick bean soups with lots of greens and root veggies) and constant stir-fries. For those I do four to eight different kinds of seasonal veggies sautéed or stir-fried with tofu, tempeh, seitan, lentils or beans, or occasionally a Gardein or Sweet Earth mock meat. I go for a different protein source every day or two.
I usually finish off dinner with a few more squares of dark chocolate and, in cooler weather, plenty of warm tea. I am a big fan of herbal teas and have about 80 kinds in the house! I especially love Republic of Tea varieties, but I also use Yogi, Pukka, Mighty Leaf, Tazo, Allegro, Traditional Medicinal and a few fave Celestial Seasonings.
I snack a lot all night because I tend to work in the evening, usually pretty late, and get up late—that’s my rhythm, and I’m not ashamed of it, because it works for me. I am most creative and productive in the evening and feel most rested when I follow that rhythm.
So between dinner and bed I might have one or more of: a small bowl of Purely Elizabeth cranberry pecan granola (my fave dessert of all time besides dark chocolate); a small cup of very low-sugar organic multigrain cereal (like Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes or One Degree Organics Veganic Sprouted Ancient Grain Os) with unsweetened vanilla almond milk; a slice of whole-grain toast with nut butter; a graham cracker or two; a piece of fruit; a coconut milk ice cream sandwich; a handful of Eden pistachios, a spoonful of Artisan raw coconut butter; or a few crackers with hummus. Sometimes I make really fast and easy no-bake bars or energy balls with nutbutter, coconut or almond flour, chocolate chips, flaxseed, and maybe figs or dates.
All of this is a lot of food, yet sometimes—because much of it is naturally low in calories (like veggie-based dinners and salad-based lunches)—it keeps my calories fairly low so that I have to work to stay between 1700-1900 at least (and lots more if I am, say, on a bike trip!). It’s easy for my calories to fall between 1550-1700 (which I consider a low-calorie diet) if I don’t “fit in” all of the above foods.
Notably, this daily spread keeps my protein intake generally at an above-Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 65-80g a day (without effort!), fats to 70-ish grams a day, and sugars—believe it or not—under 50 g. In summer when I eat more seasonal fruit, the sugar may climb to 60g on some days.
This also keeps me strong, awake, healthy, energized, sleeping soundly, and fueled for the hiking, biking, running, swimming, yoga, HIIT and other workouts I do each week, plus writing, teaching, volunteering, and traveling. It’s all delicious and I look forward to every tasty bite!