As I approach 50, I’m focused on taking care of myself now more than ever. From lowering stress levels and making sleeping a priority to leading a healthier, more active lifestyle, I aim to feel my best in every way. Incorporating good nutrition and regular exercise into my daily life are essential to a healthy lifestyle so I am embracing both these days and quite enjoying it, surprisingly!

Today I want to share a few healthy eating ideas I learned about by taking the Clean Eating Chef Series at Ramekins Culinary School. I also want to tell you about my new home gym!

Clean Eating Chef Series

The Clean Eating Chef Series included three evening classes, meeting once a week. The series was divided into breakfast, lunch and dinner categories.

The class was taught by Chef Hollie Greene and Mary Sheila Gonnella. Chef Hollie is founder of Joyfoodly. She is a cooking instructor, Wellness in the Schools consultant, and a Professional Expert for the California Healthy Kids Initiative. Chef Hollie’s website is chock full of healthy recipes and lots of food prep and cooking tips, many of which are shown in short videos.

Mary Sheila Gonnella of Occidental Nutrition is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Educator who focuses her practice on helping people suffering from problems relating to high blood sugar. She also incorporates Ayurveda into her nutrition consulting and is an expert in fermentation.

The class was designed as part demonstration and part hands-on instruction.

For the demonstration portions of the class, students could easily watch Chef Hollie and Mary Sheila at work on overhead tv screens.

We were each given a packet with all the information and recipes we would be learning about that evening, as well as a work station and apron for the hands-on portion of the series which included prepping, cooking on portable stove tops and eating! It was quite fun!

Healthy Meal Ideas

The three classes were packed full with information and recipes. We made a lot of food each night. For the breakfast class, we focused on dishes that would not raise blood sugar, satiate your appetite, give you energy, nutrition and sustenance and taste great!

The first dish we prepared was Breakfast Pho. Pho (pronounced ‘fuh’) is a Vietnamese broth-based soup. Mary Sheila and Chef Hollie showed us how to make our own Immunity Broth – either in a pressure cooker or a crock pot – using chicken bones, spices, seaweed, and vegetables. Once the broth was cooked in their pressure cookers and drained off, we each had a bowl. We chose what ingredients to add to our Breakfast Pho. Hard-boiled eggs, black rice and Russian kale were just a few of the foods we could add.

The Breakfast Pho was tasty and comforting and full of nutrients.

We also made Avocado Bowls. We started with a halved avocado then picked the foods we wanted to top it with from an array of choices that included walnuts, sauerkraut, roasted Delicata squash, Gomasio (sesame seeds and dried seaweed) and a seed mixture. I now have this dish for breakfast – usually just the avocado, sauerkraut and Gomasio – at least three mornings a week.

One of my favorite segments of the class was learning about Ayurvedic spices from Mary Sheila. She talked to us about our Dosha, the three Ayurvedic body types: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each body type is helped by certain spices. Mary Sheila created spice blends for each Dosha that we could select and take home. Based on the descriptions, I think I am Pitta. I took the Pitta blend home and sprinkle it on my meals from time to time.

Another fun hands-on dish we made is Nori Hand Rolls. The finished dish looked somewhat complicated to me, but they were incredibly easy to make!

We were given a bamboo rolling mat, nori (dried seaweed sheets), a plate of prepared veggies and tofu, some small bowls of aioli and pesto that we made in class earlier, and nutritional yeast. Chef Hollie showed us where to place the food items – as you can see from the photo – then how to roll up the Nori into hand-held rolls. I’ve already made these at home a couple of times. They are fun to make as appetizers for guests or even with your guests.

Chef Hollie also showed us how to properly cook chicken breasts on the stove She then turned the cooked chicken breasts into a delicious chicken salad she loaded into roasted Delicato squash halves. So tasty and satisfying. I was stuffed!

The series included how to make sauerkraut too. Mary Sheila teaches her clients and students about the digestive properties of  fermented foods. It’s fascinating!

I have not made my own sauerkraut at home yet, though it really is so simple. The most important part of preparing sauerkraut for fermentation is mashing it up. It needs to be almost liquified. This takes time, patience and muscle. Maybe I will incorporate it into a future workout!

There were so many other dishes we learned how to make in this series. I wish I could tell you about all of them!

If you’re in the Bay Area, consider taking one or more of the classes Chef Hollie and Mary Sheila will be offering this summer:

“Easy Weeknight Farmer’s Market Dishes” is a hands-on class on June 1st taught by Chef Hollie Greene

“Shopping + Cooking Smart for Back to School Meals” is also with Chef Hollie Greene and hands-on on August 3rd.

“Fermentation 101” is taught by Mary Shiela and is hands-on. This class is on July 6th.

Also visit each of their websites for more information (Joyfoodly and Occidental Nutrition) and the Ramekins class calendar for even more fun and delicious classes.

My New Home Gym

Late last year, my husband asked me almost every day what I wanted for Christmas. I kept telling him I have everything I need and not to worry. But gift-giving is something we all enjoy and I knew he wouldn’t agree to a gift-free holiday season.

I thought about it and one day I told him I wanted a treadmill. And that I wanted to put it in our formal dining room. I thought for sure he wouldn’t want to give up an entire room in our home just so I could have a treadmill, but he surprised me and said it was a great idea. I was elated!

I shopped around online, read reviews, checked measurements, cost-compared and finally found one I liked: the Sole F80 Treadmill. I could not be happier with my Christmas gift!

I have spent countless years trying to implement a consistent exercise routine that I actually enjoy, and now it’s finally happened. The treadmill arrived on December 18th. Since that day, I have used it between 3 and 6 times per week for no less than 30 minutes at a time. I made an agreement with myself when it arrived that I will never spend less than 1/2 hour on it, once I hop on, and I will use it at least three days per week. Right now I am using it three times per week for one hour. I walked/ran 12 miles last week!

I bought a shelf that straps into the treadmill dashboard. It holds an iPad and even my laptop so I can watch Netflix and read blogs.

Since we sacrificed an entire room in our house for the treadmill, I figured we may as well make it a full home gym! I bought a BOSU Pro Balance Trainer that I use for balancing, crunches and lunges. A foam roller for stretching my back and rolling on my IT band. And I brought the old recumbent bike and my free weights in from the garage.

I also bought a weight bench. I knew I needed one when I was doing bicep curls while sitting on our coffee table!

For the last couple of months, my hormonal issues have subsided (yay, no more hot flashes!), I sleep better, have more strength my lower body and I feel clear-headed on most days. I am also less cranky and my emotions are steadier.

Eating well and exercising really do affect your wellbeing and it doesn’t take years to feel and see the results. I am grateful to have these tools and valuable knowledge to help me continue to improve my health and overall wellbeing.


Disclosure: The Clean Eating Chef Series class at Ramekins was complimentary. All opinions expressed here are my own, as always. 


Stella Carakasi Discover Jacket

Happy Monday! I spent a festive weekend attending two holiday events, and wore Stella Carakasi to both of them.

Last week I went to Berkeley to see the newest collection – Resort 2015 – in person at the Stella Studio. I always love to see my friends at Stella – and shop – so whenever I have an excuse to visit, I take it! I brought so many pretty things home with me, I couldn’t wait to wear them right away.


I was particularly excited to wear this Bold Move Tunic in Malbec, which is actually from the Fall 2015 Collection. It’s part knit and part silky crepe. From the high/low cut, rounded neck, rolled edges and gorgeous wine color, this top seems like it’s been made just for my style. I wore this outfit to the fire department holiday party in our town.


I couldn’t go to a holiday event without wearing my decades-old snowflake pendant. Depending on my outfit, I wear this pendant on different chains. I thought a longer chain that worked best with this tunic and would make the snowflake stand out the best.


With my tunic, I wore Love the Look Leggings. More pants than leggings, these pull-on pants with an elastic waist are the most comfortable bottoms I own. Even more comfortable than yoga pants, I swear! The material is so soft and the fit is fantastic. No bagging or stretching. And they are the ideal pant to wear under tunics and sweaters because of the flat front. No buttons or tabs poking through your top.


I added an edgy jacket from Stella’s newest collection. The Discover Jacket is a biker-style jacket made with a metal fabric – yes, metal in woven into this material!

The Discover Jacket is ideal for travel for several reasons: it’s lightweight and great for layering, goes with practically every outfit, made with water-resistant fabric and it’s meant to look wrinkled –  no need to worry about it getting creased in your suitcase.


I love the zipper detail on the sleeves and the tiny silver studs across the back of the jacket.


My other accessories include my go-to evening bag, a Louis Vuitton clutch (birthday gift from my husband a few years ago) and a pair of wine colored suede pumps by Ivanka Trump from last year (similar).


I felt comfortable and stylish throughout the evening at Saturday’s holiday party.

On Sunday, Tori and I attended an event at Whole Body, a new free-standing shop in Sebastopol created by and right next door to Whole Foods Market. The shop opened in October. It’s dedicated to everything you need to look and feel your best including makeup, skincare, essential oils, soaps and lotions, felt hats, vitamins, candles and lots more!

My friend, Kristen Tantarelli, who is in marketing for Whole Foods Market (you may remember her from the Fall Mix & Layer event last August) invited me to attend this special event.


Bloggers were invited to attend a special VIP hour before the event was opened up to the public. We were introdictsed to lots of vendors who were on hand including Three Sisters Apothecary, Acure Organics, Evan Healy, Dr. Hauschka, and Gabriel Cosmetics just to name a few.

ShiKai was giving free hand massages and Aura Cacia was teaching us bloggers how to make our own holiday scented room spray.

There was also tasty food and live music. It was a fun, festive and educational event!


I was so excited that my friend, Dale, who you may know from both Savvy Spice and Savvy Sleepers, was also attending the event! We have met several times over the last couple of years and this was the first time I got to meet her sweet, adorable and very smiley baby girl.


Once home, Tori and I unpacked our goodie bags. There are so many fantastic products to try out! Tori already painted her nails and I used the hand cream by The Honest Company and chapstick from Nordic Naturals a few times yesterday for my dry hands and lips. I’ll be adding the Maxi-Skin from Country Life to my smoothies every morning starting today.


The weather was all over the place on Sunday. First it rained – hard with strong wind – then the sun came out and it warmed up, and around 3:00 it became very chilly. I decided to wear my new Net Effect Sweater from the new Stella Carakasi Collection in the Moonstone shade. I love the soft fabric (cotton and Tencel) and the uneven layers.


The sweater is slightly longer in back but not as long as the Bold Move Tunic. I love the”tile-relief” texture on the left sleeve. I wore it with my Calvin Klein trench coat (a few years old) and black Hunter boots.



Once again I wore my snowflake pendant, this time on a short chain.


And added my new Kay and Star tassel bracelet, a gift that came with my most recent necklace purchase.


What a fun and festive weekend it was! I am looking forward to trying all my goodies from Whole Body and will keep you posted on the stand-outs. Visit the Whole Foods Market website to find out more about Whole Body. And if you live in Sonoma County, be sure to stop by Whole Body and see for yourself how fantastic it is!

And I am so thrilled with the newest Stella Carakasi Collection, now online! Look for more outfits from this collection in the coming weeks! And don’t forget to use my code – RICHLIFE15 – to take 15% off on all Stella items.

I am linking up with Shoe and Tell, Visible Monday and #iwillwearwhatilike today.

I hope you had a great weekend too.

Make it a rich day!



Disclosure: The Stella Carakasi Net Effect Sweater and Bold Move Tunic were both given to me. All opinions expressed here are my own, as always.