October 9

Brigitte’s Naturally Alive Smoothies!

If you live in or have visited Napa Valley, you know that it is challenging to find vegan wineries and vegan-friendly restaurants. Of course, that is why I founded this blog. Not only to share these finds with all of you but to help me fall back in love with my city. For too long, instead of enjoying where I live and spending my money here to boost Napa’s local economy, I was spending my play dates with my husband in different parts of the Bay Area.  As I began my research to find vegan-friendly wineries and restaurants, it opened my eyes and I began to see the many vegan goodies that were right under my nose all along!

Brigitte's Naturally Alive smoothie ingredients
Brigitte’s Naturally Alive smoothie ingredients

In July, after being a member for 2 years I left a large big “box” type health club in search of an experience that offered a more intimate one-on-one type experience. Though I had been exposed to many different types of classes from Spin, to Turbo Kick to Power Yoga to mat Pilates, I began to feel like a number vs. a valued client. And, quite frankly, after working out for the last 25 years I was at the point in my life that I needed to focus on what gave my body the most benefit in the least amount of time. That class is Reformer Pilates and I found a wonderful studio in Napa – Pilates Napa Valley. A full class includes me and 7 others and I finally got that personal attention that I feel is so vital to me as I age. I don’t recover from workout injuries at 44 like I did at 24!

After I had been visiting Pilates Napa Valley for about a month, I finally started to really look at what they had to offer in the lobby area. I had browsed through the retail section but never really paid any attention to the drinks and snacks they had to offer. Well, after this particular class I was wiped out and thought it was time to find out what type of sustenance was available. What caught my attention was Brigitte’s Naturally Alive Green Power Smoothie – a delicious looking kale and fruit smoothie. From the ingredients list it looked vegan but I just had to be sure. Heidi, the co-owner of Pilates Napa Valley, was kind enough to provide me with an email address and I was off and running to find out the details on this tasty treat. I reached out to Brigitte Center, Founder of Brigitte’s Naturally Alive, and was delighted to find out that her smoothies are raw AND vegan and packed full of nutrients. So, after my next Pilates class, I enjoyed a delicious and satisfying smoothie to help with my post workout recovery!

Delicious and protein filled Kale & Fruit Smoothie
Delicious and protein filled Kale & Fruit Smoothie

Brigitte’s journey began in 2009 when she embarked on a 3-day raw food cleanse. This cleanse made her feel great and led her to explore a raw, vegan lifestyle for the next 9 months. These changes to her lifestyle not only helped her lose 27 pounds but she began to feel more alive with a deep spiritual connection to all of life. Not to mention that amazing mental clarity that so often comes as a result of clean, healthy eating. Brigitte was just fascinated by the fact that such a simple change could create so many positive changes. This motivated her to begin researching this phenomenon which then led to her certification in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University. This, in turn, led her to participate in David Wolfe’s Raw Nutrition certification program through the Bodymind Institute. She is also an instructor of ‘Raw Food For Real Life’ un-cooking classes and teaches on the organic farm she calls home here in Napa. She has made it her mission to nourish people with plants and to ignite a passion for living foods!

Brigitte connecting with life!
Brigitte connecting with life!

Following her passion, certainly has not been easy! Brigitte founded Brigitte’s Naturally Alive in 2010 and has accomplished this in just 4 short, busy years. What started as making a delicious smoothie in a commercial kitchen for a few dozen clients for home-delivery has led to her becoming licensed by the FDA to sell to the masses! And in addition to all of these exciting changes, she is currently studying for her MBA in business, food science and finance…all at the same time!

Brigitte creating smoothies in a commercial kitchen.
Brigitte creating smoothies in a commercial kitchen.

I am happy to say she has had some invaluable help along the way. She met Marnie Northrop in 2009 through a mutual friend and found that their missions aligned. Marnie encouraged Brigitte to teach raw food uncooking classes, brought her own clients to Brigitte’s classes and even helped connect her with her first commercial kitchen in San Francisco. This commercial kitchen is what allowed Brigitte to start Brigitte’s Naturally Alive which included raw snacks and the smoothie. They still collaborate and are currently launching a 2 week cleanse called GET THE GLOW.

Marnie Northrop - collaborator and friend.
Marnie Northrop – collaborator and friend.

Another important member of Brigitte’s team is Erica Nichols aka “Captain Awesome”! Erica was introduced to the amazing health benefits of green smoothies in 2007 which sparked her passion for organic sustainable food and healthful eating. She recently made the transition from the corporate life which created the perfect opportunity to join Brigitte. You will see Erica at market demos sharing her love for smoothies and green power with everyone!

Erica Nichols
Erica Nichols

I know you are probably salivating now! Brigitte’s smoothies are just amazing. There are several options for getting your hands on her smoothies – she offers free home delivery, local pick-up in Napa and you can also find her smoothies throughout Napa Valley. You will find them at Studio Phyzz, Brown’s Valley Market, Pilates Napa Valley and Vallergas Market right here in Napa, Sunshine Foods in St. Helena and Oakville Grocery in Oakville!

Ahhh to fill our belly full of life!
Ahhh to fill our belly full of life!

RDIs

I know you will enjoy these delicious and nutrient dense smoothies as much as I and her other clients do! And as always, let’s support Brigitte for bringing delicious vegan options to Napa Valley!! If you order through Brigitte’s website, please mention that you heard about her amazing smoothies through my blog! I would love to know that this little passion of mine is helping to fuel the vegan movement where I call home!

October 2

Cheezy Herb ChickUN Salad Recipe!

Fellow chefs preparing for the Throwdown!
Fellow chefs preparing for the Throwdown!

I want to thank everyone who attended the Vegan Sammich Throwdown in Berkeley, California on Sunday. Almost 160 tickets were sold to taste each of the 7 chef’s creations. I hope all who attended had as much fun as I did. My delicious sandwich did not make the top 3 but being surrounded by other vegans, vegetarians and vegan-curious for a couple hours was prize enough!

Hard to believe that batch made 160 sample tastes!
Hard to believe that batch made 160 sample tastes!

Kudos to all of the chefs who prepared enough samples to feed 160 attendees, transported it all to the Finnish Brotherhood Hall and then created the sandwiches there with only about 40 minutes to spare. It was also very exciting to meet Chef Lisa, the 2013 Vegan Iron Chef champion, and taste her gorgeous sandwich. And congratulations to Chef James, Chef Maria and Chef Bijal who placed in the Top 3 with their delicious creations!

I promised to get my recipe posted for all of you who enjoyed it so just click the pdf link below!

Cheezy Herb ChickUN Salad Recipe

ChickUN Salad ingredients
ChickUN Salad ingredients

…and I know there were many of you who LOVED the pumpernickel bread. This was created by my good friend and pastry chef Debbie Yee-Henen who was happy to share her recipe with you! She is a pro so this recipe is by weight not measurement.

Debbie’s Vegan Pumpernickel Bread

My tiny tastes!
My tiny tastes!

For those of you who have not enjoyed Butler’s Soy Curls yet, please follow the link below to find stores across the U.S. that carry them. Or you can use this link to purchase them online.

Butler Foods

I received this adorable prize for participating in the Throwdown and since I don’t have kids, I might just use it as a vegan handbag for a while!

Tofurky lunchbox!
Tofurky lunchbox!

ST prize2