Author Archives: Justine

Healthy Vegan Meals Before a Workout

Healthy vegan meals before a workout can keep energy levels high, support muscle building and increase weight loss. For all my fellow exercise lovers who deal with stomach problems and fatigue mid-workout this is important info so hear me out! Timing is essential so be sure to eat 1-2 hours before the workout to allow time for partial digestion. Try these pre-workout meals to amp-up your results and beat that mid-workout belly ache.

Meal Idea #1:  perfect for breakfast

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats or 1/4 cup steel cut oats, 1 medium banana, 1 tbsp ground flaxseed, and topped with cinnamon.
  • 1 cup of coffee or green tea for a pre-workout boost

Meal Idea #2: can be a great lunch or dinner

  • Rice or whole grain tortilla, 1/2 cup mashed pinto or black beans, vegetables of your choice, salsa or hot sauce
  • Handful of grapes

Meal Idea #3 – More like a snack

  • Rice cakes, 1 medium mashed banana, and topped with cinnamon. Cinnamon Oatmeal

***For on your own meal prep work, think about the following tips if you want to try to a build healthy pre-workout meal.

  • Healthy fats are so important in your diet but go easy on them before a workout. They are slower to digest which could give you a little stomach ache mid-workout.
  • Healthy carbohydrates are important to our energy stores before a workout. So be sure to include them in each pre-workout meal.
  • Protein full of branch chain amino acids is essential to protect all of your hardworking muscles during your exercise but is even better to help rebuild after your workout. Ex. protein powder, tofu, edamame, beans, whole grains, spirulina.
  • Water is also essential to keep in mind for your pre-workout, during, and post-workout routine. Try drinking half your body weight in ounces to stay hydrated enough during your workout.
  • Caffeine is smart as long as you make the right choices. Choose plain and sugar-free options; preferably green tea or black coffee, which would benefit your energy levels without adding extra calories and stomach aggravations.

Please let me know if you have a question about this topic or anything else health and fitness related. Nutritious gossip would love to hear from you!

Maintain-Not-Gain this Thanksgiving

Tis’ the season of weight gain! Thanksgiving than Christmas, setting us up for New Year’s resolutions we desperately need after months of diet destruction. What do you think about getting a jumpstart on your NY resolution? Would it be nice to avoid the usual 5 to 10-pound increase? Join me in making a dedicated goal to maintain-not-gain over the holiday! Here are my tips to help you avoid the unwanted thanksgiving day weight gain!

1. Be prepared for party temptations!

  • Before a party, have a healthy fat and protein-packed snack. This will help you avoid cravings and indulging in the unhealthy plates. I recommend a handful of trail mix or apples with almond butter.
  • If asked to bring a dish to the party, prepare a healthy one. If you arrive at a house full of unhealthy items you know you can fill up on your dish. My favorite veggie dish is always brussel sprouts and you can’t beat a beautiful kale salad. Both are sure to be crowd-pleasers. Double or triple recipes if you have a big party to attend.

2. Limit alcohol consumption.

  • Watch your alcohol intake. Its loaded with extra calories and sugar. Worst of all, whatever you eat while drinking will get stored away until it processes through the alcohol. Stick to one or two alcoholic drinks with a lot of water in between.

3. Set up a workout schedule…and stick to it!

  • Make a workout schedule for the entire week, month or next couple months and stick with it. (This will get you ready for your New Year resolutions). If something comes up and gets in the way of a workout, then make up for it the next day.
  • Make exercise a priority and you might just maintain-not-gain or even better, lose fat this holiday season!

Homemade Purple Vegetable Broth – and what I did with it! Rice and Mung Bean Burrito

The homemade vegetable broth was my latest experiment and the purple part was just a fun accident!

This was my first time making vegetable broth. I used odds and ends I had cut from the grilled vegetables I had made previously. I also added some of the vegetables I had more than enough of and knew I couldn’t finish before going bad. I’m working on eliminating food waste from our household and broth is a great place to start. Here is a list of items that went into the crockpot.

  • Tomatoes – leftovers from a salad
  • Green bell peppers – and pepper ends – I had one too many
  • Sweet potato – extra that wouldn’t fit in grill pan
  • Celery – expiration was a couple days away and didn’t think I would be able to finish them all before then.
  • Mushrooms – extras
  • Onion – ends of onion from previous meal
  • Ginger – can never find enough uses for the amount you have to buy from Trader Joes
  • Garlic – flavor
  • Bay leaves – whole – great flavor for the broth.

I put all of these in my medium sized crock pot. Filled it up with water almost to the brim. Placed it on high and let cook for about 6 hours.

I poured out the water into a bowl then filtered it slowly through a tea filter to get some of the grit left behind.

At the end, I had a beautiful purple broth that honestly looked like grape kool-aid! I was originally planning to just heat it up and drink it but instead decided to make rice! I added mung beans for extra protein. Sprinkled it with cilantro and placed it in a coconut tortilla. Then topped it with avocado and spicy taco sauce!

Consider making vegetable broth from your veggie scraps you collect at home! It will save money from buying vegetable broth from the store and help avoid food waste!

Let me know if you decide to make broth at home, how it turns out and what you did with it!

Thanks for reading!


5 Ways to Have a Healthy Weekend in Los Angeles

Whether you live in L.A. or just visiting, there are endless activities to keep you moving. Here are a few of my favorites!

1. Hiking is one of the best ways to get exercise, be in nature, and see epic urban views. 

  • My favorite trail is hiking around the Griffith Park Observatory. If you start at the entrance just above the Greek Theatre you can go up above the Observatory and get 360 views.
  • For a slightly more challenging but fun hike is doing the Runyon Canyon hike. This one is gorgeous and surrounded by beautiful Hollywood Hills and views of the city. If you aren’t a fan of crowds I would skip this one! Pic of Runyon Below.
  • For a locals secret, check out Ernest Debs Park and hike to the top for views of Downtown L.A. Also, enjoy a beautiful hidden pond where you can sit and have some peace and quiet from the city noise.

2. Rent a bike in the city or head to the beach.

  • Try the metro city bikes if you are wanting to cruise around town! We took our bikes from 6th and Spring St. to the Arts District near Angel City Brewery. if you do this path you can drop the bikes off and head over to enjoy one of the many restaurants in the neighborhood.
  • If you want to head to the beach to rent bikes try Santa Monica or Venice. I’ve rented bikes from both of these places and it was an easy process. You’ll be on your way in no time. There are a few options on each beach and you can cruise along the ocean between Venice and Santa Monica and beyond!

3. Try yoga or meditation at a Buddist Temple or Yoga studio.

  • Relax your mind and distress with meditation. If you need some meditation guidance, there are a few temples around L.A. Check these out Hollywood  or Hermosa Beach.
  • If you want to try yoga check out Yoga Circle or Evoke Yoga in Downtown Los Angeles.

4. Head to a farmers market.

  • The weekend is the best time to prepare for your busy week. Get fresh produce from the many farmer’s markets around Los Angeles.
  • You can find local fresh produce, flowers, and small business goods in Larchmont, Hollywood, Arts District, Downtown, and Silverlake, every weekend! Here is a long list of places that you can find in L.A. More Farmer’s Markets    photo of Larchmont Farmer’s Market from

5. Try a fitness class.

  • There are numerous fitness centers with group classes throughout Los Angeles and there isn’t a shortage of fitness trainers so take advantage of it! Here are a few to check out.
  • YAS spinning classes in Hollywood
  • Cardio Bar in Eagle Rock
  • JustFit LA in South Pasadena – of course, I had to throw myself in there. If you are looking for something with one on one attention to target your specific goals then send me an email!

Leave a comment to add more healthy items to this list or ask me a question!!

Have a great day!


I am a personal fitness trainer in South Pasadena. If you are in the area and need any fitness guidance let me know. I would be happy to help! JustFit LA

Kicking Your Soda-Pop Habit

Kicking your soda-pop habit is one of the best dietary choices you can make. Here are a few reasons why you should kick the bad habit now.

Prevent diseases. Many diseases have been linked to soda including heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and even liver disease.

Improve dental health. By avoiding the harsh acids and sugars in soda, you can have stronger, healthier teeth.

Lose weight and belly fat. Sugar or artificial sweeteners in regular and diet soda can boost insulin levels and caloric intake, contributing to weight gain, and a wider waistline.

Break your sugar addiction. Giving up soda-pop is hard because sugar is so addicting. So are the fake sugars in diet sodas. Here are a few alternatives to help you get through the challenging transition:

  • Squeeze lemon or lime in your water for something more flavorful.
  • Try soda water to get the bubbles that you might be missing from soda-pop. My favorite is perrier and they are now making naturally flavored options also.
  • Zevia is an all natural, stevia sweetened beverage for those moments when you are craving a soda but don’t want to go down the sugar path again!

Go ahead and give it a try and let me know how it goes!



I am a personal fitness trainer in South Pasadena. If you are in the area and need any fitness guidance let me know. I would be happy to help! JustFit LA


How to have a Vegan Camping Trip


A vegan camping trip takes a little planning ahead but it’s worth it! Here is how to have a vegan camping trip. This includes meals, snacks, and living essentials I prepared to maintain a vegan lifestyle on a camping weekend through Yosemite.

Breakfast: Warm oatmeal with a spoonful of peanut butter, chia seeds, and cinnamon + instant coffee. For breakfast, if you don’t want to start up a fire, a stovetop burner is handy. We boiled water for coffee and oatmeal easily! Rent a dual burner stove top from REI for around $20.

Lunch 1: Peanut butter & jelly sandwich. You can’t go wrong with Pb&J! Think simple for lunches because you may not be near your campsite mid-day to cook anything.

Lunch 2: Slice of plain whole grain and seed bread, a bag of chopped pineapple, strawberries and kiwis and a Lara Bar.

Dinner 1: Foil packs filled with vegetables that we grilled over the fire. I pre-chopped peppers, zucchini, squash, and onions and placed them in a Ziploc bag. I put the potatoes, mushrooms, spices and olive oil in separate containers so I could add them just before cooking so as not to let the vegetables get soggy. We cooked the potatoes separate because they needed to cook the longest, about 45 minutes. The rest of the vegetables, about 25-30 minutes. I also had a side of my black bean salad with whole-grain crackers.

Dinner 2: Vegan Chili + fire-grilled kale and bell peppers. I recommend chili as an option when camping. It is easy to pack and even easier to make over the fire or on your portable stove top. Pre-make before you leave town or buy the canned version from Trader Joe’s.

Snacks and healthy additions:

  • Trail mix: I made a variety of trail mix with the following ingredients: Almonds, walnuts, raisins, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, dates, and cashews. I made more than we probably needed because you never know when you are going to get stuck in a traffic jam and need easy-to-reach snacks (which we did). My favorite mixture is almonds, peanuts, raisins and pumpkin seeds.
  • Lara Bars: These bars are packed with fruit and nuts for energy and really delicious. Honestly, they are like dessert but you can feel less guilty about them.
  • Bananas: Easy but make sure they are at the top of your grocery bag or they’ll get mushy.
  • Fruit bags: Chop up the fruit and separate them into Ziploc bags so you can grab and go and eat with a fork. I made mine with strawberries, pineapple, and kiwis.
  • Cold grapes:  Grapes are so refreshing after a hike! Have them easily accessible in a bag or bowl at the top of your cooler.
  • Bean Salad – This is an absolute must!: I made this salad with black beans kale, corn, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, spices, avocado and lime juice. Put it all in a big container to be munched on at any time. It was so great having this on hand and sat perfectly on the ice staying cold all weekend! (this photo is from a batch that I made at home. The only difference is that I added cabbage instead of kale.)

  • Chia seed pudding: Before we left I made chia seed pudding to scoop into my breakfast for omega 3’s. It’s easy to keep in a cooler and use as needed. Add water, coconut water or plant milk to chia seeds. I added cinnamon to it also. Cover then chill in the fridge. Let them soak up the fluid to become jelly-like. I used mine in my oatmeal every morning.
  • Avocados: These are great to have on hand. They fill you up and give you the healthy fat and fiber you need to maintain healthy digestion during your vacay. I added a little to each dinner we made.

Below are a few other ways I had a vegan camping trip!

Skin care products: These products are something to pay attention to if you want to live a vegan lifestyle and avoid supporting animal testing.

  • Yes to Grapefruit and Yes to Tomato wipes: If you are camping without showers you will need wipes to clean up. I ordered all my Yes To beauty items from
  • Yes to Grapefruit moisturizer and SPF: To keep my skin protected and moisturized during the trip I used this on my face, neck, and hands. (There is a Yes to Carrots Conditioner in the photo also. I didn’t take that on the trip but I definitely recommend it if you want to go vegan with your hair products too!)

  • US Organic Nature for Nature Bug Spray: Fend off mosquitos with this spray. It was so much better than the chemical bug repellants. It smells natural and pleasant. It doesn’t keep all of the gnats away but it seems to do pretty well against mosquitos.
  • Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen: This is my favorite sunscreen ever! It smells so fresh and drys within a few seconds of applying. I didn’t have the slightest bit of burnt skin during this trip and it felt good to know that I had healthy ingredients soaking into my skin.

Vegan wine: Did you know that some wineries use animal products during production? I’m not going into too much detail but if you are vegan for the animals, then you should pay attention to your alcohol too. Here are a few wines I took on the camping trip.

  • Underwood Canned Wine: Looks just like a beer can, fits perfectly in the cooler and in a beer koozie too. You can find this at World Market or order it online.

Santa Margherita:  pinot grigio and Chianti (the half bottle size fits easily in cooler) The pinot grigio is super refreshing after a long day of exploring and the Chianti is perfect to enjoy while cozying up next to the fire.

The Vegan Vine: Try this wine with or without a camping trip. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Let me know if this was helpful in planning your vegan camping trip.

If you aren’t much of a camper but want to stay close to the park, try a local Airbnb. Hotels near Yosemite are just ok so take advantage of this link. $40 towards your first stay and it will help me make more of these healthy travel blogs. Thank you!

Thank you sincerely for reading and please send me emails with comments and questions!



Black Bean Salad – Sunday Meal Prep Idea

This salad is so perfect for the beginning of the week meal prep or to take to weekend bbq’s. You can munch on it anytime and it stores in the fridge or cooler really well. It’s a fun salad because you can make it different every time with a variety of spices or added vegetables. Here is the salad I made this weekend!

1 can black beans
1/2 medium white onion
1 tomato
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 can corn
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 chopped jalapeno – use pickled nacho jalapeno’s for less spice
1 Tbsp garlic
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp cumin
Add cilantro, salt and pepper to taste
Top with avocado

Mix together and enjoy!

Benefits of Exercising Outside

I love to train outside. The sound of birds chirping, fresh air and sunshine makes the workout feel like it’s exactly what we were meant to do. Which is usually unlike the way we feel when exercising inside. Research shows we might be better off exercising in the great outdoors.

Reduce Stress Levels and Clear your Mind. Breathing in fresh air can help boost positive endorphins and leave you feeling more relaxed, clear headed and invigorated.

Cleaner oxygen. You can breathe in fresh air, instead of potentially dangerous air from a gym. If your gym isn’t properly ventilated or cleaned well, you may be breathing in toxins.

Save Money. No membership is needed to explore a city park or roam your neighborhood.

Burn more calories and gain more strength. Due to various terrain (hills, steps, uneven ground) and weather (wind mostly), you may use more muscles and gain natural resistance. This can then lead to you burning more calories.

Workout length increases. When nature is surrounding you and there is no clock in front of you ticking down the minutes, your cardio workouts can reach new lengths.

What is your favorite exercise to do outside? How does it make you feel?

Let me know if you have any questions!


More Info:

Walking After Dinner – a small change for better health.

By adding a 15-20 minute walk after dinner (instead of sitting on the couch) you can expect positive changes to happen!

  • Improves blood sugar
  • Burns calories
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Improves digestion
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Helps prepare your body for sleep
  • May help with weight loss

The hardest part is getting started. Once you are a couple minutes into the walk, you will realize how good it feels to be moving.

Forward the healthy news to your friends and let me know if you have any questions!

More Info:

I am a personal fitness trainer in Downtown Los Angeles. If you are in the area and need any fitness guidance let me know. I would be happy to help! JustFit LA


A Forgotten Factor to Weight Loss

Activities of Daily Life

The activities that make up your daily routine are burning calories and helping you lose weight. Take advantage of these weight loss opportunities. By increasing the intensity of these activities, combined with exercise and diet, can help you reach your weight loss goals faster.

Here are a few fun changes to increase your daily activities.

1. Walk or move while you watch TV. If you want to add fun movements to your walk, watch a Jessica Smith video on YouTube and walk while you watch TV.

2. Take your dog for an extra walk. I’m sure your dog would love the extra walk and so will your body.

3. Take the stairs. Any chance you get to take stairs rather than an elevator or escalator, go for it! This a great way to also spend your break time while at work. Not only will you be burning calories but you will go back to work with more energy than you had before.

4. Power clean your apartment or home. This is probably one of the best ways to burn extra calories. Turn on some music, put on some comfy clothes and get to work!

  • Put some elbow grease into scrubbing your tub. Switch arms so you can work both sides.
  • Engage your core as you sweep and vacuum…and everything else you do!
  • Make a routine out of dusting. Add jumping jacks or pushups in between furniture.
  • Dance to music while you work around your home!

5. Park far from the entrance of the store when shopping.  I’ve mentioned this before but this is a painless way to burn extra calories without having to try.

These lifestyle exercises can be a positive part of your life and improve how you feel with every step, dance and cleaning day you have!

Let me know if you have questions. Have a great weekend!

P.S. I have received some feedback regarding the black coffee article. Some people just can’t drink black coffee and that is ok. Here are a couple ways to drink your coffee without breaking the caloric bank.

  • Switch from a latte to a coffee with milk or dairy free milk. This could decrease calories by the hundreds.

  • Try using stevia or honey instead of white sugar.

  • If you want a latte or high-calorie beverage, understand that these calories need to be taken away from something else. So it needs to be considered a part of your meal.

Thanks again!