In late September, I spent a few days in Las Vegas, Nevada, with my good friend, Ashley Cox, of Lipstick and Berries. We met through Instagram earlier this year and met in person twice before I flew to Las Vegas to stay at her house. She is what most would consider a “Granola Glam Girl”—she’s into health, wellness, high raw vegan food, beauty, and fashion. In fact, Ashley is a healthy lifestyle expert, beauty professional, plant-based nutritionista, and full-time blogger. She is my go-to friend for vegan health and beauty product tips. Believe me, Ashley has tried so many products—she knows what she’s talking about. I, on the other hand, know more about what works in the kitchen, like sharp knives, how to make gluten-free vegan waffles, and how to properly temper chocolate. One big thing we have in common is our love for delicious food and nutrition. We can talk about food and all things food-related for hours. Since we clicked so well from the very start, we thought it would be a great idea to get together, and to collaborate on fun and festive recipes. What better time to combine our vegan superpowers and get inspired than in the Fall—just in time for Halloween!
While in Las Vegas, not only did Ashley and I prepare and “cook” our hearts out, we also spent every day sipping on Glowing Green Smoothies, eating massaged kale salad, while discussing our dreams and goals, learning about each other’s idiosyncrasies, and just getting to know each other better.
Every day in Las Vegas, we went to Whole Foods Market to check out seasonal and organic produce for inspiration. I was fascinated by the experience. We saw a variety of pumpkins, pomegranates, and at just about every turn, I heard Whole Foods employees say, “Hi Ashley,” “Hey there Ashley,” “Haven’t see you in a while, Ashley.” It wasn’t long before I realized she was a regular at the local Whole Foods. Ashley did not fail to keep surprising me there. When she busted out her collection of cake stands that she made for $2 apiece, and she showed me her homemade drink coasters, DIY beauty products, bracelets, and fake fruit collection, she revealed her Martha Stewart, crafty side!
Cake Stands by Ashley
As a care package, Ashley packed me some teeccino packets, other lovely teas, homemade drink coasters, and DIY beauty products! She is the sweetest!
I am so thankful for Ashley and her husband, Danny’s, hospitality. I felt comfortable and at home in their home. Not only did I get to stay in my own room with an ensuite bathroom, stocked to the nines with any toiletries that I had forgotten to pack, I also loved that their kitchen was stocked to the brim with organic and non-gmo superfoods, just like my kitchen! For some meals, we ate in—I made them my Chickpea “Fish” tacos, which they seemed to enjoy. Danny even said, “These are the best tacos I have ever had!” :D We made smoothies and salads, of course, and Ashley introduced me to her delicious No More Blues Blueberry Overnight Oats, which I now make at home for myself.
We also had a blast eating up all of the food we made for our Halloween collaboration. Who wouldn’t have fun enjoying zoodle brains, candied apples, and cupcakes, feeling like 8 year olds again?!!
Talking about treats, it was such a delight when they treated me to front row seats at a show on the Las Vegas strip, called “The Beatles Love” by Cirque du Soleil. It was really incredible. The performers were colorful, vivacious, and passionate about what they do. The music, of course, was wonderful. It was truly inspiring and had to be one of the best shows I had ever watched. (So good, I want to take Peyman, my mom, sisters and their kids to the show.)
Back to food—one evening, Ashley, a new vegan friend (native to Las Vegas) named Bonnie, and I dined at Panevino — an Italian restaurant with a vegan menu. Ashley and Danny are regulars there, so I noticed that we were given very special service. We told them to just send us whatever they wanted to our table. So, the whole meal was a surprise of sorts. We enjoyed vegan sushi with an Italian twist and pasta 2 ways—one with pesto and another with a saffron “cream” sauce. To end the meal, we enjoyed a lovely Italian chocolate chestnut cake. The dinner was made by the talented and enthusiastic Chef Vincenzo Granata, who shares a very similar food and wellness philosophy as Ashley—they both enjoy an oil-free, low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet.
On my last night in Las Vegas, we actually made an encore visit to Panevino. We went back for the Forks Over Knives event—a book signing and dinner organized by Las Vegan Eatz, to promote the Forks Over Knives Meal Plan book. There, we met the writers of the book, Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman, MD, as well as the chef for the cookbook, Del Sroufe, and executive producer/director, Brian Wendel. During the dinner, we tasted recipes from the book. It was pretty cool getting to meet the people behind the book and the documentary that I highly recommend.
Ashley is one of the most genuinely kind and considerate people I have met. She is so full of joy and positivity, which is contagious. I think we have such complimentary personalities, which is a recipe for success when working in the kitchen together, and when brainstorming and bringing ideas to the table. I am so grateful to have become friends with her when I did. We started off as Insta-friends and I can see us being friends for a lifetime.
To learn more about one another, we interviewed each other. Below is Ashley’s interview, and on Ashley’s website, you can find my interview. Enjoy!
Interview with Ashley Cox of Lipstick and Berries
Y: Can you describe your lifestyle and food philosophy?
A: My philosophy on a healthy lifestyle, is that “vegan” does not have to have a stigma! Living a healthy plant based lifestyle is for anyone & everyone!
Food is celebratory – but beautiful, whole, plant based foods deserve even MORE of a celebration. These foods Nurture. They Heal. They Revitalize!
I eat, as well as create, Low Fat Whole Foods Plant Based (vegan) recipes!
My background & career in the beauty industry has lead to me to a unique crossroads where I have melded beauty with health on my blog, Lipstick and Berries. I love creating nutritious recipes, but I also adore creating scrumptious DIY body products that people can use to treat their bodies well on the outside! I want to bring people into this lifestyle that may not have happened across it otherwise. I hope that my version of a healthy, happy living encourages more women to “test out” some vegan recipes and that these influences will ultimately change their lives forever!
Y: Have you always been living this way or what triggered the change?
A: Two years ago, when I watched the Forks Over Knives documentary, my life changed considerably! This movie made me aware of what our health situation was doing to our bodies! I had to make a change.
I became certified in Plant Based Nutrition through Cornell & T. Colin Campbell Foundation. Since that time, I have essentially buried myself into every plant based nutrition book (including but not limited to: The Starch Solution, The China Study, Eat To Live, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease…)
Y: What ingredients are must-haves for your fridge and pantry?
A: Strawberries, Blueberries, Bananas, Oranges, Apples, Spinach, Kale, Medjool Dates, Cashews, Pomegranate Juice, Almond Milk, Oats, Nutritional Yeast, Flaxseed, Sweet Potatoes, & Loose Tea!
Y: What is your favorite meal to cook/prepare at home for you and your husband, Danny?
A: My Meatless Meatballs are probably my favorite thing to make! They are a fan favorite!
Y: Is there anything you are completely strict about when it comes to your diet and lifestyle?
A: Of course, I avoid animal products in my diet, but I also avoid fake meat substitutes (isolated soy protein…Eeek!!). At home, I cook low fat, vegan and completely oil-free – I try my best to eat the same way when I am traveling and out to dinner.
Y: What routines are non-negotiable in your daily life?
A: Assuming that I wake up on time, I start my morning with a short 10 minute guided meditation that is on my iPhone. I simply just press play, and stay in bed for ten minutes until my morning meditation is complete. After that, I have a big glass of water, and do my morning Sun Salutation. I find that when I start my day with positivity, peace, and great full body stretch, I am ready to take on the day!
Y: Where do you find inspiration and motivation to keep living your healthy lifestyle?
A: I find much motivation by keeping a close network of other like-minded healthy plant based friends! I also have one particular website, nutritionfacts.org, that I read daily to keep myself up to date on the latest nutrition topics and to keep myself reminded that health comes first!
Y: You share parts of your life in Las Vegas, NV through your blog. How has having a blog changed things for you?
A: Well, having a blog has definitely made my life a lot busier! :) To refer back to what you asked previously…my blog provides complete motivation for my commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Creating Lipstick and Berries has positively changed my life because it helps keep me accountable! Temptation is out there (especially in Las Vegas) but my healthy-hobby-turned-blog certainly has been a blessing to keep my husband and I on track.
Y: What are 2 of your favorite vegan/natural beauty products?
A: I love using Young Living Essential Oils on my skin! I often use a combination of Lavender + Frankincense + Lemon with coconut oil! It is a wrinkle reducer and skin brightener all in one! Plus, it smells amazing!
For cosmetics, I love Tarte!
Y: How do you keep your energy level high throughout the whole day?
A: I am a high energy person to begin with, but I think that my energy continues to stay high because I keep moving. The saying, “A body in motion stays in motion,” rings true!
Y: What do you do to keep yourself grounded, happy, and peaceful?
A: Simply put, I am just very thankful for all of my blessings. I have my health, I have the husband of my dreams (who also has his health), and I keep a close relationship with my friends and family. I never take for granted what I have been given, and I meditate and give thanks daily.
Y: You have a lot of good stuff going on! Blogging and other new and exciting projects and ventures! How do you organize your day to stay focused and get things done without feeling overwhelmed?
A: I am an OCD List-Maker! Seriously. If I don’t make a list I will get ZERO accomplished. I make a new To-Do list every night to plan out exactly what I need to accomplish the next day. I put tasks in order of importance so that I get the pending tasks out of the way quickly! If there is something I do not finish on my list, then it gets rolled over to the next day!
Y: You are glowing from inside out, what’s your secret?
A: Thanks Yvonne! Well, I drink at least 3 liters of water a day, I drink premium green tea about 3 times a week, and I load up on tons of fruit, raw leafy greens, and cruciferous! The number one reason I carry a healthy glow is because I am truly happy! A happy soul shines from the inside out! One cannot hide a happy heart!
Y: What kind of advice would you give anyone wanting to become a healthier and happier person but doesn´t know where to start?
A: I think the first step is to realize that YOU ARE WORTH IT!! Believing in yourself is the #1 step to success. Surround yourself with positive motivation and inspiring people who also believe in you. I often hear that many people want to start a healthy lifestyle but they are almost bullied in a sense by other family members for a number of reasons. I would recommend to that person to find support through online groups, such as starting an Instagram account, signing up in a healthy lifestyle forum, visiting local farmers markets and engaging in conversation with the locals, search for community organizations in the area (there are probably more than one realizes!) Make friends with other healthy people and be confident!! Your health is your own and if you want vitality and happiness, you must go and make it happen!
Y: What are your top 5 tips to stay happy, healthy and beautiful!
A: *Eat Health Promoting Foods!
*Surround Yourself With People Who Make You Happy!
*Exercise & Stretch!
*Find A Fun Hobby!
*Avoid Stressful Situations As Much As Possible!
To learn more about Ashley, visit her website, Lipstick and Berries!
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