Stephanie Quilao

Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps Is Doing Commercials For Plant-based Milk And Why That’s a BIG Deal

It’s not often I get excited about TV commercials, but I think this new advertising campaign from Silk featuring Olympic Gold mega-medalist Michael Phelps is awesome and a BIG deal.

Michael is not vegan or plant-based, but images of the person who has won the most Gold medals in the entire history of the Olympics is a strong and powerful message that plant-based milk does a body better.

This new Phelps campaign is also a big deal because it features two men. Silk is helping to change the perception that real men don’t drink plants. There is in fact a surge in pro athletes going vegan. Now, the main man in the commercial is not macho. In fact, he is the dad bod personified, but he wants to be healthier, be better. More people can relate to this guy’s story.

Meat and cows are often perceived as masculine, and plants are seen as more feminine. Marketing research has found that in the mainstream vegetarian men are no longer perceived as being less masculine than meat-eaters. However, vegan men are still seen as effeminate. Take a look at these vegan bodybuilders who drink plant-based milks. I think most will argee that these guys look like really, strong men.

This campaign from Silk is coming out as the Winter Olympics in South Korea are about to begin. During recent ice skating trials, I noticed a big push for a “Milk Life” campaign with commercials showing winter Olympic athletes powered by cow milk. Looks like Got Milk has evolved to Milk Life where drinking cow milk is a lifestyle not just a beverage.

This Milk Life campaign is funded by America’s Milk Companies and MilkPEP, The Milk Processor Education Program in Washington, D.C. “funded by the nation’s milk companies, and dedicated to educating consumers and increasing consumption of fluid milk. MilkPEP activities are led by a 20-member board and monitored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service.”

That’s code for “paid for and managed by Check-off program money from our government.”

Milk Life even takes a swing at soy milk pointing out that not drinking cow milk could negatively impact your diet and health. Really? There is more than enough data that the opposite is true. Or could it be that since cow milk sales have been plummeting and plant-based milk sales have been skyrocketing, desperate measures are still in play.

From current marketing research, half of Americans consume plant-based milk which includes 68% of parents and 54% of children under age 18. There is also better profits in plant-based milk. Silk had a profit margin in 2014 of 4.08% versus a 1.94% profit margin on whole milk (Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board‘s January 2014 figures). Does Milk Life mention dairy cows raised on factory farms and their impact on climate change? Yeah, of course not.

It’s awesome that Silk landed Phelps and launched this campaign to push plant-based milk to raise the image and make it look cool to drink milk not from a cow.

Here are a couple of the other spots in the Silk campaign. They are funny!

And this one.

Bravo SILK! Great job with this campaign.

Product Review: The Impossible Burger. The Plant-based Burger That Will Get You To Think Twice About Beef

The geek in me is one of those early adopters who likes to be one of the first to try something new and innovative. When I first heard about the Impossible Burger, I seriously could not wait to try it more because I was intrigued by the way the texture of the burger looked from the photos. The patty looked like ground beef to me.

I was quickly sold on the premise, “High on taste. Low on impact.” Here is a burger that has 1/8 the carbon footprint and tastes like beef. From a marketing perspective, brilliant!

I first tried the Impossible Burger at Cockscomb in SF. Their Impossible burger comes with lettuce, dijon, Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and bread & butter pickles. I didn’t get the cheese because I’m allergic to dairy. Here is a video I did at Cockscomb where you can see the burger and my final opinion on whether the Impossible Burger lives up to the hype.

Spoiler alert. OMG! Is this thing for real? It’s making me see the world differently already.


What’s mind blowing about the Impossible Burger is that this isn’t your dad’s veggie burger. If you closed your eyes and took a bite, you’d think it was a regular beef burger. It’s like Impossible re-imagined ground beef using plants instead of cows. It’s like if Mother Nature said okay if we could go back in time and create beef again, we could do it like this. No sentient beings need to be killed. No factory farms required.

The Impossible Burger is a great example of Clean Proteins, protein sources that are akin to Clean Energy. Clean Proteins are proteins that are produced with low carbon and low eco footprints. It’s all about low impact to help stop climate change, further environmental damage, and more threats to human health caused by industrial animal agriculture while having a delicious time doing it.

One thing that surprised me was how good this burger is without ketchup. Sorry, not sorry, but I’m one of those people who puts ketchup on everything. Can’t help it. I LOVE my ketchup! The way the Cockscomb burger is prepared is actually better without ketchup. Never thought I’d say that about a burger.

My only criticism of the Impossible Burger is that it’s primarily being served at high-end restaurants where the going price is averaging almost $20…a burger. At Cockscomb, it was $19 without fries.

But, I get why Impossible is starting with the high-end to make it an aspirational want. It’s a great approach to make plant-based eating cool and desirable. Umami Burger partnered with Jaden Smith for a special Impossible slider trio to help raise donations for Hurricane Relief Efforts.

Fortunately, the Impossible Burger is starting to come down in price because they have opened a new manufacturing facility here in the Bay Area which can crank out 1 million pounds of plant-based meat per month at full capacity, which can supply about 1,000 restaurants.

At Gott’s Roadside, they are selling an Impossible Cheeseburger for $12.99 without fries. Their burger is served with American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles & secret sauce on a toasted egg bun. Sadly though, at least to me because I like bread, to make it vegan you have to nix the cheese and order the burger with a lettuce wrap so it ends up looking like the In N’ Out “Protein Style” burger. All of Gott’s buns including their gluten-free bun is made with egg.

Here is the Impossible Burger at Gott’s without cheese. I already knew about the Gott’s egg buns beforehand so I brang a vegan hamburger bun and swapped it after taking the photos so I could eat it. The first photo in the post cover image is the same Gott’s Impossible Burger.

Again, SO GOOD! The patty is a little slimmer than the one at Cockscomb but it’s just as good and meaty. You can see in this closer up photo that the texture of the Impossible Burger looks like ground beef. Gott’s also features Sir Kensington’s Spicy Brown mustard which is amazing!

Here is the FAQs about the Impossible Burger which includes the nutritional information and a locator so you can find out if the Impossible Burger is being offered at a restaurant near you. Impossible does not have any retails sales yet so you cannot buy it at a grocery currently. When that happens, I’ll be one of the first people at the grocery store because I want to make some Impossible spaghetti sauce and sloppy joes.

Have you tried the Impossible Burger? What did you think of it?


Roasted Eggplant With Purple Thai Basil Flowers and Peppers

This eggplant dish is so pretty and tasty! I actually stared at my dish for a while just to admire the beauty of Mother Nature’s work. I love all the purple colors and since 2018 is the year Pantone named “Ultra Violet” color of the year, this dish is a perfect fit.


I found this beautiful Thai basil bursting with purple flowers at the farmers market. Flowering plants are a fun way to add some beautiful garnish to your dishes. Next to the basil were some cool looking purple Thai peppers. I love me some purple colored foods, and jumped at the chance to make a purple power dish.

For the eggplant, I went with the smaller rounder style eggplant versus the longer skinnier eggplant just to play with some shapes.

I roasted the eggplant because I really love the flavors and textures you get from roasting. Roasting vegetables is not a traditional Asian style of cooking but hey, it’s fun to fuse different styles together, right?

For the sauce, I used gluten-free tamari to make the dish gluten-free.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 pound of round eggplant cut into quarter pieces
  • 12-14 Thai peppers (depending on how spicy you want the dish)
  • 3/4 cup chopped Thai basil leaves
  • Thai basil flowers for garnish
  • Chopped red jalapeno (optional for topping)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt

For the sauce:

  • 3 tbs gluten-free tamari
  • 2 tbs organic brown sugar
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

Let’s start cooking

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

On a baking sheet spread the eggplant pieces out and cover the eggplant with olive oil. Sprinkle a few dashes of sea salt over the eggplant pieces. Use just a small amount of salt because the tamari used in the sauce is high in salt.

Roast for 25 minutes. Do not remove the sheet yet. Coat the Thai peppers with some olive oil and toss onto the sheet with the eggplant and roast for an additional 5 minutes. We are basically sweating the peppers a bit so they become a little softer.

Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool down. The eggplant should be soft to the touch, not too mushy.

To make the sauce, in a small bowl, combine the tamari, brown sugar, garlic and garlic powder, and mix together until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Heat on medium a wok or large sauce pan. Put the roasted eggplant and peppers into the pan. Toss in the chopped basil leaves and pour the sauce over the eggplant. Mix well.

Cover the wok or pan, and let the eggplant simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Take the pan off the burner and let the eggplant cool down.

When plating your eggplant and pepper dish, garnish on top with some of the beautiful flowers and sprinkle on some chopped red Jalapeno like I did in the photo for some fun burst of color.


The U.N. Awards California For It’s Landmark Legislation Regulating Methane Emissions From Dairy Farms

This is an example of why I feel proud to live in California, one of the most progressive states in the U.S, and a leader in climate action. In 2016, California became the first state in the country to enact a bill regulating greenhouse gas emissions caused by animal agriculture.

Bill 1383, “Short-lived climate pollutants: methane emissions: dairy and livestock: organic waste: landfills,” now law is significant because California is the largest producer of dairy in the U.S, and there are no state or federal laws regarding regulations of greenhouse gas emissions caused by animal agriculture related to climate change. The bill requires dairy farms to reduce methane emissions by 40% from 2013 levels by 2030. The program fully goes into effect in 2024.

The UN recognized California’s landmark legislation at COP23 in Bonn Germany by awarding the state of California its Climate and Clean Air Award for having the most comprehensive and strongest set of targets for reducing short-lived climate pollutant emissions into state law for Bill 1383.

Enacting these types of regulations at the state level is a great start. We need more states to enact similar legislation to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by industrial animal agriculture if we are going to meet the Paris agreement goals, regardless of the fact that our current federal administration has chosen to be the ONLY country on the planet not to be in the Paris accord.

You as a voting citizen of the U.S. can make regulations like what California did happen by contacting your local government representatives and by creating a coalition of your fellow citizens to apply pressure. The power of the people have more strength over big industry interests when we work collectively and largely.

Easy Protein-Packed Snack: Lima Beans, Sweet Peas, and Quinoa

This is one of my favorite snacks to get in some protein and fiber. It’s especially good to make when you have leftover Quinoa. My bowl here has 1/3 cups lima beans, 2/3 cups sweet green peas, and 1/4 Quinoa with some lentils I cooked with the Quinoa.

I use frozen organic beans and peas for ease. Just mix the beans and peas together with some water to help defrost the legumes, and microwave for one minute. After heating, I drain the water and sprinkle a little garlic salt and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Boom done!

Today, I felt a little more snazzy and sauteed some chopped sweet onion in avocado oil until caramelized a bit, and then added the lima beans and peas with a little garlic salt. Heat for a minute and add the Quinoa.

This easy snack has 10g of protein and 7g of fiber.

Status on The Flexi 21 iPhone and Android Mobile Apps

Hello flexers! Taking a moment from food and advocacy, to give you an update on the backend side of The Flexi 21. Because Apple made a major change to their app store requirements, the new mobile app for iPhone and Android for The Flexi 21 I was planning to launch by the end of this year is now on pause for a moment until I figure out what options I have.
I love Apple and have been brand loyal for decades, but this is one of the times I really think they are acting like big, evil corporation because this one decision is essentially killing the ability for small businesses and entrepreneurs, like myself, who do not have the money or funding to hire developers and an app management service to build native apps to get into the Apple store.
I totally get why Apple made these changes which is targeting eliminating spam apps. No one likes spam apps. However, most of these spam apps are built on template, web-based platform services where you pay a monthly/yearly fee to build and host a web-based built app, and then submit your app to the Apple and Google app stores. These services give entrepreneurs and small businesses the ability to build apps because they are cost effective and do not require hiring developers.
I get Apple wants unique apps in their store, but the apps you’ll see for some industries will all look alike or have a similar format like food and restaurant apps where you have a menu, ordering service, hours of operation, an about page, and gallery of photos, or a doctor or dentist who wants to have a business app that includes booking appointments. There is not much to differentiate when the business service and information you are offering is the same as everyone else in your industry.
So, because there is a segment of publishers using these template-based services to abuse the system, Apple has lumped ALL apps built on these services under the same umbrella without giving the possibility of designating certain established template-based services who have good reputations of not being spam app farms. The service I was using to build The Flexi 21 app was one of those reputable services which is why I chose them.
The service I was using has been working with Apple on this issue and has been good about communicating to their customers on the latest updates. However, because of Apple’s change, the service I was using has come out with an entirely new business pricing structure and although it is still possible for me to get an app on the Apple and Google stores, they have more than doubled the monthly fee, and then added an Apple store “Review fee” that is really costly for a solopreuner. It’s like a car payment.
Soooo, this is the life of a changemaker building a tech based business. I’ve been in Silicon Valley for ages so this Apple shift doesn’t phase me much although it was a real disappointment hearing about the changes. I do feel for those new to building a tech-based business or trying to integrating mobile into their business because it’s a major change that could be business killing and/or adding significant costs that were not expected because an industry giant decided to change the game. Seriously Apple, do better for the little guy.
I’ll keep you posted on what I’ll be doing for the mobile offering of The Flexi 21. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

Explained: There Is a Difference Between Vegan and Plant-based

There is often an assumption that vegan and plant-based mean the same thing. The terms are related but there is a difference and it is important to understand what that difference is.

VEGAN is a lifestyle and moral view that animals are fellow sentient beings not to be eaten, worn, tested on, or exploited in any way for human use which extends beyond food and includes the likes of fashion, makeup, cars, pharmaceuticals, lab testing, investments, and entertainment like vegans are against zoos or circuses that use animals.

Vegan food is any food that does not contain any animal-based ingredients nor has ingredients that were tested on animals.

PLANT-BASED is a diet, a style of eating foods from plants primarily in their whole form and avoiding animal-based foods. Whole, plant-based foods are vegan, but vegan food does not have to be whole foods.

The key phrase is whole foods meaning foods in their most original form, and even better if it’s organic because you avoid the toxic synthetic pesticides. In a whole foods, plant-based diet, the bulk of your food comes straight from the ground or tree, is loaded with fibrous vegetables and fruit and is minimally processed like pasta, 4-ingredient bread, oatmeal, a jar of organic tomato sauce, or pre-made soup. Most of us do not have the time nor patience to make things like bread, pizza dough, soup or pasta from scratch and that is okay.

Eating vegan also does not automatically mean healthy either. You can eat vegan for the day and not eat one vegetable, fruit, legume, or whole grain. MSG, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame and even Crisco is vegan. Whereas, eating whole food, plant-based is ideal for creating healthiness and can help reverse lifestyle-created chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Let’s look at some examples.

In this first example, here is a whole day of eating vegan which you will notice is almost void of any whole foods except lettuce and tomato in a burger, and a small amount of chili on fries. There is a donut and latte for breakfast. A vegan margarita pizza for lunch. A veggie burger with chili fries for dinner, and a brownie and chocolate ice cream for dessert.

You can completely avoid eating any animal-based foods and still gain weight, get heart disease, become diabetic, be constipated, and have high cholesterol among many other chronic health issues. One of the reasons people who go vegan and experience health issues is because they are eating more like this which is indeed free of animals but is loaded with processed sugar, fat, and sodium and lacking in key nutrients.

Now, here is an example of a day eating whole foods, plant-based. This example is loaded with vegetables, fruit, starch and whole grains. There is overnight oats made with maple pecan milk, figs, pecans and granola for breakfast. Thai red curry with spiralized sweet potato noodles, carrots, broccoli, tofu, and cilantro for lunch. A one pot bulgur with bok choy, cherry tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms for dinner, and fresh strawberries for dessert.

See the difference now? You want to eat more like the latter than the former. The ideal approach for health is eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, but also don’t feel like you have to completely deprive yourself either because food should be a pleasure which includes indulgence from time to time.

Being a reformed yo-yo dieter, I find that forbidding foods puts you emotionally into that diet mentality of deprivation and just makes you want it more versus getting your body naturally used to a new eating style so you just no longer have any taste or desire for those decadent or highly processed foods. Your palate adapts to what you feed it the most.

If you can eat foods that support your health goals 80-90% of the time, and leave the rest for indulgence, that’s great. That’s the formula I follow because it’s flexible which is another reason the Flexitarian style of eating resonates with me. I dropped 40 lbs, and have kept it off for 10 years now without having to diet any more.

Here’s an example of one of my 80/20 days. Breakfast is a big green, carrot and cherry tomato salad with figs, nuts and sprouted beans. Lunch is Amy’s organic vegan fast food of burger, chili fries and mac n cheez (I split this with a friend.) Dinner is a black bean tamale with beans, rice, avocado and fresh tomato salsa, and dessert is some plums. I drink organic soda like 1-3 times a year because sometimes I like a soda with burgers or I want a rum and cola or Seagram’s 7 and lime soda.


You’ll see the word “plant-based” being used more in marketing because for consumers who are still meat eaters, the word “vegan” can be a turn-off whereas “plant-based” is more about an ingredient view versus a moral view.

Depending on how they are made because there are so many methods now, the meat, dairy and egg alternatives are vegan, low carbon, and/or plant-based but are also not automatically considered health foods just because they do not contain animals, cholesterol, trans fats or GMOs. Some of these alternatives can contain significant amounts of sodium, sugar, fat, gums and preservatives.

The Whole Foods Market list of Unacceptable Ingredients For Food is a great reference to use for cutting way down on the artificial and overly processed ingredients.



I like to do combos of things when I do eat the meat alternatives. In my meal above, is sweet and sour pork using Gardein’s Porkless Bites served with  organic brown Jasmine fried rice, and sauteed sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms and onions.

Look for plant-based milks that are low in sugar. The vegan meats and cheeses should be treated more like transitional foods to help you wean from the animal-based meats and cheeses, or eaten on occasion versus everyday at every meal.

My blog includes the meat, dairy, and egg alternatives because  although I promote a more whole foods, plant-based diet, I also know how challenging it is to transition. I’m more about progress versus perfection even if it takes you a longer amount of time to make the shift. The important thing is that you are taking action which is better than doing zero!






What’s In Season: Spring

Time for the sun to emerge and bask us with the bounty of Spring!

  • Apricots
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Calcot Onions
  • Cherries
  • Endive
  • Bitter Melon
  • Broccoli
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Cactus
  • Chives
  • Collard Greens
  • Fennel
  • Fiddlehead Ferns

  • Green Beans
  • Honeydew
  • Jackfruit
  • Limes
  • Lychee
  • Mango
  • Mustard Greens
  • Oranges
  • Pea Pods
  • Peas
  • Pineapple
  • Purple Asparagus
  • Radicchio
  • Ramps

  • Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Rhubarb
  • Snow Peas
  • Sorrel
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Swiss Chard
  • Watercress
  • White Asparagus

For more seasonal availability, here is what is available in SummerFall, and Winter.

What’s In Season: Summer

Here are some of the abundance of delicious foods available during the summer season:

  • Apricots
  • Asian pears
  • Beets
  • Bell Peppers
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Boysenberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Corn – always buy organic

  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Figs
  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Green Beans

  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Jimmy Nardello Peppers
  • Key Limes
  • Limes
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Okra
  • Peaches
  • Peas
  • Plums
  • Pluots

  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Shallots
  • Strawberries
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatillo
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Zuchini

For more seasonal availability, here is what is available in Fall,  Winter, and Spring.

What’s In Season: Fall

Here is some of the vibrant bounty available during the Fall:

  • Asian Pear
  • Endive
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cauliflower
  • Chayote Squash
  • Chinese Long Beans
  • Cranberries
  • Delicata Squash

  • Daikon Radish
  • Endive
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Grapes
  • Green Beans
  • Guava
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Jujube
  • Key Limes
  • Kohlrabi
  • Kumquats
  • Mushrooms
  • Pear

  • Persimmons
  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranate
  • Pumpkin
  • Quince
  • Radicchio
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Swiss Chard


For more seasonal availability, here is what is available in Winter, Spring, and Summer.

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