Healthy, predominately plant-based chef with a side of bacon. Ask Me Anything about healthy eating, fighting inflammation, chronic pain, healthy cooking, organic roofdeck gardening, or my underground dinners! #cookingAMA

Monique Costello
Jan 22, 2018

Hi, I'm Monique, a Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert, Integrative Holistic Health Coach and a Gourmet Cook. After years of a debilitating break down of the body, chronic back pain and unexplained symptoms like low energy, restless sleep, weight gain, and dry skin, I found relief in the very same element that fueled her passion, food.

A champion recipe developer once featured on The Food Network, I now work as a health educator through corporate wellness programs and a one-on-one coaching. I teach Soma Institute's Health and Wellness certification program and healthy cooking classes at Kendall Culinary College along with hosting Reset/Detox programs to help people recognize that food is medicine and it can heal you from the inside. Read more about my story at happyeatshealthy.com. Or connect we me on Facebook www.facebook.com/HappyEatsHealthy/ or Twitter

Beet flan.jpgDelicious-dukkah-Carrot-hummus.jpggrilled carrots and flowers.jpgmonique on cookingama.jpgMonique's Cashew cheese dip.jpgsalad.jpg

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Conversation (52)

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What to you is the best way/s to prepare food for healthy eating?

Jan 22, 3:41AM EST0

Hi. The best way(s) to prepare healthy food is to first understand what foods work with your body.  Every body is different so one diet will never work for all of us.  Beyond that, eating foods that are closests to the source and in the most natural is a great way to start. So look for foods that are in-season and grown locally (think farmers market or CSA-deliveries over grocery store). Remove processed foods as much as possible and make simple pantry swaps for better salts, sweeteners and oils (see previous post on pantry samples.)

And always remember that getting healthy is a marathon, not a sprint. Work toward long-term lifestyle changes over quick -fix diets.

Jan 22, 1:36PM EST0

Can you tell us about your cooking classes? How often do you run the program?

Jan 21, 4:48PM EST1

Hi. I teach a variety of cooking class throughout the year at a myriad of places; all are focused on simple, flexible and approachable recipes with a commitment to anti-inflammatory foods. I teach quite a few healthy recreational cooking classes at Kendall Culinary College during January and February and quarterly for the remainder of the year.You'll also find me hosting classes and various cooking schools and even at Whole Foods.  In the summer months many clients come to my house for outdoor cooking classes.  I also teach private classes for clients in their environment which can require travel.  Throughout the year you will find me demonstrating healthy food and offering free informative seminars as well.

Classes open to the public are always listed on my web site and in my email newsletters (please join my list @ www.happyeatshealthy.com .

Jan 22, 1:45PM EST0

What are the most common food items people store in their pantry that needs to be taken away?

Jan 21, 4:41PM EST0

Great question! I love performing Pantry Clean-Outs for clients; it's not only a good way to actually clean and organize your pantry but it's also a teachable moment on how to read labels and upgrade food choices.

Table and kosher salt is one I immediately replace with Himalyan Pink, Celtic Gray or other premium sea salt. These natuarls salts contain trace minerals our bodies can use while the refined salts have been stripped of nutrition, stuffed with iodine and bleached.

Removing canola, vegetable and corn oil is a big step in the right direction, replacing with options like ghee, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and/or avocado oil (depending on uses.)

Refined sugar needs to go away in place of more natural options like coconut sugar, monkfruit, honey, dates and maple syrup (again, depending on uses.)

Start small and build up over time!

Jan 22, 1:52PM EST0

Do you have a blog site where we can visit to know more about organic roof deck gardening?

Jan 21, 9:22AM EST0

Hi Nicz,

My blog and site is at www.happyeatshealthy.com. I'm currently working on a site-redesign and plan to begin adding gardening to it, keep watch!

Jan 22, 1:54PM EST0

Thanks. It would be interesting to know how you do it.  Will be on the lookout.

Jan 28, 3:47AM EST0

What do you recommend as the best anti-inflammatory foods?

Jan 20, 5:32PM EST0

Hi Mich- A few of the most touted anti-inflammatory foods are ginger, turmeric and garlic; but that also assumes those foods agree with your body.

We are all very different so foods can/do react differently for all of us. It's important to learn the ones that agree with you; gaining more body intuition will help.

Jan 22, 3:10PM EST0

What do you think is the biggest stumbling block for people who want to eat healthy?

Jan 20, 3:22PM EST0

Of course, everyone is different, but access to healthy food, or even knowledge of what healthy food and how to cook it healthy can be huge obstacle.

For many people the idea of eating healthy conjures up lifeless salads and bland veggie sticks ... not very appealing. But my goal is to prove that eating healthy is actually {more} delicious!

Jan 22, 3:15PM EST0

Have you written a recipe book? If yes, where can one purchase it?

Jan 20, 8:43AM EST0

Not yet, but keep watching www.happyeatshealthy.com over the next year!

Jan 22, 3:11PM EST0

Do you have a go-to recipe, the recipe that you would recommend to your friends?

Jan 28, 5:50AM EST0

What healthy food items should a pantry never run out off?

Jan 19, 9:19PM EST0

I always have lemon, garlic and seeds on hand because I can pretty much make lots of different sauces/dressings out of these ingredients. But some of my key pantry staples include:

-ghee and extra virgin olive oil

-seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, hemp) and nuts


-natural sweeteners like dates, maple syrup and honey

-as many colorful veggies as possible, including avocado, sweet potato broccoli.

Jan 22, 3:25PM EST0

Do you think your recipes cater to international customers?

Jan 27, 5:46AM EST0

What do you find as the most common illness suffered by women today and how do you address them?

Jan 19, 3:12PM EST0

There isn't a standard common illness because we are all so different. Our bodies all handle food, exercise, stress and disease completely in their own way.  I treat each client as a custom individual. We begin by discussing current challenges and future goals and then we make a plan to get there. 

Jan 22, 3:45PM EST0

Tell us about your underground dinners.

Jan 19, 9:05AM EST0

My underground dinners are actually above ground- 5 floors up to be exact. These type of dinners are sometimes known as supper clubs or closed door dinners. It's an amazing opportunity to meet others, enjoy a specatular view, have access to me privately and enjoy an 8 course meal that is stunningly delicious (and shocking healthy). 

Jan 22, 3:38PM EST0

The recipes you have on your website, did you develop them all yourself?

Jan 19, 6:56AM EST0

The recipes on my site have all been developed by me, unless otherwise stated on the recipe.

Jan 22, 3:33PM EST0

What are the top causes of inflammation? What foods to avoid?

Jan 19, 6:18AM EST0

It's important to understand that inflammation isn't always bad. It is your body's reponse to stress; it's our natural defense to remove harmful or foreign invadeers and heal itself.  There are two types: Acute and Chronic. Acute inflammtion starts quickly and generally disappears in a few days/weeks (think of a broken ankle).  Chronic inflammation lasts months and years. It is believe that chronic inflammation is at the heart of nearly every disease.

A poor diet, STRESS, a sedentary lifestyle, environment, food intolerances/allergies, gut imbalances can all contribute to chronic inflammation.

From a food-specific perspective, it's recommended to stay away from known trigger foods:

*Sugar (white refined)





*Processed foods 

 *Caffeine and alcohol

*Foods that you are allergic, or have an intolerance, too

This may seem like an exhaustive list, but if you try to make changes slowly and one at a time you will have a much easier time and the changes will be more long -lasting. 

Jan 22, 4:10PM EST0

Do you coach people from all over the globe or are you catering to a particular location?

Jan 19, 2:14AM EST0

My coaching business is not limited by location thanks to so many so many connectivity options like Skype. I enjoy working with people from all over the globe.

Jan 22, 3:31PM EST0

Can you please explain briefly what is Reiki and what should people need to know about it? What can it do?

Jan 18, 1:41PM EST0

We are made up energy. In fact we store trauma energetically in our bodies. This trauma can affect everthing from our physical health to our mental state of mind. Reiki is a way to , clear, unblock and enhance our energy .

Reiki can improve wellbeing on all of our levels- physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual.

I recommend a great book that chronicals one women's journey into energy healing called Connecting the Dots by Heather McCutcheon.

Jan 22, 6:19PM EST0

What do you eat for the day? Can you share your simple one-day meal plan?

Jan 18, 1:24PM EST0

I try to eat mostly clean, plant based foods. My diet changes with the seasons (think sprouts + lighter food in the spring, fresh fruits and veggies in the summer and heavier root vegetables with some grass fed proteins in the fall and winter).

Today, my day looks something like this:

Lemon water, smoothie (keep the good fiber in and add lots of veggies over fruits), Roasted vegetable salad topped with 1/2 an avocado and a couple big handfuls of leafy greens, snack of pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and for dinner of carrot ginger soup with chickpea flatbread.

Jan 22, 4:45PM EST0

What is the most common misconception people have about healthy eating?

Jan 18, 12:46PM EST0

I think the most common misconceptions about healthy eating is that is you have to feel deprived and food will taste bad. This is why I do what I do- to show that healthy eating can to delicous and healing.

Healthy is not a size; I do see there is a lot of confusion about what healthy actually is and that is often where I start with my clients.

Jan 22, 4:15PM EST0

There are a number of diet programs in existence. Is there a particular name to the diet program you use?

Jan 18, 12:11PM EST0

Bio-individuality means we all have unique needs and characteristics, this is what makes us fascinating!  So I don't belive there is one diet to fit everyone and I'm not a believer in diets-per se because the signifies there is an end to that eating and we need to think about long-term eating patterns. 

I shy away from labeling how I eat, but do believe we should listen to our bodies, eat seasonally and locally, mostly plants but not too much and incorporating an 80/20 plan.

My diet changes with the seasons (think sprouts + lighter food in the spring, fresh fruits and veggies in the summer and heavier root vegetables with some grass fed proteins in the fall and winter).

Jan 22, 4:40PM EST0

What mind exercises or meditation techniques do you use and recommend?

Jan 18, 10:51AM EST0

I'm a big fan of starting slow. So if you're not ready to try meditation, just start with simple breathing exercises. One of my first was the 4-7-8 method from Dr Weil.

I love to go to YouTube and search for guided meditations; I find guided meditations help focus my monkey mind more.

One of my favorite apps is Beyond Affirmations - It's like guided meditation but helps create more positive believes, love and gratitude.

Jan 22, 5:51PM EST1
Show all 4 replies

How do you define healthy eating?

Jan 18, 10:37AM EST0

We need to fuel our bodies with variety of foods that give us the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs, fat and water our bodies require without added processing, chemicals and toxins.

BUT - I think health is more than just food, it's about a state of mind, its about how we feel, our energy, physical activity, sleep, our relationships, and our entire lifestyle and it takes work but we need to incorporate all of these pillars to be truly healthy.

Bio-individuality means we all have unique needs and characteristics, this is what makes us fascinating!  So I don't belive there is one diet to fit everyone  

Jan 22, 5:44PM EST0

What herbs are a must in an organic garden?

Jan 18, 10:25AM EST0

The most important herbs to grow in your organic garden are the ones you will eat. Seriously! Two of my personal favorites are chives (chive flowers are the absolute best) and oregano.

Do look at your growing region to decide which ones will grow best with your environment and climate.

Jan 22, 3:28PM EST0
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