My Review of Thistle: Vegan Meal Delivery Dream Come True

I have searched high and low for a meal delivery service that meets all of my needs. It has been difficult to say the least. I have tried several including PlateJoy which was great (even though I still had to cook) until they completely changed their business model. So while these services usually have their merits, there’s something that ultimately makes me stop ordering.

Enter: Thistle.

Thistle is the only meal delivery service I have found that does 100% vegan, gluten-free meals. If you look online for healthy vegan meal prep services, you will not find them. If you do, please email me immediately! I am not a vegan, but I like to eat vegan foods and if someone can make it a no-brainer for me, I’ll be vegan. (For the record, you can order non-vegan meals from them too but that’s what most meal delivery services do, so you have your pick).

My biggest ask of any meal service is that it be simple and convenient. Too many services add more frustration than they take away. I am not paying for frustration. Life offers enough of that. I’m paying for someone to remove it and make my life easier. Thistle meets this need and then some. They have a set meal plan and as long as you don’t want any changes, it automatically gets delivered without you doing a thing! The deliveries can come 3x a week so the food is always fresh and also doesn’t hog your entire refrigerator (which is another pet peeve of mine!). They come in bags with ice packs and they deliver them either overnight or early in the morning. I love it. They don’t ring my doorbell and wake me up either. They send a text and I go outside when I wake up and there’s my food! I did read online reviews prior to ordering and many people complained about delivery issues. I’ve been ordering for several weeks and have not had this problem. There have been a couple minor issues with deliveries, labels not being entirely accurate and some slightly funky smelling beans, but nothing as bad as the food not arriving at all or being spoiled.

I literally hate cooking but I still like to eat healthy. Being lazy and healthy do not go together. So for me, this is the perfect solution. There have been a few misses but for the most part the meals themselves are DELICIOUS. I am eating all kinds of foods I don’t eat normally, either because they’re expensive or more than likely, I have no idea what to do with them. The meals are SUPER healthy. We’re talking superfoods and organic fruits and vegetables. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten food this colorful and nutrient-dense in my life. I feel healthier just reading the labels. There is also a ton of variety. I’ve gotten a good mix of different types of foods with different flavor profiles. And the best part is I don’t have to look at a single recipe, set foot in the grocery store or cook a darned thing!

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a few downsides. Particularly if you’re a picky eater. The meal plans are all posted on the Thistle website so you can see what’s coming up the next two weeks. You can even see the ingredients and nutrition which I really appreciate. However, if you don’t like the food that you see, well, too bad. The only changes you can really make are to swap foods within the same order. So let’s say Monday’s dinner looks awful…well since you only get 2 days in an order, your option is basically to double up on Tuesday’s meal. I should say there is a way to note your allergies, but other than that, it’s really not flexible at all.

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The other thing is that the meals create quite a bit of waste. Everything you order comes in plastic containers. They are recyclable but still, it’s a lot of packaging. I’m not sure how they could really make that any better but it would be nice if they could. The bags and ice packs are reusable, so you can either keep them or  leave them out for the delivery person to pick up and reuse.

Also, if you don’t like salads and smoothies, you will have a very hard time liking Thistle. If you only want delicious comfort foods, this isn’t it. It’s definitely for people who want to eat really healthy, high quality ingredients. It’s not for picky kids or anyone who is happily used to living on Chinese food and pizza.

Another concern for some might be the macronutrient breakdowns. If you count macros, Thistle’s meal plans may not work for you. The meals are high in protein for the average person, but probably not for someone who is into fitness or bodybuilding. I’d say they average 70 grams per day. Most of the meals are around 150-200 carbs per day and also very high in fat (upwards of 80-90 grams per day). One the same token, sometimes the labels don’t actually match what you’re eating. For example, the other day I got a meal that didn’t mention anything about peas in the name or the ingredient list. But it was literally half peas. I hate peas. I was disappointed but more concerned that if someone is can’t eat a certain ingredient and it’s not even listed on the label, that’s kind of a big deal.

I think the biggest negative by far with Thistle is the price. This food is NOT cheap. Not that any meal service is. But it’s about $11-12 per meal. That is definitely pricey and I don’t know that I can afford to order forever, but I do love it for now. The food is high quality and the portions are a good size so for the most part I think you get your money’s worth. The shipping is free, at least for me, because they’re based where I live.

For me, the positives outweigh the negatives. The convenience simply can’t be beat. You don’t have to do a SINGLE THING. It’s so easy and also super delicious.

Note: For now it appears that Thistle only delivers within California and Nevada, so if you live elsewhere, send them an email and let them know you’re interested. Generally if a company thinks they have a new market they can make money in, they’ll work hard to get into it. If you do live in CA or NV, please try Thistle! It won’t disappoint!

UPDATE: I cancelled my subscription to Thistle after about 2 months. There are a lot of great things about it, but it’s just too pricey and it eventually became Groundhog Day for me since they never vary the menu. I am back to cooking my own meals at home!



Fast Metabolism Diet

The Fast Metabolism Diet is the brain child of Haylie Pomroy, a wellness consultant and nutritionist. I’m not entirely clear on what her real credentials are, but the science she talks about in the book makes sense. This isn’t a low calorie crash diet. In fact, she doesn’t even buy into the “calories in vs calories out” concept. The idea with this diet is to reset and really rev your metabolism so that your body is using your food/calories more efficiently. A lot of people lose weight (and some lose quite significant amounts, supposedly) on this diet, but that’s not even the real benefit. The benefit is supposed to be that your refreshed metabolism is going to burn through calories and process nutrients like never before and your body is going to function better overall.

One of my favorite things about this diet is that you only need to do 3 days of exercise so your body can focus its energy on resetting your metabolism. The exercise is one day of cardio, one day of weight training and one day of something relaxing like a yoga or massage (yes, a massage counts as exercise on this diet).

The diet lasts for 28 days. Phase 1 is 2 days of high carb meals, phase 2 is 2 days of high protein meals and phase 3 is 3 days of meals that include a combination of carbs, proteins and fats. You eat whole, nutritious foods…no alcohol, sugar or processed junk allowed. Each phase has its own list of foods that you’re permitted to eat and your choices of proteins and carbs are somewhat limited.

Day 1 – Things are ok so far. I ate gluten-free oats, lots of fruit, white beans and sprouted grain toast.

Day 2 – My head is POUNDING. I can’t really think straight and I feel like I’m jonesin’ for something but not for food… probably for sugar. I assume this feeling has a lot to do with my sugar intake skyrocketing for several weeks just before I started this diet. I planned to give up sugar after Valentine’s Day but then I found the Easter candy aisle at Walgreen’s. Also there’s this great French bakery in my neighborhood. Needless to say, I’ve been eating a lot of crap lately. The headaches usually happen when I’m tired, have low blood sugar, or I’m craving sugar. I know the first two are not the case, so I think my body wants its heroin fix….I mean sugar. I had this same experience once when I fasted completely for 4 days. Oh and my diet today is basically the same as day one. I sprinkled some veggie seasoning on some celery and it tasted heavenly so I am definitely in diet-mode. I have to say, in spite of how shitty I feel physically, my mood is excellent!

Day 3 – My headache is gone!! Happy day! I have horrible PMS cramps and got my period (sorry TMI) so now I’m wondering if the headache was hormone-related? Anyway amazingly I am down 3 pounds. I assume it’s water weight, though I normally gain weight when I have my period so this makes no sense to me! Whatever, I’ll take it! Today is my first day of Phase 2 which is notoriously difficult because it’s all protein and veggies and the overall caloric intake is quite low. I admit I cheated and drank a glass of decaf green tea. I can’t buy into the idea that decaf green tea is going to tax my liver, so I’m sorry, I’ll be compliant with everything else but that’s where I draw the line. So far today I had an egg white omelette and now I’m munching on salmon jerky. It’s technically not on the list but it’s nitrate-free and very low fat/carb. Since nitrate-free beef/turkey jerky was on the list, I’m going with it since I don’t eat meat. Later I will have white fish and tuna along with lots of veggies. And egg whites. I’m not hungry. And again my mood is really good! Mentally, I feel AWESOME. This is exciting for me.

Day 4 – More protein! My diet is basically the same as yesterday. I still feel good, though a lot hungrier than I was yesterday. I am looking forward to eating more normal meals the next 3 days. I am also daydreaming about chocolate and tapas. I realized I definitely should’ve done my one weight training workout of the week yesterday when I was still flying high on carbs. It wasn’t my best workout.

Day 5 – OMG I was so stoked to get to eat avocado with my breakfast. Unlike most people, when I’m dieting or cutting foods, I don’t miss carbs as much as I miss my fats. Today I forgot my first snack which may be the reason I have a pounding headache. I love the food today and there’s lots of it. I’m a bit confused by portion sizes and amount of each food I should be eating. I use the app which is fine until you want to start swapping foods. For example, for a lunch you choose a certain type of protein (say fish) and it says to eat six ounces. But if you remove the fish and try to replace that with eggs, it only says to eat one egg. Six ounces of fish is at least 20 g of protein but an egg is only six. This conversion makes no sense. Why isn’t it 3-4 eggs? Also, I wish the app would let me do 1/2 portions of foods so I can eat more than one. I can’t eat 3 tablespoons of oil. I can eat one. And then I’d like some more avocado please!

Day 6 – I totally screwed up today! I ate vegan pizza and some vegan cookies. I shouldn’t have but they were good. I know they aren’t the cleanest foods but they weren’t the worst ever either. So it is what it is. I’ll try to double up on veggies and drink more water. Stuff happens!

Day 7 – I realized last night I started feeling really stuffy/sniffly. Today it hit me like a Mack truck. I have a full blown cold. I RARELY get sick so this sucks. I was Googling and found out all the symptoms I’ve been having are totally normal when you switch to a healthy diet. Your body starts to detox. I read that skin issues are common so I’m hoping those aren’t next. Today is my last day of fun with avocados and pistachios. Tomorrow it’s back to carbing up.

Aaaand…..I totally fell off track after day 7.

I know, I know! I wasn’t prepared, things came up and, well, I stopped doing the diet after a week. However, I felt great on it so I do want to start again. I am going out of town soon so it’s probably a bad idea to try to start before then. It sounds like an excuse but I really mean it.

Has anyone else tried this diet? Yay? Nay?

Best Packaged Vegetarian and Vegan Foods

These days, many of us are doing our best to be healthy and avoid “processed” foods and eat lots of fresh veggies and protein and all that jazz. But hell, we’re also busy, sometimes in a hurry and sometimes just plain lazy/tired/hangry! There’s nothing wrong with that! These options are especially helpful if you are new to eating vegan/vegetarian and are looking for some help and inspiration. I didn’t realize how many amazing options there were.

These are my go-to foods when I just want a quick meatless meal that’s also tasty and filling.



I am sort of embarrassed to say that since discovering these burritos, I practically live on them. But they are just SO good. There are several flavors including a few breakfast versions. They are all really high in protein and made of pretty healthy ingredients. Please note that the Kyoto, Curry Tiger, Anasazi and Big Sur Breakfast flavors are fully vegan. The others contain eggs and/or cheese.



I admit I love seafood, especially shellfish, and my previous efforts at being fully vegan failed mostly because of this. UNTIL I DISCOVERED THESE BABIES! I went to a vegan restaurant a while back and had vegan crab cakes and didn’t stop talking about them for days. They were just SO good. When I was in the freezer section and WF and realized Gardein also made a version, I was skeptical. I didn’t think they’d be that good but I had to try them. I was so excited to learn they’re really good!! I don’t know how they make vegan ingredients taste like fish. I’m not sure I want to know. But regardless, I am thankful that I can enjoy the taste of crab cakes without thinking about murdered crabs. You really can find vegan versions of EVERYTHING!



Another thing I loooved as a meat eater was beef tacos and nachos. I haven’t had beef in 5 years and I can’t say I miss it honestly. But I still love Mexican food and try to recreate my favorite restaurant dishes as often as possible. I was so excited to find the “Feisty” Beyond Meat Beef Crumbles because it has a great taco seasoning flavor. I won’t lie, the crumbles do have a bit of that funky fake meat aftertaste if you eat them alone, but if you slather salsa and guacamole on top, you’ll never notice. The texture is just like crumbled beef.



Stop the press. These meals have SAVED me at times when I am craving restaurant food (and also times when I have very low blood sugar and I am within 5 minutes of a meltdown). There are only 4 flavors so far – Indian Curry, Korean BBQ, Vietnamese Lemongrass and Roasted Sweet Potato Chili; however, they are really good. My favorite is the Korean BBQ. They are all super high protein and have a good balance of fats/carbs too. They heat up in 5 minutes and will keep you full for hours, but also keep your taste buds happy.



I used to live on my homemade Egg McMuffin sandwiches. I had a hard time saying goodbye to Canadian bacon. However, Sweet Earth has made all my breakfast sandwich dreams come true! They have several flavors – Harmless Ham & Chickpea Patty (the only vegan one), Meatless Sausage Egg and Gouda, Harmless Ham Egg & Swiss and Benevolent Bacon, Egg & Cheddar. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.











Trader Joe’s recently changed the packaging/label on the veg chili and I have to say I’m in love with this new 1970s Brady Bunch theme. I just want to stuff my face with chili every time I see the new cans on the shelf. Anyway, the recipe itself didn’t change at all (or if it did, I can’t tell) and there have been many times when I’ve lived solely off this chili for several days straight. Unlike a lot of chilis, this one really strikes a perfect balance of salty, spicy, beans, and “meat” (it’s tofu). It’s a great all-around meal that’s very filling and has 15 grams of protein….pa pow! It’s a tad spicy but in a very good way. Add a little sprinkle of shredded vegan cheese and green onions (because I am obsessed with green onions) and you have yourself a tasty meal.



Why Drinking Milk is Worse for Cows than Eating a Hamburger

I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about animal welfare issues. I have done a lot of research and have a TON of passion for promoting kind treatment of animals. After watching terrifying PETA videos and reading awful things about the meat industry, I abruptly stopped eating meat 5 years ago. I didn’t stop with the dairy though. Like most people, even health- and environmentally-conscious ones, I thought it was relatively harmless to drink milk and eat cheese.

What I didn’t realize for a very long time was how devastating the dairy industry is for animals (not just cows, but also goats, sheep and any other animals that produce milk)….perhaps even more devastating than the meat industry (if that’s possible). The reality is that the females are continually impregnanted (basically raped) so that when they give birth, the farmer can separate the baby from his mother immediately to steal her milk. These newborn babies, brand new to the world and wondering where their mothers went, are usually sent straight to slaughter. These so-called farmers do this over and over to ensure that the mom is always lactating. When she’s finally spent, after all the abuse she’s endured, for who knows how long, they haul her off to slaughter too. So they not only kill the babies, but they kill mom too. Females usually fare worse than the males for this reason. Because the farmers want their babies/milk, their abuse is prolonged but they meet the same fate as their babies eventually. In the end, all the animals are hauled off to slaughter because at some point, they stop producing and they are worth more dead than alive. This is disgusting to me and it makes me embarrassed to be human at times, to be perfectly honest.

THIS is the reality of the meat and dairy industry. How does that milk taste now?

Vegan Nachos

My favorite thing to eat when I got out is Mexican food. I could literally eat it every day of my life. And who doesn’t love a margarita? So I try to replicate Mexican dishes at home as much as possible so I can enjoy the flavors without all the added calories (and margaritas…sad face). Here’s my go-to recipe for nachos:

10-12 Tortilla chips

1 cup Beyond Meat crumbles (Feisty flavor)

1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional)

1/2 cup vegan refried beans

1/4 cup salsa or pico de gallo

1/2 avocado (chopped)

2 tsp sliced or chopped black olives

Warm up the beefless crumbles in the microwave. Arrange your chips on the plate, sprinkle the cheese and briefly microwave to melt it a bit. Add the meatless crumbles, beans and pico de gallo layer by layer with the chopped avocado and olives on top. Easy peasy!

These go great with my favorite margarita recipe!



Feeling Overwhelmed by Contradictory Diet/Workout Advice? Not Sure How to Start? Read This…

I started working out at a gym in 2009. I was set on competing in a fitness/bikini model competition the following year. I worked out 6 days a week religiously and followed a strict diet plan for nearly a year. In the year leading up to the competition, I did MANY hours of research on how to train, what to eat and what supplements to take. I lived and breathed the lifestyle and learned everything I could about it. Yet I never saw the results I truly wanted. When I competed, I felt good but I knew I wouldn’t win. I didn’t care because it wasn’t about winning to me and I had a great time. But in the back of my mind I wished I could obtain the physique I dreamed of because even though I’d worked my butt off, I still didn’t feel I’d gotten there.

In the last 6 years, I’ve worked out on and off. Sometimes I’ll work out 4-5 days a week and other times I lay on my couch 7 days a week. I’ve also tried a variety of ways of eating including paleo, vegan, gluten-free. My current diet that I’ve followed for several years now is essentially pescatarian. I have done ALL kinds of different workouts and experimented with various group workouts like pilates, yoga, boxing, CrossFit, TRX, boot camp, etc. I’ve done a lot more research. I have probably read hundreds if not thousands of articles, blogs, books, magazines and Facebook/Instagram posts from experts and so-called experts. Even with all that, I still never saw the results I wanted. And I think all my research was part of the problem. I read so many things that it was impossible to figure out what to do. I couldn’t decipher the truth in any of it since so much info out there is so contradictory. The truth is, I was overwhelmed and confused. The more I read, the more I overanalyzed what I was doing and, in turn, got discouraged when I’d read something that contradicted what I had just started.

So one day I decided, why am I doing this?! I was spending more time looking for answers online than I was working out in the gym. No wonder I wasn’t reaching my goals!! I was like a detective trying to dig up the internet in search of the exact perfect formula for me. The truth is, there isn’t one. Everything you read probably is true for the person who wrote it. But there are literally millions of ways to go about your fitness goals. No way is right or better. The best advice I’ve ever heard is that you have to do what works for you.

Looking back, I never saw the results I was making some really BASIC mistakes:

  1. I wasn’t consistent. Some weeks I’d be at the gym every day and some weeks I’d skip it altogether. Life got in the way and I didn’t have the commitment and discipline to stay on track. What was likely even more detrimental to my physique goals was that l was that I was also highly inconsistent with my diet. I would eat “well” for the most part, but somedays I’d undereat and other days I’d overeat. Consistency is KEY. Ask anyone who’s had success in this arena and that is generally their first piece of advice.
  2. I wasn’t following the basics with my diet. A lot of health/fitness advice is confusing, but there are definitely things that I just *know* I need to do but don’t. The two biggest mistakes I made with regard to my diet were not eating enough protein and never drinking enough water.
  3. I didn’t push myself at the gym enough. I would go through the motions but not really break a sweat most days. I would do the same exercises, same weights, same sets, etc. I personally think is far more important to push yourself when you’re at the gym than to go every day and half-ass it. I think a lot of times I didn’t push myself because I lacked energy, which was a direct result of my crappy diet.

So here are some super simple rules of thumb to follow if you’re looking to get fit:

  1. Drink a lot of water. As much as humanly possible! Well, not really, but AT least 10-12 cups is ideal. Drinking water is the most basic, easiest thing you can do to improve your physique and health.
  2. Follow IIFYM and be consistent with your diet. This sounds like a fancy diet but it’s not. (See my recent blog post What is IIFYM?! for more info). Basically, IIFYM is a type of flexible eating and quite simply it means you can whatever the F you want as long as it fits your “macros.” You set a target # of protein, carb and fat grams each day, much like a caloric bank account! Be as consistent as you can with your diet. If you want a special treat, just be mindful of your eating and fit it into your macros!
  3. Work out consistently each week. If you’re new to working out, aim for 2-3 days. Otherwise 3-5 days is fine. Spend about an hour at the gym, most of which should consist of weight training.
  4. Do sprints. Sprinting means you give an all out effort for anywhere from 10-30 seconds. Then you rest or walk. Repeat that for 20 minutes about 1-2x a week. That’s it!
  5. Try to incorporate lots of fresh, organic foods for your health and because your body will work better this way. With IIFYM you can certainly eat treats but if that’s all you eat all day long, trust me, you’re going to feel it. Your body relies on nutrients and vitamins found in these foods to function well. It’s important to be mindful of your micronutrients, not just macronutrients.
  6. Avoid sugar and alcohol. I know, I know. But if you are serious about getting in shape, these are total diet killers. Start out slow and aim to reduce your intake, as well as avoid hidden sugars. Find healthier alternatives to the foods/drinks you love but that your body doesn’t love as much.
  7. Sleep!! Whatever your minimum is, make sure you get it. People who are sleep deprived are more likely to be fat. True story.
  8. Minimize stress. This is SO important. Do yoga, meditation deep breathing, etc. as often as possible. Stress is a fat builder!! Sometimes when I feel stressed, I go into the bathroom and just take a minute to myself to close my eyes and take several deep breaths in and out. Breathing will immediately help your body relax and it actually helps your lymph nodes clear toxins from your body!

Those are the best tips I have found and if you follow all of them, you are pretty much guaranteeing yourself success. You will probably need to tweak things over time as you see results, but once you get going, you will see how your body responds to different things. Over time it becomes a lot easier to understand how things affect you and you will become an expert on your own body and know better than anyone what works best for you.

Bikini Competitor Diet Plan

If you’re female and want a healthy meal plan to get lean, I can save you lots of $$ and countless hours of research. And I can keep you from ending up with a horrible coach that rips you off and ruins your body. Everyone knows working out is really important but diet is everything!  Over the years, I’ve read probably thousands of articles/blogs/etc. on fitness, specifically regarding bikini competitions. And I’ve looked at MANY meal plans. I’ve paid for quite a few too, mostly for my own research purposes. I also went so far as to get a nutrition certification.

I can tell you that 90% of the meal plans I’ve seen are basically the same exact plan. The coach/competitor/whoever may swap a food here and there, but the calorie counts and breakdown of macros is almost identical. Clearly it works if almost every woman in fitness is following this and also prescribing it. But it irritates me that “coaches” charge hundreds of dollars for what amounts to the exact same plan being recycled over and over (not to mention, it’s not actually customized). Most coaches out there SUCK!!!!! Yes, even many of the ones that are “famous” that you think would be really good. Sometimes they are even worse because they have less time to focus on clients and end up giving out cookie cutter plans or, worse, pawning off their job on an assistant.

As far as the generic meal plan, it’s always 5-6 meals that are usually broken down as follows:

4 oz protein (usually chicken, turkey, fish or egg whites)

1/2 cup carbs (sweet potatoes, oats or brown rice)

1-2 cups of veggies (green things – spinach, broccoli, green beans, kale, asparagus, etc)

Add 2 healthy fats per day (~16 g of fat for each) somewhere in the form of olive/coconut oil, avocado or nuts/nut butter (or be a real rebel and eat whole eggs for protein and fat). Stay away from dairy. Limit fruit intake but it’s generally ok to have some berries as your morning carb or with oats. If you’re cutting, only include carbs at 2-3 meals (and eat them early in the day and/or around your workout) instead of all of the ones I listed above. Then add in another fat or two. Boom. Now you too can be a bikini model and/or competitor!!!!

(Ok, I’m being pretty sarcastic in this post but the part about the majority of meal plans looking just like what I’ve listed above is 100% true!!  Save your $, trust me.)