“MY APPROACH TO MY DIET AND WELL-BEING IS SIMPLICITY,” says Melissa Wood, model-turned-health and wellness coach-turned-social media star. “People ask me how I manage to eat a plant-based diet, meditate and workout everyday. It’s truly because I enjoy it and believe it’s so easy to live this way. What you perceive any situation to be will become exactly what you believe it to be.” With an infectious positive energy, glowing complexion and perfect Pilates form, Wood has gained a cult following online thanks to her candid Instagram posts and Snapchat videos that span a spectrum of topics from her 1-year-old son Benjamin’s favorite veggie-centric meals to her self-curated yogilates-inspired workouts. In other words? She’s basically the personification of #FITSPO. Below, Wood opened up her kitchen to cook us one of her favorite plant-based meals and talk to us about going vegan, her natural beauty routine and how becoming a mom has made her less OCD.

Photos by Kerri Brewer

You are very vocal about your diet, which is plant-based and focused on food combining. What is food combining?
Food combining is looking at different foods and understanding how they’re all digested at different rates. Pairing certain foods together helps optimum digestion while others can make you bloated and cause weight gain. Food combining has been a major game changer for me. I work out, but I’m not insane.

What combines best?
I eat plant-based so eating grains like quinoa and brown rice are perfectly paired with greens and leafy vegetables. When you’re eating protein, you avoid starchy vegetables but when you’re having a carb, you can have starchy vegetables. Going plant-based simplifies it. I hate to use the word mindless because I think you should be mindful of everything but it’s taken that weight off of me. I eat this way most of the time and if I don’t I feel it.

Where does fruit fit in?
I eat fruit in the morning. I don’t mix fruit with meals. I don’t put fruit in a salad. Eating fruit after a meal is pretty much the worst thing you can do, because it digests the fastest. If you’re having a steak and you think you’re being healthy by having fruit after, it’s just using up more time for your body to break down that food. It takes up beauty energy, makes you really gassy, promotes acne–just a laundry list of issues.

Takes us through a day in the life of meals from wake to bedtime.
From the second I wake up in the morning, I drink ½ glass of water that I leave at my bedside followed by ½ cup warm water with lemon. While I’m drinking that I’m making my coconut milk latte. I don’t do dairy, it makes my skin a disaster. I add ½ package of Beauty Dust by Moon Juice. About 20 min later, I have 1-2 cut up bananas with ½ cup of raspberries or any type of berry. I alternate between fruit, a green juice or smoothie. An hour later, I have 2-3 slices of gluten free bread or Ezekiel bread with mashed avocado, sea salt and ½ squeezed lemon on top. Other mornings I opt for gluten-free, steel cut oats with coconut milk, coconut chips and cinnamon. Then I have a pre-lunch green juice about 3-4 hours after breakfast with kale, celery, cucumber, lemon, and ginger. Lunch is about 30-40min after juice and it’s usually a raw salad with assorted veggies, quinoa and avocado with a homemade dressing of olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar, lemon, and sea salt. Dinner is usually a small raw salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado with homemade dressing. My main meal is usually quinoa and veggies stir fry with broccoli, carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, green peas and garlic with sea salt. I don’t particularly crave something after a meal because I eat until I’m fully satisfied. If I want something sweet I’ll have a few pieces of Hu Kitchen simple chocolate or homemade chis seed pudding with coconut milk, vanilla bean extract and cinnamon.

What’s in your morning smoothie?
Coconut water, water, frozen banana, blueberries, 1 date, 1 cup spinach and a tsp of cacao powder.

What are your favorite takeout places?
Sweetgreen, By Chloe, Souen, and Peace Food.

Do you try to limit your fats?
I don’t monitor anything. I just eat an abundance of plant-based foods. I used to worry so much like, “Oh my god, I already had avocado in my salad,” but now because I eat plant-based it doesn’t matter. My body needs it. It’s from the earth, it’s so healthy. Sometimes I’ll have four pieces of avocado toasts. I listen to my body.

What about snacks?
I used to snack all the time. I wouldn’t leave my house without food in my bag. But I don’t really snack anymore. It’s because now I eat until I’m fully satisfied. If I eat good portions for each meal then I don’t pick anymore. If you’re constantly eating, your body is constantly trying to break this food you’re putting in. When you give it space in between to fully digest, it’s optimal. You eliminate more efficiently and you’re not just putting food on top of food on top of food.

How has your body/skin changed since becoming plant-based?
I had horrible acne for so many years.I was on antibiotics for half of my life. My gut is still recovering. Eating plant-based alone helped clear up my skin about 75 %.

Do you have a daily meditation practice that you adhere to?
My daily practice that keeps me grounded is starting my day with what I’m grateful for then reading my lesson in A Course in Miracles. My 20 minute morning mediation grounds me more than anything. I feel so ready to take on the day after I meditate.

What is your favorite most nourishing meal to make yourself?
My favorite right now is my gluten free and vegan alfredo sauce with roasted broccolini and green peas.

What are your favorite plant-based protein sources?
Kale, black beans, chickpeas, quinoa, and spirulina.

Do you take any supplements? If so, which ones?
Yes! Ultraflora immune boost probiotic in the mornings and Dr. Ohira’s probiotic in the evening, buffered vitamin C, rosavin when I feel anxious, The Honest Company prenatal vitamin and liquid chlorophyll. I also love Maty’s cough syrup and chest balm when Benjamin is under the weather.

What is your approach towards fitness, do you have a favorite workout?
I did high intensity workouts for years because I was told that’s what I needed to do to lose weight and have lean muscles.  I always felt so anxious before and after a workout, which was my answer that I needed to make a change. Once I started doing a more pilates/yoga style workouts I felt so at ease in my body and most importantly in my mind. I’ve never felt better or had more definition in my life.

What are your favorite self-care rituals?
Dry brushing, infrared sauna and gravity colonics. It sounds crazy to say I would prefer all these things over a massage, but it’s the truth. Nothing makes me feel better inside and out than this self-care combo.

What about beauty products?
Cocokind chlorophyll face mask, Kopari sheer coconut oil and RMS Lip2Cheek in Smile. Changing my shampoo was huge. I use Free and Clear. I don’t use conditioner and I let my hair air dry. Occasionally, I’ll do an avocado mask on the ends.

When you want to “detox” right away, what are some go-to tricks that you always resort to?
Warm water with lemon to start. Followed by a probiotic and green juice and eating mostly raw vegetables throughout the day. Add two more green juices at least 2 hours after a meal. This helps instantly. Dry brushing 2-3 times a day! Schedule a colonic after eating really clean for at least 3 days. The worst time to get a colonic is when you’re not eating great!

What are some of Benjamin’s favorite things to eat?
He was fully plant-based until recently. He’s obsessed with Noah’s breakfast, which is eggs. He’s going to have an opinion, so I try to be open-minded. I can’t control him. He also loves oatmeal with banana and coconut milk. He likes apples, cucumbers, tomatoes and black beans. He loves brown rice pasta and is obsessed with avocado toast.

Since becoming a mom, has your approach to nutrition changed at all?
It’s changed so much. I’ve actually become less OCD about things and have really let go of things I’ve tried to control in the past. I do not step on a scale at all anymore because I refuse to let that number determine if I’m enough. I know I am enough. Being a mom brings your confidence to life.

161201_bonberi_melissawood_085Melissa’s Cauliflower Alfredo 

1 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup chopped broccolini
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 box brown rice pasta
¾ cup coconut milk (unsweetened)
1 tbsp sea salt
pepper to taste
pinch garlic powder
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ lemon squeezed

Chop broccolini and lightly saute in 1 tsp coconut oil. Add ½ cup green peas to boiling water.

Add brown rice pasta to boiling water with a dollop of coconut oil and salt.

Lower heat and set timer for 10 minutes.

Saute the minced garlic with ½ tsp coconut oil for 3-4 minutes, until brown.

Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add sea salt, pepper, nutritional yeast and cauliflower. Cook for 6-7 minutes until thick.

Transfer all ingredients to blender, add ½ lemon and blend until smooth, about 30-40 seconds.