How Do You Do Pasta?

Our friends from Foodstand gave us a quick look at pasta just in time for National Pasta Day this Saturday, October 17th. They make a good point about the decline in its popularity due to the prevalence of lower carb, higher protein diets. Even our Private Cooking Classes show its #1 cooking class, Pasta Perfect, move to #3 just behind our Farm-To-Table and Easy Entertaining classes. So as a self-proclaimed pasta connoisseur, have at it this weekend. Go pasta crazy! There’s always Monday!

Don’t Be an Impasta – via Foodstand

Here’s our recipe for the perfect meat sauce. I used a traditional dry pasta, Spaghetti in the following pic. As noted in the recipe, a true Bolognese should be served with flat, wide pasta such as Tagliatelle, Linguine, or Pappardelle. Check back in a few days and I’ll have my fresh Tagliatelle recipe up. Until then, enjoy!





By Chef Flo

2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 Onion, medium, finely diced
1 Celery, stalk, finely diced
1 Garlic Clove, sliced
2 ¼ # Ground Beef, 15% fat or less
5 Roma Tomatoes, small to medium-sized, concasse (seeded & diced)
1-8oz can Whole Peeled Tomatoes, rough chopped, reserve liquid
1 cup Red Wine, favorite table wine
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
Kosher Salt & Black Pepper TT*
Grated Parmesan Cheese TT*, garnish
Parsley, finely chopped TT*, garnish
*TT means “To Taste” or season to your liking.

In a large heavy bottom saucepan, sauté carrots, onions, celery, and garlic in olive oil on medium heat. Cook until soft and translucent. DO NOT BROWN!

Add ground meat to vegetable mixture. Cook on high and stir frequently to break apart ground meat. Cook until properly browned.

Once meat is cooked, add concasse tomatoes and sauté until softened. Then, add chopped whole peeled tomatoes, reserved liquid, red wine, and Italian seasoning. Simmer over low to medium heat for about 30 minutes or when liquid is reduced by half.

Once ragu is reduced, take off of heat. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Garnish with parmesan cheese and parsley. Serve with your favorite flat or wide pasta. Enjoy!

Makes 5-7 Servings

Serve with 1 ½ # (uncooked) Tagliatelle, Pappardelle, or Linguine; cook as directed.

Alternative Meats:
You can substitute a mixture of ground meats such as beef, pork, and veal. Use any combination adding up to 2 ¼ # of ground meat.

Picking Up The Pieces Before I’m 30…

Two years ago, this week, I made a promise to myself that I would change the way I ate and lived. I was fearful that four years from then, when I turn the big THREE ZERO, I would have to assess where my life is at and ask myself “How crappy does it look?”

At this point in my life, being a single, self-employed (or what I like to call “f-unemployed”), twenty-six year old father has been quite an adventure. Trying to keep afloat and busy with my hands in four different, yet strangely connected, business concepts, mainly as a PERSONAL CHEF, is quite tiresome. So confusing and frantic that I just realized I’m no longer twenty-six but two years older. As much as anyone can see that my desire for total domination in the foodservice and wellness industries look a bit hectic, it’s probably the one that is a constant. A constant that keeps me happy and moving. And by the way, I don’t talk about being a father so much as a job or something I have to think about. My instincts are what help me raise my daughter. Well, that along with my parents! What? There’s no point in lying about that. Anyhow, busy as I may seem, I do have time to notice that there is one thing that has been falling to the wayside. My health! My health AND all the fatty body parts that we all try to hide from. The truth is that I’m not getting any younger and all the stress from my life along with the crappy food I eat (Well, taste. At least that’s what I tell myself) is the cause of my unhealthy life.

And #letsbehonest, this means YOU too!


Now when I say UNHEALTHY, I’m not only talking about the food that I eat. Unhealthy describes my lifestyle, my habits, and my addictions. Just like getting yourself back on track is a TOTAL PACKAGE, becoming unhealthy takes the same amount of effort. You don’t go to the gym, you stress yourself out about work, you drink yourself to a happy-state, and you top it off with Carne Asada Fries, a Shake Shack – Shack Shake…oh, and don’t forget the Bourbon Pecan Pie with extra whipped cream. Ok, maybe I went too far…maybe you only drink yourself until you’re inebriated, whatever! YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN! Our late twenties can not just be about celebrating that we’re out of college, “I finally get my own office (translation: cubicle), and possibly getting government healthcare (or not, whatever floats your boat)!” We have to start setting up our lives for SUCCESS. And in all honesty, without our personal well being, our health and our bodies being in the best shape possible, how can we even achieve what we really want in the future?

Our health determines our wealth! Sounds cheesy but it’s true!

Now that I let this glass of SANGIOVESE open up this post, here’s what I’m trying to tell you. Along with all the other challenges and responsibilities we have in our lives, we can’t forget the biggest one of all, our health. Aside from our genetics, WE ARE IN CONTROL OF OUR BODIES! Not your mom, your doctor, or even your significant other.


I made a decision to take back my health with a vengeance. Two years ago, I became PLANT-STRONG. I changed my whole life around and accepted a plant-based lifestyle. It wasn’t just a diet. It was an entire overhaul of my health. I finally took control and said,

“I want to live. I want to live worry-free. I want to live so that I can see my daughter graduate. I want to live longer so I can walk my daughter down the aisle. I want to live so that I can watch over my grandkids when my daughter visits me in Hawaii, where I will be retiring!”

Somewhere in between me moving back to New Jersey to start over with my daughter and ending an 8-year relationship with an amazing company, I fell back into my ways. I had my ups and downs. I know what I should and shouldn’t eat. I knew what would probably send me back over the edge. I knew it all but I just kept saying, “One time won’t hurt. I’ll just work out more tomorrow. I’ve been good all week, I deserve this!” Well, guess what, I’m back where I started and nothing to show for it.

Well, not everything!

The one thing that I have that can help put me back on track is this amazing knowledge gained from a small span of time of living a plant-based lifestyle. That’s the best part, I know what I need to do. I know what the results will be if I stick to it. SO HERE I GO! AND I’M ASKING YOU TO JOIN ME! Whether you actually take this ride along with me or if you just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. I want you to take as much away from my experience as you can. Enough to change your own life!

I joined Portia Joyce Wellness’s Beyond the Resolution: 11-Day Clean Eating Program!


It’s an amazing DETOX where guess what?…YOU CAN EAT!”

Yesterday, started the 4-day Pre-Detox. We began to slowly eliminate certain foods so that we minimize withdrawal symptoms from all the food that we probably have depended on too much. Some of these foods like caffeine, alcohol (clearly I have not weened off of that just yet), gluten, dairy, and beans are what may cause us to be so toxic. (***CHEF FLO DISCLAIMER…DAIRY KILLS***)

Once, we have slowly removed these types of food out of our diet, once the actual detox meal plan begins, it will be a lot easier to adapt. We all know that it ain’t easy to quit addictions “COLD TURKEY!” And yes, eating unclean, toxic foods found in the Standard American Diet (or how my friends over at the Engine 2 Diet phrase it, “S.A.D.”) can be an addiction. OK, I take it back. It’s not that it “can be” and addition, IT IS AN ADDICTION. Let’s call it what it is.

“ADDICTION: a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble) : an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (gambling) that can be pleasurable but the continued use of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health. Users may not be aware of their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.” – Psychology Today

A DETOX is about the removal of unwanted substances, such as toxins, that hinder our bodies from performing its natural and healthy functions. It is NOT to DEPRIVE or CAUSE STARVATION. It is to CLEAN AND REVITALIZE the one and only body that we have.


These next few days will be difficult and maybe at times unbearable. Knowing that this will be a form of rehab for my body and health is all worth it.  To rid yourself of one of the worst addictions in this world causing many diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, malnutrition, obesity, osteoporosis, anemia, and worse of all heart disease, is the best thing you can ever accomplish. The next best thing is to prevent yourself from contracting any of these diseases. Like I said before, aside from genetics, these diseases are more than reversible, they’re preventable. In the end, this is the best thing I can ever do for myself and my daughter.

There is still time to join. Go visit Portia Joyce’s website (or just click HERE) for more information. Like I said, if you don’t know if this is for you just yet, stick around. I’ll keep you posted on how I am feeling day to day, what I prepare to eat, down to if I ever let myself falter and grab that burger I THINK I want but know I don’t need. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and here on this blog to get up-to-date information on how this detox is working out for me.

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll see that it isn’t that hard to “pick up the pieces” whether you’re turning 30 or even 60.

A Path That Keeps On Giving


My plant-strong journey started over two months ago. With one Engine 2, 28-Day Challenge behind me and another one on its 9th day, I’m feeling positive about this endeavor. Along with the challenges, I have lost 24lbs (without a workout regimen), my cholesterol levels have gone down 175 points, I have more energy in the morning, and an interest a formal education in dietetics is in the works. This new path in my life has not only kept me on a healthier road but has enlightened me on how I can share this unbelievable “cure” of western disease with, literally, the world.

I love this picture of Homer Simpson because he literally captures what most of our country feels healthy living will do to them. I want to prove everyone wrong! Healthy living will be the only thing that keeps us alive WITHOUT complications!

Over at Whole Foods Market, I’m running my second Engine 2, 28-Day Challenge with another incredible group of people willing and wanting to get healthier. My first group of challengers inspired me to continue to teach others about what I know. But not only did they inspire me to keep sharing my knowledge but also to pursue a more in-depth training on dietetics and nutrition. This second group of mine are continuing to empower me to keep striving to learn more and to perfect what I do best, teach people how to cook in a healthier way than what we are accustomed to. I honestly thank God for being able to work at WFM because that’s where I found my interest in healthy cooking and living.

More recently, I received news that made this journey much more real and achievable. Whole Foods Market offers Total Health Immersion programs for their Team Members to teach and empower them on how to improve their lives and health. I am greatly appreciative of their want to better the lives of their Team Members. That’s exactly why I love working for the company, they care about the people who work for them. Anyway, I applied and was chosen to participate in the Engine 2 Total Health Immersion program this coming spring! Needless to say,


To top it off, guess where it takes place?!?! I’ll be eating, living, and breathing plant-strong for an entire week at the Kalani Oceanside Retreat on the Big Island of Hawaii! And if there is still room next to the cherry on top, I’ll be learning from the top experts in the world’s plant-strong community as well as working out with the best trainers in their respectable fields. I wonder if you can tell that I’m really excited?

On a serious note, the best part about me taking on this immersion program in Hawaii is that I can speak to these experts and find out if this path I’m hoping to take to go back to school is the right path to be on. My main goal is to be able to help transform people’s lives to get healthier, to rid them of their chance to contract a western disease, by teaching them how to live a plant-strong lifestyle. Too often, customers come into WFM searching for food on a list given to them by their nutritionist. A nutritionist that they just met after being recently seen by their physician and told that they have to watch their cholesterol, their blood pressure, or that they may be dancing with diabetes. Now when I help shop with a customer and they purchase everything they are allowed to eat, then what? They go home and don’t know what to do with half of these new, healthier, ingredients. That’s my point. They are told what they can and can’t eat but aren’t taught how to live this new way. Now, no disrespect to nutritionists or dietitians, but they aren’t trained to teach people how to live and cook this healthier way. I want to be able to give a patient or client medical advice, explain why they can’t live or eat like they normally do, then show them how to actually attempt to better their lives by showing them how to cook these new foods and make sense out of them.

When I spoke to registered dietician from the Desert Springs hospital in Las Vegas, that worked with me at the JDRFs Hope & Health Symposium at UNLV 3 weeks ago, she shared with me her complications with what she does. She agreed with me that it’s never a complete path medical professionals lead patients on to. They show them what they can or can’t do or eat, but that’s it. More than likely, the patients go home and attempt to change their lives but without proper knowledge on how to utilize these new ingredients and they never stick to their diet. Or worse, they stick to the diet but in an unhealthy manner. That’s where I want to come in. But not only come in at that point, I want to provide clients and patients with the entire treatment. I want to transform Serve M.E. Now into a “heathy living” service where we can diagnose, treat, and teach a patient to live healthier and keep it that way. And as far as I’m concerned, the only way to achieve these results to live plant-strong!


If Firefighters Can, So Can You!

So here’s the skinny on the Engine 2 Diet…

For the best results, GET THE BOOK!!


The diet offers two plant-strong, 28-Day Challenges, the “Fire Cadet” and the “Firefighter.”

The “Firefighter” challenge hits the ground running by eliminating meats, dairy, and processed oils from day one. You live a plant-strong diet from the get-go and start to substitute your old favorite ingredients with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes which will become your new favorite ingredients.

The “Fire Cadet” challenge is a less rigorous program where you slowly eliminate the three food groups week by week.
WEEK ONE: Challengers remove dairy from their diets. That includes all forms of cow’s milk as well as cheese, which Rip describes as “the greatest source of saturated fat.” Best recommended substitutions are nut milks, (almond, rice, soy, and coconut) hemp milk, and rice milk. If you add nutritional yeast flakes to any dish, there can be a slight resemblance in taste to cheese.
WEEK TWO: It’s time to exclude meats, including fish and and all kinds of seafood. This by far was my hardest exclusion in the entire diet. Animal protein, however good you think it is for you, is the worst kind because of its highly acidic levels and it’s cancer causing traits.
WEEK THREE: The elimination of processed oils, even olive oil, are next. I make sure I talk about olive oil because up until now we have all been told that it’s the source of the least amount of monounsaturated fat. As least the amount is, we have to remember that it is still pure fat! One tablespoon contains 120 calories from fat. Can you imagine how much we actually use in recipes that we make? I know I used to use it as much as I could, why not? It’s olive oil right? Think again!
WEEK FOUR: This week is the time to reflect on everything you’ve given up and understand why it has changed you for the better. This is the transition period where you change from “dietary extravagance to dietary excellence!” This is also the time where you start to see how “plant-strong” you want to be for the rest of your life.

Both these 28-Day challenges are accompanied by plenty of support material online including a 28-Day Meal Plan that literally breaks down each day with a meal guide, recipes, and shopping lists. It’s practically fool proof. Along with all three food groups being eliminated from your diet, you are going to have to stray away from processed foods and products that are high in sodium and added sugar. When shopping you want to look at the ingredient lists for that key word “whole.” Whole wheat, whole oats, whole quinoa, and whole everything. The less processed the better!


Like I have been constantly stating, THIS IS NOT A WEIGHT LOSS diet, at least primarily. Will you lose weight? Of course you will but this diet doesn’t target weight loss initially. It targets lowering your cholesterol levels and reducing your chances for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. So you have to exercise in order to see the best results. Just like my pediatrician always told me, “EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE!” Whether its a daily walking regimen in the morning and a brisk walk in the afternoon or a yoga session and a Zumba workout at your local gym. Supplement this diet with physical activity.

Now I know that in order to really survive this challenge or live this lifestyle you are going to have to rely on cooking for yourself a lot more. Was it hard for me? Of course not but it was still challenging and time consuming for me. But in order to see the best results, we really need to try. The book includes 100+ plant-strong recipes that are all delicious and especially easy. There are plenty of other plant-based cookbooks out there but just be mindful of everything you are to eliminate and watch out for. I have plenty of recipes I developed myself that I’ll be posting so keep posted with my blog if you so dare.


Lastly, FIND A PARTNER OR SUPPORT GROUP! If you want to make it easier on yourself, try your best in finding a partner to take on this challenge. Trust me, it’s hard enough to do it with 20 other team members at my Whole Foods Market, I can’t imagine how hard it would be to do it alone. You need someone to help you destroy those cravings as well as give each other uplifting support. If you need one, I am here for you. I’m only a click away on FACEBOOK or a tweet away on TWITTER or comment me here on my blog. I can provide you with recipes, cooking tips, advice, and even motivational talks if you need. I know how much support from family and friends help so if I can be any of that, I wouldn’t mind a bit. This is how much I believe in this diet.


Recommended reading: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole by Drs. Matthew Lederman & Alona Pulde, and the movie Forks Over Knives (available on Netflix)

It Works!

So it’s been thirty days since the new year has come upon us again. We all decided to start that resolution to change our lives. How has it been? Did we even start? Have we jumped off already? Do we feel like it was too ridiculous of a resolution to keep on going? Well I’m hoping you all are on top of your resolutions or at least started them.

For two and a half weeks after Christmas, I was in NY/NJ enjoying a vacation with my daughter. Other than sightseeing and enjoying time with family, my most favorite thing to do on vacation is eat! Who doesn’t love to eat? Well, knowing that in a few weeks I’d be on a very rigorous and strict diet, I thought why not indulge? Well indulge did I do! Authentic pizzerias, traditional Filipino food, diners, fried foods, and White Castle were on my list to enjoy while on vacation. Hey, they were all foods I missed living out in Las Vegas and all food I’ll most likely miss once I start my diet. Mind you, two months prior were the holidays, so I definitely have had my share of calorie-filled foods and a diet was what was inevitable.


So on the 16th of this month, I began my Engine 2 Diet from author and firefighter, Rip Esselstyn. Rip is the son of the highly acclaimed, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a pioneer in heart disease prevention as well as an advocate for a whole food, plant-based diet. Well, I jumped into the Firefighter 28-Day challenge where I eliminated meats (animal protein), dairy, cheese, and processed oils from day one. I thought, “If I’m going to be extreme, I might as well jump in head first!” Well, along with about twenty team members and a handful of customers at the Whole Foods Market in Henderson, NV, we started this challenge head-strong. Everything, burgers, pizza, sushi, traditional pasta, traditional salad dressings, and all I loved to eat and cook was out the door.


Now, up until now, I read the books, watched the documentaries, and understood the lifestyle. I knew what I was getting myself into. But do we really know what we get ourselves into until our lives were immersed in it? So needless to say, it’s been a hard two weeks. I have had major cravings, feelings of hunger, and just frustration with it all. But that’s what a “challenge” is, isn’t it? Hard, frustrating at times, maybe even…challenging? Haha! However hard it has been, I’ve been moving forward head-strong and living it up. Whole grain everything, oil-less vinaigrettes and “stir-frys,” large salads filled with green leafy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, Rip’s Big Bowls in the morning and baked tofu and vegetable sandwiches for lunch, I do it all!

Diet is defined as the sum of food consumed by an organism.

Now like I’ve been telling everyone, this is NOT a weight-loss diet. This is a heart-healthy, disease-preventing, and cholesterol-lowering diet. It’s a whole foods, plant-strong diet that changes your lifestyle for the better. Will you see a dramatic weight-loss while on this diet? Well if you incorporate active daily workouts, of course you will. But it’s needs to be supplemental to what you eat. You need to add both activity and plant-based food in order to see the best results from the Engine 2 Diet. My next question going through my mind was “Is this really working FOR ME?”

On day ten of this challenge, I decided to take a simple cholesterol and triglyceride blood test because I haven’t done so yet. In order to see the best results from this diet, it’s all in the blood! After a 6-hour fast (and a Sonic dinner the night before), I took my test. I felt that let me try and produce a horrible test so at least I’ll definitely see how good this diet can be. Being that it has only been ten days on this challenge I didn’t expect much. Well was I wrong! I won’t share the exact results but let me put it this way, never, in my wildest imaginations would I ever think my total cholesterol would be that astonishingly healthy. In less than two weeks? No! Remember, I ate all that crap in NY/NJ before hand and I had all the turkey, prime rib, sides, and desserts during the holidays. Other than me having to work on my triglycerides and HDL, it was still at a “average” rating. It was minimal work that I had to do in order to get those two scores better. Now I won’t share the results with you, I just want you to believe me. This darn diet WORKS!

I am currently at 244 pounds (6 pounds lost since the 16th) I am clinically obese, have a BMI that would have doctors worried, and have a family history of Type 2 Diabetes. I am definitely unhealthy and need a change. I will have to advocate that THIS IS THE CHANGE I NEED! And if these results are what I am looking forward to at the end of this, maybe even for the rest of my life, why not? I can’t wait to share my final results with you all. I’m excited to know that you will all be shocked. If you’re interested in this diet and all the results that a whole food, plant-based diet has to offer, contact me. I can provide you will all the materials to better inform you and hopefully change your life. It has changed mine for sure!