The Power of Inclusion ~ A Story of One Woman on a Mission

“Taking care of my little plot with mindfulness, awareness and consistent presence is the best I can do to help mother earth and mankind. Being a responsible citizen of the world, taking care of my family and my health creates one less crisis for an already burdened system.” ~ Cheryl Gittens-Jones, Author, ‘Sister Survivor’ and my friend

As I am watching the women and men give speeches in Washington D.C., I am moved to continue to share in the grassroots positive action that is gaining such momentum around the world. Large or small, action matters. Voices, big and small, matter.

Grassroots action is the only way to set into motion the potential for larger political change. This action is the bridge from grassroots projects to the lager complicated issues that affect almost everyone on this planet.

Let’s lead by example, use our skills and voices to build the bridge for top down, systemic change.


I want to share a powerful example of grassroots action that inspires and supports positive change.

Last week, I made a trek to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to attend the Gluten Free Expo for the second time. Last year, I met Dr. Theresa Nicassio at the Expo. She was one of the vendors and, on a whim, I purchased her book YUM: Plant-based recipes for a gluten-free diet. I read YUM on the ferry ride home to Vancouver Island. I was immediately struck by the gravity of the content. Not because it was a heavy read but because, for the first time, I felt like I was reading information that made sense.

Frankly, YUM was my first plant-based cookbook. It was the first time (or the first time in a very long time) reading a bold message of inclusivity in any genre; a book  that overtly stated the intention of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who suffer from disease, food allergies or food sensitivities. It was a book for anyone about using food (plants) as a way to heal and nourish the body; a book that acknowledged the difficulties inherent in changing one’s diet; a book that acknowledged human love of pleasure and preference to avoid pain; a book that made growing my own food seem possible.

YUM accepts, embraces and honours these inherent elements of human nature….it acknowledges life as it is, instead of rejecting, judging, or trying to control it (efforts that are typically futile and not sustainable anyway). ~YUM pg. 2


This is not just a cookbook, it is a blueprint for the way forward in all realms.  Whether intentional or not, Theresa not only made her debut in the culinary world, she blasted a way for a new way of thinking. In my opinion, YUM’s underlying message and motivation is really about social, political, economic and environmental justice, healing and love.

It is Theresa’s infectious light, positivity, love and shear determination that I want to briefly share with you. Her life and work have inspired me and opened my mind to the world of infinite possibilities. She is a renegade and this is my way to honour a woman who has inspired me to step outside fear and self-limitation and to embrace the power and responsibility I have to live out the values of acceptance, justice and equality and pass them on to my children.


Theresa’s love and care permeates the book. Her writing sharpened my vision for my future, including my blog and writing endeavors as well as my eating habits and overall approach to stewardship and care for our planet. YUM honed my vision of vibrant health, vitality, and longevity as well as the desire to help others achieve the same.

Soon after meeting Theresa, I had the pleasure of interviewing her. Theresa was my first interview for my blog.

Almost exactly one year later, I am so thrilled and humbled to call Theresa my friend. After several conversations over the phone and email exchanges, we made plans to meet up at the Gluten Free Expo and to check out Zend Conscious Lounge in Vancouver.

Theresa says she’s a small town girl from California but her presence left us starstruck and amazed. First of all, she is a calm force of nature (so is water) and second, she looks at least a decade younger (BTW this seems to be a theme with these wonderful women who eat plant-based diets – they all look at least 10 years younger than their chronological age).  In her humble way, Theresa responded to our adoration with “I’m just a normal person on a mission to inspire and help people”.

powerofnature2happyfeet (2).jpg

True to her words, Theresa spent the entire Expo doing Facebook Live with various new and start-up companies, connecting new entrepreneurs who are engaged in sustainable product development and taking in all the flavours.

Theresa’s gratitude and appreciation for life is palpable. She used food as her medicine after suffering for many years with autoimmune diseases, debilitating pain and uncertainty about her future. During her toughest days, Theresa’s goal was to make it to her oldest daughter’s high school graduation. She now shares that which she has found through her struggles with those around her selflessly.

The seriousness and ethereal beauty of her book which she painstakingly and loving brought into the world – taking all the photographs and carefully developing the recipes – is balanced by her gregarious, easy-going nature and her predilection for being a ‘shit disturber’ with a naughty sense of humor.

Since the launch of her book, Theresa has traveled to China and to Germany, won the Best in the World Gourmand Cook Book Award in the category of Diet as well as many other accolades for her tireless work.

It turns out that YUM was merely a platform for Theresa’s highly contagious spirit and determination to be of service. She is not only the ‘inclusive chef’, she is an example for humanity. Inclusion is a rare commodity and an ideal rarely espoused by society. Those who model such behavior and uphold such a personal philosophy are extraordinary.

These days, Theresa is busy with her new radio show, The Dr. Theresa Nicassio Show on, as well as writing key-note speeches, giving talks to aspiring, would be self-published authors and, as I witnessed first hand at the Gluten Free Expo, a wind in the sails of up and coming, fledgling companies and businesses.

Through her radio show and her Facebook Lives, she gives a voice to those who have not found theirs just yet. This all positive talk radio show casts a weekly spotlight on and celebrates everyday heroes; regular people from all walks of life who take grassroots action to help the world be a better place. This opportunity to do a radio show presented itself about two weeks before it was go time. I’m glad Theresa seized the opportunity to bring her hopeful message to a new and larger audience.


Topics include the power of art, teaching kids with mindfulness, the impact of sharing joy, environmentalism, healthy aging, mood & brain health and list goes on. All broadcasts, starting from December 2, 2016, can be heard on demand here. Live shows are broadcast every Monday at Noon Pacific Time.

“When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” ~ G. K. Chesterton, Novelist & Poet 1874-1936



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