In 2009, local food blogger Sherrie Castellano was living out in Colorado, teaching special education at a private school.

"I was physically and emotionally in the worst place I've ever been," Castellano recalled.

Physically, Castellano was suffering from a number of digestive issues including, stomach aches, bloating and acid reflux. Emotionally, she was dealing with anxiety, depression and ADHD.

"I noticed a lot of my students were eating these strict diets — eliminating gluten, added sugars, artificial dyes, etc. — and that's when I kind of put it together that what you eat can radically change the way you feel," said Castellano.

Castellano decided to go gluten-free and adopt a largely plant-based diet. (Though she does admit to occasionally eating healthy animal-based proteins like wild caught salmon and grass-fed beef.) In the five years since her diet change, Castellano feels healthier and has been able to manage her emotional and physical issues without the help of prescription medications.

"I don't want anyone to think that this is a cure all or a means to get off prescription medication," Castellano warns. "It was just a huge benefit that happened over time with the help of my physician and therapist."

Eventually, Castellano got tested for celiac disease and though she is not officially diagnosed, she did test positive for the celiac gene.

"I treat it as if I do have the disease, so eliminating gluten isn't really a choice," said Castellano. "I know gluten-free is really controversial, but for me, it's changed everything about the way I feel."

Through this journey to wellness, Castellano became obsessed with nutrition and decided to pursue a career in health coaching. In 2013, she graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a certified health and wellness coach. She started the blog With Food + Love as a way of documenting her experience with her new diet.

Today, Castellano considers herself a "veggie fanatic" and is obsessed with Philly Foodworks, her local community supported agriculture. Much of the produce from Philly Foodworks is grown in urban gardens or on Amish farms out in Lancaster.

"I'm totally in love with my CSA; I get a weekly share and use all of their veggies as inspiration for my daily recipes," said Castellano.

The food blogger considers healthy eating not just a diet, but a way of life.

"I spend a lot of time in the kitchen so meal prep and cooking are not something that I need to cut corners on. I think it's important to enjoy the process."

Below, in her own words, Castellano shares her typical day of healthy eating:

7:30 a.m.: Cup of warm water with apple cider vinegar.

"I start every day with a mug of warm water {not hot} and 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. This tonic is the perfect way to wake up my insides. It stimulates circulation, aids in detoxifying the liver and promotes a healthy digestive system. If you find apple cider vinegar a little harsh, try adding a teaspoon of honey to make the drink more palatable."

8 a.m.: Garlicky beet green open-faced egg sandwich.

"I try to eat within 30 minutes of waking. Some mornings I'll have a bowl of these steel cut oats and some days I'll be in the mood for eggs. I am totally obsessed with the farm-fresh eggs that I get in my CSA share. Since I eat a largely plant-based diet, I need to be conscious that I am getting enough vitamin B12, eggs are the perfect source for this.
Today I made this Garlicky Beet Green Open-faced Egg Sandwich, which I threw together in under 10 minutes."

9 a.m.: Cup of tea.

"Although I really love and appreciate a good cup of coffee, I don't drink it most days. I typically have a cup of earl grey tea with a splash of almond milk after breakfast."

12 p.m.: Green juice and a handful of cashews.

"After I return home from yoga class, I restore my energy with a green juice and a handful of cashews. Drinking your green juice with a small serving of healthy fat, like a 1/4 avocado or some nuts will help maximize your vitamin absorption. I almost always make my green juice at home using this recipe, but if I'm out and about my favorite spot to snag it a green juice is at Yellow Juice Bar on 20th and Samson."

1:30 p.m.: Red curry butternut squash stew.

"For lunch I slurped down a giant bowl of this Red Curry Butternut Squash Stew. It's packed full of veggies, greens and sprouted beans - my go-to plant-based protein source."

4 p.m.: Apple.

"In the afternoons, I snack on fruit — whatever is in season — and apples are having a moment in my home right now.
A wise professor of mine once said, 'If you aren't hungry enough to snack on an apple, than perhaps you shouldn't be snacking.'"

6:30 p.m.: Roasted root veggie fajitas.

"In my home, bean tacos and Roasted Root Veggie Fajitas are dinner staples. We eat them at least once a week and they are so easy to throw together. We finish off every dinner with a generous portion of salad greens tossed lightly with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Knowing this part of the meal is coming keeps us from overeating or reaching for seconds."

8 p.m.: Red wine and chocolate.

"I treated myself to a glass of red wine and a small square of extra dark chocolate."


Read more Goal Getter for healthy eating, weight loss and more.