Getting Healthy with Valentina Zelyaeva

I’ve always been curious about…well just about everything and everyone.

Some days I spend my time reading people’s Wikipedia pages. Whether it be a figure of the past or present. I find people, and what makes them who they are, fascinating. 

This desire to know about people, especially those I admire, has led to this revelation. To ask them.

My first interview is with someone I have followed on social media for quite a while. Not only is she gorgeous, but she is dedicated to leading a life of health and wellness in a fast paced world.

Valentina Zelyaeva is a successful print and runway model, as well as the face of Ralph Lauren When not on the job she’s sharing all she knows and continues to learn about health and wellness on her blog. (It’s amazing, check it out)

Originally from Russia, she currently lives in New York City. If you check out her Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you will see that she enjoys juices, smoothies and nature. But because she is a role model of mine, I wanted to know more.

Valentina was so kind to answer any questions I had and obviously I had to share them with all of you!


Were you always so conscious of healthy and green living? If not, what were some influential factors?

Growing up in Russia Every summer my parents took  me and my sister to visit our grandparents who lived in a village in Siberia. everything was grown in their backyard. So i grew up with a strong connection to earth. at the beginning of my modeling years I lost this connection, but luckily I re-discovered my love for organic, mostly plant-based lifestyle. I live in New York where everything is available and accessible all year round. For me its all about a choice: i can choose to buy a skin care that is fancy and trendy or I choose an organic , eco-friendly, cruelty-free brand. Same goes with food, clothing, bedding, pet food etc. I think everyone should be educated, everyone deserves a right to know how your T-shirt is made, where your food comes from etc. I encourage people to be curious, get info and stay aware.

You’re a such a successful model, so your schedule must be crazy! What are some things that you do to keep yourself balanced, even when your schedule may not be?

I wake up early so I have my time in the morning to do some yoga stretch, meditation and prepare  a healthy breakfast. I may take snacks with me to work (dark chocolate, fresh fruits, tea yerba mate) so i have a healthy food to snack on. But nothing works better then 1h and half of a good yoga class after long day of shooting. 

On a day-to-day basis, what does your menu look like? (go-to meals? favorite snacks?)

Pre-breakfast: probiotics with full glass of water mixed with 1 Table Spoon spirulina.


a bowl of Purely Elizabeth oatmeal (made with quinoa, amaranth, flex seeds) made with almond milk, topped with Valentina Foodfresh berries and raw honey and a cup of matcha green tea or espresso;


nutritious smoothie (kale, cucumber, parsley, blueberries, flax seeds, goji berries, strawberries, hemp seeds)

Lunch: zaru-soba ( its a Japanese cold noodles made with buckwheat); 


 fish with steamed vegetables.

Snack: apricots, berries, figs (all those fruits in Summer)

Dinner: mixed veggie miso soup;


 blended raw soup (cucumber, broccoli, kale, spinach, bell pepper, garlic, sea salt, olive oil.. combinations are endless)

Do you have any tips for our readers on how to stay healthy when traveling?

Eat whats fresh and local. I also don’t stress about food when I travel, because not everywhere you can order a kale salad with green juice. I drink lots of water, and take superfoods and healthy snacks with me (chlorella, walnuts, spirulina, chia seeds)

On your blog you’ve posted about natural beauty remedies, what is one that you absolutely could not live without?

Rose Water (Me too!) and Jojoba Oil

Valentina Pincha

Although your healthy lifestyle must keep you in top form, is there anything special you do to get ready for shoots and runway shows?

I do yoga and train with a personal trainer. Before a shoot I try to eat light and have an early dinner so I wake up rested and fresh. 

Speaking of runway shows, it’s probably a stressful (but fun!) time of year. How do you keep calm during all the chaos?

I just have fun with it! I connect with many people and I love this kind environment. Once the shows are over I book 1 week off just to relax, I book a massage, mani-pedi time, I sleep a lot and eat my favorite healthy foods. 

Last but not least, what’s something you can share with us that’s not wellness related? (Examples: favorite books, music, favorite indulgence, go-to outfit?)

Just finished reading Shantaram. Amazing book! very well written, engaging story and complex characters – love this kind of books. 

Favorite music is Deva Premal & Miten. I can listen to them all my life and never get tired. Their Music is made with love and radiates love.

Thank you Valentina for sharing this with us! Be sure to check out Valentina’s blog, Instagram and Facebook!

Until next time…

The Wellness Maven

Add More Movement To Your Day, In an Unexpected Way

Happy Sunday!

You may be wondering where I have been. The truth is I launched myself into a place I never envisioned myself being. The finance industry.

I entered the world that most of you live in everyday. Sitting at a desk from 8-5, two computer screens blaring in my face.

Needless to say, adjusting and incorporating healthy living is a little different on this clock. However, slowly but surely I am finding my way.

Which brings about my Wellness Maven Revival…HALLELUJAH

I used to give advice to people in this position, I made it sound so much easier than knowing exactly what it was like to be in that position.

Well, now I am. As I keep learning I will continue to share whatever knowledge I can about how to live in the modern day 8-5, 8-7, 9-9 world that we live in.

First topic up for discussion?

Stretch Breaks!

How many of you, like me, are pretty much shackled to your desk for majority of the day?

Mhmm. Yeah. Drives me freaking mental.

Not only is this trend in the corporate world unhealthy, it also causes us to gain weight, is terrible for our circulation, causes obesity, weight gain around the midsection, and is straight up unnatural.

After a full day of desk sitting I feel like I am about to crawl out of my own skin.

So, whenever I head to the bathroom I be sure to give myself a little stretch break.

~I reach my arms up over my head and bend over to either side, lengthening out through my side ribs.

~I bend down and touch my toes to get the circulation moving in the other direction.

~I do some standing spinal twists to get some movement along my spine.

~I may even do 15-20 squats.

All while being in the bathroom stall.

Odd, I know. But anything to get some blood pumping!

If you’re an avid water drinker (mucho importante as well), you should be making plenty of trips to the restroom, which adds up to quite a bit of stretching and up to 100 squats during the day!

It can also makes a plain, old bathroom break seem more exciting and you will probably return to your desk with an added boost of energy.

Give it a try and let me know how you feel in the comments below.

Have questions? Ask me below or shoot me a message.

Stay Loose,

The Wellness Maven

The Most Epic Chia Pudding Ever

The title is not a lie. This is the most epic chia pudding ever. So long are the days of watery, slip off your spoon puddings. This pudding can hold its own.

Now I must warn you, there is a little bit of dairy in this recipe. I’ve been having a pretty scandalous love affair with Siggi’s yogurt lately. I can’t help it. It’s so sinfully creamy and delicious. I found myself eating one daily, sometimes twice! I’m not ready to give it up. It’s not bothering my stomach, it’s made with natural ingredients, and it has plenty of probiotics! Until I learn how to make this on my own (And hopefully with coconut milk) it’s going to have to do.

But please do not turn away just yet, you can easily make this with a non-dairy alternative. And I have also heard that Chia Pudding made with Canned Coconut Milk is pretty delish.

Epic Chia PuddingChia Epic

Serves 1

  • 1 cup almond/cashew/coconut/hemp milk
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp yogurt (organic greek, sheeps, goat, coconut)
  • 1 tbsp 100% maple syrup (or stevia, coconut sugar)
  • Optional: 1 probiotic supplement powder


Place all contents in a bowl or mason jar and whisk, either using a whisk or fork. Whisk until all is combined. Now leave it alone for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, whisk or stir again. Leave it alone for another 5. After the next 5, whisk or stir again. Continue this process until you get the desired consistency. To make this process easier I place all the ingredients in a mason jar, close the lid and shake it every 5-10 minutes. Works like a charm.

I recommend making this at night, stirring/shaking it every five minutes. Then just let it sit and absorb overnight. In the morning you will have deliciously thick chia pudding.

This chia pudding is glorious on it’s own, but please by all means feel free to add toppings.

My favorites are berries, walnuts and cinnamon. Maybe even an extra little drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Maven Morning Drinks: Part 1

A few weeks ago I made a series of epically amazing morning drinks to start off my day.

Each one seemed to be better than the last.

Since I don’t drink coffee, I sometimes have a feeling of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when walking past the Starbucks in Grand Central.

But not with these bad boys.

I thought I would share these delightful recipes as a 3 part series called Maven Morning Drinks.

Beginning with Part 1, I thought I would share something so healing and so delicious you’ll be shocked to find out what the main ingredient is.

Morning Golden Mylk

Golden Mylk

I know, drinking something bright yellow doesn’t scream scrumdiddlyumtious. But trust me, this thing is good. The main ingredient in this morning cup of deliciousness is Turmeric, the magical healing herb of southeast India. Turmeric is incredibly anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. Because of this it has been used medicinally for centuries. It has been known to be used as a remedy for fevers, can delay liver damage, slows the spreading and growth of certain cancers, relieves arthritis (an inflammatory disease), and has even been linked to preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

Because of all these benefits this drink will set you off on the right foot, continuing to help you remove toxins from your body and make you feel radiant from the inside out (I mean it is golden).


  • 1.5 cups non-dairy milk
  • 2 Tbsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 SweetLeaf stevia packet
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil *unrefined and organic

What to do:

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan over low-medium heat. With a whisk, stir the ingredients together until well combined while heating. Whisk vigorously to make it super fluffy. Once warmed, pour into a mug or mason jar, sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon and enjoy!

*Caution: I must note that turmeric, while it is delicious and great to cook with, tends to stain (but not forever). So be careful with your clothing and be sure to wipe it up immediately if it happens to spill on countertops. 

Let me see your Golden Mylk on Instagram! Post it with the hashtag #MavenMorningDrinks

With Golden Love,

Your Maven

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Sugar Free Baby


When I tell people that I’ve gone “sugar free” I usually get the same reaction.

“Wow, good for you”
“I could never”

Sugar is something that we all struggle with. Whether its processed or in its natural form, we all can’t help but have a little love affair with it.

Whether we’re aware of it or not.

Saying no to sugar can be a little scary. Almost like when you’re giving up meat or gluten for the first time. Panic strikes and your mind starts running through a list of foods you can’t have.

To make a change in your diet stick for the long term you have to be exited about it.

I was excited to see what a sugar free diet would do for my body, mind and spirit.

Sugar is no friend to the human body.

It causes inflammation, rots our teeth, has been linked to just about every form of cancer, can cause diabetes, UTI’s and candida overgrowth. According to research, 1/3 of us have candida overgrowth which cause a myriad of symptoms. A couple of years ago a colonic (TMI moment?) told me that I had a candida overgrowth. When I googled the symptoms it became even clearer that it was true. Yet the idea of giving up sugar scared me so I never did anything about it until now.

Being sugar free can also help naturally balance your blood sugar back to its natural state. Since my early 20’s I have struggled with imbalanced blood sugar. I’m what experts would say is “hypoglycemic” meaning that when I eat sugar, my body eats it up (quickly), has a rocking party (sugar high), then quickly crashes. That’s when my blood sugar plummets and I begin to experience symptoms such as sweating, blurry eyesight, lethargy and weakness. For a while, I thought this was just how I was. I got low blood sugar, no big deal. I would carry snacks on me to be sure that anytime I was feeling a bit weak I had something handy to nibble on.

Since becoming sugar free at least 90% of the time, I have found a better way, which is involves no blood sugar drops at all. When you give up sugar your body learns how to regulate it on its own without any stimulus from outside sources.

Looks like my body is smarter than me after all…

A sugar free life is far from boring. In fact, creating sugar free foods and snacks has been so much fun!

I wanted to share them with you.

*Don’t be scared of the fat. You’ll notice that these recipes tend to carry a lot of fat–the good kind–since being sugar freeI have been compensating with more healthy fats and proteins in my diet.

Apple Pie in a Bowl

1 Organic Golden Delicious Apple
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp Oats
1 packet Sweet Leaf Stevia
1 tsp raw almond butter (ingredients should only be almonds)

Place all ingredients except the almond butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Stir the ingredients while you cook them to disperse the seasonings. Cook until the apples become tender.

Serve in a bowl and top with a teaspoon of raw almond butter.

Glowing Green Sugar Free Smoothie

1/2 Avocado
1 cup Almond Milk
1 packet stevia
1 tsp Maca powder

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. If your avocado and almond milk aren’t stored in the fridge you may want to add some ice so that it is cold and refreshing. Bulk this up by adding gluten free oats and frozen spinach.

Dairy Free + Sugar Free Chocolate Ice Cream

1 can full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
1-2 packets of sweet leaf stevia
1 tablespoon of cacao powder (or more if you like rich chocolate)

Let coconut milk sit in the fridge overnight. The next day, open the can (DO NOT SHAKE) and scoop out only the fluffy white part from the can. It should be pretty thick. Place in a bowl and combine with other ingredients. Whisk until they are well combined. Place the mixture in the freezer and at 15 min intervals go back and whisk the mixture again. Keep repeating this step until you get to your desired consistency. I stopped at soft serve 🙂 .

Try out the recipes and show them to me on Instagram. Use the hashtag #SugarFreeMaven.

With Much Sugar Free Love,

Your Maven

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Plant Based Protein Proof!

This is often a discussion I find myself in with my animal-eating friends.

I love when these info-graphics come out because I can finally show them REAL proof of all the amazing plant based protein sources out there!

To make Meatless Mondays fun try incorporating one of these every Monday. This way you’re always switching it up. Maybe you’ll even be excited to try another one on Tuesday, then Wednesday and so on….

Force of nature

Happy meatless monday

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing! One day a week is a great start.

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Pizza With Purpose

Pizza 2

Pizza is a staple of the SAD (Standard American Diet).

Ask a kid what their favorite food is and most likely you will hear them tell you pizza.

In a place like New York, ask a person on their street their favorite kind and you will hear answers like Sicilian, White, Pepperoni, Hawaiian, Buffalo Chicken or good ol’ Margarita.

If only pizza loved us as much as we do in return….

Most pizza that we consume is made of processed, inflammation inducing flour and mucus building cheese.

Gluten and dairy are two highly inflammatory foods that take a toll on our blood sugar and immune system. As you may know, majority of people are allergic or have sensitivities to one or both of these items!

To me, that is a big red flag signaling us to not consume it.

But I want you to know that there are still fun ways to enjoy pizza (and a little bit of gluten if you have no sensitivities or allergies) It is also so much more fun to make it on your own!

What you need:

  • Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (can be found in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores or in the frozen aisle in Whole Foods)
  • Sauce of choice–this can be traditional tomato or you could use olive oil and garlic (my favorite)
  • Toppings of choice–Endless opportunities: Spinach, Mushrooms, Kale, Broccolini, more Garlic, Veggie Sausage, Organic Cage Free Turkey Sausage, Peppers or Onions.
  • Optional: Cheese (choose from Organic Goat or Mozzarella. Vegetarian/Non-Dairy Options: Daiya, Nutritional Yeast or Cashew Cheese)
  • Gluten Free Dough Option: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Dough (super easy to make)

What to do:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees
  • Let your dough sit out until room temperature (If making Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free, follow directions on package). If it is not room temperature it will not stretch out the way you would like it too. 
  • Shape the dough onto a baking pan or pizza sheet. This can either be traditional round, oblong, rectangle…go crazy.
  • Next prep your toppings: If you’re using veggies saute them lightly in a pan with coconut oil, season as you prefer. Do the same with the veggie sausage or turkey sausage. Tip: If using olive oil and garlic as your “sauce” roast about 8 garlic cloves in the oven on a baking sheet while it is preheating. Once golden brown place the garlic on your uncooked dough then drizzle with more olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Now the fun part…add your toppings! There are no rules with pizza so add them in any order you would like. Get the kids involved and let them take the wheel. If you want to keep it traditional it usually it goes (as we know 😉 ): Sauce, veggies, cheese (optional).
  • Place your pizza pie in the oven and let cook until the edges are golden brown (about 15 minutes)

Serve with a side of greens and you have a wholesome and delicious meal that everyone will enjoy.

With Love and Pizza Pie,

Your Maven

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