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Ashley Melillo

Ashley Melillo

Blogger & Recipe Mastermind

Ashley Melillo is the writer, photographer, and recipe-creator behind Blissful Basil, a blog dedicated to unearthing the happiest side of life through wholesome foods. Being a school psychologist by day and a vegan food blogger by night, Ashley strives to incorporate a wide array of plant-based foods into her recipes in order to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Get To Know Me
What first motivated you to pursue a healthier, cleaner diet?

Although my central motivation for pursuing a vegetarian and now vegan diet is ethically-based, it’s the combination of my love for animals and the physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits that have kept me committed to the lifestyle. As a long-time Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) warrior, I’ve found that regular exercise and a healthier, cleaner diet have been the most effective methods of alleviating my winter-month blues and anxiety. I also feel more energized and clear-headed eating predominantly whole, unprocessed foods.

Pick six words to describe “healthy living”

Balanced
Harmonious
Imperfect
Self-Compassionate
Mindful
Respectful

If you had to choose one, what would be your favorite fruit and favorite vegetable and why?

This is a tough question! I’d have to go with bananas for my favorite fruit, because their versatility makes them a staple in my diet. For vegetable, I’m going to break the rules of botany and say that tomatoes are my favorite. I love their bright acidity, and there is truly nothing better than a well-grown, vine-ripened heirloom tomato that has been generously flecked with sea salt.

Do you have a guilty pleasure food, and if so, what is it?

I love doughy, chewy white pita bread. I usually turn to minimally-processed, gluten-free alternatives because my body responds better to eating that way; however, once in a while there is nothing better than lots of warm, freshly-baked pita bread.

What type of physical activities do you participate in and why?

Yoga and a mix of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight lifting are my most-frequented approaches, but I also love running and cycling on the Chicago lakeshore during the summer. I tend to rely on yoga to relax, reset, and balance, whereas I lean on more rigorous activities like HIIT when I’m in need of a quick energy boost.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering making positive changes to their diet, exercise regimen or lifestyle in general?

Start small, be consistent, and always demonstrate self-compassion. Examine where you’re at with healthy eating and/or an exercise regimen and take one small step in the right direction from that point. Positive changes are easier to sustain when they’re incrementally introduced, and it’s okay to change slowly. Don’t underestimate the power of consistently adhering to small positive changes, because they’re incredibly powerful as a collective unit. Perhaps most importantly, encourage and challenge yourself to make positive changes but never at the expense of your self-worth. Missteps are part of the process; accept them as such without judgment and move forward with self-compassion and determination.

Anything else important we should know about you or that you wanted to mention?

I am always trying to make changes to my life in order to be the happiest and healthiest version of myself. I think this is an important thing for everyone to do!

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