Finding Empowerment in the New Year
The Ashland Beacon
It’s the start of 2023, which means people will be setting their resolutions for the year. Losing weight, drinking less, quitting smoking, and exercising seem to be common resolutions made for the New Year. How long will it be before those are broken? Perhaps, our expectations are too high or we don’t consider these resolutions to be maintainable.
Viviane Khounlavong, who is a mom, yoga therapist, instructor, trainer, health coach and reiki master, is starting 2023 with a new venture and resolution to help others be more health conscious. Her motto is “strengthen, empower, motivate.” Khounlavong wants to encourage others to create self-worth, find positive energy, and be able to reach their goals for 2023. Khounlavong exclaimed, “Everyone is pretty awesome! I want them to believe it too!”
How can we empower ourselves? Khounlavong finds that if we simply start with one thing, such as trying a new healthy food or a workout, it can make all the difference. Khounlavong’s business Yommaste, with business partner Gavin Harbolt, will be serving the Tri-State area in a food truck setting with healthy meal prep and juice bar. The name Yommaste is a play on words so to speak, with reference to Khounlavong’s practice of yoga with the words namaste and ohm, which is the universal breath that binds us together in yoga, and the word yummy, referencing her yummy food. Khounlavong has been doing meal prep since 2013 for marathon runners, athletes, and busy parents. She wanted to increase the business with more visibility and make life easier for everyone.
Khounlavong has always enjoyed cooking, so it was the perfect balance for her to start the Yommaste business. Khounlavong remarked, “For me, this was a natural progression. Cooking, eating and working out are all a balance for me. I get so much joy out of seeing people’s faces when I cook. Food can bring people together.”
For so many people, good food is a weakness. The thought of meal prep brings negative thoughts of paying a fortune, having to constantly eat the same thing, as well as the food being bland and unusual. But Khounlavong has seen success with even picky eaters and children. Khounlavong’s seven-year-old daughter and her friends all enjoy the food, especially the noodles. Prior to Khounlavong’s soft business opening, she had various people to her home to try her food truck menu and meal prep items. She was expecting complaints, but everyone was complimentary of her yummy dishes. Khounlavong stated, “ I naturally gravitate toward healthy food. It’s what I enjoy, but I like my food to have flavor and taste good. For some reason, there is stigma on healthy food being bland. We have to broaden our pallet and try different spices. Healthy food can taste great. It’s not true that you have to spend a lot of money to eat healthy. With my meal prep, you are covering all your basis with protein, carbs and vegetables for $10-$12 a meal. Two people cannot even eat fast food now for under $20.”
Meal prep is simply all about planning. Khounlavong explained, “When we don’t plan, we make poor decisions. When you don’t plan, there are no set goals in your life. That means, we make even more wrong decisions. If we don’t make a plan of what we are going to eat for the week, it’s easier to just roll through the drive-thru. Instead of going home and trying to find the time to cook a meal, I have a meal already prepared for you. This makes it easier to stay on track and eat healthier.”
The menu items from the food truck and meal prep are all inspired from Khounlavong’s culture and background. The Southeast Asian inspired food with all the spices and seasonings doesn’t have anything deep fried and requires little oil. The meat is thinly sliced and all vegetables are steamed beforehand and warmed with flash stir fry, and then sprinkled with the seasoning in the sauces. Yommaste offers gluten free, vegan options, and can cater to other dietary needs.
Khounlavong commented, “All menu items were inspired by elders of the family. Stir fry items come from mother’s side of the family. She is the Stir Fry Queen and learned to limit certain ingredients because she is very health conscious, as well. Pho, which is a Vietnamese beef and rice noodle soup, is my father’s recipe. He never trusted anyone with it. I spent years trying to replicate it. I would invite him over to try it, and he would say, ‘You’re almost there.’ My father passed suddenly in 2022, and our soft truck opening at the end of November was in memory of him. We sold out of Pho quickly. I think I figured it out! It’s spot on now.”
Starting January 9, Khounlavong has an 8 Week Challenge Program to build a better mind and body in 2023. The program is entirely online, available for people to do on their own time, and offers 30 minutes a day of yoga and bodyweight training, as well as personalized meal plan. Those who enter the program may also receive 15% off meal preps from Yommaste throughout the duration of the challenge. The cost of the program is $70.