Meet Solana Nolfo, a holistic health coach, wellness advocate and nutritious baker who enjoys developing baked goods recipes featuring nutrient-rich, real food ingredients. She is certified by The Institute for Integrative Nutrition as well as The Nutrition School by Keri Glassman and is especially passionate about inspiring and educating children about nutrient-rich food choices. Solana co-created the Fun with Superfoods™ cooking class for children, which she has taught at The Bank Street School for Children and the JCC Manhattan. Solana credits her San Francisco-based mom for encouraging her to live a nutritious life; she used to be embarrassed of her school lunches (seaweed, always!) but is now proud of her trend-setting roots. Solana lives in New York City with her husband and cookie-loving twin sons and bakes something with bananas almost every weekend.
What makes you a Beyond Mom?
I would say that I encompass the term in my dedication to nurturing myself in addition to my family and friends. I have come to realize—and it wasn’t the easy way—that self-care and balance are an absolute must. I’ve learned that both are fluid and change with what we need over time. Good self-care creates the foundation that allows for personal and professional growth. I am continually learning about myself, what I need to function optimally, stay balanced and remain on track— the occasional derailment to be expected. For me that includes taking the time to nurture my body by challenging it with exercise and stretching, as well as fueling it with nutritious foods and lots of water. It is also about investing time in my creative passions which means developing recipes and baking healthy and delicious goodies (as well as working on my photography skills!) I also honor my need to support others—and receive support—by spending time with my dear friends. I especially love brainstorming with other Beyond Moms to share and receive information in support of exciting new ideas, businesses and missions. The tower of informative books on my nightstand also screams “Beyond Mom!”
My family benefits, too. When I’m at my best, I can better support them. I also think they admire my passion and aspire to do the same—of course there’s almost always a delicious and nutritiously inspired cake or cookies in my kitchen that we all enjoy, which is a solid perk, too!
What are the parts of you that have grown and expanded since becoming a Mom?
I have had many growth experiences since my twin boys were born in 2007 and I decided to part ways with a career in investment management. It was a gut-wrenching decision and one that made me feel incredibly lost in many ways, but would not have worked lifestyle-wise with what I was experiencing as a new mom to twins (and one who had been on bed rest for several months beforehand.) Since becoming a mom, I have experienced a desire to understand other people’s experiences more deeply and am fascinated by people’s upbringings and family history—especially as it related to food! Being a mom also sparked my desire to provide nourishment that is growth-promoting from the inside out. I realized that I enjoy thinking creatively about nutrition and food and started a no-longer-active blog, Produce Mamma, to document my time as a member of a CSA delivery service where I never knew what organic produce would show up. It was like being in an at-home episode of Chopped but with toddlers running around.
I ended up deciding to take a long-term break from the blog when the boys experienced an epic sleep regression that had me in tears on a regular basis. I had to take cues from my body and not stay up any later to work on it, as much as it was a struggle to not do so—several years later, and I’m finally back on track, this time with baking (and still using lots of produce in my recipes!) Being a Beyond Mom required me in that moment to continue learning about myself, taking cues from my body and desires (in addition to my family’s) as to what was doable and needed at that time.
Can you share a collaboration/success story with another woman; what helped the collaboration become successful?
I admire and adore nutritionist Keri Glassman and am proud to be a member of The Nutritious Life Studio, a nutrition and wellness program and community, which she founded. We met in-person at one of her program’s live master classes; I’ve written articles and shared recipes on her site, The Nutritious Life, which has been helpful in growing my brand and she has been as supportive and positive as anyone could want in a mentor (she also loves it when I send her cookies!)
What relationships help you stay connected to yourself?
My mom absolutely helps me stay connected to myself—on some days she knows me better than I do! Even though she lives in San Francisco, we speak several times each day. I usually call her in the morning when I’m emptying my dishwasher because it’s a task that I dislike but having her on the phone with me makes it fun. She can hear it in my voice when I need to recalibrate and she is usually right. I often wake to videos or articles that she sends me, typically on health and wellness topics, that excite or fascinate her and I truly appreciate them.
I know that it may sound cliché, but my boys are also a constant reminder of what I need to focus on and they get excited when I’m cooking or working on a new recipe or doing anything creative. If I’m off track, it’s often one of the boys who will remind me that I need to create something because they know it makes me happy (and they love it, too!)
Do you have a ‘Beyond’ dream that you are pursuing?
Always! I would love to host healthy salon-style tea parties with my favorite health-supportive teas and nutrient-rich baked goods that would bring women together to hear from various experts on topics that are important and relevant. I would also like to see my website revised and a collaborative cookbook would be a blast!
What wellness activity can you not live without? What is one thing you do daily that balances you?
I absolutely love baking and while I don’t get to it each day, it is something that I do very frequently. It’s truly a form of meditation for me and I love experimenting to create healthier versions of recipes that inspire me. Any sort of intrepid kitchen project is also a must—pickling, kombucha-making, butter churning…if I see my husband crinkle his nose at the suggestion, then I know I have to try it at least once and it’s definitely a wellness activity in my book!
For daily balance, I absolutely need plenty of water and tea. I am very fond of tulsi, nettle, roasted dandelion, astralagus and kukicha teas. I also enjoy a nice face mask before bed. There’s something symbolic and soothing about applying a cleansing mask at the end of the day, taking time to read and drink tea while it’s on, and then washing it off and getting into bed. I just love it and my mom sends me plenty to sample since she is an aesthetician and has her own line of amazing products.
I am also a fan of the detoxifying infrared saunas at Nikki Ostrower’s NAO Wellness. If I could go daily, I would! My other regular wellness activities include craniosacral massage therapy, acupuncture and exercising—my body has a few injuries and strength training and stretching helps to prevent flare-ups.
How does style influence the way you stay feeling ‘Beyond’? Who is currently your favorite designer?
Style is certainly a strong influence on how I feel and when I’m feeling positive about how I look, it can only help! I don’t have a favorite designer but would love to acknowledge my favorite stylist who helps me when I’m clueless, Bryn Taylor Style, and the tailors at Silhouettes & Profiles on West 71st Street since basically everything that I purchase requires alterations (#shortpeopleproblems).
Favorite Local Spots that Embody The Beyond Mom:
This made me think of the saying “wherever you go, there you are.” I like to bring my Beyond Mom energy wherever I am—but I think there’s a special place in Beyond Mom Heaven for Delores at the Benefit Brows-a-Go-Go on Madison Ave. who can groom me up in less than 15 minutes.
Beyond Cocktails and/or Food:
I actually don’t drink alcohol but kombucha gives me a bit of a buzz and I love making my own. I’ve made batches flavored with elderberries, strawberry and basil, and ginger and lemon. It’s a labor of love but a fun project (and I certainly still buy the ready-made stuff!) I have been known to drag my husband to various, far corners to satisfy my food cravings and curiosities. One of our date nights was spent grabbing my favorite broth at Brodo and then wandering the lower east side with our to-go cups. He’s a good sport to say the least. I’m not a vegetarian but I really love a good veggie-forward or veggie-only menu. ABC-V is incredible for that. I also have a thing for the goat milk, tahini and halva-topped ice cream at Seed & Mill. It is fabulous! If I’m staying uptown and eating out, I love crossing the park for lunch at Blake Lane on the upper east.
I have been taking spin classes at Flywheel Sports since 2012 and more recently have also been enjoying row classes at CityRow and high intensity training classes at Fhitting Room. I am usually the person doing one thing while the rest of the class does another—due to injuries, I can’t life weights over my head and have to be mindful of my lower back and hips, but the instructors that I go to are so knowledgeable and super stars when it comes to helping me modify movements and I still get an amazing workout.
I get most excited about shopping for food and gifts—some might say it’s masochistic, but I have a thing for the upstairs section of Fairway on Broadway. I also love excursions to farmers markets, Kalustyan’s for fun spices and teas, eating my way through Chelsea Market and looking for gorgeous gifts in the fantastic neighboring gift market, Artists & Fleas.