About Planted Forward
We believe that plants are the foundation to healing
Each individual is unique and treatment is personalized
Our community keeps us strong and together
We treat the whole patient, not just the disease
Save time and see your provider from anywhere
How we started
Planted Forward was founded in 2021 by Dr. Vanessa Mendez and Dr. Melissa Mondala. We all began practicing traditional medicine in traditional settings; we were expected to heal our patients with the minimum of interaction, as time, we were told, was money. We learned quickly that the expected 15-20 minutes appointments that are reimbursed by insurance were not long enough to get to the root cause of a person’s health issues while still providing an entire therapy plan that would heal our patients. Like many of our colleagues, we found our patients not getting better, which left us feeling defeated and burned out- disillusioned with the practice of medicine.
After a few years, we had had enough! We knew that the best way to help our patients was to get out of the traditional system that was leaving both patient and provider feeling hopeless. So we banded together to form Planted Forward, an organization where healers can best serve their patients through the power of evidence-based, lifestyle, and integrative medicine. We do this by taking the time to listen, assess your whole health (mind, body & spirit) and come up with a therapy plan together that can achieve lasting healing.
Dr. Vanessa Mendez
Dr. Melissa Mondala
Dr. Nicole Harkin
Health & Fitness Coaches
Dr. Vanessa Mendez
Doctor Méndez is a double board certified gastroenterologist and internist. She specializes in digestive disorders, which include liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and nutrition based-disorders, such as obesity and constipation. Her approach to patients and their diseases is holistic and comprehensive; she does not just want to treat symptoms, but to get to the root cause of an ailment and provide lasting relief. All her methods are evidence-based and she is a proponent of lifestyle changes first to promote wellness.
Dr. Méndez attended Harvard University, where she obtained a B.A. in Latin American Studies, with a minor in pre-medicine. From there, she began her medical training at the ACGME accredited Universidad Central del Caribe in Puerto Rico, completed her Residency in Internal Medicine at University of Miami/ Jackson Memorial Hospital, and her Fellowship in Gastroenterology at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans. She has also trained in Epidemiology through Florida International University, and in Plant Based Nutrition through Cornell University.
She was awarded a visiting fellowship at the Mayo Clinic through the Crohnʼs and Colitis Foundation where she received special training in inflammatory bowel diseases. She has also helped lead multiple fund-raising walks to raise awareness for Crohnʼs and Colitis in the Miami area. She was awarded Physician Champion at the Takes Steps Walk 2019 for the GastroHealth Team.
Dr. Melissa Mondala
Family and Lifestyle Medicine Physician
Dr. Melissa Mondala is a triple specialist of family medicine, lifestyle medicine, and primary care psychiatry. She is a medical graduate from Rosalind Franklin University, where she received her Medical Degree, Masters of Biomedical Sciences, and Masters of Health Administration. She completed her family medicine residency and Clinical Lifestyle Medicine Fellowship at Loma Linda University. She is double board certified in family medicine and lifestyle medicine and completed a University of California, Irvine Primary Care Fellowship. She currently sits on the American College of Lifestyle Medicine Board of Directors and is a Diplomate of Lifestyle Medicine.
Dr. Harkin is board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Echocardiography, Nuclear Cardiology, and Clinical Lipidology (Cholesterol Doctor).
After graduating from Boston University School of Medicine, she attended Columbia University for Internal Medicine residency and New York University for Cardiology fellowship. Upon completion of her Cardiology fellowship, including serving as a chief fellow, she remained on at NYU as an Assistant Attending. In her role as a private practice cardiologist in Manhattan, she helped countless patients treat and prevent heart disease. She is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology (FACC Cardiology), as well as a member of the National Lipid Association certifying her as a cholesterol specialist doctor and American Society for Preventive Cardiology.
Amanda Sevilla is a registered dietitian, plant based nutritionist, and yoga teacher living in Southern California. She is also a healthcare and wellness influencer in the internet space. Amanda integrates preventative nutrition and holistic health by implementing a combination of mindfulness, yoga, plant based nutrition, and intuitive eating.
Amanda finished her undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at Loma Linda University and started working as a clinical dietitian shortly afterward. She is also certified in Plant Based Nutrition through the Center for Nutrition Studies. Through her undergrad, she developed an interest in overall wellness so she traveled to India to learn yoga. She has since gained 500 hours of teaching instruction as a new perspective on true, whole health. She is passionate about self love, development, and empowerment.
In her practice, she aims to treat patients while also integrating preventative health with the experience gathered so far. She actually wanted to be a physician before becoming a dietitian but after learning about the benefits of lifestyle changes – especially with a plant based diet – she decided she wanted to be a physician who also knew the ins and outs of nutrition basics to better serve her patients.
Visit her website: amandavsevilla.com for more information
Natalie D. Castro
Natalie Castro is a licensed and registered dietitian, who is certified in adult weight management and specializes in digestive disorders, food allergies, intolerances and plant-based nutrition. She truly believes in the power of using food as medicine to nourish and heal the body.
Ms. Castro was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and Celiac Disease back in 2001. As a patient of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and autoimmunity, she understands the struggles that patients undergo when newly diagnosed or trying to manage chronic conditions. She also works passionately to establish healthier food environments in the healthcare sector by developing food policies that promote healthier and more sustainable food practices.
Her clinical background is in nutritional support of critically ill patients in the intensive care units. She has conducted research on human subjects, studying both the eating behaviors of individuals and their social influences on food choices. Her research has been published in several Peer Review Journals. Natalie enjoys staying active and finding time to connect with nature. She uses plant-based nutrition to fuel her body and her mind.
Health & Fitness Coach
Jacque Tarlton, Certified Wellcoach® & Wellness Advocate, is passionate about improving health through fabulous, fun, and scientifically proven lifestyle changes. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and she practiced as a Registered Dietitian (RD) early in her career. She is currently a Certified Wellcoach®, Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) Facilitator, & Corporate Wellness Trainer specializing in the power of plants to improve health & longevity for her clients, and ROI for corporations.
Jacque has studied nutrition, health, and fitness since 1986, and she was introduced to the power of plant-based nutrition in 1994. Jacque has always worked in the health field, and she has gone from deadly addictions to fabulously thriving! It is Jacque’s mission to coach you through your unhealthy lifestyle habits to live your best, happiest, and most vibrant life. And the best part? It’s never too late to start!
Areas of Expertise
Quality Patient Care
Above all, we treat every patient like we would a family member or dear friend: a valuable human being who deserves the best possible health care.
Our healthcare team is made up of experts in various fields who value cooperation with one another to ensure the best outcomes for our patients.
Integrative and Evidence-Based
We understand that our patients are not their symptoms or their diseases, and so we treat you as a whole person; we believe in using an integrative approach to medicine, weighing risks and benefits of different therapies to fit your personalized needs.
Do You Have Any Questions?
Frequently asked questions
How do I make an appointment?
You must be registered with Planted Forward to make an appointment. There is no charge to register and no commitment after you register. Once registered you will login to the portal then select “My Appointments”, you will then see:
Step 1. “Selecting a provider”,
Step 2. “Selecting your appointment type”,
then Step 3. “Selecting your appointment time.”
Click here to register!
What does an appointment with you include?
Each of our experts provide different services. See your provider’s pages for more information.
Do you take insurance?
Planted Forward providers are currently considered out-of-network with all commercial insurances. You can find out from your insurance how much it is to see an out-of-network physician and how much you can get reimbursed for your visit. We can generate a superbill that includes a summary of your visit with diagnosis, charges, and other services to give to your insurance. Planted Forward recommends contacting your insurance to get more information about your benefits before scheduling with us.
Do you see patients throughout the USA?
Do you see patients outside of the USA?
Do you offer telehealth services?
Yes, a secure HIPAA compliant telehealth platform will allow us to securely text, video chat, and more.
Does insurance cover my labs, medications, and imaging?
What are the benefits of Telehealth?
It is safe, too! Our telecommunications network is powered by a HIPAA compliant carrier, meaning that your personal information is secure.
How does pricing work?
Each of Planted Forward providers offers a different pricing structure. See your provider’s page for more information.
What happens if I cancel or reschedule my appointment?
If you cancel your appointment with at least 24 business hours notice, there will not be a cancellation fee. Cancellations without a 24 business hour notice may be subject to a $50 no show/late cancellation fee.