Saturday, October 22, 2016

Anceint Grandmother Wisdom

Dear Grandmother,

You came to me in a dream this morning when my heart was broken. There are so many things our hearts carry, so many causes to be spoken for, injustices to be righted, and wounds to be healed. Sometimes your heart has to crack wide open in order to spill out TRUTH and LOVE. The pain in letting your heart crack wide open is paired with the joy of finding your truth and sending that love out to the universe. A process that needs to be done to be a compassionate member of this planet.

You came to me in a dream this morning, me sitting on your couch in your house on Salt Run and you leaning down and hugging me tight as I cried sounds from my heart that my lungs had never cried before. When I woke I felt the pain of the burdens of my heart and of this modern world and I remembered it's time to reconnect. You taught me this, how to honor nature, the cycles of life, and how to connect to God.

Grandmother, you were a thinker a writer, an activist, a free spirit, and as your friend Bob would say, "a member of the planet rather than a member of society". Grandmother, you were different and if you stood out or others questioned you, you stood up straight and faced it with grace. You were beautiful and strong in so many ways but most of all for your mind and your heart. Grandmother, we need more people like you and we still speak your name after you are gone from your earth home. I will be one like you.

This modern world pulls us in so many directions, demanding we pay attention to this, that, this, that, this, that and so often we forget to turn into the source and redirect our focus to the Divine. Grandmother, you directly left some ancient wisdom for me to pull from and for that I thank you. It's been waiting to be used and it's time to share my grandmother wisdom....

Nancy Rogers was always eager to teach her granddaughters.
Her "mind's journal" is a collection of spiritual ideas she gathered throughout her years. She studied every religion she came across. She interpreted and compiled messages about life in a journal her family knows well -- a journal that will passed down through generations.

Writing by Nancy from a women's workshop she led on The Purpose of Life
With A Song In My Heart
The music you are listening to was written by Hildegard von Bingen, one of the most creative, powerful and adept women in the history of womens liberation. She lived in a remote area of Germany in the 12th century. Her divine inspiration was acknowledged and her guidance sought by popes, emperors, and the leading theologians of the day. 

She broke away from the monastery where she was raised, and, over time, established three convents. The women who came to liver under her guidance practiced hymnody. Every three hours they stopped whatever they were doing- working, studying, sleeping - and placed themselves in the altered consciousness of song. Eight times each day they turned their FOCUS OF ATTENTION away from the mundane, and directed their FOCUS OF ATTENTION toward The Source and filled their thoughts with words of wisdom, love, praise, and thanksgiving (qualities and emotions seldom found in the modern world). Filling themselves, mind and body with melodious vibrations and joining their energies in exquisite, exultant harmony, they opened themselves to the Divine. 

Get comfortable, sit back and close your eyes and listen to a gifted and inspired woman's version of enlightenment. Let go of all outside concerns and allow yourself to float among these sounds. Let them help you. BE HERE NOW!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cleanse: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

We did it! We cleansed for TWO FULL WEEKS! We'll be taking it an extra day or two to use up what we have, but right now I'm celebrating reaching our 2 week goal and feeling like a couple of BADASSES for doing so!

As a reminder, this is what the basis of our cleanse was:

There is so much involved behind the scenes (internally) when cleansing and there are hundreds of cleanses out there. Juice cleanses, the Master Cleanse, fasting, smoothie cleanses, fruit and vegetable cleanses, etc. There are tons of products on the market right now too. Here's a pic I snapped at Sprouts the other day of all the cleansing/detox items to choose from:

I believe there are good kits you can buy and one or two of these supplements would be helpful, but to me,  a real cleanse is a lifestyle cleanse through diet and nutrition first. If you get a kit and are taking 8 or 10 pills a day, you're spending all that time digesting and processing capsules and new herbal substances. If you remove all of that and focus on foods that can and will do that work themselves, your body will be digesting only things that are assisting the process. I've done both and for me, food and drink, herbal teas to gently assist, and a few key supplements are all you need to succeed and feel gooood!

Here's where things get real, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Although, I think I'll end with the good! If you feel uncomfortable right now, maybe you shouldn't be reading my blog... Still here? Ok then heres how it went.

The bad:

  • Being tired. Really tired at times.
  • Being hungry. Really hungry at times. Or even hangry (Hungry + Angry) but to be fair, that was probably the PMS talking. At times I felt I heard my cravings say "Feed me, bitch or I'll never go away!" I didn't give in and they went away. 
  • Breakouts
  • Feeling cranky
  • A headache or two
  • Feeling achy, especially after working out (I don't recommend hard workouts and cleansing, you can do more harm than good)
  • This is a lot of work. I spend hours each day prepping and cooking food. And cleaning the damn kitchen over and over again. 

The ugly:

  • Cleansing at home all weekend with your spouse while PMS'ing? Yeah, we should do that! Said No. One. EVERRR! I never noticed how much wine can tame the beast until it was forbidden. Terrible timing...
  • Geof ate too much flax oil one day... (for those who may not be familiar, flax oil is a great source of Omegas for the hair, to lubricate dry skin, the eyes, and joints, and keeps the digestive tract running smoothly. Sometimes too smoothly)
  • I went from jog-walking 4+ miles per day on the treadmill to slowly walking 1 or 2. The treadmill is not my cleanse friend. I feel light headed. Small weights, the balance ball, and yoga have all been great to keep moving though! Those feel so good.
  • My period came with a vengeance! TMI? Then don't read my blog. Usually I eat a steak and some chocolate and feel better. Instead I curl up with another mug of hot tea and scowl at the slices of frozen banana that are my supposed choco-substitute. Oh, and despite flushing my system with fluids I got super bloated and looked 3 months pregnant. UGH, makes me want to scream! And cry!

The good:

  • Energy levels are naturally lower in the dark months of winter and I think a cleanse is a perfect way to honor that part of the cycle. Normally we demand ourselves to push on through the holidays and New Year, starting off with a BANG and tons of motivation and energy... yet, we mostly feel used up and beat. Spring is coming and then we can spring forward with vibrancy and new energy but for now, it's about rest and renewing.
  • The goals we set are being achieved! We are definitely flushing our systems and feeling it. We had a cheat glass of wine and felt the effects pretty quickly. This tells me our livers are functioning much better than before, processing quicker and are hopefully cleaned up and healthier!
  • Overall, we have more energy. It's a new energy too, no coffee here! 
  • Sleeeep! We have gotten a lot more sleep these past two weeks. We take calcium and magnesium before bed, it's a natural relaxant and have chamomile tea in the evenings
  • My skin is brighter, clearer, and healthier looking (as far as winter skin goes)
  • We both have lost some weight. I forgot to get him to check his weight when we started but Geof is currently 185 lbs and he's normally an easy 195-200lbs! After the cleanse he's working on putting on more muscle. I was down 3 lbs at 7 days but then I got my period and yeah, I'm not getting on the scale again until that is over. 
  • Achieving a RESET on our diet: Geof was struggling with making healthful food choices and I realized I had absent mindedly shared too many Asher snacks throughout the day. This cleanse really helped put our diet under the microscope to figure out where weaknesses are!
  • We're incorporating a few things into our lifestyle, such as limiting processed foods, red meat, sugar and salt, and we are increasing our water intake. We'd also like to drink the cran/lemon/acv detox drink a few times a week because we both really love it.
  • We are keeping our pantry divided into 'real food' and 'processed/packaged' foods so while they won't be off limit, we will be 100% aware when we are choosing the less healthy options throughout the day. 
  • We have been overall very relaxed, calm, and peaceful even. Cleansing is a good time to reflect and give yourself a break, all while doing yourself a favor and becoming a healthier and brighter person! 
  • I'm glad we did this but my willpower has been wavering. I'm looking forward to my cooking being open to whatever I feel like I need and want at that time (with some salt)!! I can't wait to have a cup of coffee in bed this weekend. I can't wait to go to a heated yoga class and to put some miles on the treadmill! 
And on that note, goodbye cleanse! It has been real. It has even been fun. But it has not been real fun. 


Monday, January 13, 2014

Cleanse: Treats and other yummy stuff

About a week into this thing we hadn't had any sugar and I was beginning to get cranky! Ok, maybe it was hormones but I needed SOMETHING sweet'ish. So I got creative and sliced up some bananas, rolled them in finely shredded coconut, and then froze them on a small baking sheet. Once frozen, I tossed them in a tupperware in the freezer for when a sweets craving arose. This is our after dinner, after Asher goes to bed, tasty hot & cold treat! We have a cup of chamomile-vanilla and detox tea with a splash of soymilk. I find it's best to drink detox teas at night so your body can do the work while you sleep. Sometimes detox teas can make you nauseous if you drink them early in the day. I topped a few slices of frozen banana with raw almond butter and a drizzle of local honey. YUM!

Roasted dandelion root tea has a nice rich roasted color and flavor, perfect to add a splash of soy or almond milk to! Local raw honey is great to use (sparingly) for something sweet because using local honey can help aid allergies if you have them, as well as boost your immune system! 

I make smoothies every day and sometimes I make just a little too much so I decided to freeze some in Asher's star popsicle molds and my flower shaped silicone ice cube molds. They worked great and made for a nice protein packed frozen treat! 

Slightly messy, but fun little "Smoothie Bites" I feed to Asher!

I didn't take pictures but I like to make easy to use baggies of smoothie blends with precut frozen fruit. I buy a bunch of our favorite organic frozen fruits and mix them up in freezer bags in tasty combinations like Mango-Raspberry-Blueberry or 3 Berry blend or this one which is DARK CHERRY-Raspberry-Blueberry! I always throw in a few slices of banana, a handful of spinach, scoop of whey, and a pinch of chia seeds for a quick breakfast full of nutrients!

The boy, waiting patiently for his smoothie

Yummy dark cherries! 

Lots of antioxidants here!

For a heartier breakfast, usually on the weekend, I've been making scrambled eggs and a small green smoothie. The eggs have bell peppers, onion, a few slices of avocado and some organic salsa. No cheese, dairy, or salt used here!

Love for the Hubs

Geof has been going strong during this cleanse! Truthfully, I've made it pretty easy on him by making everything he eats and drinks. He's totally on board and even while traveling he's done a great job sticking to the program on his own! That said, I wanted to make a few comforting favorites while we watched the Bronco's playoff game this Sunday. I found a recipe for a Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip and also a Nutritional Yeast "Queso" that both used cashews as a dairy substitute. I said, what the hell, can't be that bad right?! It was delish and we also had a glass of cabernet with the game. One cheat item per week is the deal we made (and we're both glad we did) :o)

for the Spinach and artichoke dip and the cashew cream

Cashew Cream: 1 cup RAW cashews, soaked for 4 hours and 1 cup filtered water in a blender on high = a creamy cashew mixture that resembles a thick milk.

Cleanse friendly football snacks! Lightly roasted some broccoli and cauliflower, sliced some cucumbers, and I allowed for a few rice crackers from a package! Totally a cheat eating something processed but I couldn't make my own again. Still, one is no salt and one is low salt and all are gluten free. The hubs deserved every bit!
The "Queso" turned out good too, but the flavor of the raw cashews started to turn into that of roasted cashews as I was heating it up on the stovetop. I liked the flavor more before and I wonder how you could heat it without 'roasting' the raw nuts... Here's the recipe!

These are a few of Geof's lunches that I've been packing for him. 
Detox drink, tea, smoothie (not pictured), oatmeal and banana for breakfast, a green salad and some veggie soup for lunch, and leftover artichoke dip and crackers for an afternoon snack.
Oatmeal, soy milk, fruit, and an egg for breakfast. Lunch is brown rice and baked chicken with a green salad and avocado, nutritional yeast dressing. Apple and almond butter for a snack. (forgot to include his tea and detox drink in this pic) 
Detox drink, tea, oatmeal, banana, egg for breakfast. Green salad with grilled chicken salad and seed 'bread' for lunch. Celery and hummus or nuts and apricots for afternoon snack. 
Today is Day 12 and our two weeks of cleansing is up on Wednesday! We decided to take it to the end of the week, making 16 days total. Friday evening we plan on having a nice dinner date to celebrate the end of The Cleanse, woo hoo! We're on the home stretch, feeling great, and I'm hoping to share some of the good, bad, and the ugly later on...


Friday, January 10, 2014

Cleanse: More Eats and Drinks

Cheat! I spy a cheat! When I committed us to two weeks or more of cleansing, I told Geof we could allow for one cheat item per week, if we felt so inclined. He fell for it. I later described a 'cheat item' as being one thing that you may indulge in without throwing your cleanse off track for days. Meaning a piece of chocolate, a single adult beverage, a slice of cheese, a slice of bread, etc. To the hubby's dismay, NOT a slice of supreme pizza (that would be reintroducing flour, dairy, salt, sugar, beef/pork, and preservatives/processed food) and a beer or two. Also, we needed to pay attention to the after effects of sneaking a cheat into our cleanse if we decided to do so. 

Knowing I had Sunday brunch planned at Beast and Bottle with a good friend I hadn't seen in months, I saved my cheat for brunch and for a nice glass of red wine (I was debating between red wine and goat cheese, a tough call)! I went online and researched what the healthiest red was that they offered by the glass and ordered that. For brunch I had the chicken quinoa salad, minus the goat cheese. The salad was delicious and cleanse friendly with the exception of salt, but I figured it was mostly on the skin, which I don't eat. One of my very favorite things to do is to brunch with my ladies! We are so lucky in Denver with more great restaurants to choose from than a girl really needs. Add an extra special glass of wine, the snow falling outside, and girl talk over some local farm raised food... I had a wonderful Sunday brunch! Geof saved his cheat for an IPA while watching the Green Bay/SF game (but if we would have had a box of Snyder's pretzels or some chex mix in the house he would have gone for one of those). We both had headaches after. We drank extra water and did some yoga and the headaches went away.

Brunch with Amanda at Beast and Bottle

Mo' water! 
Water with frozen Strawberries and lime slices. We also repeat the cran/acv drink daily.

Salad for days!

This is the second round of salads I have made and by Day 9 we're already finished with them again! I'll need to get more greens and veggies from the store, for the third time this cleanse. If you are what you eat, we're made of all this goodness right now:

Apple Cider Vinegar and Olive Oil Dressing and Marinade
I use this as a marinade as well on salads! Works great on tofu, chicken, or seafood.
I added about 6 oz of ACV, 4 oz of olive oil, tons of my Napa spice blend (for sale if you want to buy some, holla), and about 4 finely chopped sundried tomatoes. I keep it on my counter and give it a shake/stir every few hours as the herbs rehydrate and everything will start to come together. 


Chicken Fried "Rice"

This is the "rice" part of the recipe. It's roasted cauliflower chopped fine.

I got the recipe for this here: I cut the recipe in half, added some leftover baked chicken, a few diced baby carrots, added lots of garlic, and used two eggs. I don't recommend scrambling the eggs first, as I usually crack them right into the pan and then scramble. It gives it a more authentic texture in my opinion.

Ta-Da! I REALLY wanted to put some tamari (soy sauce) in here because it just wasn't the same! However, we both really loved it. Asher ate some too.

Hazelnut Crusted Wild Salmon
Rosemary and Olive Oil Quinoa
Asparagus and Mushrooms w/ shallots and garlic

Mixed equal parts mustard, honey, and olive oil together and brushed onto salmon. Sprinkled and then pressed crushed nuts (pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, whatever you have!) on top. I baked it at 375 for about 12 minutes. I sauteed the mushrooms, shallot, and garlic together in a cast iron skillet until soft.  The asparagus went in last with a splash a water and then covered with a lid to let them steam for about 5 minutes.
* See my seafood disclaimer later on...

Grilled Chicken w/ Heirloom Tomato, Basil, and Balsamic Salad
Brown Rice and Quinoa blend
Grilled Yellow Squash and Zucchini w/ avocado parsley pesto
Finished with mineral SALT! 
For the balsamic salad, I make a reduction by heating vinegar on low on the stovetop until it's  reduced by half. Then you have a nice thicker and sweeter balsamic to drizzle or toss tomatoes and basil in. 
This dinner was Day 7. Geof and I felt like we needed a MEAL and I wanted to make sure we had a strong good start to the next week of cleansing. We all need some sodium and since we had been without added sodium for a week while drinking lots of fluids, I added a nice sprinkle of mineral salt, which is very mineral rich. YUM! This was totally delicious.


I made a chicken salad with the same ingredients I used in my tuna salad. We have been eating this on top of a salad and have been really missing some crackers or bread to go with! So I attempted to make 'crackers' from this recipe at Oh She Glows. As always, I tweaked it a bit by adding some ground up cashews and chia seeds, and I baked it at 175-180 for an hour and a half, flipping it once. 

Flax seed soaking in water, sunflower seeds, ground raw cashews, raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds, chia seeds, herb blend.

This is before I baked it... looks like BIRD FOOD!

All said and done, they turned out ok... but crackers, they were not! Geof says they are "More like a seed-bread than a cracker. Minus the bread". Still, they did the job and we both liked having them for lunch! They are pretty good with hummus too.

Some of my leftover Sunshine Salad, grilled chicken salad, and seed crackers.

* Seafood disclaimer; Normally I wouldn't allow shrimp or seafood in general in a cleanse due to the chemicals and mercury that may be present. However, because Geof is doing this cleanse too and I put a special emphasis on the quality of meats and seafood we purchase (always organic, no farmed seafood) I felt it was ok to leave in, in moderation. Also,  I was craving shrimp for some reason (perhaps needing salt/iodine) and made this quick easy lunch! 

Salad w/ Broiled Shrimp and Pine Nuts

I tossed the shrimp with some of the ACV dressing I made, along with pine nuts. I sprayed a baking sheet with organic canola oil and the broiled on low with the oven cracked for 5 minutes or so. I took the shrimp out to cool and put the pine nuts back in to roast and get golden. Roasted pine nuts are DELISH! More ACV dressing on the salad and that was lunch!
Picnic Plate
This was Asher and my lazy lunch today. He had real crackers, the lucky fella. 
A few olives, chopped veggies, grilled chicken salad, hummus, seed bread, and sunshine sauce.
This cleanse has really challenged my typical ways of cooking (really, no salt?) and has inspired me to make simple foods into something a little more interesting! Sometimes, it just feels good to be simple.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sunshine Sauce and a Sunshine Salad

Doing this cleanse has led me to do a lot of scouring for recipes! I've been on the hunt for a Gypsy Cab Co. - like nutritional yeast based dressing because it's cleanse friendly. At long last I found one on a blog that was called "Glory Sauce" (that name fits) that sounded closest to what my Floridia favorite tastes like. I can't take credit for the ingredient list but I started there and added/subtracted a few things. I'd like to call my version of a Florida favorite: Sunshine Sauce! Use to dip veggies in, as a dressing on salads, as a spread on sandwiches, or... just drink it! Juuust kidding.

Sunshine Sauce
1 c. Organic Canola Oil
1 1/4 c. Nutritional Yeast
3 oz. Apple Cider Vinegar
3 oz. Warm Water
2 T. Tahini
1 T. Low Sodium Tamari (soy sauce) 
*Feel free to add a few more tablespoon or to taste, I reduced the sodium quite a bit.
4 Garlic Cloves

Put all ingredients except the canola oil into a food processor and process until smooth. With the processor on, very slowly, drizzle the canola oil into the yeast mixture to emulsify it. If it seems a little thick (I like it a little thicker), add a little more oil or water and blend until fully emulsified. Store in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks. But lets be real, it won't last that long!

Sunshine Salad
After the success of the Sunshine Sauce I decided it needed a proper salad to go on. I NEEDED a proper salad as a vehicle to consume this golden deliciousness!  I combined things that are typically on Gypsy's house salad, can you tell? Check out the color of the egg yolk. The brighter and richer, the healthier and I secretly can't wait to have my own chickens and eggs! Of course, I had to add a few edible flowers to the sunshine salad and (after I snapped the pic) I also added a few SUNflower seeds for some crunch.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Cleanse: Eat and Drink

The weekend is over, hooray! That is not something you would ever normally hear me say but we are now over the weekend hump and into Day 5 of our cleanse! I call it a hump because Days 2 - 4 can be especially rough on you. The first day is too soon to notice any change but slowly, as you detox, you start to feel the effects of processing and eliminating toxins. People often get food cravings and paying attention to those can sometimes provide insight into what is troubling your system. For example craving sugar, refined carbohydrates, and flour could mean you have a candida overgrowth or sugar addiction and craving red meats could mean you have an iron deficiency. There's no better time to tune in and listen to what your body is telling you than when you are cleansing. At the end of the cleanse you should slowly phase things back in and see how your body handles it and how it makes you feel afterwards. When I worked at the health food stores I would warn people that "You will usually feel worse before you feel better" and that it feels like a slight hangover or cold. You can get headaches, body aches, have breakouts, low energy, and moodiness. Between Geof and I, you can check all of the above!

The side effects are not for lack of food, drink, and overall nourishment! We did get hungry this weekend and Geof really craved his pretzels and the spread I usually make during the football games. Instead we ate a ton of fresh produce and are starting to make a good dent in our groceries.

Here are some of the things I've been making...

I admit I am not a breakfast person (more like brunch, if that) so it has been important to get some kind of breakfast in before 9:30am. So far my go-to has been a hard boiled egg and piece of fruit or a smoothie. I usually have a few cups of coffee (nicely sweetened with vanilla soy creamer) and run around doing Asher things all morning before I sit down to eat around 11am or later! I have never had an appetite early (probably thanks to drinking coffee). Finally on Day 5, I woke up with a morning appetite!
Blue Green smoothie: 16 oz. silk unsweetened organic soymilk, one scoop whey protein, handful or two of spinach, tsp. of chia seeds, a few slices of frozen banana (maybe 1/3 of a whole banana), and a baggie I pre-made of frozen berries (acai, blueberry, strawberry.)

First I blend the milk and spinach, then add the banana, then slowly, the fruit. Last I throw in the chia seeds and 1 scoop of whey. I add the whey (or other protein powder) last because it can get very "frothy" if you add the protein too early.

Mmm, nice grey smoothie for me and the boy... The color could be prettier.

On closer inspection, it IS pretty and you can see all the flecks of goodness.
I needed more condiments to go with many different things so I found quite a few recipes for whole food/raw sauces and dressings. I made a great vinaigrette that I also use as a marinade and I'll post that later. This one below is an avocado-pesto and I used it on top of poached eggs and for dipping artichokes in. I adapted the recipe for this from one I found on "Oh She Glows", omitting the salt and using a whole avocado. Check out Oh She Glows, there are lots of great gluten free, vegan, and cleanse friendly recipes! Link to Avocado Pesto Recipe
Avocado Basil Pesto w/extra garlic. No salty parmesan needed!

Weekend Brunch
Leftover lentil cakes with an organic poached egg and avocado basil pesto. This was Geofs, I like my eggs poached hard!

Dinner 1: 
Lentil & Brown Rice Cakes
Baked Tofu
Green Salad w/
apple cider vinaigrette 

For our first dinner I attempted to make lentils and brown rice in my rice cooker. It turned to mush so I decided to turn it into lentil cakes. I diced up garlic, red and yellow peppers, celery, and onion and sauteed them in olive oil. I removed them from the pan and added it to the lentils and rice with one egg. I wiped the pan and added a smidge more oil, rolled the mixture into balls and then made patties, and pan fried them. For the tofu, I tossed it in the same salad dressing I used for the salad and baked it at 375 for 45 minutes. Geof hates the texture of tofu so I cook it until it loses a lot of moisture and gets a little crunch on the outside.
The red sauce is Siracha. While processed, it has minimal sugar and is pretty much all chili peppers. Capsicum is the active ingredient in peppers and boosts circulation and liver detoxifying enzymes. For this reason, I left hot pepper sauce in our cleanse.  

 Dinner 2: 
Cod Fish "Tacos"

These could be any kind of tacos really; fish, tofu, chicken, beans and gf grains, or just lovely veggies! I used butter lettuce leaves for the taco shells and played on a contrast of both cooked and raw veggies. I threw some thinly sliced peppers, onions, and mushrooms in the grill basket and coated the fish with olive oil, chili powder, garlic, and paprika and grilled it for 7 minutes or so. For the raw veggies I used shredded cabbage, jalapeno, and cilantro. For the 'sauce' I used some organic salsa (premade, no preservatives) and lime juice.

Dinner 3:
Chicken and Veggie Soup 
w/ a small amount of brown rice noodles added for Geof and Asher
(you can find the recipe at the end)
Green salad 
w/ apple cider vinaigrette

I made the soup in my dutch oven with organic chicken and veggies. I added an olive and clove of garlic  to our salad for a 'treat' haha.

Dinner 4: 
Golden Tofu over Brown Rice w/ a drizzle of flaxseed oil 
{I baked a chicken breast for Geof}
Grilled Artichokes w/ 
avocado basil pesto

I grew up on artichokes! I could make a meal out of one. So here's how I like to do them... Trim the tops and ends of the stems. Using kitchen scissors, cut off the ends of the leaves. Add to a large pot of BOILING water with a half of a lemon and a few bay leaves and boil for 45 minutes. I emphasize boiling because if you put them in sooner, they soak up a lot of water and you end up with a dripping wet, messy artichoke experience! Artichokes are full of fiber, aid in digestion, and cleansing for the liver.
 You can eat the boiled artichokes as is, or go a little further and throw them on the grill which I LOVE for 2 reasons 1) it adds a little texture and a lot of flavor 2) you cut them in half and clean out the inedible parts before putting them on the grill, saving you time and a messy table later.
I sliced them in half and scooped out the bristley parts with a spoon. Then I brushed them with olive oil, sprinkled with garlic powder and pepper. No salt, of course!
I made the golden tofu by marinating it in a small amount of vinaigrette and then dusted it generously with nutritional yeast. I baked it at 400 for 35-45 minutes to get it really firm and golden. Artichokes are usually served with some type of aioli but I thought the avo-pesto worked great!

Oh, the drinks! So far we've gone through a ton of tea and pitchers of water. We drink 1-2 pitchers of these infused waters a day and have so far made and consumed:

(2) Pineapple & Ginger: 
I added a few chunks of pineapple and a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger. I spooned the grated ginger out before drinking.

(1) Cucumber & Lavender: 
I used a whole cucumber and a few tablespoons of culinary lavender. You can just scoop out the lavender if you don't like it floating around after you let it sit overnight. The smell is heavenly and very relaxing!

(3) Cranberry Concentrate, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Lime or Lemon: 

This is an awesome detox drink! It is tart and not sweet at all but so pretty and refreshing looking! It helps liver cleansing by stimulating bile, is great for the kidneys and urinary tract, is supposed to be clearing for the skin, and it helps control appetite so it's best to drink one glass before each meal. Cranberry concentrate (above) is totally NOT SWEET and is a little pricey ($11 a bottle) but a small splash goes a long way. No juices here, folks! Just add a splash of cranberry, 1-2 tsp. of vinager, slices of limes or lemons.

Our lunches have mostly been leftovers or salads. I've been having the edible flowers on all salads and it's delish! I gave one to Asher to try and studies the flower for a minute.... hands it back and says BEE! BEE mama! Haha, it had us laughing!

Tuna salad on a salad was lunch for 2 days.
Leftover chicken, veggie,  & brown rice noodle soup and leftover grilled artichoke was another lunch. 
For the chicken veggie soup I just threw it together based on what I had that needed to be used. I poached three organic chicken breasts in a big pot of poaching liquid (water, the ends of a few onions, the tips and ends of celery, the ends of a few carrots, and a few bay leaves) for 20 minutes. While that was poaching I sauteed 4 peeled and sliced carrots, 1 zucchini, 1 summer squash, 1/2 a yellow onion, a few cloves of garlic, and a cup of peas in a dutch oven until tender (No browning them). Once the chicken was cooked I drained and RESERVED the liquid, which is now a low fat and sodium free chicken stock! I shredded the 2 of the chicken breasts (saving one for another recipe later) and put it in the dutch oven with the reserved broth, some garlic powder, the bay leaves, a generous shake of my spice blends, and a small shake of celery salt. We are doing salt free but a small amount of salt is actually crucial so I use celery salt when absolutely necessary, like in making a soup. Celery salt has about 1/2 the sodium because it's about 50% salt and 50% celery seeds. Though everything was cooked at that point, I put the dutch oven in the oven at 275 for an hour to get the flavors all cozy and happily married!

I'm not down with feeling starving on top of the cleansing side effects, so we have a few snacks to choose from if needed. 

Apple with homemade raw almond butter
Celery and cucumbers with hummus
Kale chips with garlic powder or nutritional yeast
Almonds, walnuts, and dried apricots
Kale chips, batch 2! This batch was made with olive oil, garlic powder, and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. 
So there ya have it, our first few days of cleansing! It has been a lot of fun/work because it was important from the start to make cleansing effective AND delicious! I figured if I'm going to do all this work, I might as well take pictures along the way and share them. I will probably be repeating some of the recipes (Asher and I finish a batch of kale chips in about 6 minutes) but I still have a whole list of new things to try, including a few special (dairy, gluten, sugar, and salt free) football treats for the hubby next Sunday! I'm happy to report that throughout Day 5 we're feeling more and more bright eyed and bushy tailed which makes it all so worth it. I'm considering extending two weeks to three, making it 21 days total. We shall see, stay tuned! ;o)


Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014 Cleanse!

This is the first cleanse I have been able (and willing) to do in years and I'm pumped! You can't cleanse while you are pregnant and you shouldn't while you're breastfeeding so this has been a long time coming. Geof is doing it too and by default, Asher will have some healthier foods but he currently has his own section of the pantry that is off limits to us! I've had a lot of people ask "What cleanse are you doing?" but it's nothing trendy or on the market, persay. It has some paleo aspects, give or take a few things plus lots of focus on detoxing the organs and flushing the system. Some things I've learned through years of working in health food stores and my own opinions on health and nutrition have led me to formulate this total body cleanse for Geof and I to do for two weeks! I plan on repeating it again later in the year.

We are eating specific things to help eliminate toxins, clean up the digestive tract, flush the liver and kidneys, and nourish the skin. We're taking a multi vitamin, probiotics, calcium and magnesium, and use flax oil, coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, or avocado for healthy fats. Hydration is everything when detoxing so we're drinking green tea, chamomile tea, and dandelion tea as well as a LOT of water infused with different things (cucumber & lavender, ginger & pineapple, cranberry concentrate & lemon or lime & apple cider vinegar). Pinterest has given me some great recipes to try and a few "detoxifying foods cheat sheets" that have come in handy when I started the grocery list.

Here are the basics of our total body cleanse:

I outlined what I wanted to do a few times and revised it to 1) not starve my poor husband (so I left in a few gluten free grains and beans) and 2) be wholesome and cleansing, but always TASTY and enjoyable for the family to eat. There's nothing worse than trying to feed someone something healthy and they turn it down, I don't have time for that!

To begin I made my list of "Can or Can't have" and tackled the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator. To make things easy for us and for Geof specifically, I cleaned out the items we could no longer have and moved them up so the entire bottom shelf is all of our 'cleanse foods'. 
Here is the section of "no" foods I moved to the "no shelf". I was the most sad about not having my homemade salt and seasoning blends and the chocolate I got in my stocking for Christmas. 

I did the same in the refrigerator, moving Asher's yogurts, the dill havarti and !Goat's Milk Brie!, and coffee creamer out of our 'zone'. The chocolate is far from reach and there is no wine to be had. {Moment of silence, please.............} But the "YES" foods are so much better, just look!

Produce department? I"ll take one! There are only one or two items I wasn't able to get organic. 

Some of the dry goods. Quinoa, brown rice, lentils, whey, oatmeal, nuts and seeds, beans and tuna, and cooking oils. Some small exceptions to the processed foods I made are a few organic vegetable soups, a box of quick quinoa, and a jar of salsa because I have to be real, I can't make every single thing 100% from scratch.

VERY IMPORTANT to me is to get eggs that are TRUELY free range and humanely treated. 

Herbal teas

 To be successful and 100% on this cleanse, I knew I'd spend a LOT of time prepping and cooking foods that fit our cleanse guidelines. The first day of the cleanse I prepped a bunch to get things started right. Here's where we began...

Pitchers of water ready to go! This is Cucumber Lavender

Pre-sliced some organic lemons and pineapple to make new pitchers easily

Brewed some herbal tea. Green tea, detox tea, and one vanilla chamomile for sweet flavor

So wise! and yes, my palms are wrinkly :/

Herbal tea ready to go into the fridge

Kale chips for snacking

Beautiful heirloom tomato blend! Way to go Safeway!

eatin colors

Made a huge salad on Day 1. Day 3 and there is only 1/4 of the tupperware left!
I also prepped some extra shredded and chopped veggies for quick use in other recipes and hard boiled some eggs. 

Made a tuna salad w/grapeseed oil mayo and lots of veggies! This tuna salad is untraditional and super tasty!
Raw almond butter, made from a few cups of raw almonds and several minutes (like 30) in the food processor. 

Why not have a little fun with this? Found these edible flowers at Sprouts for 99 cents! They taste bitter, like leafy greens, then floral like... yeah, flowers! Really nice way to make 'another salad' something special.

This is the third full day and we're finding ourselves a little low on energy and craving a few of our old favorites. I know the energy levels will be back in force soon and I partially blame cravings on a snowy football Saturday at home! Instead of snacking on chex mix and drinking beer, Geof found himself drinking ginger water and having a few almonds. I really wanted a nibble of cheese and some red wine, but settled for an afternoon cup of chamomile (no honey). So this is where we started! I have been finding and cooking some new recipes and I'll share what we've been eating and drinking more in the next few days. We're having fun with it so far!