Liver Cleansing Medley

There’s a lot not to like about Sunday nights. Lazy Sunday morning spent lingering over the breakfast table has disappeared. Spontaneous Sunday afternoon adventures have come and gone. And before you’ve gotten anything productive done, it’s 7 pm on a Sunday evening, and Monday morning feels way too close for comfort.

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There is one thing I like about Sunday evenings, though. There’s the feeling of a fresh start, the setting of good intentions, and a hushed hope that this week won’t kick your butt quite as much as last week did.

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I managed an hour in the kitchen tonight, prepping food for the week. This salad took 20 minutes to make, and although it’s not really the food I want to be eating (Smitten Kitchen’s cinnamon toast french toast stole my heart this weekend) I know this salad will help me feel healthy all week long. medley1.jpg

As I’ve learned before, change begets change. Something as small as a few cucumbers and radishes could propel you to get out for a run, do a few yoga stretches before bed, or ditch scanning your morning emails in bed for a few minutes of meditation instead.

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A book I’m reading, The Woman Code, describes this recipe as a “liver cleansing medley”, which sounds a lot more appealing than just “salad.” Author Alisa Vitta writes: “The liver is responsible for removing toxins from your body, and it does this by turning fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble ones so they can be excreted through your large intestine, kidneys, and skin.” If you have a hormonal imbalance, as many people do, your liver can’t operate optimally. Choosing certain foods, like lemon and cruciferous vegetables, give your liver a break. medley2.jpg

I hope you can find some time this Sunday evening to just sit quietly, and enjoy your last few hours of calm before Monday’s rush of deadlines and demands. If you have an extra 20 minutes on your hands, give this medley a try.

Liver Cleansing

Spring Mix Medley

From Alisa Vitti’s The Woman Code

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 head celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch radishes, chopped finely with mandolin
  • 2 cucumbers, sliced
  • 6 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • Dress with apple cider vinegar and olive oil

Mix ingredients in a big jar and store in the fridge, store dressing separately. OR, store medley in individual containers with the dressing on the bottom (see pic above). Medley will last up to 1 week.

 

The Whole30

 

This month, I went to see an acupuncturist for the first time. Needles in the face and everything! She’s one of my (badass) yoga teachers, and has a great discount for her students- so I gave it a whirl.

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Two sessions later and I’m totally hooked! Besides the immensely relaxing process that happens on the table (seriously, it’s even better than a message), I find I’m much more calm and centered for about four days after my appointment. I’m catastrophizing less, and am more in tune with my emotions. It’s been blissful.

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Plus, it’s just nice to talk with someone about my general wellbeing and stress management- we cover everything from my mood to my yoga practice to my work to my diet. Which led me to try The Whole 30 this month, per her recommendation.

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Now, years of fad-diet fails taught me that diets don’t really work for me. I’m much better with an “everything in moderation” approach to food. But this diet is so similar to how Trevor and I eat already, we decided to try it out.

The Whole 30 guidelines can be found here– basically, no gluten, sugar, dairy, legumes, or alcohol for 30 days. We are 14 days into it, and here’s what we like about it so far:

A big part of The Whole 30 is identifying and abolishing your cravings. For me it was sweets, for Trevor it’s been gluten. The first five days of this challenge were the hardest for me- 2:30 in the afternoon would hit and my sweet tooth would start going crazy! The second week in, I’m relishing the sweetness of whole fruits. Although I do miss my organic chocolate fix from time to time, I don’t feel controlled by it anymore.

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In general, we’re both feeling much more clean and energetic. Here’s what we’re not so hot on:

It costs more, and we’re eating a LOT more meat. We’re spending an extra $50/week on meat and nuts in order to keep us full enough. We used to eat meat once or twice a week. Now we have meat at almost every meal. Also, it takes even more prep work than we usually do- but this week I think I got the swing of things and devoted a whole Sunday to prepping meals for the week.

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We’ve still got another 2 weeks to go before we can start slowing re-introducing foods back into our diet. We’re thinking about keeping sugar and highly processed carbohydrates, like bread and pasta, out of our shopping cart for good. But we are looking forward to our old staples of rice, beans, select cheeses, and oats.

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If you’ve been meaning to clean up your diet but are looking for a little extra motivation, I’d highly recommend giving this program a try. It’s 100% free, there’s a wonderfully supportive online community (just search the hashtag #whole30), and it’s focused more on how to make your body feel GREAT, and less on losing weight.

Have you tried the Whole 30 before? What did you think?

 

 

Healthy Halloween

Halloween is one week from today, folks! This weekend is the perfect time to find that last prop for your costume and stock up on your candy supply. While you’re out shopping, consider branching out and buying a more natural candy instead of resorting to the scary classics.

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It’s a balancing point, I know- you don’t want to be the weird neighbor handing out the toothbrush or the apples… but maybe you’re taking a closer look at the label and thinking, “there’s a whole lot of stuff in here besides chocolate and peanut butter.”

Get rid of the guilt and support these three great brands:

Unreal: Candy Unjunked

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I got excited seeing these at CVS last year- a sure sign that natural, less-processed food was becoming a real trend. Yes, it’s still sugar-laden candy, but it’s got a lot less hard-to-pronounce ingredients than a Snickers bar.

Pros

  • Non-GMO
  • Made in North America
  • 100% Gluten-free ingredients
  • Ethically sourced
  • No preservatives, no corn syrup

Cons:

  • Shelf life of 9 months
  • Manufactured in a plant with gluten and nuts, so may not be 100% safe for those with severe allergies
  • Only sold in the US

Justin’s

Justins PB cupsThe healthiest Reese’s substitute you can find out there (unless you make your own.) Their nut butter travel packs are great for handing out, too (think healthy nutella in a squeeze pouch.)

Pros:

  • Certified Fair-trade and organic
  • Donates to Conscious Alliance, a grass-roots organization that provides youth awareness programs on severe hunger issues
  • Gluten free
  • Non GMO
  • Sustainable packaging (more than other brands.)

Cons:

  • The PB cups often look cloudy and a bit discolored due to “cocoa bloom,” when the chocolate reach temps over 75 degrees (because it doesn’t contain preservatives, it’s effected more than other chocolates.) Still delicious though!
  • Only two products: PB cups and Nut Butters (but really, what else could you want?)

KIND bars

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Looking to go the extra-hippy route? These bars will encourage healthy eating while still satisfying a mean sweet tooth.

Pros:

  • 100% whole ingredients
  • Protein boost (10 grams/bar)
  • Many flavors to choose from like Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate
  • Great brand with a commitment to social entrepreneurship
  • Gluten Free

Cons: 

  • The kids will hate you and most likely just give the bars to their parents (who will *love* you!)

Happy Halloween!

Turkey head(My proudest Halloween costume! I clearly got plenty of candy this year.)

 

Snack Attack: “Bacon” Coconut Chips

I’ve  been making this recipe for about 3 years now. It’s an easy snack I can throw in my lunch bag that cures my 3:00 craving for something sweet and salty. It tastes like candied bacon (but with more crunch), and it’s pretty healthy to boot! Let’s get to it.

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“Bacon” Coconut Chips

(Recipe from Fettle Vegan)

ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes (bigger chunks work best.)
  • 2 TB liquid smoke*
  • 1 TB Tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 TB maple syrup
  • 1 TB water
  • Heavy dash of chili powder (optional- but packs a punch!)

*Liquid smoke may not be an ingredient you’ve used or even heard of before, but it’s 100% natural. It’s basically smoke passed through a tube from a chamber filled with chicory wood chips to a condenser. Baking meets science!

Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl.

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Transfer to baking sheets (try not to overcrowd them.) Pop ’em in the oven and give them a stir every 5 minutes or so.

KEY NOTE: do not leave the kitchen during this process! You will forget about them and they will burn. Be patient- these chips are worth it. 

Once they’re golden brown and crispy, take them out and let cool 5-10 minutes. Store in a ziplock or air-tight container, and get snacking!

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Yes I’m still snacking, and no, you can’t have any.