Have a great day - eat something healthy.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 21 - We Did It!!!

Congratulations on 21 days well spent!

Well, cleanse friends we’re only a few hours away from the finish line. And typically I’d be counting down the hours, but this time I’m a little reticent about coming to the end of our journey. We've shared so much – funny anecdotes, mini-crises, personal challenges, little victories, discoveries, even poop stories! After our 3-week immersion together, I feel like it’s the last day of camp and I’m saying goodbye to all my cabin mates.

I hope you’re all feeling refreshed and energized and really proud of what you’ve accomplished. Many of you have shed some pounds; most of you have said you’ve felt more energetic and have been sleeping better than usual. And I think we’ve all realized that we don’t necessarily need the habits, behaviors, foods and beverages we’ve clung to as much as we thought we did before this process began.

Many of you have said you felt empowered by doing the cleanse. What a potent word that is! And so accurate! We accepted a challenge, faced it, worked our way through it, and completed it. For that alone, let’s be proud. But more importantly, we’ve learned that by simply modifying our diets for a short period of time we can restore balance in our bodies and create a chain reaction of wellness throughout every aspect of our lives.

The body is so grateful and responsive when we do what it needs. Good health doesn’t just happen – the more active a role we take in our own well-being the better off we’ll be. You’ve all proven that in just three weeks.

This process is the opposite of SAD (Standard American Diet). And it can be daunting and isolating. So I thank all ov you for agreeing to do this together. Your support, caring and kindness have been so inspiring – how wonderful it is when strangers come together, share a goal and support each other as we work toward it! Thank you all so very much for your honesty, your candor, your humor, your words of encouragement and your unfailing enthusiasm (even when the going got tough). Look where it got us! I suspect that some of us may have wondered whether or not we’d make it all the way. But we did! And I believe we did it because we did it together. So thank you all for your valuable contributions to our collective effort!

After our ongoing discussion about what do to on Day 22, I’ll propose this – let’s keep the lines of communication open. After today I’ll be posting on SkinnyPlus once or twice a week. I won’t be sending out the daily emails, but feel free to drop in to the blog any time. Post your thoughts, start a discussion, send an update, ask a question, share a recipe, keep in touch. And tell your friends to visit too!

In the meantime, here’s to our last day of purity together! I am so grateful that you have become my healthiest friends! Thank you for your courage, your determination, your humor, and your support! I have loved every minute of being with you! And I hope to see you next time!

With love,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Where Do We Go From Here? - Day 20

Many of you are giving a lot of thought to what happens on Day 22. Maybe it depends on how you see this photo - is it a sunrise? Or a sunset?

Today is a good time to take an hour for yourself and consider what you’ve experienced during the course of this cleanse. Be honest: What was hard? What was easy? What was challenging? what was rewarding? How do you feel today? How does that compare with before you started the cleanse? What are you willing to change? What are you unwilling to give up?

Whatever you decide, know that you have mastered an essential aspect of your life, your health, and your overall well being: Your diet. You have proven to yourself that you have control over what you put in your body. You’ve shown that you can face temptation and overcome it. And you’ve taken charge of – and responsibility for – your choices. Isn’t that empowering?!

Chances are we'll all go back to certain aspects of our previous eating patterns. How far back you go is up to you. In the past, some cleansers went back to eating meat but didn't care for the taste and texture as much as they did before. Others started purchasing only organic or free range animal products and found them to be just fine. Some people continued to eat all their meaty favorites, just not as frequently. And many started incorporating more meatless meals into their weekly menus.

Try things on for size and see what works for you. Maybe you'll eat fish and poultry regularly but keep beef and pork to a minimum. Maybe you'll continue to use agave or stevia instead of sugar or other sugar substitutes. Perhaps you love real butter and want it back. Fine. But maybe you'll continue to use soy or almond milk instead of cow's milk. These are things you can test and tweak along the way. See how you feel after you eat some of those old favorites - you're more in touch with how food affects your body now; let its widsom guide you as you make your choices.

You don't have to make decisions right away - this is an evolutionary process. And there's no right or wrong; whatever you choose to do is up to you. It's all in your very capable hands.

Isn't it interesting how our choices seemed so limited when we started this cleanse? And now that we're almost done, we have more choices than when we began. That, my friends, is abundance at work! 

I'll post an account of what I did after my first cleanse in today's comment section. And I hope our veteran cleansers will share their stories as well – each one is unique and valuable. Vets, if you’re up for it, please tell us how you've handled Day 22 in the past.

And newbies (who have rocked the f#@% outta this cleanse, by the way!), please tell us how you intend to greet your Day 22. Let’s hear about your fears, your goals and your plans! All thoughts, comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome!

I hope every one of us has the chance to savor a beautiful, peaceful, restful Sunday!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

If It's Good Enough for Bill Clinton - Day 19

By now, you've probably heard about former president Bill Clinton's recent weight loss. But how and why he did it is worth revisiting.

In the link below he explains the two primary reasons he adopted a plant-based diet:

1.)To lose weight;
2.)For better heart health.

You can be sure that Bill Clinton has the most brilliant medical team guiding and monitoring his healthcare regimen. So consider this a validation for what you're doing - you're in good company!

It's our last Saturday on the straight and narrow - savor every minute!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Food Discoveries - Day 18

Lucini Italia Cinque e' Cinque Tuscan Chickpea Frittata
Yesterday I was introduced to Lucini Italia Cinque e' Cinque Tuscan Chickpea Frittata Mix by Dan Blackburn, store team leader at my Whole Foods store. It's a gluten free, dairy free frittata mix that comes in powdered form and made from chickpea flour and rosemary - that's it. It's easy to make - just whisk the mix with water and olive oil, place it in the oven for about 20 minutes, let cool and serve. I tried the Rosemary flavor - there's also Traditional and Tuscan Fiery Chili - and it was fantastic! I'd put it up against a restaurant quality polenta in texture and flavor. And, most importantly, it passed the omnivore spouse test - Mark LOVED it!

Photo from thedailyrawcafe.com
Anyone remember Jello "No Bake Cheesecake?" And can you imagine the preservatives and chemicals in that stuff?! Well, I just found the perfect healthy alternative! I don't even remember how I stumbled across thedailyrawcafe.com, but it's a great blog with some wonderful ideas about preparing raw food. And when I found this recipe for a raw Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake on the site, I had to give it a try. Cashews, pecans, dates, carrot juice, lemon juice, spices, and a food processor are all you need to put this together. I was blown away by the crust - you could serve it alone as a dessert bar or cookie. And the "cheesecake" was pretty tasty too. Vanilla extract and pumpkin spices go a long way to give it a great autumnal flavor. I did not make the candied pecans that top the pie because they need to be dehydrated and I don't have a dehydrator. But I didn't miss them at all. And our cleanse buddy (and my neighbor) Kathleen gave it a try and a hearty stamp of approval. I like it too - in fact, I kept trying it to make sure I liked it. Then I had to toss the rest of it... otherwise all the weight I've lost on this cleanse would come right back! If you're interested in raw foods, this is a fun place to start.

And I realize it's late in the game, but better late than never! For those of you who are not close to a Whole Foods or health food store, here are links to the two protein powders I've found for the cleanse - Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 50 and Rainbow Light Engergizer Rice Protein in Vanilla. I prefer the flavor of the Manitoba Harvest (I use Hemp Pro 50 but there are other selections within the brand - it's entirely up to you).

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 50

Rainbow Light Engerizer Rice Protein Vanilla

Now you know everything I do! Have the weekend you deserve!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Let's have some fun!

It's rainy and crummy in Minneapolis; one of those days when everyone should be required to leave work, curl up in a cozy blanket, take in a couple of chapters of their favorite book and follow that up with a nap.

But our world doesn't work that way so we've gotta buck up and press on through the day. So let's have a little fun...Because we deserve it! This vid makes me really, really happy, especially because of the message that runs at the very end. I hope it brings a smile to your face today! Thanks to Jeannie's husband, Eric, who sent this my way.

Pure Fun

Booze - Day 17

For many of us, giving up alcohol is major challenge – especially when weekends or social gatherings pop up. But oftentimes we mindlessly order a drink in social situations simply because it’s a habit we picked up a long time ago. Most of us started drinking in our younger years when we were awkward and experimental – when alcohol was something new that helped us feel more confident and outgoing. But even after we’ve cultivated our own brand of panache, we continue to say yes to the wine at dinner parties, the drinks with colleagues after work, or the beers cracked during Sunday football games. And we don't even think about it because drinking is just “what people do.”

The habit of drinking is such a big part of our culture that it's deeply engrained in our lifestyles and psyches. And it’s scary to think about upsetting the status quo. The first time I cleansed I didn’t go out until Day 18 because I didn’t think I could sit at a bar or have dinner in a restaurant without ordering a glass of wine. And I didn’t want to make other people uncomfortable (I actually thought that what was in my glass had some bearing on how other people perceived me!). But on Day 19 I was obligated to go to a dinner party. I was certain I’d be the most boring – and bored – person in the room. But no one even noticed that I was drinking water (which I’d poured into a wine glass – probably more as a crutch for me than anything else). And to my surprise I had just as much – if not more – fun as I would have had with a couple of glasses of wine in my system.

That night I realized that my habit of alcohol wasn’t as necessary as I believed it was. I realized that I didn’t need it in social settings. And that made me think about the other times I would turn to alcohol, particularly as a reward for a good day or a pacifier after a bad one. Now I know I can stop and ask myself, ‘Do I really want this?’ Chances are, more often than not, the answer will be no.

This cleanse gives us the chance to retool our approach to alcohol. There may be some twinges or urges to head for happy hour or uncork a bottle, particularly now that the weekend is approaching. But when we feel those habitual pangs we can ask ourselves, ‘Why do I want this drink now?’ And when we have our answer we can ask, ‘Is there anything else I can drink – or do – that can take the place of a drink right now?’ If it’s about relaxation, a half-hour Yoga or meditation session works wonders. As does half an hour with the stillness of a good book.

And if you're in a social setting, try my favorite NA drink, a little cranberry juice shaken with soda water (just like a Cosmopolitan, but without the booze) and served straight up in a martini glass with a twist of lemon. It’s got all the sass without the shlosh!
Going booze-free brings our lives a clarity and balance which can be disturbed by just one glass of wine a day. And one of the greatest things about letting go of alcohol is waking up in the morning. There’s no lag time – no need to recover from the night before – you can start living immediately. And you don’t look like you drank the night before!

There are so many good reasons to put down the glass - cheers to all of you for having the courage to lose the booze! Here's to a swingin' Day 17!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Support Group

Hey, Gang - Suzie sent me this note last night and I'd like to share it with all of you. Everyone experiences this cleanse differently, but Suzie isn't seeing as many positive changes as most of us are. I hope you have some insights that you can offer to make it easier and more enjoyable for her. Looking forward to hearing your comments. Thanks!

Hello, Ivy ...I am dealing with the loss of my fuel--the caffeine. My daily intake was huge--- 2-3 times /day triple Venti at Starbuck's. This kept me wired and of course, a little manic. I thought it was energy.
 The food is not a big problem except that I am not a cook. I pick-up fresh produce at Whole Foods and make gigantic salads or brown rice and oven grilled veggies. I don't do recipes. I do miss chicken and fish. I haven't had meat in 2 years. And, my morning is the shake with the powders, banana, berries, green tea and almond milk. I snack on nuts. I'm not really hungry but definitely missing "good" food--turkey burgers, sushi, occasional pizza, etc. Normally eat out 3-4 days per week.It has been too hard to do this during the cleanse. This staying home is a change in my normal routine and a little depressing.
 Eliminating alcohol--yikes. It was the thing I reached for to relax my busy brain or prep me for social occasions. I don't enjoy going out without my vodka in-hand.

I have only missed one day of exercise since September 7th. I do feel lighter. I vowed not to weigh-in until day #22.
 So, bottom-line. When the cleanse is over---then what? I don't see going back but, I don't see this deprivation going on forever. Wondering what results I should expect and if when it's over if I will just resume my old ways. Have I done this for weight loss and not a lifestyle change?

I don't mind you sharing any of the above with the group. Their insight has been enjoyable and valuable.

Warmest regards,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

146 Reasons Why Sugar is Ruining Your Health

We can always count on veteran cleanser Robin (from Seattle) to make some great discoveries when we're in session. She turned us onto Coconut Bliss vegan ice cream and all sorts of other tasty goodies during a previous cleanse. And she linked us into Macaweb.com, a website with all sorts of organic, raw and super foods. Tonight she sent me this little gem 146 Reasons Why Sugar is Ruining Your Health and it's pretty eye-opening. Like I said to her, "I knew it was bad; I didn't realize it was this bad!" Thanks for sharing, Robin!

Dr. Oz on High Fructose Corn Syrup

How timely! Just found this today... Dr. Oz on High Fructose Corn Syrup

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 14 - Hunger vs. Habit

Many times eating or drinking is triggered by certain events or behaviors rather than by true hunger or thirst. Think about all the times you've sipped a glass of wine while you prepared dinner or lost count of the number of pieces of bread you munched while you waited for dinner at a restaurant.

Some of you may have felt some pangs of desire - almost Pavlovian responses to events or circumstances you encountered. But you've had to overcome those urges - you've been forced to think about them and then deal with them head-on. And I suspect that ultimately you realized that what you were missing was the behavior - the habit - and not the food.

So much of what we put into our mouths is driven by habit rather than hunger. And we think we can't live without certain foods when it's really the behavior we've become addicted to. But you've just gone almost two weeks without alcohol, sugar, caffeine, gluten and animal products - that's everything the Western diet is based upon! So you've shattered a few long-lived myths you've carried about yourself and about the choices you have when it comes to nutrition. You really do have a choice. Isn't it liberating to learn that?

I know it hasn't been easy and I realize that those deeply set habits are difficult to break - when you have years of a certain behavior instilled in your routine and your psyche, and when that behavior involves an addictive substance, letting it go is going to take a while.

Suzie in Chicago mentioned that she's feeling "raw" and that she misses waking up with her cup and winding down with her cocktail in the evening. I'm sure we all can empathize! I said to her, "Even today, after two years of being caffeine free, I feel just the teeniest bit deprived when I sip my green tea. I know it's good for me, and it's warm going down my throat, but it's not a cup of coffee. There's not the smell, nor is there the ritual of making it (what's the fun of putting a mug of water in a microwave?). Even so, it's my new ritual, I know how good it makes me feel, and it's what I choose for myself at this moment."

I guess that's the lesson - that we have a choice, and that our choices directly affect our well being. I hope everyone feels a little more clarity, a little more energized, and a lot more empowered than we did when we started this journey. Congratulations on completing thirteen days of mindful eating!You've all done a great job!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cauliflower, Celery and Green Pea Salad

Doesn’t this look easy, light and lovely?

Cauliflower, Celery and Green Pea Salad

2 C chopped cauliflower florets
1 C diced celery
1 C fresh or frozen and thawed shelled peas
¼ C sliced green onions
1 C Healthy Ranch Dressing (make a link here)
Lettuce leaves for serving, optional
1 C coarsely chopped roasted cashews

Combine cauliflower, celery, peas, and green onions in a medium bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

To serve, toss with Healthy Ranch Dressing, spoon onto lettuce leaves, and sprinkle with roasted cashews.

From “Mariel’s Kitchen”

Ginger and Lemongrass Grilled Tofu

Ginger and Lemongrass Grilled Tofu

1 container of firm organic tofu
1 T chopped lemongrass
1 T chopped ginger
2 cloves chopped garlic
5 scallions, whites cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths and greens chopped
1/4 C light soy sauce (substitute tamari or Bragg’s Amino Acids)
2 T sesame oil
1 T agave
1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Peanut oil, for drizzling
1 small head radicchio, nice outer leaves removed and reserved, rest chiffonade
1 bunch watercress, cleaned
1 lime

Preheat the grill to high.

In a large, nonreactive bowl, combine the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, scallion greens, soy sauce substitute, sesame oil, and agave and whisk well. Add the tofu (cubed, water pressed out) and toss to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes (though the longer the better – in which case don’t turn on the grill til you are done marinating.)

Skewer the tofu, scallion whites, and red bell peppers onto skewers in whatever order you like. There should be 4 to 6 tofu cubes per skewer. Place the skewers on a flat plate and drizzle with peanut oil.

Place the tofu skewers on the grill and cook about 3 minutes per side, or just until the tofu browns.

Place the whole radicchio leaves around the edge of a platter. Mound the chiffonade radicchio and watercress inside the leaves and around the platter. Remove the skewers from the grill and place on the bed of greens. Squeeze the juice of a lime over the tofu.

From GirlieGirlArmy.com

Cauliflower, Celery and Green Pea Salad

Doesn’t this look easy, light and lovely?

Cauliflower, Celery and Green Pea Salad

2 C chopped cauliflower florets
1 C diced celery
1 C fresh or frozen and thawed shelled peas
¼ C sliced green onions
1 C Healthy Ranch Dressing
Lettuce leaves for serving, optional
1 C coarsely chopped roasted cashews

Combine cauliflower, celery, peas, and green onions in a medium bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

To serve, toss with Healthy Ranch Dressing, spoon onto lettuce leaves, and sprinkle with roasted cashews.

From “Mariel’s Kitchen”

Light Chickpea Salad

A tasty lunch might not get any easier than this!

Light Chickpea Salad

1 16-oz. can chickpeas, drained
3 stalks celery, diced
3/4 C vegan mayonnaise
2 T lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t minced fresh parsley
1 T chopped onion
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix the chickpeas and celery. Add the remaining ingredients and season, to taste.

Makes 4 servings

From vegancooking.com

Fried Rice with Edamame, Scallions and Tofu

This dish became a staple for Mark and me early on in my cleansing life. It’s easy and open to modification so consider this an outline for a great stir fry; then create your own variations.

Fried Rice with Edamame, Scallions and Tofu

1 T plus 1 t canola oil, divided
2 large cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, greens included, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 T minced ginger
4 C leftover cooked brown rice
3/4 C finely diced red pepper
3/4 C cooked, shelled edamame
1/2 C fresh or frozen, thawed, corn
6 oz firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 eggs, beaten (substitute 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder, 1 heaping tablespoon oil, plus 1 tablespoon warm water per egg)
3 T Bragg's Amino Acids

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add the garlic, scallions and ginger and cook, stirring, until softened and aromatic, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the rice, red pepper, edamame, corn and tofu and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Make a 3-inch well in the center of the rice mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of canola oil, then add the egg substitute mixture and cook until nearly fully scrambled. Stir into the rice mixture, then add Bragg’s and incorporate thoroughly. Serve hot.

From Foodnetwork.com



2 jars organic tomato sauce
6 plum tomatoes, chopped into eighths
1/4 C olive oil
2 T coconut oil
2 t fresh basil, chopped
2 t salt
1/2 t asafoetida powder
1/2 t cumin powder
1/2 t black mustard seeds
1 small, fresh green chili, chopped fine
1 t black pepper
2 t organic black strap molasses

Heat oils over medium flame. Add your mustard seeds and fry for 45 seconds or until they begin to pop. Add your chili, basil, hing and powdered spices. Fry for one minute and add chopped tomatoes. Cook down 5 minutes and stir until you have a thick paste of tomatoes and spices. Then add sauce and bring to a bubble. Add molasses and reduce to simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve on the gluten free pasta of your choice.

From GirlieGirlArmy.com

Jeannie's Vegetable Stew

Jeannie from Dallas has been kind enough to share her recipe for vegetable stew. Looks easy and delicious – just the kind of recipe we like! Thanks, Jeannie!

Jeannie’s Vegetable Stew
1 T. olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
5 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch asparagus, cut in one inch pieces
1 can artichoke hearts, cut in half
1 C vegetable broth
1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 15-oz. can cannelini beans, drained
1 t dried tarragon, crushed in mortar and pestal
½ t salt
Fresh ground pepper
½ C grated parmesan cheese (unless cleansing)
Cooked rice or pasta, optional (gluten-free, if cleansing)

Heat oil in dutch oven or large frying pan over medium heat. Add shallots and green onions and cook until tender about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute. Add asparagus and cook, stirring, one minute. Add artichoke hearts, broth, tomatoes, beans and tarragon.

Cook over low heat until vegetables are tender, 12-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and serve over rice or pasta. Or serve as stew without rice or pasta. Top with cheese, optional.

Peppered Pumpkin and Potato Ragout

This is one of our all-time favorite soups and it was a hit with the cleansers in the fall of ‘09. It’s restaurant quality and has such a rich, warm flavor - you might call it a thing that makes you go ‘mmm!’

Peppered Pumpkin and Potato Ragout

1 T olive oil
1/2 C chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 C cubed fresh pumpkin
1 C cubed potato, unpeeled
1/2 t salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes , or to taste
1/2 t ground white pepper
3 C vegetable stock or canned broth
1 C peas, fresh or frozen, thawed

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

Add pumpkin, potato, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and white pepper, and toss to coat with oil. Stir in stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until pumpkin and potato are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add peas and cook just until peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Nutritional Information Per serving: Calories: 156, Protein: 6g, Total fat: 4g, Saturated fat: 1g, Carbs: 27g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 80mg, Fiber: 5g

4 Servings

From Vegetariantimes.com/recipes:  Vegetarian Times Issue: January 1, 1998 p.44

African Peanut-Potato Stew

I tried this recipe the first time I cleansed and it became an instant household standard; so much so that we got sick of it! But after taking a break, it’s back in the mix and it’s definitely a dish that will always be welcome at my table. It’s deliciously rich, exotic and satisfying. And note that directions are available for pressure cooker or stovetop preparation.

African Peanut-Potato Stew

1 onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 t minced fresh ginger
1 t minced fresh garlic
2 t ground cumin
1/2 t salt (optional)
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t crushed red pepper
1/4 t ground coriander
2 1/4 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 14.5-oz cans chopped tomatoes
2 14.5-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 lb green beans, cut in 1 inch pieces (fresh or frozen)
1 ½ C vegetable broth
¼ C natural peanut butter

Pressure cooker directions:
In 6-quart pressure cooker, heat over medium heat until hot. Add onion, jalapenos, and 2 tbsp. water and cook about 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed. Stir in ginger, garlic, cumin, salt, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, and coriander, and cook 1 minute, stirring.

To onion mixture in pressure cooker, add tomatoes with their juice, sweet-potato chunks, chickpeas, broth, and peanut butter. Following manufacturer's directions, cover pressure cooker, bring up to pressure, and cook under pressure 5 minutes. Quick-release pressure as manufacturer directs.

Add green beans to pressure cooker. Return to heat and cook, covered, until beans are done, about 10 minutes. Or, return cooker to high pressure and cook for one minute. Quick-release pressure and add additional seasoning as needed.

Regular stove-top directions:
Place 1/3 C water, onion, jalapenos, ginger and garlic in a large pot. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add cumin, cinnamon, salt, red pepper and coriander. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chickpeas, green beans, vegetable broth, and peanut butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Serves 6-8

Nutrition per serving: 358 Calories (kcal); 8g Total Fat; (18% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 61g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 203mg Sodium

From fatfreevegan.com (adapted from other recipes by Susan Voisin)

Tofu & Black Bean Tacos

I LOVE this recipe and have it at least once a week. I cut the recipe in half (because Mark still likes turkey in his tacos), and add smoked Spanish paprika to the mix for a nice, smoky flavor. You can put this "taco meat" mixture on a salad or for a treat, find gluten free corn tortillas. Very, very good!

Tofu and Black Bean Tacos

1 14-oz package extra-firm tofu, drained
1 1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t salt
1 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
12 corn tortillas, warmed
3 cups shredded green leaf lettuce
2 cups chopped tomatoes

Put tofu, chili powder, oregano, cumin, coriander and salt into a bowl and mash together with a fork. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and two-thirds of the green onions and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tofu mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes. Add beans and remaining green onions, stir well and cook until beans are heated through, about 2 minutes more.

Spoon tofu mixture into tortillas, top with lettuce, tomatoes and serve.

Nutrition per serving (2 tacos/299g-wt.): 350 calories (160 from fat), 18g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 30mg cholesterol, 760mg sodium, 36g total carbohydrate (8g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 20g protein

From Wholefoods.com

Ginger-Peanut Tofu Salad

Ginger-Peanut Tofu Salad

1 block firm tofu, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
1/4 C creamy peanut butter
1/4 C thinly sliced scallions
2 T soy sauce (substitute tamari or Bragg’s Amino Acids)
2 T freshly grated ginger
2 t agave syrup
1 garlic clove, pressed
Sriracha sauce, to taste

In a bowl, mash the tofu well. Add the peanut butter, stirring until mixed well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 2 to 3 servings

From vegcooking.com by Julie Hassan

Pumpkin Curry

There are two parts to this recipe: Baking the pumpkin, and then preparing the curry. For those of you who have never worked with fresh pumpkin, this is your chance to add a wonderful new flavor and texture to your cooking repertoires!

I found this recipe on Gluten-dairy-sugarfree.com and the author does a good job of explaining how to prepare the pumpkin – it might not be immediately evident, however, that you use only ½ of a medium-sized pumpkin for this recipe:

“To prepare the pumpkin, first I wash it and then I grab a heavy knife. Be careful here, as cutting any kind of pumpkin or squash is dangerous. Usually I remove the stem first, by scoring a circle around the edge with the knife, then giving it a good pull. Then begin at the top and work the knife down one side, then the other, always keeping a good grip on the side of the pumpkin that is away from the knife. Once you have cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the pulp with the seeds and set it aside. Use a spoon to scrape the inside free of the stringy pulp.

“A medium-sized pumpkin is the perfect size to make both this pumpkin curry recipe as well as pureed pumpkin for baking. I use one half of the pumpkin for the curry and the other for the puree. For the stir-frying-half, I use a strong vegetable peeler to peel the outer skin off the pumpkin. You may have to cut it again in half to reach all angles. Once the skin is removed, I dice it up into one- or two-inch cubes. Place the pieces in a casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake for about 45 minutes.”

Pumpkin Curry

“Now, for the pumpkin curry. While the pumpkin is baking in the oven, I start boiling some brown rice and chopping up some vegetables and tofu for the stir-fry. I use all vegan ingredients:

1 shallot, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 small block firm tofu, cubed
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 bunch thai basil leaves
2-3 T sesame oil
1 t salt
1 can lite coconut milk
2 t curry powder (more or less, to taste)

Heat the sesame oil (I use 1/2 toasted sesame oil and 1/2 regular) in a large skillet. Add the tofu cubes, shallot, and garlic; toss until browned. Add the zucchini and bell pepper, toss for another minute or two. Add the pumpkin cubes, coconut milk, curry powder, salt and fresh thai basil leaves. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until thick and fragrant. Serve over brown rice.

From gluten-dairy-sugarfree.com

Coconut Thai Rice Curry

Here’s an excerpt from an article about turmeric by Sara Novak of Planet Green…

“According to the BBC, ‘an extract found in the bright yellow curry spice turmeric kills cancer cells.’ Tests released by a team at the Cork Cancer Research Centre show turmeric can destroy gullet cancer cells in the lab within 24 hours. That’s no small deal. Now the question is, are you getting your fill?

“Turmeric is a wonderful spice that shows up in a host of ethnic dishes. I use it mostly for curries but it does show up in other recipes. Make sure that your turmeric has not gone bad as can often unfortunately be the case for our lesser used spices.”

From that same article came this lovely recipe…

Coconut Thai Rice Curry

“The original recipe was not vegetarian, but I decided to leave the meat out,” writes Sara. “The dish just doesn’t need it. This dish also highlights the season by including loads of root vegetables that add a sense of warmth. The miso paste is so important to this recipe because it makes it come together like it would in a restaurant.”

10 1/2 oz brown basmati rice
1/4 C organic coconut milk
2 C roasted root vegetables, cut into 1-inch cubes (sweet potatoes, rutabaga, beets, etc.)
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 T finely chopped fresh ginger
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 T curry powder
1/4 t turmeric powder
3 T soy sauce (substitute tamari or Bragg’s Amino Acids)
1 T organic miso paste
1 t cardamom

Cook the rice based on directions.

After about 15 minutes, start cooking the rest of the meal. Warm up the coconut milk along with root vegetables, shallot, garlic, ginger, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick in a medium to large-size pot over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add curry powder and turmeric and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook 3 more minutes.

Add cooked rice along with soy sauce, miso, and cardamom and combine. Simmer for five more minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf and serve.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com.
From care2.com

Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran

Veteran cleanser Jenny found this recipe during a previous cleanse. And Jenny has a very sophisticated palate – if she likes it, it’s gonna be good! Thanks for sharing, Jenny!

PS - Panch Phoran is also known as Bengali 5-Spice – the recipe for it is below.

Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran

1 1/2 C or red lentils
4 C water
1 t turmeric
1 t salt (or to taste)
1/8 t canola oil (or canola oil spray)
1 T panch phoran
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 t red pepper flakes
1 t ginger paste (or 1 tsp. minced ginger)
16 oz diced tomatoes (or 1 can)
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/2 C water

Pick over and rinse the lentils and add them to a pot with the water and turmeric. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the dal is tender, about 20 to 35 minutes. When done, add salt and set aside.

While the dal is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Heat a large, deep skillet, preferably non-stick. When hot, add the canola oil and shake it to spread it around. Add the panch phoran and stir. (You may instead use oil spray; spray before and after adding the panch phoran.) When the first seed pops, immediately add the onion, garlic, pepper flakes, and ginger paste. Stir and cook until the onion softens, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower, and water, and stir. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes.

When the dal and cauliflower are both done, add the dal to the cauliflower mixture. Stir well, and check seasoning, adding more salt if needed. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve hot, over rice if desired.

Makes about 6 servings. Per serving: 193 Calories (kcal); 1g Total Fat; (4% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 34g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 378mg Sodium; 16g Fiber.

“If you want a more assertive panch phoran taste, grind an additional 1/2 tablespoon of it and add it during the last 10 minutes of cooking.”

Panch Phoran

1 tbsp nigella seeds(Jenny says, “also called black caraway or onion seed - I buy from Amazon.com”)
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds

Combine all spices in a jar, store away from heat and light.

Vegan Cashew Fondue

Vegan Cashew Fondue

1 clove garlic
1 t salt
2 C raw cashews
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 C filtered water

In a food processor, pulverize garlic and salt. Add cashews and process until finely ground.

Add lemon juice and mix well. Slowly add water one tablespoon at a time until a smooth, creamy consistency is reached. Serve with fresh veggies or thinly sliced apples.

Serves 4

From VegNews.com

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus With Cilantro

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus With Cilantro

2 red bell peppers
4 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 T tahini
2 T lemon juice
1 T mild cayenne pepper sauce
1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro
assorted vegetable sticks, for dipping

Preheat the broiler. Place the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet. Wrap the garlic in foil and place on the sheet. Broil the peppers 6" from the heat for 15 to 20 minutes, turning until charred on all sides. Broil the garlic for 15 minutes. Place the peppers in a sealed bag and let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, when it's cool enough to handle, peel the garlic and finely chop in a food processor. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel, core, and seed them. (You should have 1 cup of roasted peppers.) Add the peppers, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and pepper sauce to the processor and blend until smooth. Add the cilantro and process just until combined. For best flavor, store refrigerated for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. Serve with vegetable sticks or use as a spread for wraps or sandwiches.

From prevention.com

Healthy Ranch Dressing

I have yet to try this dressing but the ingredients look terrific and if it works for Mariel Hemingway, it’ll definitely work for me!

Healthy Ranch Dressing

1 6-oz package organic GMO-free silken tofu
2 T lemon juice
1 T olive oil
1 T chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Place all ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend until creamy and smooth. Refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Makes 2 cups

From “Mariel’s Kitchen”

Caesar Dressing

Sometimes it’s nice to have a creamy salad dressing and that can be a rarity while cleansing. I made this dressing the first time I cleansed and it did the job. And I think with a little tweaking it could be great – maybe a little more garlic; a little less tahini. If you’re the only one who will be using it, I recommend cutting this recipe in half.

Caesar Dressing

16 oz soft tofu, drained
1/2 C lemon juice
6 garlic cloves, crushed
4 T tahini
Salt and pepper to taste
1 t Dijon mustard
4 T capers
1 C olive oil
2 T fresh parsley

In a blender, combine the tofu, lemon juice, garlic cloves, tahini, parsley, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard and capers.

While blending, slowly add the olive oil and process until the mixture is smooth

Source unknown

Pumpkin Oatmeal

I think this breakfast treat could double as a dessert!

Pumpkin Oatmeal

Combine 1/3 cup canned pumpkin, 1 cup oatmeal, 1 to 2 teaspoons agave nectar, and spices of your choice, like cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice.

The pumpkin adds nearly 2.5 g of fiber and loads of immunity-boosting vitamin A.

Adapted from a recipe from Prevention.com

Lynn's Fabulous Smoothie

This smoothie was introduced to me by Lynn McMahan in Chicago, a gorgeous guru of all things healthy and sustainable, and it became a mainstay of my first few cleanses - it's so healthy, thanks to the green tea, berries, protein powder and psyllium. And for those of you who have not had the pleasure of introducing psyllium to your diets, it will really help clean out your system and then keep you regular going forward.

Be sure to find a cleanse-friendly protein powder. Many people forget that whey is a dairy derivative and is off limits. Many protein powders are very high in sugar content; some contain gluten. The two I’ve found are Rainbow Light Protein Energizer in Vanilla and Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 50. My preference is the Manitoba Harvest – it as 15g of protein, 1200 mg omega-3, and 10 essential amino acids. And it tastes better than the Rainbow Light (in my opinion).

Use this recipe as a guideline. I typically cut it in half - a full one is really filling and has more calories. Just add a little more than a half scoop of protein powder, cut the other things in half (except the psyllium - go full strength) and you're good to go. And you can mix and match the fruits - lately I've been using just bananas and blueberries and it's really good. I've also been drinking the green tea separately and not adding it in -makes the smoothie taste more like a shake. Love it! This is a great way to start the day!

Lynn’s Fabulous Smoothie

1 scoop protein powder
½ banana (I use the same portion for the half-smoothie)
1 C unsweetened almond of soy milk
½ C brewed decaffeinated green tea (optional)
¾ C organic blueberries (fresh or frozen)
½ C organic raspberries or strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 T psyllium
2-3 packets stevia (to taste)

Pulse to desired smoothness. YUM!!!!!

Jane's Five Grain Porridge

Jane, the creative cleanser who coined the term GAS CAP (for Gluten, Alcohol, Sugar, Caffeine, and Animal Products), shared this amazing recipe with us during a previous cleanse. Thank you, Jane!

Jane’s Five Grain Porridge

4 C---bring to boil and stir in the ingredients at ten minute intervals, in the following order:

1/2 C brown rice
1/2 C steel cut oats, rinsed
1/2 C amaranth
1/2 C millet
1/2 C quinoa, rinsed

After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let it sit for 30 minutes Then serve or refrigerate. Great and easy to reheat in the morning.

Jane says, “I use McCanns, and also organic steel cut oats from the coop. McCanns states the oats are gluten free but can't guarantee they haven't had cross contamination due to using same machines on others grains in their processing. Still, that's clean enough for me.

“It takes about an hour to make at night but makes a great breakfast on cold mornings, especially when mixed with blueberries or other fruit, and maybe some soy milk, and stevia, if you like it sweetened. The best part is it lasts several days and is easy to heat in the microwave.”

Day 13 - Drama

One of my favorite things about cleansing is that there’s nothing fueling my emotions. I know that what I’m feeling is real. It’s not blurred by alcohol, which is a great drama driver that makes me tired, crabby and headachy in the morning. My emotions are not propelled by sugar, which makes me completely bipolar – I get totally fired up after I eat it and then completely crash after my body has used it up. And I'm not crazed by caffeine, which just makes me plum loco – zippy to the point of being panicky and paranoid. Now I face issues with clarity instead of clouding them with chemicals. And that makes them much easier to deal with.

When you think about it, drama serves no productive purpose. It’s a waste of time and energy. Drama is useful only if you want to play the victim, wallow in a problem, or be the center of negative attention. But no matter your reason, when you stay in the drama you’re part of the problem.

By doing this cleanse you’ve chosen to be part of the solution. You’re empowering yourself by making healthy nutrition choices which are enhancing your overall well-being. You’re more awake and alert, you’re seeing things with clarity and experiencing them with a level head. And you’re probably feeling more energetic than you have in a while. Now you can direct that positive energy toward being part of the solution when dramas arise.

When an issue arises with your mate, your kids, your coworkers or anyone else, pay attention to how you react. Now that you’re leveling out the chemicals in your body you’ll be more able to think it through, resist from escalating the situation, and focus on becoming part of the solution. And your peaceful disposition will probably set a good example for everyone around you.

We’re already traveling lighter by doing this cleanse – our bodies feel it on a cellular level. Now we can lighten the load on an emotional level. Drama is too heavy – it’s excess weight we don’t need to carry. So here’s to dropping the drama today!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 12 - Cleansing the Spirit

It’s interesting that the subject of spirituality is weaving its way through our discussions right now. But it should come as no surprise - this is one of the most potent times of year. We’ve just seen the end of Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah; Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated on September 11th. Yom Kippur is taking place right now, and pagans will celebrate Mabon, the autumn equinox on September 21st. This is a time of renewal (shout out to Ramona!) and repentance, a time to give thanks for the abundance in our lives, and a time to look inward as we slow down after the carefree chaos of summer.

When I began learning about cleansing, Karyn Calabrese, whom I’ve mentioned frequently in earlier posts, told me that it was the portal to the spirit. But I didn’t get it. The way I perceived it, cleansing was only about the body. I mean, come on – you either modified or stopped your food intake – that’s totally physical! In my limited view, the spiritual existed in some unseen ethereal realm; a place that transcended the physical. And I saw the two as mutually exclusive...

...Until I did my first cleanse. Right away the physical part of cleansing began to manifest spiritual issues. At first, I had to deal with the feeling of deprivation – deprivation of my beloved distractions like peanut M&Ms, pizza, CokeZero, and sauvignon blanc. So I busied myself in the kitchen, experimenting with recipes and filling the fridge up with rice, lentil, and quinoa dishes, and soups of every color and texture. But once the fridge was full, there was nothing left to do but sit with the stillness that comes with cleansing.

You know what I’m talking about – that moment when you pick up a wine glass or a piece of cheese and then remember it’s off limits. The stillness hits right then - when you realize how much of your life is taken up in the pursuit of cleanse-unfriendly substances. And you’re faced with the task of filling up that time with something else. And it’s hard at first. So you sit in the stillness. And wonder what the hell to do.

I read. A lot. A self-help devotee, I’ve got all the bestsellers on my bookshelves. I return to "The Artist’s Way" again and again, I love anything by Deepak Choprah, and I’m a sucker for all things Dr. Wayne Dyer. But this time I turned to Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth.” It forced me to look at myself honestly – to strip away the myths I had created about myself, my life, and how I’d gotten to where I was. And I didn’t like where I was – on the verge of a divorce; or what I saw – an angry woman who was a victim, a bitch, and scared shitless.

But cleansing was the equivalent of being given a freshly sharpened machete to hack through the underbrush of my psyche. I faced ancient issues that had been lurking for decades and informing my actions and emotions, even in the present day. And I dealt with them rationally. That was something I'd never done before; in the past I always turned to something that would alter my consciousness (sugar, caffeine, or alcohol). But this time I didn’t have anything to turn to. Except myself.

I cried almost every day for the first 18 days. I grieved for my marriage, for myself, for all the mistakes I’d made, for all the wrongs I’d done. When the tears subsided, I examined the behaviors that had gotten me to where I was at that moment. And then I focused on changing them.

I decided that in the same way that I was practicing mindful eating, I’d practice mindful living. In the same way I considered the effects of my food choices, I would consider the effects of my actions. And in the same way I took responsibility for my diet, I would take responsibility for my life. And in so doing, I reclaimed my power. Check it out – power over my food choices; power over my life choices. How’s that for symmetry?!!

I gained confidence as I got further into the cleanse – I was doing something I never thought I could – and it bolstered my strength. I was no longer angry because I was no longer a victim. And I was no longer scared because I trusted my own strength. As I cleared away all the emotional debris that had kept me from a life of gratitude and hope, I could see that life developing - because I was finally creating it.

Cleansing helped me to reconnect with my authentic self, my soul, my spirit - whatever you want to call the part of me that invites and honors compassion, joy and love.

I don’t have a name for my higher power, but then again, I haven’t been in a plane that’s going down. Even so, I don’t doubt for a second that there’s a source that drives me. And as long as I keep the channels in this body clean, that source has a way to move through me. I believe spirituality is a collaborative effort - as long as I’m on Earth, my body is responsible for transporting my soul. And I think my soul deserves better than a junk heap. That’s why I’m here.

No matter your spiritual affiliation, I hope this rich season brings you a sense of abundance and gratitude. I hope you’re feeling healthy and happy. And I hope you’re feeling refreshed and renewed, in body and spirit. If you’re fasting for Yom Kippur today, I wish you an easy fast. And I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

With love,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 11 - Christopher's Take on Cleansing and Letting Go

Lord knows why I started this 21 day cleansing. I blame Ivy of course. Through mutual acquaintances, we crossed paths on Facebook at the time Ivy was campaigning the September cleansing, and as the business saying goes... Timing is everything. While this fortuitous event with Ivy may have crystalized my participation; the bearing point was set years earlier during the healing process that follows the surgery of divorce. The scars are healed; but evolving and growing beyond our past experiences and understandings takes a little creativity, a lot of letting go, and always leaving your heart open. I think the cleansing experience follows the point of letting things go. Some of the letting go I've focused on are:

• My perception of the amount and type of foods I eat. I know I would be surprised to know how little is needed to meet nutritional requirements of my body.

• Managing food cravings caused by life's distractions. When I have an urge for sweets or second thought for smooth bourbon I stop myself and ask "What am I really wanting at that moment."

Being trained as a scientist, I've immersed myself in the cleansing process as an experiment of mind, body, and spirit. I suspect one could focus on just the body component, but all three seem to be tangled in the same web. Pull on one silk string and the others shift as well. Women know this well; but linear-thinking men often miss the point.

For me, the food choices has become easy because of the limits imposed be space limitations living on a sailboat (especially refrigerated space) and the inconvenience of shopping for groceries. Yesterday, I hiked 8 miles to and from a farmers market. I hope the sugarless jam isn't a no-no! I keep my meal preparations very simple. I can do this because I've chosen to replace food emptiness with mind and spirit.

We get to choose how and what we use for filling emptiness. For me, it's been preparing for a new career and the adventure of sailing around Lake MI; anchoring in its protected harbors; swimming to the shoreline and taking nature walks and collecting natures gifts in the parks I encounter along the way.

Let go and let God,


p.s. I've been holed up in a snail shell harbor (wind protection for 360 degrees) and staying out of rain and a big blow. The harbor is adjacent to an abandoned late-1800's ore mining community (Fayette, MI) surrounding an ore smelting operation. Many of the shops, residences, factory buildings as well as business community of rooming houses, hotel and smith shops dot the landscape. I gathered fruit, nuts, and some mushrooms for tonights meal. It would be a perfect night for one of those distractions. Google Fayette Historic State Park. =

Jenny's Quinoa Lentil Dish (Thanks, Jenny!)

Hi Ivy!Thought I'd just send this to you because I don't know how to get the picture on the blog with it. I started out by wanting to use up what I had in the fridge that was in danger of going bad soon so here's what I came up with.

2 cups quinoa (cooked in organic veg broth)
1 cup cooked lentils (I had none ready, so I used a can of Amy's lentil soup and drained the liquid off!)
*1 small diced cooked potato
*1/2 c cooked carrots - sliced (*if you don't use the soup you don't need to add these cuz they're in it!)
Shitake and/or portabello shrooms (I had both so used em up)
baby zuchini - sliced
1/2 sweet onion
1 c raisins
chopped garlic (to taste - I like lots - I sleep alone haha!)
minced or dried basil
salt & pepper to taste

Everyone knows how to cook, so how you get this all together is pretty obvious...starting with the sauteing of onion and veggies together, seasoning, then adding the quinoa yadda, yadda...my one suggestion is to add the raisins last so they stay chewy when you eat them.

Oh and I like it HOT so I ate it with red chili flakes - I love a sweet-hot combination (the chili in garlic oil would have been perfect but I was out...and the calories...I can still find a way to "pork up" a meal huh?)

Thanks Ive!

This has been a rough week so this blog has been my pick-me up!

Day 10 - Progress Report

Woo hoo! We're in the double digits! Happy Day 10!

So far we've been talking about our food and alcohol issues and thanks to everyone who's been part of the discussions! Your contributions have made this cleanse so enjoyable and engaging. And for those of you who haven't commented yet, here's your invitation to chime in. The more the merrier - let's hear from you!

Today I wonder how everyone's doing with the other aspects of this cleanse. Have you gotten rid of any clutter in your life? Or introduced any new positive behaviors? Let's hear your story!

I've cleaned my desk and my computer. I'm keeping the new mail count in my email in-boxes low and dealing with things as soon as they arise instead of letting them sit on my desk and clutter my brain. I've also gone through my closet twice and thinned out my inventory. Now I just have to find a place to donate all the castoffs. Until I do, I'm leaving them on a chair in my office so they drive me nuts.

I've added (or reintroduced) basic habits like drinking 64 ounces of water every day, taking my makeup off every night, flossing every day (yeah, I'm ashamed to admit that there were days when I skipped it), and waking up at 5:15 every day. I also committed to giving up Spider Solitaire. And so far so good - on everything! I'm feeling pretty confident so today I'm going to add some other activities - like skin brushing before showering and studying French every day.   

I like being more organized and disciplined - I hope to continue these behaviors consistently after the cleanse.
So how about you? I hope you'll share your story and let us know how you're doing!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sleep - Day 9

By now it should be much easier to sleep. We're already heard from some cleansers who have said they're sleeping better than before they started cleansing. And it stands to reason - you’ve eliminated caffeine, sugar and booze – all major culprits in the conspiracy to keep you from getting the quality z's you deserve. Our friend and fellow cleanser Kathleen said, “Now I know that if I feel tired, it’s because I really am. I’m not crashing from caffeine, sugar or the wine I had last night – I’m legitimately tired.” How succinctly and beautifully put! Her body's doing exactly what it's supposed to do!

If you typically fall asleep in front of the television, now is a great time to try turning it off before you close your eyes. You’ll save some energy and probably improve the quality of your sleep – those flashing lights can’t be good! Same thing if you’re a reader who winds up slumped over and drooling into your book while propped up against a few pillows. Turn out the light and see what happens. Chances are you’ll drop off quickly - and your neck will thank you for it in the morning!

Waking up should be easier, too. You might look more awake in the morning; less puffy, perhaps. And check out your eyes – they’re probably clearer and more alert-looking. Don’t you love waking up… awake?

Be sure to check out Prevention Magazine for a great article - "This is Your Body Without Sleep." At the end of the article there are tips to help you get your sleep routine together.

Here's to a fine Day 9!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rewards - Day 8

Can you believe it? You’ve already finished the first week of cleansing! Maybe you’re thinking about giving yourself a treat – and you deserve one because you’ve done a great job so far!

But the reward system we’ve grown accustomed to is probably one of the most dangerous landmines we face in our dietary lives. From the time we smeared our first birthday cake across our faces we’ve been taught to celebrate through our mouths.

Special dinners, holiday meals, even funeral buffets find us hunched over our plates, fork or spoon in constant motion, prospecting for that one bite that will bring us a culinary version of comfort or joy. Some of us seek solace or celebration in liquid form, tossing back glass after glass of beer or booze in an effort to rejoice or relax. But in either case the satisfaction is only temporary and we wind up with an overstuffed belly, a pounding head, and an empty soul.

This cleanse gives us time to rethink and redefine our relationships with food and alcohol – it’s the perfect time to consider a more sophisticated way of rewarding ourselves when we deserve a little something special. Some of you have already experienced challenges and victories during the course of this cleanse. And some of you have probably felt like you deserved a reward simply because of the sacrifices you’re making. But you can’t have a cookie, you can’t have a glass of wine – hell, you can’t even have a Wheat Thin!

So what do you do? Here are some ideas:

1) Get a mani/pedi - not express; the spa kind that gives you get the full royal treatment
2) Get your hair done - a new cut or color, highlights, straighting, deep conditioning
3) Take a Yoga class - Bikram for sweating out toxins; restorative is almost better than a massage
4) Buy those cute red (or whatever color your covet) shoes you’ve been eyeing
5) Make a date with your vibrator (very healthy!)
6) See a foreign movie
7) Spend an undisturbed hour with a good book
8) Take a walk
9) Get a makeover - fall is the perfect time to bring new colors into your makeup palette
10) Try a new perfume
11) Take a dance class - tap, salsa, pole; whatever gets your juices flowing
12) Get a wax - brows, upper lip, Brazillian, arms
13) See a concert
14) Get a massage
15) Go to the zoo
16) Tackle a Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle
17) Watch an old movie
18) See a psychic
19) Paint a room a new color
20) Get a cushy pair of slippers

We’re making all sorts of changes during these 21 days. This is the chance to shift your perspective and find other ways to reward yourself. What do you like to do? What gives you joy? What makes you feel safe, secure and well tended to? Whatever the answer, remember that you're already taking great care of your body - now is the time to feed your soul? You deserve it!

Here's to a great Day 8!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 7 - The Straight Poop

Suzie brought up a great question yesterday:  Is anyone else having a change of bowel activity? And chances are we all are.

Up until now I haven't written anything about poop - I'm not a doctor and don't want to give anyone bad advice. But I do know that happy bowels can make for a happier life. And I know that you're lying if you say that you don't know what it's like to have a poop that feels so good you're still thinking about it half an hour afterward! I'm proud to say that this morning is one of those times for me. How's that for frankness?

I've found a few trusted resources that might help you get a little more comfortable with the subject and explain the world of poop in a language that's easy to understand.

The first is The Dr. Oz Poop Primer. It's a 5-minute video that uses props to show the various kinds of poops - and there is a wide assortment - and what they mean.

The second is an article at Health.MSN.com that goes into detail about what your bowel movements can tell you about your health.

For those of you who have been taking psyllium every day, your bowel movements might be more... energetic... than normal. That's probably due to the fact that you've likely introduced a much higher level of fiber to your diet than what you're accustomed to - you're bound to notice some extremes. As you go through the cleanse, watch the color and consistency; then tailor your intake to get to a comfortable level.

I know this is a delicate subject, but it's an important aspect of our daily lives and an integral part of our overall health. So the next time you do your business, turn around and study it, learn from it, and let us know how things come out!  (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dining Out - Tips from a Pro!

Hi, All!

Fellow cleanser Brenda already has a few years of experience being sugar-free and a vegan and was kind enough to share some valuable tips on gracefully manuevering through menus and events. Thanks so much, Brenda!

Here's what Brenda had to say...

I'm loving this cleanse. I've been vegan, no sugar for two years but am especially enjoying being gluten and alcohol free.

I have a suggestion for eating out or eating at a pre-planned event. I find it usually is no problem if I call ahead and request a vegan meal. With a pre-planned event it's usually very simple, the hotel or restaurant is used to dealing with food allergies and/or issues. It's funny because when you do this you will often get a beautiful plate of grilled veggies and be the envy of the other guests. And for desert they will typically give you a bowl of luscious berries and again, everyone else at the table who might be at all health conscious will eye you with envy and ask the waiter if they can have the same.

With restaurants, I have found it's best if they offer side dishes on their menu. Gibsons is one of my favorite "vegan" restaurants because they have a great assortment of vegetable side dishes--I love their sauteed onions and sauteed mushrooms--yum!

When I know I'm going to a place with a challenging menu I will call ahead and give them a heads up that a vegan is coming. I've done this at Art Smith's Table 52. Some places just don't offer side dishes or have anything vegan on their normal menu but are usually very eager to please your special requests.

I also like your suggestion to not go to an event too hungry. The most challenging I have found is going to a cocktail party. There will be no appetizers typically that are vegan. If you go to an event like that straight from work, it's so difficult. You might be starving and there is just nothing for you to eat. I like your suggestion of always having some nuts with you in case you do get stranded. The same when I fly. I try to bring plenty of snacks with me so I don't end up ordering a tube of potato chips on the plane!

Best of luck to everyone doing this cleanse. Hope you're feeling great!


Day 6 - Dining Out

Yesterday Maggie had an interesting post about dining out and because it's such a large part of most of our lives it's worth discussing at greater length.

Cleansing is difficult enough on your regular schedule. And chances are many of you are curbing some of your social activities just to make things a little easier. But you can’t live your life in a controlled environment – the reality is you’re going to have to learn to eat mindfully in the real world.

At first you’ll probably spend most of your time and energy sidestepping all the landmines out there, but once you get your balance you can skip through it gracefully and have a good time doing it. And that means you’ll be able to do it whenever you choose – not only while you’re cleansing.

The first thing to remember about any event is – it’s not about the food. Let’s say that again – it’s not about the food. Instead, it’s about the people you’re with – your mate, your friends, your family, your colleagues. So concentrate on the people around you. Because you’ll be alcohol free and less focused on food you’ll be able to concentrate on what your companions are saying; you’ll be more engaged. And you might even have a better, more productive time than you would have had otherwise.

When you’re headed to a restaurant it’s fairly easy to check the menu online and devise an eating strategy long before you arrive. That way you won’t have to agonize over the menu while everyone else is watching. If you can’t find the menu online, call ahead and ask about finding something that will accommodate your needs. Most restaurants are very amenable to working with you to provide you a delicious, cleanse-worthy alternative. Be sure to check into side dish options - many restaurants offer baked or sweet potatoes - if you can score a side of salsa you'll have a delicious, satisfying main course. Steamed and grilled veggies are a mainstay in most restaurants - pair them with the potato and you've got a tasty, nutritional meal.

If you're not sure of what you're in for and just want to cover your bases, fix yourself a hearty protein smoothie before you head out - that way you won’t feel hungry or deprived when you’re forced to order a dinner salad with no dressing.

I realize that most of you have sophisticated palates and take your dining seriously. However, this article from The Healthy Voyager calls out some national restaurant chains that have great healthy items or alternatives on their menus. And even if you don't patronize these particular restaurants, this article might spark your imagination about how to navigate a challenging menu.

For events that feature a pre-planned menu, you’ll have to be a little more creative. But you can usually expect a salad, and vegetables with the entrĂ©e. If you can, have a smoothie beforehand; if not, drink water to curb your hunger and then work with what you have. But chances are you can ask for extra vegetables or an additional salad so you won’t go hungry.

No matter what the case, when you’re cleansing it’s good to have some nuts or gluten-free crackers in your purse, pocket or desk drawer. Come to think of it, it’s good even when you’re not cleansing – keeping healthy snack alternatives on hand can keep you from making choices you might regret later on.

Here's to a sunny Day 6!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day 5 - Cleansing and Traveling

Here we are on Day 5 already! I hope everyone's starting to find their groove and feeling some of the benefits of this cleanse.

This morning I'm writing in my hotel room... My husband and I flew to Chicago to visit family on a whim yesterday. And travel - not to mention family gatherings - add a whole new dimension to cleansing.

The further you get away from home, the more difficult it is to stay on track. But with a little foresight and planning it can be done. I packed decaf green tea, protein powder and psyllium (they're always in my travel bag now). And I smuggled some cashews and raisins in my carry-on bag and am keeping them in my purse for quick nibbles to quash hunger pangs.

Typically I'll make a stop at the nearest Whole Foods to stock up on hummus, a pre-cut tray of veggies, gluten-free crackers, nuts and soy milk. If there's not a Whole Foods nearby I hit a regular grocery store and usually can find everything I need. As long as I have the basics I know I won't go hungry. And that means there's less temptation - or rationalization - for cheating.

But this time I'm exceedingly lucky because Susan, my sister-in-law who's hosting this family gathering, is also a veteran cleanser. And she has a refrigerator full of cleanse-friendly food. There's no chance of my going hungry this weekend - in fact, I'll probably eat a little too much!

When- and wherever I travel, if I'm cleansing I make sure I know my basic nutritional needs will be met. And that means packing just a few extra provisions. After that, I know I can always order a salad or a plate of vegetables at just about any restaurant. I'm never going to go hungry - as long as I remember that, I'll be okay.

I hope everyone has some exciting plans for the weekend. I think we all deserve a great one, don't you?

Friday, September 10, 2010

About Losing Weight - Day 4

For those of you who are interested in shedding some pounds while participating in this cleanse, there are some things to consider.

1.) The first week of cleansing is a time of withdrawal, both physical and emotional. And during that time it's easy to eat a little more than usual – that’s where things can get a little tricky. It's easy to substitute quantity for what you used to consider quality – you might eat more because you feel like you're depriving yourself of your old favorites.

2.) Turning to non-meat sources of protein isn't as cut and dried as eating chicken or fish. Black beans are a tremendous source of protein but they're high in carbs. Same with quinoa. And it's those damned carbs that keep us fleshier than we'd prefer to be. The simplest trick to getting lean is to cut back on the carbs. Fitness buffs eat lots of chicken, fish and vegetables to strip off the fat. We can do the same thing - we just need to make sure we're getting at least some of our protein from tofu or tempeh and protein powder - they're packed with protein and low in carbs.

3.) The foods that become comfort foods while cleansing (rice, quinoa, gluten-free breads, pastas and crackers) are loaded with carbs. So be cognizant of how much of these types of foods you're eating each day.

4.) Calorie intake is the Holy Grail of weight loss. This is where a website called Livestrong can really help. Check out the My Plate feature, where you can enter each item of food you eat in a day and calculate the number of calories you’ve consumed. You can also enter any exercise you’ve done and it will add that into the mix. And you can enter your current weight and your weight loss goals (i.e., lose 1 pound per week) and it will calculate the number of calories it takes to do that. If you're honest and enter your intake every day it can really help you shed some of that insulation.

5.) Adding exercise to your mix will accelerate the process, so get up and move! Whatever you can do will not only help you burn calories, it will serve the essence of that body of yours! It was designed for activity – give it what it craves!

Veggies are the best for keeping you full while keeping the calorie count low. Fruits are great too, but keep an eye on the sugars they contain. If you've got to nibble on something, look to veggies first.

Water is great for curbing hunger. We often mistake thirst for hunger so any time you feel like to you want nibble on something, swig down 8 ounces of water first. Then see if you're really hungry.

And if you haven't already tried it, psyllium is a great jump-start for your digestive system. It can help clean out the pipes, which will help improve your digestion.

I hope this helps those of you who would like to shrink a bit during the course of this cleanse. Here's to getting healthy – and great results!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

10 Lies People Tell Themselves About Clutter

Look what showed up in my mailbox today! 10 Lies People Tell Themselves About Clutter. Any of 'em sound like you?

Day 3 - Clean Up Your Act!

Our fellow cleanser Kathleen came up with the idea of clearing out some clutter while we cleanse. I asked her to share her thoughts about it and she was kind enough to add it to the Wednesday, September 1 post, "Goodbye, Sweet Summer." But you may not have seen it so I'm placing it right here...

"I am reading a book called 'Throw Out Fifty Things' by Gail Blanke. I am recycling, giving away things that I don't want or need. She writes a lot about emotional baggage attached to things. If something makes you feel bad get rid of it. A friend of mine hung onto a dress that she was wearing when her boyfriend broke up with her. She told me everytime she put it on she thought of the break-up. I think I finally talked her into giving it away. I think the key is to surround yourself with things that you like and make you feel good. I plan to go through my closets, drawers, car trunk, etc. during this cleanse to "Clean up my Act". Is anyone else in???? Kathleen"  

I know I am! In the last two days I've cleaned off my desk, pared down the number of emails in my In Box, and cleaned up a few drawers in my closet. Today I'm going to tackle my summer wardrobe and purge the things I didn't wear this season. For the next three weeks my goal is to keep my closet, desk and computer clutter free. I may add some other goals but for now I'm starting small. And I'm excited about having neater living and working environments!

Okay, now you! Kathleen asked, "Is anyone else in???" Are you? And what part of your act needs cleaning up?

Here's to a smooth Day 3!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Emergency Post - Caffeine

Right now, some of you might be hitting a wall. If you’re feeling sluggish, dopey, irritable, headachy and generally tapped out, you’re probably going through caffeine withdrawal.

Caffeine, while seemingly innocuous, is the most widely consumed mood altering drug in the world. Of course we don’t think of it as a drug – certainly not during the morning ritual of putting up the first pot or hitting the neighborhood coffee house for a double whackucino on the way to work. It never crosses our minds that we may be addicted when we gulp down a cola, an energy drink or another cup of coffee or tea during a morning break or on the way to the next meeting. And most of us don’t give a second thought to the caffeine content in the chocolate bar we ravage mid-afternoon – nothing like a caffeine and sugar high combined!

But the truth of the matter is caffeine has us by the short hairs – most American adults have fallen into its vicious cycle of dependence. You know what I’m talking about – you have a bad night of sleep so you wake yourself up with caffeine; you’re tired during the day so you spike up with some more; then you don’t sleep well that night. And on it goes until we don’t know any other way to live. But, when you think about it, being alternately tired or wired equates to low-grade manic depression.

And we can thank caffeine for the condition. Studies have shown that “caffeine can have a disruptive effect on your sleep. The most obvious effect is that it can make it hard for you to fall asleep. This will reduce your total sleep time. Caffeine also can reduce the amount of deep sleep that you enjoy.”1 Before you get all smug thinking, ‘I don’t have caffeine after 5:00 p.m.’ or even after noon, consider that “the effects of caffeine can last anywhere from 8 to 14 hours.”2

So now caffeine’s got you sleep-deprived, what’s next? Gulp down a few more cups and let the games begin – because this is where it gets good. “Studies have shown that high dietary doses of caffeine (200 mg or more)* increase anxiety ratings and induce panic attacks in the general population. Individuals with panic and anxiety disorders are especially sensitive to the effects of caffeine. Although highly anxious individuals tend to be more likely to limit their caffeine use, not all individuals with anxiety problems naturally avoid caffeine, and some may fail to recognize the role that caffeine is playing in their anxiety symptoms.”3

During my first cleanse my panic attacks disappeared. Since then I’ve stayed off caffeine and the panic attacks are a distant memory – it’s been over two years since I’ve had an incident!

You may be in a temporary slump right now, but in a few days you’ll be off the manic caffeine roller coaster for good. You’ll sleep more easily and deeply. You won’t need caffeine to wake up. And the cycle will be broken. Withdrawal typically lasts anywhere from two days to one week so there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there – some things you’ve just got to gut your way through. But, take it from one who knows – it’ll be worth it!

1,2 By Donald R. Townsend, PhD on www.sleepeducation.com
3 From the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center website, http://www.caffeinedependence.org/
*Approximately 2 6-oz cups of brewed coffee contain 200mg of caffeine

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day 1 - A Commitment to Yourself

Good Morning, Cleansers!

Today we begin a journey that will give us new insights on our relationships with food, alcohol, ourselves and others. And it may seem daunting as we take our first steps, but remember that we’re all here together to hold each other up, to share war stories and to celebrate little victories. So know that you’re not alone, and remember that you deserve to look and feel your absolute best!

We all deserve to be well taken care of, even if we're the ones who have to do it. And that's exactly what we're doing with this cleanse. It may feel a little awkward and challenging at first, but we'll all find our rhythm soon. So hang in there, have a great Day 1, and check in when you can.

Today I commit to putting myself first for the next 21 days. I can devote 5% of the year to me. I spend the other 95% worrying about someone or something else, skipping workouts to work late or drive the kids around, eating poorly when I’m crunched for time, sacrificing my time for family time. But for the next 21 days I’m going to prove to myself that it doesn’t always have to be that way. For 21 days I’m not going to be pulled by my life – I’m going to set its course. And during that time I will allow myself to believe I deserve to come first, that I deserve to be healthy, that I deserve to feel great, that I deserve to look good, that I deserve the time it takes to care for me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The 2 Best Reasons to Cleanse

Photo by Stefano Valle
Most of us can come up a slew of reasons NOT to cleanse. It's time consuming, it's challenging, it's limiting and yadayaydayada. So why bother? I can think of two great reasons off the top of my head:

1.) To feel better.  Trust me on this one. After you go through the intial withdrawal from eliminating caffeine, sugar and alcohol, you'll feel more awake, alert, and energetic than you've felt in years. And instead of relying on outside sources to give you a kickstart, you'll be self-propelled. What a way to travel!

2.) Look better.  While you're cleansing you'll be eliminating foods that are difficult to digest (animal products), inflammatory (sugar, gluten), and toxic (caffeine, alcohol). And your body will thank you for it. Your cells are designed to heal and replenish themselves and by elminating foods that hinder the process, you'll allow them to do their job to the fullest. You'll probably notice that you feel less bloated. Your eyes might sparkle a little more than usual. And your skin might even become more radiant. Many people also report having stronger nails by the end of the cleanse. It's different for everyone, but chances are you'll see favorable results.

Okay, they're pretty simple reasons. But think about those days when you feel good and look good. I don't know about you, but those are the days when I feel invincible! Don't you think we all should have more days like that?