Have a great day - eat something healthy.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Check out a new movie called Farmageddon - The Unseen War on Family Farms "It tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities but were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies, and attempts to figure out why." The site has listings for screenings throughout the country.

This weekend there are two screenings in Minneapolis - one at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday at St. Anthony Main Theatre and another at 3:00 p.m. Sunday at Bryant Lake Bowl. You can buy tickets for either showing at BrownPaperTickets.com. Mark and I are headed to the Sunday showing - maybe we'll see you there!

Be sure to scroll down on this page for a great recipe for a kickass roasted tomatillo and garlic salsa!

Roasted Tomatillo and Garlic Salsa

Roasted Tomatillo & Garlic Salsa

I don’t know anything about cooking with tomatillos but when I found them at the farmers’ market I had to have them. Mark and I had been at a Mexican restaurant the weekend before and thoroughly enjoyed the chips and tomatillo salsa they served us while we waited for our entrees to be delivered – I figured that was a good place to start.

I found this recipe and Mark and I agree it’s really good. But as with any salsa, the recipe is just a starting place – you can add other ingredients to make it your own. Onions, cumin, avocado, peppers – play around with it until you come up with something that works for you. But this recipe will give you a salsa that packs some heat and tastes fresh, fresh, fresh!

Roasted Tomatillo and Garlic Salsa

1 lb fresh tomatillos, husks removed
1 head garlic cloves, separated and peeled 3 fresh jalapeno peppers
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1/2 C water, or as needed
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven's broiler. Arrange the whole cloves of garlic, tomatillos, and jalapenos on a baking sheet. Place under the broiler, and cook for a few minutes. Remove garlic cloves first, as soon as they are toasted, to avoid developing a bitter flavor. Continue to roast jalapenos and tomatillos until evenly charred, turning occasionally. Set aside to cool. Don't remove the charred parts of the tomatillos or the peppers. They add a really nice flavor.

Place peppers and tomatillos in a food processor or blender with the garlic and cilantro. Add a little water to the mixture if necessary to facilitate blending. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until serving.

From allrecipes.com 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ooh, so good Pakoras (Indian Lentil Cakes) with Tomato Chutney

Pakoras with Tomato Chutney
Stunningly delicious!
I'm going to be teaching more classes about cleansing at Whole Foods, and I'm excited because not only will I be leading a cleanse overview class, I'll be teaching some cooking classes as well. One will focus on cleanse-friendly comfort foods; another will have more of an international flair. I've started sifting through all my recipes and experimenting in the kitchen so I'll be posting new recipes as they earn the Mark & Ivy Two Yums Up designation. I've already posted a great recipe for Curry Tofu Salad and there will be more to come but first things first...

This recipe for pakoras (Indian lentil cakes) with tomato chutney knocked us out! Its blend of complex flavors is simultaneously strong and subtle - fresh tomatoes, garlic cilantro, cumin, fennel, and ginger pique the palate with alternating bursts of heat, sweet and savory; underneath it all, sweet onion and earthy chick pea flour hold a steady, substantial base. Originally I opted to try this dish because I figured pakoras would be a unique treat for my upcoming international class, but after one crunchy, chewy bite I realized they could slip easily into the comfort food category as well. Now I'm not sure which class will be lucky enough to sample this dish - maybe both!   

The pakoras recipe called for yellow split peas. but because the recipe actually contained the word "lentil" in its title, I used the red lentils I had in my pantry. They worked beautifully and I suspect green or brow lentils would work well too. The recipe also called for 1-2 tablespoons of water to shape the mixture into patties; to the contrary, I found I needed to add more chick pea flour - about one extra tablespoon - to give it a "sticky" consistency. See what works for you - it's something you'll have to play with as you put the dish together. Lastly, the chutney preparation called for blanching a tomato, something I'd never done before. But after viewing this 49-second video it was a snap - who knew peeling a tomato could be so easy? 

A hands-down winner, I'm thrilled to have found it and offer it to you! I hope you'll enjoy it as much as Mark and me!

Pakoras (lentil cakes)

1 C yellow split peas-washed and soaked overnight
2 cloves garlic
1 small chili
1 t cumin seeds
1 t fennel seeds
1/2 t salt
1 T finely chopped onion
1 - 2 T chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
1 - 2 T besan (chick pea) flour

Drain peas.

Place garlic, chili, cumin and fennel seeds in a blender with peas and process till peas are coarsely ground.

Mix in salt, onion and coriander. Add besan and 1 - 2 tbsp water to make a sticky mixture.
Shape teaspoonfuls of mixture into small patties and fry till golden brown on both sides.

Serve with tomato chutney.

Tomato Chutney

1 large tomato - blanched and quartered
1 clove garlic
1cm piece ginger
1 - 2 small chilies
1 C coriander or mint
1/2 t salt

Blend all ingredients except the salt. Store in fridge. Add salt just before serving.

Recipe from Sharon D’Arcy
Found on ivu.org (International Vegetarian Union)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pakoras (lentil cakes)

1 C yellow split peas-washed and soaked overnight
2 cloves garlic
1 small chili
1 t cumin seeds
1 t fennel seeds
1/2 t salt
1 T finely chopped onion
1 - 2 T chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
1 - 2 T besan (chick pea) flour

Drain peas.

Place garlic, chili, cumin and fennel seeds in a blender with peas and process till peas are coarsely ground.

Mix in salt, onion and coriander. Add besan and 1 - 2 tbsp water to make a sticky mixture.
Shape teaspoonfuls of mixture into small patties and fry till golden brown on both sides.

Serve with Tomato Chutney.

Recipe from Sharon D’Arcy
Found on ivu.org (International Vegetarian Union)

Tomato Chutney

1 large tomato - blanched and quartered
1 clove garlic
1 cm piece ginger
1 - 2 small chilies
1 C coriander or mint
1/2 t salt

Blend all ingredients except the salt. Store in fridge. Add salt just before serving.

Recipe from Sharon D’Arcy
Found on ivu.org (International Vegetarian Union)

Time to Get Vegucated!

First it was Forks Over Knives; now it's Vegucated. And I can't wait to see this film! It's already getting good reviews at film festivals and will probably keep gaining momentum as the word gets out. You might have heard about it - the movie follows three hardcore carnivores from different backgrounds who go vegan for six weeks. And according to GirlieGirlArmy.com, "Writer/director Marisa Miller Wolfson has taken a topic of deep seriousness and made it somehow hilarious and playful whilst simultaneously being so informative and educational that it will change your life if you let it."

Check out the websitegetvegucated.com for information about screenings in your area. Here in Minneapolis, it will be at the Riverview Theater at 7:00 pm on Monday, November 7th. Click here to purchase tickets. And if any Twin Citians want to link up for the show, let me know - it would be fun to check this out together!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Curry Tofu Salad

I'm a writer, not a photographer -
trust me, this dish is really good!

Holy cow, is this recipe ever good! I love the curry tofu salad at Whole Foods but I wanted to be able to make it at home to monitor the sugar and sodium contents and play around with flavors and ingredients. I stumbled across this recipe at a Holy Orthodox priest's website (don't ask me how I got there) and only had to modify one ingredient to make this dish entirely cleanse-friendly – I swapped out the soy sauce and substituted Bragg's Liquid Aminos to make the dish gluten-free. Thankfully, that's one of those switches that you’d never notice if you didn't know about it. 

Savory, sweet, chewy and crunchy, this recipe definitely gets two yums up!!!

Curry Tofu Salad

2 packages tofu, extra firm, diced
4 T olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 t ginger powder
1 T curry powder
1/2 T soy sauce (substitute Bragg's Liquid Aminos to be gluten-free)
1 T agave nectar
1/4 t salt
1/2 C vegan mayonnaise
1 T lime juice, fresh
1 bunch green onions
1/2 C raisins
1 package slivered almonds

In a large saucepan over med to med-high heat, saute tofu until browned and firmed. Set aside to cool, draining on a paper towel. Saute bell peppers for 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, add curry powder, ginger, soy sauce, agave nectar and salt to vegan mayonnaise.

Mix everything in a bowl, and add raisins, shaved almonds, green onions, and lime juice at end*. Stir.

* - In my haste to make this dish, I inadvertently added the lime juice to the mayo mixture - it didn't seem to make a difference.

From andreasblom.wordpress.com

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Kid on the Block

This Wednesday the Twin Cities' latest Whole Foods store will officially open in Minnetonka, just north of the Ridgedale mall. And if yesterday's sneak peek event is any indication, it's going to be a welcome addition to the area!

People were lined up to take store tours and sample foods and beverages from an array of vendors - many were disappointed they couldn't pull out their wallets and start purchasing groceries!

The store feels fresh and modern and offers some new features not found in the St. Paul or Lake Calhoun outlets - particularly a taqueria, where I've heard that the vegetarian tacos and burritos are tastier than their meaty counterparts. I can't wait to give them a try!

For the tens of thousands of western suburbanites who have been going miles out of their way to get to the Lake Calhoun store the Minnetonka store is long overdue. Obviously it will ease their commute, and maybe it will clear up some of the congestion in the Lake Calhoun store's parking lot! Seriously, it's great to know that the Twin Cities is a strong enough market to support this new store (and yet another one that will open in Edina early next year!). It speaks to Minnesotans' commitment to healthy lifestyles and that's cool as hell!
Congratulations to Whole Foods for a great-looking store in an awesome location, and kudos to all of us healthy Minnesotans who made it possible!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Graduation Day - What's Next?

Congratulations, Cleansers! It's the final day of the 21-day cleanse!

There's something rare and mysterious about finishing anything. It brings a sense of accomplishment; it can often give us a sense of calm, if only momentarily. But it always begs the question, "What's next?" As soon as we finish one thing, we begin another - it must be a law of nature. So when we finish cleansing, we must begin another way of eating and that's not always easy.

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. 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 all your 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!

Congratulations to everyone who participated in this cleanse - it's never easy and it requires dedication and determination. You've brought something into your life that can you can enlist at any time to serve you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually - how empowering is that?!!  Thank you for being a part of this process and for sharing your thoughts and experiences as you've gone through it. It's always better with buddies... Thank you all for being my cleanse buddies!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Susan's Observations - Holding Strong

I love your breakthrough moment. We don’t need others to validate what we are doing. I get multiple comments from my family and friends telling me that this cleanse is ridiculous. They all advise me that I should not be so extreme and that I should maintain a healthy diet – everything in moderation.

We are all cleansing and experiencing it differently. This is my third time cleansing and it is a piece of cake this time. The other times, I was consumed by it. I started this cleanse on 8/31, so technically my 21 days are up. Yesterday, instead of dipping my carrot and pepper sticks into the guacamole, I joined the rest of the family and allowed myself to have ten tortilla chips. I also had a Diet Coke. Well, this must have been a major shock to my system. I was up all night with a bad stomach ache. When you eat clean and good, you feel good. When you eat crap, you feel like crap. I’m back on the bandwagon today.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Jenny's Story - Attitude is Everything

Here's a post from veteran cleanser Jenny, who is visiting her grandkids in California...

I've been in babyland so too tired or too unavailable to post. Since I can't post right to the blog for some reason, I'll have to leave it to you to decide what you want to do with my comments, but here goes...

Having been in LA the past few weeks I got to enjoy a very fitness-minded atmosphere. EVERYONE takes care of themselves! Even the moms at Luke's school waiting to pick up their kidlets after class are all in their workout clothes - before AND after. What a test to one's self esteem! Still, it makes all the difference if you're making your own efforts.

That got me thinking about how your mind and your attitude is as important (if not more!) than every bite you're putting into your mouth. That it's important not only to cleanse our bodies, but our minds and spirits as well. I feel like the food part is a big and important step that leads us by the hand into the next level - then we have to kick it up a notch and really do some research, reflection and seeking.

Oh, that and spa treatments - don't forget the spa treatments. VERY spiritual. Bikini-waxes in particular. Did my first in 2 yrs - believe I screamed HALLELUJAH and saw Jesus- yep.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Breakthrough Moment

So yesterday I was sitting in the Denver airport awaiting my final flight of the day to bring me home to Minneapolis. I’d been on the road for a week, visiting friends in Park City, my parents in St. George, Utah, and hitting Las Vegas for one night before the flight home.

That’s the primary reason I haven’t posted as much as I have in previous cleanses – it’s hard to steal away to write when you have limited time to spend with your loved ones. But in addition to that, I have to admit I haven’t felt the most inspired to post this time around. And after some serious consideration, I’m pretty sure I can blame that on my big fat ego. It wants people joining in and participating on the blog – I guess I believe that’s some sort of affirmation for me and my efforts. So when there’s not much activity on the blog I lose enthusiasm.

But I started thinking about that as Mark and I wended our way through the desert toward Vegas on Monday. I realized that I shouldn’t pin so much of my sense of self-worth on other people’s actions (or lack thereof), and that I shouldn’t rely on the affirmations of others as my sole gauge of my value. It also dawned on me that every cleanser has a different experience – some of us are gritting our teeth just to hold on through each day; others are sailing right through without feeling too much change. On top of that, everybody has a life to tend to – that’s challenging enough without adding cleansing to the mix.

I think that’s my lesson this time around – to remember that no one else is responsible for how I feel about myself, and that I can’t control what anybody else does, even if we’re all doing the same thing at the same time. Because even if we’re all doing the same thing at the same time, we’re all experiencing it completely differently.

One of the greatest things about cleansing is that it gives us the chance to wake up to –and through – mindful eating. As we give careful consideration to everything we put in our bodies, that mindfulness translates into other aspects of life. So after we wake up to mindful eating, we can wake up to mindful living – being aware of what’s going on around and inside us in every aspect of our lives.

By being mindful of my feelings of apathy and making the effort to understand them, I learned a valuable lesson about myself, I figured out how to deal with an issue that’s been haunting me my whole life, and now I have some new wisdom that I can carry into other aspects of my life. That’s why I keep cleansing – each time it delivers new, enlightening insights that help me move a little more gracefully through this life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

20 Ways to Pamper Yourself

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 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 flick
7) Spend an undisturbed hour with a good book
8) Take a walk
9) Get a makeover - bring some 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

You'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!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week 3 - Going Beyond Food

Happy Monday, and I hope everyone had a great weekend!

This is such an interesting time of year - it's a time of new beginnings; a time to take an inventory and assess where you are in life. I'm doing some personal work, looking inward and being brutally honest with myself about certain aspects of my life that need improvement. It's not easy, but if I want to live the best life I can, I've got to do it. 

Cleansing is the perfect time to take a look at areas in your life that you want to change. Your body and mind aren't being driven or dragged by chemicals so you can look at your life and yourself more clearly. And when you have clarity, solutions might arise more readily. 

Now that you're on Week 3 you've probably got a pretty solid food groove going so you can expand your awareness to what's happening around - and inside - you. If there's an issue that's been bugging you for a while, try to identify what it is, why it is, and what you can do to change or improve it. This is the week to really make some progress, not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. And if you have any breakthroughs, please share them with us here!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jeannie's Story - Cleansing as a Path to Spiritual Growth

I heard about GASCAP and Ivy's cleanse and thought "oh great, another chance to not consume anything for 7 days except for lemon juice, water and cayenne." But something told me to "sign up", so I did.

It was daunting at first...I had experimented before but this seemed SO restrictive that I almost panicked at first. But again, something told me to push on.
 Long story short: I was going through a rough time...family issues that brought me close to divorcing the whole lot of them; aging issues that caused me to think that continuing on in this body was maybe not for me (although I did not consider suicide); continuing grief over the death of my best friend Peter 1 1/2 years earlier...you get the picture.

 During my first cleanse things began to "click." Books such as Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now and A New Earth, which I had read previously, suddenly began to make PERFECT sense: "this is about ME, not just some interesting, lovely information." Through continuing therapy and prayer and affirmation I got more clear on my family "stuff"...maybe I wouldn't need to divorce them after all. MAYBE just maybe there is a way to stay on this planet, grow older, have fun and enjoy life...who says you have to be young and cute to enjoy life...I can be old and cute! And I began to understand Peter's death in a new way...one that allowed for something good, something helpful...something healing.

I could go on, but that's basically what "happened to me" during my first cleanse. I got more clear on so many levels: mental, emotional, spiritual. Plus, there are LOTS of good food choices while cleansing...get creative, have fun with it and I can almost promise you that you'll feel better. I sure did.

P. S. Losing weight did not suck either!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Amy's Story - A First-time Cleanser Guts Her Way Through a Tough Day

I would sum the first three days for me up with the word "thirsty." I was so thirsty and had the slightest headache, but by day four it was gone.

I had my meals planned out for most of the week and it was real easy for me. I wasn't really tempted to eat anything not cleanse friendly.

Friday was a different story. I had made the Cherry Coconut Breakfast Bars recipe from Quantum Wellness Cleanse book and had run out by Friday morning and much to my dismay was also out of peanut butter! I had 10 minutes to eat before I had to take the kids for school. I ended up going for a fruit smoothie and a handful of nuts for breakfast. That night my husband was gone for dinner and it was just me and my two girls. I had promised them they could have a frozen pizza, but hadn't planned anything for myself. By the time I got done with work and we stopped to pick up a pizza for them I was so hungry I couldn't think straight. I decided to stop at a co-op in out neighborhood to see if they had any gluten/dairy free pizzas for me. They did have one Amy's Pizza, but it contained organic evaporated cane juice. I'm pretty sure that is sugar so I spent about five minutes in front of the pizza in the freezer trying to determine if it was cheating or cleanse friendly. I really wanted to try and stay true to the cleanse so left with no pizza. I ended up eating a bowl of oatmeal with coconut milk and a little agave. Not the best dinner I've made all week, but I wasn't hungry and I didn't cheat.

I learned my lesson and now know I that I need to plan out my meals to succeed! It's so easy to made a bad decision when you're hungry and tired.

So enough about the eating, one of my favorite experiences from the cleanse so far is the water weight I've lost. I haven't weighed myself, but my stomach flatter than it has been in awhile and a pair of pants I put on this morning is definitely slightly looser than last time I wore them. I can't wait to see how I feel even further into the cleanse.

Monday, September 12, 2011

One Week Down - How's Everyone Doing?

Congratulations to everyone for making it through Week 1! I know some of you got a late start; some of you started early. But there hasn't been much chatter here yet - I wonder how everyone's doing. I've heard from some of you - thanks so much for sharing your stories! I'll be posting them as we go along. 

For now, does anyone have anything to share? Has this been easy? Hard? A pain in the ass? Have you learned anything new? Found a great recipe? How's the world dealing with your cleanse? How are you dealing with the world while you're cleansing? What's happenin' out there?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

At Last! A Delicious Cleanse-friendly Salad Dressing!

Hip, hip, hooray! After what seems like a lifetime of searching for a salad dressing that wasn't loaded with fat or sugar or sodium, I've finally found not one, but TWO great options! Leave it to the folks at Bragg to come up with something that's as good as it gets - nutrition-wise and taste-wise. It's gluten-free and has only 4 grams of sugar. And after scouring the ingredient listing and reading up on what fruit juice "concentrate" is (because there are various fruit juice concentrates in these products) I've decided that, for me, this stuff is just fine to use whether I'm cleansing or not. And that's based on my assumption that because the sugar content is so low, and because it's not mentioned in the ingredient listing, the fuit juice concentrate in these products comes only from the fruit - no sugar added.

I'm crazy about the Hawaiian flavor and really like Braggberry as well. And at 20 calories per 2 tablespoons it's a screamer of a deal in the calorie department. I get it at Whole Foods (it goes on sale fairly frequently) or you can order online. If you're looking for a great-tasting salad dressing I don't think you'll find better than this. I hope you like it as much as I do!

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Favorite 5-minute Meal - Only 267 Calories!

Last night I made dinner in five minutes, loaded up on nutrients, and consumed only 267 calories! Here's how I did it:

1.) I scooped out a half cup of spinach salad I'd tossed up a few days ago, topped it with sliced roasted beets I'd prepared on Sunday, and dressed it with Bragg's Organic Hawaiian Fat Free Dressing & Marinade (more on this stuff tomorrow!)
2.) I soaked a sweet potato in hydrogen peroxide for a minute to get all the grit and grime off; then dried it, poked it a few times with a fork, and put it in the microwave for 4 minutes.
3.) I grabbed a slice of tofu that I'd blotted dry earlier today and spooned on some fresh heirloom tomato pico de gallo I'd made on Sunday
4.) I cut open the cooked sweet potato and put a spoonful of the pico de gallo on that, too.

Tada! Dinner! So fresh, so easy, and not a calorie wasted. Everything I ate was utterly nutritious, not to mention downright tasty. Think about it - sweet potatoes, spinach and beets are all considered super foods.

And see for yourself - here's the nutrition in formation from my dinner: 
267 calories, 4 g fat, 12 g protein, 43 mg sodium, 39 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 24 g sugar, 0 mg cholesterol

And here's what each food brings to my table:
Beets - folate, manganese, vitamin K, vitamin C, omega 3s, fiber
Sweet Potato - vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, copper, fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron
Spinach - vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin E, fiber, copper, vitamin B1, protein, phosphorous, zinc, omega 3s, vitamin B3 (niacin), selenium
Tofu - manganese, iron, protein, omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, copper, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium

So, there you go - in 5 minutes you can have a satisfying, filling, nutritional powerhouse of a meal. So easy, so good for you! Yum!  

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Perfect Timing

This time of year is the perfect time to do a cleanse. There's an abundant mix of summer and fall fruits and vegetables so your choices are ample and varied. I hit the farmers market over the weekend and came home loaded with good stuff. Now I've got a refrigerator full of cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots to nibble on; I've also got zucchini, eggplant, corn, beets and sweet potatoes to cook up at a moment's notice. On top of that, I've got fresh spinach, cilantro, and green onions, and a basket full of succulent heirloom tomatoes. Earlier this week I whipped up a spinach salad, fresh salsa and spinach hummus so they're available at all times; for dessert I've got fresh strawberries, blueberries, peaches and plums. Now, all I need is a little tofu for protein each day and I'm completely set.

I didn't do a price check, but I do know that everything I got at the farmer's market was beyond reasonable - a bucket of beets for $5.00; 8 ears of corn for $6.00; 5 zucchini for $2.00, and a fistful of cilantro for $1.

If you've got a few minutes to hit your local farmers market, it's a great place to stock up for a cleanse (or just a week of healthy, delicious eating). And even though you're cleansing, your wallet won't feet cleaned out!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Susan's Story - A Busy Mom's Challenges, Setbacks and Victories

For anyone who doesn’t know me, I’m Ivy’s sister-in-law in Chicago. I was skinny my entire life and never had to worry about dieting. When I was 31, I had my first baby. I gained an incredible amount of weight with the pregnancy. When that baby was 8 months old, I was pregnant with my second. In a period of 5 years, I had 4 babies and I never lost the weight in between pregnancies. Although I felt overjoyed with my children, I was extremely tired and had little time to take care of myself. I made buttered noodles, peanut butter sandwiches, chicken nuggets, etc. for my children and that is what I ate, too. Some days, I went without any fruits or vegetables and ate carbs for every meal. When my children wanted crackers or cookies, I ate them, too. 

Two years ago, I decided that I needed to start caring for myself better. I was sick of being overweight and feeling tired. All of my close friends and neighbors were thin. These girls all made time for themselves. Even if they had little children, they hired nannies or babysitters and made sure that they got their butts to the gym. I started putting my little ones in the babysitting service at the gym and made it a point every day to go to the gym at least for a half an hour. In my mind, I felt like I had to work so hard to even get to the gym, I better make my time there pay off. I started to eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat. Eventually, started eating vegan because I noticed the weight falling off and I was feeling energetic and really good about myself.

I still made meat dishes and pasta almost nightly for my family and had a pantry full of kid snacks like crackers, cookies, chips, etc., but I didn’t eat any of it. I always had fruit and vegetables on hand for myself and encouraged my little ones to eat these healthier foods, too. I loved the results of eating this way and taking care of myself. I got very thin, was thrilled to be buying a new wardrobe of cute clothes and received multiple comments daily from acquaintances and friends complimenting the way that I looked.

Last year, my Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In addition to caring for my four young children, I was caring for my Mom. I attended every radiation, chemo and doctor appointment that I could with her. Most times, my younger two children were in tow for these appointments. Other times, my sister or friends helped watch them. The support from my friends and family during this stressful time was tremendous. Everyone close to me told me to remember to take care of myself. I didn’t listen. I never had time to go to the gym. I started to eat whatever “crap” I felt like at the hospital cafeteria or at fast food restaurants. I basically felt sorry for myself and what I was going through, so I decided to soothe myself with cookies and French fries. Slowly, I gained back the 20+ pounds I had lost.

Thankfully, my Mom is doing extremely well. I feel so grateful that she is still with us and that she is gaining her energy back. Three of my four kids are in school all day now. My youngest will be starting preschool tomorrow – yea! I am using this cleanse as a kick off to being healthy again and to feeling good about myself. I can now go to the gym every day and there are no excuses.

My goal is to lose the weight that I gained and be thin again hopefully by Thanksgiving or the holidays. I cannot fit into any of the new clothes that I purchased a year and a half ago. I have been living in my stretchy workout pants and forgiving dresses. I want desperately to take care of myself and not have stress in the future cause me to gain my weight back again.

For those of you who are new to the cleanse, it may seem hard at first. There are so many things to still eat. I love “Mary’s Gone Crackers” and hummus or homemade guacamole. I make vegetable stir fry, baked potatoes and grilled vegetables for dinner. There are a lot of options. Tonight, when I make my family chicken fajitas, I will eat the vegetables and some brown rice while they eat the tortillas and the chicken, too. It’s not a big deal! I’m not hungry. The only thing that I consistently have a problem with is sweets. I have a MAJOR sweet tooth. We always have chocolate or cookies in my house. There is always a birthday or special occasion where there is cake or some other delicious dessert. That is my downfall! I needed something sweet yesterday, and I grabbed a handful of cranberries. That did seem to settle my craving.

Good luck to everyone! Enjoy the benefits that you will get from cleansing. One of the best is a good night’s sleep. I sleep so soundly when I cleanse. I don’t know why – Ivy will have to give us the scoop on that one. It’s probably due to not having sugar or gluten.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 2 - Lessons from Shadow

Sweet Shadow
Happy Day 2, everybody! I hope yesterday went well. I don't know about anyone else, but for me, yesterday felt a little surreal just because it was a holiday. It seems like today will be the day when we can really begin to dig in and see where this cleanse will take us.

We've said it takes 21 days to break - and make - a habit. And each time we cleanse is an opportunity to bring something new into our lives. I've been thinking about what I want to bring into my life this time - typically it's a new habit like taking my makeup off every night or drinking more water - something I can easily work into my daily routine. But this time is different...

Mark and I lost our dear friend Shadow in July. Shadow was our big black cat who had a sweet disposition, calming presence, and loving spirit. No matter what was going on in our lives or in the world, spending time with Shadow always made us feel better; made our hearts lighter. And no matter what our condition - happy, sad, angry, worried - he was always happy to sit with us (or on us), offering quiet comfort and a consistent, deeply rumbling purr. He didn't judge people or situations - he didn't have the capacity. He didn't worry about anything because he didn't think about anything other than what was going on in the moment. At all times Shadow was such a positive influence and I'm going to try to learn from his example.

During this cleanse I'm going to try to be a more positive person. There are times when I'm negative without even realizing it, simply by using words, like "hate" or "never." There are times when I automatically judge people or situations without letting them have their say or play out in any meaningful way. So during this 21-day span I'm going to choose my words carefully (instead of saying "I hate it when this or that happens," I will say, "I would prefer it if this or that happened"). I'm going to hold back from instantaneously judging whatever is in front of me (maybe the cashier who is making the checkout line I'm in move at a snail's pace isn't a moron - maybe he or she has a migrain headache and is fighting as hard as he or she can to be at work). And during this cleanse I'm going to do my best to stay right here in the moment - instead of thinking about all the work I have to do once I return from a bike ride during the bike ride, I'll worry about it once the ride is done.

Mark and I so dearly miss our friend. But by remembering what he brought to our lives and emulating his kind and gentle ways, he will remain a daily part of, and influence in, our lives. So during this cleanse, my goal is to become more like Shadow. And in that spirit, I will say I'm so happy you're here with me, and let's enjoy whatever today sends our way.       

Monday, September 5, 2011

Let's Get This Party Started!!!

Happy Labor Day, and Happy Day 1 of our cleanse!

I hope it's a beautiful morning wherever you are and that you're ready to rock the next 21 days as we give up gluten, alcohol, sugar, caffeine and all animal products (GAS CAP for those of you who are first-timers). And I don't know about you, but my closet is definitely ready for a cleanse as well and I can't wait to clear the clutter from my diet and my life!

Many of you have seen this before, but since it's Day 1 and we're just dipping our toes in the waters, here's a reminder of why we do this cleanse...

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 the same consideration that I show everyone in my life, 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.
Here's to a great Day 1!

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's Almost Time to Clean Up Your Act!

It's almost time for our annual fall cleanse and to kick things off, I'll be teaching 
A Crash Course for the Cleanse Curious at the Minneapolis Whole Foods store on Tuesday August 23rd from 6:30 - 8:00 pm. We'll go through the hows and whys of cleansing, we'll look at the impact of our food choices on our health, and we'll learn how to prepare for a cleanse and make it an enjoyable process. We'll also sample some cleanse-friendly foods:

Spicy Coconut Black Bean Soup
Tex-Mex Quinoa
Jeweled Curried Lentils
Lemony Treat Bars

This class is designed to help you prepare for a 21-day online
cleanse beginning Monday - Labor Day - September 5th during which we'll be eliminating gluten, alcohol, caffeine, sugar and all animal products from our diets. I hope you'll join me in August for the class, and in September for the cleanse!   

Monday, June 13, 2011

Easy, E2-friendly Vegan Pad Thai

After failing dismally with another Pad Thai recipe a few weeks ago I was hesitant to try again. But I knew I had to give it another go if I wanted to enjoy a healthy version of one of my favorite dining-out dishes at home. So I got back in the kitchen with another recipe. And, for the most part, Mark and I agree that it's a keeper. I’ve modified it to eliminate sugar, and to use broiled tofu instead of the uncooked kind called for in the original recipe (I think it has a nicer texture that way). And next time I make it I’ll use 1/3 cup of lime juice instead of the ½ cup that’s called for in the original recipe. Also, instead of adding the noodles earlier in the process, I cooked all the sauce ingredients together, then poured the mixture over the noodles to keep them from breaking or getting mushy. It worked like a charm!

Easy Vegan Pad Thai 

1 lb Asian-style rice noodles (use rice noodles for a gluten-free option)
1/4 C soy sauce
1/2 C lime juice (I will use 1/3 C next time)
2 T peanut butter
2 T hot sauce (I used Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce)
1/4 C sugar (I used agave)
1 block tofu, diced (I used broiled tofu)
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T sesame oil* (see note below on how to make this E2-friendly)
1/2 C bean sprouts
1/4 C chopped or crushed peanuts (optional)
4 green onions (scallions), sliced
¼ C chopped cilantro

Cook noodles according to package instructions. Whisk together the soy sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, hot sauce and sugar (agave). In a large wok or skillet, sauté the tofu, onion and garlic in sesame oil for a minute or two, stirring frequently. Allow to cook for another minute or two. Add the peanut butter and soy sauce mixture. Stir well, and allow sauce to thicken as it cooks for about 3 minutes. Pour over noodles and gently mix until well combined. Top with peanuts, bean sprouts, green onions and cilantro and serve hot.

* - To make this recipe E2-friendly, substitute 2T vegetable stock for the sesame oil and keep extra on hand to splash into the pan if it gets dry

Adapted from recipe by Jolinda Hackett found on vegetarian.about.com

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Quinoa Burgers

Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Quinoa Burger served with
Baked Sweet Potato Fries and Rhubarb Chutney
Wow! I just tried this recipe for the first time and will be sure to make it again! The flavor combination of sweet potato, black beans and quinoa is simultaneously sweet and savory, and because each of those ingredients is a nutritional powerhouse on its own, this burger packs a huge, healthy punch! Serve this will a dollop of rhubarb chutney and a side of baked sweet potato fries for an amazing flavor combination.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Burger

1 medium onion, diced
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T vegetable stock
1 carrot, finely grated
1/2 can black beans, slightly drained
1/2 of 1 baked sweet potato, flesh scooped out
1/2 C quinoa, cooked
1/2 C bread crumbs (gluten-free, if necessary)
1 T caraway seeds( I don’t care for caraway so I substituted 1 t of garam masala)
3 T chopped cilantro
2 t tomato paste or ketchup (use organic tomato paste to keep sugars low)
hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste
1 t balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste (I didn't use either - the flavor was good enough on its own)

Preheat oven to 350F. Sauté onion and garlic in vegetable stock in a non-stick skillet. Add beans to pan and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring now and then. Turn off heat. Mash beans in pan until they’re about half crushed. Put in big bowl with all the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. If too moist, add more bread crumbs. Form into patties. Place on a non-stick cooking sheet or shallow baking pan (I line mine with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray). Bake for approximately 20 minutes a side.

Makes 5 generous hand-sized patties.

Note: The orginal recipe also suggested grilling these burgers, but I don't think they'd hold up well on the grates. This one's your call...

Adapted from a recipe by Christina found on FatFreeVegan.com

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I never imagined that sweet potato fries would be so easy to make. But they're such a tasty no-brainer that we'll be making them on a regular basis! I copped this recipe from "Vegan with a Vengeance," one of my favorite vegan cookbooks of all time.  

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
2 large unpeeled sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch strips lengthwise
1 T olive oil
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1/4 t black pepper

Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet. Combine oil, cumin, coriander and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add the potatoes and toss well to coat. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Use tongs to flip potatoes over, and bake for another 10-15 minutes until browned.

From the book "Vegan with a Vengeance" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

A 2-in-1 Double-dip Sauce Recipe: Rhubarb Chutney & Spicy Rhubarb Dipping Sauce

This recipe is a happy accident; one that occurred when I was playing with a recipe from Chowhound.com. I substituted agave for white sugar but because the agave is “wet,” the chutney came out with a watery consistency. I decided to strain the liquid off and what I got was two fabulous sauces – a tart, sweet, hot chutney that’s good enough to eat by the spoonful, and a zippy dipping sauce that is perfect for egg rolls, spring rolls, or fried or broiled tofu. Try the chutney with veggie burgers, Indian dishes – even carnivorous items like pork, poultry and subtle fish. And truth be told, I think both of these sauces would be great on a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Rhubarb season lasts such a short time so play with it, have fun, and indulge!

A 2-in-1 Double-dip Sauce Recipe:
Rhubarb Chutney & Spicy Rhubarb Dipping Sauce

4 C diced rhubarb
1 ½ C agave
¾ C cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/8 C minced fresh ginger
1-2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1/8 C crystallized ginger, diced
½ t salt
½ t (or so) cumin seeds
¼ t (or so) hot pepper flakes
2 T unsalted peanuts, chopped

Everything goes in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat and cook, stirring often, until quite thick - at least one hour. Make sure you stir more often toward the end of the cooking time to avoid scorching and sticking.

For Spicy Rhubarb Dipping Sauce:
Strain liquid from the mixture into another container. Add hot sauce of your choice (I use Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce) to taste. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

For Rhubarb Chutney:
Use the remaining chunky mixture to top your favorite dishes – Indian foods, veggie burgers… even for carnivorous items like pork, poultry or subtle fish.

Modified from a recipe found on Chowhound.chow.com by Nyleve

Friday, May 27, 2011

The End is Near!!!

Okay, I'm not the crazy old dude who said it was all gonna come crashing down last weekend, but the Engine 2 Diet Challenge is coming to a close. Actually, it ends on Sunday but I won't be posting over the weekend because.... c'mon, who's gonna read it?!!!

This was a crazy work month for me so I wasn't able to immerse myself in this program as much as I would have liked to, but that made the experience much more reality-based. Most of us don't have the luxury of stopping or modifying our lives just for the sake of losing a few pounds, cooking more or starting a fitness regimen - we just have to fit it in. So when you make that effort, you have to be determined to make it work. I was determined to succeed, so I gritted my teeth, dug in, and learned a few things along the way: 

1.) Labels will tell you everything you need to know. Calories, sodium, sugars, protein, carbs, ingredients - they're all there. But in this program, I learned to look deeper into the ingredient listing - particularly to look for oil. And it's incredible how oil is everywhere; just like sodium and sugar. Now when I read a label I can decipher even more about the food I'm about to purchase (or put back on the shelf) than I could a month ago. That means I can make better decisions about my nutrition.
2.) Cooking without oil is easier than I thought. A couple tablespoons of vegetable stock adds flavor and moisture in the same way oil does - it just burns off faster. So I keep extra stock readily available whenever I'm cooking, just to splash a little extra on when things get hot and dry.
3.) Plant-based meals can be quick, easy and tasty. This one I knew already. I've got a bazillion recipes right here that prove it. From now on, I'll start modifying them by replacing the oil with vegetable stock.
4.) A program like E2 is a great way to "try on" healthier eating habits.  Anybody can do anything for a month. Hell, most of us have spent a year or two in dead-end jobs or marriages - 28 days of healthy eating is nothing compared to that! And it's the perfect time to broaden your eating horizon. Even if you go back to eating fish or chicken or meat, if you'll probably find more than a few recipes that you'll want to incorporate into your regular mix. Every little bit helps. 
5.) The discipline it takes to do something like this translates into every aspect of life. That's one of the things I love most about being on a program like E2 - it gives me a clarity and focus that I can apply to other areas of my life. I'm more focused and effective at work. I'm not all gunked up with chemicals like sugar, sodium, and yadayadayada, so I'm not an emotional yo-yo. That means I can move through life's little crises without escalating them into dramatic events.   

Oh, yeah, and on top of all the learning moments, I lost those nasty pounds from I gained in April so I'm back to fighting weight

Thanks, everyone, for sharing this adventure with me. It's always more fun to do these things with a buddy - and if you're reading this I consider you my buddy. Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! See you next time!  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy Hour Tofu and Peanut Sauce

One of my favorite happy hour treats is the fried tofu with peanut sauce I always order when I'm at Roat Osha, a Thai restaurant in Minneapolis that's second to none. I know it's loaded with fat and I know I shouldn't eat much fried food, but it's a guilty pleasure that I would be hard-pressed to give up entirely.

But guess what? The Engine 2 Diet has a recipe for broiled tofu and I'm happy to report that it delivers the same chewy, crispy goodness I love about fried tofu. 

And the peanut sauce? Believe it or not, you've got to watch this stuff because it often contains fish sauce. So I snooped around for a recipe for vegan peanut sauce and found a few that looked promising. I combined the best of all of them and came up with a pretty tasty version of my own. In fact, it tastes almost like the restaurant version. It's got heat (hot sesame oil), sweet (coconut milk, shredded coconut, and agave), and lots of peanutty goodness.

Okay, I understand that tofu has a lot of fat; so does peanut sauce. And even in their healthier forms I've got to watch how much of this stuff I eat. But as an occasional treat that's almost as good as the restaurant version that inspired it, I'm going to keep this  easy-to-make dish around for those times when I'm after a guilty pleasure - now I just won't have to feel as guilty! Woo hoo!