Wellness Wednesday: Blue

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Conflicted.  That pretty much sums up my entire Wednesday.  This morning, I got up to go for a run (after my hot lemon water and some stretching of course!).  I got less than a mile into my run before I turned around unexpectedly, deciding I just wasn’t feeling that particular trail.  So then I run all the way back to the beginning and set out in an entirely different direction, thinking that would solve everything.  It didn’t.  Over a mile into that route, that path wasn’t right either.  Exasperated with indecision, I ended up running over to the high school and doing laps around the football field until I was good and spent.  My pace was decent according to my Nike app, but my mentality wasn’t.

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Then came time to decide which delicious blue food recipe I was going to feature today, and again I was met with conflicting emotions and indecision.  Since only one “blue” food really exists in the natural food world (with the exception of some very rare blue potatoes), blueberries were the obvious food choice.  There’s no variety in the blue category, and I hate when I’m left without a choice!  Blueberries are super delicious, though.  But what to make with them?  I usually just eat them raw, or I add them to juice and use the pulp in popsicles.  I didn’t want to juice them since I was in too much of a hurry to really be able to preserve the pulp today, so I went for a smoothie.  I don’t have a specific recipe for this one, but basically a few (like 3 or 4) heaping handfuls of spinach went into my blender, followed by my pint of blueberries from the market and some silken tofu (about half a brick).  I added about a cup and a half of unsweetened almond milk and blended that sucker till it was creamy and totally liquid.

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Man was that just what the doctor ordered after an hour of running!  Feel free to add your own sweetener to this blend (agave, honey, stevia, etc.).  A lot of people don’ t think my smoothies or juices are sweet enough, but I personally am not huge on super-sweet concoctions (I understand I’m pretty much alone in this!).  Since my first juice fast in July 2011, my cravings for sugar have gone down significantly, and I don’t always use sweeteners. Currently, I don’t even have any type of sweeteners in my home.  Like I said though, a couple tablespoons of agave may be just the key to making this smoothie your new go-to breakfast concoction!

If you head over to my good friend Allison’s Allison in Wellness Land, you’ll find some rockin’ info about blueberry nutrition on top of another awesome blueberry recipe with only two ingredients!  Allison shows how to make Blueberry-Chia Jam, and it’s crazy good! Can’t get more simple/healthy/delicious than that!

Not every day is perfect.  I’m not always a 100% up-and-at-em, vegany power superhero (as some of my friends would put it).  Some days, I wanna say screw it, just like you do, crank up Alanis Morisette, and scream at every car I see on the road, even though I know they can’t hear me.  We all have those days. While I can’t say I got a whole lot of emotional satisfaction from today, I am able to reflect on the fact that despite my moodiness, I was able to run over five miles, contribute to a very satisfying inter-professional meeting at Case, and eat some very healthy meals.  Being able to see those accomplishments in print makes my day a bit more satisfying than I thought it was!

What do you do when you’re having an off day?  Are you able to see positive actions even in the midst of conflict and indecision?  Comment below and let me know how you get over your less-than-perfect moments.

Here’s to hoping tomorrow holds less conflict and more clarity.

Stay happy, stay healthy!

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Clean Eating Cleanse- Day One

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Hello all! I hope everyone had as great a Sunday as I did!  Fresh food, great friends, and some little ducky friends wanting to swim with us in the waves!  Today was Day One of the Clean Eating Cleanse, and what better way to get excited about clean eating than heading to the farmer’s market for a little local produce? For me, farmer’s markets are heaven.  I’m like a kid in a candy shop.  Good thing I brought reinforcements!  My friends are good for many things, including carrying my bags when my eyes are too big for my strength!  I had everyone helping lug my treasures back home, and they were amazed when it all fit in my kitchen.  Check out my swag! (Yes, I did use an empty six pack to hold my lettuce!)

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I felt really good today, but that’s not to say I didn’t have my moments.  It hit home today that just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy.  I met up with friends at the water park and had to decline snow cones, chex mix, and french fries.  So upsetting!  That’s not to say I didn’t have fun though, and I had my banana shake with me, which pretty much tastes like ice cream!  Even though I fell asleep in the sun and got some pretty dark tan lines bordering on a crispy burn, I had a blast.  How can anyone not have fun on a day they get to spend NOT working and splashing in a wave pool all day?

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Once safely home and away from the temptations of onion rings and Coca Cola, I began food prep for tomorrow.  It’ll be my first day going to work while on this cleanse.  I can’t wait to share my green juice recipe with you tomorrow, and the banana oat shake I’m planning on devouring for breakfast!  I hope you’re all prepared!

Day 3 of 15

 

To everyone our there questioning the nutrients consumed during a juice fast, I’ll point you to Exhibit A.  That group of greens was just ONE of 4 “meals” I drank today.  In fact, this was breakfast.  I don’t know about all of you, but I don’t usually wake up in the morning and think to myself “I’m starving, so I should probably go wolf down a bundle of kale, 2 apples, half a lemon, a whole cucumber, a hunk of ginger, and 4 stalks of celery.”  Could you eat all this in one sitting?  I’ll put my money on no.  Maybe I could go for the two apples, or possibly half that cucumber, but there’s no way I could down this group of veggies in one sitting.  And kale?  I know it’s a “super food”, but have you tried it raw and all by its lonesome?  Not my cup o’ tea.   Ginger? I like it in stuff, but by itself?  My mouth would burn for days if I ate that huge hunk.  Taking all these foods and blending them together into a neat, compact 24 oz. juice to drink on the way to work is starting to sound like a pretty good idea, isn’t it? Plus, the darker/greener the food, the healthier it is, and just look at this gorgeous green masterpiece!

I’m telling you, this whole “green drink in the morning” thing really works.  I know I’m on a juice fast and I have to drink it, but I swear that about 15 minutes after drinking it, I was ready to kill it this morning at work, and I didn’t even think about my next meal until 5 hours later.  I felt unstoppable!

So I feel like the recipe for this concoction is pretty self explanatory, given the picture above, but I’ll post it below, too! You’ll need:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 apples
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1″ ginger root
  • 8 large kale leaves

Happy juicing everybody! Let me know what you think!

protein pRoTeIn PROTEIN!

How many vegetarians/vegans/healthy eaters have to hear about protein?  Sometimes I think if I hear one more person ask me “Where are you getting your protein?”  I will simply explode!  But I realize that the reason people are asking this question honestly don’t know the answer. In a society where Meat Companies hold a large political stake in the country, it makes sense that we are taught from such a young age that lost protein is necessary for a healthy body, and the only way to get that protein is from meat.  No one really talks about all the protein and other vital nutrients that can be found in plants!  Today is Day 2 of my second juice fast, and I recorded all my juices on the MyFitnessPal app on my phone.  Here is a snapshot of my daily breakdown:

Now, today was a bit of a low day on the protein front, since I was craving fruit juice this morning, but still.  So, how much protein do you need to be eating per day, anyways?  The Vegan Resource Group found that the RDA recommends .36 multiplied by your weight in pounds will give you the necessary grams of protein you should be striving for each day.  For me, that equals about 45 grams.  I’m not quite at that mark today, but before juicing, my weight was high enough to have me trying to ingest 55 grams of protein per day.  Even with meat in my diet, it was hard!  I don’t like protein powders (they just seem too artificial and not natural for my liking, plus that nasty chalk taste!), so I tried my hardest to hit that mark.  I just couldn’t do it.  Now, 38 grams is the least amount of protein I have gotten in the past month.  Not bad, considering my fat intake is minimal, and my vitamin and mineral intake is through the roof!  Thank you, micronutrients!  Also, looking at the snapshot I took from my phone, take a look at the amount of sodium I had today… only 272 mg!  That seems like cause for celebration, since I’ve eaten peanut butter sandwiches with more sodium than that in them, and those I ate in one sitting!

If you are still scared and concerned about not getting enough protein if you aren’t eating meat, don’t just listen to some random girl like me.  Get the facts! Go check out vrg.org/nutrition/protein.htm. I have found that the whole site is very informative and gives lots of ideas and foods with tons of natural protein packed into them!

Even if you don’t juice, you should still be taking advantage of these macronutrient foods!  They are healthy, healing, and YUMMY, even when you eat them whole!

Become Fluent in Food

Oh no.  I was at the grocery store with Ethan’s mom today, and when she asked if I wanted chips, I walked over to the shelf and began reading the ingredients of every bag until I found the most natural recipe possible.  I looked up when I found the winning chip bag, and saw other people just staring at me while they reached over me for their Tostitos.  Yep, it’s official: I’m one of “those people” now…

And what exactly are “those people”?  You know how you’re at the grocery store and you see that person who won’t let their kid near the kool-aid because it’s got red dye # whatever in it?  Or the families that go out to eat and insist that the waiter brings an ingredient list of their entrees before an order can be placed?  Okay, I’m not quite as crazy as that last one, but I remember not too long ago when I felt like going up to those people and saying, “Geez! Let the kid have his Kraft Macaroni for crying out loud! It’s freaking kid food!”  Now I’m not so sure “those people” are all that crazy… Maybe it’s because I’m turning into one! Noooooo!

Check out this label… concentrate, concentrate, concentrate! One thing I’ll have to investigate soon is: what does “Natural Flavors” mean exactly? That’s another confusingly common item on ingredient lists…

If more people were educated about health and nutrition, and were properly informed about the items headlining their diets, they would have the ability to make more informed decisions.  “Those people” would instead become regular people who just knew what they were eating; People who cared about their bodies and valued their health. This transformation starts with understanding what you’re putting in your mouth.  There are so many fancy, scientific terms on labels these days that knowing whether something is nutritious or not can be nearly impossible unless you speak Food fluently.  Here are three questions that I have been asking myself for the longest time about food, and I bet you have, too.  I will try to begin a Food Fact posting category to answer other questions as well.  Knowing this stuff can definitely point you in a healthy direction!

What is juice from concentrate?  Why do people say it’s not good for us?

When companies make juice, they have to ship it out to different places to have it bottled up to sell to hard-working grocery shoppers who don’t have the luxury of growing fruit to juice in their own backyards.  This whole shipping thing can get pretty expensive since juice is so heavy, and today’s world is all about saving a buck.  What the big companies do is extract all the water out of the juice to make the load a little (or a lot) lighter for the trip.  Once the “juice” gets where it needs to go, workers add water to the mix to rehydrate and restore the drink to its consumable state.

Okay, so it looks like juice from concentrate should be the same as raw juice, right?  I mean, they put all the water back, so everything should be fine, right? Not so much.  As soon as the water is evaporated, the pulp is separated out and the juice is then pasteurized.  After that, some of the pulp is added back in, and the whole mess is stored in big metal containers for a long time, until the company needs to reconstitute it.  So many nutrients are lost during the process that it’s nowhere near comparable to raw juice.

You can taste the difference, too.  Try making some fresh orange or apple juice at home.  It will spoil you and ruin you for concentrated juices forever!

Okay, so now what is this whole pasteurizing thing?

In a nutshell, pasteurization heats up a liquid in order to kill bacteria and other chemicals.  It’s done to milk (from an animal) to make it safe, but why fruit juice (not from an animal)?  Well, it’s because juices have a considerably longer shelf life than raw juice, so they need to stay fresh and not be growing little fuzzy moldies all over themselves after a couple days.  Why is pasteurized juice not as good for you as raw?  Basic food rule: the more you do to a food, changing it from its original state, the more nutrients are lost.  If an apple goes through the juicer at home, the person enjoying their yummy snack will be getting almost all of the nutrients and vitamins from that apple as it contained on the tree.  If that same person goes to the store for a gallon of apple juice that has been evaporated, heated, and re-mixed together, the amount of nutrients lost during all the processing of that apple juice will absolutely contain far less nutrients.  Not to mention that most concentrated, pasteurized juices come with lots of refined sugar added to them.  With all those nutrients disappearing, companies have to find something to replace them with… why not refined sugar?

There are tons of words that all mean the same thing: added sugar.  What does sugar look like on food labels?

Sugar is a nasty little fiend.  He tries to hide out and make his way into a large portion of your diet, and if you aren’t careful, he will succeed!  Here’s what you need to look for on food labels.  If these words are listed as an ingredient, there is added sugar in yo food! Take heed!

  • Agave nectar
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Syrup

(This list courtesy of Harvard’s nutrition site!)

Don’t get me wrong, some sugars are natural and your body can definitely prosper with it.  All fruits have fructose in them (not high-fructose corn syrup– just fructose).  Glucose is also a natural form of sugar found in fruits, and Sucrose is just a combination of the two I just mentioned.  Any other sugars you might see on labels are refined.  This means “not-so-good-for-you”.  Refined sugars aren’t natural, and large amounts of them have been said to be a big contributor to obesity.  These refined sugars are something I have been actively attempting to remove from my diet for the past month.  It’s definitely a challenge, but one worth pursuing if you ask me!

Health can be so frustrating sometimes.  A lot of my friends want desperately to be healthy, and think they are making informed decisions about the foods they eat.  They get extremely frustrated when their weight doesn’t go down, and their other health stats linger in limbo.  Unfortunately, misinterpretation of the Food language is a common mistake, and can make health completely misleading.  Knowing and understanding one of the most critical and necessary aspects of human life is the first step to finding health and fixing your body!

I decided to embrace being one of “those people”, rather than fight it. It’s “those people” who will be around a lot longer and will have a lot less health complications throughout their lives, and I don’t see any shame in joining “that group”!