Ingredient Intros: Cukes and Celery

Ok, you’re thinking I’ve gone totally batshit, aren’t you?  Its ok, you can say yes.  I would totally think the same thing too.  But just give me a few minutes to explain why I’m “introducing” these two very commonplace and oft consumed veggies!

In last week’s P:FB post, I taught you that “cheap” ingredients can be used to bulk up meals and smoothies.  So today I want to introduce cukes and celery as amazing ingredients to use in a non-traditional way (read: not in salads or with dip): as smoothie “fillers” and nutritional powerhouses.

So let’s go, shall we?

Full disclosure: I cannot stand cukes on their own.  Once I discovered cukes and pickles come from the same thing, I just…I couldn’t do it. 

Also, I’ve only included that which has the support of science.  I use WH Foods to look up nutrient levels and food characteristics.

Cukes

Source

Cukes are perhaps the best smoothie ingredient discovery I’ve found yet!  Here’s why:

  1. Chock full of antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese.
  2. Chock full of phytonutrients like flavanoids and lignans.
  3. Goitrogen-free.
  4. Mildly sweet flavor.
  5. Water-filled.

So we hear words like “antioxidants” and “phytonutrients” tossed around.  A lot.  What does it mean?  Well the science is still mixed but in the health food world these nutrients are generally thought to be anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer.  The reason for this, of course, is because they have an alkalizing effect on the body.   In short (if you aren’t feeling a brief video lesson right now), this means that they make more oxygen available to your cells.  Inflammation and cancer don’t thrive in oxygen-rich environments.  <–Note I said “thrive.”  It doesn’t mean that these things can’t occur but that is a topic for another blog post looking at when bad things happen to good people. 

“Goitrogen-free” is a term you’ve probably seen popping up more and more on the site.  I promise to explore that in-depth in the near future.  In short, it has to do with thyroid functioning.  As someone who has an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), I try to avoid goitrogens.  Or at least, I have been since I learned about them!

So the first three reasons are all health benefits.  The last two, on the other hand, are just gosh darn practical.  If the idea of drinking your greens causes your stomach to turn (or if you just err on the side of being slightly weak stomach-ed or nauseous, especially in the morning), then cukes are the way to go!  The flavor is light and downright refreshing.  This is enhanced by the fact that cukes are really mostly water which means two things: 1) you’re basically drinking lightly-flavored water and 2) they add bulk to smoothies…aka more smoothie for less money.  Allllllriiight.  🙂

Celery

Source

Celery, though an amazing smoothie and juice addition, is not quite on par with cukes (IMO, of course).  The main reason for this is that celery has a bit more characteristic (aka noticeable) taste.  When you add too much, you know!  Despite that, I’ve made celery a regular part of my smoothies because it offers a ton of benefits.

  1. Rich in numerous minerals including sodium and potassium, which together play a huge role in regulating fluid balance (aka it makes you pee!) as well as neuronal activity.
  2. Chock full of immune-supporting nutrients like vitamin C and coumarins.
  3. Goitrogen-free.
  4. Fibrous.
  5. Savory tasting.

Another highly alkalizing veggie to help support total body health.  Skipping down to number 4, being fibrous is a benefit not only because it helps clear your intestines but also because, once again, it helps to bulk up the smoothie.  The savory taste can, of course, be either a positive or a negative but I personally love it when I want a little extra ZING in my smoothie.  I also love dipping celery sticks in almond butter for a pre-workout snack.  Nom nom nom.

Finally, it is important to note that both cukes and celery are supercharged with vitamin K, one of the fat-soluble vitamins. Unlike water-soluble vitamins, these guys are stored in the liver and, you guessed it, fat and do not need to be replenished as often.  This means, please don’t go on a cuke-and-celery bender.  Vitamin toxicity is a real and dangerous thing!  On a lighter note, Vitamin K supports bone and blood health.

I hope you enjoy this more light-hearted post and see these two humble veggies in new light.  And of course, what post about greens would be complete without a picture of my fave way to enjoy them?

Recasting the wine goblet. *Note* The little dark flecks are chia seed. Don't be scared.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, dietician, or nutritionist.  This is not medical advice but rather my personal opinions based on research I’ve done, content I’ve been taught, and my personal experiences.  Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet or regimen.

Advertisements

On Meditation

My meditation space *oohhhmm*

I’m not gonna lie: meditating can be hard to do.  Some days your ass goes numb.  Some days one foot (or leg) falls asleep.  Sometimes both do!  Sometimes your brain stages a full-blown sabotage and you end up feeling like total shit.  Sometimes you panic because certainly, you’ve been here more than 10 minutes already!

And then some days you sit in total peace.  You feel 100% juicy, ripe, delicious, and vital and suddenly all of those other experiences aren’t as important.  Your body stays awake/alert/aware and you disconnect enough from your thoughts that you find internal quiet.

As I’ve learned over the past couple of weeks there isn’t such a thing as true internal quiet.  There’s internal disconnect.  There’s tuning in and the ability to think without thinking.  There is complete calm.  But there is no such thing as absolute and complete silence.

And I’m ok with that. More and more I am able to distance myself from my thoughts during meditation as I do during yoga.  My brain may be active but I’m an observer to those thoughts.  Some people describe this as watching them float by like clouds.  <–Hogwash!  Its more like not caring what your brain is doing, being aware but not invested, and focusing elsewhere.  Although, I have a feeling this experience is a little different for everyone!

During this week I’ve also come to terms with only being comfortable sitting for 15 minutes a day.  I was trying so hard for those 20, thinking that number was some magical gateway where I would find the ultimate inner peace.  Instead I was panicky…anxious…freaking.  As usual, the Universe decided to send a little message, this time in the form of Gabrielle Bernstein’s v-log, delivered each Monday morning right to my inbox.  One of the first lines in the video: “It’s not about how long you sit; it’s about how deep you connect.”  <–I couldn’t make this sh*t up!

 

Have a beautiful weekend.  Take some time for you…be peaceful/calm/non-rushed and loving.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 21

Tip of the Week

When I decided to do the CS Cleanse, I was really worried about my food budget.  I wasn’t sure how I would stick to my budget on a mostly raw, veg-filled diet when I could barely do it otherwise.  Add in to that GF foods, the price of which is still higher than of their gluten-containing counterparts, and I was secretly dealing with a bundle of anxiety.  Am I crazy?  Who decides to do a cleanse while trying to stick to a budget?  And one that involves insane amounts of fresh veggies, the majority of which should really be organic? Seriously, WTF am I doing. 

That sounds about right.  My brain was not a happy place in the weeks preceding the cleanse, especially once you add in doubts about my ability to stick with it and get anything out of it!  Then I started varying up my smoothies, adding in things like frozen peas, cucumbers, and celery.  Suddenly I wasn’t using quite as much of the expensive stuff (e.g. leafy greens).  And then I realized there is so much to do with the cheap staples, once we get over our fear of trying new things!  

So this week’s tip is to go out of your comfort zone and bulk up with the basics!  Add some onions and beans into your sauteed greens, use sweet potatoes to make veggie burgers, add cukes and celery to your smoothies and sunflower seeds to your salad.  Use pantry staples to mix and match delish dressings, sauces, and dips so that your mix of veggies doesn’t grow boring.  Buy leafy greens that you can use more of (e.g. chard) and that don’t wilt down as much (e.g. kale).  Get the most for your money, especially if you are investing in organic!

I’m still learning the ropes here but this revelation has been huge in terms of sticking to both my diet and my budget while still getting a ton of nutrients from varied sources.

Weekly Menu

*Rather than planning specific meals for specific days, I cook in bulk once or twice a week and eat leftovers for both lunch and dinner.  I also eat gleefully devour a green smoothie every morning for breakfast.
*Test recipes for the third Happy Herbivore cookbook are denoted with a * and can include neither a name nor a detailed description.

It was a super international food week.

Rainbow Chard* with Kidney Beans + Tabbouleh*

Paella* over sauteed spinach

Paella* and Gazpacho* <–so friggin amazing even though I added too much water!

Smoothie of the Week: The Sweet and Savory ( (romaine/cuke/peas/celery/ginger/almond milk/banana/cinnamon)
*Goitrogen-Free

  • African mashed potato dish*
  • Aloo Gobi*
  • Salad-of-the-week: arugula/carrots/sunflower seeds <–keeping it simple and delish!

Seriously, who said cleansing was boring/restricting/etc?  I’m eating a TON of food and trying so many new recipes!

Day 9 – Clarity

I worry, I weigh three times my body
I worry, I throw my fear around
But this morning, there’s a calm I can’t explain
The rock candy’s melted, only diamonds now remain

~John Mayer, “Clarity”

I made it to week two!  *Whew*  I talked last week about my difficulties with the cleanse, including battling some massive anxiety.   Little did I know what lay on the other side: perfect, wholesome, filling clarity. 

This weekend was sunny and bright and long.  So maybe that has something to do with it.  But as my Inner Pilot Light reminded me this morning, I 100% deserve to experience ease, joy, love, passion, excitement, beauty, peace, even bliss.  So I lived in it, marinated it, and felt grateful for it.

I feel beyond light and clearheaded with none of last week’s brain fog or confusion. That is not to say I’m no longer struggling with anything, but rather that my mental state is calmer, more relaxed, and more free.  My biggest stumbling blocks are techno detox, feeling hungry, getting to bed on time, eating earlier, and living with a famine perspective (will this be enough?  what if I get hungry?  etc).  But I’m taking the right steps and moving away from sugar, carb, techno, and escapism addictions.

This weekend was certainly difficult.  I made it through my first meal out and my first social affair without drinking or indulging in junk food (full disclosure: one sip of GF beer + a couple extra pita chips).  I probably didn’t stick to the 60-80% alkaline foods guideline but can definitely say that I ate way more veggies than I have in the past.  All-in-all, my victories outweighed my falls.  And through it all I continued to feel light and clear and free.

I’m more content than I’ve been in a long time.  Yes…contented.  That’s the right word.

*Sigh*

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Notes on Wellness, Part 5: Lesson on Metabolism with Dr. Gottfried

Today I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Sara Gottfried, “the Harvard trained integrated physician who helps women, regardless of age, feel vital again using natural hormone balancing.”  <–Her intro on tele-seminars!

As I wrote about on Friday, one of the reasons I love the CSD Cleanse is because it is about more than just our bodies.  Since I was actually in Worcester this weekend I committed to taking some time for me.  To breathe/relax/catch-up.  I visited friends, practiced yoga (both days!), clipped and organized coupons, made late night runs to Whole Foods, watched rom coms ,and caught up on some tele-seminars I had been holding on to for some time.  On Saturda while doing my coupons, I listened to Are Your Hormones Holding You Hostage for  the Holidays?  <–Like I said, I’m catching up!

The focus of the call was Metabolism as it was the free intro to her Mission Ignition e-course on the same topic.  Since I know how much you beauties love reading about food…and we all know how much I geek out about anything to do with the human body, I wanted to share some of her gems with you.  I hope these action steps and words of wisdom inspire you.

“The HALT test is an acronym and the idea with each of these letters is it should act as a trigger to ask yourself, ‘Am I Hungry?  Am I Angry?  Am I lonely?  And I Tired?”

“Maybe its not that you want a hot fudge sundae…maybe its that you want your life to be a hot fudge sundae.”

“So its a question for me of what is it you really want? […] Do you want that chocolate cake?  Or do you want peace and serenity around food?  Do you want a body that’s de-aging, extending your prime, feeling gloriously energetic and vital?”

So I make a choice based on my vision of myself in my world.  And the idea here is to really live in congruence and alignment and to be faithful to this bigger picture of who you want to be in the world.”

“[…] stress and cortisol is responsible for 95% of the diseases we treat in conventional medicine.  So 95%…it either causes the disease or makes it worse.”

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Why I love (and support) the CSD

In general I do not support cleanses.  I think they are unsustainable (kind of like diets) and can even be harmful.  That being said, I adore the CSD and the cleanse.  Today I want to talk about what sets it apart and why I love it so much.

The end of week one is almost here!  5 days counts as a week, right?!

This week has been full of ups and downs.  Day 1 was basically a breeze.  Day 2 brought on a morning-long anxiety attack.  Day 3 saw my mood all over the map.  I was up, down, cranky, exhilarated, energized, fatigued, foggy, and a whole lot of other things. I also wanted sugar.  Badly.  Knowing this was around didn’t help much!

Temptation.

At the end of the day, I was singing (loudly…and out loud) and rocking out to Disney tunes (go ahead: reread that and smile) on my walk home from and in the parking lot outside of the yoga studio.  There were far too many witnesses than is good for my ego! <–Wasn’t yesterday’s affirmation about being a trailblazer and unique?  And didn’t Day 3 say something about letting go of the ninnies in my head?  Hmm…Day 4: more of the same + carb-rich indulgences (paella, crackers, far too many raisins) which then led to stomach aches. *boo hiss*

I’ve been hungry all week, not because I feel deprived but because my body is adjusting to this change and I’m still trying to figure out exactly how much food I need to eat (hint: a lot!). I’ve been fatigued, flirted with constipation (a huge increase in fiber will do that…a little supported bridge with my feet on the floor and all was right with the world), sleeping better than ever, albeit not enough, struggling to focus, being insanely productive, etc.  On the emotional & psychological side, I’ve had revelations and breakdowns, moments of oneness with the universe and mental sabotage while trying to meditate.  I’ve broken through walls and even felt strong enough to rebuild some.

My meditation space & sanctuary *oohhhmm*

And that is the very reason I adore CSD and think it is a valuable cleanse: its about so much more than your body.  I absolutely hate that the word “diet” is included in the title because what Kris lays out is truly a lifestyle.  The book educates, providing the reasons why in the world you’d consider giving up dairy, caffeine, sugar, gluten, meat, and alcohol for 21 days or more…like, ya know, forever.  In addition, there are chapters on non-food related topics like meditation and body care.  In short, the CSD is a guide to a new way of living vitally and wholly, not just healthily.  

The same can be said for the cleanse.  There is only one week’s worth of sample menus plus suggestions on Day 1.  After that, its all about the internal work.  Each day has an focus, prayer, affirmation, and tips to successfully move through detox symptoms and cravings.  At first I was wary because I wanted an easy cleanse: just tell me what to do!  Then I realized the beauty of this way: it teaches the individual how to live this lifestyle independently.  There are no training wheels and this isn’t a quick fix.  Instead, the book provides everything you need to know, including recipes and an extensive resources section.  And if you fall off and skin your knee?  Its totally ok…Kris is gentle and encourages, welcomes, and congratulates any change, no matter how big (omnivore –> vegan; meditating an hour daily) or small (coffee –>green juice; working one or one more day per week).

The cleanse essentially is transitioning you into this lifestyle with loving support.  You might need to repeat multiple times to get “there.”  Then again, your “there” and mine might be totally different!  All I know is that without the mental and emotional support from the book (and my other Crazy Sexy Warriors), this struggle would be so much more.  Its not just my body I’m detoxing: its my whole being.
Find me another cleanse that does that, and maybe I’ll support it.

Until then, you can find me rocking my lotus pose, knocking back veggies galore, and strengthening my spirit.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget,Week 20

Don’t know what this is?  Click here…or check out all my P:FB posts using the tag cloud/categories.

Zoom zoom.

Tip of the Week

Today I want to revisit the topic of making your budget work for you.

My food spending was a bit all over the place this week.  While in VT last weekend, I had the chance to shop at some farm stands and purchase local-produced products.  Some of these were things were on my grocery list while others, though they were not, were simply too good to pass up!  By the time beau and I arrived home on Sunday, we were exhausted!  Napping for too long led to a woozy/drowsy/kinda-seemed-drunk Kait which, in turn, led to the following exchange:

Me: “Hooooooneey!  I dooooonnnn’t waaaaannna go to Wegmans.  I only neeeeeed a few things and can get them alllll at Trader’s…”
Beau: “Ok then don’t go.  Just shop at Trader’s.”
Me: “But it’ll be more expensive.”  *pouty face*
Beau: “Look if you only need a few things from Wegmans don’t go. ”

So that’s what I did.  Did I pay more for certain products because I didn’t shop around?  Yes.  Was it worth it for my sanity?  Yes.  Did I still stay on budget?  Well, you’ll have to keep reading to find out!  😉

Anyway, back to the tip!  As you’ll see below, only one of my VT purchases is included in my spending.  Huh?  Well, I didn’t include the items purchased off my grocery list because beau paid for them in exchange for me covering our accommodations for the weekend.  <–Teheh I’m one smart cookie budgeting genius!  I also did not include the splurge items I bought because they were my souvenirs from the trip and therefore money for those came out of my discretionary fund.  The only other money I spent on the trip was to cover our accommodations.  Snowshoeing was free.  So was sitting around the house, eating, drinking, and playing Catchphrase.  When I travel I either buy locally-produced food or jewelry.  My splurge foods are someone else’s trinkets.  Same concept, different manifestation.

I operate on the same philosophy when dining out (which I don’t do that often): its an activity, not a necessity, so the money for it comes out of the fun fund!  Eating out is one of the few activities I actually spend $ on since I’m not a big shopper (besides grocery shopping, of course) so if my weekened plans are waffles at WooDaddy + dinner at The Citizen, there’s no way I’m not cutting into my grocery budget!

At the end of the day, this system works for me.  You have to do what’s best for you, so long as its honest and within your means!

Continue reading

On Green Juices & Smoothies

Pumpkin Kale Green Monstah - greenmonstermovement.com

If you’ve been following my blog for any time now, you know my love for green smoothies.  I was terrified of the electric green mixtures at first, but after my initial sip, I was hooked…not only on the taste (refreshing and somewhat sweet depending on what you add) but also on the way they made me feel: energized, vital.  No caffeine needed.

Everything I knew about green smoothies, both from doing my own research and from personal experience, indicated they are healthy.  So I kept right on making them, usually 32+ oz a pop!  Then the wonderful Lindsay wrote a post about why she decided to stop drinking green smoothies and their counterparts, green juices.  The post has since been taken down due to the overwhelming response and disrespect but I’ve summarized her points below.

According to Drs. Esselstyn (author, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease) and Campbell (author, The China Study), Lindsay’s very intelligent and influential mentors (whose expertise I highly value), our food needs to be chewed in order for its’ nutrients to be properly absorbed.  The problem with making smoothies is that the blades of the blender tear up the leaves in a way that ruptures cell walls and changes the way our body responds.  As for juices, the process removes all of the fiber and is therefore equivalent to drinking sugar straight.

You can imagine what the comment section looked like!  I fell into the, “Are you effing kidding me?!” category, but wanted to examine that feeling a little more before contacting Lindsay (privately in a respectful manner since we’re friends).  I soon realized that my anger was really just a defense mechanism against a way of life I had come to know and love (and believe to be healthy) being attacked.  So I jumped into scientist mode and thought it through some more, leading me to the conclusion that this argument doesn’t really make sense based on the way our bodies digest foods.  Let me explain further (emphasis added):

“Mechanical digestion happens in the mouth with the help of the saliva, teeth and tongue. It is the actual break down of food into smaller bits. This makes food easier to digest.  […] After the food has been processed in the mouth, it is being swallowed. It passes the esophagus and goes all the way down to the stomach. In the stomach, the churning and grinding of the masticated food continues and this is still part of the mechanical digestion of the food we eat.”

As mechanical digestion occurs, “the chemical content of the food is extracted during the process.  This is largely carried out […] by digestive enzymes which are enzymes that break down polymeric macromolecules into their smaller parts, so that they can be absorbed by the body.”  Source

Chemical digestion occurs primarily in the intestines, where the chyme (the broken down food from mechanical digestion + the gastric juice it mixed with in the stomach) interacts with a ton of enzymes that break the food’s macromolecules (e.g. proteins) into their smaller parts (e.g. amino acids) so that they can then be absorbed through the walls of the intestines and into the body.  The only chemical digestion that occurs in the mouth has to do with breaking down starches (carbs).

Since the primary role of our mouth is mechanical digestion, why should it matter whether I chew my food or the blender/juicer does?  The food will still  interacting with the enzymes in the mouth.  Furthermore, wouldn’t soups made in the blender and other similar fare have the same fate?  In this case, I’m going to respectfully say I disagree.

Next!

Let’s talk about this fiber thing.   The point of juicing (according to proponents) is to remove the fiber from foods so their nutrients can be absorbed  by the body more quickly.  In short, the same argument used to support juicing is also used against it.  Juicing essentially allows you to get more vital nutrients than would be possible through eating (it takes ~1lb of produce to make 1 c of juice) and doesn’t tax your digestive tract.  The Drs don’t disagree with this, as is evident once we look at the sugar bomb comments.  According to the Drs, one of the reasons smoothies/juices are bad for you is because the sugar hits your system more quickly.  In other words, nutrients are getting absorbed faster.   Yup, same argument, different point of view. 

Whether a smoothie/juice is a sugar bomb, however, is totally dependent on what you are putting into it.  If it is chock full of fruit then I totally agree with the Drs and would advise you to avoid it!  If you have a choice between fruit juice and fruit, go with the fruit 100% of the time!  With fruit, you absolutely want the fiber because it slows the body’s reaction (read: insulin release aka uptake of carbs based on how much sugar is in your bloodstream) to the natural sugars in it .  I am by no means saying fruit is bad, just that it is 100% of the time better eaten whole.  What about fruit smoothies?  I’d still say go with the piece of fruit.  Digestion has already begun by the time the smoothie enters your stomach, allowing the sugar to enter your system more quickly and at higher concentrations.  Normally, nutrients enter your system slowly but surely (because mechanical digestion is a staggered process, with food moving from one part of the digestive tract to the other in carefully controlled stages) but if the digestion began outside of your body, then say hellllloooo to your sugar high!

As a side note, the idea of not using a ton of fruit is supported by many proponents of juicing/blending, including the faboosh Kris Carr who recommends a 3:1  veggie-to-fruit ratio.  <–Did I really just use faboosh?  That is what I get for writing while tired!  Just go with it.  🙂

Anyone else feel like we’re running in circles?!

So that leaves us with veg-based juices and smoothies.  To this I say: drink up! 

If the reason smoothies & juices can be so harmful is because the nutrients are absorbed more quickly, then that very reason will lead to positive effects on our bodies so long as the nutrients we’re absorbing include little-to-no sugar.  Don’t let your smoothies be sugar OR calorie bombs.  Instead load them with greens, other veggies (*starchy veggies such as carrots and beets should be treated as fruit), and more greens!  Let other foods such as fruits (preferably as low-GI as you can get), nut butters, protein powders, oils, and seeds (e.g. flax & chia) play minor supporting roles.

I hope I didn’t lose anyone with this long description! I had been contemplating this post but when the e-mails and fbook messages kept rolling in, I knew I needed to address it sooner rather than later.

One final word.  I believe that we have to do what feels right in our bodies.  I plan on exploring that topic more in a future post but to sum things up I truly feel that different bodies have different needs and no one dietary lifestyle fits all.  Shockingly, I do have an idea about what all dietary lifestyles should include more and less of.  Like I said, more on that to come.

Yoga/beauty/greens,

Kait xo

P.S.  If you want to read more about digestion, here are some great user-friendly resources.

P.P.S. For the ultimate guide to smoothies/juices and staying in the alkaline range (aka avoiding the sugar bomb), you’ll want this bad boy!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, dietician, or nutritionist.  This is not medical advice but rather my personal opinions based on research I’ve done, content I’ve been taught, and my personal experiences.  Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet or regimen.

Cleanse, Day 2

Anxiety.

Need solid foods.  says the head not the stomach

Nerves.

Heart racing.

No one said this would be easy.

Affirmation: I love my thighs.  My skin is beautiful.  My organs are healthy and powerful.

Prayer: May I know in my heart that I am precious, worthy, and divine (aka fabulous).  When I act from my own divinity, anything I do is enough.  <–paraphrased

Unfocused.

Cloudy.

Breathe.

One minute, one moment.

I didn’t expect it to be easy.

I didn’t expect it to be this hard.

Day 2.  Things start to breakdown.  The cravings are back.  The bloat is down.

Its a mental game now, all in my head.  My body is well-nourished and so is my soul.  Perhaps this is an upper limit problem.

Its not our weaknesses that scare us the most, right?

What happens if I step into my full potential?

…if I lose those last few pounds?

…if I come into my own and fully be/live/experience/influence/change/shift my world and those in it?

Bring on the fear, the detox symptoms.  

I got this.  Right…?