A New Year and A New Plan

4 Jan

Well, it’s now 2015 and 2014 was pretty awesome.  It certainly had its challenges, but my son Gabriel was born and he truly is our miracle baby.  He is now 9 months old.  He is an absolute joy-even the rough days like when he’s teething or feverish or has been up every 2 hours throughout the night, I still find joy in his sweet little face. In Korea were were successful in being able to have a bris (traditional Jewish circumcision ceremony) which was an extremely big deal. We took a 6 week trip to the US so that he could meet his family. We traveled to 6 states in 6 weeks, Gabriel got to meet grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and lifelong family friends. We were blessed to reconnect with our synagogue in NC and our mishpocha there. James performed 3 Mussica Missio concerts and we ended our trip with him marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with the Madison Scouts, the drum corps he marched with 20 years ago.

Even though I was mostly eating healthy during my pregnancy, I gained 40lbs.  Not bad considering I had lost 45lbs right before getting pregnant as a result of my juice fast. I heard that many women loose their weight quickly when they are breastfeeding.  How nice for them.  That was certainly not me :/  I lost about 15lbs in my first couple of weeks after having my son (who ended up being a c-section but that is a story for another time-I’m thankful he was born healthy even if it wasn’t the natural birth I had hoped I would have). However, then, my wonderful mother-in-law who came to Korea for his birth had to fly home and my husband had to return to work.  Which meant that I had to fend for myself when it came to making sure I ate-and I needed to eat quite a bit as the baby was nursing all the time those first few months.  Well, he wouldn’t let me put him down to sleep which meant he was in my arms the majority of the time.  The few moments I had without him in my arms I had to choose whether to sleep, eat, shower or cook.  Cooking did not win.  So I started eating things that could be prepared quickly or were pre-prepared and could be eaten with one hand-those things couldn’t be hot since that meant I was eating over the (most likely nursing) baby. Fast forward to 9 months postpartum and I am as heavy as I was at 9 months pregnant with no energy and a terrible addiction to milk chocolate.

Now that Gabriel is older and I am able to spend a bit more time in the kitchen preparing food, it’s time to do something to make my body healthy again.  Because I am breastfeeding, I can’t do a true detox like a juice fast because those toxins would be able to pass through to the breastmilk.  I have a couple of friends who have had great success with breaking their sugar addictions and transitioning to healthier eating habits by doing the Whole30 program. I am starting mine tomorrow. I have a friend in the US starting the same day (although my day starts 16 hours before hers with the time difference) and one friend in Korea doing it with me too. I am looking forward to having energy again, hopefully shedding some of this baby-weight and the biggest hope is to get my blood sugar back under control. And I plan to do all this while taking care of a teething baby who is starting to crawl. Prayers and positive thoughts are much appreciated.

Here is a family picture from about 3 months ago10710446_10203735780208228_7924688867220927609_o

What a Difference a Year Makes

11 Mar

I am so sorry that I completely dropped off the radar for so long. Hot Lips and I took a month long road trip followed by a transcontinental move to South Korea. I completely planned on writing when we first got here in September (especially since I had some exciting things I wanted to share) but with the drama of staying in a hotel for a month while trying to find a place to live, then receiving our household goods, setting up our apartment and finding a place to worship, writing took a back seat to navigating life in a foreign country.

Last year on this very day (March 11th) I was boarding an airplane headed to Hawaii to be at my dear friend’s wedding. I was about a week away from finishing a 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge (which meant adding 1 green smoothie a day to my diet for 30 days with recipes and shopping lists for free from Young and Raw). I mentioned this program on my first blog post here that talks about my journey to my juice fast.

However, even though I was headed to one of the most beautiful places on the planet, inside, I was a complete mess and in a spiritual crisis. Just 4 days before I found out that our 5th fertility treatment in 2 years had not worked. To top it off, the day after finding out this news while at synagogue, a young couple in our congregation was called up to the front to be prayed over as they announced their exciting news; they were expecting. I closed my eyes and prayed for them but the tears started and didn’t stop. After the prayer, the rabbi started his message. My husband and I had lunch plans for after the service with a couple we were eager to get to know better but I leaned over and whispered I needed to go home after the service, tears still silently falling from my eyes. In my husband’s compassionate wisdom, he leaned over and asked me if I needed to leave now-I said yes, immediately got up and walked outside. By the time I got outside, my silent tears turned into angry sobs. I was furious with G-d. A close friend of mine was outside when I got there and tried to comfort me but there was no comforting me by that time. All I could say is that no loving parent would put their child through what I was going through at that moment and was seriously questioning G-d’s existence in that moment..I was pretty much cursing him at that point and all I could say about it was If He is who He says He is, He can take it. It was pretty ugly. G-d knew I would be out of town the next weekend-why didn’t He put it on the Rabbi’s heart to have the congregation pray for this couple the following week? I still don’t know the answer, but thankfully, with the support of my friends and family both near and far, I didn’t stay in that crisis for too long. While in Hawaii, I connected with several people who I have known since I first developed a personal relationship with G-d back in 2003 and they supported me and helped me move to the other side of the crisis with no judgement. In addition, I had the support of my rabbi and friends from our home congregation in NC who I knew were praying for me.

The beginning of my journey to health can be read back on my first blog post…the exciting news I wanted to share after my 60 day juice fast is that after 5 years of trying, 5 rounds of unsuccessful fertility treatments in 2 years, during the cycle following my juice fast, we finally conceived!!! I am currently 38 weeks pregnant and feeling pretty great all things considered. During pregnancy I did have to increase my insulin and did have some struggles with keeping my sugars regulated. However, overall, it’s been going quite well. I am considered high risk because of my diabetic status and at my age I’m considered “elderly pregnant” (at the ripe old age of 38). I did add animal protein back into my diet at around 6 weeks. My juice fast really helped me to make new decisions about what foods I put in my body and I rarely eat foods that are void of any nutritional value…although this third trimester has seen an increase of vanilla Hagen Daz ice cream and milk chocolate…but if that’s the worst of it, I am doing OK…I have gained 33lbs this pregnancy and am confident I’ll be able to shed them after our precious bundle arrives. His estimated due date is 3/25 but I’m thinking maybe he’ll come early…if he’s anything like his dad, that is possible. If he takes after me, we are in trouble because being early is not my strength.

This time last year I was furious with G-d, heartbroken and upset and fearing I would never be a parent. Now I am 38 weeks pregnant with a 2 page birth plan and preparing to pack my hospital bag. I am hopeful and looking forward to meeting my son. What a difference a year makes!

37+4 weeks preggo

Traveling with my husband, 2 dogs sans fast food

29 Jul

Please forgive me for the long absence from posting! Hot Lips and I were traveling with our 2 pups from July 12 to August 11th and then had to prepare for an overseas move upon our return. It’s been crazy! On a side note, if you ever are planning an overseas move and want to take a month to travel to see friends before leaving, do not return home with only 4 weeks to get everything done. That was not our best move. Additional craziness will be reported in the next post.

While traveling, we did 3 concerts, stayed with friends or family in 4 different states and hotels in another 4. Thankfully, our pups are true road warriors and make themselves at home whether at a hotel:

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Or at someone’s house

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I am excited to report that while traveling, we have been very successful at eating well. The day before we left, I spent 9 hours in the kitchen prepping food, sauces and dressings to pack in our coolers. I packed my Vitamix and Spiralizer, intended to pack a nut milk bag but somehow forgot so I bought one on the road.

I made pint sized jars of the Thai satay sauce and the creamy curry dressing which came in handy more then once. I believe I just doubled each recipe. At one point we stopped at a friends’s to spend the night. She had made a dinner that smelled wonderful but unfortunately I couldn’t eat it because it had gluten. However, she had a garden fresh zucchini which I was able to run through the spiralizer and I had “noodles” in Thai sauce. Even her kiddos tried it and liked it 🙂 Preparation is key.

When we stayed in hotels, it was easy to start our days with fresh smoothies with frozen fruit, greens and hemp seeds. When I wanted juice, I just put all of the ingredients in the vitamix and strained everything through the nut milk bag. I was also able to teach some friends how to make almond milk and one even bought a juicer to start incorporating juice into her diet-I love helping people make healthier food choices! I also brought some raw dessert on the road which was also a big hit with friends. It was the same recipe I used for my birthday cake but put in 4oz Mason jars.

We had a couple of coolers with us and it was worth all the time and effort it took to prepare ingredients and pack those coolers. We didn’t have the need to stop for fast food once….although we did…at a Culvers. I used to LOVE their fried cheese curds and frozen custard. But I had a juice with me so I sipped on that while Hot Lips and our friends indulged in the menu. Of course he just had to order the fried cheese curds :/ Soooo I just haaaad to pop one in my mouth. As soon as I bit into it, I was completely grossed out! I spit it right out. I was glad to know my body was no longer interested in such foods! It’s amazing to me how my tastes have been changed by the juice fast.

So for anyone wondering, it is possible to do a road trip without depending on fast food and greasy spoon truck stops but it does take preparation. Access to organic groceries in some of the places we stopped for a few days at a time was helpful too. If you are committed to keep those toxins out of your body, I encourage you to do so. And if I can be of any assistance or if you have any questions, I am happy to help!

4th of July weekend Part 2

9 Jul

I apologize for taking so long to post this-it’s been non stop with family in town over the 4th and then non stop prep for a month long road trip, complete with my car breaking down in the middle of the insanity. Back to info on the food from the busy holiday weekend.

Saturday was crazy and we were going all day…synagogue in the morning plus food shopping for the BBQ we were hosting the next day plus a BBQ that night. I’m glad that our guests who are in their 60’s, were able to keep up-and be the life of the party 🙂 We brought the coleslaw and a pesto dip with gluten free crackers and there were also sliced cucumbers there. The pesto dip ended up being a bit thick but still tasted great. ( I mixed this pesto with some of the cashew cheese from this recipe ) Two days later I thinned it out a bit with a touch of water and put it on yellow zucchini noodles and the moisture from the noodles helped thin it out to the perfect consistency.

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Up until this point it was crazy busy but I found as long as I made sure to bring something I could eat, I did fine. I also relied heavily on left overs. I added some leftover cole slaw to a salad made of dinosaur kale and fresh from the garden cherry tomatoes and diced cucumber and that was a quick and easy meal when a smoothie or juice just wouldn’t do. I tossed the kale in a quick dressing of A couple of tablespoons of ACV, some stone ground mustard & some honey…I didn’t really measure but it hot the spot.

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After the 2 BBQ’s that we went to, we prepared to host one at our house on Sunday, July 7th. We had dear friends in town, it was a holiday weekend plus it was my birthday-what a great excuse to have a BBQ 🙂 plus we’re leaving in Sept for 2 years so we had to do this while we could. I was super surprised that we had over 50 people come! What a blessing! We got to celebrate with people from all of the different communities of our life. And Hot Lips was a fabulous Grill Master! He took care of the drum sticks, chicken tenders & all beef, nitrate free hot dogs. I made a BBQ shredded beef roast in the crock pot that also went over well. I didn’t get to make everything I wanted to because I just ran out of time. However, I did make my raw, vegan, deviled egg salad But called it a “garden dip” and Baba Ghanoush and served them in a 2 dip serving tray with sliced cucumbers and gluten free crackers. I also made the kale salad with the creamy curry dressing but my only salad ingredients were kale (massaged in lemon juice) and tomatoes from my garden. We cut up a cantaloupe and put that out along with Deborah’s cole slaw. Thankfully, our guests all brought sides so there was plenty of food. Also I couldn’t have gotten the food done that I did if it wasn’t for Deborah’s help plus some of my guests who stepped in and helped to take care if things in the kitchen. I’m so thankful door the dear friends & Mishpocha (family) I have been blessed with!

I also made my own birthday cake and Holy Freaking Moly was it AMAZING! (If I don’t say so myself;) I made a raw, vegan Chocolate Hazelnut “cheese” cake.Totally out of this world! It calls for hazelnut butter but instead of regular, I used a healthier version of Nutella which is a chocolate hazelnut butter. It was a hit with all who stayed late enough to try it. I liked it so well, I made some in little 4oz jelly jars to satisfy my chocolate cravings while on our road trip (which has worked quite well, I should add) And so has everyone else who has tried it;) Here is a picture of me with my super delicious birthday cake:

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I’m so glad I got to have cake on my birthday 🙂 I keep thinking I miss certain foods but then I find recipes for things I can eat that satisfy those cravings plus don’t poison my body. Also when I try some of those foods I think I miss, I don’t enjoy them. To me, this has been an interesting learning experience. As a matter of fact, we are traveling and I have brought a whole host of foods with me which has been a really good thing. We found ourselves at a Culvers last night and Hot Lips ordered their fried cheese curds which used to be a favorite of mine….I was having a difficult time with self control and popped one into my mouth…and proceeded to spit it out into a napkin. It did not taste good to me at all! As a matter of fact, it tasted pretty gross! I’m actually thankful for that. I’m still amazed at how drastically my taste buds have changed.

One of the benefits of my 60 day juice fast that I didn’t even realize has been a complete change in my food cravings…even when I want something salty and crunchy or chocolatey and sweet, I’m not turning to Ben & Jerry’s fish food ice cream or Trader Joe’s white cheddar popcorn. My frozen banana chocolate “ice cream” (or chocolate hazelnut “cheese” cake) and dehydrator crackers satisfy me-although I have found a new crunchy & salty snack that I am absolutely enjoying while on the road. They are called Plentils by the Enjoy Life food company and they are corn free, soy free and gluten free and they are super delicious…I may be a bit addicted 😉 It could be way worse!

July 4th Weekend Food and Family-Part 1

8 Jul

It’s been an insanely busy weekend that started with the arrival of some dear friends Doborah & Dan whom we consider “Mishpocha” (family) on Thursday July 4th. We had not seen them in 2 years and it was an absolute blessing to be able to visit with them, especially knowing we will be out of the country for the next 2 years.

I made and froze 3 pint sized mason jars of juice before things became insane…that was a good idea but I wish I had made 2 more. This weekend involved a crazy amount of running around and food preparation and an impromptu 3rd BBQ added to the 2 we already had on our calendar. There were 2 days in the last 5 that I did not have a juice, however, I did have a smoothie every day and somehow even managed to loose a couple of pounds. I’m now only 5lbs more then I was when I ended my juice fast…even with some of my food escapades over the weekend!

One of Deborah’s favorite meals is lamb (which is [was?] also my favorite meat) and I happen to have a pasture-raised lamb roast in the deep freeze so into the crock pot it went. I figured since I was 3 weeks post juice fast, it would be a good time to see about reintroducing some animal products…even though I tried my buffalo chicken dip last week (which used to be one of my favorite foods ever) and really didn’t care for it. Well, the same thing happened with the lamb. I ate a small amount-I think I was trying to really like and enjoy it….but it just didn’t happen. Thankfully, it didn’t make me feel yucky, I just wasn’t crazy about the taste or texture. I was very glad I had made some oven roasted eggplant, squash & green beans (all from my local farmers market) with coconut oil and curry in my stoneware dish. I mention the stoneware because I really notice a difference when I roast my veggies in a stoneware (untreated on the inside where the food goes) baking dish as opposed to my glass baking dishes. Being the Pampered Chef product junkie I am, I get mine through them. I also prepared a most amazing Creamy Curry Kale & Cauliflower Salad that is seriously delicious…I actually made that dressing twice over the weekend! And I even had leftover dressing (that got used on something else at some point between Thursday and Saturday) from when I made it for that night. The directions call for you to massage the kale and that makes all the difference in the world!
Here is a picture of the one I made

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I also used this dressing on a kale salad I made for my BBQ – I ran out of time so I just threw in some cherry tomatoes from my garden and it was a hit. I mean people were RAVING about it!

Friday we went Blackberry picking and I had aspirations to make a cobbler for my BBQ on Sunday. However, the time I planned to spend in the kitchen on Friday evening to make desserts for sunday was thwarted by the opportunity to visit with some friends that were in the area from out of town that are also close with our guests…I had planned on making (and trying) baked salmon with crushed garlic and herbs from my garden for dinner that night…which I did make and brought with us, along with some noodled zucchini (on the spiralizer) which I tossed with some leftover Thai Satay Style Dipping Sauce. I added a a couple of teaspoons or so of brown rice vinegar to the sauce because it was pretty thick. I also made and brought a super easy Baba Ghanoush (sorry no pics because I was in such a rush but here my recipe:
1 cooled & peeled roasted eggplant (with holes poked all over by a fork-oven roasted at 350 degrees for 45 or so minutes or about 35min @ 400-I put it in the oven when I was baking something else)
2 cloves garlic
1 lemon (juiced)
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut off the top and then cut the eggplant lengthwise into 4 sections. This makes it easier to peel (which I did with my fingers) and add the eggplant with all the other ingredients into your food processor, blender or Vitamix (which I used and yields super-smooth results) and process until smooth….garnish with a sprinkle of smoked paprika for color.

Serve with sliced cucumber or your favorite gluten free crackers or dehydrator crackers.

I also found myself making nut milks thought the weekend…which lead to more pulp that needed to be dehydrated. So I also decided to try making dehydrator crackers which did not turn out as crispy as I had hoped even after dehydrating them for over 24 hours. But they are flavorful and go well with the Baba Ghanoush…I didn’t follow a recipe exactly which could have contributed to my problem. I will just have to try again 🙂

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Deborah made a delicious coleslaw with purple cabbage (it was beautiful but of course, I didn’t get a pic) and made enough for all 3 BBQ’s. I also added it to tonight’s salad. Here is her recipe…and remember this made A LOT. I still have a quart or so of it in the fridge which I will happily eat over the next couple of days.
2 small red cabbages (chopped)
1 medium green cabbage (chopped)
2 limes (juiced)
1 small strip of roasted red pepper
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T light rice vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 droppers of Stevia
1/2 Jalepeno pepper (minced very small)

There you have the first half of my holiday weekend food-wise. There is so much to tell you, I will leave the second half of the weekend to post tomorrow. I found that as long as I brought foods I could eat, I was not at all bothered by the ones that were not aligned with what I want to put into my body. The lesson? Always bring foods you can eat to a BBQ!

Made a raw dinner even Hot Lips enjoyed

3 Jul

Today was My local Farmers Market 🙂 With all the rain we’ve been having, not everyone had everything I was looking for (they literally couldn’t get to some of the plants in their fields because of the mud) but I got some great produce none the less. I got some beautiful eggplants so I believe I will be making babaganouj at some point this weekend. I also really like cutting them up and oven roasting them with other veggies and curry. I can’t believe how excited I get over vegetables these days! I’m also looking forward to making some dishes with the beautiful cabbage I got too.

Speaking of excitement over veggies, tonight’s dinner was scrumptious and even was a hit with Hot Lips! He is super supportive and eats pretty much everything I serve him but if he’s not crazy about a dish when I ask him how it is, his answer is “It tastes healthy”. However, tonight he literally licked the ramekin the sauce was in. I originally thought I wanted to make this Thai Lettuce Wraps recipe but didn’t actually have all of the ingredients and it wasn’t quite what I was in the mood for. Then i found this recipe for a Thai “Peanut” Sauce and was inspired to create a new dish based on my own version of this sauce. I had some ingredients I picked up at our last trip to the Asian market and tonight I finally got to use them in my recipe:

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Thai Summer Rolls

Rolls:
12 or so rice paper rounds (make sure the ones you get don’t have any corn products in them-mine were made of rice flour, tapioca, water and salt and on the front they say “Vietnamese Rice Paper” size 22cm)
A handful of Bean Threads prepared according to directions on package (mine were made from mung beans, tapioca starch and water-they are noodles)
8-12 leaves of romaine lettuce (can be cut in strips if that is easier for you)
A large handful of fresh mint, torn (at least 24 leaves)
A large handful of fresh basil, torn (at least 24 leaves…I used purple basil in this dish but any kind would work)
A handful of fresh parsley
A handful of fresh cilantro
1 cucumber julienned or cut into matchsticks
3 carrots julienned
3 green onions chopped
Chopped almonds (optional-I didn’t use them but really think they would have been a good idea)

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Get a glass pie dish and put in a couple of inches of warm water (do not use boiling water because it will turn your rice paper immediately into a difficult to work with, sticky mess….go ahead, ask me how I know that 😉 ) Place 1 piece of rice paper in water for up to 5 seconds until it is soft but still holds its shape. Place on a dry plate and place romaine, mung noodles, torn mint & basil leaves, parsley and cilantro (I used only the leaves) carrots, cucumbers and top with green onions and chopped almonds. Fold the top over, the bottom over and roll like a burrito. I realize this is easier said then done, but you will get the hang of it. Repeat until you use up your ingredients.

Serves 2

I’m certain that there was an old Asian woman somewhere laughing at me as I made these.

Thai satay style dipping sauce:
1 cup raw almond butter
1/2 cup filtered water (add more if necessary to get desired consistency)
Juice of 2 small limes
2TBS coconut aminos
A 2″ thumb of ginger
3 to 4 large cloves of garlic
1 to 2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
1 whole jalapeño (I would have preferred to use a cayenne pepper but mine aren’t ripe yet. You could also use pepper flakes or powdered cayenne….or omit it completely if you don’t do hot stuff)
Sea salt to taste

Put everything in a high power blender (put the liquid ingredients in first and then the almond butter…trust me on this one) or a food processor and blend until smooth….I had a bunch of sauce left over but I’m thinking I might add some rice vinegar to it and make a salad dressing out of it. You could probably half the recipe and still have enough but quite honestly, I’m glad for the extra sauce.

Well, I’m off to bed…last night I was up until 4am and felt lousy today…I suspect I was up that late because around 9ish I had a soft serve ice cream-like dessert made of blended frozen bananas with almond butter, vanilla, honey, cinnamon and raw cacao powder…I’m guessing that there’s caffeine in the raw cacao powder that kept me up….I’m still getting to know how my body responds to what I put into it. However, I definitely feel more sensitive to and aware of the way different foods affect me. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to have been able to do a 60 day juice fast.

Preparing to host a BBQ

3 Jul

While I know my body is healthy, I am definitely frustrated about the weight gain…I am still doing a plant based diet which really has me feeling great so I know I’m on the right track. I still have way more energy then I did before my cleanse. However, I seriously need to stop talking about exercising and I need to at least take a walk…tonight Hot Lips got home and took the pups out and I wanted to go with but was busy preparing dinner…which I totally did not take pictures of…sorry about that. I made a pesto sauce using broth instead of oil and nutritional yeast instead of cheese and put it over kelp noodles and topped it off with roasted veggies; squash, jalapeños & onions (from the farmers market) and zucchini & yellow pepper from my back yard (& organic garlic & asparagus from Whole Foods) topped with coconut oil and balsamic vinegar infused with basil, winter savory, rosemary & thyme from my garden. The veggies had enough of a sauce that I didn’t really need the pesto but it was too late by the time I figured that out. The kelp were raw so I I had both raw and cooked components in tonight’s dinner.

While on the subject of food, this weekend is my birthday and we are hosting a BBQ. I’m really looking forward to getting together with friends from the different communities of my life (i.e. neighbors, friends from synagogue, my army wife community, etc). Hot Lips and I love to entertain and it’s been 2 years since we’ve done a big event like this. Last summer I was grieving the loss of my dad so I wasn’t up to entertaining. This year I’ve got all kinds of vegan dishes I want to make plus some fun, patriotic dishes and a cake. I’m thinking this chocolate hazelnut deliciousness. I’ve got ideas for red, white and blue fruit and nut milk ice pops for the kids, some sort of gluten free & dairy free parfait to go in my trifle bowl that I have yet to use, a watermelon ball salad and probably some roasted veggies. Plus whatever my guests bring…..plus some meat.

Regarding the meat issue, I have changed my diet because my body has responded well to my eliminating animal products, not because I am ethically against eating meat. However, even before my cleanse when I ate meat, it was usually from a local, grass fed source. I happen to still have a roast in the deep freeze that I will be cooking to make shredded BBQ beef. I expect I will indulge in eating some meat this weekend. We’ll see how my body responds.

However, I still need to get hot dogs and chicken tenders for the grill (Hot Lips has grill duty). This task may seem easy but trying to remain budget conscious and in line with my integrity has proved to be a challenge. While I have had coupons for Hebrew National family packs of beef hot dogs (we don’t do pork or shellfish at my house), I can’t bring myself to serve my guests food loaded with MSG and nitrites & nitrates….even though I realize that many of my guests might not pay attention to those details, I do…and I don’t want to knowingly serve neurotoxins and poisons to people I care about. I’ve been going back and forth with my friend Jessica about this. Her argument, which is totally valid and makes sense, is get the more budget friendly option since that’s very likely what others are serving in their own homes. Getting all beef hot dogs is a step up from the “mixed meat” ones that include pork which plenty of people will be serving this weekend. Makes sense…and I even had the Hebrew National family pack in my cart with my coupon in my hand…and I couldn’t make the purchase. It means I will spend a bit more but I do know that I serve a gracious G-d who is the ultimate provider and has put these issues of health on my heart. Same thing with the huge bags of Tyson chicken tenders…those didn’t even make it into the cart…The movie Food Inc. was way too informative about how those chickens are raised and I not only don’t want that junk in my body (or the bodies of those i care about) but I also don’t want to give that company my $$. There was a “natural” brand at the wholesale store that claims to be raised on organic feed without hormones but I don’t know anything about what company those chickens come from…and at that point it wasn’t cheaper then Trader Joe’s frozen chicken tenders…so I’m going with those. Not perfect, but certainly a better option. I feel like when it comes to eliminating toxic foods, a Harm Reduction approach is helpful. While this tactic is generally associated with helping people doing illegal drug use, the reality is that wearing a seatbelt in a car is an act of harm reduction…that is to say that you take steps to reduce the amount of harm you are exposed to…if you get in an accident, if wearing a seatbelt, you are more likely to recover then if you are not wearing one and go head first into the windshield….because not getting in a car at all (which would eliminate the risk entirely) is not an option for most people. If we make small, healthier choices with some of our food choices, even if not all of them, we are reducing the harm done to our bodies. I hope this makes sense. I was an outreach worker for several years in Chinatown in Honolulu and that is the main method I used with my clients. I have definitely applied it to my own life in the area of health throughout the various stages of my journey. Feedback about this subject is welcome and encouraged!

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Getting to know my body after my juice fast and making party-friendly healthy foods

1 Jul

I keep referring to my husband as “hubby” when I write about him here and I think it’s time for a real nickname…since he’s a professional trumpet player and I think he’s dreamy, from henceforth he will be known as Hot Lips. 🙂

I’ve been busy in the kitchen over the weekend. I was sooo super excited about my kale chips but unfortunately they weren’t as terrific as I had hoped. To coat my kale I used a delicious miso sauce made of 2 Tbs chickpea miso, 1 1/2 Tbs ACV (apple cider vinegar), a finely chopped green onion and a pressed clove garlic. They taste good but I don’t have the texture right…and I dehydrated them for over 12 hours….maybe I need do it at a higher temperature or try a recipe that uses olive oil…or a cashew based spread. I will not give up!

Speaking of cashews, I found a fabulous website that gives a delicious recipe for a raw, vegan egg salad. I am someone who is not great about following recipes exactly and changed it up a bit.
Raw, Vegan Deviled Egg Salad
1 1/2 cups raw cashews (soaked for a couple of hours and rinsed well…can also use previously soaked and dehydrated cashews)
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 T ACV (apple cider vinegar)
2 to 3 t stone ground mustard
3/4 t turmeric (I used more like 1 1/2 t fresh grated)
1 1/2 cloves garlic (I will use 2 next time)
Up to 3/4 cup water-starting with 1/4 cup in the blender and adding as necessary)
2 to 3 stalks celery finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper finely chopped
1 small spring onion finely chopped
1 1/2 T dried dill (if I had fresh I would have used that instead)
Salt & pepper to taste (I didn’t use salt)
Paprika (to sprinkle on top)

Put the first 7 ingredients (cashews -water) in the blender and blend well until a smooth and creamy thick (think hollandaise) sauce like consistency.

Add chopped ingredients above (plus any others you would like to add…I bet chopped pickles would be good too) to a bowl, pour in your “egg salad” mixture over them, add your dill, salt and pepper and mix well with a spoon or spatula. Garnish with paprika.

I spread this over romaine lettuce and topped with sprouts. It was delicious! It also goes well on crackers. You could pass it off as a “garden spread” to your non-vegan friends. By the way, I finally got a chopper from Pampered Chef and that’s what I used to chop everything…I can’t believe it took me so long to get one-it’s an awesome kitchen tool! And it gets everything chopped uniformly and doesn’t get my fingers in the process. I realize I have a kitchen gadget problem…but I do spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen.

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Hot Lips and I went to a swell roaring 20’s party and I wanted to bring some food associated with that time and egg salad was a popular dish, hence my hunt for a vegan egg-salad dish.

I brought this dish to a party and although I’m not sure how many people tried it, I’m glad I brought it because it turned out to be one of the only things I could eat…I did try some gluten free tortilla chips with it but I’m pretty sure my body doesn’t like those…my ankles swelled up a bit. At least I’m learning how my body is responding to different foods. I also tasted a dish that my husband loves (that I also made-not consistent with the period) that I used to absolutely love-buffalo chicken dip…it has chicken and dairy..it didn’t taste as great as I remembered…meanwhile Hot Lips said it was the best batch I’ve ever made. My body didn’t react as strongly to it as I had expected but I didn’t have very much. I noticed I was a bit gassy but not sick. Someone else made a delicious baked summer squash with spices and they topped it with crumbled crackers and cheese…I did not know before I ate it that it had gluten but it was a minimal amount. So I ate a bunch of different, new things and had some reactions but nothing too extreme.

Since I read that melon balls were popular in the 1920’s, I also made a watermelon ball salad. It was super easy, delicious & a hit at the party:
Watermelon Ball Salad
1/2 a good sized seedless watermelon scooped out with a melon baller
1 1/2 to 2 limes juiced
A bunch of finely chopped mint

Put watermelon balls in a bowl, top with lime juice and mint. Mix to make sure the lime juice and mint are well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

While I forgot to take a picture of it, I do have a picture of us in our costumes..we won best dressed couple:)

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I’m gearing up for a busy week with the upcoming holiday weekend inclusive of company from out of town coming to visit, a BBQ to attend plus one to host on Sunday which also happens to be my birthday 🙂 There will be lots of food to be made and I’m looking forward to sharing those food adventures with you amidst the craziness!

2 weeks after my juice fast

27 Jun

So the last day of my juice fast was 2 weeks ago and I’m feeling a bit bummed because I’ve gained 7lbs…and I haven’t had any gluten or processed sugar! It is a bit discouraging…although my new clothes don’t feel tighter so that is a good thing. I know it’s normal to gain this amount of weight post-juice fast but it kind of scares me and almost makes me feel like I’m back to where I started…even though i know that is not true.

Regular exercise never really became part of my routine and I know that would help. I haven’t added a whole lot of fats like coconut oil or olive oil to my diet, but maybe what I have added is not working in my favor. I have had some nuts but not a whole lot. I like to have some nuts when I have fruit to avoid spikes in my blood sugar. The combo worked well in my pre-fast 21 day raw reset and I was losing weight then.

I am still starting each day with about a quart of lemon water and I am having a juice and a smoothie. Last night I oven roasted some eggplant, onions and green beans (all from my local farmers market) with fresh pressed garlic, fresh grated turmeric and ginger, a touch of olive oil and powdered curry, cardamom and cumin with a dash of cinnamon. I also cut a cabbage into wedges and roasted it with a honey-mustard dill sauce…it was a delicious dinner! The unfortunate thing that happened is that I broke my glass tea pitcher when I pulled my stone pan out of the oven and the corner touched the glass. It was a Christmas gift a couple of years ago and I loved it. And because of all of the commotion and clean up I totally forgot to take pictures!

My next food adventure will be making kale chips in the dehydrator (another item I got I expensively off of Craig’s List). Kale chips are super expensive when you buy them but they look pretty easy to make. I also want to try making “hummus” out of zucchini using this recipe.

I had lunch with a new friend this week. I was introduced to a new restaurant and had a fabulous Greek salad sans the feta, topped with roasted veggies and hummus. It was delicious. And I’m so glad for the opportunity to get to know Danielle…I’m only sorry we are meeting so close to my departure from NC. She grew up in a holistic household with parents who grew much of their own organic food and bartered with other farmers and ranchers in their community for organic & pasture raised foods that they didn’t grow themselves. She did not grow up eating processed food regularly at all. She has an educational background in holistic health as well as more holistic life experience then anyone I’ve met. Because I followed a “paleo” diet for 2 years before doing my juice fast (also sometimes referred to as the caveman diet), the subject came up during our conversation. Danielle brought up a really interesting point. Back in the days when we were hunter/gatherers, we didn’t eat meat 3 times a day, every single day of the year. Plus there weren’t any pesticides for the animal or their food to come in contact with. There were also seasons that meat wasn’t eaten much at all as both animals and people were in a “hibernation” mode. With the access we have to these foods now, there is no hibernation mode. And “gatherers” referred to people who were gathering plant based foods…which were much easier to obtain then an animal that had to be hunted and slaughtered. So when we examine it, the actual lifestyle of the “cavemen”, while it included healthy meats, included way more fruits and vegetables too-most likely more plant based foods then meat.

I can definitely see how following a paleo diet has been a step in better health for me as it did teach me how to eliminate processed foods, eat more local, grass fed, pasture raised and whole foods and it made me change the contents of my pantry completely. I’m glad for the various stages of transition from my old fast food and SAD (Standard American Diet) ways of eating to my juice fast. Before I started my paleo journey I eliminated soda and MSG from my diet as my sister in law made me aware of the dangers of MSG and all of the other hidden names it has. It is hidden in many different ingredients in processed foods. As a diabetic, this ingredient is particularly dangerous as it really messes with insulin production and proper insulin utilization.

I’m thankful for all of my stages of transition in this journey. I am so glad for learning about eating a plant based diet. Many of the things I am now loving like vegetable soup and raw collard green wraps would never have made their way onto my plate, even if offered…I would have been convinced they wouldn’t be enough to sustain me. The roasted veggies I am so enjoying would have been considered a side dish. I do expect to add some animal products back into my diet at some point but not nearly to the extent as they were before my juice fast.

I am on quite a journey to reverse my diabetes and I am so glad that my journey is helping others along the way!

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A week and a half after ending the juice fast

25 Jun

The last few days have been quite busy-today especially. Today I spent the entire day in the kitchen making new recipes I had never attempted before. Not everything turned out as planned, but in the end, it all worked out great. I’ll go into detail in a minute. First, I have to admit something that I’m not crazy about, even though according to what I’ve read, this is totally normal…but I’ve put on 5lbs…I realize its pretty normal to put on between 5 & 8lbs in the days following the end of a juice fast but I’m still bummed…however, my clothes aren’t fitting any different so that is a good thing. I also didn’t return to my previous meat-eating habits so I thought I might have been able to avoid the weight gain. If it continues to rise, I may have to drink more juice and green smoothies. At the moment I am having one juice and one smoothie, some fruit and some sort of plant-based meal daily. My sugars have gone up slightly but not significantly.

One of the things I missed a lot while juicing is curry…so last night I roasted some cauliflower, summer squash, onions and a couple of jalapeños tossed in a very small amount of olive oil and curry powder, cumin, turmeric with a touch of cinnamon…it hit the spot! Sorry, I totally forgot to take a pic…but I promise it was delicious 🙂

I read an article about the importance of soaking and dehydrating raw nuts before eating them. I had a bunch of nuts in the pantry so before I went to bed, I soaked my hazel nuts, almonds and cashews. This morning when I got up I rinsed them and put them in the dehydrator. However, not all my almonds or cashews would fit…so I decided to try some recipes I have pinned to my raw boards on Pinterest.

The first thing I made is something that I can’t believe I’ve never made before…as a matter if fact, I feel a little silly for it taking me this long to do…homemade almond milk! Sooo super easy! I used this recipe except I didn’t add the cinnamon. Hubby liked it though and has requested I make some more for him to bring into work and keep in the fridge there for his cereal. I’m glad cause I would way rather him have almond milk then organic cow’s milk. The added benefit to making almond milk is that I can also make almond meal from what was left in my nut milk bag and since I had the dehydrator going anyway, the timing was perfect! It was nice to use my nut milk bag for the purpose it was created 😉

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Then I went out and picked a whole bunch of basil…there were 2 recipes I wanted to make that used basil and I have 2 different plants..a regular green sweet basil plant and a purple basil plant. I wanted to use the purple basil to make a pesto for this zucchini roll up recipe. I made the sauces for it and then went to slice one of the zucchinis from my garden for the roll-up “noodle”. However, I realized that my mandolin would not slice the entire length of the zucchini so I figured I would cut it super thin with a knife…that didn’t work either…so I scrapped that idea and then put a green and a yellow zucchini through my spiralizer and made a creamy pesto sauce by mixing the purple pesto and the cashew “cream cheese” I originally planned on spreading on my zucchini roll. I topped it off with puréed sun dried tomatoes and fire roasted red pepper (from a jar) and some chopped green basil and cherry tomatoes from my garden…even though it wasn’t what I had planned on making, it tasted great. And hubby even liked it 🙂

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I still had enough soaked cashews for 2 more recipes…my birthday is coming up so I decided to try a vegan “cheesecake“. It was Freaking Delicious! (I realize I complained about gaining weight but this is the first time I actually had a dessert and I don’t plan on having it every day) I’ve never made a dish like this before and I wanted to make sure I would actually enjoy it on my birthday. I believe I will 🙂

The last thing I made has to set in the fridge overnight so I won’t try it till tomorrow but I tasted the “goat cheese” layer of this Vegan “goat cheese” appetizer and holy freakin’ moly! I’m totally going to put this out next time I have guests. The recipe made enough for me to freeze some-so I’m ready for company 🙂 This is the recipe I needed the green basil for. I made a layer of pesto (and mine was oil free-I subbed some veggie broth for the olive oil the recipe called for). I’m sorry my dairy free friend Alisa isn’t here to try this one cause I bet she would like it and it won’t make her son break out in a horrible rash!

My kitchen has been cleaned up, hubby’s smoothie is in the fridge for his early morning departure for work and the dehydrator is quietly dehydrating. It’s time for me to go to bed!