Thursday, March 29, 2012

Daily Walk

Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier


With my back still acting up, I took a gentle walk along the waterfront today.  Instead of right, I turned left into the tourist zone.  The ferris wheel looked so beautiful against the blue sky, so I wanted to get closer to photograph.  I should really bring my better camera; however, Instagram is my new bad habit, tempting me with its sexy filters and no frills shots, easier to leave the luggage at home.  Now that I see this up on a screen, hmmm, I should have brought the big girl out.  I'm sure I'll have plenty of chances as summer approaches.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Daily Walk

This guy has seen better days. 

Because I planned to walk home from yoga today, I tried to keep my bag light.  In hind sight, I wish I had brought along my real camera (because my iPhone camera isn't really real - it feels like cheating).  Such a gorgeous day.  What I really need is to invest in a good backpack. 

Anyone know her name?


I walk the same neighborhood so often that sometimes I can't imagine seeing anything new.  Yet, each new day the sun's in a different position in the sky.  The light is filtered through subtle changes in the atmosphere.  Clouds take shape, then dissipate.  My mood is different.  What was dull and monotonous one day, is interesting the next. 

Diet Tip of the Day:  Get outside and walk.  Don't forget the camera.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 16 on The Garden Diet

Edwin really believes that I don't notice him on the counter.
I've departed a little from the menu.

Breakfast
Theirs:  Apple Collard Green Smoothie
Mine:  Green Juice

Lunch
Theirs:  Sprout salad with cashew dressing
Mine:  Durian/OJ smoothie. 

I found (well, my housekeeper found) durian in Chicago in the frozen section of an Asian market. That stuff stinks!  But it is oddly compelling and incredibly creamy.  Definitely a taste to be acquired.  I'll try it again.

Snack
Durian, mango, banana, OJ smoothie.  This was like dessert, but with a very strange smell.

Dinner
Theirs:  Broccoli Quiche
Mine:  Tossed salad with the cashew dressing that I didn't have for lunch.  Amazing, amazing, amazing, but not low cal in the least. 

Here's a trick I do with highly caloric, but fantastic salad dressings.  I toss the salad in a large mixing bowl with a measured amount of dressing.  I like to let it sit a bit to soften the greens.  A little dressing can go a long way.

Day 15, The Garden Diet

Almond Mylk

After a week of mostly juicing, some smoothies and a bit of fasting, I am resistant to going back to solid food.  It seems almost easier to diet by consuming something that doesn't seem so much like food - it is the extreme, trying to get away from food as much as possible that feels more comfortable to me.

Yesterday was going along just fine until I stopped at Starbucks to pick up an after school snack for the kids.  Jasper gave me half of his chocolate covered graham cracker which I was happy to snarf down.  Then later, I ate the rest of the gooey mess that he decided he didn't want anymore (he only chewed one corner, then melted the rest with his fist).  At dinner, I sat down with the family as they had beef teriyaki, vegetable tempura, rice and California rolls.  I always have a hard time sticking to my diet when I eat with the family - I sat down with them anyway and ate their food.  For a normal meal, I really didn't overeat, but it was quite a departure from my raw diet.  To be honest, I wasn't even eating out of hunger.  I found with the juicing, that a meal could easily be a glass of juice, and then another glass that I would drink slowing over a period of time.  I can't say I've really experienced tremendous hunger during the cleanse week.  Eating at the table for me was eating only because the food was before me.

I'm afraid that I cannot join my family for dinner during this time of dieting.  I don't even feel the temptation to eat their food, I just do it - without thought, without even trying to stop myself.  This is so much like trying to stop drinking from years ago.  There was no way I was going to stay sober if I still went to the bars and clubs.  I couldn't be near anyone who was drinking and simply not have a drink.  I struggle to believe that food is that powerful, that I cannot have a meal with my family without it completely derailing my food plan.

There is a significant difference between eating with my family and eating with friends.  Sunday, I took my daughter to see American Ballet Theatre's performance of Giselle with a group of friends.  Ballet is not my favorite dance type, but this was lovely, really lovely.  Afterwards we all went to Panera Bread for a bite to eat.  Baked goods are my crack, and I was nervous.  I grabbed a bottle of water and an apple for myself.  Surrounding me was soup in bread bowls, giant cookies, muffins, panini's loaded with melted cheese and creamy macaroni and cheese.  I ate very slowly and stayed engaged with the conversation to keep my mind off of all the food.  I would never just take food off the plate of a friend.  When offered, it seems more polite to say "no" than to accept.  They wouldn't make the offer anyway.  They know I'm dieting and they've all been there.  With my family, the boundaries are more blurred.  We all eat off of each others' plate.  It's like family style extends beyond the shared platter of food from the center of the table.  And somehow, over the years, I'm become the one to clean up what is leftover, adding those extra pounds of misery. 

PS:  Jinjee's almond mylk recipe from The Garden Diet is divine.  I didn't enjoy the gritty texture, so I filtered it through a nut bag.  It was a synch and I can dry the pulp to use later in other recipes.  This will become a weekly standard - perfect in Chai Yerba Mate for a delicious Chai Latte.

Crashing Waves


The cacophony of crashing waves, screaming birds and metal banging on metal on board the Columbia Yacht Club's old icebreaker ship did not make for a serene walk.  No, it was invigorating.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 11: Water Fasting on the Garden Diet

Since getting Lucy, I can no longer leave water glasses about the house.


Day 11 is the day of water fasting.  This reminds me of growing up Mormon, once a month we fasted for 24 hours for spiritual edification and then donate the money we would have spent on food to the church to fund their welfare program.  As a kid, I hated it.  The main thing I remember was a pounding hunger headache, big emotional mood swings and sitting through testimony meeting listening to others sharing their big emotions.  And, god forbid, I felt the need to rise and share my testimony and burst into tears - very embarrassing.  I sometimes have that join-the-bandwagon problem, like I just have to add something to the conversation.

As a young adult, I was on again, off again with The Church.  When active, I looked forward to Fast Sunday.  Having overcome a few hard addictions, I had never overcame my addiction towards food.  To give up alcohol, drugs or cigarettes, one can walk away from those things completely and never, ever have to consume them again.  To walk away from food - impossible.  That once a month fast gave me permission to not think about food for an entire day and focus my thoughts elsewhere.  I still had pounding headaches and huge emotional mood swings and sometimes, I'd still embarrass myself and cry in front of the entire congregation.

These days, I wouldn't ever think of fasting.  There is no place that I go without having a stash of dried fruit and nuts, or a Larabar in my bag.  I call it emergency food.  If I can't think straight, if I lose it with the kids, if I'm on the verge of starting a big brewhaha with my husband, then I know my blood sugar is low and I need to eat.  Unfortunately, I don't always know that my blood sugar's dropped.  It usually takes someone to suggest that I eat, then I protest, but eat anyway, and then I feel much better and forget why I was so upset.

I didn't fast on Day 11.  I almost fasted.  I had a cup of tea with a teaspoon of honey for breakfast, and water.  I had some leftover grapefruit juice for lunch and some water.  I had tea for a snack and some water.  And then I had Pizza for dinner....

WHAT????

I felt so good, clean, confident that I was enjoying my day of very light liquids, I saw down with the kids while they were eating dinner and I casually helped myself to a slice of pizza.  Not the best way to finish up a liquid fast, I know.  I know.

It was a pretty small slice as far as pizza's go.  What happens when the mind says, "hmmm, I really don't care for this?" and then the arm extends and retracts with a hot, cheesy slice of pizza and proceeds to bring it to the mouth?  And that mouth, as if on autopilot chews and swallows?  I do know that as I am trying to come to terms with why I struggle so much with addiction, I'm more aware of the disconnect I have between mind and body.

Alas, still not such a bad day.  I quite enjoyed the lightness of consuming light liquids throughout the day.  No pounding headaches or big mood swings, either.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Communication



Wondering today how it all fits together...












Lucy on my new Flor


kids in a pool













County Fair 


Gmail


Skytel (first cell phone, I think, I forgot)

Hotmail

MCI/Skytel text pagers

We had a hell of a time trying to sell these back in the day.


Beepers



Wireless Phone

Digital Phone

Analog Phone from Bell Labs (with a cord!)

This looks like the phone I grew up with.


United States Postal Service

Two Tin Cans and a String

Pen and Paper

Speech

Babble

Cries (at birth)

If you're still with me, I tried to go back in time and I've probably missed a few.  If my back wasn't killing me today, I'd be outside.  I need a stretcher and two hunky strong men to bring me to the park, or just some really good drugs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Signs of Spring

On a normal year in Chicago, any sign of spring is so subtle - the little pokes of buds braving the wind, rain and cold - that I celebrate it with great enthusiasm.  This year we had almost no winter to speak of (I'm not complaining), and in the middle of March we've been enjoying weeks of mid-seventies and even a few eighty plus days sprinkled in (well timed with a trip to a local resort - thank you weather gods).  So during my walk today, to photograph signs of spring seemed a little, well, anti-climatic.  Spring has sprung straight into summer, so it seems.  Nevertheless, it was a glorious day.  If my back weren't out, I would have walked further.  But walked I did along my much loved lakefront path.  Enjoy.

bouys - those little dots in the harbor herald in a new season of boating
buds
sunbathers - everywhere
 


bursting buds









daffodils - yellow is my least favorite color, except on daffodils

white blossoms everywhere - some of them smell like dead fish
ivy - those creepy, black tentacles of winter come to life


Day 9 (yesterday), All Veg

(Welcome Daily Raw Inspiration readers.  Browse around, drop a line.  As you'll see, I'm working on The Garden Diet 28 Day Transition to Raw program.  Check back for new updates and cheer me on as I make some HUGE changes in my life.  Your kind support is appreciated.  With love, Dominique from Mixed Threads.)   

Seriously?  Only Vegetables?  The menu looked frightening to me, that is how emotional I get about food.  Yet, I was determined to follow the plan today.  While the kids were eating breakfast, I dusted off my neglected juicer (really neglected, the bright shiny white housing is now yellow) and began juicing.  I started with two apples (the only fruit in my all veg day) and my little Jasper was so amused to see that apple juice actually comes out of an apple.  He rushed over to help me, and then to drink all of my apple juice.  Eh, I put the rest off until after I dropped them off at school.


Photo Disclaimer:  I woke up with excruciating pain in my lower back, so I didn't make the effort to walk upstairs to get my real camera.  Sometimes iPhone takes awesome images, sometimes not.

Back at home, I got busy and juiced kale, cucumber, celery, apple, and lemon.  Oh, and I threw in a little ginger for a kick.  So good, and surprisingly satiating.  I didn't believe it could hold my appetite for very long, so I continued juicing to fill another quart, assuming I'd need to drink it throughout the day.  I didn't.  Need to drink it, that is.  I never got hungry and I was very surprised.  Now I think there might be something to juice fasting.

Because I had already made a big mess in the kitchen, I kept going to set up for the rest of today, and some of tomorrow.

DIET TIP:  (I'm cultivating these little habits already, that I think I'm going to log these in).  Take the time to prepare your food - mindfully.

I'd always thought that the more time that I spend in the kitchen, the more I will eat.  Not so.  It seems that the less time I set aside for food preparation, the more I will grab convenience foods that are typically in a bag, or frozen box, or from a fast food joint.  Highly process gunk.  In the last year that I've been eating raw, I've fallen in love with my kitchen.  Each new food that I work with, or each new process is a joyful discovery.

After Jasper came home from school, he was anxious to use the juicer, so I tried juicing my grapefruit (it didn't work so great with a hand citrus juicer, last week).  It made such a huge mess.  The pulp was still very juicy, so I ran it through the juicer again, and still had to work it through a sieve.  In hind site, it was too much work, I may stick to blending it with the Vita Mixer the next time.  However, as Jasper and I were determined to get as much juice as possible out of that grapefruit, we had so much fun.  The work put in, increased the value of the product by far.  When we finally bottled it, we just sat them across the counter and looked at them as though it were a Van Gogh.  (At that point, I had misplaced my phone - sorry, no pic.)




Still in the kitchen with Jasper, he helped me prep for my dinner smoothie by gathering all the ingredients.  They look so colorful and pretty.  He thought so, too, and before he would let me chop them up and throw them in the blender, he picked each one up, rolled it around in his hands and examined it, and named it.  He only needed help with the avocado.  I'll forgive him that because he hates them - how? and that he's related to me is truly bizarre.  Maybe later in life.



Once blended, not so pretty - more like green sludge.  I actually felt kind of bad about this.  The taste was lovely and when eaten slowly, I could distinguish between the flavors quite nicely.  The appearance of the food makes a big difference to me.  This was the first night at dinner that I felt deprived.  It tasted nice enough, that the next time I make it, I'll try pulsing some of the veggies in the processor, and blend others to make a soup.

In spite of the back pain, all in all it was a great day.  I went to bed without feeling hungry, and I'm starting to marvel at the energy I have in spite of the significant drop in calories.  This is definitely going in the right direction.



Monday, March 19, 2012


I love the look of fresh produce (or as fresh as we can get in the Midwest) on the counter.  Laid out like this, it's so easy to visualize the next meal or snack.  Notice my papaya, it's the first time I've ever purchased one and my housekeeper pointed out that it's a little green.  Yes?  Isn't it supposed to be?  She said in the Philippines they would cook the green ones as if it were a vegetable and put it in stews or stir fry.  Let it ripen to yellow before eating it as a fruit.

When I asked if she knew what durian was, she exclaimed how wonderful they are.  She said that it was easy to get when she worked in Singapore, but her employer couldn't stand the smell.  I've heard they are pretty stinky.  So she'd have to eat it out of the house.  Imagine.  Her excitement is contagious, so I'm on a mission to find one in Chicago.  China town, first.  She'll have to join me on my hunt to help pick out the best one.

My journey to raw started a little more than a year ago, and in that time I feel I've learned more about food than in my forty plus years.  In the past, time spent in the produce isle would take about two minutes at the most as I would pick up a bag of lettuce, cucumber, carrots and tomato.  Not much more than that.  Now, I cruise the isles looking for something I haven't tried before, then I'll corner the produce manager to get the scoop.

Eating only fruit today wasn't as big of a challenge as I had imagined.  I am not hungry, but I cannot say with honesty that I feel satiated.  For instance, I could plunge right into that bag of chips that I found hiding in my daughter's reading corner.  I didn't.  Or clean up, eat up, the leftovers from dinner.  I didn't.  I made my husband and kids do the cleanup.  Hey, this diet is great for my family  :)
Today's reflection was about carving out time for thinking.  That was easy today, carving out the time, that is.  After a weekend of hauling luggage and moving around hotel furniture (to make way for a gaggle of girls to have a sleepover), my lower back is out.  Jinjee's Daily Raw Inspiration about yoga healing poses was incredibly timely.  My typical weekday is that of chauffeuring the kids to and from school.  That leaves a lot of time for thought.  Not all of it is positive.  In some pain, it was easy to focus on negative thoughts.  Once they enter, boy do they flow.  At some point, when I realized that I was obsessing over some insignificant slight from someone, like really obsessing, I caught myself.

My sister-in-law writes a beautiful blog of her experiences in marriage, infertility, divorce, remarriage, more infertility (I've shared that road), and love.  I bring her up because she wrote once about the limited amount of energy a person has in a day can be consumed by negative thoughts.  Oh, yes.  Consumed.  I did catch myself and had a good laugh.  In spite of the chronic pain today, I chose not to be consumed by that negativity.  There is probably an amends, or resolution that may need to be worked out some day in the future.  But for today, I turned the page and moved on.

By the way, the orange, banana, blueberry smoothie for dinner was divine.  My little one loved it so much, he had almost no appetite left for his "other" dinner.  Change is possible.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Bit Off, A Bit On

Can you believe we were poolside soaking up the sun in the middle of March in Chicago?!!

I've been off-line for the last few days because I packed the car and took the kids to a local homeschool conference.  We homeschooled for only one year and in that year, I've met the most beautiful, compassionate and interesting people.  I don't want to lose touch with them, nor do I want my daughter to lose touch with her friends although she is now back in school.


I've also been a little off the diet as I've spent the weekend racing from one activity to the next and trying to locate one child or the other in the vast resort we stayed at.  I did plan ahead of time and brought a lot of my own food.  I am certain that with what I brought and with a few platters of fresh fruit from the hotel, I would have had more than enough good food for myself.  However, I found myself picking from the children's leftovers a little too much. 

My husband has always frustrated me with his eating habits.  One thing I notice that I think might be the reason in why he eats mostly junk but remains slender is that as soon as he finishes eating, he gets up and leaves the table.  That drives me crazy.  I want to linger, converse, hear everyone's stories.  Yet, as I linger, I pick at the food in spite of feeling full.  Oftentimes my family will dart instantly from the table and I am left alone, still picking at food.  Feeling the disconnect, I keep eating until I am uncomfortable.  I'm at a loss to try and understand what holds me there.  He might have something... dinner's over, leave the table, do something else. 


The conference I attended was very gratifying.  Last year, it was all about the children as I recognized so few faces, and felt very new, and a little out of place.  This year, I was happy to see so many familiar faces.  We shared food, our children, our support, and love.  I feel that in spite of slipping here and there with my diet, I felt mentally shored up for this deep cleansing week ahead.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day Three on The Garden Diet

Last night I had a small triumph, although for many it may not seem like a big deal.  As a family, we all went to my daughter's school for a concert showcase.  Lovely event.  Her school is located near one of my husband's favorite restaurants.  We're big dining out folks, mostly because I've never been much of a cook.  After school events, it has become a tradition to go to this restaurant, one that everyone looks forward to.  I look forward to the day when I can go to any restaurant and find something that will suit me, and simply be satisfied with that.  Right now, I feel like an alcoholic in the first 90 days just trying to stay away from people, places and things that trigger excessive eating.  So last night, I simply said no thank you.  I want to celebrate my daughter's performance -  love her up for being the great kid that she is - but not with a big plate full of greasy, cheesy, starchy, meaty food.  I think I enjoyed my super salad even more because I stuck to my guns.  The family ate something else (takeout - I've got to work on that still), and my husband was jealously eying my salad the entire time.  Next time I'll make it for four.  It was really good.

This morning, I didn't prepare breakfast ahead of time.  With the chaos of our morning routine (I really miss homeschooling), if I don't prep the night before, I'm prone to grab anything (not always the best) before leaving the house.  Fortunately, when preparing for this week, I put all the fruit in my fridge onto the center of my counter in a big, beautiful bowl.  It won't keep as long, but I see the fruit every time I walk through the kitchen, and I'll eat more of it.  I actually end up wasting less produce when I see it in the open.  I grabbed a banana before running out, and Jasper ate half.  My focus this month on sticking to The Garden Diet will inevitably benefit my family as well.


Grapefruit before blending.  I love the colors.

Grapefruit juice for breakfast.  NOT ENOUGH!  I panicked, but I stayed with the plan.  The grapefruit wasn't so easy for me to juice.  So I gave up, chunked it up and blended it in my Vita Mix.  I love the results.  The texture turned out kind of creamy which was unexpected for grapefruit.  Some of the fibers are a little tough and chewy, so I might strain them out next time.  I had enough extra to fill a quart sized Mason jar so I've been enjoying it throughout the day.

After an hour and a half of hot yoga this morning, I'm feeling a bit like a limp noodle, and a bit spacy.  That could have more to do with continued caffeine withdrawal and that I stayed up to midnight assembling the kids' new bunk bed (or having only juice for breakfast).  Instead of preparing lunch, I stopped at my favorite raw restaurant in Chicago and had a Kale salad.  They are so expensive, but in a pinch, I'd rather treat myself to their yummy food, rather than go through another summer of debating whether to purchase the next size up, or get through on what I've got.

When thinking about my weight, I'm trying to determine what a reasonable goal is.  I think I'm a solid fifty pounds overweight.  My doctor would say about 20-30 pounds.  It's been years since I've even attempted to stick to a diet, so I don't even know what is possible.  I think from my old Weight Watcher days, the healthy goal was about 1.5 to 2 pounds a week.  If ambitious, for this 28 day program, that should be about 8 pounds.  I'd be pretty happy with that.  I have many other reasons for changing my diet besides dropping a few pounds, yet all the reasons seem so interrelated.
  • Lower the weight ->less pressure on the joints and feet. 
  • Less pressure on the joints and feet -> easier it is to exercise. 
  • More exercise -> stronger muscles.
  • Stronger muscles -> less pressure on joints. 
  • Less pressure on joints -> less arthritis pain. 
  • Less pain -> easier to exercise. 
  • More exercise -> better mood. 
  • Better mood -> more sex (I had to slip this one in - it's not my self-image that effects my libido, it is the sluggishness from poor eating, I'm certain)
  • Better sex -> less depression.
  • Less depression -> more conscious life.
This list could go on an on.

Nut Sushi


It was nut sushi on the plan for lunch yesterday.  It was my first time rolling norimaki so I looked to youtube for this demo.  I think I did okay for the first time.  Next time I'll spread the paste thinner to fill up about half the nori before adding veggies and rolling.  I wasn't in love with the almond and coconut flavors combined with the fishy flavor of the nori.  It was, though, very filling and satisfying for a mid-day meal.  After the 28 days, I'm going to play around with some combinations.  My kids are going to go nuts when they realize I can make rolls.  They have so many special requests at Japanese restaurants, that this will make a fun, sushi at home night.

Day 2 on The Garden Diet





Gazpacho for dinner last night.  The flavors were nice, but I think I'll make it in the food processor next time to keep in chunky instead of smooth.  For the recipe, go here.

I wish I could say that my first day went without a hitch.  I am so accustomed to tasting food whenever I'm preparing food for others.  Last night I made the kids spaghetti with marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese with a sliced cucumber.  Not something I care to indulge in, except the cucumber.  My breakdown was with the pita bread, toasted with olive oil and garlic.  Did I really think I could sit at the table with a bowl of those in the middle?  I had a couple triangles, not the entire bowl.  It wasn't a total breakdown, but I'd love to be the all or none type that can diet and NOT CHEAT.  Later, I found an open bag of tortilla chips (Whole Foods brand, they make them to perfection) that my daughter had squirreled away in her reading corner.  Had a few of those, too.  Maybe a couple of handfuls to be more honest.

I loved the carob smoothie for breakfast, as did my 4-year-old.  It was heavy, though.  From OJ one day, to carob, banana, nuts and a date the next seems like a huge change in calorie content.  I know this isn't about counting calories, but my experience eating raw is that it's easy to get carried away with the nuts and sweet stuff.  During my walk this morning, it did give me the energy needed to hoof it for an hour.

Beautiful Chicago Spring

Monday, March 12, 2012

Start Here

My lunch today, minus the Quinoa.  Storm's Tabouli.


I've made the online transaction.  My credit card cleared.  I've downloaded, unzipped and printed all the documents.  My 11-year-old daughter and I organized the papers, punched holes, and put them in a binder labeling each subject (her idea - she's the organized one).  She had even made a cover page including a sweet note.

Yesterday, she and I went shopping together.  Whole Foods was the easiest to go to knowing they would have things like young Thai coconut, hemp seeds, raw carob powder, and kelp noodles.  They didn't have the noodles - the grocery manager says they don't have a source that meets their standards - hmmm.  Whole Foods is crazy on the weekend, but my daughter loved it as she moved from isle to isle sampling the free food.  Funny, I was so focused on "the list" that eating, for once, was not on my agenda.

Last night, as I looked over what I'd be eating today, I admit I was a little scared.  No coffee?  I know, this ought to go, yet, I've been using it with Conviction since research has supported its use to ward off depression.  I'm still going to try to drop it.  My hope that with the balance of better nutrition and daily exercise, that I can let go of this vice and still get through my foggy days.

Before going to bed, I juiced a bag of oranges.  The kids were amused.  Next time I'm going to get my 3-year-old to help.  When I slow down and let him enter the process, he is more apt to try new things.  Albeit it makes cleanup a greater chore, but it's worth it to bring him in, rather than keep him out. 

Breakfast today consisted of fresh orange juice.  That seems impossible.  Yet, how many mornings have I got the kids ready and off to school, taken yoga and ran to get groceries all on a single cup of coffee?  Energy is energy.  Oranges have a lot of it.  Well, during yoga today, it didn't seem like it was enough energy.  I felt so weak.  Perhaps I'll add an extra cup right before class, or my all time favorite, lemon water with maple syrup.

A year ago when I looked at this food plan, I thought it was impossible.  Too extreme.  The more extreme it is, the less likely I will succeed.  And why would I want to diet in a manner that I wouldn't want to eat full time, forever?  A year forward to today, a lot has changed.  I've been so impressed with the food that my raw friends share.  It is all so fresh and delicious.  Never would I feel deprived eating it.  I began to work a few recipes into my weekly routine.  Then I bought a Vita Mix and began making green smoothies.  Not everyday, but frequently enough that I was no longer interested in a big bowl of highly processed cereal in the morning.  I stopped taking the kids to McDonalds, which really meant, I stopped eating at McDonalds.  I brought raw food dishes to pot lucks.  People began to ask for recipes.

With all this change in the last year, I have not lost any weight.  In my mind, I've believed that with every new food, new healthy dish that I add to my diet, that I would have less room to eat the junk food, and therefore lose weight.  That doesn't seem to work.  I have an enormous capacity to eat.  I enjoy my beautiful fresh food, yet while sitting with my family at dinner, I will eat what they're having as well. 

I need a food plan.  I need to talk about it, regularly with people who understand.  And I really need to make this change.  It is not about being thin, or running a marathon.  I'm getting older and I'm beginning to feel the effects of my weight gain and poor nutrition.  I don't know if I'll ever wake up in the morning without creaking and popping, but I'd like to get to the point where my first steps aren't so crippling.  I would really like to be healthier and more active for my children, so I can stop saying to them, "Mommy doesn't run.  You go do it."  I would like to enjoy the clear thought, and confidence of living with good health.  So this is where I am.  I am going to start here.

Do you want to join me?  Follow this link over to The Garden Diet.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Lighter

Niagara Falls


Sometimes I have days... those days when I catch my image in a window and I cringe.  My chest shrinks, I stoop, my breath becomes shallow, and I quickly avert my eyes.  Today was one of those days.  Lying down on my yoga mat, I couldn't help but compare myself to all the lithe bodies around me - who were lying down flat (emphasis) on their mats.  Me?  I was a giant mound.  With all these mirrors around, I realized where they came up with the phrase "beached whale."  The class is far to rigorous to sink into despair.  I've got to do everything to concentrate on my breathing.

After class a friend complimented me and my floor poses.  Wait, what?  Really?  I felt lighter.  I left happier.


PS:  I realize this has nothing to do with the image above.  I was going through my archive and could find nothing related, but this photo reminded me of how fun it was taking my mom and kids to Niagara Falls last summer.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Banana Bread

I can't imagine life without it.  But it doesn't always make me feel so great in spite of all the healthy substitutions.  In fact, a warm, moist loaf of banana bread is the kind of Midwestern wholesome treat that seems like such a nice thing.  I would make it for the new neighbors.  I'd make it for the family with a new baby.  I'd make it for my daughter.  I'd make it just because that bunch of bananas are getting just the right amount of brown spots - ding - ripe enough for bread.  One delicious slice would soon turn into two, then three, then, hmmm, maybe I'll just take a chunk of the crust, and then soon it would be over.  Not so great.  Several pounds later and I've got a problem, and I wonder, "was it the banana bread?"



Enter Victoria Boutenko.  I think I've written about her before.  She is one Raw Mama.  When she and her whole family were sick, she came home one day and put them all on a raw diet, cold turkey (but no turkey).  She tells her story much better than I and you can visit this amazing woman and her family here.  My mother and I have been enjoying her cranberry scones for quite some time, now.  In fact, we frequently make them together which I am convinced adds to the happiness it brings us both.  Absolutely.  Cook Prep together.  Eat together.  Love together.  Sharing good food strengthens bonds.

These scones have become my morning muffin with coffee (still working on that), so I've been anxious to mix them up a bit.  After spending many a fruitless hour looking for a good raw vegan banana bread to no avail, I decided to create my own.  This last week, I think I've got it.  My SIL and her family were the lucky ones to try them right out of the dehydrator.  I was so charmed as her little boy devoured them with gusto.  Oh, how I wish my kids ate like that, but that's for another blog post, or not.  The banana bread muffin had that warmth with a little crust on the edge that made me feel like I finally got it.  While making these, I didn't pay attention to quantities, so I'll give it to you the best I recall.  Next time, I'll take more care and update the recipe.

Banana Oat Muffins

2 cups pecans or walnuts
2 cups carrot puree, 2-4 carrots
2 cups apple puree, 2-4 apples
1 cup flax seed meal
4 tbsp agave nectar (or less depending on how ripe the bananas are, more ripe - more sweet - use less sweetener)
3-4 ripe bananas

Now here is where I started mixing things in until the batter tasted just right.

Oat flour
Ground almonds
Cinnamon
Nutmeg

Using a food processor, grind up the pecans.  Add to large mixing bowl.
Cut carrots into chunks and puree in processor.  Add to bowl.
Cut apples into chunks and puree.  Add to bowl.
Add flax seed to bowl.
Mash bananas (leave one aside) and add to bowl.
Add agave.

Mix with hands - very squishy.  This is where I thought it was too wet, so I started adding stuff.  First a little oat flour (I know, not totally raw, but still, not such a bad thing to have in your diet), then some ground almonds.  Add a little cinnamon and a bit of Nutmeg, then a little more oat flour until it was wet enough to form a ball, but not so wet that it turns into a blob.  I thought raisins would make a nice addition, but I'm getting a little bored of raisins in my morning muffin, so I took another banana and broke it into smallish pieces and mixed it in.

Place a Teflex sheet or pieces of parchment paper on top of dehydrator screens.  Make balls of batter using an ice cream scoop or spoon.  I got about 55 scoops out of my batch and used two trays.  Dehydrate for up to 24 hours.

The true joy of cooking raw vegan food by dehydrating is that you can check it anytime, eat one, think, "hmmm, needs a little more time" and put the rest back in - all without getting salmonella (okay, I know it's possible, just a lot less likely).  Also, if the phone rings, the dog is barking and the kids are flooding the bathroom, I know I'm not going to burn anything.  Whew.  Love that.

Now I'd like to get them to look a little more like muffins.  Important?  Probably not, but there's nothing like the power of suggestion when trying to get fussy eaters to try something new.

Oh, and these are so great the mornings that I go to yoga.  When on my stomach while working through all those back poses, the cobra, locust and bow, it makes a huge difference what I put in my stomach that morning.  This is a nice, calming, bite to eat that I can grab easily first thing the morning.  Just enough fuel to get the kids ready for school, fight traffic, and work my way through a class.  My favorite breakfast.

Eat with love.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Keep Coming Back

These Kale chips are amazing.  I'm going to try and make them, or some version of them this week.









So good!  Raw or not, don't think it will help with the hanging arms.






After taking a week off because the kids were sick, family was in town and I had my (shhh) period, I was almost frightened to go back to yoga today.  Well, it was one of my best classes, yet.  I actually balanced on one foot for most of Dandayamana-Dhanurasana (so exotic, huh?) and I made it through the entire class with no panic attacks or bathroom breaks.

There is one moment in class that I nearly lost my composure - whatever composure one can maintain while sweating bullets and trying not to pass out or heave - and that is during the Utkatasana series, or awkward pose.  In setting up the pose, the Yoga instructor asks us to extend our arms straight out in front, shoulder level.  Then she says with emphasis, "there should be nothing hanging, here."  They all say this - it must be part of their training.  In every class I want to fall down giggling, because in spite of my super straight arms, and how beautifully extended they are at perfect level to my shoulders, there are two, big flabby blobs of flesh hanging, just hanging out, below my arm.  Yep, I've got work to do. 

I then conjure up the secret meetings of my youth where we all chanted, "Keep coming back.  It works, if you work it, so work it."  If you've been to these meetings, you know what I'm talking about.  I think it applies well to my attempts at getting myself back in shape.  It can be so humiliating, so uncomfortable, so inconvenient.  I know it's going to get better.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Strawberry Tart

In anticipation of guests arriving, I made these delicious treats.


I get a little anxious when people are coming to town to stay with me.  Will my kids behave?  Will Jasper share his toys without knocking someone's tooth out?  Will my toilets backup?  Will I get enough sleep?  It's all irrational, really, because as soon as the taxi arrived, depositing my sister and her family at my doorstep, the butterflies dissipated and was I flooded with calm joy.  I love my people.

A little angst ahead of time is good as I fret over pleasing them, so I get busy cleaning, setting up beds, laying out towels and other useful things - and I prepare food.  Never in my life have I been so happy to prepare food until now that I've been making so many delicious raw vegan dishes.  I know I have something beautiful to share, guilt-free and pleasure rich.

This tart was made from a combination of two recipes, the strawberry mousse from Matthew Kenney's, Everyday Raw, and the coconut macadamia crust from Jennifer Cornbleet's, Raw Food Made Easy.  I think of Jennifer as my new best friend because "easy" is essential to me.  Although her book is my most recent purchase, it is also the most abused with its spine already bent and pages stained with olive oil, strawberries, or whatever.  She's a little light on photos which was a turnoff at first, but each recipe that I've tried has been such a simple success.  Kenney has amazingly delicious recipes, but some get a little fussy and the ingredient list isn't always easy to obtain.  If that's your first raw book, you may get a bit discouraged.  Don't be.  He works magic in the kitchen, so when you're ready, do it.


Crust

1 1/2 cups unsweetened, dried coconut
1 1/2 cups raw macadamia nuts
1/2 tsp salt (next time I'll use less, this seemed a bit too salty for me)
1/2 cup pitted medjool dates (I know I used a lot more to make it pliable - probably a cup - have extra on hand)

Process the coconuts, nuts and salt in a food processor.  Add dates and process until crumbs start to stick together.  This is where I added my 1/2 cup of dates and then continued adding them 1 or 2 at a time until I was satisfied.  The crust turned out a little too sweet, so maybe next time I'll add a little coconut oil instead of extra dates to get it all to stick.

Press into a pie tin or tart pan.  I had extra and threw it into the freezer in a plastic bag.  When my little nephew was cruising the kitchen for food (sorry, Janna, I totally spoiled his appetite for dinner), I gave him some of the pie crumbs and he LOVED them.  So I tried them, too.  Oh no, too good. This is my new cookie fix.


Mousse

3 cups soaked cashews
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup agave
1/2 cup strawberries
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast  (I left this out.  If you like a cheesy taste like a cheese cake filling this might help. To me, it doesn't help enough and I'm left with a weird after taste.)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 vanilla bean, scraped (you could make do with a little extra extract if necessary)
Sliced strawberries to decorate

Blend everything in a Vita Mix or high speed blender until smooth.

Pour 1/2 into pie crust.  Add layer of fresh strawberries and rest of filling (I forgot this step, hmmm, so what).  Decorate with sliced strawberries.  Freeze to set, or refrigerate overnight.

PS:  I learned a little about cashews from making this.  Generally I store open bags of nuts in the fridge so they'll last a little longer without going rancid.  This bag I didn't.  The nuts looked and smelled fine until I soaked them.  Some turned a little purplish and tasted slightly of mildew.  It was pretty easy to pick them out.  But I've often questioned the storage of raw nuts vs pasteurized.  Anyone else have experience with this?  Send me an email or link.  I hate wasting expensive ingredients.

I realized I should have pressed the crust up the sides.  Next time.
 

This is incredibly rich and I've been slow to calculate the calories per serving.  With all these nuts, oil, dates and agave, I'm not sure I want to know.  To me, though, just a little bit is enough - not like Girl Scout cookies that I can eat an entire box without slowing down.  There is something about eating whole foods, rich satisfying foods, that creates a sense of satisfaction without the desire to eat the entire pie, fridge and cupboards.  If you're struggling with weight, you know what I mean.  If you're directly related to my husband, you don't.

Share.

Eat.

Love.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Tree



I love the stark contrasts of winter, the exquisite pattern of tree branches against a cold, grey sky.  In a few weeks, this tree will be bursting with buds.  I can't wait.  It's the constant change that always leaves me with that bit of anticipation to see what's around the corner.