Friday, March 21, 2014

Food Freedom // Health + Happy Juice Fast Day 3

Another victory met! The halfway mark of this journey was so sweet because it was all downhill from here. Small victories in a BIG challenge are important to celebrate. So I think I did and went shopping or something...I forget, but I treated myself to something little because who doesn't like a reward? Even if it's just a little sumthin' for your hard work.

One of the real rewards in this as I mentioned Day 1 was discovering some food allergies. I can't even tell you how many crazy, sideways, inquisitively confused glances I've gotten from health care professionals from my candid confessions of weird bodily symptoms I get like when I'm sick with a cough the way I know it's truly an infection is the middle of my back gets itchy...yeah, never met anyone else in my life that happens to. (If you know something about that, please share. And if you think I'm weird, be nice and don't share. I know already and I'm fine with it. Ha!)

Back to weird food allergies...over the years I've had some minor run ins with the random fruit, vegetable or tree nut. Food items include:  banana making my lips feel swollen; cantaloupe - cucumbers - walnuts - sometimes almonds, mainly raw - and...oh yeah, the big one cherries all make my throat itchy. Not always, and sometimes just mild. Cherries are actually in a class of their own. On a few occasions I felt a ver strong I think my throat is swelling feeling and I just plain refuse to eat them. But it's only fresh or frozen ones, not dried cherries. (Yay! Because I love them on salad.) So explain these random food irritations to a physician, and hence the looks. All I said to my ND was, "Sometimes cucumbers bother my..."  Her response: "Yeah, and cantaloupe, walnuts, bananas, tomatoes..."  

My heart screamed: She gets me!!! Hold the phone though...tomatoes have never bothered me and I l.o.v.e. them and eat them all the time. Well, little known fact to me (and everyone else I've ever asked) these foods are somehow related. So for the purpose of the juice fast and reintroducing foods into my diet I was to restrict these problem items. No biggie. I could do that for 2 weeks. If I can not eat for 5 days, cutting out something (for a time) really just isn't a big deal anymore. (Huge BONUS of juicing, by the way. Willpower.)

After the juicing I have reintroduced a tomato here and there and now I notice the irritation. If I eat one just straight up raw by itself I realize it is bothering me. Good to know. If my body is inflamed and irritated from something I'm giving it I want to know what the cause is so I can manage or eliminate the problem. If I'm giving my body things that irritate it regularly or multiple things all in one meal (a salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, walnuts...eeek), I'm going to become accustomed to the noise it causes in my body because it starts to feel normal. The little nuanced cry my body made about tomatoes...I didn't even notice it until I had successfully removed them for three weeks. Then I heard and now I know how to listen. I'm still eating tomatoes, but I know better now how and when. A great lesson learned.

Be sure to check out Health + Happy's amazing blog for all things nutrition related or to get your juice on.

If you missed out, read all about Day 1, and Day 2

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Food Freedom // Health + Happy Juice Fast Day 2


Okay, here's the honest truth:  This was the hardest day! It stinks that there is a hard day, but at least you get it over with. If Day 5 were the hardest, who would want to reach that goal, right? Well, for me, and for most other juice cleansers I've talked to, Day 2 is tough. It probably didn't help that I made my husband one of his favorite meals that day (total comfort food:  Baked Mac & Cheese, ya'll) - and it was goood too. Like "best ever" - hubby quote. Go get that recipe quick and meet me back here. But don't eat it while you're juicing (or if you want to be super healthy - oops!)...

So what made today so tough?  Day 2 is where the mental game sets in. And this isn't just for juicing, by the way. I've experienced Day 2 Syndrome, as I'll now call it, on other occasions as well (confession: like when I quit smoking - ew, I can't believe I ever did that but I did and I quit successfully cold turkey. I think I'll write a book about it, maybe. Plenty of people would like to know how to lose that bad habit, for sure). Point is, Day 2 Syndrome is a battle of the mind. Or Battlefield of the Mind as the gifted Joyce Meyer has put it.

What am I talking about exactly? A Battlefield of the Mind? I'm talking about when the excitement of your ambition (I'm going to juice cleanse, I'm going to quit smoking, I'm going to run my first 10K and start training tomorrow...) wears off. You've been inspired or gotten an idea and you are determined, Yeah, I can do this. I'll give this a go. And your adrenaline sets in. It charges you. You are passionate, ready as you can be, and you take action.

You juice one day. Yay! You quit smoking one day. Yay! You go running once or twice. Yay! Then Day 2 Syndrome happens. You loose steam. f.a.s.t... And the questions in your mind (and often out loud) start:  How am I going to drink all this juice? For five days straight?! How can I quit smoking, I just can't take these cravings? I'm only running a 12 min mile. How will I ever run a 10K? It's like clockwork. I know very few people who don't go through this cycle of questioning when they tackle something they previously thought they could not do. And anyone who doesn't go through this, then they've probably had a lot of practice going through this, at one point. Our mind doubts. We doubt. We struggle to accept things we don't know. Can I do this? Will I make it? No one likes to fail.

For me, personally, when I face the challenge of Day 2 Syndrome, I put my trust in God. He has my back. He designed me, and knows me, and knows my heart's desire. In this case, he knows my desire to be healthy, to function with optimal internal health, to rid my tummy and intestines of unhealthy bacteria, to rid my system of unpleasant allergies, and to just overall feel good. He wants that for me. And his Word tells me that fasting is okay. It is safe. That I will live. And I trust Him and His Word.  So on Day 2, I spent some time questioning, at first, but I quickly turned to God's Word and found some great daily devotionals about fasting to read on my journey. It was super helpful and gave me tons of encouragement.

Whether this is your source of motivation or not (it's the ultimate in my opinion!), you need motivation outside of yourself to get through a challenge that is bigger than you.  Consuming only liquids for 5 days isn't something you do regularly. It is a challenge, and as my ND put it - it's an accomplishment. Most accomplishments don't happen in and of your own abilities - someone or something helps you reach your goal - a coach, a friend, a book, something pours motivation into you.  For me, that is God.

What is your motivation? Who or what inspires you? So many things inspire me the list is too long to share. But when it comes to health, what is your muse?

Be sure to check out Health + Happy's amazing blog for all things nutrition related or to get your juice on.

If you missed out, read all about Day 1

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Food Freedom // Health + Happy Juice Fast Day 1


My first little victory of this testing 5-day journey is over...well almost. I'm sipping my last liquids as I write: a warm and comforting cup of peppermint tea to soothe the digestive system and calm me to sleep. With four days left I'm facing them with fierce determination that this week is going to be so much better than I had been dreaming up it would or could be. Easy, no way. It's not easy to deny yourself food and then drink all of your nourishment for let's count...1, 2, 3, 4, five days! But clearing the first day successfully was a huge boost to the spirit.

First, let's get it over with and talk fears. What did I fear in entering into this?

Well, for one thing, I have never fasted. Not with intention. Only in the I'm so immersed in what I'm doing I forgot to take care of myself and eat way. Which isn't at all fasting. Fasting is a willing act of abstinence. It is surrender. It is abandoning the burden of something that has hold over you. It is entering into a place of freedom. (All in my opinion and belief.) Long story short, I didn't know what to expect without eating, on purpose. But I do know what to expect from going long periods without eating before today...to name a few: headaches, hunger pains, lightheadedness, hypoglycemia, stomach aches, and the beloved hanger.  Not fun!

Second, I feared the detox. Well, that part hasn't happened yet, but what I do know about it is it's a good thing. Whatever is going on in my body that shouldn't right now, will be wiped out. That is health victory, friends. It's a clean slate. Sometimes the bad things in our lives have to be cut off, and that can hurt or it can be challenging, but it's worth it. Going through it...well, I've given birth. I know I'll live through most things.

Third, (and this one surprised me) other people. Not out of insecurity (which I talked about here while setting my resolutions this year), but out of the sheer fact that making huge health changes around others who don't, or won't, is HARD. Not that anyone is critical necessarily, but if you don't care about your health than it's hard to relate to sharp health shifts in someone's eating choices, like giving up sugar (completely), or whatever food it is: meats, dairy, sweets - you name it. I know every vegetarian and vegan out there can name at least one uncomfortable situation regarding food choices. It just has it's moments. And in this I hope I learn more how to educate, share, discuss, debate, and properly and politely defend my decisions because after all, it's my body. Why should anyone be anything but happy that I choose to treat it well? Hmmph.

So the exciting fun of it all... what did I eat (drink)?

Today I enjoyed a grapefruit blend that I sipped on all morning. It had a tangy spice to it and was awesome. So far, yum! Next I had a green juice packed with spirulina and other healthy greens. I could smell the celery when I opened it, which I love in juice. If you've ever juiced, or drink juice, you probably know and enjoy this taste paired nicely with some lemon. For lunch was a mixed greens and beet juice. I've tried to love other beet juices and I will say, for market fresh juice Evolution Fresh's Essential Vegetable with beets is definitely good and I make an amazing smoothie with it that I'll share soon (or just check out the recipe on my IG). This beet juice was definitely more drinkable straight up because it had a sweetness to it. My fourth juice of the day was a super carrot - a beautiful orange, my fave color - that tasted so, so, so fresh. It was like drinking juice from a carrot - if that were even possible. Like when you eat a perfect juicy tomato. Yeah, like that!! It really filled me up. It was actually tough to drink it all. That was such a nice feeling at this point in the day (5:00 p.m.-ish). Last up was another green juice. It was light and easy to drink at the end of a day with lots of liquid.

The only thing I "ate" throughout the day were raw, roasted almonds. Roasted because the raw irritate my throat. (I'm working on discovering some food allergies in this process.) And I was allowed one fried egg which I ate in the morning with my grapefruit juice. It helped me feel like I was eating breakfast since those are two things in a normal morning meal around here.

Other than that I'm taking specific supplements for my body that work for me and with my tailored juices. I'm getting a lot of good things each day. And it's alllll gooood stuff! Way better than even the healthy things I probably get in a normal day, because let's face it a normal day isn't going to be 100% healthy. Those are really the exception days, right? But I want them to be the norm. And I'm one day closer and enjoying it.

Be sure to check out Health + Happy's amazing blog for all things nutrition related or to get your juice on.

Stay tuned for the rest of the juice journey this week. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What's On My Plate! // Baked Mac Casserole Style

In the midst of a juice cleanse, while eating no food for 5 days, I've perfected our family's Baked Mac. Yep, that homemade, creamy comfort noodle just got better around here and I couldn't even eat it. However, my man was thoroughly pleased with it so I enjoyed it...in a way. 

I've always made my own macaroni and cheese. I went through a period - you know, in college when laziness takes over your drive for good food - where I ate the boxed stuff. But ever since I was little, boxed mac was that stuff you ate at a sleepover, not at home with mama's good cookin'. So I learned, and have always made it as well, with a roux-béchamel-mornay including freshly shredded various cheddars and pepper jack for kick. I've changed it up here and there and it's one of the few ways I can get my husband to eat tuna so it's actually most often a Tuna Mac around here. It's a budget friendly protein and if that's the only way he's going to do it then Tuna Mac it is!

In my efforts to always improve my at-home culinary arts, I came across a Food52 post sharing their experience adapting Martha Stuart's version. I've made my own version so many times that I couldn't even tell you the recipe because it's one of those things I just do. Have I deviated from the original over time? Maybe, I don't know. So exploring this recipe again was good for me to get back to measurements and check my version against it. She uses Gruyere cheese verses my usual mix of cheddar/jack (or the experiments of whatever leftover cheese I've had that haven't always turned out the best). This definitely added to the creaminess I've been wanting. Her measurements give a generous amount of cheese to noodle ratio which I've dialed down a bit to keep it a little on the healthy side. The protein and veggies surely add some healthiness too. 

So here's What's On My [husband's] Plate: our family's current version of Baked Mac spruced up protein/veggie style with some tuna and peas, aka tuna casserole. I don't know what was harder, not eating this deliciousness or writing about it!

14 oz elbow macaroni
6 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp flour
4 Cups milk
3-4 cups shredded cheese 
(1/2 sharp white cheddar and 1/2 applewood smoked Gruyere)
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup frozen organic peas
1 can white tuna packed in water
Panko breadcrumbs

1. Cook and drain pasta. Don't overcook because you'll be baking it later.
2. Heat milk, keep warm and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, start your roux. On medium heat, melt butter in saucepan. Once melted and bubbly but not burning add four and stir immediately and get out all clumps.
4. Make your béchamel. Once roux is mixed, flour totally incorporated and a slight aroma coming from the flour cooking, slowly pour in your still warm milk 1 cup at a time. Incorporate it well each time. No lumps, just creamy, saucy goodness. Keep stirring, don't burn and allow it to thicken.
5. Make your mornay. Once the béchamel is thick and creamy add the shredded cheese about 1 cup at a time. Let it melt into the sauce.
6. Add spice! You can change this up and make it to your taste. Taste it until it's good to you. If we want it spicy, this is the step where I would add some Tapatio (we love Tapatio) or extra cayenne to step it up.
6. Add your noodles, peas and tuna to boost your noodle goodness. 
7. Pour into a greased 13x9. Top with panko cumbs. Bake at 350 until browning. About 20-30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Read all about my experience juicing here. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Food Freedom // A Healthy Juice Journey with Health + Happy

So this mama is a busy bee again right now. Life has little waves of down time and busier times...always with much to do with a little one and caring for a husband, myself and our home. I have lots of hobbies and projects and talents that keep me occupied, some of which I share here. Right now I am juggling the wife/mom/freelancer (to many), and care for my health (c/o my 2014 resolutions) hats as well as several home organization projects leaving our bedroom a bit, um...cluttered (sorry babe!). But when the freelance gig is over I'll have all that swooped up and projects blogged in no time, which is good for all of you, and us!

However, one thing consistent around this home, and therefore blog, is F O O D. That's right, spell it out... f. o. o. d. Food. What's that from? Someone help me remember. (Tangent.) Well today I'm here to introduce you to - as promised yesterday - a food concept that totally lacks, well, food. It's packed with more nutrients than any food you've ever eaten or probably will eat and it's totally delicious.

Drum rollllll.....it's JUICE! I'm doing a juice fast this week from our wonderful, and might I add beautiful, friend Jessica over at Health + Happy. You can check out her blog full of health insight, tips, tricks, mamas, recipes...aaaand, special treat to you fellow SoCal res-sees, juicing! Her juice is by far the best juice I've tried. I've tried all the fancy ones at Sprouts, Mothers, etc. Hers = above and beyond. She packs 'em with the goods. Plus, she's a Doctorate of Naturopathy and knows how to use foods to heal your body. That's what I'm in it for...healing and a fresh start. One review on her site says they couldn't wait to give back to their body what they wanted to feed it and get rid of the cravings for food that took center stage and left little room for the good things. 

What I want to discover on this journey is food freedom. Not "What do I feel like eating today?" but "What am I going to eat today?" knowing so many better ways to fuel my body instead of just filling the gapping hole that happens when I don't eat often enough, or I don't make good enough choices and I'm left empty and depraved. Funny, without eating any normal food, I am currently one day down on this journey and I am anything but deprived...

When this 5 days of juicing is all said and done, I will share much more of my experience. Right. Here. So be here. Next week. 


Until then, Enjoy life!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Resolutions // Are you still in it?

Ahh, March. Spring...I mean, summer...is in the air, in SoCal anyway. It's so warm here during the day. We've had some crisp, bright spring air days too though. When the sun is shining the day is always bright! If you don't have sun where you are, I hope we can share a little light with you right here. On these bright days, our LO goes on walks with one or both of us and is totally obsessed with flowers right now, giving both of us a chance to remember how to stand in awe of the littlest beauties around us. Like the little green cup full of dandelions and daisies from our walks this week.

This quote reminds me of the inspiration post I shared starting off this new 2014 in light of the many resolutions we all probably set on January 1.  We revisited resolutions nearing the start of February while tackling one of our own resolutions, eating healthier, with a weeks worth of posts about our Healthy Start 7 food journey (I suggest you start at the beginning here). Well, here is March and my mind is on resolutions again. This next one I'll be sharing is about food too, well sort of ...you'll see... but really it's about health.

When we make food resolutions we really want to talk about our health, don't we? But what do we really know about our health? If you've set a food goal this year with the intent of eating healthier, being healthier, or anything with the word healthy in it, I want to challenge you with my next resolution journey to dig a little deeper than the food.

Are you losing the resolution battle right now, or are you still going? Share your successes or struggles here if you're willing. Let's talk about them. I feel led to continue to revisit resolutions for those out there who struggle to keep them. Whether you read this blog today with me now, or some day when you discover it, I hope it inspires you and helps you live the life you really want to Enjoy!

Read about the resolutions I set this year #1, #2#3 (part 1), #3 (part 2)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Our Home // Books, Art & Baby

As promised, I'll be sharing some of the decor projects of our latest abode. When we first moved in (quite a while ago now as I shared in my first post), I wasn't far off from bringing our little one into the world. So my very first motivation once I had the energy and ability to decorate anything was naturally the nursery. I didn't do much to it because we wanted to keep the space simple and safe. I wasn't concerned with a theme as some (very adorable, might I add) nurseries are decorated. That's just not my style. We live with a style - if you can call it a style - that's flowing and easy, very livable while thrifty and DIY. We just don't see the value in spending a lot on our space until it's a more permanent. Plus with a little one, your view on your awesome stuff changes really fast.

With that in mind, I wanted the room to be centered around safe, fun!, and neutral with colors from nature as a base - light blue, ocean blues, lighter greens, browns, wood tones, white - whatever felt calm and welcoming. I steered away from all loud colors - especially since babies' focus takes time to develop, and I also didn't want something matchy-matchy that would be hard to decorate as toys and other items move in and out of the room.
We also wanted the room to be focused on things we feel are important to expose our child to regularly (besides love!!) - and two things that worked well in the nursery were books and art. Before I decorated the room I naturally pinned tons of ideas on Pinterest and a super popular idea for books is to create a tiered bookshelf out of Ikea picture rail shelves. I've seen it done many different ways but since it's a focus for the room and the room had one large wall as a canvas, I chose this space as a good place to get baby's nicer books up out of reach until we are able to read them together. I can't credit the original source of the idea, it may be pinned somewhere deep in my many pins, but many clever bloggers out there have shared this idea, so thank you all for the inspiration.

At the point when I took these photos, the art theme was still under way but a few items in the room to point out are the original photos taken by a friend of my mom's who went on Safari in Africa right before our little one was born. She sent these great photos along to us and they were perfect since we also got lots of safari gifts at my shower. So we have a little bit of a theme and it works well with the earth tone themes. The photo in the corner is a piece of art that was in our little one's Auntie's room when she was growing up. Above the dresser we hung my husband's favorite Picasso that has special meaning to him.
We've since had several friends do paintings for the room which I will photograph and share in the first update of this room. We are entering toddlerville so the room is in transition now and when it is ready I'll reveal the next phase. The map on the wall is a DIY project, which I will also share soon. It's secret is it's magnetic! Which will be fun because LO is ready for magnet play now.

So this was our nursery. We'll be sharing our toddlers room and plenty more other beautiful house projects so stay tuned. Share/comment if you love it. And as always, enjoy!