How to do a Fast. (Without Strangling Your Partner!)

So, J and I are in the middle of a six-week fast, and other than a few mild attempts, we haven’t killed each other yet.

We are doing our own demented version of The Whole 30, along with a few other weird things, which basically means we are fasting from all dairy, sugar, starch and oil.

Yeah. Pretty much everything.

I’m really not a fan of the F-word, so I like to trick my brain and call it a cleanse. But. I have to say, three weeks into it, it’s definitely a FAST. When you’re emotionally distraught, and PMS-ing in the middle of the bread, chips, and chocolate aisle, trust me. You’re fasting.

No amount of trickery is gonna make those cucumbers taste like chocolate covered bananas.

Sorry, my dear precious, sweet tooth.

In all reality, I’m not a huge fan of “the cleanse” (whatever that means!) either. It just sounds better.

Because…

I am Ruthie, and I love to eat.

I will probably never know what it’s like to have JUST. ONE. COOKIE.

(Seriously, do these people even exist??? And if they do, I’m pretty sure they have not had my Mom’s chocolate chip cookies. Not possible!)

I don’t believe in depriving myself of anything that I truly want. But here’s the thing. I want to be healthy, to be balanced, and to have a clear mind, more than I want to stuff my face with cookies. I want to be spiritually connected, and to be a happy Mama. MORE THAN ANYTHING.

Sometimes, a cleanse is the ONLY way to bring me back to all of those things. I don’t obsess about it, and I don’t like to do it often, because well, I really, really like cookies.

 Just keepin it real, folks.

I’d much rather focus on nurturing and building up my body, not cleansing it of all the dietary evils out there. Nevertheless, one can’t deny that fasting is good for a person, and there are times when I think a cleanse is necessary, such as:

1. When your life is run by when/where/how you’re going to get your next meal. (or cookie!) This is not a sign of true hunger but rather that your food contains addictive substances, and the chemicals in your brain literally “need” that next high.

2. When your spiritual awareness has become dull or non-existent, and you feel disconnected from God, people, or the present.

3. When you find yourself soley dependent on external sources for a sense of calm, or a feeling of happiness.

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Perhaps because of my excessive nature, or perhaps just simply because it’s a good thing to do, I feel this overwhelming need to start over. To cleanse my taste buds. To chill out the brain chemicals. To purge. To come back to CENTER.

And so, here I am.

This is my third time doing a major cleanse/fast, and I feel like I’ve gotten so much better at this thing, than I was the first time. Yes, there have been some fits and withdrawals, (um, NO chocolate, hellooo??) but overall, it’s gotten so much easier.

Here’s a few things that have helped me not to freak while I fast, and I believe they will help you, too.

1. Stay away from food establishments. This one may seem a bit obvious, but the first couple times, I didn’t realize how much it would mess with me, when I would meet a friend at Olive Garden, and then proceed to order my two PLAIN cucumbers, while she ate her pasta primavera and crusty bread, dipped in olive oil.  Even though I managed to stay true to my “fast” I ended up feeling hopelessly deprived and depressed about my limited food choices. It’s just unnecessary punishment. Don’t do it. Meet at the park instead. (which brings me to my next point, how convenient!)

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2. Get out in nature. Nature has such a powerful effect on the senses, much like cooking food does, but it’s not going to tempt you with the smell of fresh cookies coming out of the oven. It will, however be soothing to your soul, and you will feel rejuvenated to continue on your plan. When you get a hankerin’ for your favorite food vices, get out of the kitchen and into nature. Take a walk. Go for a hike. Sit by the lake. Let the sights and smells of the outdoors comfort you, instead of food.

3. Take up a new hobby. For many of us, eating is a mindless habit, and a subconscious hobby, so it’s important when you are fasting, to replace those habits with something more beneficial and less sabotaging to your health goals. Find something else to fill your time with, other than munching. Sign up for a painting class, rally for a 5k, volunteer at a non-profit, take a photography course, or do something creative, instead.

4. Clean out your closet. While you are cleansing your internal environment, take the opportunity to purge the external, as well. De-clutter your house. Sell your junk. Donate your excess. Along with all the sugars and the food additives, let go of the things in your life that don’t serve you! You’ll be so much happier and feel so much “cleaner.”

5. Say “NO” to food-centered events. This kind of goes with no. 1, but it takes a bit more effort, if you’re a socialite, like I am. It is tempting to go to all the summer potlucks and bbq’s you get invited to, and let me assure you, there will be LOTS of them, when you are “fasting.” Remember this phase of your life is temporary and it’s ok to say no, for a time. Skip the social food events, in favor of things like: movies in the park, dancing, music shows, art walks and anything where food is not the main focus.

6. Partner up!  Because, let’s face it, it’s just way more fun to eat cucumbers with a friend, than by yourself, and it’s really nice to have someone, when you’re PMS-ing in the chocolate aisle. Also, it’s  hard to strangle someone when they are in IT with you! Team up with a husband, a roomie, someone you just met on an airplane, it could be ANYONE, who is willing to do it with you.  Find someone who will remind you of what you want, MOST, not what you crave right now. Pick a partner and a plan, and keep each other on track!

You can do it!

I hope these tips help you as much as they’ve helped me, have a (somewhat) fun and successful fast!

Lord knows, YOU SHOULD HAVE FUN, while cleansing. (I think!)

And you should definitely not strangle anyone.

So, on with the plan! On with the f-ing fun! And on with your new, shiny-clean self.

(If that doesnt work, you can always write a blog post about the miseries of eating cucumbers instead of cookies…

And then dramatically celebrate and congratulate yourself, for making it halfway!

Just a thought.)

 

 

 

 

Top 6 Ways to Have Healthy Kids This Summer.

Now that school is out for most of us, it’s time for long days at the park, late nights, and pool parties. Time for bare feet running through the sprinklers, fresh peas out of the garden and all the wonderful things that summer brings.

Unfortunately that also means it’s ice cream, hot dog, and popsicle season.

Don’t know about you, but there seems to be an over-abundance of sweets and processed foods in my child’s life, lately. Maybe it’s just simply her getting older and having more “friends” and more activities to go to. I don’t know. But everywhere we go, there is always a cookie, or a piece of candy.

No joke.

I try not to stress it, but I do feel the need to counteract some of that by giving her plenty of healthy options when we’re at home.

I’ve learned from my Mother (who raised six healthy kids!), from my years of being a nanny, and from raising my own, that there are some simple things I can do to navigate all that junk food and keep my child healthy during the summer.

Here are the top six ways I’ve found that work.

1. Take your kids to the Farmer’s Market.  Make it fun by allowing them to pick out their “own” produce to take home. My five year old despises the grocery store, but enjoys going with me to the farmer’s market, probably for this reason.  I often tell her she can pick out any fruit or veggie that she wants, and I am just as often surprised at what she decides to “buy.” (hello, bell peppers??)

2. Make a daily smoothie. But don’t call it a smoothie! Call it a “milkshake.” I don’t know why, but it just sounds cooler to my five-year-old. Make it healthy with lots of fruit, a little almond milk, and sweeten it with banana. This is our favorite smoothie-milkshake at the moment.

3. Let them cook with you. I’ve always believed that the best way to get a child excited about healthy food, is to let them cook/make it with you! I find this to be true for veggie pizza, smoothies, pretty much everything that I make. If I make the veggie pizza, my daughter will wrinkle up her nose at the spinach, but if I cut up a bunch of veggies and let her build her own, she will put spinach on it, and eat it like a champ! EVERY TIME.

4. Make it colorful! This might seem like a no-brainer, but kids eat with their eyes first, and they LOVE color! Along with letting my daughter help me cook, I often tell her that the goal is to get as many colors of the rainbow into her milkshake, or onto her pizza. Once again, I am usually surprised at the things she chooses!

5. Set out a tray of fruits and veggies to snack on, all day. This goes along with the color thing, and is one of the easiest ways to get kids to snack on healthy food. I like to fill a muffin tin with all different kinds and colors of fruits and veggies, plus a few healthy “dips” like homemade almond butter or hummus, and then set it where my child can reach it, and let her have at it all day. It’s amazing how many are gone by the end of the day!

Top 6 Ways to Have Healthy Kids This Summer.

6. Make your own popsicles! Out of all the things you could do for your child’s health, this is probably the easiest effort to biggest payoff thing that there is. I mean, what kid doesn’t love a popsicle? And yet this is probably one of the worst offenders in the health department. Um, can we say sugar AND food coloring?? Get yourself one of these cool little sets and make your own out of fresh fruit juice, leftover smoothies, (oops, I mean milkshakes!) avocado, you name it. Throw a little honey or maple syrup in for sweetener and you’ve got yourself some healthy popsicles!

Then, be prepared to bring popsicles to the next pool party, kids birthday, picnic at the park, and pretty much ALL of your child’s summertime affairs! Not only will you be the coolest Mom around, you will know you’ve done something truly good for them in the process.

I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me, and may we all have vibrant, healthy children this summer.

Here’s to barefeet, and loooong happy days!

 

Happy Little Finds: Cheap Kiwis and A New Word.

Remember when I said that I like to buy organic fruits in season, when they are ripe and cheap, and then freeze them for smoothies?

Well, imagine my delight when I found twenty kiwis for $1 at my local market last week! Yes, I said 20 kiwis for a buck! Not only that, but I found organic blackberries for 50 cents.

I almost peed my pants! Literally. (Trust me, it’s not that hard to do when you’ve got a 5 lb “basketball” laying on top of your bladder!!) I was that excited!

I stuffed three bags full of kiwis, grabbed what they had left of the blackberries, and hauled off like a bandit, back to my house.

You see this is NOT your ordinary market. This is a discount grocery market that sells a very limited stock of almost outdated foods and less-than-perfect produce, and you have to get there early on a Friday, if you want any! That’s when they get their new truckload of produce in. You gotta get there even earlier, if you want the nice, organic stuff. Apparently EVERYONE wants nice, organic produce for cheap, (who knew?!) cuz it is wiped out by mid-afternoon!

I learned this the hard way, after several unsuccessful twenty-minute trips there with an unwilling four-year-old, having just a few random food items and no produce to show for it!

I had not been there in awhile, and had almost given up on it altogether when a friend told me that I needed to go early on a Friday. So I tried it again, last Friday. And boy, am I glad I did!

Still, it was almost noon by the time I got there, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much of the good stuff was still left! They had drastically expanded their produce section, so not only was there a lot more of it, there was much more space to move around and find what you needed. And…it was just as cheap as ever!

Such a happy little discovery.

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Check out these kiwis! Sure, they are a little soft and they have a few bruises, but they are just right for smoothies.

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I have to admit that peeling kiwis is not my favorite thing to do. Somethin bout that rough, prickly skin that gives me the shivers. Every time! Like a man’s prickly beard. But pricklier.

Pricklier?

Is that even a word???

Pricklier. 

I dare you to say it ten times in a row.

I just tried it. It’s not possible. But hey, if it wasn’t a word before, it is now.:)

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Aah. There’s that gorgeous green flesh underneath! That which makes the shivers and the prickles totally worth it!

I cut the kiwis in chunks and froze them on a large aluminum pan for a few hours, then packaged ’em in the aproximate portions needed for my hawaiian green smoothie.

I have found this is the best way to keep them chunky, especially when they are this soft, so you don’t end up with one massive blob that is impossible to separate after it’s frozen. Once again, I learned this the hard way (what can I say, it’s my favorite way of learning!) after hacking holes into the bag, the counter, and whatever else is around to try and get the right amount of frozen substance that I needed!

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I did the same with the blackberries, after I washed them and threw out a few moldy ones.

Look at these beauties! So juicy and ripe and sweet…ready for smoothies!

Or that yummy blackberry cobbler I will most certainly crave in the middle of winter, right about the time when blackberries are 3 dollars each and not 5o cents!

Oh my. I’m a happy girl.

A Green Smoothie: The Goddess of All Drinks.

I first learned about the green smoothie seven years ago, when I was actively scouring the web for natural cures to my dad’s cancer.

I stumbled across Victoria Boutenko’s website one day and tried out one of her green smoothie recipes. I was surprised at how delicious it was, and how energized I felt after just one glass. I remember thinking “wow, I might not even need my cup of caffeine after this!”

And I was right. I no longer “needed” coffee to give me that boost. If I felt myself dragging a little in the afternoon, I would whip up one of these green concoctions and instantly feel the boost, not only to my body, but also to my mind.

I quickly became aware that this was more than just a shot of energy. It was life-giving and sustaining in a way that caffeine could not touch. (Sorry, my dear friend Espresso!)

I still feel that boost every time I drink one of these green concoctions.

While it has not entirely replaced my caffeine habit, it has most definitely revamped my health and brought a youthful vitality back to my body. It has since evolved into all sorts of flavors and formulas, and has even departed from that green color a time or two.

But I still love it! In all of its raw forms of goodness.

No matter what combination of fruits and greens you use, it is delicious and highly nutritious! I’m so poetic.

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HELLO gorgeous green! HELLO enzymes and anti0xidants. And HELLO pretty much every essential vitamin on the planet!

Vitamins A, C, and B, potassium, beta carotene, omega-three fatty acids, and fiber, this baby’s got it all.

And it’s in a form that even the most irritable and battered digestive system can handle. The process of blending breaks down the phytochemicals of the fruits and veggies, and makes them more available to your body than if you were eating them in a salad, for instance. For more info on this, be sure to check out Victoria’s article about wild chimpanzees and our digestive tract and how it all works. Or doesn’t!

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I was really feeling the tropics (read: Hawaii!) today, so I made this one with pineapple, kiwi, and banana. Normally I would add some mango to this combination, but my local King Soopers did not have fresh ones and I had none in my freezer.

I like to use frozen fruits, cuz I like my smoothies really cold! Especially in the summer. Especially when I’m pregnant. And hot. And bulging.

Ok I’ll stop.

Here’s a little tip, though: Buy fresh organic fruit in the summer when it’s cheap, ripe, and in season and then freeze it yourself. It is way cheaper and tastier than buying a bag of frozen fruit from the grocery aisle.

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That’s what I had done with some nectarines earlier this week, when they were super cheap at Sprouts. So I used those instead of mangoes.

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I added a few handfuls of spinach, a chunk of ginger, some fresh lime juice and coconut water, and boom!

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I got this!

Oooh, the goodness. And the green-ness of this life-giving drink! This combination was so amazing, that I named it after my favorite place in the world: Hawaii.

I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to boost their metabolism or just simply increase their plant consumption. Make this every day and it will put you leaps and bounds ahead of the pack, in terms of aging and fighting disease and how ALIVE you feel.

Hawaiian Green Smoothie

by Ruthie

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 0

Ingredients (2 pints)

  • 3/4 cup coconut water (or juice)
  • 1/2 heaping cup chopped, frozen kiwi
  • 1/2 heaping cup chopped, frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 heaping cup chopped, frozen mangoes (or nectarines)
  • 1-3 inch piece of frozen banana (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 1/2 inch chunk of ginger
  • 5 Peppermint leaves
  • 1 squeeze of lime
  • 1 Tablespoon hemp or sunflower seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon flax or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 2-4 handfuls of spinach (as much as you can handle!)
  • 1/2 heaping cup crushed ice

Instructions

Blend everything except the last three ingredients on high for thirty seconds.

Add avocado, spinach, and crushed ice and blend for another twenty seconds.

Serve and enjoy!

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The Best Creamy Thing I Ever Made. Not Quite a Recipe.

So yesterday, amidst the endless sorting and tagging to get ready for our yard sale, I decided to make some almond milk. I’m not sure what possessed me to take on so much of the world in one twelve hour time frame, but I was craving almond milk.

Not this stuff. Not this highly-processed, preservative-laden liquid you find in the health food store. No offense to Blue Diamond. They make some of my favorite highly-processed, gluten-free crackers. So whatev.

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It’s just not what I was craving at the moment. NOPE. I needed some fresh raw almond milk, straight from the cow. I mean-almond. And oh my dear peeps, if all you have had is the product above, you are majorly missing out on one of life’s greatest joys. It beats out the other dairy milk alternatives, hands down. And it most certainly beats pasteurized cow mucus you buy from the store.

This is so fresh and alive and yummy.

I always start this creamy goodness by first soaking my almonds overnight in some Kangen water, mixed with a little sea salt. Something about the salt makes the phytic acid break down quicker. And the next morning, they are sweet, sweet, sweet. I rinse and put them in my blender with about two to three times more water than almonds. I strain out the liquid, add a little salt, sweetener. You get the idea.

This would probably be a good time for me to remind you that I DON’T FOLLOW RECIPES. But if I did follow a recipe, this is the one I would use. http://everydaypaleo.com/2012/07/11/homemade-almond-milk/. It’s simple and basic. And the ratios seem right to me. Some of them are not creamy enough. I like mine rich and creamy. Come to think of it, I like everything creamy. But’s that’s for another post.

You can build on a basic recipe and get all fancy schmancy like I did this time, or leave it plain. Back in the beginning I made it plain, and that was good. But oh. A world of wonderful flavors awaits you.:)

Meet my three new favs. Cinnamon Vanilla, Chocolate Sea Salt, and Maple Coconut.

I am currently bloated from all the chocolate I just drank. It is ridiculous! And so easy. I just added some raw cacao powder to my basic almond milk, threw in a bit of extra sea salt, and added a little xylitol for sweetness. Sometimes I sweeten it with just dates, which is fine for the chocolate, but I don’t like how that turns the beautiful sparkling white “milk” into a brown-ish tan, not-quite-chocolate-color.

There’s something about the sparkling white color of this, as it frosts over a glass jar, that just ministers to me. That’s what makes it “milk” you know. It’s definitely not the thought of liquified almonds. It’s the color of the liquid. It’s gotta be white, folks. Like Crest Whitestrips kind of white. Unless it’s chocolate, then it’s gotta be brown. The darker the better.

I admit that my fetish with glistening white milk in glass jars, is probably the years of associating white and creamy and nutritious with cow’s milk. But…now I know better.

By the way, have you ever noticed how it has gotten whiter over the years?

Well, before I go on a tangent about commercial dairy, and the FDA, and the USDA, (someone stop me, please!!) and the crap they allow/promote in our foods…Ugh. Let me get back to the good stuff.

I made the Cinnamon Vanilla, by splashing an extra teaspoon (or two!) of homemade vanilla extract, and a few pinches of cinnamon, into my basic non-recipe. I then sweetened it ever so slightly with raw honey. I did not want it to be super sweet, since this is our go-to for pouring over oatmeal, or using in certain recipes that call for “milk,” and creamify-ing our coffee. So soo good!

Last but definitely not least, we have the Maple Coconut. This is my favorite of the three favs, if that is possible. I feel like a parent with three kids, who doesn’t want to say they have a favorite, cuz they each have such delicious and wonderful personalities and well, they are all my “favorites.”

Really, though. How can you go wrong with maple syrup and coconut in a glistening white drink? I mean, it just doesn’t get any better. I threw some dried unsweetened coconut flakes right into the blender with my almonds and water, and blended it together to get my almond coconut milk. I strained it all together, and then added a bit of maple syrup to sweeeten and voila! It’s Maple Coconut Almond Milk. Smooth and creamy, sweet and dreamy, just as God made it.

And now, I have officially used the word “creamy” one too many times. I must quit before I say it again.

I have an unnatural attraction to it. Pray for me. Or just come sit on my front porch and enjoy a tall frosty glass of almond milk with me.