My Real Body. Juice. Autumn. and so on…

I can’t believe it has been a month since I last updated my blog. Time flies. Life is hectic. I’m sort of, in between, living situations. I moved in with a good friend of mine and it just isn’t working out as I hoped it would. Kind of a bummer, but that is life! So, I’m in the process of moving back into my parents house for awhile, until I figure out where I want to be. Do you actually ever figure this out? I’m not sure.

So, over the past month, I’ve enjoyed the bounty of the harvest – fresh food from all around! My mom has been getting some venison from a friend of hers, so we’ve been enjoying roasts, meat loafs, kabobs, and what nots, all made with locally shot deer meat! I didn’t know there would be anything more tasty than a good, grass-fed beef steak, but man, was I wrong. The vegetable and fruit harvests are coming to an end in Michigan – so enjoy while you can! I’ve been loving the hell out of the locally grown peppers, tomatoes, and corn. Not to mention the APPLES!!!!!!!! Apple season in Michigan is spectacular. You can go to a farmer’s market and choose from 10 different varieties, all described as “juicy” and another mouthwatering adjective that really is true. You can’t go wrong!

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Another wonderful specialty crop in Michigan is the grape. Local vineyards produce delicious grapes to snack on or to juice…and this past weekend, I juiced some grapes. Unfortunately, I don’t have a fancy-dancy juicer, so I have to do what works…a food mill with a hand crank. Sure, it takes a bit of time…but it made some grape juice fit for kings and queens!

IMG_6481Hand-crank food mill. The old school way of making juice. Not to mention, my arms get a well needed workout!

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And the delicious grape juice. Even better if you add some sparkling water and create a fizzy!

The next thing I want to talk about is inspired by yoga_girl on Instagram, also known as Rachel Brathen, a yoga superstar based out of Aruba. She is candid, funny, loving, and carefree as she shares her life with her Instagram followers. I’ve been following her for a year now, and she’s truly an inspiration. Yesterday, she posted the most beautiful picture and caption of her belly rolls. I quote:

“It folds. It moves. It jiggles, bounces, flows, and allows for grabbing a handful of when needed. It’s strong and soft. Graceful and clumsy. Built by yoga and handstands and red wine and chocolate. And you know what the best part is? It’s all mine! Our insecurities and our confidence go hand in hand. When we hide certain aspects of our bodies we accentuate them as “flaws” in our minds… When fact of the matter is that by shying away we create the very same insecurity we are trying to get away from. By embracing everything about ourselves without hiding our “flaws” we create confidence, strength, power. It’s time to celebrate our bodies – every single inch. You’ll find that no one judges you more harshly than yourself. And that thing about your body you’ve been so hung up on? 99% of people out there are too preoccupied with their own insecuities to give a rats ass about yours. Half of the time our insecurities are imagined and distorted. For instance – I wanted to post a picture of the stretch marks I have on my upper things just now…Only to find that the camera couldn’t even capture them. That’s how invisible they are. Who knew?!? Not me, that’s for sure! So listen carefully: THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN MAKE YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT YOURSELF IS YOU. Treat yourself nicely. You deserve a good life and happiness and beach days that center around sunshine and ocean – not sit ups and counting calories.”

Thank you, Rachel. You inspired me. Over the past 6 months, I’ve gained weight. I’ve gained about 20 pounds. How? No clue. Not exercising enough. Eating whatever I want, whenever I want. Over eating. Sugar. Lots and lots of sugar. A little more alcohol than normal. A few late night trips for chicken fingers and french fries. A second serving of ice cream. Stress. Changes in my life. Being happy? All these things can contribute to putting on a few extra pounds…and when you’re barely five foot two, those pounds come quickly. Sure, I still feel great. I still think I’m sexy. Most of my friends can’t believe it when I tell them and respond with something along the lines of, “where did it go? I wish I could put on pounds like you!”, because, luckily, I gain weight in my hips/thighs/ass, so it isn’t hideous weight, but it gives you something to hold on to (now if only someone was). So, well, as I started to get down on myself because I can’t fit into my size 0s anymore, I don’t like wearing tight t-shirts, blah blah blah, I realized, FUCK IT. I love myself.

Here is my stomach, sitting down:
IMG_6568Here are my love handles. Here is my little rolls. Right under my boobs, I’ve always had these little parts of fat (I can pretend and call them my abs!) and they have made me self conscious in the past…but not anymore. I love my body. Sure, I need to exercise a bit more. I need to get back in the yoga studio more often. I need to do a little bit of cardio after sitting at a desk for 45 hours a week. But even more important is that I need to look into the mirror and say that I love myself, because I do. I do I do I do. Do you?

Cleansing Complete…& the next adventure is…?

Friday was the last day of my Bepure cleanse – so this weekend was a celebratory weekend and I had a great time!

I noticed that I’m still having more energy than I had before I started cleansing – which is great! My body is feeling healthy and alive – not just being…but actually being able to feel well – which is such a blessing. I feel very thankful that I have the ability to be a healthy person, eat good food, and surround myself with people who have the same desire as me – to support food justice, healthy living, and a holistic approach to life in general.

On the last day of the cleanse (Friday), I went to the Annual Owner’s Meeting for the People’s Food Coop and had a blast! I helped them with some of the cooking, so the taco bar was even more delightful knowing that I had shredded 6 pounds of cheese, zested 60 limes, and minced 4 pounds of garlic (as well as other tasks) to make our veggie taco bar happen! Also, I had a delightful dessert treat of raw macaroons (which I didn’t make, but I will eat all the TIME). So delicious looking…right? And it has prompted me to go buy some shredded coconut and enjoy it in my oatmeal, smoothies…or maybe with some dark chocolate.

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And here is my Monday morning breakfast – after a Sunday full of unhealthy food…

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I’ll give you a little rundown on that. So Saturday night, my first day being off the cleansing “diet” (more like a lifestyle, which I will continue with) – I went out to a show and had a few whiskey waters. Then, around 1am, my best friend and I decided to go to a local restaurant and have a late dinner or an early breakfast – so I decided to treat myself to a plate of chicken fingers and french fries. It was so delicious, but I felt hung over in the morning (so I won’t be making that a habit). After waking up and going for a good hour and a half walk, I decided to stop a coffee shop and treat myself to a little caffeine. I enjoyed a double Americano with a splash of half & half…and a blueberry muffin because the top was covered in sugar and SCREAMING my name. Now, luckily here in Kalamazoo, our coffee shops bake their own pastries (so it was made locally, using pretty good quality ingredients) and organic coffee – so I think it is okay. But my dinner last night, after 5 hours in the library working on my final project presentation, wasn’t so good. I had a Vito from Jimmy John’s – consisting of salami, capicola, provolone,  Italian vinaigrette  and iceberg lettuce – all on some highly processed white bread – but it tasted so good.

Needless to say, I didn’t eat the best on Sunday, but it was a good end to a great cleanse and I’m ready for spring to be here (because it SNOWED yesterday in MI…but then it was 60 by midday). I’m getting ready to end my semester and graduate college – wooo! Very exciting, but before that happens, I’m heading to Denver, CO for a 72 hour vacation with one of my best friends.

I’ll update this later this week, with some updates on how I’m feeling after being done cleansing for awhile. I can already tell you that I’ll be having a little caffeine today to ensure that I’m on top of my game for my final presentation after work today. Soon enough, I won’t have to worry about classes anymore and hopefully get into a more stable routine, and then find a house to buy – but we will see! One day at a time.

Until next time – love yourself and others <3

Juicing, Jogging, & Joyful Living

For the past month or so, I have been doing volunteer work at the People’s Food Coop. I attend their cooking classes, take pictures, and tweet about them to help spread the word of these awesome cooking classes and the Can-Do Kitchen. Last night was the Get Juiced! class – where we juiced it up. I had attended this class back in January, when my ex and I were thinking about incorporating a juice bar into his brewery (the juice isn’t happening, but the beer is, and I’m not involved anymore). So, I have memories of going to juice bars as a kid and ALWAYS ordering watermelon and cucumber juice – yum – but I learned that I could probably just make that in a blender…so until I invest in a juicer, I’ll be blending whatever I can.

I’ve done a lot of research on juicers and as soon as I get my housing situation figured out (I’m hoping to own a home by mid-summer) I’m buying the best juicer that I can afford. I’m thinking of this Omega juicer – and maybe, with graduation gifts, I’ll be making that purchase soon! So anyways…here are the juice recipes we made last night:

JuicingRecipesThere were delicious! And they all turned out great – as expected. The class was a small one but had a lot of great energy! I love going in there and meeting new people, who all share something in common: supporting local, eating better, and living a holistic lifestyle. For me, I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to serve the community. I’m going back tonight to help prep some food for the Annual Owner’s Meeting on Friday! It should be a good time. So, this is what I wore last night, as I thought it may be ironic:

IMG_3626So before this juicing class, but after work, I went on a nice 2 mile run with my best friend. I have been running alone, but it felt good to run with someone else. He definitely kept me motivated and pushed me to do a little sprinting. The teacher of the juicing class is starting to train for a half marathon so we may try to run together. It makes me nervous to think about running with someone that has so much experience but…I wouldn’t mind trying to run a half marathon next year – that would be an epic goal! Also…after the run yesterday, we did a good 1/2 mile walk cool down and a little stretching – but not as much as I usually do…and I can feel it today. I’m definitely going to have to do some nice yoga stretches throughout the day so I can get back out there tomorrow!

After our run, I heated up some of my chicken broth and some matzoh balls – yumm – and I could eat this every day. It is such a comfort food but also full of nutrients – just add a big salad and it is the perfect dinner! My soup was smiling at me, and I smiled right back at it, and smiled inward to my soul.

IMG_3619So cute :) and delicious – I think what made these matzoh balls to flavorful was that I used chicken fat as my oil, instead of olive oil. I also added some dried basic and thyme to the mixture – so those herbs help boost the flavor.

Let’s see…what else is going on in my life? I quit smoking cigarettes, after…wow…7 years of light/moderate smoking…I’ll share this story quickly. I tried my first cigarette as a freshman in high school. A friend told me that if I didn’t try it, she’d kick me out of her house…so I caved and tried it – and it was DISGUSTING. But a few months later, and after all my friends started smoking, I just picked up the habit. I was never really “addicted” – I never smoked at work, or at breaks from school (even once I got to college) – it was mostly just when I drove or when I was around my friends…but still, any smoking has consequences on the body. So, for years, I said that I was going to quit by the time I graduated college and I’ve lived up to the goal (and I’m early)! I quit smoking in February and, as of TODAY, haven’t smoked a cigarette in 8 weeks! I’m feeling great and don’t even crave them anymore. The first few weeks after quitting, I had a pretty bad cough and lots of phlegm  That has settled down, but since I was congested last week, I feel like this cleanse is pushing out the rest of those toxins from smoking – as I’m still having some phlegm (but now it is clear, instead of dark brown). Studies show that after 12 weeks, your lungs heal themselves and go back to the healthy tissue of a non-smoker – so I’m 4 weeks away, and maybe then I’ll be running like a pro…either way, I’m happy I quit, and I will NEVER again smoke a cigarette.

I’m on Day 19 of the Bepure Cleanse and I’m feeling pretty good! I could have used a lot more sleep last night, got about 7 1/2 hours – but I feel like I could sleep all day long. Maybe it is the rainy/dreary weather? Perhaps. I’ve got class after work, before more volunteering at the PFC…so I hope I can get some energy before the rest of my long day drags and after doing some cooking at the coop, I’ll be joining a few lovely ladies for some wine at my favorite Wednesday restaurant – Webster’s (they have a blog too!).

Until next time, stay pure, stay happy, and love everyone, especially yourself. <3

 

 

Chicken Stock, Chilly Days, & Cleansing

Well, today is Day 17 of my spring cleanse and I’m feeling much better! Last week, I had a case of the sniffles…and congestion, and well…it sucked. I don’t get sick often, but I also feel like the cleanse may have been pushing toxins out of my body – and they came out in the form of mucus and nasal congestion. I didn’t have a cough, fever, fatigue, or anything else that usually comes along with colds/flu. So, I took care of myself and made some homemade chicken stock (I’ll show you my recipe and a few photos further into this post).

I hate to admit this, but I’m going to…I haven’t been as dedicated to a strict cleansing diet, such as my diet last year, and I have a few reasons for this. Last year, when I did the Bepure cleanse, I made a HUGE diet change, but since then, my diet has kept pretty clean so I didn’t feel like I had major changes to make. Sure, I cut out caffeine, processed foods, most added sugar, and white bread – but it wasn’t that hard for me, because I try to keep those things out of my diet anyways. Sometimes I have a white bun on a cheeseburger, but I only eat at restaurants that use organic and/or local ingredients – so we’re talking high quality whole foods – which is my diet. However, I do think that I could have done a little more – perhaps go completely vegetarian during the cleanse – but in my little kitchen, with my busy schedule, I didn’t have as much time and space to prepare, as I wish I would have. So, even though my diet didn’t change a ton (okay, I’ve had a little dark chocolate…but it was fair trade and organic) I’m still feeling great about the cleansing experience and I hope you did too!

Late last week, maybe Thursday, but maybe Friday, I talked to one of Universal Formulas’ customers about her cleansing diet. She was asking what I recommend, what I cut out, and how hard is it…so of course, I’m honest. It can be very hard to cut out things that we have been consuming for years and years. Soda, candy, white flour, and caffeine are the hardest. Not only are these so prevalent in our society, but they are also addictive. It is hard to avoid something that EVERYWHERE you go, you are surrounded by. I’ll share my personal story about this:

Saturday night, I stayed at my parents house. Now, my parents have always instilled in me the idea of holistic living, preventative health, and support local foods. You can read about that in my other blog posts…but Saturday was a different story. My parents got home late on Friday from a vacation and just planned on lounging around the house and watching the Michigan game on Saturday (Go BLUE!!!) so I decided to stay out there and hang out with them. My mom and I went to the local grocery store together and I had a hard time finding ANYTHING to eat. I settled on some sugar snap peas, a kiwi, a grapefruit, and some horseradish to go on matzoh. Nothing was available organic but I caved because I was hungry, and my mom wasn’t making anything more diet friendly. When we were checking out, my mom said she was so proud of me for not giving in to the aisles and aisles of crappy food that I could have chosen ..but I didn’t, because I feel better when I eat healthy – so healthy eating is my lifestyle…this isn’t a diet.

Which brings me back to my discussion with this customer…I reminded her that it isn’t about what CAN’T have, or DON’T need, it is about what you CAN have and what you DO need. Every person in this entire world NEEDS nutrients. So make cleansing about what you are adding into your diet, what you are getting more of, instead of focusing on what you can’t have – and I PROMISE that it will make life easier.

So, back to my chicken stock exploration. So I was reminded of my first error this morning – I forgot to add apple cider vinegar to the stock – which helps to leach out nutrients…so I’ll definitely be adding that next time. Here are my steps: buy a local, whole 2 1/2 lb chicken (I got Otto’s chicken at $1.49/lb from the People’s Food Coop) and cut it up – it doesn’t have to be super pretty, because, well it is getting cooked and only the meat is taken off the bone, so you aren’t actually serving the chicken on the bone or in certain cuts.

After you get it cut up, add all the chicken parts (especially the neck and feet, but mine didn’t come with the feet) into a stock pot and fill with water. I covered the chicken with water, and added about 4 cups more (okay, I didn’t measure, I just poured it in until I thought it was enough) and then I added some celery stocks and tops (the tops are the most important, so every time you get celery, keep the leaves for your next stock!), a red onion (I used red because I don’t really like onion, and thought it may help make the stock pretty), a few carrots, salt & pepper, and a sprig of parsley. I kept it pretty simple – as you can add a lot more of things, especially herbs, but for my first time, I thought simple was best. So here is what my stock pot was filled with:

IMG_6817Then, the next step is to bring the stock to a boil – which took about 35 minutes, and then skim off the foamy/frothy stuff on the topIMG_6823

…and then to turn back down to simmer for as long as you want – I did this for about 8 hours. So, quickly, let me explain what simmering is (because I just thought it meant a low heat) but it is about a gradual reduction in your burner heat, leaving a small, boiling stream in the center of the pan. So, after it is boiling, reduce the heat a little, and then a little more, and a little more, until you barely have a flame, but you still have those little boiling bubbles in the center (took me about 15 minutes of temperature adjusting to get to a simmer). So simmer away and start to notice the comforting aroma of chicken soup surround your kitchen (and my house, because my apartment is so tiny).

After you’ve let it cook however long you want, drain out the liquid into appropriate bowls/containers (glass for your fridge, good and BPA free plastic for the freezer). I actually made more than expected and had to run to the store to get more containers as my fridge is now overflowing with homemade chicken stock. I bought some Made in the USA, freezer safe, and BPA free large plastic storage containers – so I’ll be freezing a good amount, and keeping little jar full in my fridge (giving some to friends, some will be used for matzoh ball soup that I’m making after work today).

IMG_6836At the bottom of the stock pot, you’ll have all the non liquid ingredients left – so your cooked chicken, some mushy celery/carrots/onions. So, now it is time to save this chicken meat. Literally, it FALLS OFF THE BONE. And it is so juicy and tasty that I just wanted to eat it all right away. But, after discussion with my mom, I’m going to make some enchiladas and freeze them for quick meals (I’ll share when I get around to doing that) and freeze some shredded meat for anything in the future, as well as make some chicken noodle soup and freeze it. So I think my chicken meat will fill many empty stomachs in the near future, and remember this was all for $1.49/lb.

IMG_6832Which brings me to my next point…I will, NEVER again, buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Yes, they are easy to prepare but they are EXPENSIVE. Clocking in around $6.50/lb for a good quality, local chicken breast – I just can’t do it. From now on, if I want chicken, I’ll be buying the whole chicken, cutting out the breasts to use for whatever reason, or just making this stock and keep the shredded chicken for whatever I want. Also, you can roast the whole chicken, eat it, and then use the bones and extras for making a stock (fewer nutrients, but still a great way to use as much of the chicken as you can)! So, in other words, if you are afraid of using a whole chicken, just do it! It is so worth it and I’m excited to make my matzoh ball soup tonight and give some stock to friends. Also, I will never buy canned soup or boxed broth again. Here is to eating healthy, supporting local, and being economical!

Now, as I finish up the last week of cleansing, I add in the Restore formula – and rebalance my digestive system. I’ll continue without caffeine, sugar, and processed foods (and will continue with that even after the cleanse). I hadn’t done yoga in the studio last week, as I don’t think it would be a pretty sight with a runny nose (or easy to do yoga breathing, using your nose for inhales and exhales) but I’m feeling better and will be attending tonight – I can’t wait! You know something is an important part of your daily routine if you really miss it when you aren’t practicing, and oh, I miss it. Running is going well – so I’m keeping up with that and hopefully will have some updates later on about races I ran, or major milestones I hit! Currently, I’m running just over a 10 minute mile – averaging about 2.5 miles per run – so a drastic increase is up and coming, I can feel it!

Until next time – stay pure <3