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

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April, Adrenaline, & a Lovely Afternoon!

Today is Day 11 of the Bepure cleanse and I’m feeling pretty good! I was traveling this past weekend, to celebrate Passover with my family in Washington, D.C. Normally, I do really well with traveling, but I was a little more tired than usual and got a good 10 hours of sleep last night. I woke up this morning and started my day with some oatmeal and an apple…of course, after my Bepure morning formulation with a glass of water with lime juice.

I just finished my lunch – containing a delicious salad with mixed greens from a local farm, orange peppers, carrots, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, and Organic Goddess dressing, along with a tuna sandwich. I have never been a fan of mayo, so my tuna is plain – sometimes with a little lemon and pepper…but I really enjoy it on toasted bread (Ezekiel) with a little bit of butter. This lunch was delicious and filling! Yay!

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I’m feeling slightly under the weather, not sure if it is from traveling and not getting much sleep on Saturday (my cousins dragged me out to the bar, and I had one whiskey drink with water and lemon, and stayed up pretty late dancing with my cousins). I took some Vitamin D3, Quint-Essence, Mag/Cal, and Tracite with my breakfast – so hopefully that’ll boost my immune system and keep me from getting sick. I’ll have to pick up a bottle of Vitamin C, as I’m out but I’ll be making a green smoothie for an afternoon snack and hopefully that’ll help pack in some Vitamin C.

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So, aside from traveling, being a little tired, and welcoming April with a FREEZING cold day…my cleanse is going very well!  My skin is looking a lot better than it had in most of March. I had a pretty bad breakout the 2nd week of March and it is finally starting to clear up. I’m needing more sleep than usual, but am waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed – so that is good! I kept up with my workout routine while on vacation, with running and doing yoga at home, most days. I got back in the yoga studio last night and it kicked my butt! I was really hot, and combining that with being slightly under the weather, my body was feeling it!

 

After yoga, I went to my parent’s house to do some laundry and have dinner with my best friend and her son. We made some gluten-free pasta with olive oil and a little parmesan cheese, sautéed green beans, and broiled salmon. I love broiled salmon – last night I made it with rosemary, lemon juice, and olive oil. Over the past year, I have really cut down on my intake of fish and seafood, due to the issues with sustainability…but a local grocery store carries salmon from Scotland, that is environmentally friendly farmed salmon (a little pricier, but so worth it)!

While on vacation, I really enjoyed my jogs. It felt great to get outside, breathe in the fresh air, and feel that adrenaline rushing through my body after I did something I have NEVER done before – run for a long period of time! Okay, now long to me isn’t long to everyone, so I ran 4 miles in about 40 minutes – which I thought was great! I’m hoping to keep up this routine and run a 5K by the beginning of summer – wooo! Running in a pretty area (like Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C.) makes it easier. I found an app that I really like – MapMyFitness – which uses GPS to track your route, your pace, and your distance, all while running – and then calculates your calories burned, etc…all stores into your phone for easy viewing, and sharing (if you want). I think it is a huge help!

Well that is my quick update as we head into the 2nd week of the cleanse. How are you feeling? Let me know if you have any questions, concerns, suggestions, or feedback – I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time, stay pure!

 

Bepure, Breakfast, & Buddha

Today is Day 5 of the Bepure cleanse and I’m feeling great! I woke up with a good amount of energy, after a sound night of sleep – which is always a blessing in a busy life! No complaints here – I did some yoga yesterday and it felt amazing. I’m really noticing progress and hope to continue on this journey of enhancing my health and well-being. The other night, I enjoyed a nice evening in with my best friend. We had dropped off my big computer (also functions as my TV for streaming Netflix) and my apartment felt empty…so we did a little rearrangement, lit some candles, enjoyed my house plants, and zenned out.

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An orchid from a friend…I thought I had killed it, until I researched orchids and realized that they don’t stay bloomed all year round…but this flower has been in bloom since December, so I feel like a little flower momma.

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My brother got this Buddha for me in China and I love it!

I wanted to talk about breakfast, in this post, as breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, an important one, and many people aren’t getting enough nutrients in theirs! So, I used to be a bacon, egg, and cheese on some kind of bread type of girl…but over the past few months, I’ve changed that a bit. Now, everyone once in a while, there is nothing like a mouthwatering breakfast of treats – including bacon, french toast, cheesy eggs, and some english muffins – but that can’t be a daily breakfast, as you NEED more nutrients. So, over the past few months, I have expanded my breakfast routine and added in some great choices!

Today, my breakfast consisted of oatmeal, apple slices, and a grapefruit. I woke up, took my Bepure Morning formulation with a big glass of water with lime juice…and started working! Around 9 am, I threw together a breakfast. Now, I soak my organic rolled oats in a mixture of water and greek yogurt. This helps to break down the fibers in the oatmeal, allowing your body to absorb more nutrients, and it also makes it cook a LOT quicker. I don’t eat instant oatmeal…so this way, I get the ease of instant, with the taste and health benefits of real oatmeal. So I put the soaked oats in a little simmering pot of water (the water is like 1/2” in the bottom of the pot, depending on how much oatmeal you are cooking). Then I cook the oatmeal for about 3 minutes, until it looks like it is cooked, slightly creamy, and before it burns.

IMG_6701After I have the oatmeal together, I put in a tiny bit of organic, unsalted butter – ground flaxseeds (approx. 2 tsps) – raisins – and peanut butter. This is something that you can adjust to your liking – maybe walnuts or almonds, maybe dried cherries, maybe chia seed – whatever works! Sometimes I drizzle a little bit of maple syrup over it, but it doesn’t always need it. It is a perfectly breakfast, with a big side of fruit (grapefruit is my favorite), and end it with a “hug in a mug” – my go to drink – a little apple cider vinegar and honey with hot water!

I hope that everyone is enjoying their cleansing experience. Remember to be aware of your body – listen – do you need more sleep? More water? Less exercise? A little more fruits/veggies? Whatever your body needs, give it. But don’t give in to cravings…I pushed through my chocolate craving last night – and you can too!

IMG_6737We (Universal Formulas) recently rebranded our Bepure cleanse and I think it looks great! The new design and website really highlight the cleansing experience – tranquility, calm, and clean – what do you think?

Enjoy the first week of the Bepure cleanse, and if this Easter/Passover weekend brings travels into your life (I’m heading to D.C. after work today) then safe travels! Love yourself & others!

-Amy

Prepping for a cleanse – Happy Spring!

Happy Spring… & let’s get ready to cleanse! As I prep for my spring cleanse, I try to get ready for 3 weeks of growth, change, and health improvements. Right now, I’m feeling pretty good but I have been having slight issues with acne for the past few days. I hope that adjusting my diet for cleansing will help with this (as I have been eating too much fair trade chocolate and sourdough bread lately). So, what do I do to prep for a cleanse?

First and foremost, I make a 3-week date with myself, to treat my mind, body, and spirit with love and appreciation. I make sure I have all my lose ends tied up, like major bills paid for, needed car repairs, and major coursework completed. This allows me to enter into a cleansing period with the lease amount of stress possible.

IMG_6627A few weeks ago, I bought a new blender. I got this Cuisinart Pink Series SmartPower blender. It came with 4 to-go cups, which you can blend in – which is the main reason I bought it! It helps cut down on my dishes and I don’t have to worry about spilling it everywhere when I pour my smoothie into a cup. Below is a picture of my smoothie – bananas (I freeze them), strawberries, kiwi fruit, greek yogurt, a little almond extract, and Universal Greens. You can add flaxseed, chia seed, almonds, or anything else to add some extra nutrients! I eat this, with oatmeal, and it is the perfect breakfast! I’ll talk about my oatmeal in a few days – as it deserves it’s own post!

 

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The next part is the fun part – grocery shopping! I shop at the local food coop, as an owner, and trust this store for fresh produce, quality bulk foods, and much more! My usual daily diet consists of oatmeal and a smoothie for breakfast, a grapefruit as a midmorning snack, a big lunch (salad, quesadilla, soup), a fruit & nut snack midafternoon, and a dinner of a local, free-range chicken breast, some boiled & raw veggies, and some kind of carb (usually rice or whole wheat pasta). Throughout the day I drink lots of water (sometimes with lime/lemon juice and once a day with Tracite) and a few “hug in a mug”s, which is a cup of hot water with a bit of apple cider vinegar and a drop of local, raw honey (to taste).

As I’m currently saving up for a house, I want/NEED to be more careful with my spending habits. I do all of my grocery shopping at the local food coop – but have noticed that I spend a LOT of money on things I use, all the time, and could get a better deal. Things like apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and witch hazel, are pretty expensive in the store and aren’t locally made, so I don’t feel so bad about buying them online. I placed my first order from www.vitacost.com and am really satisfied with the price comparison, delivery time, and their product catalog. Here’s my purchase!

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During the cleanse, I hope to remove caffeine, sugars (except natural fruit sugar), and white flour from my diet. I will reduce my intake of animal protein and whole grains, and as always, continue to eat whole, local, and organic food. I’ve been practicing yoga, consistently, for 4 months now, and I will continue to do hot yoga in the studio (120 minutes at 102 degrees) 3 times per week, jog a few times per week, and do some at-home body weight exercises and yoga. Also, over the past few years, I have phased out cosmetic/person hygiene products that contain chemicals – so I will continue on with that. Don’t forget that many of our person hygiene products contain chemicals that are toxic – while you cleanse, you are removing those from your body – so don’t just put them right back in it! I use coconut oil as my main moisturizer for my face and body. Sometimes I use some regular lotion, made locally, with organic ingredients. I also use Tom’s toothpaste, but will be making my own during this cleanse (will share pictures and recipe when I get it down). Love your skin, body, and hair – don’t make them toxic with added chemicals that are in MOST of your hygiene products.

Other updates in life: I’m finalizing my offer tomorrow, and I’m really excited but also nervous. It is the first day of Spring and is snowing and barely 28 degrees in Michigan! So I’m trying to keep warm…and hot yoga always helps. Today is a good friend of mine’s birthday…so after work/class/volunteering, I’m heading out for a drink! I’ve been volunteering for the People’s Food Coop and have been taking pictures and posting Tweets for them – so check it out. https://twitter.com/PFC_KZOO

Until next day – love yourself & others!

14 days later & the cleansing continues…

It has been a really busy few weeks – and this cleanse, I believe, has helped me keep on top of things and stay healthy during a stressful month! I’m on day 20 of this cleanse and I’m feeling great! Tomorrow will mark 21 days with no caffeine – except for a little chocolate I’ve had.

This weekend was hard for me to keep a clean diet – so I did cheat a little bit…but breaded pickles sounded so good when I was DDing for all my friends and sitting at the bowling alley (and it was the healthiest choice I had for munchies). Aside from a little cheat – I’ve been keeping pretty clean – staying away from a lot of diary, animal proteins, and processed foods. Smoothies have been my saving grace over the past few weeks, as you can change them a lot and they are tasty, filling, and full of healthy produce! I’ve been keeping mine relatively simple – some locally made and fresh, raw, organic greek yogurt, frozen bananas, and a combo of strawberries/blueberries/kiwi/spinach/kale, and Universal Greens blend!  Sometimes I go for a chocolate smoothie – like I’ve shared on this blog before, but I’ve been adding in cacao nibs as well – which give it a little crunch!

Today was the end of Owner’s Appreciation Week at the People’s Food Co-op so I just stocked up on a bunch of goodies – including raw almonds, fruits & veggies, some turkey, mozzarella cheese, oatmeal, and kombucha! I think I’m going to go for another round of homemade chicken no noodle soup as it was delicious and a much needed healing broth when I was going through my healing crisis.

My energy level has been excellent – I couldn’t be happier with the results :) I’ve been waking up an hour or so before my usual time, feeling energized and well-rested, which is better than things had been for the past few months. I also recently started to notice the enamel on my front few teeth was deteriorating. I try to keep up on the brushing/flossing teeth business and always have considered myself to have good teeth – so this was really alarming. I did a lot of research and most things said that whitening toothpaste was good (but I don’t use that stuff, I use natural toothpaste and hopefully will be making my own when this tube runs out) so anyway – one blog I read recommended taking some Cal/Mag supplements – so I added those back into my routine. I’ve been taking just 2 Mag/Cal supplements with lunch for the past 2 weeks and have noticed amazing changes. I’m going to do it for a month straight and share some pictures because I think this is amazing! I also think it happened because of my high intake of lemon juice in drinks (water, tea, toddys) so I’ve reduced my use of lemon juice and that may have helped too.

So as this cleanse is slowing coming to an end, I’ll be done NEXT Monday – I’m thinking about following up with a Bepure cleanse from Universal Formulas (the wonderful company I work for!). Last year, I did the Bepure cleanse as my first experience with a cleanse EVER and I loved it! They are giving me the opportunity to cleanse again, starting March 23rd, and to blog about my experience for the second time around! I’m really excited to do this – as I think I’ll just feel even better than I do now! :)

So another update on things – as I feel that cleansing your body also should be a part of cleansing your soul – so I’m keeping up with hot yoga and deep breathing, as well as doing more volunteering and other hobbies that I’ve neglected throughout my high school and college career. I recently bought a few more houseplants and am working on my green thumb. I’m hoping to buy a house within the next 6 months so I decided to get ahead and start preparing to be an adult, with a house, and making it my home! I’ve been doing a lot of research on composting, gardening for beginners, and becoming a foster dog mom – so big things are in the works for me! I also started doing some volunteer work for the PFC (see above) and I’ll be attending, photographing, and Tweeting about their cooking classes – so I’ll be able to share that information over the next few months!

Until next time – peace & love :)