Tag Archives: whole grains

Cleanse eve: again….

Okay, this is it…eat, drink and be merry tonight for tomorrow we go back to a cleaner, more conscious and healthier way of eating and drinking. Here is a quick recap:

Peppers are a colorful and tasty choice

Peppers are a colorful and tasty choice

~Focus on whole foods, as close to their original state as possible.  This means you will be shopping the perimeter of most stores(this may be obvious to most but in case you haven’t noticed, produce, dairy, and fresh foods like fish, meat and poultry are all around the sides of the store: boxed and canned foods are all in the center aisles)

~Eat organic foods whenever possible. If cost is a limiting factor, at least be sure to buy organic versions of the fruits and veggies on the “dirty dozen list”. Go to http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/2013s-updated-dirty-dozen-produce-list for a complete list of ‘clean and dirty’ food.

~Avoid white sugar. You may have small amounts of honey(organic, locally grown), agave and of course stevia.

Whole grains galore! Be imaginative and try new ones.

Whole grains galore! Be imaginative and try new ones.

~Avoid white flour(choose whole grains), white pasta(pick whole wheat), white potatoes(choose sweet, yams and purple), and white rice(choose brown and black)

Avoid alcohol. Choose herbal teas, organic fruit juices, kombucha and the like. I will republish a recipe for a wonderfully satisfying elixir that you can sip on each evening in lieu of that glass of wine, beer or cocktail.

Some of my favorite teas

Some of my favorite teas

Avoid caffeine. I know, this is the hardest for many of you. If you are seriously addicted to it and going without would cause terrible withdrawal headaches, you have several choices: one, gradually cut down by 1/2 the amount you consume each day or two until you are completely off or two, do the best you can.  Try new herbal  teas: there are SO many choices! I have over 15 types in my kitchen cupboard so that I never get bored. Oh, and let’s be clear: green tea does have a small amount of caffeine but it is so incredibly healthy for you, go ahead and include it during the next 10 days.

For some of you, it might be wise to eliminate gluten if you think you may have some issues with its consumption(common ones are bloating, weight gain, fatigue, eczema). For others, dairy might be a problem: gassiness, diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal cramps are common symptoms of lactose intolerance.

We have heard from a bunch of you and we are excited that you will be joining us during the next 10 days. Remember we will be giving away a copy of “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin to one of our participants. All you need to do to be eligible  for the drawing is to be sure that you are signed up as a follower of our blog and write two comments about your progress/thoughts/etc on the cleanse. 

Looking forward to hearing from you, as always.

Bon appétit and Namaste.

Sunset over Willamette

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Day 3: feeling great

For those of you who are following along with the 5 day cleanse and started with me on Monday, we are already at midpoint. I just wanted to check in with all of you and share what I have noticed so far.

First of all, knowing that this is ONLY 5 days made starting this one so much easier. Plus I was very ready to clean things up, fresh off 10 days of traveling(airplanes, airports, sitting around more than usual, running around NYC eating more than I usually do, etc) and also very inspired by the integrative health care conference that I went to last week.  

Each morning I have started the day with either licorice spice or ginger tea prior to my workout, then I have rice cakes with hummous for breakfast. Mid morning I snack on either red grapes or an apple. Lunch has been a salad filled with colored peppers(trying to eat a ‘rainbow ‘of colored foods every day), goat cheese, nuts, dried cranberries, mushrooms and a cup of tea. By late afternoon, I reach for something salty usually, like a handful of nuts or falafel chips(chock full of nutrients and even some protein and fiber: these are one of my new favorite snacks, by the way) . For the past 2 nights dinner has consisted of a steamed artichoke, some goat gouda cheese and a grain of sorts. Last night I made some polenta, which was incredibly satisfying and yummy.A quick and wonderful way to make polenta is to take a baking pan and place 1 cup coarse grain polenta, 4 cups of water and  1 tsp of salt( I like pink Himalayan) stir this together and place in preheated oven 350 degrees for 45 minutes; stir in 1-2 Tbsp of butter and bake for another 15 minutes: serve with protein like cheese or chicken and some veggies for a tasty meal. In addition, throughout the day I love to drink an assortment of herbal teas and then of course the elixir(see my posts in January for this recipe): both of these beverages are warming and comforting. 

Let us know how you are feeling and what you are eating throughout the day. Are you finding it easier this time? How is your sleep?mood? And don’t forget to become a fan on Pearl Womens Center Facebook page and enter your name into the drawing for our contest.

More to follow…in the meanwhile, wishing you health and balance in your lives.

My favorite indoor flowers, providing color and inspiration on a dark day

My favorite indoor flowers, providing color and inspiration on a dark day

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Preparations for our ‘cleanse’

Many of you have decided to join Candace and me on January 7th as we embark on our second ‘Menopausibilities consciousness cleanse’ so this is very exciting! Just a reminder that we are also running a mini-contest(in partnership with Pearl Women’s Center) for those of you who have decided to participate. In order to be eligible, please sign up as a follower on our blog(top right on the page) and/or become a friend of PWC on Facebook.  For every 5 days of the cleanse that you complete and make some comments either on the blog or the Facebook page, your name will be entered into the contest and at the completion of the 10 days, several lucky folks will receive some gifts: either gift certificates or books that support the message of our blog.

I have received quite a few questions about how the ‘cleanse’ works so just a quick review(Also, please go to my blog posts dated October 14-25, 2012 for more details and recipes):

During the 10 days starting on Monday, January 7th, you will eliminate the following from your daily diet:

1. Sugar: This is going to require you to look at labels of the things that you do eat. If you are someone who makes most of your food from scratch, this is pretty easy to eliminate. If not, this will be a great education in reading labels and learning how much hidden sugar is in prepared/processed foods. This is the consciousness portion of the cleanse! You can use stevia or Truvia as a sugar stand-in but you should avoid artificial sweeteners, even Splenda, as they are exactly that: artificial and therefore not good for you. You may also use coconut sugar/nectar ( I will be writing more about this at a later time) or limited amounts of honey and agave, but the goal is to try to avoid eating added sugars. Fruits and whole juices are fine and a wonderful treat would be a 100% fruit juice frozen bar; again read your labels!

2. Alcohol: Avoid any alcoholic beverages during the 10 days. In lieu of cocktail hour(if you are so inclined), pour some sparkling water over ice and add some fresh lemon/mint/slices of citrus fruit/be creative or have some nice hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick. I also love to drink herbal teas: go to your local grocery or ‘whole foods-type’ store and peruse the tea aisle. You will be amazed at the wide variety available to you.

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener

3. Caffeine: This seems to be the most difficult substance for most to try to eliminate. Don’t let this one be your stumbling block to success. If you are used to consuming caffeinated beverages(or foods) on a daily basis, eliminating them cold-turkey might be rough, as caffeine-withdrawal headaches are extremely painful. So be smart: cut down on your intake gradually so that by the 10th day you are caffeine-free. Instead of reaching for coffee first thing upon awakening, try one of these first to get you doing: hot water with fresh slice of lemon( a terrific treat for your liver), a cup of your new favorite herbal tea, or perhaps some black or green tea: both of these contain some caffeine but also some valuable health benefits. Try to delay drinking that first cup of coffee a little bit longer each day and if you can, try to stay away from decaf coffee as well. Tea is preferable but do what works for you. This is YOUR cleanse and we want you to feel that you have some control over what you put into your body, but we all start from different points and we all will end up feeling better just by making some small changes in our own lives.

4. ‘The Whites’: this includes white flour, pasta, rice, potatoes and sugar. I actually think this is the easiest one to eliminate and has forced me to more creative in my recipe choices and food selections. Thankfully we live in a time when we have endless choices of whole grain breads/crackers/pastas/rice/grains as well as access to yams and sweet potatoes. This is a great time of year to dust off those cookbooks or pull out those old magazines that you have saved for the recipes and try something new. If you don’t feel like delving into a new recipe every day, cook up a pot of some quinoa and another of brown rice early in the week and have it ready to go for your weekday meals.

Throughout the 10 days, Candace and I will be writing our observations about how we feel, some of the challenges that come up, offer some recipes and tips to help keep all of us on track. We would love to hear what you are doing during this time to help you make these changes. We are so happy that you have decided to join us(some of you for the second time!) and we will be in touch. Please feel free to ask us questions along the way: no question is too basic, by the way.
“Eat food(whole foods), not too much, mostly plants”. Michael Pollan

Amen!

 

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Thank you for asking: ‘the recipes’ and more

Day 7 of this cleanse, feeling pretty darned great, finish line just around the corner. As always, I have learned a lot from taking the time to evaluate my food and beverage choices, what Mark Bittman, author and writer for the NY TIMES, calls ones “personal food policy”. I heard him speak a few weeks ago here in Portland at the inception of a local event known as ‘Portland Feast’ and I was inspired by some of the things he had to say.

Being a cookbook junkie, I of course purchased his cookbook, “The Food Matters Cookbook” and have spent some time reading the introduction and the first few chapters before jumping into the recipes.  He, like Michael Pollan(“In Defense of Food”, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and so on) emphasize the plant-based diet. Pollan’s famous seven word summation of how to eat: ‘eat food(whole food), not too much,  mostly plants’ makes it very simple.  Bittman in his cookbook goes on to give us some basic pointers to guide us each day:

1. Strive to eat fewer animal products than the average American(which is , gulp, 1/2#/day!).

2. Eat as many plants as you can. There is an endless variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds: focus on these.

3.  Be sure to include legumes and grains into your diet every day. Don’t overdo but these will serve as terrific substitutes for animal-based foods.

4. Stay away from processed foods. This is huge. Read your labels. Try to avoid products that have more than 5 ingredients and especially ones with preservatives and things you don’t recognize.

5. All other things should be considered to be a treat. That goes for chocolate(choose the best you can find), wine, beer, occasional desserts and other items not listed above. Consume these in smaller amounts.

Bittman willingly admits that perfection is not an option nor is it a goal but by making small changes(remember how we started this cleanse!), these will add up to larger ones for ourselves and globally.  So this really has been a consciousness cleanse: awareness of how important it is to be aware of what we are feeding our bodies, as well as how our choices affect the planet.

Our precious and beautiful planet

As our bodies age, it is critical that we nourish them with the cleanest diet we can manage. This will help to maintain strong body systems: cardiovascular, neurological, musculoskeletal, sensory, digestion and endocrine. We really are what we eat after all.

We have had several requests for the recipes that I mentioned using this past week and as promised, here they are. I hope you enjoy them as much as my son Conor and I did. He gave me a big thumbs up, especially on the pumpkin soup and whole grain bread. I would like to give credit to the sources of these recipes. The pumpkin soup one comes from Parade Magazine, Oct 14, 2012 issue.  The bread recipe is from Mark Bittman’s “Food Matters Cookbook”. The fruit jam was inspired by a recipe in Kim Boyle’s “Good to the Grain” cookbook, a lovely whole grain cookbook. As always when I cook , I made a few changes and noted them below.
BON APPETIT!

Final rose of 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Soup(serves 6: hmmm maybe….)

1 Tblsp canola oil(I used olive oil)      1 tsp minced garlic     1 tsp curry powder   1 tsp cumin

1 small onion, chopped fine  1/4 tsp cardamon     1/4 tsp salt      1/4 tsp black pepper

2 cups chicken broth( I usually make my own but you buy organic broth)

1-15 oz can pumpkin(or make your own if desired)     1-12 oz can evaporated fat free milk(or regular milk)

6 Tblsp Greek yogurt and parsley leaves for garnish(I didn’t find these to be necessary) 

Directions: In large pot, heat oil over medium , add onion cook for 3 minutes until soft, add garlic , cook another minute, add spices , salt and pepper. Cook additional minute, stirring. Next whisk in broth and pumpkin: bring to boil, reduce heat  to low, simmer for approx 15 minutes. Add milk, simmer for several minutes. Last step: using an immersion blender(I used regular one in small batches), puree the soup until smooth. Taste: adjust your spices, salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and if desired, garnish with the yogurt and parsley.

Whole Grain Bread(this is soooo easy)

In large mixing bowl, measure 3 cups of whole wheat flour(I used ww pastry flour but you could use regular WW flour), 2 tsp salt and 1 and 1/2 tsp of yeast. Pour 1 and 1/2 cups of warm, not hot, water into the bowl: lightly stir the ingredients together(I also used my hands to mix everything together into a loose mound) and place in draft-free place. Cover with a towel. Let this rise for approx 2 hours.

NOTE: I love salt yet I found that 2 tsp was a bit much so I cut this down to 1 tsp. You may substitute up to 1 cup of the whole wheat flour with another type: I had excellent results with barley and kamut flour. I plan to try rye next. Another time I add 3 Tblsp of coconut sugar to give it a faint taste of sweetness. I think honey would be great as well, but then you might need to adjust the amount of flour: maybe an additional 1/4 cup. 

Once the dough has risen to approx doubled in size, you may punch it down and place in well-oiled loaf pan. Let this rise until over the top of the pan. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven, lightly brushing the top with olive oil and sprinkling with corn meal, if desired.

Option: once the dough as risen in the bowl, you can add up to one cup of cooked grains(millet, oats, quinoa, etc) and mix this in. I tried 1/2 cup cooked millet and 1/2 cup uncooked oats and this was a great choice. You can also mix in nuts, seeds, raisins, olives. Add fresh herbs if desired, approx 1 tsp or to taste. This is a wonderful recipe, very forgiving and easy  to personalize. I made 3 different loaves last week and it has been fun to experiment and see which combinations work best. This is the easiest whole grain recipe I have ever tried.  The cost of making a loaf is minimal and it takes just a few minutes to mix the ingredients together.

Serve fresh hot bread with organic butter/honey/peanut butter/olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Plus here is a quick and easy recipe for sugar-free jam.

Dried fruit jam

Place 1 and 1/2 cup dried fruit into small saucepan. Add 1 cup fruit juice. Bring to boil, cover, turn off flame. Let sit for approx 30 min or until the dried fruit has plumped up. Using immersion blender, puree until fairly smooth. Store in closed container in the fridge.

Note: in Kim Boyle’s cookbook she recommends pitted prunes with orange juice. I have also tried prunes and mango juice. I think it would be fun to try dried cherries and apple or orange juice; dried apricots and mango or orange juice. Experiment and find what flavor combinations that you like best.

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