Pizza, pizza!

Yes, that’s right. I got to eat pizza. Detox-friendly, of course ;)

I’m not vegan, but this vegan recipe looked mighty tasty and worth a try. The recipe and prep are simple.

You cut about a 9- or 10-inch eggplant into 3/4-inch rounds, place them on a double layer of paper towels and then sprinkle a generous amount of salt on them. You leave them there for about 30 minutes while the salt pulls out the liquid. (Cool!) Then you wipe off the salt, place the rounds on a roasting pan and drizzle them with dried Italian seasoning and olive oil. Like so …

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Place ‘em in the oven (375 degrees) for about 25 minutes but not so long that they become mushy. Remove the “crust” from the oven, spoon spaghetti sauce (without vinegar or sugar) onto the rounds along with some fresh basil (about 10 leaves) and generous amounts of Daiya (dairy free) mozzarella “cheese.” You broil them in the oven for about 6-7 minutes, and you’ve got yourself some mini-pizza pies!

I was pretty hungry last night, so I forgot to take an after photo. They were cute and tasty. A little too salty, but now I know for next time not to sprinkle so much in the beginning prep phase. That’s one thing I love so much about this 28-day Arbonne clean eating/detox challenge. It’s SO much more than just that. I’m learning more about food, how to prepare it and how to cook it – skills that will last my lifetime!

Renewed running

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I had planned on yoga this pleasant evening. I opted instead to lace up my running shoes first and then practice a little post-run yoga. The outside temp was a bit chilly, just how I like my runs. I love running through my neighborhood (originally my grandparents’ neighborhood where they raised my mom and aunt) during the spring. Dogwood trees blooming, the scent of freshly cut grass and tulips galore. Usually when I hit the pavement during these post-Daylight Savings days, the streets are quieter. Everyone is tucked away in their homes as I enjoy my run just before the sun fades into the western sky.

This jaunt was my first since beginning the Arbonne 28-day clean eating/detox challenge a week and a half ago. Wow. My energy level was higher than it’s been since my giddy days of running when I was training for my first half-marathon. I could have kept going and going. Over the past six months to a year, I’ve dreaded running. My mind would race with thoughts as I would heavily put one foot in front of the other. It just wasn’t the peaceful outlet that it once was. Something was off. I had been trying to keep a steady running schedule, but it was failing.

As we commemorate the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, nostalgic memories of this beloved sport have been emerging. My pace is slowing coming back. This is only Week 2 of focusing on my full health, INSIDE and out. I can only imagine where I’ll be at Week 4.

 

Detox Day 9: Protein bar anyone?

I’m filled with gratitude after all the encouraging comments I have received regarding my Week-1 wrap-up blog. Letting it all out and being honest about my experiences with this 28-day clean eating/detox challenge is kinda scary, but in a good way. All I know is I’m feeling happier, more grounded and more confident in my everyday happenings.

I finally had the chance to make homemade protein bars! Detox-friendly, of course.

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The ingredients: organic almond butter, brown rice syrup, Arbonne Essentials protein powder, Arbonne Essentials fiber boost and gluten free oats.
So I had a little snafu and didn’t heat the almond butter + syrup before adding in the other ingredients. Needless to say, it made mixing a little tougher. A spoon may or may not have been broken in the process ;) All was heated and mixed, anyway, then spread over a 9X13 pan. After an hour in the fridge (if you prefer them chewy, just leave them at room temperature for an hour), DONE!

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My favorite furry friend, Josie, thought they looked good!

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She waited patiently while they were cut into 24 pieces (and earned a bite for her good behavior). They do taste delicious! But oh my they’re dense. Gonna have to enjoy these sparingly. ;)

Happy clean eating!

Taking the plunge

As I rang in 2014, I felt something brewing in me. I couldn’t quite pinpoint it, though. I began the year, as I usually do, with hopes of maintaining my exercise and healthy-eating habits. I explored more in yoga, trying more challenging (and sometimes fear-inducing) poses like handstand. I continued my workouts at Zenspin. I felt good about those feats and commitments. I tried to make healthy choices when dining out or eating in. I also had more than my share in wine and things that made me feel icky the next day or sometimes right after eating.

By March, I was tired of feeling gross after eating or drinking too much (and I don’t mean water). That may sound like a stretch, but gross is how I often felt after eating too much dairy or refined carbohydrates and sugar. My bathroom schedule was off (TMI, sorry!), I felt bloated, and the best way I can describe it is I felt gut heavy. I felt like I had stuff in me that I couldn’t eliminate. This frequent feeling made me tired, moody and probably not much fun to be around at times. I didn’t talk about it much to present company, because, well, we’re taught not to discuss “bathroom” issues.

I started seeing posts by friend and yoga instructor, Breezy, about this clean eating/detox thing she was doing. She went on and on about how phenomenal she felt. After going back and forth in my mind with worries and concerns of what I’d have to give up, I took the plunge. That something brewing in me the beginning of the year had surfaced. What finally did it for me was the thought of what all I would gain by jumping on this clean eating train.

After just completing my first week of this challenge and beginning my second week, I am SO happy I took this huge leap, even if I have a few cuts on my fingers from chopping veggies.  The “have list” of fresh, organic foods has been much more fulfilling and FILLING than the “avoid list” of gluten, dairy and refined sugar. The adjustments haven’t all been bliss, but I’m finally feeling what it’s like to have gut bliss. The gut is like your body’s second brain, it’s responsible for much of your immune system, and it’s so very important to your overall health. I know that now more than ever.

But like I said it hasn’t all been rainbows and butterflies. The coffee withdrawal was most difficult. The headaches are gone and I don’t crave java like I did just two weeks ago. The smell still tempts me a little but not enough to take a sip. The reason we eliminate coffee during this 28-day challenge is its high acidic level. We are working to reduce acidic-inducing foods, which can weaken body systems, to restore our alkaline levels. When your pH is balanced, your body works better. Diseases love an acidic body.

I’ve been overwhelmed with preparing and cooking meals. Not so much the cooking itself but juggling that with my work and personal life demands. I have a new appreciation for working mothers and fathers, especially single parents. These cooking adventures (along with good friend Alex at my side) have been fun and rewarding. And each time I take a bite of a home-cooked meal, an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and happiness comes over me. My bank account is thanking me for not spending money on dining out and my body is thanking me, too.

I still love going out to eat to experience good company and the bustling, welcoming ambiance of all the good restaurants Little Rock has to offer. Saturday night, I went out with friends to Cache, a new-age restaurant with a Chicago feel. I mentally prepared myself: No wine. The eating part I could handle. I easily modified a salad with an olive oil/lemon juice dressing instead of their house ranch and chicken instead of bacon.

The no-drinking part was difficult. Alcohol has been a part of my world, good times and bad, since I can remember. My family and friends drink when we’re happy, sad, at holidays and on regular days. We especially drink when we dine out. I was the only one without an alcoholic drink the other night and really wanted a glass of wine. But I knew one glass would turn into four. I started feeling discomfort. “Am I still fun?” “Can I really do this?” “How will I be around people drinking?” I asked myself all these questions and left a little less upbeat than I had been feeling all week.

But then I had a lovely night at home to complete my Saturday outing and woke up without a hangover, refreshed for a hot yoga class. I’m feeling things differently. And that’s OK. I’m feeling and going through my emotions rather than covering them up with wine or food indulgences. I’ll take it.

They say ignorance is bliss, but I’m starting to think cleaning eating might be.

 

 

 

Detox Days 5 & 6

Score! I ventured to a local farmers market today and found a woman who makes salsa without vinegar or sugar. My eyes lit up with this detox-friendly find!

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Last night, we made Chipotle Black Bean and Rice Skillet.

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With sautéed onions, cilantro and spinach & cumin mixed in, it was the ultimate authentic Mexican feast. Cracking the eggs in the middle and letting them cook slowly while the rice/bean goodness simmered was a new way to cook eggs for me.
So good!
Tonight, I’ll be dining out and look forward to the company + practicing my modification skills.
Happy Saturday!

Detox Days 3 & 4

I didn’t have a chance to post last night because I was too busy working on a freelance project after fueling up on this goodness!

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This kale and spinach salad was surprisingly delightful for dinner. I mixed the coleslaw mix I made the previous night (purple cabbage, carrots and radishes) with berries (strawberries, raspberries and blueberries), chopped almonds, more carrots and cucumber. I drizzled the homemade olive oil/lemon zest salad dressing over it, and dinner was served. I thought I would sorely miss goat cheese and/or chicken, but I didn’t. The variety of berries offered different crunch textures, the veggies were filling and the almonds made it more hearty. I am a fan of olive oil dressings now and never realized how easy it is to make your own. Think of the money I’ll save!

I had a pretty jammed pack day today, week really, with lots of things racing through my mind. I’m happy tomorrow is Friday and the weekend is near for me to rest a bit, quiet my mind and prepare for Week 2 of this clean eating journey. It’s been pretty amazing so far. Challenging, yes, but definitely in a good way.

Detox Day 2

After a long day, I’m tired and headed to bed soon. One of the challenging parts of this clean eating/detox program is balancing it with my busy life. I’ve been so consumed with what nutritionally jammed pack shake I will make next or whether I have all the ingredients to prepare dinner that I’ve let other chores go. I’m sure this balance will come more naturally as time marches on. And, I’m sure this plan is easier for seasoned cooks.

Once I take that first sip of a new fruit/protein combination shake or that first bite of a home-cooked meal, I forget about any stress or anxiety I might have felt. This food is so good, y’all. No fillers or artificial flavors. Just good ol’ stuff from Mother Nature. I’m loving it. Some people unfamiliar with this program are surprised to learn I’m eating such delicious sounding meals. I remind them, this is not a diet, it’s learning a new approach to healthy eating and living.

Tonight’s meal: Avocado chicken salad. I boiled a chicken breast, chopped it, and combined it with a mashed avocado mixed with fresh lime juice, garlic powder and homemade mustard. After the chicken was coated with the avocado base (replacing the common recipe that calls for mayonnaise), we mixed in freshly shredded purple cabbage, carrots and radishes. Some sea salt and pepper, and we were set.

The result:

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It was fabulous and so filling! I ate mine with sliced cucumbers and a Rudi’s gluten free tortilla (I’m now the proud owner of those darned things!)

I better head to bed for another busy and nutritious day tomorrow.

Happy eating :)

 

A Rudi adventure

During earlier Arbonne cleaning eating/detox challenges of which I wasn’t a part, I took note of the support system that’s established. I would see encouraging and reassuring Facebook posts among bootcampers and was sparked to see for myself what this life-transforming challenge was all about. Before I continue my little story, I want to thank my friend and yoga instructor, Breezy, for introducing me to this Arbonne journey in the first place. She has always been an inspiration and light in my life since I began frequenting Barefoot Studio three years ago. Tonight, I was on the receiving end of the support team that adds to the beauty of this 28-day endeavor.

Alex and I managed to gather most of our week 1 meal ingredients yesterday. There was one item we couldn’t find; however, and today we continued the quest for Rudi’s GF (gluten free) tortillas. We had to have these to go with the chicken fajita fixings we prepared last night. I was doing pretty well energy-wise today until 6 this evening. I was ready for those chicken strips that had been marinating all night and day with the homemade spice concoction and tomato, pepper sauce we made. The protein shakes (mixed with greens, fruit, flax seed and almond butter) were more than satisfying for lunch and dinner, but it was time to sink my teeth into that juicy chicken. In our detox stupor, we were sure we couldn’t have the meal without tortillas. It was called “fajitas” after all, and we all know that means warm and toasty tortillas to go with your meat and veggies.

After calling four Krogers and two more upscale grocers, we were out of luck. At first, some (ok, most) of the store workers on the receiving end would say, “What? Rudi’s what? Gluken?”

“Wow,” I thought. “Little Rock really needs to get more in line with this organic, gluten-free way of living.”

The silver lining in this Rudi absence is apparently there are lots of people on the clean eating quest in Little Rock. Grocery stores, take note and please keep your stores stocked with the closest thing we have to bread.

Frustrated and past the point of gentle hunger, I resorted to posting in the secret group on Facebook for fellow bootcampers to share their finds, discuss doubts and ask questions. I pleaded with my detox peeps to help me solve this dinner dilemma. Not five minutes went by before suggestions started flowing. Then the golden comment lit up my iPhone. “I’m in West Little Rock, if you want to run by and get a couple!”

Alex and I looked at each other, eyebrows raised. We had left the store, hands in the air preparing our minds for fajitas sans tortillas. At that point, I just wanted to get that chicken in the oven! After brief consideration, I messaged this generous stranger, and we decided to drive to her house and finally get our hands on Rudi. We laughed, felt embarrassed and said thank you many many times. I’m confident she wouldn’t have offered us some of her Rudis if she didn’t want to give them up. A small gesture, it may seem, but it meant the world to us.

I’m eager to pay it forward somehow during this journey we’re all on together. How sweet it is. Who says you need sugar to make things sweet? ;)

P.S. The oven baked fajitas were a spicy, saucy, goodness success! Also in my detox stupor, I forgot to take an after photo, but have no fear. I’m certain I’ll be making this delicious dish again!

Detox Day 1

I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to fully embrace this challenge. Having this healthy thing to focus on will help keep my mind engaged and busy and not focus on negative things or things out of my control.

I’m enjoying this comforting and tasty detox tea this morning and excited to see where this journey leads me.

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Challenge accepted

Tomorrow is the BIG day. The day my friend Alex and I, along with lots of other folks, start the Arbonne 28-Day Clean Eating/Detox Challenge. I got a little jump start when I cut out coffee Friday. Giving up that habit hasn’t been easy, but as one person said, “It’ll be okay, no one will die.” The headaches have subsided and I’m not as foggy feeling. The Arbonne Energy Fizz sticks have helped tremendously!

Today, Alex and I headed to Whole Foods with our grocery shopping list for the first week of recipes. I was very overwhelmed at first. Trying to find the right things proved trickier than I thought. I don’t know if it was the weather or what, but people seemed pushier and ruder than normal, too. This only added to my “Oh my gosh, what am I doing?” feeling. We loaded up on everything we could find there, and then made our way to Fresh Market, where we found more spice options and other items listed. I’ve realized I could probably find most things at my local supermarket and save the specialty items for the more exclusive stores. A learning curve, indeed.

After I arranged all my organic colorful and vibrant foods in my fridge and kitchen, the overwhelming feeling subsided. Since tomorrow also means back to work and tighter schedules, we decided to prepare our first dinner for Day 1. That way all we have to do tomorrow is throw it in the oven. Thanks to Alex, I learned some tricks on how to efficiently cut fat off chicken, chop fresh garlic cloves and cut fresh herbs.

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Pictured above are the makings of oven baked fajitas! Free-range chicken cut into strips, smothered with this fabulous smelling spice mixture of cumin, chili powder, garlic and other goodness, topped with diced tomatoes, jalapenos, bell peppers and onions. After about 25 minutes of baking … voila! Dinner will be served.

I love good food and appreciate the art of cooking. I’ve struggled with confidence in the kitchen. That’s a major reason I decided to take on this challenge. The motivation and support so far from Breezy (who introduced me to this endeavor) and others in the online group have been incredible. I’m now looking forward to gathering items for more recipes and cooking. I’m pretty confident that feeling will only improve.