A doable detox for a new you

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This 28-day challenge changed my life forever. Lots of people say, “Oh, I can’t give up that for 28 days.” Sure they can. It’s just 28 days. Twenty-eight days in all the days of your life. I learned what foods work for me, what foods I’m better off if I avoid, and best of all, I gained confidence in the kitchen – a confidence I used to only dream about.

Bootcamps are happening now. There’s no starvation or deprivation. Just delicious recipes, support and accountability as you discover a new way of looking at food and you. 🙂

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Happy, healthy holiday feast

Who didn’t feel miserable and bloated after eating a bountiful, delicious Thanksgiving dinner? This girl!

As my mom and I prepared the menu for this year’s feast, I suggested we prepare a primarily “clean” Thanksgiving meal for the family. She knows how important my clean-eating journey has been this year and happily agreed to change things up a bit. And I’m here to tell you I did not, nor did my family, feel one bit deprived. My pecan-pie loving uncle even approved! (For the record, we did provide a good ol’ pecan pie for him.)
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The menu:
Free-range turkey
Green beans (flavored with clean seasonings and olive oil)
Quinoa/kale salad with pomegranate seeds on top
Roasted fall vegetables (sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnips with salt, pepper, garlic powder & minced onion) *soak in olive oil and seasoning the night before … delish!
Golden roasted Brussel sprouts
And some good old-fashioned mashed potatoes (hey, remember I said “primarily clean” ;))

And THIS …
Clean no-bake pumpkin pie with coconut milk whipped cream
IMG_7644We got the recipe here (sans chocolate sauce). It was so good! The recipe calls for a banana, which I really liked – a perfect complement to the pumpkin taste. The whipped cream was so easy to prepare! Put the can of coconut milk in the fridge over night, and when you’re ready to whip it up, scoop out the hard layer on top (save the liquid part for smoothies!). Place in mixing bowl, add some vanilla and cinnamon and blend. I actually enjoyed it better than regular whipped cream.

See how easy and delicious eating clean can be?!

Cheers to healthy & happy living!

 

Happy (Healthy!) holidays

One of the most important things I’ve learned since I took the plunge and cleaned up my diet back in April is you don’t have to deprive yourself and can still enjoy great-tasting, satisfying food. When you hear the word “diet” you might think restriction, bland, constraint or any other word that might go along with a boring diet.

As I discovered recipes that are as tasty as they are nutritious, I realized a new way of approaching food. Rather than trying to outrun my diet, I familiarized myself with foods that fueled my body the best. It’s so true that the majority of our fitness is based on our diet and not exercise.

The holidays are here, and of course, that includes our favorite holiday treats! My mom and I have gathered some healthy holiday recipes to have as an alternative or addition to your regular holiday fare – all to set you up if you want to join in on one of the 28-day clean-eating challenges starting in January!

Get Healthy

A Gorge good time : running, clean-eating (and wine ;) included

Outdoor fun, good food, music and friends – another fabulous Labor Day weekend at the Gorge is in the books!

I live in a hilly neighborhood and got in several runs before my trip, so at least I was somewhat prepared for my traditional hike/run down the Gorge to the Columbia River and back up. The trail starts along one of the roads at Cave B Winery & Inn, where I have the pleasure of staying for the long weekend. A “Caution: Beware of Snakes” sign greets you at the head of the trail. An acquaintance passed me going the opposite direction after I made it down the steepest part and through a patch of sage grass. She said she and her friend had just seen a rattle snake and she could hear other rattlers nearby. I ran till I reached a mile, and as the brush got deeper and trail rockier, I decided to turn around and head back up to our little slice of civilized life in this wild west domain.

photoI was sad to see the water level of the Columbia River down so much from last year. Still, the grand landscape and majestic beauty of the Gorge and Cave B were just as captivating as always.

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cavebwaterOn Friday, Saturday and Sunday I spent my evenings next door at the Gorge Amphitheater, where it was all happening, even dinner. I made a stop at Whole Foods in Seattle on Friday before my trek through the mountains up to the high desert. I got almond milk for my Arbonne protein powder shakes (yes, of course I travel with my pea protein! :)), fruit and other healthy snacks for the daytime. Dega Rock ‘n’ Roll Catering prepares homemade meals every show day for bands and their crew. They get there before anybody, scout local food sources and obtain the finest ingredients to create the most bountiful, healthy meals for the hardworking folks. I’m amazed at what Chef Fiona and her team come up with each time. And the catering spaces are even decorated for a nice, homey feel. I’m lucky to partake in the meals – primarily dinner.

gorge3menuThere’s always a meat, fish and vegetarian choice plus delicious sides and first-course options, such as soup or salad. It is definitely not difficult to follow my clean-eating habits with a Dega buffet before me!

I thought this was really neat … They post the local farms they work with to obtain fresh produce and meat.
degafarmsAnd they do this in every area the bands they work for are traveling. Talk about supporting the farm-to-table movement! I talked briefly to Chef Fiona, telling her how impressed I was that she cooks such magnificent dishes for so many people. She said, “It’s really not that much harder than cooking at home. You just have to make more.” What an inspiration! Next time I don’t feel like cooking, I’ll keep her and her traveling kitchen in mind 😉

Monday was an off day. With no show, that meant no schedule or time constraints. Jerry and I had fun exploring Cave B. I had never been to the winery and tasting bar, so we played tourist for the afternoon.

cavebfunWalking under those vines (top left photo) was so refreshing! The sweet smell of grapes, the breeze, that view … oh, and picking a few white grapes for the tasting. Turns out the rose wine is my favorite. It’s not too sweet but dry and crisp – perfect for a warm, sunny day.

That night, we were invited to a special dinner in Cave B’s Tendrils restaurant. I was in the company of some of the most interesting, kind people I’ve ever met.

cavebmenuI chose the grass-fed beef and king crab combo as my main course. There are no words to describe how fabulous all of these items tasted!

I’m so grateful for these genuine times of adventure, good food and friendship. I always learn something new about myself and others in this world we share. You know, those moments that make us smile and those awkward moments that connect us as humans – all the things that make life worth living.

 

Falling for Clean Eating

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Spring is typically associated with rebirth, renewal and starting fresh. For me, fall represents those things. It may be because my birthday typically lands on the first day of autumn, but I always feel refreshed and ready to declutter my closets and mind when the leaves start to fall and the air becomes crisper.

This fall, I look forward to continuing my clean-eating journey. Since first doing the challenge in April, I’ve pretty much stuck to the plan, filling my plate and belly with organic/non-GMO foods and steering clear of refined sugar and processed junk. But it’s the summer and I’ve enjoyed vacations. Inevitably, I’ve indulged, drank a little too much wine and enjoyed delectable desserts. I’ve seen the difference in my skin and energy levels. When I follow a cleaner diet (and one free of dairy, gluten, refined sugar and soy), my skin is clearer and energy higher. And I sleep better.

As an Arbonne independent consultant, I’m leading the 28-day challenge that began on Aug. 4. I’ve enjoyed inspiring others to lead a healthier lifestyle. They are on Week 3 and I’m so proud they’ve stuck it out this long! Along with them, I’ve prepared “clean” meals and supplemented my diet with the detox-worthy and gut-bliss promoting Arbonne products. Naturally, I’m enjoying the benefits of a cleaner diet.

The other day a friend asked me about another diet in which health professionals advocate consuming only 500 calories per day. This plan floors me. It seems any qualified nutritionist would know that drastically cutting calories can put the body into starvation mode. Metabolism slows down and blood sugar levels can plummet. Hormones in the body react, and cause your body to store fat. Keeping blood sugar levels stable is key to any weight management program. That’s why I’m such a proponent of Arbonne’s pure, safe and natural approach. The program touts eating real food that’s not processed or that comes in a box. It encourages buying from your local farmer and cooking in your own kitchen. I used to hold onto to the story I had been telling myself for years – “I’m not a good cook.” Because of this 28-day challenge, I found I am a good cook and am perfectly capable of preparing a meal with multiple ingredients and steps. Such a freeing feeling.

The next challenges start Sept. 8 and Sept. 22 (my birthday!). What a birthday treat it would be for me for you to join me on this life-changing journey! 🙂

Summertime

It’s clearly summer, because I have what I call “summer brain.” You know, where mustering up the energy to fix your hair and look presentable on a work day is a good feat in these energy-sucking hot temps. And doing things like updating your blog fall by the wayside because a friend invites you to the pool or you’re living in the moment on vacation.

No excuses, I know, I know, just being honest. And certainly not complaining. Despite the heat, I love the laidback feel of summer.

I was lucky to enjoy a weeklong vacation roadtripping, enjoying new sights and spending a whopping five days in one of my favorite cities: Chicago!

I stuck to my healthy eating habits for the most part but also didn’t punish myself for indulging. It’s all about balance. That’s what I love so much about what I’ve gained from the clean eating challenge I completed back in April. No deprivation. No crazy, unattainable diet. Just real food for real living.

I want to write a longer post about my trip with some lovely images, but until then, I’ve got to get some sleep for a busy Tuesday! I’ll leave you with a new find that I’m digging.

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An herb saver that has saved me from the frustration of buying fresh herbs only to watch them wilt before I could use them up. Yay for small victories!

Finding my fuel

What I love so much about the new way I’ve learned to grocery shop, fill my cabinets and cook is it’s about taking care of me. It’s been so freeing to make choices for myself when it comes to what I put in my body.

For a while I had been searching for a way to fill this need. I would read articles, pin recipes on Pinterest and pick up related books at the store. Then meal time would come around, and I’d reach for old habits. I would often stick a frozen meal in the microwave or eat the most convenient thing without giving much thought to where it came from or what was in it.

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The Arbonne 28-day challenge got me back on track. What I love about the program is it’s not about getting skinny or a quick fix. The opportunities to learn about what foods work for you and how to expand your culinary skills is so great! My friend started the challenge about a month after me. She had only ever cooked instant rice in a bag. Now we’re exchanging recipes, and preparing & cooking the best foods for us is part of our everyday routines. I had always wanted food preparation to be just another part of my day rather than some daunting task. Now it is. And I’m loving summertime in Arkansas with all the bountiful fresh produce!

The pure, safe & beneficial supplements from Arbonne that I use complement my diet and help my elimination organs to their jobs + boost my energy. My exercise regimen has been enhanced, too. I’m not doing anything different. I’m just finding I have more stamina and strength.

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Another day, another cooking adventure

Today is the first day of another 28-day clean eating/detox challenge. Oh, happy day! I am excited for my friends who just joined.

I enjoy so much responding to their texts, answering their questions and guiding them on this life-changing journey. I was so inspired during my first 28 days of this new way of grocery shopping/cooking/eating that I became an Arbonne independent consultant. The proprietary products – herbal detox tea, Digestion Plus probiotic blend, energy fizz sticks, just to name a few – go hand-in-hand with the program and complement the clean eating plan perfectly.

I never got around to making a meal on one of my weekly meal plans. Crispy Baked Quinoa Crusted Parmesan Chicken. Sounds good, eh? I got around to making it last night. It IS good.

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I need a professional photographer to shoot my food 😉 Take my word, it was delish! And those pretty green leaves are straight off my basil plant that I’ve  managed to keep alive. Score 1 for my not-so-green-thumb.

The ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (free-range chicken, no antibiotics or hormones)
1/4 cup almond flour
1 cage-free egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 tsp clean Italian seasoning (no MSG or sugar)
1 cup (dairy-free) mozzarella
1/4 cup (dairy-free) parmesan, grated
2 cups clean spaghetti sauce (no sugar)
2 tbs. fresh basil

Season chicken with salt & pepper, dredge in flour, dip in egg and coat in the mixture of quinoa and Italian seasoning. Place chicken on a rack on a baking pan and bake in preheated 400-degree oven until cooked and lightly golden brown – about 25-30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a baking pan dish, top with cheese and broil until cheese is melted – about 2-4 minutes. Plate chicken and top with hot spaghetti sauce and fresh basil. Enjoy!

For dessert, I made vegan chocolate mousse. I love chocolate mousse and this option does not disappoint. Add in some fresh strawberry slices, and you have one sweet treat.

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A few of my faves

Since setting out on this clean eating path, I’ve tried lots of new things and expanded my culinary horizon. Some things I’ve loved and some things I haven’t been so crazy about. Like blanching Swiss chard to then roll them with a brown rice/veggie mixture. The whole process was awkward and time consuming.

Ah, maybe I should try again. I do like Swiss chard, but for now they will find a home in my green smoothies.

I’ve become smitten with these items that are now my kitchen staples:

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Coconut oil. I bought a jar last year but never committed to seeking out ways to use it. It went bad. My bad. Now, I use the tropical butter for toast, scrambling eggs, cooking and adding flair (and healthy fat) to my morning smoothies. AND did you know by cooking with coconut oil, you’re helping to moisturize your skin from the inside-out, boost metabolism and increase energy?

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Pumpkin seeds. I just thought these were things you roasted once a year after carving your Halloween pumpkin. My friends, these are my new go-to nuts for snacking, salads, side dishes or pretty much anything. They are deliciously crunchy. AND they’re loaded with B vitamins and collagen-repairing vitamin C. Score one for beauty!

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Flaxseeds. These tiny seeds (you can buy them whole, but I like ’em grounded) are an easy way to add incredible benefits to your diet. They contain fiber, omega-3 fatty acids & lignans – a cancer-fighting agent for men & women. And since they’re so tiny you can add them to anything! I like putting flax in my smoothies, salads, rice, homemade protein bars – you name it!

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Brown rice syrup. This gooey goodness is better than sugar & honey. Yes, I know, honey can be good for you, but brown rice syrup is a bit lower on the glycemic index. So if you’re trying to watch your sugar intake, it can be a better option. And it’s really, really tasty! My tummy’s growling just thinking about it. You can bake with it, pour it over breakfast food or even add it to your tea. About every two weeks or so, I make a batch of homemade protein bars using this sweet stuff. Mixed with my pea-plant protein mix, almond butter and rolled oats … BAM, I have some tasty + nutritious snacks at the ready!

Happy eating!