Balancing that pH with a Spring Cleanse

Oh the sunshine feels sooooo nice on my shoulders! A welcome change after weeks of rain.

I spent some time this afternoon sitting outside the local coffee shop pondering my healthy and not so healthy choices these last seven days.  Ultimately coming to the conclusion that it is time for a Spring cleanse. Sticking with whole foods has become second nature – but after weeks of casual drinks and the odd hangover its time to reign in my alkalinity. Out with the alcohol and chocolate indulgences – and in with the greens (more and more greens).  In the past I have stuck with Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy 21-Day Cleanse- but I am without a juicer at the moment, and I lent that book to a friend. Instead I’ll take this opportunity to explore other options.

Cleansing is a controversial topic that deserves attention. Like anything else it can be done well – or not so well. There are several ways to approach the process, and just as many theories around its benefits. If we look to religious and cultural rituals in our ancestry we can see that cleansing has been an important part of annual dietary patterns – periods of feasting, fasting and cleansing; in accordance with seasons or holidays. The modern diet looks much different as we have access to all sorts of foods all year round.

Culturally, we have suppressed theories of cleansing because they are associated with starvation and absence. However, our excessive consumption and entitlements to food have given us new problems… chronic disease, processed meals and a malnourished overweight population. In the future, I imagine we will witness more balance between food consumption and cleansing as more of us understand the stress our bodies are under with the standard American diet (SAD).

Just over two years ago I decided to research cleansing a bit more before embarking on a 3 day juice feast (as suggested by those living an alkaline diet). It wasn’t easy – but it helped me find both the mental and physical clarity necessary to ease into the plant-based lifestyle. Looking back that was a turning point to better things, and I would recommend cleansing to anyone looking for tools to transition. Of course everyone is at different stages of their health journey – and should therefore do research before picking what is right for them.

Now that my understandings of food and health have shifted, I am more aware of what to look for in a cleanse. Several friends have just completed the Wild Rose Herbal D-Tox, which is based in minimizing acidic foods and focusing on alkalinity with the help of herbal supplements. Their testimonies are a reminder of how amazing I feel after a juice cleanse~ Lean body, clear skin and mental clarity – refreshing. Now seems like the right time to give this method a shot.

The video below explain this cleanse – how it relates to alkaline/acid forming foods, as well as clearing out the liver and lymphatic systems.

 

Before my cleanse begins I wanted to indulge in a healthy sweet. A friend of mine read about this snack in Women’s Health and then suggested I try it. While very high in natural sugars, and therefore not so alkaline – it is still much healthier than cadbury eggs! This snack will be especially useful after a long workout, when your body benefits from glucose during recovery. Or for young kids looking to make some fun but healthy sweets!

Ingredients

  • Banana
  • Almond Butter
  • Organic Dark Chocolate Chips

Method

  1. slice the bananas in half (long ways)
  2. spread almond butter
  3. add chocolate (shaved coconut and almonds would also be yummy)
  4. freeze overnight
  5. cut into bit size pieces and share

The temperature of this treat reminds me of ice cream – something I miss. Definitely worth a try. And of course be creative – maybe you prefer peanut butter, or coconut, or almonds. Just stick to whole ingredients and in you are in for a healthy treat.

This past week I have found myself very engaged in dietary discussions – as I am always intrigued by opinions on food. Though sometimes difficult, I also recognize that mine is just one perspective of many. I hope that those of you who choose to read also feel comfortable challenging my proposals. For me a great deal of happiness and love is associated with learning more about nutritious food ~ and my objective here is to encourage more chit chat on the topic.

On that note, I am very excited to see how this cleanse works out. Looking forward to sharing the good, the bad and the unexpected with you.

wishing you another week of health and happiness,

~B

Zucchini Spagetti

November 9th, 2011. The day I officially graduate from University – wheeeew!  More importantly the week I get to spend at home after 7 months exploring new cities.  So today I am visiting friends, having tea, walking the stage and enjoying a celebratory dinner on the town.

Working every day leading up to the trip it’s been a busy week, but I managed to make a few good meals and tips to share with you.  Showcased to the right are my new hydration related purchases.  This thermos tumbler and small nalgene bottle are fricken awesome.  Why you ask?

  • both are small enough to discretely fit in my purse (who wants to be seen carrying around reusable containers)
  • less impact on the environment (eliminating need for travel cups & plastic bottles)
  • tumblr has loose leaf tea sift (perfect for a little silk road tea on the go)
  • tumblr keeps tea hot for hours (4 or more)
  • bottle holds 16oz of water
  • both for under $25

No more excuses for being dehydrated or hurting the environment. I have been carrying around coffee mugs and water bottles through four years of university and only now found ones that I can consider perfect. You can find both at MEC.

With water covered lets move on to food.  I discovered a fabulous blog this week full of so many goodies and health tips.  Here’s a link to the Healthful Pursuit recipe archives ~ they all look delicious!  Check out this vegan taco salad ~ nom nom nom.

Photo Healthful Pursuit – bookmark worthy blog!

After browsing my favourite foodie sites I became inspired to try zucchini pasta… actually its zucchini in the shape of pasta.  I made sauce with a just a few simple ingredients and it turned out pretty good.

Here’s the recipe:

Yield 2

  • 2 medium sized zucchini
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 6 organic brown mushrooms
  • fresh or dried basil
  • sea salt and pepper

So for this one you need a spiral slicer as seen below ~ useful for turning any veggies or fruit into noodle like substances (also comes with blades for slicing apples). Check out this youtube vid to see how it works.

Method

  • turn the zucchini into noodles using spiral slicer
  • blend tomatoes using hand blender or food processor
  • heat the tomatoes, mushrooms and herbs on low heat
  • mix it all together to create ‘spaghetti’

This recipe would also be good with vegan ground beef or meat balls.  I love experimenting with zucchini noodles because there’s so much room for creativity.  I am far from being a culinary expert,  but this time I was very happy with the result. If you are looking for another variation my friend over at the Alkaline Sisters has a delicious recipe for zucchini pesto pasta featured in the image below. Yum, yum, yum! Great options as a pasta alternative for anyone going gluten-free or avoiding carbohydrates.

Well I know this looks a little crazy, but I hope the recipe inspires you to try something different.

On Friday my siblings and I are throwing our parents their 25th Anniversary party.  Looking forward to seeing everyone and catching up ~ Still researching some suitable vegan treat recipes so that I can enjoy the appies and dinner along with everyone else.  I’ll be sure to include my findings in next weeks post.

I urge you to comment or email with any feedback you have, so far your support for this blog has been overwhelming.

Have a wonderful remembrance day holiday!

Thanks for reading,

~B

Searching for Minerals

Hi there!!

I was hoping to post a recipe this week but currently my life is in transition between cities and things are a little too hectic.  So today I thought I would share some of my research on vitamins and minerals.

This lifestyle comes with curiosity from others, which means many many questions.  The first one is always, where do you get your protein? your calcium?  In the beginning I would try and muster up some sort of response because I felt a bit lost and defensive… but then I started reading and the information out there gave me MUCH more evidence to work with.

I can remember being at my lowest and searching for something to ‘fix’ this problem.  Whether it was iron pills, B12, calcium, vitamin D or products merchandised as ‘extra energy’.  I can imagine that some of you have also felt overwhelmed by the rows of vitamins to choose from! In retrospect its no surprise that none of them made me feel significantly different or even marginally considering I had a poor diet.

In our culture we expect to receive nutrition from the meat, dairy and vegetables that we purchase and prepare for ourselves (although I can’t remember how I learned this).  Then if we have low energy the doctor will take a blood test and suggest certain vitamins to make up for any deficiencies in our bodies.  But when that doesn’t work what are we to do?  (ps did you know that vitamins can complicate the digestion process?? very problematic when your trying to get your system healthy)

Switching to a plant-based/unprocessed diet rewinds these steps back to the source and allows us to gain nutrients/minerals from our food rather than our food depriving us of them.  I was still navigating my learning on the usefulness of vitamins when I attended a seminar by Brendan Brazier in Montreal.  His plant-based nutrient and mineral solution made so much sense for getting the nutrition I might be missing as a result of agriculture processes today.  The evidence from Brendan Brazier and doctors in the field of plant-based nutrition suggest that being vegan doesn’t deprive you of calcium or protein, instead its the opposite.  Here’s a quick video to give you an idea.

After seeing Brendan speak I switched to Vega Whole Food Optimizer once per day to boost my mineral/nutrient intake.  I consume less than the recommended two scoops because I have it as a snack replacement (instead of breakfast meal replacement).  I have been taking vega daily for a few months now and I definitely feel a shift in my energy and digestion.  It has literally optimized what I was already doing.  Of course like other vitamins you can’t use Vega to ‘fix’ poor diet, but it will help ~ especially if you are on a plant-based regimen :)

Vega is made directly from plants making it dairy and gluten free!! ~ I went for the vanilla chai because chai is my favourite, but regardless of flavour it tastes best when cold.  Mix with water and leave in the fridge for fifteen minutes or mix into a smoothie!

There is also a new documentary premiering this week called Forks over Knives and it looks really good.  The film is by researchers of the China Study, and discusses plant-based diets as essential for the health of our planet.  It’s playing at UVic’s cinecenta August 2nd, 3rd and 4th and I am hoping to find a place in Toronto to see it this week. Here’s an in depth discussion and the trailer ~

Living on a plant-based diet means heavy concentration of vegetables at every meal.  With that said you can treat yourself to vegan goodies every once and a while! ~ and believe me it ALL tastes good :)

Little Vegan breakfast at Tiffanys for my sister Lanette’s birthday this week. Check out the recipe here. If you want gluten-free you can replace spelt flour with a substitute like quinoa or coconut.


Until next week,

B

My Simple Pantry

Awareness to ingredient information on the back of products is key to your new lifestyle.  However reading these tables is more complex that simply noting number of calories.  Caloric counts mean little if you are unaware of the ingredients being used in the product.  As a rule of thumb I always make sure I recognize what the ingredients are, and if I don’t then I look it up.  Words such as dextrose, fructose & corn syrup are code for sugar, and worse processed sugar – zero calories and unidentifiable ingredients do NOT mean healthy.  Here are some products with simple ingredients and their approximate price to get you started!

Larabars ~ These snack bars are an excellent alternative to granola or protein bars because they are made with whole, simple ingredients.  My favourite flavour is apple pie (so yummy), but there are many others worth trying.  The average price is $1.50 per bar, but I have seen them as low as $1.29 and as high as $2.49.  In this case it’s important to shop around and find a reasonable deal or by them in bulk. Check out all the flavours and nutritional information at Larabar.com.

Quinoa ~ commonly referred to and used as a grain, this superfood is actually a relative of the leafy green vegetable family.  Quinoa is gluten-free and full of protein, making it a great fit for vegetarian/vegan lifestyles.  You can buy quinoa in bulk or packaging for around $1.29/100g but prices vary depending on the type, brand and organic status (there is also quinoa flour for baking recipes).  I usually cook quinoa in almond milk and add berries for breakfast or in water and add veggies for dinner. Check out the different types available at Gogoquinoa.com, and for recipes take a look at Quinoa 365 Cookbook.  Try not to consider quinoa a meal replacement, you still need 60-70% vegetables on your plate to aide in the digestion of this alternative!

Almond Milk ~ This alternative milk product has been a saviour for me! I use it to substitute milk/cream in tea, recipes, salad dressings and baking.  Almond Breeze is soy and lactose free! The price per 946 ml goes as low as $1.79 and as high as $2.99 ~ I usually buy it at $2.29 or $1.99 depending if there’s a sale.  They have recently introduced 2Ls as well which would be a better size for a family.  As far as expiration, almond milk is good in the fridge for approximately a week once opened.  As far as dietary consumption, I count this as part of my 30% nuts/grains. For all the different types including, original/vanilla/chocolate/unsweetened check out Almondbreeze.com.
Dark Chocolate ~ yes chocolate… quality dark with simple ingredients & 70% cocoa or more! I look for local and organic chocolate because they usually have the least ingredients.  An average dark chocolate bar costs $2.99, but I usually buy em on sale they last as long as i eat only few a squares at a time.  In addition to dark chocolate, organic cacao powder is great for treat recipes such as puddings and desserts like this one Alkaline Sisters: Raw Chocolate Pudding!

Silver Hills Bread ~ ‘simple, honest and wholesome ingredients’. This company makes bread and bagels without dairy or gmos and they use biodegradable packaging.  I use this bread to make sandwiches or toast wtih avocado and sea salt.  The bread lasts longer if stored in the fridge or freezer and still tastes good!  Check out all the different flavours and nutritional information at silverhillsbakery.ca.  Not all stores carry this yummy bread, but their website has a store finder worth checking out. The cost of a loaf should be $4 and $5.

Nuts ~ I usually pick up almonds for a light snack in between meals.  With this new lifestyle I find it necessary to eat more often, every 3 to 4 hours in addition to keeping hydrated.  When it comes to almonds, brazil nuts and cashews it is best to consume small amounts at a time to ease digestion.  I try to buy organic when possible, and it is important to soak them for optimum nutrients.  Nuts are the perfect alkaline snack or addition to salads and recipes.  Prices range, buy in bulk and find the right stores!
Rice Pasta ~ this gluten-free pasta is tasty and leaves me satisfied without a stomach ache.  Although its not a staple in my diet, I enjoy it on occasion with some lightly roasted vegetables.  Check out this recipe, Grilled Vegetable Pesto Pasta for some inspiration.  Rice pasta is sold at most grocery stores and nearly all healthy food markets, and it should cost around $3.49/pkg.

Add these products to your plant-based diet to shake things up a bit.

- B

Wellness for Immunity

What if we could prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, chrons, IBS, depression, anxiety and obesity?

Well I am not alone in thinking that we can, with the help of a plant-based diet and some peace of mind.

How good I feel now never ceases to amaze me. Recently while sitting in a coffee shop I came to the realization that my former life as a depressed individual made total sense. Through high school and university my definition of ‘healthy’ revolved around the fact that I was thin – but in reality there was nothing ‘healthy’ about my daily choices.  I lived off coffee, ate whatever was in front of me, slept a minimal amount and let stress rule my world… the only healthy thing I did was go running once in a while.  Somehow my socialization had me blind to the food right in front of me that was depleting my energy and causing stomach aches.

In my own defense I didn’t know any better… and none of us do.

The Standard American Diet, aka SAD has deprived us of the nutrients we need to live happy, healthy lives.  Many of us pay little or no attention to the nutrients we receive from food, and instead we are most concerned with counting calories. I believe that processed foods are responsible for making us sick or at least responsible for damaging our immune systems and therefore our abilities to fight illness.  For this reason I propose that lifestyle changes have the potential to prevent and possibly cure the epidemics of disease that are haunting the planet.

Post lifestyle change I have all of these questions… What is a calorie anyway? How does my body process it? What kind of foods have calcium, protein and iron? What role does digestion play in my health? – and most importantly where is this information coming from?

Luckily there is more and more literature being published by the day, and word is spreading like wildfire across social media sites telling us that we need to ask more questions. I plan to further my education in this field and soak up as much information as possible so that I can share it all with you. Still it is difficult to know who to trust and what to believe when it comes to the facts about our food.  The best advice I have is to read a variety of sources, ask lots of questions and develop a holistic understanding of your health… The truth about food is impossible to ignore once you physically and mentally feel the results.

Refer to My Book Shelf for some of the literature I recommend.  Notice that whole foods are the focus, not vegetarianism, or veganism or raw foodism – just paying attention to the ingredients of our food and our overall well being. Calorie counting is out, organic whole foods are in… and its finally time to put away the scale and take back our health.

I see a promising future of disease prevention and cures as individuals and doctors share their success stories with the world and open our eyes to the medicine on our plates and in our minds.

Check out these links for just a few success stories that have opened my eyes:

Dr. Mark Hyman – TED Talks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhkLcpJTV9M&feature=youtu.be

Kris Carr – Crazy Sexy Life

http://crazysexylife.com/press/

post your comments!

- B