Clean Slate Healthy Living Guide and Cookbook

Some of you who have followed my healthy living adventures in the past know that I aspire to eat as healthy as I can. Aspire being the keyword. I am human. I falter. When I’m feeling good I tend to worry less about what I put into my body. And the domino effect goes spiraling out of control. So, every now and then I need a personal challenge to get back on track.

My lovely friend, Fern, gave me Clean Slate Healthy Living Guide and Cookbook as a birthday present and asked me if I would join her on the 21-day action plan. Why 21 days? Because it takes 21 days to form a habit. So, without knowing what I was getting myself into, I said, YES!

“Clean Slate” emphasizes the value of whole, unprocessed foods as part of a primarily plant–based diet. What does this mean? It means eating foods in its most natural state with nothing having a longer shelf life of more than a week. Basically, no nacho cheese dip or Swedish marshmallow candy. Aw, nuts.

My paltry pantry and fridge consisted of junk food snacks and convenient comfort food: chips, popcorn, beef jerky, ice-cream, candy and easy frozen gluten-free pepperoni pizza and stove-top mac n’ cheese. But, nestled in between the junk were cacao powder, chia seeds, colloidal minerals, aloe vera juice, acai puree, apple cider vinegar and blackstrap molasses. So, I wasn’t completely lost. I just needed a guide to get back on track.

Fern was already two days ahead of me. So, off to Trader Joe’s I went and I found almost every ingredient that I needed for the first week of the plan. They didn’t have turnips, fresh ginger or frozen chopped mangoes so I stopped by another market on the way home.

Brussels Sprout Salad

Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado and Pumpkin Seeds

Week 1 base diet includes legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and oils and seasoning.  Breakfasts are juices and smoothies, lunches and dinners include lots of live-boosting vegetables and legumes. Most of the recipes called for a handful of ingredients. Nothing took too long to prepare.

Pureed Cauliflower Soup

Pureed Cauliflower Soup

I have to admit that eating raw Brussels sprouts as a salad took some getting used to but it wasn’t bad once I stopped missing the caramelized butter and bacon. But, the pureed cauliflower soup was delicious and so easy to make.

Pureed Cauliflower Recipe: 

Chop 1 head of cauliflower into florets. Add 2 1/2 cups your choice of stock to florets into a saucepan. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Then puree in a blender and serve.

Green Machine Smoothie

Green Machine Smoothie

The first couple days were okay but today I was feeling a little run down. A couple more days to go to wrap up Week 1 and then I’ll be able to add gluten-free whole grain, like quinoa and brown rice, and fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines to the mix in Week 2.

Wish me luck!

Hello, again. I’ve missed you.

It’s been awhile. I have no excuses. I let life get the best of me and I forgot to reflect. And I firmly believe that living life without reflection inhibits personal growth.

Things happened. Life carried on. Thoughts/experiences that I never got to capture before new ones replaced them are but a faint memory. Now, these moments will only live on in my head.

So I’m back. Word by word. Capturing on the blank space of this page my thoughts, experiences and memories.

A new year, a new beginning with better intent to live the best life possible.

Join me on the adventures/challenges/growth I’ve set forth for myself for this year and see if I make good.

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I Heart Redwood Trees

won·der·ment
noun
  1. a state of awed admiration or respect.

This was me at 3-years-old looking up at a giant Sequoia tree.  I wonder if it was this one moment in that time sealed my infatuation with giant trees.  For as long as I can remember, these magical trees have elicited in me this feeling of excited exuberance coupled with a tranquil serenity yet bursting with amazement and awe. Standing next to these trees make me feel alive and that I’m part of something so much bigger than my own sand grain of a life. Like pee my pants kind of excitement.

Redwood Tree Wonderment

I am on a quest to discover the wonderment in everyday life just like if I was experiencing it for the very first time. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind that we forget to appreciate how amazing and intricate life can be.

Life is now. Live loud. Love hard. Hug big. Eat well. And never say no to an adventure.

Extract Juice Bar’s Raw Foods Cleanse

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Ever since my big lupus flare/diagnosis in 2010, you could say that I have learned to be more in tuned with my body. At the time, my body was screaming bloody murder and I didn’t hear a peep. Now, my body sighs and you can bet it registers loud and clear.

I turned to juicing and a vegan diet because of Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet book to immerse my body in green goodness nutrients. I began juicing my own juice regularly. Then when things began stabilizing over the past few years and I started to get lazy about juicing and my eating habits. I was out and about and “too busy” living life to juice and eat healthy.

I know. I know. My terrible eating habits and lack of respect for my body was probably what contributed to my flare in the first place.

And yes, eventually, I started to feel run down and sluggish. So, my happy medium now is doing a full juice cleanse every 3 months or so while also still regularly consuming fresh store-bought juices like Robek’s at least a few times a week. Love their Evergreen juice!

So, a few months ago there was a Groupon for a 4-day raw foods juice cleanse from Extract Juice Bar. I decided to try it since all I had to do was go pick up the juices in Santa Monica. The hard part was already done.

Extract Juice Bar’s storefront is in Newport Beach but they deliver twice a week to the Santa Monica workspace. You pick up twice a week for two days at a time. The juice bottles are numbered 1-5 and labeled by color. And you get one raw foods snack pack. You can download their cleanse packet on their site with the instructions on what to consume when.

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This is a closeup of The Countdown + 1, is a blend of cucumber, watermelon, kale, celery and whole cranberries.

Overall, there was a nice mix of fruits and greens. I liked the focus on incorporating fun ingredients like scotch bonnet peppers, watermelon, whole cranberries and mango creating fun liquid meals as an easy way to ingest a variety of fresh produce in one gulp.

With the Trail Blazer Blend snack pack of almonds, dates, peanuts, cashews, raisins, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and oats as a snack to quiet the munching of the tummy, I felt relatively full for the most part.

The hard part was the temptation of the junk food in my office kitchen.

After 4-days, I kicked my sugar addiction, reset my palate to crave fruits and veggies, regulated my sleep cycle and restored my energy. So, whenever I’m feeling a tad rundown I gravitate towards green juice.

Extract Juice Bar
3305 Newport Blvd.
Newport Beach, CA 92663
949.675.2455

Finding the Ballerina Within

Align Ballet

I heart dance of all kinds. Whether or not I’m good at it, that’s all relative. But, lucky for me I have very little shame and don’t mind looking like the ever fool.

Ballet for me, was always an infatuation, even though I never really had much experience actually dancing ballet. I collected Degas printed anything. I cut out photos of ballerinas en pointe. I believe I was just a wee toddler when my mom took me to my first ballet class at the rec center. I learned a dance to “I’m a Little Teapot.” Nothing really came out of it except I learned where my toes were, peeking out from under my rotund, teapot-like belly.

I didn’t revisit dance again until I was in junior high school and the closest thing we had was modern dance as a PE class taught by a very bouncy and busty aerobics instructor who didn’t believe in sports bras.

In high school, I joined the dance drill team. Though it was more drill than dance with lots of parades where I learned the graceful avoidance of horse poo. The rule was that when in competition and if the part of the routine where we had to salute the judges on one knee came up, and you happened to be right in front of a big, ‘ole pile of poop, you had no choice but to kneel in it. I was dedicated but I wasn’t THAT dedicated. You bet I learned how to avoid that shit, no pun intended, with the utmost grace.

In college, I took all the intro dance classes to my heart’s content or that my schedule could actually accommodate. I was reacquainted with ballet. I bought a leotard, a ballet skirt, pink tights and ballet shoes. My dance teacher said I had good ballet feet. I beamed.

Then a decade or so pass and as my flexibility waned, I thought it would be a great idea to take ballet classes again. Always up for unthinkable challenges. A Google search for adult ballet classes leads me to Michael Cornell’s Align Ballet Method, which is “dedicated to authentic ballet training for adults.” Six classes later of Align1 and that’s me second from the right, almost looking like a real dancer.

I am in love with these classes. It’s definitely real ballet instruction and not just one of those fitness classes that have barre in the name but ends up like a military boot camp. While learning the fundamentals of ballet you are building your core, regaining your flexibility and strengthening leg muscles all while looking very graceful doing it.

Dance is like candy for the body and soul.

Heart!

Green Juice

Do over! August is Reboot Month!

Green Juice

Wow. First and foremost, I failed miserably at my 365 project. 113 days in and I dropped off the face of the Earth! Poof! Into thin blogosphere air. Somewhere around April 23 I decided to have an “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” moment and became completely preoccupied with this thing called life and work, well mostly work and unfortunately let all things in the peripheral take a backseat. I’m sorry! I promise I’ll make it up to you.

So, in an effort to make up for lost time without having to really go back and document what I have done everyday for the past couple months, (YAWN), I decided to proclaim August as the perfect month for a reboot. You know, like how they made the new “Spider-Man” with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone when the Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst version was still pretty fresh in everyone’s minds. Kind of like that.

There’s no better time than right now, the little voice in my sub-conscience kept nagging. Especially, if I want to leave, you know, some sort of legacy, of which I have absolutely no clue about, behind.

So, this is me picking up where I last left off and doing what I love to do best…collectively binding together consonants and vowels into somewhat coherent thoughts and ideas to express the inner-workings of my fickle mind.

That being said, in going with the reboot theme, I decided today was also going to be the first day of my 21-day Kris Carr’s Crazy, Sexy Diet cleanse, which translates to green juice and green smoothies till noon, vegan and gluten-free for lunch and dinner with 60-80% of it being raw. I’m a little flexible on the raw and gluten-free part and also the no sugar rule.

Days 7, 14, and 21 are fasting days, where you consume nothing but green juices and smoothies. Body is about to be inundated with more micro-nutrients than it will know what to do with. Hoping to complement cleansing diet with sweat-inducing activities known as exercise to help with the detox process. Eeeeks!

Day 1

Brunch

Z Pizza‘s Tuscan Pizza with vegan cheese and gluten-free crust (Not raw)

Farmer’s Market fruit samples – grapes, pluots, peaches, strawberries

Water

Dinner

18.7 ounces of Green Juice – kale, celery, carrots, cucumbers, bell pepper, spinach, apples,oranges and a lemon

Veggie Wrap – avocado, romaine, tomato, onion, olives and almond cheese drizzled with organic honey mustard in a multi-grain wrap (little bit of gluten) and TJ’s baked onion rings

San Pellegrino’s Sparkling Blood Orange Soda (sugar)

Ciao Bella’s Blood Orange Sorbet (cane sugar)

Exercise

1 hour of dancing, stretching and free weights

Let’s do this!

Project 365: Day 113 “The Color Run”

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Color! Based off of the Hindu Holi festival, The Color Run is not your traditional 5K. It is less of a run and more of a color celebration.

Runners are mandated to wear white to the race. A white t-shirt and headband are provided with registration. Gathering at the start line it’s like a sea of dentists. Bullhorn goes off and we hit the pavement running in search of spoiling the white effect as quickly as possible.

We run in search of the color stations dotting the course map. Each color station is manned by volunteer color throwers who generously throw highly-pigmented powder at you as you cross their path.

By the time you cross the finish line you are covered head-to-toe in color.

It is one of the most fun and random things that I’ve done and would definitely do it again and highly recommend it. It just made me smile from ear to ear even it meant I’d have color in my teeth afterwards.

Project 365: Day 112 “Farmer’s Market Cooking Class”

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A cooking class with just 9 other people, a chef with a bundle of fresh goodies from the local Farmer’s market and 6 recipes for delicious dishes.

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Saturday afternoon. The 3-hour class was hands-on and fun. The recipes were delicious and amazing. We made pollo al Mattone, olive oil and polenta citrus cake, spinach artichoke bleu cheese salad, blood orange and fennel risotto, roasted heirloom potatoes and fava bean lettuce cups.

Highly recommend the class. Small, intimate group, delicious recipes and a fun way to meet new people.

Project 365: Day 111 “Sweet Rewards”

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Best thing about a long week is you don’t feel guilty about splurging on a nice meal complete with a delectable dessert to top it off.

A fellow coworker and I decided to treat ourselves to a nice end of work week dinner at our favorite sushi restaurant, Kanpai. Work has been rough lately and it’s the little things that are keeping me going. I haven’t had a lot of time to do much else. Even my posts have taken a backseat and I am now retroactively backdating my 365 project.

We decided to top off the already decadent meal with dessert so we ordered the banana tempura with ice-cream. Delish!

Project 365: Day 110 “Mike and Ike’s Will be the Death of Me”

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I have a problem. And it’s in the office kitchen. And I can’t stop eating them. Mike and Ike’s will be the death of me. I don’t even know where the obsession comes from. But, I can eat cups of these before even realizing that I just subconsciously walked to the kitchen, poured myself a cup and absent-mindedly downed the whole thing. Sick. I know. It’s a bad habit I’m trying to kick.