Sunday, April 29, 2012

Snacking Well

Being on a long-term dietary cleanse means thinking ahead all the time about what's to eat.  In particular, I want to always have great snacks available to keep me happy until the next meal time rolls around.  I either want to eat fresh fruit and veggies, or something salty and crunchy (but not chips, pretzels, crackers).  I've found a bunch of great snacks, and thought I'd share them here.  First are nuts and seeds, with many variations.  I eat plain as well as roasted nuts, and sometimes flavored ones with curry or tamari flavoring.   We buy pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and spread them out on a baking sheet, drizzle them with tamari, toss them around, then bake them slowly until they turn golden brown.  These are salty and crunchy and good for you too. 

I like Livin Spoonful gluten free, vegan, raw sprouted crackers.  They come in a variety of flavors and are crispy and beautifully flavorful.  We just had "pizza" flavor this afternoon and nearly swooned with the pleasure of such yummy taste!  I also buy Mauk Family Farms raw breakfast crusts, and raw wheat-free crusts.  They are a lot like bird seed cakes, mainly seeds pressed together.  One version is a little sweeter because they contain goji berries. But again, if you want something chewy, crispy, and filling, these are your babies!   Another favorite is San-J Tamari Black Sesame Brown Rice Crackers.  They are actually black in color, and we love them just plain, or with some avocado or egg-less egg salad.  All of these items are found at the local health food stores, sometimes in the "raw food" section.

One of my favorite all-time snacks - or meals, for that matter - is what we call "Red Rice".  On this plan, I can eat 1/2 cup of brown rice or quinoa each day.  I mix olive oil and tamari into the grain to taste, warm it up slightly in the microwave (if it is cold), then add 1/2 avocado (chopped) and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper.  It is so deeply, deeply satisfying, and easy too!

We roast vegetables in a 425 degree oven.  Put them on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and when they start to look a little toasty brown, remove immediately.  These can be refrigerated and eaten cold with salads or as finger food throughout the day.

Finally, I've been making soups and eating them between meals, or sometimes the soup is the meal.  My most recent favorite is this "Cream" of Broccoli Soup, which has no cream at all but is wonderfully fresh tasting and simple to make.  In a quick half hour you can have a pot of soup that lasts days.

I'm always looking for more ideas.  But for now, these items have been lifesavers!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Adding and Subtracting

Here's an update to the food blogging I've been doing over the last few weeks.  I'm coming up on 7 weeks on the dietary cleanse.  In the last week or so I've experimented with adding back a few things that were absent for the first 6 weeks.  The idea is to add one thing at a time and then watch to see if there is any reaction in the body.  So far I've added back corn, peanuts, nightshades (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers), yeasted products (wine, vinegar), and eggs.  So far everything is AOK.  It will be quite awhile before I add back anything with gluten, dairy, or sugar.  Those are gone for now, and maybe gone for the foreseeable future.

I've also added some new classes at the gym, Body Pump, Muscle Blast, and continuing with my beloved Zumba and Water Aerobics.  I'm adding muscle, which is thrilling!

Then for the subtracting - 15 pounds so far, and feeling super healthy.  I'm about to start subtracting some of the blood pressure meds I take, cutting the dosage by 1/2.  Hopefully this will be sustainable, and not cause any problems.    I also subtracted a large box of too-large pants - that felt good!

So that's the math of the day!

Friday, April 13, 2012

To Heal, Eat First

Nearing the end of 6 weeks on this food cleanse, and all systems are go!  Here are some things I'm noticing now.  My skin has gotten silkier and more youthful.  Before I had lots of tiny little rough spots all over my arms and legs that were scratchy and thin.  In the last week or two, those little spots have disappeared and the quality of my skin is much smoother and moister.  Wow!  The weight continues to slide off, slowly but surely.  Sinuses remain clear.  I'm monitoring my blood pressure and have permission from my doctor to cut my BP meds in half in the near future, and eventually to get off of them entirely if I can stabilize my levels.  All of this seems a bit magical, but it is just the payoff for eating a clean diet for all these weeks.  In general, I feel terrific, my energy levels are high, I have no physical complaints at all.  For my age, this is terrific!

I'm reaching the point where I can gradually begin adding a few foods back in, one at a time, starting with corn, then peanuts, then nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes), and moving slowly down the list from there.  The idea is to try something, wait a few days and see how the body reacts, and then try the next thing.  That way, if there is anything that causes a problematic reaction it should be clear what it is.  As it is, I'm quite used to eating this limited range of foods and it would not be a problem to continue for several more weeks.

I read some interesting articles this week.  One in the New York Times was called To Heal, Eat First, and described a program where several of the culinary institutes are enrolling doctors to learn about healthy nutrition and how to cook delicious, nourishing meals.  I've seen several articles about the massive amounts of sugar that the average American eats (something like 158 pounds per year per person), and how many of our processed foods contain big amounts of it.  No wonder our bodies are completely bamboozled!  My awareness about nutrition has been expanding rapidly and is a real motivating factor to keep on keeping on.

I'll keep updating this as time goes by.  I have a blood test due next week, and my goal is to have a marked improvement.  I want to startle my doctor - we'll see!