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let’s talk raw – juices and smoothies

Yesterday was a big day for green smoothies in our house.   The husband drank his first one.

While he’s had sips of mine before, he didn’t really like it and has never shown any real interest in drinking them himself.  For starters he doesn’t like banana, and since that’s the main ingredient in mine every day, it’s no wonder he sort of turned his nose up at them.  But in the spirit of wanting to up the health factor in his diet, he decided to give them a go. And he’s actually really liking them!  He obviously knows the way to my heart:)

Unfortunately I didn’t get a pic, but I ended up buying a bag of mixed fruit – peaches, pineapple and strawberries – and using that for sweetness instead of banana.  I also added a big handful of spinach, soymilk, 1/2 scoop of Amazing Grass and ice.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently reading Kris Carr’s new book, Crazy Sexy Diet, and I’m loving it.  As a wellness warrior, she advocates eating only raw food, preferably liquids (juices or smoothies) until lunch.

According to Kris that means “green juice, green smoothies, purified water, and teas.”  But this doesn’t mean that you have to starve as you can have as many servings of them as you need.  And “if that’s not enough for you, no worries, solid foods are definitely an option.”   I’m not one to jump on unrealistic fad diets, but as I’m learning more about the benefits of raw food, juices and smoothies, I am becoming more and more of a believer that the more raw foods you can incorporate into your diet the better. I feel overwhelmed (in a good way) by all the information I’ve absorbed, and while I want to share it all right here right now there’s just too much!

For now, I will say that one of the best things about starting the day off with green juice or a green smoothie (after a big glass of purified water with lemon of course) is that it gives the body an instant shot of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein and oxygen, plus a major hydration boost.  And the body barely has to do anything to digest it!  Little work + lots of healthy stuff = pure energy and vibrance.

One thing to remember though is that when our bodies are used to digesting and storing more acidic foods, it will take a sort of short detox phase to adjust as the body gets rid of toxins.   During that time you may in fact feel less energetic…but just give it a few days to a week and you’ll be so glad you did.  It took about 3 days for me, and this morning I felt noticeably more energetic than previous days.

There was a time when I didn’t understand how juicing was so good for you.  Doesn’t it remove all the good fiber?  Won’t it raise my blood sugar if the fiber isn’t there to balance out the natural sugar in fruit?  While it may raise blood sugar a bit, it won’t be a big deal as long as the overall ratio of veggies to fruit is about 3:1, as fruit has more natural sugars.  And make sure they are vegetables that are low on the GI scale – like cucumber instead of carrots.  A great one to start off with is 1 whole organic (or peeled if it’s not organic) cucumber, several stalks of organic celery and a small apple.  But have fun playing around with different combinations!

Coming full-circle now, let’s talk smoothies again.  Smoothies are almost just as amazing for the body as juices…and they also keep you full longer. The body does have to work a bit to digest them, but still not nearly as much as with solid food, and the fiber provides longer lasting fullness and energy.  Plus, they’re easier to make.

As Kris explains, “the difference between a juice and a smoothie is that a smoothie leaves no pulp behind – it contains all the fantastic fiber of the ingredients.  The tough cellulose structure of the produce is broken into tiny pieces that are easy for your body to digest and assimilate.  Think of it as a pre-chewed blast of optimum nutrition.”

My green smoothie was just a smidge different than usual this morning. In an effort to keep it 100% raw, I subbed in water for my usual almond milk.  I was kind of concerned that it would loose it’s delicious creamy factor, but I could hardly tell a difference!

2 big handfuls of organic spinach + 1 banana + 1 cup water + 1 scoop of Amazing Grass (with a side of folded towels:)

As I talk more about raw/vegan food, I want to make it clear (as always) that whatever each individual can do that improves their health and quality of life is like gold.  If that means introducing green juice or green smoothies once a week or eating three raw meals a week, then that’s great!  The fact is that no one is perfect and the more we put pressure on ourselves to be perfect – in any area of our lives- the more we’re setting ourselves up to fail. I’m currently trying to eliminate sugar from my diet as much as possible, but yesterday afternoon I got a serious craving and nothing but the vegan peanut butter cookies I’d made for the husband would do.  So I ate one.  And it was delicious.  It didn’t lessen the healthiness of my morning and I can definitely tell you it improved the healthiness of my mind because it reminded me that perfection is overrated and food is to be enjoyed.  The thing I’m realizing though, is that the more I use food to take care of my body and promote energy and vitality, the more I do enjoy it.

Amen?

This morning I’m spending some time going through my yoga class for tonight.  I only have two classes left!  I’m really going to miss teaching and am hoping I can get a new position asap.  Also on the schedule for today is three tutoring appointments and of course…packing.  I probably don’t even have to say that anymore, huh?  It’s kind of a given that there will be packing going on here during any down time for the next week and a half.  Crazy times.

Hope you all have a great Wednesday – the week is almost halfway over!

*Note that I’m only talking about food intake up until noon.  Kris doesn’t necessarily advocate eating a 100% raw diet.
**I also want to add that while I am really enjoying Crazy Sexy Diet, and I feel like I’m learning a lot of valuable information, Kris writing style is very forward.  At times she uses language that could be a bit offensive to some, and while I personally don’t like it, I choose to look past it because for me the information is worth it.  Just an FYI if you’re considering reading the book.

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valentine’s day + the weekend

Hello!

Happy late Valentine’s Day to all my lovely readers!  I took Sunday and yesterday off from the internet to love on the husband and pack.  In that order.

But today I’m back at it…and I’ve got lots to catch up on.

On Saturday we met the husband’s parents in the city to show them our lot and take them through a house that has our floor plan.  I don’t think I’d ever get tired of driving over to see our little piece of land, although if signs of an actual house don’t start to appear soon I may change my tune. Ha.  We should be breaking ground any day now, though, so it won’t be long!

Also on Saturday, we stopped by Jonathan’s new office to check it out.  Got to enjoy a pretty sunset while we were at it!

The husband surprised me with Valentine’s Day plans on Sunday.  Our weekdays are just impossible now between Jon commuting to the city and back and working two extra jobs in the evening.  Add on packing and we basically have no life outside of it all.

So our little celebratory day started off at a quaint little coffee shop in downtown where we shared some dessert and sipped on dark French press coffee.  We enjoyed the atmosphere almost as much as the food, lounging back on a modern couch with the sun streaming in the windows.  Love coffee shops.  And good conversation.

Afterwards, we set out in the Mini to explore around town a little bit – what we do best.  With the weather a nice 70 degrees, we cruised around with the sunroof down, admiring big old houses and taking pictures of color schemes that called out to us.  We drove and drove and drove.  A perfect sunny afternoon, just the two of us.  And of course, before it was all over we ended up sitting in front of our lot daydreaming.

Jonathan had made reservations for us for dinner, so after a few hours had passed and our hunger had returned, we headed to the restaurant.  It had a modern and somewhat eclectic décor that made us smile the minute we walked in.

We started off with the vegan nachos – cashew cheese (first time for this!), black beans and roasted veggies.   I’ve been wanting to try cashew cheese for ages, and it was just as tasty as I expected.  I got so excited about the vegan items on the menu as it’s a rarity here in OK.  So nice to just order something and not have to make a million changes and then be disappointed when it comes out wrong.

We then moved on to the main course – chicken sandwich for him and veggie burger with sweet potato fries for m.e  This was my first time to have sweet potato fries at a restaurant, and I was stoked.  They were so delicious, and the veggie burger did not disappoint.

While dessert looked very tempting, we were quite full already so we passed on ordering anything.  But it wasn’t just a few minutes and out came our server with a bowl full of cotton candy.

sorry  – kind of creepy

One of the most random things I’ve ever seen in a restaurant – so unexpected as it didn’t really match the feel of everything else.  But also so fun!  I love little randomocities like that.  I don’t even like cotton candy, but it was really fun to look at and play with.  And I didn’t take a few courtesy bites, so our server wouldn’t think us to be too high maintenance.  Sadly, my camera battery died right in the middle of dinner, so the rest of the night I had to use the iPhone.

By the time we chatted over the cotton candy for another half hour or so, we decided to head out.  There was still one last place on the list for the night.

105 Degrees.


One of the coolest places in OKC, at least for a health foodie.  I’ve wanted to go there for so long, but somehow had never made it.  105 Degrees is a raw restaurant, shop, juice/smoothie bar and raw culinary academy all in one.  It has a great, quirky modern vibe, and the service and food were excellent.

We sat at the bar and ordered dessert – one green smoothie and one green juice, yes please!

the Thai Green – mango, lime, young coconut, Thai chili, lemon grass, spirulina

Best green smoothie and juice I’ve ever had, hands down.  I don’t know how they did it, but it was divine.  We hung around, chatting with the bar tender for quite awhile and exploring the little shop there before deciding to head back home.

I’ll be so happy the day that we don’t have to drive an hour to get back home from the city.  It was well worth it, though.  A great night to celebrate our fifth Valentine’s Day as husband and wife – couldn’t have been better.  I know a lot of people think Valentine’s Day is silly and too hyped up, and I somewhat agree.  But there’s no way I can complain about an entire afternoon and evening being set aside for just us.  No distractions, no talk about work (well, almost)…just sweet time hanging out.

What was your Valentine’s like?  Did you celebrate?  What was the best part of your weekend?

This week I’ll be back to talk about some of the raw/mostly raw meals I’ve been enjoying (thanks, Kris Carr) and how I’m feeling as a result!

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ice cream and oats – a perfect combination

Happy Friday, friends!

This week has flown by so fast…and leaves us with only two weeks until we move.  Two!!  And I’m probably about one one-hundreth of the way through packing.  I’m in trouble.

So, I realize I’ve been writing some heavy posts lately, and while I usually like to keep things light on a Friday, I’m going to shamelessly bombard you with more deep thoughts.  Because that’s how I roll these days, folks.

I think all this uprooting and moving business has gotten me all worked up over what I’m doing with my life.  I’ve caught myself trying to plan so many years into the future I might as well have my grand-children’s names picked out (exaggeration).  I feel like I have all these ideas, aspirations and concerns that in turn leave me with endless confusing decisions; every outcome affects other decisions and those outcomes affect more…and so on.  You see what I mean?

So the other day as I was pondering what my next steps should be, I had an epiphany.  Are you ready for this?

I do not have to plan out my future or know exactly where I want to be in x number of years.

I do not have to know how my next job will affect my future children or how it will look on my resume in 20 years.

I do not.  I do not.  I do not.


While I know it’s good/responsible to plan for the future as much as is reasonable, I also know that there are things that will happen in my future that are unplanned or that I have no control over. If you had told me when I was a freshman in college that four years later I’d be living in Thailand, I would have called you crazy and laughed in your face.  And I certainly did not plan that the husband and I would be moving out of Stillwater right now.  As I’ve said many times before, God’s plans for me don’t necessarily match up with the plans I have for myself.  And when it comes down to it, that’s what makes life so fun and interesting.  Embracing the unknown and being willing to change directions at the drop of a hat if that’s where my heart is leading me.

We must focus on making the best decision we can in the present moment…with the information we have.  And then make the most of it.  Each turn we take in life is a stepping stone to the next place.  And I truly believe that as long as we’re willing to take risks and step out into the unknown, we will achieve our goals…they may not pan out exactly how we imagined them, but they’ll be even better because they’re real.  And because we made difficult choices each day based on our own intuition, desires and guidance found through prayer.  What can be better than that?

So, here’s to not putting pressure on ourselves to have everything figured out.  Here’s to embracing the unknown and living in the present moment!

Thoughts?  I’d love to hear your input on this topic.

Aside from spending waaay too much time thinking (if you’re like me it’s very difficult to shut down your mind - hello savasana), I’ve also been dying over this amazing breakfast the last two mornings.

I think the idea of overnight oats mixed with banana soft serve was originally Angela’s, but I could be wrong.

First, mix together 1/3 cup of raw oats and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with just under a cup of water.  Set it aside in the fridge for overnight (preferably) or at least a half hour.

After it has set, place one frozen banana (cut into half at least, if not slices) in your food processor or blender and blend until it achieves a creamy, soft serve like consistency.  You may have to stop it a couple times and scrape down the sides.  After it is about half way done blending, add one tablespoon of natural peanut butter and blend until smooth.

Now pour your creamy, cold peanut butter banana soft serve over the (still cold) oats, admire it for several seconds and then mix it all up!

The absolute best part of this breakfast, in my humble opinion, is how the textures work together.  The creamy cold oats weave together with the frozen banana “ice cream” so with each bite you get a combination of smooth oats with a little bit of icy cold peanut buttery goodness.

Now, let’s just say (hypothetically of course) that when you reached into the fridge to pull out your oats, an entire container of salsa fell out and busted on the floor, throwing bits of tomato all over the floors and walls.  Well, in that case you might just need a little added craziness in the form of chocolaty indulgence.  Go ahead and add crumbles from the leftover chocolate brownies that are wrapped in foil on the counter.  There, that’s even better.

Now be prepared because your husband or your roommate might look at you like you’ve lost your mind, mixing cold oatmeal with blended frozen bananas…but it will all be worth it.  In fact, my sweet husband commented that he “couldn’t think of any worse combination.”  Now honey, that simply can’t be true.  Let’s not be crazy.

This morning I taught an earlyish PiYo class and then tutored Hye kyoung.  I’ll be spending the rest of the day trying to make our house appear as though humans live her and not animals…and desperately trying to avoid laying down for a nap.  I was up late last night busy having epiphany’s about planning out my future…and my eyes are paying the consequences.  So tired.  All the more reason to celebrate the fact that it’s Friday!

Any big plans for the weekend ya’ll?  Will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day or just laying low?
The husband has some plan up his sleeve for Sunday…but he won’t tell me what it is.

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a few thoughts + vegan brownies

You all left some really great comments here yesterday, and I loved reading through every one of them.  I really enjoyed hearing your perspectives on dealing with tough habits and emotional struggles.  Thanks so much for sharing:)

This morning we woke up to another thick layer of snowy white…and once again the whole state is pretty much shut down.  No complaints here, though.  I was really happy that the husband was able to work from home today rather than commute to the city…I would have been a nervous wreck.

Yesterday was a great day of working from home.  I was able to get a lot accomplished and even pack a few things along the way.  I’m really focusing my energy on living fully in every moment more than ever these days, as my time with my students (both tutoring and yoga) and time working from our house is drawing to a close.  Have you ever been in a moment and thought to yourself – I just want to live in this moment forever?  I had a lot of those yesterday from taking a break to water our little plants to making a new healthy lunch to giving the husband a little massage on the couch last night.

I read a book recently that talked about how we all forget so much of our life…there is so much we just don’t remember.  It’s like only the big milestones – graduating, getting married, having kids – are what we most remember.  But what about the sweet little things that make up the majority of our time?  I want to remember those things too, and I think one reason we don’t really remember many of them is because we don’t fully live them.  We’re always focusing on and pressing toward the next big thing.  And while it’s good to be working toward big goals and accomplishments, if we don’t really see and experience the mundane moments of the day-to-day, then we’re missing out on a large part of this life we’ve been given.

Lunch yesterday was that meal I mentioned a couple of days ago that I’ve been craving.  One day it just popped into my head, and I thought to myself – why have I never made this before??

Prepare a nice big bed of fresh spinach

Pick your pasta and cook it – I used veggie shells that I got as a sample at HLS, but you can use any kind

Mix together about 2 tbsp hummus, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast and water to thin

After mixing pasta and the creamy sauce together, pour mixture over spinach.  The heat will cause the leaves to wilt just slightly.  Perfect.

This meal was every bit as tasty as I imagined it would be.  I loved the combination of the creamy soft texture of the pasta with the slight crunch of the spinach leaves.  And there was plenty of protein built right into the sauce.

In other food news, the husband surprised me last night by bringing home my absolute favorite meal from my favorite restaurant in the city – Pei Wei.  It was a little cold by the time we got here, but a quick round in the microwave and it was as good as new!

And what made it even better is that while we were savoring every bite, the thick, mouth-watering smell of brownies was filling the air.  I’ve been craving brownies for days, and all I needed was a good, cold snow day to do me in.  I found this recipe and then used a few of the suggested tweaks plus a couple tricks of my own.  They came out so delicious!

Chocolate Chocolate Vegan Brownies
adapted from here

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dairy free mini chocolate chips (or chips of your choice:)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 inch baking dish
  • Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and sea salt in a large mixing bowl
  • Add in water, oil, applesauce and vanilla extract
  • Mix until well combined
  • Pour batter into baking dish and then sprinkle chocolate chips all over the top
  • Bake for about 26 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool a bit before serving.

Serve warm with a glass of almond milk.  Or if you really want to go crazy, serve with a dollop of banana soft serve on top.

I’m planning on packing some today, editing some papers for my students and maybe doing a little job searching online.  I’m still as confused as ever about what I’m going to do as far as a job, but I’m trusting that it will work out and trying not to waste too much time worrying over it.

Happy Wednesday to you!

What is something you hope you never forget as time goes on, be it little or big?!
I hope I never forget the way the creaky wood floors sound as I walk through our house or the way the windows shutter just slightly when the heat comes on:)

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let’s talk about food

Thanks so much for all the sweet well wishes for the husband’s first day on the new job. Ya’ll are so sweet.  I texted him mid-day to see how it was going and he texted back “it’s going really well.  A great company to work for…and so much to learn!”  Today and tomorrow are basically just orientation days, and then Wednesday will be his first day in the office.  That is, unless the predicted 6-10 inches of snow keeps him home (fingers crossed:).  Anyway, I’ve always been so thankful that he has a job he loves, and I feel that way even more now.  Every time I ask him about how he’s feeling regarding the change, he just starts talking about how great he feels about this company and the difference they’re making in people’s lives.  Yay.

Now let’s just see if I can get a job as well!

I started off yesterday morning with a serious craving for yogurt and raw oatmeal.

1/3 cup raw oats, whole soy yogurt, chia seeds, dried cranberries and cinnamon

Totally hit the spot.  Sometimes I feel myself getting tired of foods that I’ve been eating a lot of, and all it takes is scrolling back through my blog a little bit to find inspiration.  I can almost always find a basic meal that I haven’t had in awhile to bring back all fresh and new!  This oldie was definitely a highlight to start the day.

Other highlights for the day included but were not limited to the following:

  • painting my nails mint green

  • spending a little extra time with God this morning

  • making my green smoothie with a scoop of natural peanut butter and chocolate almond milk for lunch

  • having a really great conversation with my mom on the phone this afternoon

  • eating yet another leftover cinnamon roll for a snack this afternoon (I know).  One a day does = moderation.  It does!

I have had two tasty meals in my head all day today, but I’ve been on kind of a weird schedule (hence the green smoothie for lunch), so I haven’t been able to make either one of them.  One is the veggie chili I made for the husband’s work party a couple of months ago, and the other is a really simple lunch idea that I just can’t get out of my mind.  I’m thinking I’ll be enjoying it for lunch today, and if so then I’ll share it later on!  As far as the chili goes, I think it’ll be the perfect meal for Wednesday when we’re all snowed in again.  mmmm.

The last part of this post has been pretty much all about food, ha!  Food is where it’s at, though.  Even Mr. Squirrel agrees.

He sits right outside our kitchen window almost every morning, munching on all kinds of nuts and seeds.  Gives me a hankering for nuts and seeds myself, just watching him.

But really food is such a big part of life, you know?  We need it for fuel and nourishment…but it also affects us in psychological ways. We celebrate with it.  We comfort with it during times of loss.  We have memories attached to it.

I’m not encouraging emotional eating in the sense of eating to hide or cover up emotions, but we’d be crazy to say that food isn’t tied to something besides a physical need.

I’ve never really talked about this on the blog before, but in the past I’ve had issues with emotional eating, and it wasn’t in a positive way.  Sometimes, whether I’d be feeling stressed, sad or just plain tired, I would go straight to the pantry and just eat mindlessly.  And then when I would finish, I’d feel guilty and even more stressed, not to mention physically kind of sick.  I remember at times feeling like I’d never be able to break the cycle.  I ate healthy enough all the rest of the time and exercised enough that I never really put on any visible weight, but the emotional weight it was adding on was not a good thing.  It was a bad habit…and I needed to break it.

It has been a long time since this last happened.  I still get carried away with the chips and salsa occasionally (okay, often;), but it’s not the same kind of destructive behavior.  It’s no longer me trying to cover up an emotion…it’s more just about liking blue corn tortilla chips a little too much. ha.  I think the point that I really was able to gain control of what I was doing was when I recognized the true issue behind the behavior.  After a lot of prayer and internal processing, I realized that I was eating at these times in an effort to relieve the negative emotions I was feeling inside.  Food was a way to cover those emotions up by doing something that felt good right at that moment.

Besides identifying the root of the problem, another thing that helped a LOT was realizing that just because I disappointed myself by doing this didn’t mean that I should punish myself afterwards.  When I treated my body that way I needed to do something really nice for my body in turn…rather than beating myself up about it.  So, I started going for a long, slow walk,  taking a bubble bath, or just cuddling with Olive for a bit.   I also spent some time identifying the specific reasons why I would eat, and then made an alternative plan for each negative emotion, such as laying down for a twenty minute nap, getting into downward dog and holding it for 20-30 seconds or spending some time in prayer. Basically, I was ready to tackle the problem itself, whatever problem it was, rather than trying to put a band-aide over it.

After so many weeks of implementing my new plan, it became a habit, and now I don’t even think about it.  I’m not saying it was an easy process, and I definitely had my fair share of set-backs, but in the end it was so worth it.  Every time I would fall back into the behavior, I would take time to really process through what I had really been feeling in the moment, work through that emotion (if it was anxiety over my job, I would take 30 minutes and problem solve or call my teacher friend and ask for advice).  And through the whole process, not only have I gained confidence in my ability to eat in a healthy way, but I’ve also become more confident in handling conflict and anxiety.

I don’t know if I’m the only one that has ever dealt with us, but somehow I doubt it.  Just the other day I was talking to the husband, and it suddenly hit me that I hadn’t eaten in this way in a long long time.  I realized that I’d totally forgotten what it was like and is totally out of character for me to do something like now.  I know there’s a possibility that I could fall back into the habit someday, but it feels good to know that making slow progress toward a healthier way of dealing with negative emotions has brought me to a place where I feel much more confident in my relationship with food. Isn’t that how it should be?

Anyway, these are just some thoughts I’d been pondering lately, and I thought I’d share them.  I used to think this issue was something I was ashamed of and wanted to hide.  I’m still not proud that I struggled with it, but I realize now that we all have battles such as this and the best way to overcome those struggles is to bring them out into the light.

What is something you’ve overcome through a lot of time and hard work?  How does it feel to be in a place where you feel confident and at peace in regard to that issue?  Or are you still working through something and trying to get to that place?

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