9 ‘Healthy’ Alternatives that are Just as Bad as the Originals via HuffPo

9 ‘Healthy’ Alternatives that are Just as Bad as the Originals via HuffPo

Oh wow, I am so sorry I am the worst blogger ever! It’s inexcusable but here’s some excuses anyway: I sprained my knee, badly enough that I was totally incapacitated for a bit, then I went on vacation, then I started a new job, then I went on another vacation and then I got the flu. There you have it, my entire summer in one run-on sentence. 

I’m happy to report I didn’t gain any weight while recovering from my knee sprain, which is unusual, usually people gain anywhere from 5-20 pounds, but I was trying hard to keep myself in line even if I wasn’t spending an hour on the elliptical or doing 100 squats. (Sadly I still can’t do either of those things…yet!) But with the new job, I’ve had less time to devote to the healthy living process. I worry about getting sucked into easy routines that aren’t as clean or healthy as I’d prefer, so I’m trying to stay aware of what I’m doing to and with my body via food and exercise. It is hard though, and I promise to write more about it later. 

In the meantime, I thought this article was pretty interesting. I didn’t really know that about skim milk. Interesting. While rehabbing my knee I’ve been ingesting more conventional (re: animal) forms of protein, so this is definitely something important for me to think about. I had a bag of microwave popcorn a couple weeks ago and it genuinely tasted like chemicals. The idea that we are ingesting the GLUE and INK from the bag is really horrifying.

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in and post this list. And to say hello. Hello! I will be back soon. 

Summer Salad

All winter long, it felt like I was on a great quest only instead of a holy grail I was searching for easy and tasty ways to prepare vegetables. In the summer, I don’t have to look very far. Inevitably, when summer rolls around, all I ever want is a nice dinner salad. I think it’s the sunlight that inspires me to eat brightly colored cool foods. I search Pinterest for new summer salad recipes at least once a week. One thing I love about salads is that virtually anything in your kitchen can go in one. That leaves a ton of room for creativity and innovation. But a lot of times salad recipes in cookbooks and online call for ingredients that require a special grocery trip or take too long to prepare, which is great sometimes but not always. Sometimes I just want a plain old dinner salad.

Lately, my favorite salad to make has been just that: one that gets back to the basics. Honestly it reminds me of the kind of salad you’d make at a salad bar, except the ingredients are fresh and haven’t been manhandled by who knows how many strangers.

Summer Salad
Summer Salad

This salad is all veggies (plus some sunflower seeds). It is super easy to prepare, and would be a good option to take for lunch at the office. The recipe as it stands is for one entree-sized salad. If you want to make more just increase the amount of ingredients proportionally.

Summer Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • Handful Mixed Greens and/or Spinach
  • 1 Heart of Romaine
  • 1 Campari Tomato (or other small variety)
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Cucumber
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Carrots (or Matchstick Carrots)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Broccoli
  • 1-2 TBL Chopped Red Onion
  • 1/2 a Small Avocado
  • 1 TBL Sunflower Seeds

Combine all ingredients except avocado. Toss. Address vinaigrette and avocado. Toss again. Enjoy!

Honey Dijon Vinaigrette:

1 Teaspoon Each:

  • Honey (or Agave if Vegan)
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice

summer saladOne important thing to note about this salad is that these proportions are not mandatory. I don’t like much tomato or onion in my salad, so I limited the quantity. One the other hand I love lettuce and avocado so I added a bit more. If you feel the opposite, just adjust your quantities accordingly! This is just a starting guide, really. The dressing, Honey Dijon Vinaigrette, is one of my favorites, and is generally my go-to for a vegetable salad. You can make a big batch and store in a mason jar, but it only keeps for a few days.

This salad is easy to make and pretty tasty. Plus the fiber and nutrients make it surprisingly filling, even though it is fairly low in calories (around 250). It’s just a nice, crisp and refreshing bowl of vegetables that works best in summer, but could probably be enjoyable all year round!

Working on my Fitness

Whoops! Ya get a little bit busy and suddenly it’s seven eight weeks since your last blog. But that is not to say I haven’t been keeping with my mission! Things have been going great!

As I declared when I hit the one year mark, I needed to amp up my efforts for year two. So ever since then, I have been going hardcore on the fitness side of improving my health (and weight). A long time ago, I wrote about how I didn’t think my body was ready for intense exercise but that I thought walking would be a nice way to build up to something more intensive. I don’t know if it was the walking or general weight loss or just an increase in motivation but for the last two and a half months my efforts have increased tremendously.

What has really changed is that I’ve gotten really into strength training. I tagged along with a friend who had a surplus of personal training sessions, and I found that unlike my first experience with it, the trainer was extremely helpful. It was a much more focused and effective workout than I might’ve put myself through, and it gave me ideas for what I should be doing for my own workouts. Then I happened to win two private training sessions. I liked the private sessions so much I ended up buying a training package. (To be honest I kind of think the raffle was rigged because they knew this would happen…)

It’s been about a month now since I’ve been in training and I’ve been able to get into a pretty good routine. Three days a week I do strength training and two days a week I do cardio, although I do some cardio every time I workout. For the strength training part, I separate each workout into an “isolated/split routine.” The schedule looks a little like this:

  • Sunday: 5 min. warm-up (exercise bike), 35 min. Back & Biceps, 25 min. elliptical
  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: 5 min. warm-up, 30 min. Legs (w/ trainer), 30 min. Cross Trainer machine
  • Wednesday: 10 min. abs, 60 min. elliptical
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: 5. min. warm-up, 35 min. Chest, Triceps & Shoulders, 10 min. stair machine, 10 min. walk on treadmill
  • Saturday: 75 min. moderate cardio (hiking, a bike ride, etc.)

That’s an example. The days vary based on what’s going on with work and other stuff, but the distribution generally stays more or less the same. It’s been two and a half months since I started exercising like this, and one month since I started working with the trainer and focusing my routine, and I can already see results. I was really pleased when my fitness-loving brother saw me for the first time in several weeks and said he could tell I’d been working out.

This stage where I am constantly improving my fitness levels but still not actually in good shape is a really weird time. I feel simultaneously really amazing and terrible. I’m tired almost all the time, and at least one body part is usually sore. Last week I actually took two days off in a row and did the moderate long cardio on the third day because my legs just felt so heavy I didn’t even want to walk up the stairs. On the other hand, I can feel my body getting stronger all the time. It’s hard to explain but even though my body is more tired, the rest of me has tons of energy, which is super awesome.

There are two main challenges I’m facing now that my fitness routine has perked up. The first is the sustainability of my schedule. I’m at a bit of a lull with work at the moment, so focusing almost all of my energy on fitness is fine. But as work picks up again and I (hopefully) get more gigs it will be more challenging to keep up this pace.

The other serious challenge is maintaining my diet. I don’t know what it is but when I get home from a particularly grueling workout, all I want in the world is some delicious cheese. My theory is that it’s because of the combination of protein and sugar. However, if you’ll recall, cheese is a big no-no on the clean eating menu. But, what makes it even harder is that in addition to craving bad foods, I’m burning so many more calories that it is extremely hard to meet my daily caloric requirements cleanly. Salad and grilled chicken only have so many calories…and I can only stand to eat them so many times.

So that’s my current project. In addition to continuing with my fitness regimen, I am researching and experimenting ways to stick to the kinds of foods I need to be eating but eating in such ways that I still get all the caloric energy I need. I’ve been reading a lot about vegan athletes, because even though I’m not vegan I limit my animal product intake to very small quantities.

Okay! Now we’re all caught up. I’m excited in the coming weeks to share some of my new fitness knowledge as well as more of the standard hippie food posts I’m used to.

-lj

Granola Breath

Eating healthy is hard. It’s is all about sacrifices. It’s about cutting out foods and habits we like because they aren’t good for us. That’s obvious. We’ve known that forever. And if that wasn’t true it wouldn’t be a challenge.

You’d think after a year it wouldn’t be quite as much of a challenge though. And for the most part, that’s true. I am no longer interested in a lot of foods because I know how terrible they are or I have outgrown them. But every once in a while something random will hit me and I really want it. Lately, it’s been cereal. In school, I used to rock kids’ breakfast cereal with skim milk for dinner on a very regular basis, but having given up dairy, sugar and processed food, Lucky Charms are not really on my pantry’s guest list.

So I’ve been trying to find an alternative. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to find a cereal that is low in sugar, whole grain/gluten-free but doesn’t taste like cardboard. Like, really hard. So I decided to set about making my own. After running into snags on that front, too, I settled on perfecting a recipe for granola.

Crunchy Coconut Granola
Crunchy Coconut Granola

Continue reading “Granola Breath”

Juice Cleanse Recap

A week later, I’ve gotten some clarity. The short synopsis: Juice cleanse is awesome! It was hard. Sometimes really hard. But definitely worth it. It did everything it was supposed to do. I feel healthier, cleaner, and back on track. Also, it’s weirdly addicting and I kind of want to do it again.

green juice

It’s such a strange experience. After my last post, I took a turn for the worse. I did the juice cleanse from Sunday morning to Thursday afternoon and my reaction got progressively worse. I’d read more than once that the first day is the hardest, but that wasn’t my experience at all. I felt really good the first day, but pretty normal. The second day, which I’ve already written about, I went a little crazy. Felt real weird. Almost cried in public. Slept a million hours. The third day was similar to the second. I was less crazy maybe, but I felt more lightheaded. I couldn’t focus on anything at all. The fourth day, the headache arrived. It was terrible. Also, I slept a million hours again. I barely even got out of bed that fourth day. I ended up eating a modified version of my clean southwest salad because I was feeling so weak. The fifth day was a half day, which was my intention. And, it was for the best because I was legitimately sick by that point. Maybe the sickness meant that I should have kept going to get past the detoxing, but it was time to stop. I was so nauseous and my headache was even worse.

So, my description probably makes it sound really terrible. But somehow, it really seriously wasn’t. Like, the bad parts were bad. But overall I could tell it was working, which is what’s important.

And all weekend, after the cleanse was over, I felt amazing. I still do! I’ve been having a 16 ounce of green juice everyday for breakfast, which is good for two reasons. First, it’s really the best way to consume as many greens as possible, and it’s a nice way to ease your metabolism into the day. Second, it’s a really good way to remind me to keep up the clean eating for the day. If I have kale-pear juice for breakfast and feel really fresh after, I don’t want to ruin it later.

So for anyone who might be interested, I thought I’d post my juicing schedule. Juice Cleanse

A few of the recipes are on the last couple of blog posts I’ve made. It would take a long time to post the full recipes of every single juice, so I’m not gonna do that unless I get some requests. But in the meantime I have some basic rules for how much to use of each ingredient.

    • Kale: 6-8 leaves. (If you buy Cal-Organic, it’s one bunch.)
    • Spinach: 1 cup.
    • Romaine: 4-6 leaves.
    • Cucumber: 1 cuke.
    • Celery: 5 stalks
    • Carrots: 4-5 carrots
    • Beet: 1 large beet or 2 small
    • Apple: 1-2, depending on taste preference or how many other ingredients are involved
    • Lemon: 1 fruit.
    • Ginger: 1 inch chunk.
    • Grapefruit: 1 or 2 depending on how many additional ingredients you have.
    • Mint: Handful of leaves
    • Parsley: 1/4 cup
    • Pineapple: 1 cup

Obviously, I just included the first three days, because that is how long I prepped. The fourth day I recommend taking your favorites of each category and having those. You can also experiment with combos that use these basic ingredients. I made choices partially based on what I had left from my big shopping trip. For the fifth day, do one green, one citrus, and one root, then eat produce and seeds/nuts for dinner. Avoid animal products and sugar especially. You should also stick with vegan for a couple of days after, too.

Hopefully if you try it out you find it as rewarding as I did. Please let me know if you have questions!

-lj

More Juice

Wow okay. So the juice cleanse is…intense. Well, maybe intense isn’t the right word. I should say weird. It’s been real weird. For instance, it took me three tries to write this coherently!

I meant to post something yesterday, but I fell asleep halfway through writing it and basically slept for the next 14 hours. I told you, it’s weird. So I’m posting about yesterday today! And maybe I’ll post again with more tomorrow.

Physically, I’ve been pretty okay. It’s been a lot more manageable than I expected, aside from sleeping a million hours. One weird thing is both nights I’ve woken up at like 4 a.m. with the most insane headache. I’ve had a lot of headaches, and a lot of different kinds but nothing really like this. Maybe the headache when I had a minor concussion…that’s actually the closest I can think of. It felt like someone had hit me really hard with a really heavy bat. But I went back to sleep pretty quickly and felt much better in the morning. Today, a much milder headache has come and gone but other than that I’ve been good.

Yesterday was a lot harder. I don’t know if it’s because I was doing too much or what but I went a little nuts in the middle. I felt so loopy. I almost started crying at an office supply store. Eventually I had to stop and get a gluten/sugar free granola bar because I felt like I was drunk driving and was worried about making it home. I’m guessing it was a combination of low blood sugar (stemmed from not following my juice schedule closely enough) and the detoxing process. Luckily it just lasted a few hours.

Other than the afternoon weirdness, I’ve been feeling really good. All of the juices I’ve made have been pretty tasty. Some have even been super delicious. Here and there I’ll feel hungry or I’ll really wish I could get some Indian takeout (or whatever) but for the most part, the consumption part has been no problem.

2013-03-18 17.01.43

In fact it’s going so well that I’ve decided to extend the cleanse, but on a modified level. Remember those old Slim Fast diets? A shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch and then a sensible dinner? I’m thinking about trying something similar but with juices. I have no idea if it is a good idea or if it even makes sense, but it’s something I’m going to look into. I used to be a consistent habit of starting the day with a liquid, and I realize now it’s something I’ve been missing.

Also, I am adding on a fourth day to the full-on cleanse. I had enough produce leftover so I think I can fill up the whole day tomorrow. I definitely did not expect to want to keep going but I’m not sure three days was long enough.

So, that’s my experience with juice cleansing so far!

Here are a couple recipes that I have enjoyed:

Sweet Green Juice

  • 1 Bunch Kale
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 4 Stalks Celery
  • Handful Mint
  • 1 Pear

Tropical Carrot Juice

  • 1 1/2 Cups Pineapple
  • 1 Orange
  • 5 Carrots
  • 1 Inch Ginger

I would include pictures but I forgot to take some! Let’s blame the juice cleanse…

-lj