Spring Detox

The human body is detoxing all the time.  So why would we need to detox this spring?

It seems like everyone is trying to detox right now.  My childhood friend called me from Pittsburgh, sharing that she was on a juice cleanse, sucking down a fruit and vegetable juice every two hours or so.  She said they tasted great but she was constantly hungry.  I’m sure she is going to loose a few pounds, but will it be sustainable?  And is it worth the cost of feeling so deprived?

I have never been a fan of a structured detox that include things like hot water/lemon juice/cayenne (“the master cleanse”) or just fruit and vegetable juices.  People generally rave about how great they are feeling when they are doing them.  If you were eating sugary and processed foods and gave them up, wouldn’t you feel better?

Spring is nature’s detox season.  The early harvest is greens and it is natural for our bodies to start craving them, especially more bitter greens (think arugula, dandelion greens) to let the liver naturally detoxify from the winter.  As I mentioned, these greens are readily available in the spring, which is nature’s way to bring us into balance.  But the digestive system is only one way the body detoxifies.

Our breath helps detoxify.  Oftentimes people don’t breath deeply enough to detox through their respiratory system, and living in the “fight or flight” pattern of shallow breathing can put stress on the body.  When I remember to slow it down and take deep breaths, I can sense the calm filling me.  A centered breathing exercise is a must to begin a yoga practice, where we marry our breath and movement so the mind can be at rest–a meditation in motion.  But deep breathing isn’t relegated only to a yoga practice.  We need to be aware of our breath and make sure we are slowing it down.

Detoxification happens as we sweat as well.  The body sends its waste out through our pores when we sweat.  It’s yet another reason folks flock to hot yoga, saunas, and heavy duty exercise.  They feel great afterwards because their body has released toxins.

So our skin, our breath and our digestive systems are constantly detoxing.  Why not focus on fully supporting your digestion naturally, making sure you are deeply breathing, and getting some good exercise?  Minimize your toxic load by ridding yourself of the paranoia associated with worrying about a structured detox program, and allow yourself to detoxify naturally, supporting the systems that are already in place.

Balance is the key to feeling well, not depravity.

Spring Detox Salad
grapefruit arugula salad
On a bed of arugula add:
1/2 an avocado, chopped1/2 pink grapefruit, peeled, taken out if its sections, and chopped
Toss with really good olive oil and a touch light vinegar (brown rice or champagne vinegar)
Sprinkle with a touch of sea salt or Himalayan salt


Embracing Imperfection

“Is this paleo, Mom?” said my son last night as he bit into a piece of quiche.  “Yup, it is honey,” I replied.  My kids can pretty much count on paleo dinners, so the nod I got after he dug into the quiche wasn’t too surprising.  What does surprise me is how my husband and two teenage boys have fully embraced this way of eating since I transitioned to paleo about seven months ago.

I have found the transition to cooking paleo really simple.  Most of the time there is some kind of protein and lots of vegetables on the plate.  For example, tonight’s dinner is going to be grilled organic chicken breasts and dandelion greens (assuming I get home from yoga and soccer pick up in time to cook!).  Last night was a veggie quiche with a fabulous paleo crust and a salad of arugula, grapefruit, and avocado.  Simple stuff.  The beautiful part of eating this way is that it just isn’t complicated.

I know I am taking great care of my family when I am cooking this way and that brings me comfort.  I am also comforted by not seeking perfection.  I believe in enjoying the journey, whether it is on a yoga mat or engaging in a new lifestyle, such as the paleo lifestyle, and don’t strive for perfection every day.  That means not being strict, allowing the boundaries to bend, and to be open to living in an 80/20 world, where 80% of the time, I’m cooking and eating cleanly.

What is happening the other 20% of the time?  Well, for me it might be a sweet, like dark chocolate, or my hands down favorite, turtles (you know, those chocolate, carmel, and cashew creations from the heavens).  I might sprinkle a little goat cheese on my salad.  For others it might be eating legumes or potatoes.  It doesn’t matter; what does matter is not taking it to an unsustainable place, and embracing imperfection.



Is Vacation Really Over?

It was school vacation last week and everyone seemed lighter in spirit.  I certainly was more at ease, having freed myself from obligations and responsibilities.  I had more of a spring in my step.  I found myself wondering why don’t we feel this way everyday? Is this a conscious choice?  Are we choosing to make things harder than they need to be?

Sometimes the easy choices aren’t clear.  For example, after a love affair with wine for several decades, I developed an allergy to it a few years back, with symptoms of horrendous congestion and headaches for the 24 hours following any wine consumption.  Dismayed at the development, I chose to take Claritan before having wine, since it minimized my symptoms (yes, it does say not to drink alcohol when you are taking it RIGHT THERE ON THE BOX!).  While speaking to someone about my predicament they commented, “Wow, you must be really allergic.  You should probably not drink wine anymore.”  And there it was.  The sudden and surprising truth that I had been avoiding.  Why had I been choosing to make life difficult for myself?

In our everyday lives we shoulder burdens and sometimes make them heavier than they need to be.  We allow ourselves to grind through the day, and ignore the easy path.  Maybe the easy choices are truly the better ones and we don’t need to be carrying all that mental and emotional luggage.  Maybe, just maybe, it can feel like vacation everyday.

Vacation Slaw Recipe
Here’s a recipe I made during the vacation week, a twist on a recipe from “Paleo Cooking from Elena’s Pantry:”  Jicama, Beet & Carrot Slaw.  All of us, including the teenagers, loved it!  It’s a great addition to your repertoire as we enter into the full swing of spring.
In a Cuisinart fitted with the grating blade, grate:
1/2 jicama root
5-6 carrots
2 beets

Put this slaw in a mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup of orange juice,  3 T olive oil, and 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar.




Friendly Fuel

It’s not always what is at the end of the fork that fuels our lives.

I had the good fortune of having my childhood friend come to visit me, along with her teenage son, on a Boston-area college tour this week.  It was like finding my missing puzzle piece.  Having known each other since the age of four, we were able to catch up about ourselves and the people in our lives at a depth that is so rare, a relationship like a complex woven tapestry.  It was fuel for my soul.

Think about the energy you get from your relationships.  Surrounding oneself with friends and family that boost you up is like adding fuel to a depleted tank.  I am grateful for my friend’s visit, a living reminder of the truth in the “make new friends, but keep the old” verse, for old friends are truly gold.

You can eat healthfully, exercise regularly and still get sick, especially if your relationships aren’t in balance.  As we enter into spring, consider a “spring cleaning” of sorts, reconnecting with people who cheer you and cheer for you, and perhaps spending less time with people who don’t.  Every choice we make fuels our lives.

My “nephew” insisted his mom’s overnight oatmeal rocked it, so I am including what appears to be the easiest recipe on the planet.  Just water, oats, and a crock pot.  Enjoy!

Cynthia’s Overnight Oatmeal
1 cup oats (slow cooking oats of any kind)4 cups water
Place the two ingredients in your slow cooker and put on low for 8 hours and enjoy in the morning!  Try it alone or with your favorite fruit or nut topping.

The Change

Got your attention, didn’t I?!  No, not that change, I want to talk about the change of seasons.

Here in New England we are getting the first blast of spring.  It has been long anticipated and everyone is excited to shed their winter garments enjoy the warmer air.  It’s only getting up to about 50 degrees Farenheit, but as a friend recently quipped, “50 is the new 80!”

For foodies, with the warm blast come dreams of greens and going to the local farm or farmers market.  There is a reason for this.  Spring is the perfect time to detox from the winter and the spring greens are just what the liver wants to get the detox going.  It’s natures way of clearing out and preparing for the spring and summer.  Staying in tune with nature and eating with the seasons is the most natural way to live.  Bitter greens such as dandelion and arugula are particularly adept at this natural cleansing.

I may be pushing it a little bit, but I whipped up this delicious family favorite (yes, even the two teenagers love it!).  It’s a vegan Spring Pea & Basil Soup, and it is so easy to make. This recipe, like many others coming soon, are meant to offer you suggestions on how to eat with the seasons and honor your body.  Often times people reach for manufactured foods and our body just really doesn’t know what to do with them.  Our bodies crave whole and healing foods, that come from the earth, not from a machine or “food plant.”

So with this change of seasons, consider opening your mind and heart to choosing organic and local foods, real foods that your grandmother or your great grandmother would recognize.  It’s a simple choice that will sustain you, the local farmer, AND the planet.

Vegan Spring Pea and Basil Soup
Spring Pea and Basil Soup
1 large onion chopped
2-3 T olive oil
1 bag of frozen organic sweet peas (use fresh if available!)
1 bunch of organic basil, roughly chopped
1 box hemp milk (can use unsweetened coconut, soy or rice milk if you prefer)

In a soup pot, sautee the onion in the olive oil on medium heat.  When translucent, add the peas and lower the heat so they can cook through (I throw mine in frozen and they need some time to thaw).Add the hemp milk and basil, and a dash of salt.
Blend with a food immersion blender or pop into your cuisinart.
Serve and enjoy!

Getting Inspired

I am currently reading Chris Kessler’s “Your Personal Paleo Code” and I am finding it truly inspiring.  The number of stories that are told of people suffering with all levels of disease and ailments that have made the shift to paleo and found themselves cured is nothing short of miraculous!  It is certainly worth a read, here is the link on Amazon if you are so inclined!

I am also inspired by the report released last week in the Annals of Internal Medicine that concluded saturated fats are not linked to cardiovascular disease.  This isn’t just a little study.  It compiled vast amounts of data from over 70 population studies (called a meta-analysis) to come to this conclusion.  This is so exciting! Mark Bittman  wrote a column in the New York Times entitled, Butter is Back! encouraging the us to go back to eating real whole foods, not the frankenfoods we buy with lower fat that are created by the food industry (think Snackwells).  I couldn’t agree more. Says Bittman, “The real villains in our diet — sugar and ultra-processed foods — are becoming increasingly apparent. You can go back to eating butter, if you haven’t already.”

Don’t be afraid of fat.  It is fuel for the body.  We don’t want to over do it, but we can’t let fat be the bogeyman we’ve been told it is.  We need to shake that fear of fat and dive into an avocado or a full fat yogurt, if you can find it at your grocery store (yes, challenging, isn’t it?!).  Go for it!

Real whole foods are healing and what give us fuel for our lives and help rid us of ailments.  Below is a recipe sure to have us all rejoicing about the latest news.

Avocado & Cilantro Pesto
Take out the Cuisinart or powerful blender and throw in:2-3 cloves of garlic (let them bounce around first to get real tiny, then add the rest of the ingredients)
2-3 avocados
2 healthy bunches of cilantro (about 2+ cups), stems and all!
2 T lemon juice, or more to taste

Blend it all up–it will be bright, bright green.  Toss it on your pasta, zucchini noodles, or other noodley creation!  Enjoy!


Diving Right In

Welcome to my blog!

Through this website I hope to open your eyes to lifestyle and diet changes that can have a cascading effect on you–for the better!  Small shifts can make a big difference.

Thanks for joining me on this journey.