I did a 3-day cleanse and lived.

I’m one hour into my 3-day cleanse. I say to myself, “I think it’s working?” I do that little dance where you turn to the side and see if your belly has magically inverted. “I mean my jeans are definitely not cutting off my circulation today.”

Fast forward a couple of hours to my first FIBER SWEEP drink.  It’s somehow slimy and gritty all at once.  I make the mistake of drinking this concoction slowly, which allows time for the fiber to coagulate right there at my desk.  The last quarter literally requires chewing.

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Later, I drink my first vanilla fresh shake, a beverage that I am required to drink with both lunch and dinner.  Despite the “DELICIOUS” claims printed on the flyer, this shake is barely swallowable. I quickly learn that chugging is the only option.  Fortunately, a sprinkle of cinnamon helps ease my gag reflex.  Unfortunately, the cinnamon does not alleviate the gas.  Vanilla “fresh” … the irony.

Before I fall asleep that first night, I declare to the world (via a solitary text to my boyfriend) that I am quitting the cleanse.  Though quitting is not in my nature, I am certain this cleanse is worthy of a quit.  I am done.

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Seven hours later, I awake with renewed gumption.  I tell myself I’ll do it for science.  FOR SCIENCE, I say.

Going into this cleanse, I was mostly worried about going hungry for three solid days.  Interestingly, this was not the case. Though I ate about 1,200 calories per day each of the three days (the bulk of which came from shakes), my stomach felt unnaturally full.  I did not feel COMPLETELY REFRESHED as the box implied I would.  Honestly, I felt angry (or was it just hangry?).  As sad as this is to mention out loud, I felt like my days had lost their color.  In my world, an injection of interesting food is akin to bumping up the contrast on a picture being edited for Instagram.  Everything looks so much brighter, so much fuller that way.

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Vegetarian Whole30: Week One Menu

The idea of cutting dairy, sugar, grains, beans, alcohol, and processed goods from your diet can feel a bit… suffocating.  Granted, this a big change from how most of us regularly eat, but I’m often surprised to find how freeing the Whole30 process feels.  Anyone who has struggled to come up with a weekly meal plan or who has stressed over what the heck to cook for dinner tonight will likely appreciate these feelings of relief.  When you drastically limit the number of options, it makes the decision process simpler.  It’s like trying to select an outfit from a closet packed to the brim with hundreds of pieces versus picking an outfit from one of those cool, minimalist capsule wardrobes.  When you keep a closet stocked with only versatile pieces you love and that actually fit, picking an outfit is a cinch.

I spent the NYE weekend eating my weight in bagels and cheese and talking to friends about Whole30, and I realized one of the biggest Whole30 concerns was WHAT to cook.  To return to my wardrobe analogy, it’s as if everyone really wants a capsule wardrobe (I do, I do!), but they’re just not sure what pieces (recipes) make the the cut.

Good news.  This January I’ll be sharing some ideas for weekly menus, in an effort to get those Whole30 juices flowing.  Rather than a restrictive, all-inclusive 7-day meal plan, these menu ideas are meant to serve as a jumping off point.

First time doing a Veg Whole30?  Check out this post.  Snag the Week Two menu here.

Frittata with Simple Arugula Salad {ferventfoodie.com]

My Whole30.  

In my last post, I laid out some of the differences between regular Whole30 and Vegetarian Whole30, including all the good stuff Vegetarians get to swap in place of meat.  No matter what type of Whole30 you do, planning is crucial, and batch cooking over the weekends will make life much easier.  Things get a little more complicated when you have a variety of eaters in one house.  Say, for example, you’ve got a meat-eater and a vegetarian.  Vegetables and fats can be shared by all, but some things that are OK for Veg Whole30 (beans, tofu, tempeh, etc.) are not allowed for regular Whole30.

In my house, we have a meat-eater who likes to regularly eat meat-free and a part-time pescetarian who prefers a veg-based diet with occasional seafood (1-3 meals per week).  So, our version of Whole30 is  a blended one:  Veg Whole30 plus occasional seafood (meat for the carnivore).


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How to do a Vegetarian Whole30

Nearly every year, somewhere in the weird limbo land between Christmas and New Years, I get these strong put-my-life-back-together pangs. I think about January, the new year, and how I’m going to finally fix everything I’ve been doing wrong. Eat less, exercise more. Stress less, sleep more. Waste less, wash my sheets more. My internal monologue is filled with lots of LESS-of-this and MORE-of-that, and visions of me emerging from January skinnier, shinier, and noticeably more muscular than I entered it.

You feel me?
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The last few Januarys I’ve succumbed to this self-imposed pressure by voluntarily committing to a January Whole30.  For those who aren’t familiar, Whole30 is a nutritional reset program. Thirty days of super clean eating to help you cleanse your body (and your mind) and get your eating habits back on track. The simplest, shortest way to explain Whole30 goes a little something like this: a lot of vegetables, meat, and healthy fats and… nothing else. That means no grains, no beans, no sugar, no dairy, no processed what have you’s, no Paleo baked goods (or other technically-Whole30-approved “junk food”), and NO BOOZE for thirty days.

That’s right, just vegetables, meat, and healthy fats. There’s just one problem. Over a year ago, I quit meat. It wasn’t planned, and it may not last forever, but for the foreseeable future, I won’t be putting any land animals in my mouth. So, what happens when you take meat out of the Whole30 equation, and all you’re left with is vegetables and fat?

According to the official Whole 30 book It Starts With Food, you can’t really do a vegetarian Whole30.  Pescetarian?  No prob.  Vegetarian though…  First, the authors do their best to convince vegetarians to just “give up” their meat-free ways for 30 days, like it’s as simple as deciding you’re not going to eat ketchup anymore.  If you aren’t up for such a sacrifice, a vegetarian diet will require some Whole30 modifications to ensure your food intake is balanced and wholesome.  It’s called Veg Whole30.

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Here’s what you get to swap in for all the meat when you do a Veg Whole30:

  • Limited dairy from pastured, organic, fermented sources (like yogurt and kefir)
  • Minimally processed, fermented soy products like tempeh or natto
  • Organic edamame
  • Nonfermeted soy (extra-firm tofu)
  • Legumes (soaked for 12-24 hours, rinsed, then boiled for at least 15 minutes to reduce anti-nutrient and inflammatory compounds)
  • Whey protein powder from grass-fed organic sources
  • Hemp or pea protein powders

The authors caution to avoid all grains and grain products, including seitan and quinoa, while doing the Veg Whole30.  Likewise, they suggest eating beans and tofu in rotation (i.e., not eating them every day).

When you quit meat, people often wonder how the heck you get your protein in.  It’s a good question, though, I think most people are eating way more protein than they need each day.  I recently read a series of posts on No Meat Athlete, which argue that only 10-15% of our daily calorie intake needs to come from protein.  Say you eat about 1800 calories a day.  That means at least 180 should come from protein, which is the equivalent of at least 45 grams of protein a day.

#vegwhole30 {ferventfoodie.com}

Here’s an example of how to easily hit 45g of protein by lunch time under Veg Whole30:

Breakfast:  2 eggs* + 1 cup sauteed kale + 1/2 cup lentils  = 23g protein

Lunch:  3 oz tempeh + 1 cup broccoli + 1 med banana + 1 tbsp almond butter = 24g protein

*Note that if you don’t eat eggs, you could easily double the kale/lentil combo and exceed the 45g protein goal.

At risk of sounding crass, Veg Whole30 isn’t really that hard.  Sure, it takes dedication, planning, and more time spent cooking than most folks are used to, but I actually enjoy all that stuff.  I like the excuse to get into the kitchen, and I think it’s fun to make every darn thing from scratch.  Whole30 isn’t meant to be a long-term “diet” — it is a 30-day reset.  Which, in January, feels especially welcome after weeks of holiday overeating under our bulging belts.  Speaking from the other side, Whole30 will change the way you eat (and drink) long term, far past the end of January.

      

Some links that may be useful:

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Gluten-free-for-all

Thanks to goodnessknows for sponsoring this post and encouraging me to refocus on healthy living goals!

I remember once proclaiming that I’d rather date a vegetarian than someone who was gluten-free.  I said “vegetarian” like it was something utterly disdainful, the penultimate compatibility failure.  Fast forward a few years, and I’m the (most-of-the-time) vegetarian touting a gluten-free fellow.  Oh, how the tables turn!  Starting this blog 6.5 years ago was sort of like my healthy living “puberty” — back then, I was dipping my toe in the internet’s complex, often conflicting, never-ending pool of health-focused information.  I was intrigued, excited, and totally misguided.  But, just as our bodies physically mature over our lifetimes, our tastes, preferences, and views shift and expand, strengthen and sag too.  And thank god for that.  Otherwise I’d still be eating fat-free dairy for snacks and microwaved broccoli for breakfast every day. goodnessknows

Near the time I started blogging, I learned about the gluten-free diet from my friend Tracy, who, after an onslaught of tummy troubles, found that dairy-free, gluten-free foods made her feel “normal” again.  At the time, “gluten” was a word few people knew or cared much about, and this whole gluten-free diet thing sounded MISERABLE to me.  So, I made it my mission to find Tracy a decent gluten-free, dairy-free pizza so that her new GF life wouldn’t be completely devoid of joy.
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Good to Freaking Great {some thoughts on healthy living}

A big thanks to goodnessknows for sponsoring this post (and contributing to this grad student’s emergency vacation fund!).  

The well-documented link between mental stability and physical activity is one I won’t drudge on about here.  In short, mental health and physical health are intertwined just like the pastel colors in those rainbow bagels I see all over the internet these days.  Basically, bagels are my therapy.  I MEAN EXERCISE.  Yes, exercise.  And by therapy, I simply mean that I am happiest and most emotionally stable when I get some form of exercise each day.  I joke that like a dog, I need walked twice a day.   Even small amounts of exercise (like walking) boost my energy and mood.

Goodness Knows #tryalittlegoodness

Of course this all sounds wonderful, but the truth is that when life gets crazy, exercise is the first thing to disappear from my routine (followed closely behind by healthy eating), and in those high-stress chunks of days, I feel my happiness dissipate — not to depression, but to numbness.  I become numb to the world as I focus with champion-like intention on the task at hand.  You see, I’m what my dad calls a “go-getter” always seeking out some thing, some goal, and hunkering down till I obtain it.  A goal-getter, really.  I know this about myself, and actually, I like this quality.  But, each time, after the smokey stress cloud clears, I look back on the weeks or months that have lapsed and am often disappointed that I let so much life pass me by; that my mission for mindfulness was yet again neglected; that I sacrificed those things that help me be my best me.

Goodness Knows #tryalittlegoodness

I’ve got my sights set on this balanced rainbow bagel of life as I head into what will surely be the most stressful couple of months this gal has tackled yet.  As the great Mr. Tolle, my 10th grade biology teacher, proclaimed: “organization is key.”  And thus, I’ve organized some thoughts on my health goals for the fall.

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Whole30 – Notes from the Other Side

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In my whole 30 years, I’ve never gone on a diet.  Actually, come to think of it, there was that one time, back in college, when I challenged myself to eat nothing but raw fruits and vegetables for three whole days.  SO.MANY.GRAPES.  I also had a brief stint as an uncompromising calorie counter, and while that helped me limit the amount of food I consumed, it was more about calorie give-and-take, like having a sensible lunch so I could calorically finagle a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch for dessert.

Diet is a dirty word.  It makes me think of limitations, restrictions, sacrifices and, ultimately, unhappiness.  And thus, I’ve avoided all of them.  Because food is my THING.  My everything, really.  Without it, I don’t know who I am.  And I mean that literally, in the least dramatic way.  Without food, I don’t know how I’d spend my time or my thoughts.  I’d feel empty, physically and mentally.

Over the Christmas holiday, my mom asked my thoughts on the Whole30.  I’d never heard of it, but a little bit of research told me it was basically an extreme 30-day version of the Pal1969415_10102575857932084_8226543047997873534_neo diet meant to help participants nutritionally reset–to find the mix of food and nutrients that made their bodies feel and operate optimally.  This “nutritional reset” idea resonated with me because I’ve been on downward spiral since my big 30th birthday in July.  Lots of travel, lots of fun, and lots of eating with reckless abandon have accumulated in a 7-pound gain I’m not planning to keep.

And so this self-declared carbohydrate connoisseur said yes to the Whole30, and gave up grains, sugar, beans, soy, dairy, and booze for thirty whole darn days.  I was scared at first, mostly because it had taken me a lot of time and effort to find a mix of foods that kept my low-blood sugar in line throughout the day, and I was hesitant to mess with that “magic” formula.  But I went forth and swapped my normal egg and Ezekiel toast for a veggie frittata and roasted sweet potatoes.  Oatmeal got the axe in favor of coconut milk chia seed pudding.  My lunches weren’t all that different–a salad with protein, just no cheese or quinoa as I’d normally use.  Buh bye mid-afternoon protein bar, H-E-L-L-O roasted broccoli and cauliflower rice (OBSESSED).  Dinners weren’t much different either.   Meatballs and marinara over zucchini noodles, mixed greens topped with carnitas or baracoa plus guacamole, stir-fry with ALL THE VEGGIES, burger-salad-what-have-yous.

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My Top 5 tools for Healthy Living

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Oh, January.  I love the start of a new year.  It reminds me of the whoosh of relief you get after a huge exam mixed with the excited butterflies of a new relationship.  Once we cross over that line in the sand, we are all bubbling over with hopes and goals and visions of doing things differently in the new year.  It’s no wonder healthy eating and exercising are such popular topics this time of year.

Healthy living has been a priority for me for the past few years, in fact, it’s one of the reasons I started this ole blog (check out my take on healthy living here).  My life struggle is balancing my love (obsession?) of food with my desire to maintain physical health.  It sounds like an oxymoron, but I truly believe it’s obtainable.

As a creature of habit, there are a few tools I use religiously, day in and day out, to help me in my quest for health.

CaptureIf you’ve ever tried to lose a few lbs, you know the first step is getting a handle on the amount of calories you consume each day.  Plus, I’m a numbers girl, so I need to see the numerical nutritional breakout of my meals to understand if what I’m eating is really as healthy as it looks.  I’ve been using MyFitnessPal since 2010.  It’s an awesome tool for tracking calories consumed and burned, plus it has a huge nutritional information database.  I also love that you can input and save recipes to the site (p.s., this is how I compute the nutritional stats for the recipes posted on the blog).  The site also has a weight tracker, goal setting features, and smartphone aps.  It’s COMPLETELY free.  LOVE IT.

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CaptureAt least a couple times a week, I’ll catch someone staring at my hip before they point and blurt “what is that thing?!”  I love my fitbit, and I’ve worn it daily for over a year now.  In a nutshell, the fitbit is a pedometer that tracks your steps, distance, stairs climbed, calories burned, and even how well you sleep at night.  AGAIN with the numbers.  I know.  The newest fitbit model synchs your activity data wirelessly, which I am oober jealous of.  Once the data synchs, you can log onto the fibit site and see how your activity measures up to your goals plus you can challenge your friends.  My personal fitbit goal is to log 35 miles per week and a minimum of 10,000 steps a day.  If I see I haven’t reached my daily goal when I get home from work, I find an excuse to get moving.  I take out the trash, I vacuum, I’ll go to the mall and do a few laps (yes, really).  Whatever it takes to get to my goal.  It all adds up.  Another feature I love:  the fitbit displays random words of motivation.  Things like “WALK ME” or “I LIKE YOU” or “MISS YOU” when you haven’t been moving enough lately.

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