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Raw Update & Juice Cleanse Challenge

27 Jan

First, an update on my “raw resolution”.  I conveniently forgot how long I was planning on eating raw (please don’t remind me), but I can report that I ate only raw foods for almost two weeks! Twelve days to be exact. This included an out-of-town baseball tournament.  I lost about five pounds during the first week and felt great.  I noticed that I started eating too many avocados and almond butter to lose any more weight.  Then we had a birthday party and a formal dinner and I lost it!

I have to confess that I have had a really difficult time getting back to my healthy eating habits since the holidays.  I’ve been off the raw diet for almost two weeks now and have had such a sweet tooth.  Hormones have definitely played a role in my cravings, but I think it’s mostly just been bad habits from the holidays and lack of self-control.  I put on a few of the pounds I lost, so I still have 5-10 pounds to lose and I am struggling.

So….I’m going to try a juice cleanse.

Our store is showing a film called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead tonight and then we are having a kick-off meeting/class at our store on Saturday for anyone interested in starting a seven-day juice fast.  Some people are doing a three-day fast and others just want to incorporate more juicing into their life.

I’m going for it!  But I don’t have a juicer.  Mine is being used by my sweet hubby at the store.  Besides, I am super busy running kids from one end of San Diego to the other all week.  So what’s a girl to do?

RITUAL CLEANSE TO THE RESCUE!

I found a company that delivers fresh-pressed 100% raw organic juices to your door!  Now that sounds right up this busy mama’s alley!  My first delivery is expected to arrive around 5:30am tomorrow and I am so excited!

A cleanse can have various effects on people.  Among them are:

  • Mental clarity
  • Abundance of energy
  • Happier Mood
  • Better digestion
  • Decreased desire for salt and sugar
  • Craving for fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Glowing skin
  • More restful sleep
  • Weight loss
  • Increased sex drive
  • Strong desire to “reset” regularly

Sounds good to me!

What doesn’t sound good to me is not having my coffee.  Ahhhhhhh!  In preparation, I hid all of my favorite mugs, my little espresso maker, and anything that will trigger a coffee craving during the day.  Hope that works!

Since I eat pretty healthy (compared to the average Joe), I am not expecting any crazy detox symptoms during the first few days except for a headache from lack of caffeine.

One of my blogging friends, Cheeseslave, blogged about taking Phenylalanine  to help her quit coffee without any side effects.  I may give that a try.

According to the folks at Ritual Cleanse, their cleanse floods the cells with vitamins and minerals that gently cleanse and heal your body without the harsh “detox” symptoms associated with other cleanses.  (We’ll see)

They have another juice that I’m totally excited about, too.  It’s called Shed.  The Shred component provides extra nutrition to fuel workouts.  I would like to say that I have been working out, but I would be lying.  I just like to know that I can if I want to.

Another blogger, at My Favorite Everything, tried the three-day cleanse and said it was “like having a clogged bathroom drain, pouring down a jug of Liquid Plumber and having the pipes function perfectly after wards.”  Hmm, I like the part about the pipes working, but I’m going to try to get the Liquid Plumber out of my mind.  She said she felt great after the cleanse and will try five days next time.

My high school friend-turned-blogger, Kathleen of Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice, also had a great experience and said she will do five days next time too.

If they can do it, I can do it!

Besides, look at the ladies behind this company…they are gorgeous!

Sign me up!

Well, I’m off the bed so I can get started bright and early.  Pray for me as you sip your morning coffee.  Weep for me.

I’ll check-in soon with an update…promise.

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My Raw Resolution

5 Jan

The holidays are over.  The cookies are gone.  The desserts have been devoured.  All that remains is one muffin top…mine.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a lovely holiday.  I visited with friends and family, and I didn’t go crazy with my eating.  But…by Christmas day, I felt terrible.  In fact, was tired most of December.  My energy level was way down from normal and I had the blues a bit, especially after Christmas.  Maybe some of that was just normal post-holiday emotions, but I think a majority of it was from my diet that was consisting of more starches and sugars than what I am used to eating.

Also, about a year ago, I noticed a small lump along my bikini line which scared the daylights out of me until I did some research and saw a doctor and found out I have a femoral hernia.  It’s a rare type of hernia that occurs mostly in women and can be caused by pregnancy.  I was relieved that it wasn’t anything more serious.

I noticed that when I eat too much, my gut really bothers me.  I had an episode just after Thanksgiving that almost sent me to the hospital.  If you have ever had intestinal pain, you will know what I’m talking about.  I almost passed-out, was throwing-up, and then broke-out into hives, all from pain in my gut.

I did some research on hernia surgery and thought I was going to have to have surgery right away to avoid another emergency situation.  Then I stumbled upon some websites that examined healing a hernia without surgery.   Being the crunchy girl that I am, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.  General anesthesia scares me to death!  If I’m going to have surgery, I would rather it be for a tummy tuck than to fix a hernia! But I’m probably too chicken for that, too.

I also read that, contrary to common medical advice, moderate exercise, including abdominal strengthening, can actually help to heal a hernia (depending of the type and severity).

I was training for a sprint triathlon last year and stopped my training, in part, because I was afraid I was going to make it worse.  I plan to start Pilates and yoga from home and I am going to resume walking/jogging and swimming.

The best site I found so far is the  Hernia Bible.  It’s filled with information about diet and exercises to heal a hernia naturally.  Here are the basics:

The principles of the hernia diet

  • Reduce the overall quantity of food you eat.
  • Eat mostly foods which are easily digested and pass quickly through your digestive system. These help to reduce the amount of time food stays in your intestines (‘transit’ time), and make bowel motions soft and easy.
  • Eat foods which help to reduce gas and lubricate your intestines.
  • Eat foods rich in nutrients which help to maintain the integrity of collagen and elastin in your abdominal wall.
  • Consider eating only two meals a day instead of three. Skipping breakfast means your intestines should only contain one meal’s worth of food by lunchtime. This greatly reduces the volume of your abdomen and the pressure on your inguinal gap.

After reading this, I thought, raw food fits the bill here for sure.  I knew I needed to get flour and sugar back out of my diet, and I needed to cut-out meats and cheeses for a while because they are digested too slowly.

“A diet that is high in fibre, wholegrains, vegetables and fruit and low in dairy products, meat, white flour and sugary foods will assist in reducing your transit time to 12 hours or so and in reducing your overall appetite. In turn this reduces the volume of your abdominal contents.”  The Hernia Bible

Recommended Supplements:

The strength and integrity of your abdominal wall depends on the strength and integrity of the collagen and elastin proteins which are its main structural components. For optimal collagen integrity, your body needs an ample daily supply of the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin A, Vitamin C
  • Calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, sulphur,
  • The amino acid arginine found in most protein foods but especially nuts

I try to get my vitamins and minerals from food sources whenever possible, and the best Vitamin C source I have found is a 100% food concentrate from Acerola Berry.  I use Healthforce Nutritionals Truly Natural Vitamin C.  I just add a tablespoon to a green smoothie.

Since I’m not eating meat, I have included nuts and seeds in my diet as well as an L-Arginine supplement.  Nuts, together with sunflower and sesame seeds, are the best all-round sources of zinc, copper, calcium, magnesium and arginine–nutrients which your body needs to make collagen for strong connective tissue.  I am adding sunflower and pumpkin seeds to my salads and am snacking on Go Raw’s Super Cookies, which are made with coconut, sesame seeds, and dates.  That’s it.

They have other flavors too, but I have only tried the original so far.  My kids love them too.  When I have some time, I’m going to make some myself.  I have a super recipe for raw cookies with sprouted oat groats, raisins, and cinnamon.

I admit, it sure helps owning a health food store. I am able to try things, often for free from companies and see if they taste good and test how they work.  I will be trying lots of new products and let you know what I think.

So, where to start?  I started with green smoothies.  Today I used frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, coconut water or spring water, and TONS of spinach.

The BlendTec sure helps.  My regular BlendTec is at the store, so I ordered this refurbished Starbucks blender on Ebay.  I prefer mine over this one.

Here are my kids enjoying their smoothies.  As a mom, I can’t do anything on my own.  Everyone wants to join in.  I guess that’s a good thing!

RawFamily.com has some great green smoothie video demonstrations if you are not sure how to make a green smoothie that actually tastes good.

I’m getting ready to make some videos of my own, so keep checking back.

So far, I’m down almost 6 pounds in 3 days.  My energy level is WAY up, and everything is moving well, if you know what I mean. My only cheat has been coffee in the morning with a bit of organic half and half.  I haven’t had any coffee in the afternoon, though.  That’s progress for me:)

I’ll keep you posted about my raw food resolution.  My plan is to continue eating raw for about three weeks.  At that point, I will re-evaluate my progress.

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year,

Cinnamon Pecan Coconut Pancakes (Gluten-Free)

14 Dec

I am in love with coconut pancakes.  No, really.  I LOVE them.

I discovered these little delicacies after I lost a bunch of weight and needed to find some low-carb recipes to help me maintain my new weight.

These pancakes are a bit like crepes, which I also love.  I don’t think they taste at all like coconut, but I may be biased because I love coconut.  Notice a trend here?

First, make sure you have a helper.  This is Justice.  He loves to be my “kitchen helper”.  Look at that face!

Next, you need a few ingredients.  I will list them at the end for your convenience.

My husband and I own a small health food store, so  I am a big believer in quality ingredients.  We use organic milk, eggs and coconut flour as well as stevia and sea salt.  I buy really good cinnamon in bulk because I use it often.

Blend together eggs, coconut oil, milk, stevia (or sugar) and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine coconut flour, cinnamon and baking powder.  Add the dry ingredients into the wet batter.

You may need to heat your coconut oil over a very low flame for a minute or two in the winter.  Coconut oil solidifies below 76 degrees.  Or you can use butter. Don’t worry if your batter is a bit lumpy.  By the way, coconut oil speeds up your metabolism, which is always a good thing!

Melt butter on a hot skillet and use a small measuring cup to drop batter onto skillet.  This is when you can add chopped pecans and/or cranberries to take it over the top! I’ve added blueberries to this recipe, too (without the cinnamon, of course).

Don’t they look delish?  My kids gobbled them up!

To keep them low carb, I leave out the cranberries for mine.

This was my breakfast.  Doesn’t look like diet food, does it?  I use Nature’s Hollow Sugar Free Maple Syrup (sweetened with Xylitol) and a good quality butter.  When you avoid starches and sugars, you can have plenty of fats.  I use butter and an organic Grade B maple syrup for the kids.  Grade B syrup is better than Grade A because it has more minerals.  When I make my pancakes plain, I use butter and some sugar free jam.  Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Here’s the recipe:

Cinnamon Pecan Coconut Pancakes

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 T stevia, Xylitol or sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pecans (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Enjoy!

Cookie Day is Coming!

4 Dec

Every year, my very best girlfriends, whom I have known since I was five, get together along with our families and decorate Christmas cookies.  My friends are four sisters who have adopted me into their “sisterhood” since I have no sisters of my own (boo hoo).

Sadly, they all live about two hours away and every year my family drives up to one of their houses and we don’t get home until after midnight.  So this year, they are all coming to my house for a “Cookie Day Slumber Party”!

It’s going to be so fun!  It’s a good thing I got the house in order for Thanksgiving.

Thankfully, all of their kids are getting older now, because one year I hosted cookie day and had colored frosting from one end of my newly carpeted house to the other.  I forgave them, because all five of my kids have grown-up with this tradition and have, undoubtedly done the same.

I remember my Sarah last year just sitting at the decorating table eating a mound of frosting.  It wasn’t pretty.  In fact, I think she had more green sprinkles than frosting.  It makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it.

Each family brings a load of sugar cookies that we have already baked and then we can all just chose any of the cookies on the table to decorate.  It’s fun that way because every gets a greater variety of shapes.

We used to try to bake the cookies the same day, but I always seemed to burn mine because I would get distracted chatting.  So now I just burn my own at home:)

I’ve been thinking about how to get prepared for cookie day and remembered the most amazing cookie blog ever, Bake at 350.  I found it last year and suggested to my friends that we take our cookie decorating to the next level.  I even emailed a link to the blog to them and none of them even looked at it.

So, it was tubs of nasty frosting with food coloring and powdered sugar and milk with food coloring for the 30th year.

Well, this year, it’s at MY house!  We are going to kick it up a notch!

Take a look at these babies:

Did I mention that my friends and I get pretty “into” our decorating.  I won’t call us competitive, but…ok, we can get a bit competitive.  Unfortunately, I am definitely not the best cookie decorator.  I think that honor probably goes to one our daughters.

I love these trees, too!  Aren’t the dots so cute?

The trick, according to Bridget at Bake at 350, is to outline, then fill, then flood with frosting.  We will be expanding our frosting repertoire this year to include outlining, filling, and flooding.  I can’t wait!

Are feeling inspired?  Are you getting hungry?

Here are some tips from Bake at 350 to help you get organized and will make your cookie baking more enjoyable:

First…take a look at your supplies.  You’re going to need:

If you are planning on mailing your cookies or giving as gifts, you will need:

OK….next.  Start early.  Cookie decorating is really more fun if you break it up into chunks.   
Do one of the following to make life easier:

  • make the dough ahead and freeze (thaw in the fridge overnight)
  • bake the cookies and freeze (thaw at room temperature for a few hours)
  • bake the cookies the day before decorating
  • make the icing a day (or so) before decorating (if you are doing fine detail work, you’ll want to make this the same day you are using)

I think I’ll be baking the cookies a few days in advance so I can use my time to get ready for company.

Here is the recipe that I used last year and the cookies were awesome.  I love how they held-up and they tasted better than the others (sorry girls!).  Notice that it calls for sugar with vanilla beans.  I’ve been storing vanilla beans in my sugar ever since I read about it last year.

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies (from Bake at 350)

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar (I use sugar that I’ve stored vanilla beans in)
2 sticks (salted) butter, cold
1 egg
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling (video on University of Cookie).

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (I recommend freezing the cut out shape on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Enjoy and have fun!

Cast Iron Turkey & Dumplings

30 Nov

If you still have turkey leftover from Thanksgiving, you MUST try this recipe.  If you don’t, go bake another turnkey because you MUST try this recipe.

I will admit, it is not particularly sophisticated, but it is perhaps the most comforting comfort food on the planet.  It’s from Mary Janes Farm magazine, but I couln’t find it anywhere online, so I took a picture of the little well-worn recipe card that I pulled out of the magazine over a year ago.

I use a cast iron dutch oven that I found at a little hole-in-the-wall antique store that was going out of business a few years ago.  It has a lid and everything and was perfectly seasoned already.   If you don’t have a cast-iron pot, a stainless steel pot with a lid will work just fine.

First, you need to make the spice mix.  In a small bowl, mix together 1 t sea salt, 1 t Italian seasoning, 1 t pepper, and 1/2 t paprika.

Then, in your pot, heat 1/4 cup oil (I use coconut oil or grapeseed oil) over medium-high heat.  Add 5 small new potatoes, diced, 3 diced carrots, and 1/4 of the spice mix.  Cook for 12-14 minutes, stirring and scraping bottom of pan every 3 minutes.

Add 2 stalks of finely diced celery, 1 finely diced onion, 1 T minced garlic , 1 cup corn, 1/4 of the spice mix, and 2 T oil.  Cook for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and spread vegetables out on a cookie sheet to cool.

*If you forget to cook the carrots and potatoes together first (like I did), don’t fret, just put them in the oven at 400 degrees and roast, watching carefully for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. This picture was taken before I put them in the oven.

Cooking is really all about improvisation, right?

Let your pot cool down a bit, then add 1/2 cup butter and melt over low heat.  Whisk together remaining spice mix with 1/2 cup flour; add to butter, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

Add small amounts of broth at a time to the roux while constantly whisking.  By the time you have added 4 cups of broth, you will be left with what looks like a thin gravy with a layer of better on top.  Turn-up the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup hot water, cover, and cook for 3-5 minutes.

Add cooked vegetables and turkey into the pot, leaving space around the rim to add the dumplings.  Reduce the heat to medium-low so the mixture just simmers but does not boil.  See how soft the potatoes look know?

Now to make the dumplings:  In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 t baking powder, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t pepper and 2 T chopped parsley.  With a fork, gradually stir in 1/2 cup milk until just combined.

Drop dumpling batter into simmering liquid in 12 heaping spoonfuls, evenly spaced around the outer rim.

Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes more.  You may need to increase the heat a bit to fully cook the dumplings.

Serve immediately…as if you could wait.

Enjoy!

 

 

Thanksgiving Wrap-up

29 Nov

Wow, what a week!  It feels like I haven’t posted in forever!  I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend with much love and family and/or friends.

My Thanksgiving was wonderful…mostly, but I’ll get to that.

I tried to spend all day Wednesday in the kitchen in the attempt to get everything pre-made as much as possible so all I would have to do Thursday is the turkey and gravy.  Nice thought, but real life happened and I only got a few things done in advance.  Thankfully, my sister-in-law, Kelly, and her family stayed with us and she was a HUGE help all day Thursday.  We would have eaten on Friday if it wasn’t for Kelly.  Thanks, Kelly!

We chopped, we assembled, we baked, we washed dishes, repeat.

We made delicious food, I must say.  My little stove got some major action.

I was in charge of the stuffing, of which I made WAY too much!  But, it was delish and I am still eating the leftovers.  I made it with cornbread,  sausage, roasted chestnuts (yes, I roasted chestnuts), mushrooms, and granny smith apples sautéed in white wine. Yum! I love digging through and finding all kinds of treasures.  I’m weird like that.

Then, much to my husband’s chagrin, I made brussels sprouts.  I think I converted a few brussels sprouts haters over to the dark side.  All I can say is everything is better with bacon!  Even my husband loved them.

I wish I had a picture of our turkey!  We got a 27 pound fresh, organic turkey from our store, of course, and it was the best turkey ever.  We brined it in the morning and cooked it without stuffing for about 6 hours.  It was a beaut!

I also made a pumpkin goat cheese cheesecake that was absolutely sinful.  I made it for my mother-in-law, Patti, who was turning 70 on Saturday.  All of her sons were there to sing Happy Birthday to her. Happy Birthday, Patti!

I really wish I had a better camera so I could capture how pretty the table looked, but you’ll have to just use your imagination.  I think it turned-out quite lovely.

We gave each couple a small jar of local raw honey to take home with them since most everyone was visiting from out-of-town.  My new antique dishes mixed beautifully with my china, thanks to my lovely daughter.  Thanks lovely daughter!

I think the coolest part of the table was the thankful tree.  We placed bowls with little paper leaves in them on each table and asked people to write what they are thankful for and hang it on the tree.  That was our centerpiece.  Here is the undecorated tree.

Did I mention I love sparkles?

Here’s a view of part of the table from upstairs.  Don’t look at it too long or you’ll get dizzy, or maybe it’s just me.

Here’s a peak at the kid’s table.

And the “teen table”…

I think everyone had a nice time.  I know I did…until…

I ate something funky that didn’t agree with me.  I know what it is, but I’m not going to say.  I will say that it had oysters in it and cayenne pepper; not a good combo for my tummy, apparently.  One minute I was washing dishes and the next minute I was lying on my bed unable to get up.  Such a bummer!

Not only did I miss the big family picture, but I missed dessert!

Thankfully, the ladies all pitched-in and finished the dishes (all 3000 of them) before they left.  What a blessing!

And I was fine the next day:)

Happy Thanksgiving from the Bradley Bunch!

Dressing or Stuffing?

22 Nov

There’s no difference between stuffing and dressing, according the The Food Lover’s Companion.  Both are mixtures “used to stuff poultry, fish, meat and some vegetables.”

The Joy of Cooking differentiates between the two by saying it’s stuffing if you put it in the bird, and dressing if you serve it on the side, but the National Turkey Federation says that “both terms are used interchangeably.”

I read somewhere that the term dressing became popular because the term stuffing didn’t sound mannerly.

Who cares?

I LOVE it!  I love it so much that I have been dieting all week so I can eat as much as I want.

I love it so much that I am serving three different dressings/stuffings on Thanksgiving.

I will stuff my bird, but the majority of our dressing will be made the day before and cooked in a separate dish.

Since we are hosting 300 people…I mean 25 people, my mother-in-law is making several things and bringing them to help out.  I am so grateful!

One of the things she is bringing is Oyster stuffing.  Hmmm.  I have had this once at my sister-in-laws house and just don’t get it.

I think it’s the fishy thing with the turkey thing that just doesn’t jive with me.

That was a few years ago, so I am going to give it another college try this Thanksgiving and see if my taste buds have matured.

In light of the oyster stuffing selection, I will be making a cornbread stuffing with sausage, apples, and (Lord willing) roasted chestnuts.

I am getting hungry just thinking about it.  I will be altering several recipes to create my own pan of deliciousness!

Here are the recipes I am pulling from:

Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Apples by Pioneer Woman

Buttermilk Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage by Country Living

I am also going to try a southern-style dressing that I think my kids will enjoy.  Really, I’m just trying to keep them out of my stuffing.  I found a good one by Paula Dean, but I’m going to try one from Shoshanna at the Bulk Herb Store.  I love her.  If you watch her video, spend some time checking-out some of her other videos.  She is awesome.

The southern dressings are more like a pudding with a bunch of eggs.  I love my dressing all chunky with lots of bits of yummy things.  So I thought the contrast would be good.

No matter what you call it, enjoy it.