Finding my way back again

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Happy first day of autumn. I absolutely love this time of year. The leaves are just beginning to pop (did anybody see today’s Google “Doodle?” Very cute), the air is crisp but not necessarily cold, and the sky has been just the most brilliant blue (I’m starting to come out of my haze and be able to enjoy something so “simple” yet gorgeous). I’ve always loved autumn: In college (in Florida) my Mom would send me fresh leaves in an envelope. I got married in October, my favorite month. And as much as I love tank tops and skirts, there’s something about a cozy sweater (without the winter coat) that I just adore. Think pumpkin spice lattes, fireplaces, and cozying up at home with a good bowl of chili and the new fall lineup. (Can anybody say “Scandal?” “Homeland?” and “The Big Bang Theory?” Oh, and “The Good Wife”). Not to mention that, as much as I try to live in-the-moment, I do absolutely love Thanksgiving as well.

As much as I love this change of seasons, not every day here in my world has felt sunny lately. Remember those “dark days” that I’ve been mentioning? Well, as ugly as they are, I can say that I am learning some valuable lessons in the pain. And as difficult as being a social worker can be (especially when you’re dealing with something like cancer yourself), I’ve actually found that helping people has given my life meaning in a way that I never imagined. When you need help yourself, you truly see the value in helping others.

Lesson #1:

Ask for help. Ask and you shall receive. Open yourself up to the vulnerability that it takes to say “I need you,” or “I need help.” It’s scary, but the beauty of putting yourself out there is that you find somebody—a spouse, parent, friend, therapist- to sit with you and help you sort out your sometimes confusing emotions, validate your feelings, and then offer up some guidance on where to go from there. Sometimes you need to just sit with the pain and grieve, and other times you need the space to be able to figure out how to move forward. The truth about not asking for help? You suffer in silence, needlessly, and sometimes the pain is too overwhelming to cope with by yourself. I can now see as a social worker and a human being how suffering in silence often makes people feel alone and hopeless. We’re human, and we need each other.

Lesson # 2:

Cry. It may sound silly, but I’ve found that after holding my tears in for long periods of time (whether that’s healthy or not), a good cry is sometimes so completely therapeutic. I wouldn’t suggest holding anything in, but when you do cry, give yourself permission to weep, sob, and even scream into a pillow if you need to. You may just find that release as cathartic as a hug, a therapy session, or road rage (which I wouldn’t recommend either, but we’ve all been there. Angry at the world? We think that we’ll feel better if we take it out on somebody who we’ll never have to see again).

Lesson # 3:

Create boundaries. Shut out the negativity. Tell people, “I just can’t do this with you right now.” Surround yourself only with those who lift you up. It may sound hokey, it may sound difficult, it may sound like common sense, but the bottom line is that we all know people who walk around with a black cloud over their head. And getting caught up in somebody else’s negativity can only make you feel worse. So if you need to shut your door at work, do so. Don’t respond to an email from somebody who is complaining (and I’m not talking about a friend reaching out to vent, we all do that, I’m talking about somebody in your life whose only purpose is to whine), or say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to get into that right now.” Creating some healthy boundaries gives you the space that you need to be able to focus on the positivity of whatever it is that you’re trying to focus on, instead of what the other person just wants to gripe about, which is usually just whatever issue they happen to be focusing on that day.

Lesson # 4:

Compartmentalize. Otherwise known as, denial. Your friend and mine. Great tip from my therapist: Give yourself a set amount of time every day (or every other day, or whatever feels right to you), to think about whatever is bothering you, and then when that time is up, try to let go (easier said that done, I know), and do something else or think of something else. I have been known to resort to all kinds of games in my head, just to not think about the fact that I have cancer (how many Presidents can I name? How many towns in Massachusetts start with the letter “M?” How many actresses have the same first name and last name initial? Amy Adams, Janet Jackson, Keira Knightley. Seriously. Whatever it takes. I get creative). There are times when you need to think about your anxiety, and times when you need to try and put a lid on it and maybe go meditate, call a friend, or cook something new in the kitchen (I find that trying a new recipe leaves little time for my mind to wander because I’m usually so busy trying not to burn something!).

And if all else fails, drink.

Kidding! I wanted to pass on what I’ve learned from going through some difficult times, but the truth is, sometimes we don’t feel like talking, have no tears left, and wouldn’t know a healthy boundary if it bit us in the behind because we’re too emotionally exhausted to even have the energy to recognize a boundary, let alone be able to put one up. On those days, just let yourself be wherever you are, and know that somehow, someway, you’ll find your way back again. That’s what I’m counting on.

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Crazy, not-so-sexy cancer life

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I found it pretty funny that today, during my usual browsing of the website Pinch of Yum (www.pinchofyum.com), I scrolled my mouse over their link to “Food Blogger Pro,” as if I may actually start a food blog. Hilarious. I once burned pasta, the easiest thing to make, if that gives you a sense of my cooking skills. Granted that was about 17 years ago, and I’ve certainly come a long way, but you’re not going to be getting a food blog out of me anytime soon. And though what I make generally tastes pretty good, I certainly don’t put it together in a way that anybody would ever want to see (me: pulling tiny bits of turkey bacon apart before putting it into the frying pan. SHL: It’s easier if you cook the bacon first… Me: Oh).

Having said that, you’ve been hearing a lot lately about my journey with food because it’s been a wonderful way to feel some control in a pretty crazy world living with cancer. A couple of weeks ago I had to call my physician assistant to ask her a question, and fast forward almost 2 weeks later: I am still a giant ball of anxiety. What doctors, PA’s, nurses, etc. fail to realize, I think, is that they can say one thing, and a patient can go into a tailspin. What she said isn’t actually anything that I don’t already know, but somehow hearing the words and the concern in her voice made me feel hopeless. I can’t believe I’m actually even writing those words, and yet here I am. No point in me blogging if I’m not going to be real. Would I ever actually throw in the towel? Absolutely, without a doubt, you’d better believe it, NOT. But… When negativity surrounds you, it’s hard not to get caught up in it. Her comment may have been accurate in a very scientific way, but it also doesn’t necessarily mean that g-d willing I won’t have a long, healthy, and bright future. I love Western medicine and appreciate the *%^& out of my doctors, but talking to them doesn’t always make me exactly want to do back flips. Make sense?

All of this is my long way of saying that Kris Carr may have a point: All we can do is control what we eat, drink, and think. And trying new healthy recipes and blogging about them is a way that I feel like I can take charge of me. Like I’m doing something good for myself. Like I have some say in all of this crazy, not-so-sexy cancer life. Am I going to drink green juice 3 x day and never have another hamburger? Probably not. But do I feel better physically and psychologically when I eat my fruits and veggies? You better believe it. My friend MC the other day over lunch asked me if this was going to be my “thing.” She seemed to recognize how much I love sharing my journey. How hard it’s been for me to cut out soda, how tiring it’s been to focus on 4 day a week workouts, and just how difficult it’s been for me to come home exhausted from work and cook for myself, but how rewarding it’s been to have people in my life to share the challenges– and the accomplishments– with. And do I succeed at these things every day? No. But what anybody trying to make changes in their life should focus on are the positive changes, no matter how big or small they are. Am I perfect? I wish (kind of). But have I done these things listed above more often than I used to? Heck yeah! So what will my “thing” be? I’m not sure that I know yet, but whatever it is, I hope that it won’t just help me, but you as well.

The other nice thing about blogging about what’s for dinner, is that it means that I don’t have to talk here about the dark days, which have been more often lately than I’d care to admit. Some days I actually can’t believe that I help people all.day.long with their problems, and still have the time and the energy to come home and face my own.

So what is for dinner tonight? Taco Pizza, courtesy of the Pioneer Woman, who I just love. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/05/taco-pizza/. Except mine will be whole wheat crust and more veggies, but I am looking forward to the beans and cheese, that’s for sure. CPK’s Tostada Pizza is one of my very favorite pizzas, and this looks like a good take on it. And last night I tried a new chili recipe called 30 Minute Spicy Ancho Turkey Chili, found here: http://pinchofyum.com/30-minute-spicy-ancho-turkey-chili. I didn’t have the ancho chili powder, but it didn’t seem to matter, this chili was still rich with flavor. We’d never had faro before, but in the spirit of continuing to try new things, we decided what the heck, since the recipe called for it. And honestly, you can’t taste it too much with all of the other ingredients like cumin, garlic, chili powder, diced tomatoes, salsa, and black beans. But I felt like we were getting a meal packed with protein and fiber. Basically, with some multigrain tortilla chips, scallions, and low-fat sour cream, this was a winner of a dinner. (And leftover chili is so easy and delicious). P.S. SHL texted me today to say that he had some of the leftover chili for lunch. He never, ever (ever!) eats leftovers, so I’d say this was a hit in my house!

Another benefit of being more plant-based conscious? SHL is probably benefiting, too (shhh, don’t tell him). While he still eats a lot of what he wants (he’s not a big fan of whole wheat pasta), I like to think that my being a little bit more health-conscious is rubbing off on him, too. That makes me happy.

I’ve also realized lately that since doing the detox, I’ve been a lot more aware on cutting down my meat intake (though I did use ground turkey in last night’s chill, I went veggie on the Japanese food take-out the other night), and haven’t been craving sugar quite as much (although last night SHL and I looked at each other at the same time after dinner had digested and we were watching a movie; and then simultaneously went to raid the kitchen. I finally decided on a little bit of dark chocolate– 3 pieces is a little, right?– dipped into some melted peanut butter. There are worse things in the world, I think?).

One day at a time, just like trying to figure out life with cancer.

Bon Appetit. xo.

Should times a million

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This post is going to be about broccoli. That one-time dreaded vegetable. The one that I knew that I was “supposed” to eat, but just couldn’t muster the strength to get it down. (Insert groan here).

Then one day, I accidentally had a piece dripped in soy sauce at a Chinese food restaurant, and I realized that perhaps I could get broccoli down, if it had the right “sidekick.” From that day forward I would dabble in the veggie, eating a few pieces here and there, but barely if ever making it at home.

Then cancer. Boom. Everything changes, and eating things that you “should” becomes a “should times a million.” Granted there are enough vegetables out there in the world to hopefully just eat the ones that you want, still with the good health benefits, but something about this change in the way that I think about what my body needs, has really fueled me to begin to try foods again that I once thought perhaps I didn’t like. So now when I make the occasional stir-fry, I’ll add in broccoli, and with the soy sauce and whole wheat noodles and other vegetables, you know what? It’s actually not so bad.

I’ve been having a lot of fun lately in my spare time (uh, not at work, yeah, never at work) browsing online recipes, and I recently found a website through my cousin that I’m constantly checking out. It’s called A Pinch of Yum (www.pinchofyum.com), and not only are the pictures enticing, but the way that the blogger writes about her food escapades is really inviting. Somehow I stumbled upon a recipe called “creamy chicken quinoa and broccoli casserole.” You can get the recipe here: http://pinchofyum.com/creamy-chicken-quinoa-broccoli-casserole. The picture looked yummy, and a quick scan of the ingredients seemed fine: chicken (I can use organic meat), low-sodium chicken-broth, poultry seasonings, bacon– I can use turkey bacon– quinoa, broccoli, etc.). While I’m not becoming a vegetarian, as you know, I am trying to eat less animal protein, which I’ve been pretty successful at. But given my recent food choices, it seemed like a good night to incorporate some meat into our diet, and I wanted to make SHL dinner tonight, since I was home first from work, and he usually does the cooking!

Now here’s an interesting thing about quinoa: I’m not sure that I actually like it. I had it once at a restaurant stuffed into an avocado with tuna salad in a lemon basil vinaigrette– yum. And then I had it once at a friend’s house, and it felt “fuzzy,” and I didn’t like it at all. In keeping with the whole “I’m going to venture outside of my little food box and try new things,” I decided that this would be the perfect recipe in which to try it again, because it would be alongside other yummy ingredients like a poultry seasoning, and a little bit of Gruyère cheese on top.

Here it is coming out of the oven:

chicken and broccholi dinner

And here it is as we sit down to eat. Next time, I would cook it for a little bit longer, giving the liquid a little bit more time to thicken. But it was almost 8pm by the time I took this baby out of the oven, and we were hungry! It was still pretty darn good. The chicken was tender, the broccoli was flavorful, and the quinoa was OK, mostly because it masked by a lot of other delicious flavors.

Dinner by candlelight

(Everything is better by candlelight!).

Love and broccoli,
Sam xoxo

A breakfast conundrum solved?

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What a Monday, dear readers. I had my annual appointment with my eye surgeon in Boston this morning, and while these were never, ever easy appointments in the past, they’re weighed a lot more heavily now. Thank g-d everything in my eye today looks good. We were there for about 3 hours while they put multiple drops in both of my eyes, checked the pressure in each eye, and then had me look at the eye chart (I could only see 2 letters out of my left eye, but thankfully my right eye is a little bit better than 20/20), and had the fellow take a look at me before my surgeon came in. While he’s not known for the best bedside manner, I’ve learned that it’s not necessary– he’s the best in the world (in my humble opinion) to go to for ocular melanoma. If he looks at my eye and tells me that he’ll see me in a year, then I feel good about that. (I also have pictures and an ultrasound taken of my eye every time, they’re very thorough, and I have to keep using my eyedrops).

3 hours later + a trip to Whole Foods, I came out simply exhausted. I spent about an hour and a half on the couch just completely zoning out (I could barely tell you what was on the TV), and then decided that I would play around in the kitchen a little bit.

I started out with these “clean egg muffins” that I saw on Pinterest. You can get the recipe here: http://www.oxygenmag.com/clean-egg-muffins/

What I love about these is that they could possibly save me my breakfast headaches in the morning– what to have? Do I have time for eggs? Usually not, unless it’s the weekend. I’m getting sick of yogurt and fruit, let’s face it, doesn’t make me want to jump out of bed. And it takes me a while to get going in the morning and feel like eating, so I usually need something pretty easily transportable to take with me to work (sound familiar?). I love these because they’re filled with veggies (and since I just had my cholesterol checked and thankfully it’s great, I don’t really worry about eating eggs– organic by the way–) and should stick with me for a while because of the protein. The recipe makes about 12 at a time. This is what they look like all packed up and ready to put in the fridge, good for up to a week (they can also be stored in the freezer, fyi):
clean egg muffins

Still excited about the possibilities for breakfast, I moved on to another pinterest recipe called Chia Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies. This is what the batter looks like:
chia oatmeal cookie

And here is the link to the recipe: http://www.eatingbirdfood.com/2013/07/chia-oatmeal-breakfast-cookies/

Now let me say this: It’s probably not the best to have a “cookie” of any kind for breakfast, but I think that it’s a good transition from craving sweet things and reaching for something that you know you’ll regret later, to having those cravings satisfied with much healthier ingredients (chia seeds, almond milk, bananas, dates, oatmeal, shredded unsweetened coconut, etc.). By the way, if you check out the recipe and see that it says a “pinch” of cinnamon, I used about 2 pinches, because I absolutely adore cinnamon. I also didn’t have any dark chocolate chunks/chips or carob chips in my pantry, so I used the Enjoy Life mini-chips that are dairy, nut, and soy free (and pretty delicious). Here they are, going into the oven:
batter chia oatmeal cookie

The batter was good, so I was hopeful that the cookies too would be tasty, and they didn’t disappoint. I would say, however, that if you’re trying to curb your sweet tooth, starting out with something like this in the morning may not be your best bet, because they say that sweet morning treats then set you up for cravings during the rest of the day. I may or may not have one for breakfast occasionally, or I may also dabble with when I have one during the day (as a snack? The oatmeal, chia seeds, and almond butter would probably be a nice protein boost, maybe even as a pre-workout quick snack), or a little treat after dinner when you want something sweet.

Goodnight dear readers, sleep sweet. xoxo

oatmeal chia cookies

A brownie taste-test

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Greetings from the kitchen! I just want to start this blog post by thanking you all for reading over the last week or two. I’ve gotten a few emails giving me some great recipe suggestions, and some supportive feedback on my quest for healthier living, and it’s been so nice to know that you are taking the time to read about my journey. Especially after this last week that I’ve had, where it’s been hard to deny or compartmentalize the fact that I have cancer.

I don’t often have a lot of energy, which I think is a combination of having a very stressful job as a social worker, where I spend all day every day listening to other people’s (sometimes extremely serious) problems, plus the emotional and physical toll that having cancer has taken on my body over the last year. So when I do, I try and get in the kitchen to tinker around with some new and healthy recipes.

Recently I tried a raw brownie recipe. What made me to decide to ditch the usual ingredients? Well, I still have a sweet tooth, despite having cancer, and if I can fulfill that craving with ingredients that are a little bit healthier, then hallelujah! Does that mean that I’ll never have the “real” stuff ever again? Absolutely not. But if I can more often than not reach for something on the occasion when I want dessert that actually has some plant-protein, then all the better.

So as I mentioned recently, I’ve been following Ella Woodward at Deliciously Ella, and after watching her video on raw brownies, (Watch her YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnrJOJnSez4), I decided that would be an easy one to start off with. It literally takes 5 minutes to put together, and it’s a total of 4 ingredients. I was going to start with the sweet potato brownies, as I also mentioned in a recent blog post, but my friend EM gave me some good advice to start off with something that actually tastes a little bit more like a brownie (yeah, I had a feeling that the sweet potato brownie recipe probably wouldn’t).

The ingredients that you’d need to try this at home are: Medjool dates (which she insists really have to be medjool. However, SHL could only find regular pitted dates at the store, and they worked just beautifully), raw cocao powder (though I only had cocoa powder, which again was fine, though I needed to add just a little bit more than she advises. I am new to this way of eating, so am looking at the differences between raw cacao vs. unsweetened cocoa; one tid-bit that I’ve read says that “cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures. Sadly, roasting changes the molecular structure of the cocoa bean, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value.” – See more at: http://iquitsugar.com/raw-cacao-vs-cocoa-whats-the-difference/#sthash.lrsg5MBG.dpuf, so I may need to look at buying some raw cocao), pecans (she says that you can use any nut, really, but because pecans have that caramel flavor, they’re great for brownies), and then the sweetener is optional. She uses pure maple syrup, but all I had in the house was agave, and that seemed to do the trick. In a food processor, you pulse a cup of the pecans for about 20 seconds or so, until they’re crushed, but not as fine as flour. Then you put in 2 cups of the dates (pits out), 2-3 tablespoons of the cocao powder, depending upon how mild or dark you like your chocolate, and 1-2 tablespoons of the sweetener, if you’re using that. You mix it in the processor until it forms almost a ball, and then pat it into your baking pan. Freeze for an hour and viola! You have raw brownies!
Pecans After raw brownies

Once they come out of the oven, you stick them in the freezer for about an hour to chill, and then cut and serve. I have to admit, SHL was picking at these right when I sliced them, and he’s not even much of a chocolate person! He says that he likes them even more than my “real” brownies! (Which admittedly have chocolate chips in them, so they’re very chocolatey). And I loved them too! While they don’t taste like a fudgy brownie, they’re sweet enough to be able to feel like you’re indulging in a real treat (in fact one night SHL was eating cookies in milk in bed and I was having a raw brownie, and I wasn’t even feeling like I was missing out on anything!), and the dates give it a nice ooey gooey textute. (I didn’t know that I liked dates, either. It’s exciting to be trying some new foods).

A few days after I made these raw brownies, I asked some friends for other comparable recipes that I may try, and my good friend EM in Seattle recommended that I try something called Paleo Coco Nutty Brownies. She got the recipe here, and I don’t think has tried them yet herself: http://www.paleobrownies.com/coco-nutty-paleo-brownies/.

This is what you’ll need to make ’em: Ingredients for brownies

I had some of the ingredients at home (organic eggs, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, almonds, and honey– though I didn’t have raw honey, and again, I’ll need to figure out the difference). What I needed was coconut flour, applesauce, and coconut oil. I was excited to have these new ingredients in my pantry (that is, before I took the “brownies” — if you can call them that– out of the oven!). Especially the coconut oil. It’s strange at first to be cooking with something that feels like shea butter, but I’ve heard that it can be amazing for skin, hair, and nails. Any tips on that please let me know!

Now of course I licked the spoon, excited at all of the yummy goodness in my bowl (uh, brownies with coconut? Only 2 of my very favorite things!), but I was disappointed at what I tasted, which quite honestly, was not a whole lot. Here is what they look like all cut up and ready to eat:
Paleo brownies

And how do they taste?! Blehhhh! Let’s just say, I couldn’t get more than a bite down. They taste like they have no chocolate flavor, and a whole lot of coconut oil, which is thick and doesn’t taste like butter, that’s for sure! (I guess it’s not supposed to). The verdict? Ding ding ding ding ding! We have the raw brownies miles ahead of the Paleo brownies (I saved you making them yourself EM!).

Despite the fact that the Paleo brownies are inedible, it was still a fun taste-test. Any others that I should try here in my kitchen? Comment here or email me please with any ideas!

Love and healthy eating,
Sam xoxo

A journey worth taking

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Dear Diary,

Day 7. Yay! I did it. While I didn’t follow the meal plans to a T, I was certainly more mindful every meal of how to nourish myself without meat (except for that hotdog!), and with more fruits and veggies. There were moments when I desperately wanted an iced coffee, a piece of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate with caramel, or a hamburger, but all in all, as long as I kept full on the healthier stuff, those cravings became less and less as the week went on. So what I did I learn? 5 “little” things:

1) I don’t want to give up meat forever. Being a vegetarian I can see has it’s benefits, for sure, and more power to you if you are one (or a vegan, even harder!). But for me, I think sticking to organic and grass-fed meats and chicken (when home) once or twice a week is going to be just fine. I don’t want to say that I’m never going to have a Five Guy’s burger again! There is a reason why that saying “moderation is key” is so popular.
2) I can survive without caffeine. While I am not addicted (I don’t get headaches without it), I have over the last few years developed a real love for coffee, and find that sometimes I really look forward to starting my day with a cup. I never have more than 1 cup, and I don’t drink it every day, so yes, I can survive without it. However, I don’t want to. I do just want to keep an eye on my relationship with coffee, as too much of it can lead to a roller coaster of producing adrenaline, feeling wiped out, and then feeling like you need more caffeine. I’m good at 1 cup and rarely does it cross my mind to have another during the day. So far I don’t get jittery when I drink it, and it doesn’t affect my sleep when I just drink it in the morning. Feeling like I don’t “have” to have it to get by is a good feeling, but it’s also something that I enjoy that I don’t want to cut out completely.
3) The less that I eat chocolate (or sweets in general), the less my cravings become. This I’ve realized over the past year or so, when I became acutely aware that sugar isn’t good for anybody, let alone somebody with cancer. Did I make a batch of dark chocolate, coconut, and oatmeal cookies for SHL last week (before the detox started!), and did I lick the bowl? Yes. Did I have one when it came out all hot and gooey from the oven? Yes. But then somehow, thankfully, I was able to stop after 1, and go on the detox (hooray! Will I always have that much will-power? Probably not!). Some days were harder than others for sure (and I really wanted ice cream when I saw others eating it at the ball game), but when I said no, I woke up the next morning feeling way better than if I had said yes.
4) I love chocolate/sweets. Yup, good for me, I was able to go a week without dessert (people without a sweet tooth probably think that’s nothing). But do I want to go the rest of my life without it? Hell to the no! I want to be able to have a piece of my Mom’s special chocolate cake or go to Cabot’s for the best ice cream sundaes, or have a piece of dark chocolate once in a while after dinner. Is that OK? Yes! I know that if I deprive myself of these sweet treats that one day you could walk into my house and find me on the kitchen floor, a whisk covered with cookie dough in one hand, and a snickers bar in the other! No, I would much rather feel like I have control over the cravings, rather than the cravings having control over me.
5) I can do something when I put my mind to it. Even though I made adjustments to the meal plan as needed, I still feel like I completed the goal of the week: No meat (except once again for that hotdog), no caffeine, little sugar, more fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, and exercising 4 x week. I said that I was going to do it, and I did it. For me, this is really an interesting little experiment, because I feel that I often have a hard time completing goals. I’m not quite sure why this one stuck (although having cancer and wanting to manage it is certainly a tremendous motivator), but it’s something that I should remember for the future. I can do it!

So is this next week going to be filled with so many vegetables I feel like a rabbit? Hard to say. (The thought has crossed my mind that tonight at midnight I could sneak downstairs for a little bite of chocolate, wink wink). I am human, and every day is a challenge. For some, and perhaps it comes with time, it seems easy to say no to the processed foods, meat, sugar, and caffeine, but for others (like myself), it is a journey. But it’s a journey that is worth taking, and is worth being honest about. Yes I did well on the detox, but I didn’t do perfectly, nor did I think that I would, or was my goal. And am I going to finally have an iced coffee tomorrow morning? You betcha.

Sincerely,
Not perfect, but me

Our little secret…

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Dear Diary,
Day 6. I have come to realize that this “detox,” just like any other diet change that you may make in your life, should be taken with a grain of hotdog. Uh, I mean salt. Salt! Trying to be perfect often results in anything but, and beating yourself up for it just takes away the joy of whatever you did in-the-moment that you did because you wanted to enjoy life. As Kris Carr says, “Do you have to be perfect? NO. Again, your goal is to fill your well more than you deplete it. Our bodies forgive the detours and exploration, as long as they don’t take place 24-7.” In the past 6 days I have had 15 + fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds!

All of that is to say, dear diary, that I had a little “detour” as Kris says. OK, yes, I cheated. Oh, I cheated something “awful” last night when SHL and I went to the Red Sox game. And it was pre-meditated! On the way to the park last night I said to myself, “We usually go to one Sox game a season, and I just looove the hotdogs there!” So I went off of the no-meat detox plan, and not only did I eat a hotdog (with mustard), but I loved every bite of it! I realized that dipping my toes into the carnivore way of life once in a while is not such a bad thing– as long as I am filling my well up most of the time with lots of other goodies, like blueberries, tomatoes, beans, and chia seeds. The “splurge” actually felt great, because I knew that when I woke up this morning, I wouldn’t feel deprived of my one Fenway Frank a year, but instead, I’d be more apt to get back on track (as I sit here debating about what to have for breakfast– yogurt or a smoothie?–, already dressed in my workout clothes. Trying to decide if I should do my cardio inside or outside today, as it looks just beautiful out today).

Diary, I’m not going to lie and say that I’m sad that the detox will be over tomorrow, but I do hope that I’ve learned something. The lesson last night was that it is perfectly fine to indulge once in a while in a favorite so that you don’t feel like you’re missing out on something that not only tastes so good, but also conjures up a lot of happy memories (which some foods do, don’t they?).

Sincerely,
This will be our little secret

Sam and the hotdog Diary, I know that you won’t tell anyone! ;)

2 days to go!

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Dear Diary,
Day 5. The detox is, quite frankly, getting old. I miss coffee and chocolate (interestingly enough, I don’t miss meat at all, except when I think about a Fenway Frank). Actually, I miss more the freedom to be able to decide when I want to indulge in those things, as I don’t eat chocolate or drink coffee all of the time. It usually takes me some time to get going in the morning and feel like eating, so this morning I puttered around the house for a while (after being able to sleep in on a Saturday for the first time in a month), paid some bills, and then did my detox workout– 45 minutes of cardio with the additional “tone-up” moves that they suggest. SHL has gone back to his fall schedule, which means that I have more time to focus on my healthy eating and workouts (although I would much rather have him home and be out right now gallivanting around town with him. After the fun summer that we just had, this will really be another adjustment for me again). By the time I was done with my workout my tummy was rumbling, and I thought about my options: eggs with veggies, a smoothie with kale, yogurt with granola. But it was almost noon by this point and I was too hungry to even think about washing any fruits and vegetables and didn’t want the sugar of yogurt and granola, so I heated up an Amy’s frozen meal. (I know, I messed up the cardinal rule of “always eat breakfast”). Again, not on the detox plan, but I think the point is just to be eating well-balanced meals without meat. Mission accomplished. I also want to eat light today because we are going to the Red Sox game tonight, and I have a feeling that I won’t be having a salad for dinner!

Sincerely,
Is it day # 7 yet?

Staying the course

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Dear Diary,
Day 4, and I’ve hung my hopes high on this new Siggy Icelandic yogurt that my Dana Farber nutritionist told me about. Truth be told I had planned on making a kale/cucumber/carrot/strawberry/banana/chia seeds smoothie this morning for breakfast, but I chose to hit the snooze button instead (and I’d do it all over again, except this time, I’d actually hit snooze, instead of “off” by accident!).

So running out the door, I decided that I’d once again have to go off the grid with my choice of meals. The dinners have been great, but I’ve been struggling to follow the breakfast and lunch ideas from the meal plan. So I grabbed the Siggy vanilla yogurt out of the fridge and cracked it open once I got to work, to find that it’s an “interesting” taste… It’s a very thick consistency. It’s made with good ingredients: skim milk used from farmers who do not use any growth hormones, organic agave nectar, Madagascar bourbon vanilla, and live active cultures. Maybe it’s too natural for me, because it’s taking some getting used to. The sad thing is, it probably tastes so different to me because I was used to eating things with artificial sweeteners in them for so long, and now consuming products made without any aspartame, while I know is better for me, is an adjustment.

I’m also adding in about ¼ cup of granola, which I don’t usually eat because of the high sugar content, but hey, it’s certainly better than the Pumpkin munchkins that my co-workers keep bringing into the office! (I’m staying strong—at least for today!).

Sincerely,
Still thinking about those brownies

Sweet potato… Brownies?

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Dear Diary,
Still day 3. Nachos for dinner? Really? Are you sure that I’m not cheating? But nope, it was on the menu. The trick is that I used multigrain chips with flax seeds, and bulked it up with refried pinto beans. However, it calls for just 1/4 cup of cheese. Have you ever tried to use just a 1/4 of cheese, on anything? It’s like a little sprinkle of deliciousness, leaving you wanting more. But all in all, a pretty great dinner, especially with some Amy’s pineapple salsa… Now let’s just hope that I’m not hungry in 20 minutes. Maybe I could get used to this no meat thing, if it meant that I could eat nachos… But next time, I would add some veggies to it for sure.

I found a cool website last night mentioned in Self magazine called Deliciously Ella. I say “cool” because the owner of the website (and the app, and the cookbook) seems “chic” and trendy and takes beautiful photographs of what looks like amazingly delicious (and healthy) food. It’s basically all plant-based and was founded after she re-worked her whole diet when she got an illness, and now says that she feels so much better. She even sounds cool in her videos, because she’s got that great English accent (oh, and she looks like a model. Is it easier to get your own beautiful website, app and cookbook when you look like Gisele? That’s a question for another time). Check it out here: http://deliciouslyella.com/

However, what I’d really love to know, diary, is how can brownies really taste so good that you’d want to lick the bowl (as she says), when they are made with sweet potatoes? And dates? And buckwheat? (And there’s only 4 other ingredients in the whole thing– maple syrup or agave, cacao powder, ground almonds, and salt). I can just hear my chocolate-loving cousin gagging right now. Is it really just as creamy and delicious as real chocolate brownies? Or is she the kind of gal that finds immense joy in the sweetness of fruits and certain veggies? ‘Cause I’m not really that kind of person. I think that my next experiment may be to make these brownies, just to report back to you all and expose the fact that they were in fact gross, and should not be called brownies. Stay tuned.

Sincerely,
Your plant-based dessert private investigator