Gratitude #60

There is nothing like a baby to entertain a bunch of adults, so imagine our enjoyment at having TWO babies around the house recently.

I am so grateful for babies who are perfection itself. What a blessing to just adore the sweetness of those tiny faces.

Extra Sweet

Extra Sweet

Extra Happy

Extra Happy

Next time you have the joy of baby time remember how quickly they grow and bask in their cuteness while you can!

Cleansing – part 2

Last week I wrote about beginning a cleanse for the first time. The cleanse I chose was a traditional one and I did six days of preparation, six days of active cleansing, and am now in day four of the reintroduction phase.

Over the course of the first 12 days I eliminated the following from my diet:

meat
dairy
wheat
processed sugars
alcohol
caffeine

All of the above were part of my EVERY DAY menu for a very long time. I never thought they would ALL leave my diet, and certainly not all at once. However. Now that they have the hard part is before me. The reintroduction phase of the cleanse is my opportunity to slowly add in other foods again, and now I must make some decisions about what foods I want to include.

I did not do this cleanse because I was having adverse affects from eating any of the foods on the elimination list. I chose to do it because it’s spring time, I am in yoga training mode, and I am open to new ideas. The idea of detoxing substances from my body seems like a smart idea.

You are probably wondering what foods I have introduced back in. Well, a cupcake is one. Here’s the story: we had a birthday gathering on the second day of reintroduction so I tried a new recipe. Instead of a birthday cake I made whole wheat carrot and maple cupcakes with coconut cream cheese maple icing. So. . .for that day I added in a tiny bit of wheat and a very tiny bit of cheese. I have also added back in salads and other vegetables, like broccoli (one of my favorites) and zucchini. Here was my diet on day two of reintroduction:

1 c decaf
Smoothie (strawberry, banana, pineapple, spinach & coconut milk)
1 1/2 c kitchari w/1 oz cashews
1 1/2 c tossed salad w/1/2 cup cole slaw
1 cupcake (see above)
and LOTS of water.

Some observations I’ve made throughout this process include the idea that simplifying one’s diet can simplify one’s life. Driving home one day near the end of the active cleanse phase, I came to the realization that I like the monodiet, but not for the reasons one might think. After getting home from another hectic day of work I was looking forward to not having to worry about what was for dinner (though my dear husband may be feeling just the opposite). Right now I’ve been taking care of myself – trying a cleanse for the first time – focused on detox and better overall health for the future and have left him to figure out his own meal plans. I offered him kitchari but he didn’t bite (:) pun intended). My first thought was poor Dave but I dismissed that because there is nothing ‘poor’ about him having to prepare his own meal in the evening. Really.

Anyway, I like the idea of a simple diet that doesn’t require a lot of brain power – I have spent the day using brain power and once I leave work it is nice to not have that one more thing to think about. Many days previously, I could subsist mostly on meat and wheat and processed wheat at that. I prepared my day’s worth of kitchari in the morning and so all I have to do is heat it up when I am ready for it and done. That’s made me realize that humanity has really complicated the food thing. While on the one hand it is wonderful to have many many choices at times, it may be at the expense of our general health in the long run. With so many options we may not take in enough of the essentials we need to maintain a good balanced level of health. Ironic, isn’t it, that with MORE food choices we are less healthy. And then there is the idea of so many processed foods, which I feel I may be done with after this cleansing experience. The first week of the cleanse, when I was eating no meat, no wheat, no sugars (no sugars especially) I realized that my diet had been composed of a lot of these things. As I move into the reintegration phase and life beyond I may convert to fish, instead of meat, and my sweet treats will probably consist of fresh fruit concoctions with honey or syrup. Dairy – I’m not sure on that. I may continue with the yogurt 2-3 times a week with my granola. I do love some cheeses – the Dubliner – brie – maybe I will opt for an occasional splurge of a fantastic cheese as a special treat. And then wine. Not sure on the wine. Definitely no caffeine. Here’s a truth – throughout this process I have not been craving anything and I have not snacked between meals.

Another important observation was realizing how tied to social events food is. During the preparation phase of the cleanse I went out to lunch with my mom. The place we were going, I was sure, offered a variety of salads or soups that would work. Surprise. Not so. The closest thing was a Caesar Salad, which also had croutons and Parmesan cheese. Honestly, it was my only options, so I picked out the croutons and ate the cheese anyway, because it was a good quality Parmesan. And it was the prep phase, not the week of the active cleanse. When I think about all the places I have enjoyed going out to eat, and socializing, with friends and family I am not sure there will be many food choices for me. At home last weekend I had a birthday gathering – remember the cupcakes? – and I had to be sure to include the things most people might enjoy as well as something that I would enjoy as well. The menu ended up being pulled pork sandwiches (none for me thanks, even though I had made homemade maple wheat rolls), tossed salad, cole slaw, and potato salad. Condiments included homemade pickles and applesauce. So, that worked out. What about invites to other people’s homes for dinners they prepare? Many things to think about.

What began as a relatively simple idea – a detox cleanse – has become an opportunity for me to rethink so many things in life. It’s a wonderful journey. . .

Gratitude #59

This week, and all others, I am feeling grateful for my mom.

Mom

She has faced many challenges in life, yet has remained strong and true to her beliefs.

She has always had an open mind and open heart and knows the meaning of unconditional love better than most.

Mom has been my number one supporter in my life, there to share every success and every failure.

mom 2014

Cleansing

For the past many months I have been working on my yoga teaching certification. Through Andrea, my Yoga Teacher Training guru, who has been studying Ayurveda recently, I was invited into a community of people interested in participating in a detoxing cleanse. Personally, I had no familiarity with the idea of a cleanse. I have heard of fasting, but always equate that with preparation for a colonoscopy.

As I am often drawn to do – I paid attention to the opportunity presenting itself to me and decided a cleanse was right for me at this time.

A bit of backdrop: I have been living in a period of less aggressive physical activity for the past 1 – 2 years. I participated in a boot camp for two years, and injured my right shoulder, which sent me to physically therapy for the first time ever. I decided boot camp wasn’t right for me. Before the shoulder injury I also signed up for an intensive yoga training for three months and loved it. After giving up boot camp the opportunity to do a year long yoga teacher training came up and I have been doing that since August 2015. I have also been teaching yoga a couple of times a month at work. I have, slowly, been getting weightier and out of shape. For some time now I have been trying to lose a few pounds. I thought just adding boot camp to my regime would help, but no change there. After I gave up boot camp I have put on about 10 more pounds. Last fall I began to change my eating habits significantly – I have been eating my main meal at lunch time and eating the late day meal before 6 PM and very light – usually a simple salad or cup of soup. No weight loss in the months of doing that. Next I decided to give up alcohol, and did for 2 months. No weight loss. Now I’m thinking, really???
When the cleanse idea came my way, via Andrea, along with a challenge at work to lose weight, I thought okay, I will do it. The cleanse AND increase my aerobic exercise.

For those unfamiliar with a cleanse I will let the lovely people at Banyan Botanicals explain:

The traditional ayurvedic cleanse involves three distinct phases—preparation, active cleansing, and reintroduction—which are then followed by a period of rejuvenation. This structure helps to ease the body both into and out of the cleanse, and offers deep nourishment to the tissues afterwards. Much like the options outlined above, the diet consists primarily of whole grains, kitchari, and vegetables, and is supported by detoxifying herbs and teas. However, this cleanse is complemented by practices such as self-massage with oil, gentle sweating, and the administration of herbal nose drops—all of which help to loosen and release imbalances held in the tissues. Therefore, this cleanse has the capacity to initiate a slightly deeper level of detoxification.

One can do a cleanse for any number of days, but the idea is that each phase is for the same number of days, so a nine day cleanse would be three days of prep, three days of active cleanse, and three days of reintroduction. I am doing this traditional cleanse for 18 days, so each phase is six days long. I kind of jumped in at the last minute, but I think I’ve caught on quickly – I’ve done my research and shopped accordingly.

As I write this I am on day two of the active cleanse, so during the first six days, the preparation days, this is what I did not eat at all: meat (though I did have tuna salad one day); processed foods like crackers, chips, pasta; processed sugar (I have used maple syrup and honey). The following are things I gradually reduced over the six days: alcohol (had one glass of red wine on days one and two); caffeine (day four was the first no caffeine day); bread (I had just made a loaf of sourdough bread the day before I started, so I had two slices of that during the six days); dairy (I had yogurt with granola the first two days, but no dairy since).

What did I eat?
Granola for breakfast, which I started cooking because it was suggested that warmed foods would fire up my Vita , the weakest of the three doshas for me (more about that in another post). I found that it is amazingly good. Here’s a menu from one day of the preparation phase:

½ c coffee
1 c decaf coffee
1 c cooked granola
1 c veggie & white bean soup
Large fennel-apple-greens-walnut salad
2 oz cashews
fresh veggie & greens salad
1 c detox tea – 1 teas. maple syrup
plus plenty of warm water

At first I thought I would be hungry, hungry, hungry. Not the case. If I felel like I need something to eat I munch on a few cashews and that seems to satisfy me.

I am now on day two of the active cleanse and my menu is mainly the kitchari mentioned above. Again, for those who are not familiar with kitchari, like me, here is the recipe from Banyan Botanicals:

Ingredients:
• 1 cup basmati rice
• ½ cup yellow mung dal
• 3 teaspoons kitchari spice mix
• 2 tablespoons ghee
• 6 cups water
• 1–2 cups chopped vegetables (optional)

Preparation:
Wash rice and mung dal and soak mung dal overnight. Drain.
In a medium saucepan warm the ghee. Add the kitchari spice mixture and sauté for one to two minutes. Add rice and mung beans and sauté for another couple of minutes. Then add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once the kitchari has come to a boil reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until it is tender (approx. 30–45 minutes). If you are adding vegetables to your kitchari, add the longer cooking vegetables such as carrots and beets halfway through the cooking. Add the vegetables that cook faster such as leafy greens near the end. Add more water if needed. Typically, kitchari is the consistency of a vegetable stew as opposed to a broth. Garnish with fresh cilantro and add salt to taste (optional).

Kitchari

Kitchari

I am having kitchari for breakfast lunch and dinner. As you can see – I am free to include veggies in there if I want to. It is recommended that you only use ‘easily digestible’ veggies. I made a batch of parsnip soup because it is 1. easily digestible and 2. very flavorful, and I thought might be a good addition if the kitchari isn’t satisfying enough. I can also continue to have fruit or smoothies. Two days ago my dinner was a tropical smoothie made with coconut milk, a banana, fresh pineapple, and fresh ginger and a little honey. So yummy!

I am not adding as much water to the kitchari as suggested – actually I have used three cups of water rather than six and the kitchari is more like regular rice usually is and less like a stew. I may change that up as the week goes on. Yesterday’s menu:

1 c. detox tea
1 c kitchari
orange
1 ½ c kitchari w/1/4 c parsnip soup
1 c kitchari
2 teas. maple syrup (had a craving for a sweet)
1 c bedtime tea

The point of limiting the menu during the active cleanse phase to kitchari (and easily digestible fruits and veggies) is that it is a combination that is very easily digestible, and the purpose of the cleanse is to clean out the digestive system and detoxify the body.

There you have it – the three phase cleanse. I will update you later in the week.

Gratitude #58

Today I am so grateful for:

INSPIRATION! Which can be found anywhere and everywhere!

Continually being inspired by opportunities surrounding me is kind of what keeps me going.

Over the years I have striven to be aware of the many opportunities that present themselves to me. What I’ve discovered is that inspiration comes my way regularly and I love love love how being aware enhances my life is so many fantastic ways.

Just yesterday I read this on my granddaughter’s facebook page:

At any given second, billions of things are happening on Earth.
A cloud is forming.
An ant colony is carrying out their daily duties.
A child is succumbing to hunger.
A fish is exploring the Titanic wreckage.
A factory is packaging the Oreos you’re going to eat next week.
Someone is falling in love.
Someone is crying.
All this and so much more is happening simultaneously, but we rarely think about it.

I apologize that I can cite the source – I searched, to no avail. . .

Each of the ideas mentioned above can provide inspiration.
Imagine what we could learn if we took the time to watch the daily duties of that ant colony.
Or the power in preventing one child from going hunger.

I implore you to go out into the world today and find inspiration. Sit quietly, be aware, and believe that it will come!

PMtintbrush