Feening For Fennel

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It is quite common for people with lupus to have digestive issues and  last  Wednesday was the beginning of a nasty bout for me.  The timing was pretty bad: I had scheduled an aquaponics training for the very next morning and I  had some very excited farmers looking forward to it.

There was no way to mask the pain so it was great that I was in the company of likeminded  ‘food as medicine’ people: High Garden Center farmer George,  Dr. David Epstein, and Lois Peterson; a PGG board member who is currently furthering her study in  nutrition.

Dr. Dave suggested that I consider adding digestive enzymes pre-biotics  and pro-biotics to my supplement regiment. I was experiencing a flare (an auto immune crisis) so that was sound advice. Fortunately I have all of that on hand… including kombucha of course.  🙂

Lois suggested I go gluten-free and dairy free completely until things calmed down.  She also reminded me of the importance of bone broths when trying to  heal the gut. I grabbed Nourishing Traditions out of my office for reference.  Good thing I did! I had never considered putting wine in my broth! While I didn’t go there this time (with the turmoil in my belly I’ve decided to stay away from alcohol for the moment), I have filed that away under things I will certainly do in the near future. I cooked an organic bird slowly over the course of two days.  In addition I added loads of extras: a cinnamon stick, several garlic bulbs, onion, about 2 inches of ginger,  2 inches of turmeric, carrots and celery.

George sent me into the garden.

Grinning and Bearing it.

Grinning and Bearing it.

He mentioned a few plants that I might want to steep and drink as tea but for some reason I went right to the fennel, popped a few sprigs into my mouth. I have had fennel before in salads but have always remained pretty neutral on it. On this day, however,   I was actually craving it.  And I’ve been noshing on it every day since. Fennel has a licorice like flavor so it taste like candy to me. Eating it, was soothing.

After several days of running into the garden for my fennel fix, I decided to see why my body was asking for it.  After researching it further, it turns out it makes perfect sense.  Here are some of the benefits of fennel listed on juicingforhealth.com:

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Anemia:  Since fennel is rich in iron and histidine, it serves as a good natural remedy for anemia. The production of hemoglobin is increased as a result of the consumption of food containing iron.

Breast milk, secretion:  Lactating mothers can consume fennel juice regularly to increase the secretion of nutritious milk for their infants.

Cancer:  The high content of vitamin C, flavonoids and essential oils in fennel bulb all provide synergistic healing properties for the prevention of cancer.

Colic:  Colic happens because of an imbalanced intestinal flora.  The essential oils found in fennel are useful for rebalancing the flora for remedy of renal colic.

Constipation:  The roughage in fennel seeds act as a stimulant in the clearance of bowels.  By taking fennel juice regularly, it helps to rebalance the digestive tract, thus promotes regular bowel movement.

Diarrhea:  The essential oils in fennel like Cineole and Anethole help to remedy diarrhea. By taking fennel juice regularly, it helps to rebalance the digestive tract, thus promotes a healthy bowel movement.

Diuretic:  The diuretic property of fennel helps in the removal of toxic substances from the body through frequent urination. Thus, it helps to reduce inflammation that causes rheumatism and swelling.

Flatulence:  Excessive flatulence happens due to the highly imbalanced intestinal flora in the digestive tract.  Fennel has the capability to reduce the bad bacteria while increasing the good bacteria that help rebalance the digestive flora.

Hair health:  The sulphur content together with all the right amino acids and essential oils in fennel help strengthen hair and reduce hair fall.

High blood pressure:  The high potassium content in fennel helps reduce high blood pressure and thus decreasing the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Indigestion:  The essential oils in fennel increases the secretion of digestive juices, helping in reduction of stomach inflammation and in the absorption of nutrients from the food eaten. Since fennel also has anti-acidic qualities, it is used widely also as an antacid.

Menstruation disorders:  As fennel is an emmenagogue, it helps regulate the hormonal action in the female body, easing menstruation flow.

Vision health:  Fennel has unique properties that can help protect from eyes inflammation, as well as with other eye disorders which are directly or indirectly connected to muscular degeneration and aging.  Due to the anti-oxidants and the necessary amino acids in fennel, they help rejuvenate and prevent aging. The juice of fennel leaves when externally applied on the eyes may help reduce eye irritations and fatigue.

I am on the mend! Was it the broth? Kombucha?  Fennel?

I’d say all three.   I’d also say that I am healing my body with  comfort food, soda and candy.  Except it’s real food. And that just makes me giddy.

 

 

 

 

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Tinkering around with Tinctures

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In an (every evolving) effort toward achieve optimal health through sustainable, holistic and cost-effective ways,   I’ve added making tinctures to my toolkit.  Tinctures are a medicinal preparation of  herbs. Alcohol, glycerin, and apple cider vinegar are agents used to extract the healing properties from the plant.  Alcohol is considered the most effective, however, because it is such a potent solvent. Alcohol tinctures  also have a virtually unlimited shelf life.

In the past I have purchased them from the health food store; milk thistle tincture is a staple in my ‘medicine’ cabinet. A known detoxifier,  it gives my liver (which has a tendency to get sluggish due to my sticky blood) a bit of a boost.  It wasn’t until a Ladies Homesteading Gathering  meeting this summer that I realized how easy it is to make them!

Here are the steps to making a tincture as outlined on wikiHow. This is essentially how I prepared mine. I’ve italicized my notes.

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Purchase quality alcohol. The preferred type of alcohol for producing a tincture is vodka. This is owing to its being colorless, odorless, and fairly flavorless. If you cannot obtain vodka, brandy, rum, or whiskey can be substituted. Whatever alcohol is chosen, it must be 80 proof (namely, 40% alcohol) to prevent mildewing of the plant material in the bottle.  I used vodka but I think I will use tequila moving forward. I have found that my body reacts to it best. 

Use a suitable container. The container for the tincture should be glass or ceramic. Avoid using metallic or plastic containers because these can react with the tincture or leach dangerous chemicals over time. Items such as a Mason jar, a glass bottle with an attached stopper, etc., are ideal for steeping a tincture. In addition, you will need to get some small dark glass tincture bottles for storing the tincture in once it has been made; these bottles should have a tight screw-on or tight clip-on lid to prevent air intrusion during storage but to allow for ease of use. Ensure that all containers are both washed clean and sterilized prior to use. I used mason jars to make the tinctures and ordered my tincture bottles from Amazon (less expensive than other options I found). I was able to find four ounces containers…but I had to dig for them. 
Prepare the tincture. You can prepare a tincture by measurement or by sight; it really depends on your level of comfort with simply adding herbs  and judging by eye, or whether you feel more comfortable adding them by measured weight. Also, you should know whether you want to add fresh, powdered, or dried herbs to the tincture. Some suggestions for adding the herbs in the order of fresh, powdered, or dried are as follows:

  • Add enough fresh chopped herbs to fill the glass container. Cover with alcohol. 
  • Add 4 ounces (113g) of powdered herb with 1 pint (473ml) of alcohol (or vinegar/glycerin).
  • Add 7 ounces (198g) of dried herb material to 35 fluid ounces (1 liter) of alcohol (or vinegar/glycerin).

I used a variety of fresh herbs shared with me by the other ladies at the group. I grow a few herbs at home that I purchased from Cedar Seeder (I trust them completely).  I do plan to order dried herbs for future tinctures  from Mountain Rose Herbs. It is very important that you use quality herbs for your tinctures. Remember that you are extracting that which the herb contains. If it has been grown with pesticides, that will also be a part of your medicine.  Totally defeats the purpose.

Seal the container. Place it into a cool, dark area; a cupboard shelf works best. The container should be stored there for 8 days to a month.

  • Shake the container regularly. Twice a day for 14 days is typically recommended.
  • Be sure to label the steeping tincture so that you know what it is and the date on which it was made. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

One of the leaders  of our group strongly urged us to label… I am so glad she did. I am very well-known for giving my memory more credit than it deserves. I would have been in trouble otherwise!  11-8blogpic1

Strain the tincture. Once the steeping time is finished (either the tincture instructions you’re following will inform you of this or you’ll know already from experience but if not, about two weeks is a good steeping time), strain the tincture as follows:

  • Place a muslin cloth across a sieve. Place a large bowl underneath to catch the strained liquid.
  • Gently pour the steeped liquid through the muslin-lined sieve. The muslin will capture the plant material and the liquid will pass through into the bowl underneath.
  • Press the herb material with a wooden or bamboo spoon to squeeze out some more liquid, and lastly, twist the muslin to extract any leftover liquid from the herbs.

There is no fast way to do this. Trust me. Take your time. This gets messy and can be frustrating so don’t do this on a stressful day.  SN: I believe that we can pass our energy on into the things we prepare. It is important to be of sound mind when you make your medicine.

Decant the liquid into a prepared tincture bottle. Use a small funnel for this step if you don’t have a steady hand. Tighten the lid and date and label the tincture.

You will need a very small funnel. My daughter and I made funnels out of paper plates.. many of them because they didn’t last. lol. I wasn’t prepared. 

Store and use. A tincture can have a shelf life of up to 5 years owing to the fact that alcohol is a preservative. However, know the properties of the particular herbs you’ve used, and follow the guidance of the recipe from which you’re making the tincture in terms of how long to keep the tincture for.

  • Follow the instructions relevant to your tincture for usage; consult a qualified, reputable herbalist or a health professional if you need more information and bear in mind that herbal treatments can be dangerous if you don’t know the properties of the herb and its consequences.

This is perhaps the most important part of the making tinctures. You MUST remember that this is medicine. Do your research and speak to your health care advisor before taking.   Some herbs have drug interactions with pharmaceuticals.  It is also hard to gauge the actual dosage of a tincture. General rule of thumb is 2 dropperfulls, 2-3 times a day.  Some tinctures are to be taken as needed (peppermint, ginger, fennel for belly issues) and others can be taken on a rotation. I take my milk thistle on a 2 week rotation. 

Working with herbs and alcohol got me to thinking….1800-Tequini-224x300

What about taking this idea and running with it on a larger scale?

Y’all know me, go big or go home. Hee hee!

My friends, I present to you my herb infused tequila. 🙂

 

  • 750ml bottle of premium blanco tequila
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass
  • 1 large piece of fresh ginger
  • infusion jar with tight sealing lid

Follow the same steps as making a tincture but this time no dropper is needed. 🙂

For the cocktail, I mix 2 ounces of the infused tequila, the juice of one lime,  6 ounces of Perrier, and simple syrup I make with local raw honey (equal parts honey and boiling water …1 1/2 tablespoons is perfect to me).

While this is a pretty big leap away from tinctures,  I like to think that my cocktail provides a solid alternative for the healthy-minded.

Questions about tinctures? Have your own personal experience you’d like to share?  Leave a comment and let’s discuss.

Cheers!

All the Hotties Do Pilates (and drink carrot juice)

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Spring is here and like most I am more than happy to say goodbye to a really rude winter.  It definitely stayed beyond its welcome.  As I pack up my parka and pull out the flip-flops I’ve started examining the condition of my hibernating body.  I took a leave of absence from CrossFit and confined my running to a HIIT workout once a week on the treadmill. The bulk of my exercise the last few months came from a combination of yoga and Pilates.

While I’ve maintained a steady yoga practice for over a year now, Pilates is a new venture for me.  I’ve always incorporated Pilates exercises when working with my clients.  Exercises  like the hundred, and the double leg stretch were fixtures in core work.  However, until this year, I had not had any experience on a reformer. My client turned workout partner, Jan, has wanted to take a stab at reformer Pilates for a while but I was less than enthused. My (limited) thinking: I would be trading my intense WODS for a bunch of stretching.  (I know… I should be ashamed to tell you that. right?) After a few lengthy discussions with Emily (my instructor) I agreed to give it a month. But just a month.

I am pretty sure Emily saw my attitude in the beginning as challenge. Not sure if her plan was to win me over or teach me a lesson but she succeeded in doing both.  It took a solid month for me to ‘get it’ because uhhh… it is HARD.  There were many times that I considered that the waiver I signed was not just a formality.

 

So what about my results?

Well…

It’s been right at 2 months and I have noticed three major improvements:

1) I am better at yoga.

Many Pilates moves are similar to yoga. The difference is that there is very little instruction in yoga. The instructor leads you from one pose to another with guidance but the focus is on listening to your body on any given day. There is no wrong or right way in yoga. There definitely is in Pilates. When I do something wrong, Emily not only tells me, she will come over and physically shift my body until I am in the correct position. I have never had this level of attention to detail when exercising. Read that again and remember that I am a trained professional!  Now when I go to yoga, I move more effortlessly from one pose to the next without worrying that I am not getting the most out of my practice physically.  I am genuinely out of my head and listening to body completely.

2)My running has improved.

I recently started running 10 miles a week again. I ran my first in a year race yesterday: The Atlanta Women’s 5k.  I feel like my stride is more consistent. Even though my endurance has suffered from a lack of cardio, my core strength has improved tremendously.  Emily told me this is common with the runners she works with.

3)My  muscles are more defined.

Particularly my obliques; a tough area to strengthen.   My shoulders are also looking good; the highly coveted ‘teardrop’ is breaking through…yessssss!!!  Just in time for tank tops.  Happiness.

 

On to the carrot juice.  I was talking this morning to Jamie when I came across a sale at Publix on Bolt House Farms juices (BOGO). While I don’t typically buy it, She suggested I grab some carrot juice to mix with cocoa. Although it sounded disgusting (she promised it taste like chocolate milk), I decided to give it a shot.  I am not a huge carrot fan but I was dragging today and needed an energy boost. A cup of carrot juice gives you more than one-fourth of your daily requirement for vitamin C. It also gives you half the vitamin E you need daily, 2,256 micrograms of vitamin A (more than three times your recommended daily intake for that important antioxidant). It also packs a powerful punch of  those crucial B vitamins (39 percent of your recommended daily intake for vitamin B-6, 20 percent for thiamine and 12 percent for riboflavin), and vitamin K (good for proper blood clotting).

Minerals are also plentiful in carrot juice. Each cup of carrot juice contains about one-seventh of the potassium and phosphorus you should get daily, benefiting your nervous system and bone health. It also has one-tenth of your recommended daily intake for magnesium, a mineral that plays a role in muscle contraction, and 6 percent of the bone-strengthening calcium you need each day.

As for cocoa studies indicate that it provides it own lists of benefits. However, let’s not kid ourselves here. Chocolate just makes things taste better. Period. 🙂

 

Here is how I made it:

8 ounces of carrot juice (I lazily used Bolt House Farms but juicing organic carrots would be worlds better all the way around)

1 heaping tablespoon of unsweetened organic, fair trade cocoa. (Made by Lake Champlain; I can only find it consistently on Amazon)

Mixed in my blender bottle.

Total yumminess.  Surprised? Me too.

Jamie told me she was inspired to make this after having it at Arden’s Garden, a local juice bar here in Atlanta. Guess what? They ship!  In the future, I will probably juice a bunch of carrots at a time and have it on hand for a few days. But it’s good to know they have it in case I get lazy again. Which is likely. 🙂

 

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I heart this. Veggie love at its best.

 

 

 

For the Love of Beets

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beetroot-heart

If you would have told me 2 years ago I would ever eat beets I would have called you insane.

If you would have said that I would eat them almost daily I would have suggested you get your head examined.

But here I am, a beet eating (almost loving) fool.

But HOW? And more importantly WHY?

Well, despite the fact that I have been on a focused fitness path for the greater part of my adult life, it has been in the last few years that I have begun to focus in on what I eat. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been what most would consider a good eater for some time. I’ve always loved to cook and I’ve stayed on top of whatever food trends seem to be gaining traction in the fitness world. The thing is, it took my health (not the outward appearance of my body) to force me to shift my relationship with food. As I began to experience autoimmune flares (and eventually find myself hospitalized a few times) I began to research how I could use food to HEAL my body.

I stopped struggling with food; meaning I took my attention off of weight loss and athletic performance. Instead, I focused on fueling my body for optimum health. **SN: when you fuel your body for optimal health, perfect weight and improved athletic performance are natural byproducts** I researched the systems of the body paying particular attention to those that present a challenge for me: digestive, urinary and reproductive. I determined that there is clear evidence (both scientific and anecdotal) that what we eat matters to every cell in our body. If I wanted to heal, I had to listen to my body.

Slowly but surely I stepped away from a dieters mentality. That was hard because our society has conditioned us to ‘diet’. Rather we need it or not! That was the first realization. I did not need to lose weight. I needed to get well. So therefore I needed to eat foods to get me there.  I examined with new eyes how my peers (including those in the fitness world) ate. Generally speaking… we do not eat a lot of  real food.  Protein bars, shakes, goos and gels all acceptable ways to fuel our bodies. In addition, most people don’t enjoy much of  what they eat at all. They see food as serving a purpose; for the dieter the goal is to limit food for the purpose of weight loss for the food addict, food might provide emotional comfort. The bottom line is… very few people eat for health or for true enjoyment.

I considered that fact that despite the fancy packaging and enticing marketing… processed food is not exciting. Nor does it taste good. Walk over to the produce section and now you are talking eye candy! Food that represents the colors of the rainbow; that stand alone. No bells or whistles needed. Just good solid nutrition. Just as God intended.  images

 

First decision: Fall in love with food.  REAL FOOD. Its healing properties and its taste.

Nothing like being sick to make you appreciate your body and the beautiful temple God created it to be.  I LOVED my body for what it had done for me when I needed it to. I was thankful to God for my healing. The least I could do is acknowledge this gift with my food choices.

So what does all of this have to do with Beets?

Well…

I started paying attention to the value of my food and considering how I could increase it. I incorporated juicing, soups and salads… all big bangs for my buck.

I paid attention to what is offered locally and seasonally. To which foods my body needed to function optimally.

This is where beets entered the picture.

As I worked to increase the nutritional value of my food, beets kept coming up.  Beets are known detoxifiers, considered a super antioxidant and have brain boosting properties. The are also a great anti inflammatory food AND aphrodisiac.

Now despite ALLLL of this,  I just ignored them at first. I had never tasted them because the smell alone gave me drive heaves.  I am not a picky eater so I took the revulsion very seriously. I mean apparently my body did not want them, right?

Wrong.

It was just a sign of a lifetime of conditioning.  Once I recognized that, I became determined to overcome my disdain for beets. Like a challenge. We all know how much I like a challenge. 😉

I wanted to see if I could change my own mind about beets.

I had enough sense to realize that I was powerless over my gag reflex so I needed to hide them in my food.  I began making my smoothies with beets. Now because of their rich color (a huge sign that something is good for you by the way) there is not mistaking that beets were in the smoothie. But by juicing with fruits and vegetables with strong flavors (such as pineapple and ginger) I was able to almost completely mask the taste. Every few days I increased the amount of beets in the smoothie and decreased the amount of the other foods. Some days I was  more successful than others but after a few weeks of this, I had no issue with the beets in my smoothie! I continued my beet green smoothies for several months. However,  I rotate my vegetables so I didn’t have them every single day.

This past Fall beets became seasonly available.  My local Whole Foods started offering several dishes that featured beets. I decided to try beets outside of my smoothies and guess what? I didn’t die! No more queasiness. I could handle the smell, I could chew it up and I could swallow. Again and again. Over and over.  For me, this was monumental.  I started getting a side dish containing beets on my weekly trip to the store. Beets with goat cheese… quinoa with beets… beet slaw… I tried it all.

The final frontier was cooking with them.  More about that in part two.  For now, here is my signature smote which contains beets as a star player.  Tell me what you think!

(Pssst… A contest is coming in Part 2!)

Sagdrina's Signature Smoothie

Mobile Office Will Travel (spoiler alert: Cashew Cheese recipe tucked in post!)

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Between Snowmageddon and whatever bug had taken residence in my respiratory system,  I was more than ready to get out of my house on on with life this past week.  I took lots of pictures so let’s do this slide show style. 🙂

My soul-sis and ride or die chick Jamie of ImPerfect Yoga &Coaching was in town and we linked up at Lululemon.  She knew I was sick of being sick so she bought me a grand slam from Arden’s Garden (a local juice bar).  What is a grand slam you might ask? A shot each of lemon, wheatgrass, cranberry, and ginger. Pure and potent stuff. Just what the doctor ordered! Thanks sis!

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Now, I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say that I fought my way into Lulelemon’s  Research and Development program for fitness professionals.  Normally, I might let something like a 15% discount go  (okay that’s not even true) but if you know anything about Lululemon’s prices you know I did what I had to do!  Here is a really cute number that did not make it home with me.Even with the 15% discount I just couldn’t do it.  I felt like Olivia Pope in it y’all!

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I was feeling so good I went straight to the gym and ran 2 miles. Sweet sweat and tears that felt good! The next day I decided to do it again! This time I was running next to  a lovely lady name Phree (pronounced Free..love it!)  She is one month into her goal to lose 40 lbs. I love it when I see folks still in the gym in February! She has a no excuses motto so she was not offended when I hacked up half my lung running next to her. She actually had her own little nostril number going on. That’s called dedication folks!

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I headed into the city for back to back business meetings at R. Thomas (hey- you have your board room and I have mine… don’t judge!).  Three Big Bangs later (not all for me of course) and the Garden Project is picking up steam. More about that later but me and Jan’s plan to get the world to eat their veggies is coming together nicely!

I also discovered cashew cheese. Now I am not big on eating foods that are designed to replace other foods but this was calling me from the menu. Perhaps it is because I went without dairy the entire month of January or  maybe because I am fully committed to humanely processed meat products. Whatever the case, I wanted to try this ‘alternative’. I’ve tried the cheese ‘style’ product Daiya and although the taste was okay, I just could not get past the processed food aspect of it. What I did recognize in the ingredients was not terrible, just not nutritionally dense.  Therefore I couldn’t see it as a long term solution. I decided to see if cashews could pick up where feta left off. Well not exactly. It is distinctly not cheese. BUT is was yummy. Especially with pears! It has the texture of a pimento cheese and a smooth, creamy taste. It was also quite filling.

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I came home, did my research and created my own. This is how I made it:

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours prior)
  • ¼ cup filtered water
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs. homemade Kombucha  (you can use 1 Tbs. raw apple cider vinegar or 2Tbs of white wine)
  • 1 Tbs. dijon mustard
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
 Instructions
  1. Added  all ingredients into my  Vitamix until it got thick and creamy. You can let it harden in the fridge for a day for a firm consistency.

Friday was a return to yoga. I hadn’t practiced in two weeks but my body got right back in the flow. I decided to set up shop in Whole Foods after class. Totally busted by my yoga teacher Hope. She snapped this picture on her way out.

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And then I met this gem of a lady who was passing by named Yvonne. Turns out she has been doing yoga and maintaining a healthy lifestyle for many years. At 70 years old her skin is clear and free of wrinkles. Amazing. She told me that when your spirit is pure it shines through. She felt drawn to me… I felt the same way about her! Did I mention she is from Savannah, my hometown? I almost guessed it when she sat down. Something about us girls from the C-Port!

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Here is one for the road.

Jamie (said soul sis above) and I did silly selfies of ourselves in our Lululemon wear while I “worked” and she got ready to teach  yoga. Good times.

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The Old Gray Mare… She Ain’t What She Used to Be

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I partied hard the weekend before my birthday.  I will spare you the details but it involved an extremely entertaining place called Johnny’s Hideaway and some of the best friends a 40+1 girl could ask for.  It was awesome. Another benefit of being a full fledge grown up without small children and with an amazingly supportive husband.  It was lonely at times when I was a young mom (my friends didn’t start having kids until recently)  but where I stand right now… Winning! Ha!

By my actual birthday some three days later I was sick.  My daughter had gotten a bit of a bug and I had caught it. I wasn’t too concerned  as she didn’t seem to bothered by it: a little sore throat and fatigue but she managed just fine.  I would just let mine run its course just like she did.

But that’s the thing about being fit and forty. You forget that you are indeed, well…a bit older.  Our experiences with this crud were quite different.

However, there was no time to nurse or worry about a cold on my birthday.  By midday my city was in a state of Emergency.  My personal experience with the horror was limited (thankfully) but my yoga teacher and good friend Hope describes her first hand account here.  *SN- My college kid who lives smack dab in the middle of the city is suffering from a toothache and going to the dentist isn’t an option right now. Talked him through oil pulling and it has brought him relief.*

I woke up the next day (Day 2) and felt like a truck had run over me and then went in reverse. Congested, and dizzy… I could not believe how sick I truly was!  So I  stayed  hydrated, increased my vitamin C and I stayed in bed.  By late afternoon, my husband pulled out the neti pot and put it on the sink like an invitation (he was over it- poor guy). Although I knew it would bring me relief, I could not see myself cutting off any additional airflow in my nostrils.  I was certain I would drown and die. (No, this is not my first time using a neti pot) My daughter came in and reminded me that she has done this for years and lives through it each and every time… nothing like a kid shaming you to put things in perspective.

Instant relief! I was able to get a decent night’s sleep. When I woke up, I was better but not out of the woods. Time for an additional attack.

Today (Day 3) I thought about why the severity of the cold caught me so off guard. On Monday Jan and I went to R. Thomas, a well known eatery in Atlanta that serves up healthy vegan, vegetarian, and meat dishes in one really cool environment. I had gone there with two friends a few weeks back and had the Big Bang: A one size fits all hot, frothy, drink made of freshly juiced apple, lemon and ginger. Lots of ginger. On the day before my birthday, I ordered another one. I really think it pushed the cold back a bit. I had been feeling a little under the weather but the Big Bang had given me a zing of health. Today I set out to make it myself with the ingredients I had on hand (Snowmaggedon 2014 meant no trip to the store).

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Big Bang- Yes Please!

Here’s what I used:

1 pink grapefruit

about a 2 inch section of ginger

1 pear

1 teaspoon of raw honey (the grapefruit had a bit of a kick that I wanted to tone down)

I juiced it all in my juicer and then I transferred it to my Vitamix where I added the honey and put it on for about 5 minutes. Ahhh…. my deep, cleansing breaths were possible once again! I plan on using lemon next time (I think it will take 3-4 lemons); the grapefruit+ ginger combo was a bit too powerful. I may keep the honey… I like the flavor it added.

I roasted chickpeas using this recipe while I was preparing my hot juice. I forgot about them (fuzzy head casualty)  and they got a little burnt but they were still good. Amy, one of the Detox Challengers, thinks they taste like corn nuts… I agree.

I fully intended on adding Tito’s vodka (gluten-free) to the Big Bang but I forgot.  How does one forget vodka you are asking? Get a head cold the size of Texas that’s how.  Now, I like to correct my mistakes so I guess I got to go make it again before I go to bed. Hee hee! Night folks!

Butter In my Coffee

Standard

So we are at the stage in the Detox Challenge where I let them choose what they want to reintroduce into their diet… in a healthier way.

First on most folks list:

Coffee.

looks like milk but it's butta baby!

looks like milk but it’s butta baby!

I always feel guilty about taking away people’s coffee. I have a coffee ritual that is painfully interrupted when I do a Detox. Painful for anyone who crosses my path.  But, I find it beneficial to pause and take a close look at my relationship with Java and even elevate it a bit. 🙂

Drinking coffee is a personal decision. Some people argue that caffeine is bad (can be harmful for your adrenals)  others argue it is good for you (my kids’ pediatrician swears by it as a ADHD treatment)… I’m going to let them debate… while I enjoy a cup of brew. Read the positions, listen to your body and decide for yourself.

While I feel strongly about drinking coffee I do have standards. Standards that I revisit and elevate typically around the time of my cleanse.

My rules:

I only drink one cup of coffee a day. By one cup I mean 10-12 ounces, one container. Ha!

I only buy organic coffee.  Non-organic coffee is heavily sprayed with pesticides

I only buy fairly traded coffee. It is important to me that farmers are treated with respect.

I buy beans and grind them every morning. Well I buy the beans and my husband grinds them. Pre-ground stuff is a no-no around here. We wouldn’t even consider instant. The Thought makes me shiver!  Coffee is an experience (I learned that from my days as a Starbuck’s barista) The best part of waking up isn’t Folgers in your cup but it is the smell of fresh cracked coffee brewing!

How I make it:

10-12 ounces of freshly brewed coffee

1 tablespoons of Pure ghee

1 tablespoon coconut oil

(you can use butter alone but only organic and grassfed or it is gross!)

A sprinkle of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla

Blend in my Vitamix for 30 seconds.

Now let me explain:

I met the wonderful couple who make PURE Ghee at the Ancestral Health Symposium and they were sampling their product with coffee. It was delicious but I needed to do my research and determine a  fit  for it in my diet. Bear in mind this conference was for Paleo/ Westin Price type folks and they have a bring on the fat mentality. I haven’t quit made that leap but I do recognize the benefits of coconut oil and ghee particularly for auto immune peeps like me. As a matter of fact, I believe that many disorders we experience today have been aggravated by the low-fat diet craze days.  Fat does not make you fat. Too much sugar does. It also causes inflammation and cancer cell growth. Am I Paleo? Not much. I eat primarily vegetables and fruit and I also eat legumes and beans.  I am not big on grains although I eat brown rice and quinoa occasionally (typically when training hard).  I eat meat (I reach for lean cuts of organic, cage free, free range and grass fed options) but not as a rule. I eat dairy occasionally: organic, full fat and raw when possible.  I  pull from vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and anti-inflammatory mindsets.  I like to say that I am a pescaterian with Paleo tendencies. 🙂

Basically, I don’t eat crap.

My coffee fits into my plan because of this very important fact.

It is my first meal of the day and because of the fat, I am satisfied for at least 2 hours. I also have tons of energy (coconut oil is a known metabolism booster) and focus throughout my morning. I am not a morning person but my kids and clients don’t seem to care about that.   So my coffee keeps everybody happy. 🙂

Coffee is not a dessert and therefore I do not  add sugar.  I know adding anything to coffee is a faux pas for a coffee snob connoisseur; I live with one. He believes coffee should be served one way: black and in huge quantities. He also comes from generations of  rancher stock. Cattlemen and women. I’m just not on that level.

Why put coffee in the Vitamix?

Because I when I mixed it with our blending I was left with clumps of the butter/ghee blend at the end. I realized that it needs to emulsify.  Blending it also infuses the other flavors and makes it frothy. I also aprrecitate that the Vitamix keeps it hot!

So there you have it.

Oh and it takes me about 1 minute to make.

How do you take your coffee?