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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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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Challenge Accepted

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The Detox Challenge is well underway.  While I am happy to report that these ladies are doing amazing… the start was a little bumpy.

It wasn’t my intention but I could sense the “This is NOT what I signed up for!” tension in the air. Ruh Roh.  I should have seen that coming. Although I told them this would be a detox experience unlike any other, I didn’t explain what that meant. I mean, I was confident in my approach but if I had actually told them : My goals are to change the way to you look at food,   Make you eat foods you swear you wouldn’t and Have you in the kitchen getting excited about produce. Yeah I don’t think there would have a whole lot of excitement surrounding that!

For most, detox diets are based on miserably committing to eat something or abstain from something for a set period of time.  We are all familiar with the Lemonade Diet :three- ten days of lemon juice, grade B maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Or the Liver flush complete with drinking things like olive oil, garlic and epsom salt. Bleh… who thinks of these things? And why on Earth do we do this to our body? While I’m no Beyonce, I’ve done it all too. My 20’s and early 30’s were riddled with ‘get cleaned out quick’ schemes. I’d be really irritable and cranky for a few days but I would emerge feeling lighter and leaner…until I started eating crap again.

One of the current crazes is to use supplements and drinks to Detox. While I think supplements have their place, It is not necessary to use them to give the body a break from the way we currently eat which is SAD (standard american diet). Nor is it necessary to starve yourself while you work to restore the gut.

What it takes is food.

Well thought out, planned foods that are known to pack a powerful macronutrient balance and supply high does antioxidants and probiotics. And fiber. Fiber is real important. 🙂

So that’s what I set out to do. Organize a detox unlike any other I’ve experienced. One full of food; vibrant, beautiful food and plenty of it.

We started out detaching ourselves from well established and harmful eating habits. They handled that plenty well.

Then came the food they could eat. This where things got a little… testy.  I assure you it was detailed and varied; I worked very hard to create a comprehensive list of great food. The problem is, much of it they had never handled no less eaten.  “You are expecting me to eat just this?” Yes I was. And they would come to thank me for it.

What I knew that they didn’t is that I absolutely love food. I love to cook and I love to eat. The way to my heart is definitely begins in my belly.  As a result. I refuse to eat food that does not taste good. Period. I gave them tons of recipe options designed to heal the gut while tasting yummy. They couldn’t see at first but once they started tasting they were hooked ;).

God has provided us with so many delicious options… naturally.  Vegetables and fruit actually taste good. Really really good. The problem is that we are disconnected from what REAL food taste like.  Think about it: How much of what most folks eat is fresh? Frozen, boxed, canned… all ways of life in our culture.  As a result things are overly salted, drenched in sugar and loaded with bad fat. All in an effort to mask the fact that we are eating food ‘products’ not food. The result: we think we do not like REAL food.

Through this Challenge I’ve set out to change that those entrusted to me with this go ’round. We’ve examined real food and why your body needs it. We discussed our bad habits and how good it feels to let them go… even if for only 21 days.  And we’ve whined and complained and lamented like school girls. It’s been loads of fun.

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for the love of veggies

I’ve seen major breakthroughs.

Here are some outtakes from our group:

“I do like Green Tea and Kale. I do, I do….thank you Sag-I-Am”

“I’ve already lost 4.8 lbs since I’ve started on Saturday”

“Food I once “hated”, I am loving. I am still not a fan of beets, but I do LOVE onions and peppers now (well sweet peppers).” 

“I love this style of eating. I will be looking for a vegetarian cookbook soon. I may add turkey and grilled chicken but not like before.”

 “They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. I am trying to replace those bad habits with good ones. I don’t want to use the word deprived….cause we r not. But I don’t want bad food choices to be the bad boyfriend that I kept around when he should have been kicked to the curb a long time ago”

“I am ONLY buying ORGANIC. Organic is pricey, but then life is priceless, this is my new motto.”

“I find my appetite has decreased.”

“Ran a 10k and had energy throughout the race”

“I don’t know if I lost weight but I feel like a million bucks. I don’t feel bloated and I can work out hard without having eaten meat. I’ve learned a lot so far but what I’ve learned most is that the commercial teaching in health and wellness is wrong..way wrong. Everything is time-weight based, “lose 10 lbs in 5 sec”…”get bikini ready in 8 weeks…flatten your tummy in 3 days with these easy tricks… It’s a bit fat juicy lie. I went to Publix to get my husband some Cheetos. Yup he sent me to get Cheetos – but I looked at the store differently. All these beautiful brightly colored packages full of non food. Now friends I’m not saying I’ll never eat a chip again..maybe a tortilla chip but I am saying this entire experience is of the mind which results in change of the body.”

Love. It. All.

April has done an amazing job of helping these ladies tap into the mental/emotional/spiritual side of things.  Those of us who do this work know that it is largely mental. Her prescribed  yoga moves and guided meditation round out the experience.  Her inspiration and loving support provides balance to my ‘dictatorship’ (yeah I was referred to as such early on- told you it got ugly lol) Another pleasant surprise gone terribly right. 🙂

I am so impressed with these ladies. Most have stayed the course. They took the early licks like champs and offer encouragement and enthusiasm to each other every day. I always say I learn just as much (if not more) from my clients as they do from me. This group is no exception. A real class act.

In personal news:

I am cleansing right alongside these ladies and I feel amazing. Although I don’t regret the pound cake, I am happy to be back on track with an eating style that works best for my body. CrossFit is on hold and I have taken up Reformer Pilates. I chose pilates for a number of reasons but three come to mind immediately: 1) my concern about disease progression in my joints/muscoskeletal system 2) who doesn’t want to look like a dancer? and 3) The instructor has a sign in her studio that says “All the hotties take Pilates”. A direct quote from her husband. Sold. 🙂

As always Jan is up for a challenge so we are taking classes together. She’s been doing mat pilates for years. I’ve dabbled here and there but the contraptions (reformer, cadillac, etc…) is new to us both. We love it. Check out our moves:

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Well… one move but isn’t it a beaut!

An Open Letter To those considering the 21 Day Detox Challenge

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On the fence about detoxing? I get it. The idea is overwhelming.  Even for me, a trained professional. Here’s what I am here tell you: Stop thinking about it and dive in. Yeah, just like you would do in a swimming pool. Hold your nose, close your eyes, and jump.

You will not regret it. I promise.

How can I promise? Because I will be there with you every step of the way as both your Coach and fellow detox-er.  I actually got a head start!  I have been detoxing for years. As a part of my commitment to healthy living.  that  I really try to do the things I tell others to do; not big on the whole hypocrite thing.  I actually have a host of eating strategies  that keep me honest. Besides, good nutrition has saved my life (in my opinion).  At the beginning of each year,  the hubster and I do a cleanse. This year is no exception. On January 1st, we said goodbye to the holiday goodies once and for all. Well… I think he had a ceremonial piece of sweet potato pie.  😉

What is very different is that this year I will be cleansing with many friends from all over the country…maybe the world! My new gig with Eat Smart and Workout Hard allows me to share nutrition information and support daily.  In addition to providing great information through social media, I am l hosting challenges through ESWH.  My first Challenge was The little Black Dress Challenge 2 which began mid- November.

I’ll be honest, I was a little hesitant. I mean, I am used to having a high level of interaction with my clients. Typically in person.   I get to know my clients’ lifestyle considerations as well as their tastes and preferences.  Would I be able to develop the type of bond I’ve  become accustomed to having with the people I work with?

In a word: yes.  I easily connected with the women in the Little Black Dress 2 Challenge as we narrowed in on their individual nutrition and food needs. I shared my professional guidance and personal experience. Both were well received. What I quickly realized that although the format was different, my ability to connect with my clients was not affected. As a matter of fact, in many ways I was able to give more of myself. Members could reach out to me 24hours a day; whenever a question popped in their head. I would check in and respond. The online format really makes so the process smooth… like butta!

The other thing I love about ESWH is that you immediately feel like you are a part of a community. Some of the ladies have participated in several challenges and they welcome the newcomers in like family.  While I don’t get the chance to sit and map out a game plan with the members of the challenge (that comes at a much higher cost by the way ;)), I make myself available to chat virtually.   They can freely share frustrations and triumphs in both a private conversation with a Coach and in the group setting. Best of both worlds for sure!

The System Reload 21 Day Detox Challenge comes with a high level of structure.  Detoxing gives the body a break from the harmful effects of poor eating while loading up on nutrient dense foods. The goal is to get rid of the gunk and reprogram the system to work efficiently.

Do you lose weight?  If you have weight to lose the answer typically is yes. However, this is not the focus of the detox. No magic pills or potions. Just good solid nutrition.  My goal is to help put participants on a path toward optimal health. As I’ve said before: It begins with food. Weight loss is a bonus…dessert if you will. Ha!

The Challenge begins on Saturday so there is still time to register. HOWEVER, don’t wait until the last minute… we need time to get you ready!

Questions? Feel free to inbox us at Eat Smart and Workout Hard or email us at eatsmartworkhard@gmail.com.

Hope to see you in my Kitchen!

P.S. This is me after my last Challenge in January 2013. I took pictures for my 40th birthday.  and I’ve been holding on to this one for the right moment. I think this is it.  40 years old, 3 kids, and several auto immune diseases later… yeah I’m pretty pleased with myself!

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Join me… won’t you?