Food Journal Day 12

Long, long day, but my first day free of school! For four weeks anyway. Also learned today that the two more accounting courses I thought I needed for my CPA are covered by classes I took as part of my Bachelors. Great news as it saves me the time and effort as well as about $2500.

Breakfast: Mango smoothie with coconut milk and a banana. I also had a very large caffeinated tea this morning. It was required to make it through the work day after living on so little sleep this week due to finals.

Lunch: Usual salad at work with baby greens, cucumber, celery, asparagus, craisins and walnuts.

Dinner: 2 tangerines (delicious) and a kiwi. All perfectly ripe and tasty. As you can see I’m starting to run out of food and due for a Whole Foods trip this weekend.

Food Journal Day 11

Three tests then more Christmas shopping. Forgive me for being brief, but I am incredibly tired.

Breakfast: Mango smoothie. Simply mango and water.

Lunch: Big salad with baby lettuce, cucumber, these tiny little yellow tomatoes, raw pepitas, chopped raw pecans, 3 chopped dates, 1/2 of an avocado, fresh squeezed lemon juice for dressing.

Dinner: A meal my mother made for me of carrots, string beans and vegan zucchini pancakes. Enjoyed a glass of Soylicious Coconut Egg Nog for dessert.

Have a great night!

Food Journal Day 10

About halfway to my 21 days with only one slip up. Feeling pretty good about that. I also feel pretty good even with the crazy amount of stress I am under. I am really looking forward to finals being over tomorrow so I can finally relax for a moment and catch up on some much needed pleasure reading and sleep.

Breakfast: I made a smoothie with frozen mango, a banana, and coconut milk. I put coconut milk in all my smoothies, but just so you know I am not referring to fresh coconut water. I wish, but it is too difficult and expensive to buy coconuts and hack them open everyday. I use unsweetened Coconut Dream. Whole Foods as well as a bunch of other food stores sell it. Overall it is a decent product. Not ideal of course, but for right now it works and it tastes good. Whenever I have coconut water on hand I use that instead. Fresh and natural is always best.

I drizzled some coconut milk on top to make it look a bit prettier, though it didn’t really do much.

Lunch: I made myself a salad with baby kale, baby lettuce leaves, avocado and cucumber. I used fresh squeezed juice from Myers lemons as my dressing. Very simple and tasty. Sorry for the lack of a photo.

Dinner: A whole bunch of strong caffeinated tea. I have two finals tomorrow and a makeup test. I’ll be up all night.

Healthy Digestion – A true immune system builder

I recently came across this post by Rockwell Blog, part of Rockin’ Wellness, and found it an excellent summation of all things digestion. I have been wanting to do a post discussing this as I, along with so many others, have suffered through digestive problems. This post offers some basic information on how our systems function and what natural sources can assist in digestive issues. I hope you find it resourceful.

Healthy Digestion – A true immune system builder

Posted by sethluker on March 14, 2011

Since battling a digestive disease for the last 6 years, healthy digestion has been a major focus in my journey towards optimal function. This is a subject that most folks fail to think about until a problem arises and then they just go the doctor and slap a band-aid on the gunshot wound and keep moving forward with eating the same detrimental regimen. So in this article, along with the help from an article by Dr David Foreman, I want to touch on a few points about healthy digestion and how it plays a major role in our entire existence.

Digestive Issues: Inside the numbers

  1. More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, about 25 million are daily suffers
  2. Chronic gastrointestinal disorders plague more than 95 million Americans
  3. Two of the top five most widely prescribed prescription drugs in this country are for digestive disorders
  4. Digestion-related problems cost Americans more than 100 billion dollars annually
  5. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths behind lung cancer.

I would hope that these numbers grab your attention, and that you can see why we should focus on our digestive process. Optimal nutrition begins and ends with healthy digestion. Instead of “death begins in the colon” we should say “life begins in the digestive tract.”

The 4 Functions of the Digestive System

  1. Digestion: breaks down food into micro-particles
  2. Absorption: Converts nutrients into absorbable forms
  3. Elimination: Removes waste / toxins
  4. Immunity: Protects from foreign microbes either in or on your foods

The Keys to Healthy Digestion

A healthy digestive system is built on 4 Pillars: Diet, Exercise, Spirituality, and Supplementation. We know that a diet high in fiber and water and low in bad fats and refined foods will lead to a healthier digestive system. We know that exercise will improve digestion (for multiple reasons).  We know that spirituality (reduction of stressors, etc) will dramatically improve the digestive process. Supplements can and do play a critical role for all of us, whether or not we have a digestive disorder.

Risk Factors for Digestive Problems

Before we get into what supplements we need, let’s take a look at what factors can increase your risk of developing digestive problems.

  1. Poor diet
  2. Pregnancy
  3. High Stress
  4. Overweight
  5. Dehydration
  6. Habitual eating on the go
  7. Dairy Consumption
  8. Use of antibiotics
  9. Use of OTC or prescription antacids
  10. Health issues (diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular, arthritis, depression, eating disorders, etc.)

The bottom line is this, it is believed that more than 70% of your entire immune system is based in your gut. In other words, if your gut is healthy there is a good chance that you are healthy as well. So let’s fix our digestive system!! There are a few key areas to look at in the supplement section of your local vitamin store: probiotics, digestive enzymes, fiber, cleansing supplementation are some great areas to begin.

Probiotics

In short, probiotics are a friendly bacteria that are found in your digestive system. They serve two purposes: they complete the digestive process and help protect against pathogens (disease-causing bacteria, fungus, yeast, etc.) found in your food. Without enough of these beneficial bacteria, you will be unable fully digest your food particles into “micro” particles, or convert some of those nutrients in the absorbable or usable forms that the body needs. Probiotics  are essential for the absorption of nutrients, and also help the body to synthesize Vitamin B and K, absorb minerals and digest proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fiber. Throw in the benefits to your immune system and we have a winner. Probiotics  are depleted by stress, aging, high carbohydrate diets, antibiotic use and also by consuming non-purified water and non-organic foods. Lack of proper levels of probiotics can also lead to overgrowth of E.coli and H.pylori.

Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are used to help support the breakdown of your foods. I often estimate that 70+% of your body’s energy goes into digesting foods. Coming up short on enough digestive enzymes will lead to nutrient depletion, and having foods particles go through your system undigested. this can lead to problems such as toxin buildup, flatulence, odor issues, allergies, sensitivities and more. The primary digestive enzymes are: protease (for proteins), amylase (starches), lipase (fats), cellulase (plant cell membranes). There are also targeted enzymes available for specific needs, such as lactase for lactose intolerance.

Fiber

Fiber should never be overlooked. The average diet contains around 20 grams of fiber each day yet we should be consuming 35+ grams per day. Fiber can help you manage your weight, balance blood sugar, lower cholesterol, keep your digestive tract clean, decrease constipation and diarrhea, and improve immune function, reduce your risk of heart attack and much more than is listed here. Fiber can be described as a toothbrush of the colon. Regardless, fiber is another critical component in digestive system health. If you cant get enough fiber from your diet (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc.) then you need to supplement. The most popular fiber sources are psyllium and flax seeds. You can also find chia seeds, inulin and glucomannan at your local vitamin store. All of these are great fiber sources but I prefer flax and chia seeds.

Cleansing

Cleansing is something that often gets overlooked with regard to digestive maintenance and care. Colon cleansing and liver cleansing will help keep your colon, liver, and gallbladder clean and functional. We need to cleanse all systems, but for those with digestive issues, periodic colon and liver cleansing is even more important. Cleansing will help eliminate the buildup of environmental toxins, metals, airborne chemicals, water and foods we consume.  Cleansing will help improve energy, digestive function, immune function, nervous system function, hormonal balance, sleep, skin and a whole lot more!!!

Supplements

Finally, there are many other supplements that support healthy digestion. Many of these can be purchased separately (or in combination formula) to address your specific digestive issues. Here is a short list to get you started.

  1. Ginger: indigestion
  2. Slippery Elm: soothing
  3. DGL: heartburn and acid reflux
  4. Dandelion: constipation, indigestion
  5. Mastic Gum: heartburn and acid reflux
  6. Peppermint: indigestion, cramping, gas
  7. Magnesium: safe and effective for constipation
  8. Aloe: soothes inflammation and helps with constipation

Cellulite: A Natural Remedy

A raw food, vegan diet simply melts away cellulite. I have had cellulite on my upper thighs my entire life, even in high school when running track and jumping hurdles 6 days a week for 2-4 hours a day as well as lifting weights and eating a healthy lean meat and high vegetable diet.

It was not until my freshman year of college when I decided to originally go vegan (eating mainly salads and vegetables with little to no grain) that I lost the extra 5lbs I fought my entire high school career to lose and the little bit of cellulite on my thighs completely disappeared. These results plus a really high energy level convinced me that vegan was the way to go for my body. However, veganism did not last once I came home for the semester. The weight lost came right back as did the appearance of cellulite.

I am currently making the shift back into the vegan diet focusing intensely on high raw content as well as incorporating various superfoods.

For those of you unwilling to make such a significant dietary change, use essential grapefruit oil. The citrus oils increase circulation and tighten skin dramatically reducing the appearance of cellulite. I tried it myself in preparation for my Hawaiian vacation and noticed a dramatic difference in just a week. Cellulite completely disappeared!

Look for 100% pure and therapeutic grade essential oil. Apply a small amount to the problem areas and allow to fully absorb before getting dressed. You’ll notice the difference!

Remember that this is not necessarily a cure, but it will help with the appearance of cellulite. The best things you can do are change your diet and maintain an active lifestyle.

Workout Recovery Shake

After hitting the gym for an intense workout, many run to a powdered protein shake packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, but also loaded with fillers, sweeteners and artificial flavors. Some of these shakes are made from quality ingredients, but most are junk food in disguise.

A raw, natural and delicious remedy to your workout recovery is a shake I have been making for a while now and came across through the Renegade Health Show. I provided some links to their store, but all of these powders can be found on Amazon. Here is Kevin Gianni recipe:

After Workout Recovery Shake: 

  • 1 Mango
  • 2 Bananas
  • Water of 2 coconuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons of ground chia seed (I grind the seeds fresh in a mortar and pestle due to the instability of the natural oils)
  • 2 tablespoons chlorella 
  • 2 tablespoons plant protein (spirulina, Warrior Food, or Sun Warrior)
  • 1 tablespoon vitamin C
  • 1/2 teaspoon kelp powder

Blend and enjoy!!

Food Journal Day 9

Pretty solid day in regards to food, but really hectic in the life aspect. Running between work, class and studying for finals has left me drained.

Breakfast: A pineapple, banana and coconut milk smoothie. Yum!

Lunch: I went out to lunch with my mother to my favorite little cafe with the best salads and sandwiches, The Rolling Pin in Westwood, NJ (I’ll do a restaurant review at some point). Following veganism here is easy, simply stick to a salad and ask for no cheese. Though every time I come in I see the tasty sandwiches I once devoured.

Contents of the salad: mixed baby greens, candied almonds, strawberries, blackberries, and a white wine vinaigrette.

Dinner: I ended up having my night class tonight despite this week being dedicated to finals. I took with me this cool new bar that was at Whole Foods on Sunday. They were giving out samples and it was so delicious I had to grab one. A bit pricey though, roughly $3.50 a bar.

The bar happens to be dairy free, gluten free, vegan, and packed with super fruits. Very tasty health bar.

When I got home from class, around 21:00 (I hate eating this late), I helped myself to some of the sides my mother made for the family dinner. A huge scoop of carrots and a huge scoop of sting beans. There are about 4 super ripe avocados sitting on my counter, so I mashed one up with some salt, pepper and lemon juice and made celery logs with it. Very tasty.

It just came to my attention that other than smoothies, I have not made anything since starting this Food Journal. As I have mentioned before, my last two finals are this Wednesday. I work a full day Thursday, but Friday I will be off and free to hit the gym, record my workout, as well as cook up some tasty meals and provide you guys with some really good recipes. Looking forward to it!

Christmas Shopping Frustrations

Silver bells, mistletoe, spiked egg nog, the crisp scent of fresh pine, the chance to see the entire extended family together (arguing or not, it is a beautiful thing)… Those are a few highlights, but December is one of those months where everything is shadowed by an overarching theme of false holiday cheer, tacky and obnoxious tunes, gaudy lights, annoying shoppers, and crazy sales.

I have a firm anti-Christmas and anti-Birthday gift policy among my friends. We do not exchange gifts during these times. Birthday’s are for parties and fun events. Therefore any money that would go to a gift goes to making that event snazzier and more elaborate. This may include, but is not limited to purchasing a ridiculous sequin dress, buying enough alcohol to kill a herd of elephants, or splurging at a chichi restaurant with cloth tablecloths and silver knives.

In regards to the holiday season, we all buy gifts for family members, splurging on Kindle’s, cameras and fancy watches to appease their good taste. This leaves little in the budget left for close friends. Credit cards end up maxed out with gifts, travel expenses and food. Therefore, we usually agree to not exchange gifts in order to make our hectic lives a little bit simpler during this time of year.

The main reason for my aversion to the holiday shopping: obligation ruins a gift. Around the holidays people buy gifts for each other to show their love, respect and appreciation for them. This is a lovely sentimental aspect that has been perverted by commercial holiday nonsense and varying senses of obligation. By obligation, I refer to the feeling someone has when they know that another individual has purchased a gift for them and therefore they feel as though they have to purchase one in return to make the gift transaction fair. This is a ludicrous notion. As well as someone receiving a gift and having not provided one in return, feeling a sense of guilt. It also occurs when someone gives a gift without receiving one in return and gets peeved at the lack of courtesy.

I lavish in the random, the unwarranted, and the surprise. A trip to an exotic island or a new country is a great opportunity to pick up a little trinket, clothing or cultural item for a friend or family member. Checking out a fall festival or summer arts fair is another great time to grab some handmade art that reminds you of a certain someone. It is these moments where you truly, in the moment, are reminded of that person. The chosen gift is personal and invokes their individuality without being rushed, forced or wrapped in tacky reindeer paper. These types of gifts are unique, appreciated more, and there is no sense of obligation involved.

Another note on the holiday season, Christmas cards are a waste of money, trees and end up thrown out in under a week. Unless a baby picture is tucked in that little envelope with the card, pick up the phone and speak to your family and friends. Wish them a warm holiday and lots of cheer. I have received cards from people I have not spoken to in months. In these cases, I would prefer a phone call and a chance to catch up. In regards to people I see everyday, just wish me a happy holiday over coffee. Or, plan a big group dinner sometime before the holiday. Do something together or at least be personable over the phone.

I swear I am not a Grinch. Happy Holidays!

Food Journal Day 7-8

Things have been a bit wild between work, Christmas shopping and trying to study for my last two finals this week. After taking my organic chemistry final I have lost all ambition to hit the books for hours on end. I find my mind wandering off to some beautiful field of wildflowers with a hot summer sun warming my back and a good book between my knees. The cold and the dark of winter transform me from a warm, delightful cup of tea to a indisposed bear in mid hibernation, constantly dismal and randomly snappy at minuscule things.

Saturday went quite well… for the first half of the day. I began early with a delicious banana and coconut milk smoothie flavored with some cinnamon, vanilla extract and nutmeg. A holiday treat.

This filled me up and provided a nice energy boost for that mornings shopping. I purchased a gift from my mother in Hawaii, a beautiful locally done hand blown glass sculpture of a fish, and ordered my father an new Swiss Army watch online (no worries, they don’t read this). I had also ordered a bunch of things for Kyle online. I’d like to vent my frustrations on shopping for him in another post. Basically all that was left were my two brothers and a handful of things I wanted to pick up for Kyle.

I began to make the rounds, searching mainly for clothes for my brothers. Which is incredibly trying as one is 6’1” and the other 6’3” and both are fairly slim. A tedious combination as normal clothes are too short and big and tall clothes are too wide. Very frustrating. Ultimately I left empty handed from most stores. I think I might go with accessories this year.

After the bit of shopping I headed home to take care of my dogs. Plans for the rest of the day involved going out for lunch with my hot lesbian friend, Ariele, and doing some more shopping with her. I decided to eat lunch at home to save the money and not to complicate things by worrying about the vegan thing in a restaurant (don’t be intimidated, it is not hard, I’m just poor and easily tempted).

We ended up skipping lunch, going straight to Home Goods for 2 hours designing beautiful gift baskets for her family. I started to build one for Kyle’s parents before changing my mind last minute. We’re not terribly close, shipping would have cost a fortune, and I do not know enough about them to build one that would be useful and enjoyed. I decided it is a thing for next year.

Back to the main purpose of this entry, FOOD, dinner was at Bonefish, a delicious and expensive restaurant near the shopping mall. I kind of cheated… Pretty badly too. I am very ashamed and in all honesty it was not even worth the cheat. I had fish tacos. Not the worst cheat in the world, but for these 21 days I was really steadfast on keeping it to an intense detox routine. I also had an espresso martini. Not really part of a detox either but it was delicious.

Today, I woke up with a mango smoothie and lots of water. Went to Whole Foods to pick up groceries for the week and buy a bunch of hippy food to send to Kyle. Kyle, the one who laughed at me and made fun of me for the whole merging into a vegan diet, calling me a hippy and all sorts of silly names, asked me for a care package for Christmas loaded with hippy food and supplements. I just laughed and am happy to get him a bit more into the concept and supportive. He’ll never cut out meat, but if he is more understanding of me trying to do it, I’m cool.

For lunch I had a piece of vegan pizza from Whole Foods made with gluten-free dough, peppers, onions, and some delicious garlic/tomato/seasoned paste thing instead of a tomato sauce. Absolutely delicious.

For dinner, I made a salad of shredded golden beets, shredded parsnip, shredded onion, chopped mint leaves and a vinaigrette with pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup (optional), garlic and salt.

Today is also weigh-in Sunday. I weighed in at 138lbs. A loss of two pound for the week. This is about what I expected. From stress, it being “that time of the month,” lack of sleep, lack of normal exercise, I have not been living the desired lifestyle. My last two finals are Wednesday and I will start picking up a normal routine from there.

Food Journal Day 6

Sorry guys, no photos yet again.

Breakfast: A smoothie with banana, blueberries, spinach, coconut milk, raw honey and vanilla extract.

Lunch: A delicious salad at work of mixed baby greens, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, walnuts, craisins, tofu, and balsamic vinaigrette. No soup today. The only options contained animal products.

Snacks: I enjoyed a bunch of grapes and a pear around 3-4pm.

Dinner: Nothing.

The deadlines were daunting and the numbers just did not want to add up. Eventually, everything was figured out, but the stress from it tied my stomach into a knot that would not allow me to eat any dinner. I also plan on trading the gym in for a relaxing, steamy hot bubble bath.

I promise, tomorrow I will elaborate on my usual workout routine as well as provide pictures of tasty food.