Ok so I’m into week one of my “cleanse”. I’m loosely using this term to describe what is really my “month of mindful eating”. First my disclaimer, as a massage therapist and personal trainer I am in no position to diagnose or treat your particular health condition, please see your medical professional for that.
I do like to cook and share new recipes so I will be listing my favorites here for you to try. I will be offering the highlights (and low lights) of my month long plan for improved eating. My goal is to give my body a break from my holiday over indulgences and shape it up for my trip to Maui in February.
Step One: The Plan
I have decided to avoid coffee and alcohol for the next few weeks. Ditching coffee was surprisingly easy for me. Over the past two weeks I did a step down program – going from coffee to decaf to black tea – and now my morning beverage of choice is sliced ginger, lemon and a spoon of honey in hot water. I even met a friend for lunch at my favorite coffee shop this week and I wasn’t tempted by the smell of coffee or the pastry case. I will admit that I did fudge and have some wine this weekend. Ok now back on the horse.
I am eliminating any white sugars and anything that comes in a box (processed foods). I am shopping the perimeter of the grocery store – veggies, fruit, meat, cheese, and the bulk bins - and preparing most of my meals at home. While this sounds like a lot of work if you plan ahead it actually saves time (and $) and you have the benefit of knowing exactly what you are eating.
Sunday I do meal planning and cooking. I like to have some staples on hand for the rest of the week. I cook a big batch of brown rice and freeze it in 1-2 cup servings for example. I will bake a few sweet potatoes (or yams), chop them and add them to breakfast cereal, salads, soups…(see my hot breakfast cereal below). Steamed chicken is a quick and easy lean protein and good to add to salads, soups, etc…
I like to keep healthy snacks on hand, especially crunchy sweet things. I stash baby carrots, snap peas, cut up celery and apples on the top shelf right in the front of the fridge for a quick snack.
Ok so I’ll stop here and tell you my menu for today:
Breakfast: I try to drink 32 oz of water first thing in the morning. I sip on it as I am getting ready. Then I make a fruit smoothie or hot breakfast cereal (oatmeal, cracked wheat) loaded with apples, raisins and nuts.
Fruit Smoothie – 1 cup kefir or yogurt, 1/2 cup rice milk or water, 1-2 cups frozen fruit (today I used peaches, mango, blueberries, and cherries), 1 small beet or carrot – boiled and chopped, 1 spoon of honey. Blend all ingredients and drink up! Here is a yummy recipe that incorporates dates and my beloved coconut oil (more on that later).
Hot cereal – Cracked wheat (I like Bob’s Red Mill) cooked with half a sweet potato and half an apple, salt, cinnamon, a tiny hit of cayenne, a tablespoon of coconut oil, and a squeeze of honey or agave.
Lunch: I tend to eat small meals throughout the day and I usually eat every 3-4 hours.
Steamed chicken with cabbage salad - I subbed chicken for the shrimp in this recipe. This chicken recipe is really easy, you just steam the bird for 20 minutes,then turn it off and let it sit (with the lid on) for 20 minutes.
Sliced zucchini and baby carrots with hummus. Hummus – super easy. Here’s a good basic recipe.
You may notice I am not including servings, calories, portions etc… My goal is to eat when my tank starts to feel empty and stop when I’m about 3/4 full. I’m shooting for mostly fruits and veggies, some protein and dairy for this week. Here are a few of the resources I am using for recipes and nutrition information:
Eat Fat to Lose Fat This book has loads of good recipes! The basic theory is that we eat too much sugar and not enough fat (you heard me). The authors suggest drinking a tablespoon of coconut oil in hot water in the morning – I have been adding it to my breakfast cereal – and having a small amount of fat with each meal. Coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride so it “acts like” butter or shortening in that it is hard at room temperature, but your body eliminates it so quickly it does not hang around and get turned into cholesterol. Interesting read.
The Body Ecology This is about how our bodies absorb food. They are big fans of kefir and other fermented foods and say we should eat a little bit of funky food (kombucha, yogurt, beet kvass) at each meal. I’ve just started this one so I’ll keep you posted on what I learn. I did try soaking my oatmeal overnight in kefir as they recommended and it seemed to stick to my ribs a little longer than usual.
Try some of these recipes and let me know what you think!
Looking for a meatless main dish? Here is a hearty option the whole family will love. Most of these spices can be found at the grocery store or definitely at the Asian market. The tomatoes, spinach, ginger, turmeric, garlic and onions all help detoxify the body and are part of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Chickpea and Spinach Curry:
- 1 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Large onion, finely chopped
- 2 Garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 inch of fresh ginger root, finely chopped
- 1 Green chili, seeded and chopped
- 2 Tbsp curry paste
- 2 Tsp ground cumin
- 1 Tsp Turmeric
- 8 oz can chopped tomatoes
- 1 Green or Red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 ¼ cups vegetable stock
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 8 oz fresh spinach
- 14oz can of chickpeas
- 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1 Tsp Garam Masala
- brown rice
Heat Olive oil in a large heavy pan and cook the chopped onion, garlic, ginger, and chili over gentle heat for five minutes, until onion has softened but not browned. Stir in the curry paste, ground cumin and turmeric and cook for one minute.
Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, red pepper, tomato paste and stock, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Check the peas to see if they are tender enough. Stir in the spinach and cilantro and let them wilt. Spoon into serving bowls, sprinkle with the Graham Masala and serve with rice or naan.
Easy Steamed Chicken:
- 1-2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- dry seasonings
- steamer pot and basket
Rub the chicken breast with your choice of dry seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, chili powder, or a mix like Grill Mates).
Fill the bottom of the pot with a few inches of water. Place the chicken in the steamer basket (try to lay the chicken flat, not piled on top of each other). Place the basket in the pot, cover with a lid, and turn the heat on to med-high.
Steam the chicken for 15 – 20 minutes (try cutting one breast open – the juice should run clear). Move the pot off the burner and let it sit for 20 minutes with the lid on.
When the bird is cool enough to handle move it to a serving platter, reserving the cooking liquid. Shred the chicken with your hands or two forks. Add in a little of the stock to keep the meat moist. Save the rest of the liquid – this is your chicken stock for your next soup.