The Perfect Green Smoothie

In 2002 I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I was fortunate to have a progressive doctor who recommended I consider a change in diet when the prescribed steroids provided no relief, only weight gain. For years I was inconsistent in following his recommendations (found in Dr Dean Ornish’s “Eat More, Weigh Less”). Either I’m stubborn or the pain just wasn’t bad enough to force the change. Honestly I thought I could manage it by eating “right” for a period and then going back to it when my body had finally had enough of the “wrong” eating and rebelled with pain.

That approach has done nothing but exacerbate the problem and now I find that any move away from plant-based, whole foods results in pain and in a few instances, localized neuropathy. It’s scary shit, to be honest. I mean, I only just turned 50 this year! I’ve got a good 40+ years left on this planet and I want them to be filled with love and joy, not agony and pain meds.

In addition to fruits and veggies and whole grains and legumes, I’ve added this amazing smoothie to my morning for a powerful punch of vitamins & minerals straight from the source. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to fight this inflammation that tortures my body.

My version is adopted from this YouTube video:
Dr Brooke Goldner Best Ever Plant-Based Green Smoothie

Begin with enough greens to fill and tightly pack your blender to halfway. I like the mild flavor of spinach but I’ve also used a “power greens mix” or kale. The key is to pick one that you’ll drink – not one that tastes like grass, unless you’re into that. No judgment here.

Next, add some unsweetened frozen fruit. Mango is my absolute favorite in this smoothie. Blueberries taste great but I’m not fond of the brown color that results from using them.

After the frozen fruit, I add 1T each of chia seeds and whole flaxseeds. If you’re new to “fiber” in your diet, you may want to begin with less. Use whole flaxseeds (stored in the freezer or refrigerator for freshness) that will be ground when you mix the smoothie.

Next I add a VERY ripe banana. For smoothies I prefer bananas with a lot of dark spots – they’re the sweetest and easiest to digest I find. Perhaps not the prettiest sitting on top of the pile of ingredients but still delicious!

Here’s the most critical piece – HOW MUCH WATER DO I ADD? Remember that we’ve packed those greens in tightly, right? And just puked everything else on? Well the water is added until the top of the greens then STOP! Any more water and you may have an overflow / spill when you blend.

Blend it all together – I use the smoothie setting on my VitaMix – and enjoy!

This recipe made 60 ounces of smoothie. I had the first half for breakfast and the second for a snack later in the day.

If you make this recipe, please leave a comment below and let me know what you though of it.

Motivation and the like

This morning was an exercise just in getting myself out of bed and out the house. Of course once I was out there moving, my hesitancy seemed ridiculous but gosh, I lie there just like a lazy ass trying to talk myself into moving. What is it about a comfy bed in a cool room with a warm comforter that makes it so tough to leave?

Ultimately, I did get up, I did lace up my shoes (Xero something or others), and I did cover 2 miles. Run 5 minutes / walk 5 minutes, then run 2/walk 3 x 3 and run 1/walk 3 x 2 because I still wasn’t home yet and I didn’t want to lower my pace any more than I had to. I may be a turtle but I’m a vain one. Also I owed my 2,019 miles in 2019 team some miles – but more on that awesome group later.

Once I got home and cleaned up, I knew I better do some food prep. Friends often ask me how I manage to eat as many veggies as I claim to (let’s just leave it at A LOT for now). Again, it comes down to motivation. I have to make it as easy as possible or I’ll grab the highest processed and unhealthiest food in my pantry if I’m hit with a fit of hunger. Here’s how I do it. I keep a HUGE – like, the second largest Tupperware size HUGE – bowl of salad in my fridge at all times. Here’s how I make it.

I begin with a bag of shredded, tri-color cabbage and a bag of shredded carrots. If you’ve got all the time in the world or you want to save a few bucks, buy it whole and shred it yourself. If you’re going to do that, make sure you don’t just get the palest cabbage out there – get out of your comfort zone and buy the big purple head! Personally, I find there are other things I’d rather spend time on (income generating activities) but hey, that’s me. Each bag is approximately 8 oz in weight.

Next I add a roughly chopped and washed head of green leaf lettuce. Sometimes I use red leaf or Bibb, but this is what I had and I like the flavor. You can choose romaine, spring mix, spinach, or really any lettuce you enjoy. The key is to use what you will eat. Seriously, don’t try to force yourself to eat something you don’t enjoy – pick the base that you will. And as long as I’m mentioning spinach, let me just ask – do you find it wilts more quickly than other greens? It’s not my fave for that reason, but I’ll use it in a smoothie any day of the week.

I don’t know about you, but I love a good cucumber. Not only are the flavors sweet and mild, cukes are extremely hydrating and as someone who easily dehydrates, I can use all that sort of help I can get. Begin by slicing the cukes in quarters lengthwise and then chopping.

It looks good so far, right? I think so, too. But what if you’re one of those people who just doesn’t understand the appeal of raw veggies and you’re cringing at this? Here’s a trick that worked for me when I began eating salads daily, and I still do it. Have you heard of an Ulu knife? I got mine on Amazon.com and it looks like this:

Chopped salads are all the rage – even a few fast food restaurants have begun offering them, with some places specializing in nothing but! Even if you don’t have an Ulu, it’s possible to prepare one but this knife is really game-changing. It makes it super easy to make a salad that is tolerable when you’re first beginning.

And finally, after chopping, I added my second favorite ingredient: blueberries. I always add some type of fruit – usually purple grapes – but I’m trying to eat more berries (yay anti-oxidants!) and blueberries looked good. A pint of washed berries topped this off very nicely.

When it was time to plate it up, I topped it off with some pumpkin seeds (my FAVORITE ingredient) and Napa Valley Naturals, Grand Reserve (4% acidity) balsamic vinegar and it was not only delicious but also filling. This salad will last for 4-5 days in the refrigerator, if we don’t eat it first. You can also add a starch like brown rice or black beans when you serve it and it rounds out a healthy, plant-based meal. The hubs is still meat-eating so he usually tops his with a meat protein of some kind. (yuck but whatever)

What’s your favorite way to add veggies into your menu? Do you have to trick yourself to eat them, or can you get away with just making them easily available as I’ve done here? I want to hear from you – drop a comment below and let me know what works for YOU!

New Year – Same Old Me

What do you know? It’s another year, another January, and here I am, making another post. This one’s not a “new year, new me” post because I’m still working towards fully plant-based (those damn Cheeze-Its keep f’ing me up) and I’m still working towards being a runner.  As a matter of fact, some friends and I have joined a Run The Edge/Run the Year 2019 challenge to do 2,019 miles as a team this year.  But that’s a post for another day.

This post came about as I realized the comment I was posting on Facebook was so dreadfully long, it should have its own venue.  Voila – here I go.
I should preface this with “if you know me, you know I’m not a science junkie”.  I mean, I want to be but I just don’t understand or retain much of it. Let’s face it, I can write contracts around the science of things all day long but that’s specific to a technology or process, and then I immediately forget how it works and I move on. I’m not proud of that; it’s just how my brain works. There’s only so much room in there.

Now for all of my life I’ve had this notion – based in family stories and pictures and HISTORY <emphasis> and my cousins’ freaking awesome cheekbones – this notion that I had a significant degree of Cherokee DNA or blood from my mom’s side of the family. Also, thanks to seeing Dad’s DNA results, I knew to expect ties to West Asia (middle east region) and Africa, not at all unlikely considering Sicilian history.

Well guess what? That’s not how any of this works apparently. Who knew?? Obviously not me. Now of course they found out my dad is my dad – do you really think I’d be out here maligning my mom on a blog?? But guess what they didn’t find?  Not a single, solitary hint of Cherokee or Native American blood.  I feel a bit like Senator Warren must have, minus the spotlight and the nationwide degradation of character.  Also, they found nothing related to West Asia or Africa.  (no evidence of Moors pillaging and plundering found in me, thank you very much!)

What the DNA did reveal was: 52% France (yes, I knew I had my pa-paw’s eyes and apparently his white-washed blood too), 21% England/Wales (go Gran!), 13% Ireland & Scotland (there’s that Campbell blood coming to light!), 9% Italy (they specifically call out Sicily so here’s to figuring out where I got that booty from), and then 3% and 2%, respectively, from Germanic Europe and Norway.  Where did THAT come from? 

I’ll admit I was taken aback with the results, but let’s keep it in perspective. What I learned isn’t life-altering – it engenders more of a “hmmmm, that’s odd” response.  What if I’d learned one or both of my parents weren’t even MY parents? What if I’d learned something truly significant and life-changing? There’s long been an ethical debate around anonymity in adoption and donation of sperm or eggs. Personally, I have difficulty picking a side. Logically I want to resort to the confidentiality terms and promises made to the individual and agreed to be upheld by the facilitator of the transaction as well as the new parents, but there’s the emotional side that acknowledges you can’t create a whole PERSON without owing them some answers as to their creation. It all leads me to wonder how today’s technology, and the promise of what might be available in the future, impacts the willingness of people to participate in those transactions. The very transactions that offer the parenthood opportunity to otherwise childless couples and individuals may be at risk because of the fear of being pulled into a relationship you didn’t want for yourself at the time you agreed to it.

What are your thoughts on it?   

Day 1 – Implementing New Habits

Last night I tried out the meditation app, Calm, for the first time. I liked it. I’ve begun a 7-day meditation series that will get me familiar with the app and the practice of meditating. So far, so good.

Today, the hubs and I walked 3.6 miles.  It was a brisk walk in cool weather, and a nice break from the indoors and walking on the treadmill.  Followed it up with yogaglo stretching for tight legs (20 minutes).  

How’s that for commitment?

We’re off to see LSU whoop some Texas Tech ass tonight.  I’ll follow that with meditation before bed.  3 new habits successfully added today.

Day1 – done!

judi

Making New Habits

2 days in a row – wow!  

I’ve become pretty good at breaking bad habits; now I need to work on creating new, better ones. In my lifetime, the biggies that I’ve overcome are cigarettes (2 pks a day for more years than I care to remember) and Diet Cokes (multiple, daily).  I’ve been off cigs for 13 yrs in January and off DC for over a year. The benefits, mainly those related to adding years to my life, are tremendous, but now I want to add positive habits into my days.

One positive habit that I’ve already incorporated is beginning my days with VFB (better known as veggies for breakfast).  Each morning I begin my day with a lb of non-starchy vegetables for breakfast. It sets the tone of my day. It tells my body that I’m not eating dessert for breakfast and then wondering why I’m sluggish and can’t function as well as I should.

First of the new habits I intend to cultivate is daily meditation. I’ve been researching options for doing this for long enough. Tomorrow my research (i.e., stalling period) ends, and I’ll begin with day 1. The app I’m using is Calm.  

I’ll follow that new habit with daily exercise. As I’m still recovering from this neck injury (giving true meaning to the term “pain in the neck”), my exercise of choice will be walking. The added benefit is that my neck problems decrease with walking daily, so hey – it’s a win-win!

Also, yoga.  Mainly stretching, but I will add this into my daily routine also. I’m not ready to go hard-core hot-yoga, but I do want to add a gentle practice of stretching, at least 20 minutes per day. Yogoglo has received glowing recommendations and I’ve already signed up and downloaded a couple of beginner stretching practices. 

That’s about all for now. Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe daily journaling here will be a new habit also?  Let’s wait and see on that one.

judi

  

Saying Goodbye to 2015

Merry week after Christmas. What a fun time this has been: relaxing with the kids, hanging out with the hubs, and generally finding my center again. 

Last year I didn’t blog much but I did lose some weight – 30lbs if we’re counting.  I’ve still got a way to go, but I’m happy with the progress I made because for almost 3 months I was practically bed-ridden and working from home.  There’s just nothing like waking up one morning in excruciating pain and realizing that age has finally caught up to you.  I’ve managed to avoid neck surgery, and I’m finally off all pain meds.  Those are both really good things in my opinion.  

Now I’m working my way back to exercise. Walking and spin class are my limits for now. I’m not complaining, though. After months in a recliner or a bed, any movement feels fantastic.

I’m still amazed when I think that I had 3 steroid shots, and multiple instances of steroid packs prescribed (and taken), as well as any number of pain pills, muscle relaxers and nerve-blockers taken during the time I was injured, and I still managed to lose weight or maintain my loss.

The plan I began last year is the one that works for me. It reduces inflammation in the body, eliminating joint pain. My sinuses are clear, my skin and hair look great, and my body is still moving towards its ideal weight.  AND IT’S EASY.  Some people consider it extreme: “you don’t eat meat?” or “don’t you miss cheese?” or “I could never give up salt/sugar” and “how do you cook without oil?”

Let me say it again. IT IS EASY. For more information on it, check out:
ajwebsite.com/ultimate-weight-lo…

Chef AJ & John Pierre’s 21 Day Ultimate Weight Loss Kicks Ass!

Get ready for it.. it’s going to be good. Life, I mean. Life is so good. Everyone’s healthy, happy and moving in the right direction. I’m on Day 11 of a 21 day Ultimate Weight Loss Program run by Chef AJ and John Pierre.  It’s amazing. It takes my vegan diet and makes it a truly whole-foods, plant-based nourishing one.  It doesn’t hurt that I’ve lost 10lbs since beginning either.

So, some thoughts on it all…

It’s overwhelming to think of the foods we don’t eat — foods to the right of the red line. What’s helping me not to panic and binge on those foods ROTRL is focusing only on eating ENOUGH of the foods to the LOTRL. Sure, I’m weighing food each day but not because of a perceived necessary limitation. It’s because I want to be certain I eat enough of the nourishing non-starchy vegetables – at least 3 lbs per day.

I’m eating so much food by volume. In addition to my 1lb of non-starchy vegetables at breakfast and the others as I get hungry, I’m eating beans each day.  And potatoes and brown rice.  Sometimes I have both in the same day, if not the same meal (I love my potato curry over brown rice!). I grew up in New Orleans and rice is a staple food there. I can pack it away — a couple of cups (measured cooked) is nothing for me to knock back with 8 oz kale & 8 oz carrots.

On Feb 15, I weighed a certain amount.  Today I weigh 10.4 lbs less than that amount. Prior to it, I was plateaued or gaining for the past 4-6 months.

I’m sharing this because I think it’s important that we see that yes, it’s tough at first to remove the old faithful foods from your day. But with any addiction, moderation isn’t the solution; instead it exacerbates physical cravings.  If you’re a food addict, seriously think about the value of the word FREE in SOS-Free.  It doesn’t just mean we don’t eat salt, oil & sugar.  It means we are FREE to focus on other things. Free of the cravings and the negative impact on our bodies.

I’m still quite a ways from my goal, but I have no doubts I’ll reach it and within a reasonable period of time without taking any supplements or counting calories or angst about points.  This is how I feel now.  Hopeful.  Free.  Healthy.  Grateful.