Cleanse Results

I apologize for the delay in writing this post. Last week was a blur of GSD for the wedding. I really meant to write. I put it on my planner several times. But by the time I had finished the other to-dos of the day, my brain was in a complete haze. I am very much looking forward to marrying Steve and embarking on this grand adventure. I am also very much looking forward to getting my normal brain back.

In short, the cleanse worked great. I would highly recommend purchasing this cleanse from Brandless. It’s not extremely pricey–only $15, plus shipping unless your order qualifies for free shipping. It’s simple. You eat real foods. You can still eat at restaurants. You just have to be more mindful of what you’re eating–avoid sugar, alcohol, processed stuff. I’d view it more as a reset at the beginning of a permanent change in the way you eat, as opposed to a short-term, quick fix.

In long form…

I began my cleanse on a Monday because that’s what worked out for my schedule. I had pre-planned a number of quality foods to eat during the week. I typically ate fruit for breakfast, maybe a couple of almonds, maybe a couple of hard boiled egg whites. Lunch and dinner would be a mix of meat, vegetables, and grains. And a ton of water.

The first day I wasn’t sure if it was even doing anything. I was super thirsty and pretty hungry all day. I think I drank about 100oz of water that first day and most days of the cleanse. To be fair, you automatically get in 50oz a day by following the directions of the cleanse. The vitamin C capsules weren’t a problem. I was a little worried about the acacia powder being gross, but that wound up being fine.

By the second day, I could tell it was working. We can leave it at that.

I totally failed on my goal of doing yoga every day. But that was OK. I didn’t want to beat myself up over it. I also didn’t follow a completely clean diet all week. I had some bourbon, I had some wine, but it would only be a glass or two, and that was all I wanted. I had a Cheeto one night, but I didn’t want more. When I found myself eating cleaner, I wanted to keep eating cleaner. I didn’t crave those thoroughly processed foods that just aren’t good for us.

I don’t compulsively weigh myself. I don’t even own a scale. But I’ll hop on the scale at my grandma’s whenever I go over to clean. I lost a couple of pounds on the cleanse. More importantly though, I noticed that I lost some inches or became less bloated or something. I began feeling better in my clothes, as well as in my mind and body.

In the week after doing the cleanse, I’ve eaten less because I just haven’t been hungry. Not 100% sure if that’s cause and effect, but I’ll take it! I’ve relaxed a little bit about what I’ve eaten, but I can tell when I eat something that’s too processed.

I enjoyed the cleanse so much that I’ve ordered another round, which I will start as soon as it gets in.

Chicken Fried Rice Recipe

While I’m on a cleanse this week, I’m opting to eat cleaner. I’m not striving for perfection (the marinade I used on Monday had a little sugar and this recipe uses white rice), but I am cutting out alcohol and caffeine and as many processed foods and sugars as possible for one week…or as many days as I can hold off from a glass of wine (or bourbon). I’m also eating more fruits and vegetables.

When I was meal planning for this cleanse, an obvious recipe was Chicken Fried Rice. I had intended to use brown rice because it’s cleaner, but I need to practice my brown rice making skills. The brown rice I made on Monday was crunchy, despite my following the directions perfectly. Whatever.

Fried rice. Yum. Photo courtesy of me

I love how adaptable fried rice is. It’s a good recipe to make anytime, but especially when you need to clean out your produce drawer before trash day.

Another great thing about fried rice is that the proportions are all up to you. Use as many or as little vegetables, meat, rice, and eggs as you want. I don’t measure when I make fried rice. Sometimes I opt to use less rice and have the dish be primarily meat and vegetables. Sometimes I don’t have any meat on hand, so I make vegetable fried rice. I’ve also added additional scrambled eggs when I’ve heated up leftover fried rice. You do you.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetables–I used mushrooms, green pepper, red onion, Brussels sprouts, and peas. Use what you have and what you like. I generally use at least 2 cups of vegetables
  • Olive oil or whatever cooking oil you want to use for your vegetables and meat
  • Salt and pepper
  • Ground ginger (optional)
  • Garlic
  • Chicken or whatever meat or tofu you have (optional), about 1lb
  • Rice
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Soy Sauce–maybe 1/4 cup; depends on how much fried rice you’re making. I always make enough for leftovers
  • Sriracha (optional)
Fried rice ingredients collage, courtesy of me

Method:

  1. Make the rice. This can be done immediately before proceeding with the rest of the recipe or even a day or two in advance.
  2. I take care of all of my prep work first–diced my vegetables and cut the chicken into small bites.
  3. Heat up some olive oil (or whatever oil you want) in a big skillet. Add the meat. Again, I usually use about 1lb. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until done. Set aside on a plate.
  4. I like to scramble the eggs in a separate pan while the chicken is cooking. If multitasking in the kitchen is not your thing, scramble the eggs either before or after the next step.
  5. Add more olive oil to the skillet, then add your vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, ground ginger, garlic and/or any other seasonings you like. Saute until they’re still a little crisp-tender.
  6. Add the meat, eggs, and rice to the big skillet. I do this in batches so that it’s easier to mix everything together and doesn’t lead to me accidentally flipping half of it onto the counter.
  7. Add soy sauce and Sriracha. Mix everything well. Keep on the heat until the soy sauce is all absorbed.

That’s it. Super easy. Super good. And it’s even better when you’re eating cold spoonfuls of it out of the fridge the next day.

7 Day Cleanse

I ordered a 7 day cleanse from Brandless last week. It consists of a Vitamin C supplement, Acacia Powder, and a Magnesium supplement. There’s a post on Brandless’s blog about foods to eat and foods to avoid during the cleanse. The website encourages you to eat berries, cruciferous vegetables, fermented foods, herbs, leafy greens, omega-3s, nuts and seeds, and of course water. The website encourages you to avoid alcohol, artificial ingredients, caffeine, dairy, gluten, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and sugar. That part is going to be hard, but I’m going to do my best. I’ve been reading through and mulling over Unprocessed by Megan Kimble, so it looks like it’s time to put some of what I’ve read into action. (One of the main things I love about this book is that Kimble searches for how to live in the world while eating unprocessed; total perfection is just unrealistic if you’re wanting to be around other people)

I decided to give it a shot because I’ve been feeling really sluggish in my body and mind. I’m looking for a reset. One thing I like about this cleanse is that it encourages you to eat, but drop the processed garbage that leads to us feeling bad in the first place. Fortunately for me, there is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables that I will eat. Throw in some lean proteins and whole grains and I’m feeling pretty good about my prospects.

Meal planning is going to be key for me throughout the cleanse. If I don’t have something planned, I find myself reaching for junk or wanting fast food.

I decided to have hard-boiled egg whites and strawberries or kiwi (maybe some of both!) for breakfast each day. I like having a routine breakfast. It simplifies grocery shopping and helps me not have to think too much first thing in the morning.

For lunch, I’m making K-Town Beef Bowls with Kimchi from What’s Gaby Cooking. I’ll have leftovers, so I can eat that again in a couple of days. I’m also going to make chicken fried rice with lots of vegetables. Again, I’ll have leftovers for later in the week. I’m using brown rice for both of these dishes.

For supper, I’m going with big salad with a homemade vinaigrette. I like to load up my salads with chicken, avocado, and hard-boiled eggs. What’s Gaby Cooking also has a recipe for Green Rice Burrito Bowls, so I might make that a couple of nights. I like a bit of variety, but I also want to keep things simple for myself this week.

I want to make this into a wellness retreat for myself, so I am planning a morning and afternoon yoga session.

This probably isn’t the best week to do a cleanse because it’s Steve’s short week. But the next week isn’t any better. Waiting until the timing is perfect is never going to happen. At some point you have to decide to just go for it.

I’ll try to make a point of posting updates on how it’s going. I’ll spare the gory details, of course!

Why Food?

In making the decision to (try to) build a career in writing, I decided to use this blog as a portfolio. Particularly until I have some clips to show prospective employers. I concluded that I needed to focus my writing on a particular topic. I thought long and hard about what this focus should be.

You see, I love books. I could write a bit about books. But to make a career based around reading would, for me, take away one of the reasons I read in the first place. Plus, my reading life is so all over the map that it would be impossible for me to write about books with any regularity. I hope around too much. I read a lot of books in fits and starts–100 pages of Title A here, 90 pages of Title B, 150 pages of Title C, set them aside for a few days, a few months. I might pick them back up and finish or read another 100 pages and set them aside again. Then boom! I finish Titles A, B, and C, plus others in progress in the span of a week and a half. Sometimes I can pick up a book and it captures me and I read cover to cover in a day or two. What I’m getting at is that my reading, though constant, is erratic.

After much deliberation, I choose food–my other great passion–to be the focus of my writing.

Why?

I love food. I love the selecting of ingredients. I love piecing ingredients and dishes together to create a meal. I love the act of measuring, mixing, assembling, and seasoning. I love tasting and noticing the textures and the interplay between the flavors. I love sharing food I’ve cooked (at least with those who appreciate my efforts; I don’t tend to cook for the unappreciative). I love spending time over a meal with a drink or two or more and great conversation. I even love a meal for one.

For me, food is a multi-sensory experience. The sight, the smell, the taste, the feel. Hopefully, no sound, unless we’re talking about the sizzle of oils and fats or conversation. Goodness knows I’m plenty guilty of mindlessly shoveling food in my face without much thought. But I’m working on being more mindful and present in my life.

Food is a cultural experience. Every group has its own mix of ingredients and spices and methods of preparation based on what is available to them. Now we have the ability to bring in flavors from all around the world, going on mini-field trips to distant lands.

Food is steeped in history and tradition, both writ large and on a familial level. Most families have their traditions of what they make and how they make it, especially during the holidays. Sometimes there’s a story, sometimes not. I’m always reminded of the one about the woman who was getting ready to make Easter lunch and wanted to follow her family’s ham recipe. She asked her mom why the recipe said to cut the ends off the ham before putting it in the baking dish. The mom didn’t know and told her to ask her grandmother. The grandmother didn’t know either and told her to ask her great-grandmother. The great-grandmother said she cut the ends off so the ham would fit in her pan. Tradition.

Food is an opportunity to experiment with different flavors and ingredients, either by choice, by what looks good in the store, or by what’s on hand. I love that I’m beginning to be able to walk into my kitchen, survey the cabinets and refrigerator, and assemble something that tastes pretty damn good. I don’t knock it out of the park every time, but I do more often than not.

I view food as a piece of the larger topic of wellness. If I eat better, I make better decisions, like doing yoga or drinking more water, which in turn leads me to eat even better. It’s a really good cycle.

Food transcends nourishment. Food writing is also tied to politics, economics, gender politics, travel, humor, literature, art, science, and other disciplines. In focusing my writing, I feel like I am actually broadening my horizons.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on food and wellness, which has led me to be more conscious of the ingredients I buy, the brands I buy, the cooking tools I use, and the places I shop. It’s been a whole personal evolution and revolution, and I am excited to continue down that path. I hope you will stick with me as I explore the various facets of food and wellness writing.

The Onslaught of Books

Photo Credit: Upsplash

I’ve always been interested in books. I loved having my parents read to me at night. I loved reading to myself once I was able to. I even created a “reading after I’m supposed to be in bed” kit, complete with snacks and a flashlight, that I promptly bragged about to my mom, who made me disassemble the kit. For birthdays and holidays I always wanted gift certificates to book stores. The adults in my life never monitored what I read, so I read whatever I could get my hands on. I’m sure I read some books that were out of my depth, but they kind of went over my head and life moved on.

Books are my entertainment, my escape, my source of knowledge. Books are the surest way to engage me in a conversation, unless I’m almost done with a book and you’re trying to talk to me. I’m not being rude for ignoring you; you’re being rude for interrupting me. Throughout my adult life, I have bought more books than I could read in 15 years. And new ones keep being published! It’s a lot to keep up with, financially and time-management-wise.

One of my favorite books to peruse when I’m not sure what I want to read is Nick Hornby’s Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books. This is a collection of the column he wrote for Believer. Each month he lists the books he’s purchased or received and the books he actually read, then writes about them. The book is wonderful in and of itself, but it also shows you that “the books we buy are almost as important as those we read.” (Taken from the introduction, written by Jess Walter) For so many readers, books become our identity.

I can’t help myself! But I need to start showing some restraint.

I opened my Amazon account when I went off to college. That was a lot of fun. Books practically on demand! Despite going to a Division 1 college, we didn’t have much of a bookstore in town. Not even a used bookstore. Amazon was a revelation. Then there were the advances. Amazon Prime (2 day free shipping!). The Kindle (almost any book, any time!). Shut up and take my money!

I somehow stumbled across Goodreads when I was a junior in college. That’s when my book buying got out of hand. I got so many recommendations from so many corners. Classics, which I was already determined to read because of Gilmore Girls. New releases. Even recent releases. Before Goodreads, I hadn’t read a lot of 21st century fiction. If the book had enough recommendations from Goodreads users that I liked, chances were I would buy it. I wound up wasting a lot of money books I’m sure I never read and wound up donating during a massive clean out.

Goodreads led to Twitter, led to book blogs, led to Instagram. More and more connections with people as passionate about books as me. More and more titles recommended that I’ve bought and haven’t read.

I remember the craze over The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. Everyone in the online book community had read it and loved it. I bought a copy. I tried to read it. I liked something about it, but I couldn’t get into it. I agonizingly DNF’ed it. From there for a long time, I would not read the latest most buzzed about books until the dust had settled and I could make a more informed decision on whether to buy it. There were some notable exceptions based on personal preferences–I knew I wanted to read Go Set a Watchman as soon as it came out–but I tried to stay moderate. I still bought a ton of books that I never read, but they were usually backlist.

Fast-forward to this year. I fell into the trap again. Without naming names or titles, this spring I’ve bought three much-hyped books that have been flops for me. Not only did I buy them, I freaking pre-ordered them so that I could read them on release day. That’s how much I drank the Kool-Aid. These books were mentioned by two bookstagrammers whom I like and who I love interacting with. But the books didn’t hit it for me. I even finished one of them…because it was on my Kindle. (I feel like I’m less noisy while my fiance is sleeping if I’m reading my Kindle). The other two languish on my shelves. I’m sure I’ll finish them at some point because they aren’t bad, but all these other books floating around my house seem so much more appetizing. Another bookstagrammer constantly mentions books that I wind up loving. Just today I wound up ordering one book she mentioned and pre-ordered another, out in June.

This led to some introspection on my part. As I’m starting a new career in a pretty volatile field, I need to be more careful with my money. I know I should use the library more often. But I like owning my books. That way I can write in them. Throw them across the room. Leave them partially finished for 6 months and come back to the same spot. Thrust them in the face of my best friend with a “You’ve got to read this, or we can’t be friends any longer!” I think for the time being, I will have to be more careful with book recommendations. I will have to consider the source more. Do a bit less pre-ordering, unless I’m SURE it’s going to be a winner for me (like the new Elizabeth Gilbert out in June). Take full advantage of the free samples that Kindle will send.

What are your tips for dealing with the constant onslaught of new releases?

The Writing Life

Today feels like a good day.

Yesterday I decided to convert my “law office” into a writing space. I was able to move everything from law school, bar prep, and starting a law firm into the closet. I threw away some stuff. I made a promise to myself that I would weed through the papers that I put in the file cabinet and make a plan for what to do with the books by June 21. I moved my writing books onto the newly cleared shelf. I reorganized my desk. I bought a couple of new storage containers to keep the shelf looking pretty and clean.

Last night I attended a workshop on vision board that my friend organized. We heard the presenter’s story on her journey with vision boards, then we set about making our own small boards. I decided ahead of time that I would focus my vision board on writing. It was kind of difficult to find some images that went with that theme on the magazines that we had available, so I did a little bit of work once I got home.

In elementary school art classes I had a tendency to over-do every project. They were always so busy. Combine that with not being artistically inclined at all and it was a hot mess. Bless my parents for displaying anything I ever made. As a result, I made sure that everything I put on my board was intentional and purposefully selected. I am pleased with the final product and have it hanging in my writing space.

All of this comes as a result of deciding to make writing my job. For the past few months I had been sitting at my kitchen bar for the majority of the day thinking about writing, talking about writing, pretending to write, but really just procrastinating. Why? I don’t know. Probably fear of failure or rejection or something. Lack of focus and intention, I’m sure, were part of it too.

Monday I am going to start treating this like a job. I’m going to sit at my desk and get to work. I plan on using a day or two each week to look at the business aspects of writing–where to submit things, trying to do a little networking, reading up on craft issues. The goal is to be more serious and intentional about writing. I’m going to have to be more disciplined that I have been. I shudder to think of how much time I’ve spent scrolling through Instagram. I also have a tendency to text friends throughout the day. It’s pure avoidance.

I recently ordered Scratch by Manjula Martin. Martin compiled essays by and conducted interviews with a number of contemporary writers, such as Cheryl Strayed, Alexander Chee, and Roxane Gay, that discuss the profession of writing. There is the creative aspect, but you also want to get paid for it. So how? There are a number of roads.

 

Anyway, that’s just kind of a brief update on where I am, what I’ve been doing. I’m excited to see where this new intention and way of acting takes me.

Talking about Breakfast

I simplify my life as much as possible. I just don’t like having to think too much about certain things. I’ve written about getting rid of a ton of clothes to streamline my closet (FYI–still LOVING that decision). My one qualification for any hair change is that it is low-maintenance (I don’t own a blow dryer because I look like the Lion King if I blow dry it myself). I start to feel cringe-y when I see stuff piling up.

Simplify. Streamline. Cut out the bullshit.

Call it what you will, but I’m an advocate.

Another way that I have simplified my life is coming up with easy breakfasts that last me for a week. As much as I wish I could be one of those people who is satisfied by a container of yogurt, I really prefer a hot breakfast. For quite a while now, I’ve been buying a few ingredients and making the same breakfast each day for a week. I usually repeat the recipe for a couple of weeks, then move on to something else.

One of my favorites is the breakfast taco. Super simple. I fry up half a pound or a pound of ground beef, season it with taco-y seasoning (I rarely buy packets; I usually just add my own seasonings), put it in the fridge. If I fry up a pound, I’ll freeze half. Each morning I portion out a bit of the taco meat, scramble it with an egg and sriracha in a small skillet, then put it on a warm flour tortilla. Add some Green Dragon sauce and cheddar and I’m set.

This week I made a frittata, which will last me for 6 days. I don’t make this one super often because it requires a few more ingredients, so it’s not always great on my budget. But it’s so good!

Frittata.jpg

Ingredients:

  • Diced Ham
  • Green Pepper
  • Onion
  • Feta Cheese
  • 5 or 6 eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. I don’t measure the ingredients; I just use what feels right. The egg is mostly just to keep the other ingredients held together. Pour mixture into a greased 8X8 or 9X9 baking dish or you can even pour it into muffin tins.

Bake at 375* until set in the middle. Usually about 40 minutes if using the square dish. Maybe 15-20 if muffins.

I like serving it over a piece of sourdough toast, but I’m cutting back on carbs in an effort to lose some weight before the wedding.

Easy, peasy.

One day I’ll experiment with other meat, cheese, and veggie options, but for now this one hits the spot.

 

Do you have any go-to quickie breakfast recipes?