Lessons From My 3-Week Cleanse

Yahoo I did it! 21 days with no animal products, gluten, alcohol, caffeine or sugar. It was a roller coaster 3 weeks but I made it through and I’m feeling great. Here are a few insights from my 3-week cleanse to offer a little inspiration and information:

1. Gluten and sugar are in so many of the foods I eat. It is shocking really. Did you know that there is a good amount of sugar in most tomato sauce, granola bars, ketchup, gf pizza crust and salad dressing? And that aside from bread and pasta, there is often gluten in french fries, veggie burgers, flavoured potato chips, salad dressings, soy sauce, cereal, soup broth and bouillon?

2. Going away for the weekend during a cleanse with girlfriends who love to sip wine and eat at fancy restaurants is a very, very bad idea! Thank goodness for the toddler who provided the perfect excuse for not joining in on all of the fun.

3. The Happy Cow app on my iphone is a lifesaver! It offers up a list of veggie restaurants and markets in whatever city or town I find myself in with links to websites and additional information. This came in super handy when I was away from home.

happy cow

4. It is hard to meditate in the morning when your toddler is yelling “MOM – try to find me!”, your older son is watching hockey highlights at full volume and your daughter is stomping around looking for her favourite shirt. Meditating in the afternoon while the kids were in school or in the evening before bed turned out to be much more enjoyable.

5. I am super fortunate to live in a community with easy access to an organic market (Goodness Me), 2 fantastic vegan/raw restaurants (Kind Food and The Naked Sprout) and a Whole Foods. On those days when I just couldn’t muster up the energy to cook for myself, I could simply stop in to one of these places and grab a filling and nutritious meal to take out.

kind food

6. The best way to shake off the blahs was to get my heart pumping with some kindness missions! I am telling you I felt like a spy and my heart was racing when I tried to execute my kind acts in secret. I had so much fun dropping flowers with notes at strangers doors, leaving chalk messages at a local park and leaving sticky notes with encouraging messages around town (on change room mirrors at the mall, at the grocery store, in bus shelters, on books at the library). This is one habit that I’m definitely going to keep doing and I’m excited to get the kids doing it with me.

guerilla goodness

7. My munchies alarm seems to go off regularly mid-afternoon and in the evenings. Even though intellectually I was poo-pooing the idea of a handful of walnuts or an apple or a banana to replace some chocolate or a bowl of chips – it actually worked! Who knew? (I also popped up some popcorn in my air popper one afternoon and sprinkled on some sea salt and nutritional yeast flakes. Mmmmmm…)

8. It’s really not all that hard to cook vegan and gluten-free. Honestly. All it takes is some planning and the willingness to try out new recipes. And there are so many amazing cookbooks and blogs devoted to plant-based eating. Some of my favourites are: OhSheGlows, Alicia Silverstone, The Savvy Sister, Meghan Telpner, Plant-Powered Kitchen and Healthy Happy Life.

9. I can’t even count the number of people who asked me “What do you eat?!” There is a bounty of amazing foods that get completely overlooked when meat is the focus of a meal. I ate a rainbow of fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, rice, tofu, quinoa, almond milk, hummus, amaranth, chia, green smoothies, coffee-less lattes, oat flour pancakes, rice crackers, stir frys and many more yummy foods. Now that being said, I did miss a good old hunk of bread and a piece of chocolate ; )

10. I’ll share my biggest lesson from the cleanse on Wednesday. I had a huge “aha” moment this time around and I thought I’d devote an entire post revealing it. I’m also thinking about a new challenge…maybe 21 days of yoga. Anyone wanna join me?

***Before I wrap up I want to send a special shout out to my mom and dad who did the cleanse for a full week. Awesome! Way to go! It was great to have someone riding the roller coaster with me and I appreciate your support.

Advertisements

Cleanse Day #5 – How Am I Doing? What Am I Doing? And 2 Recipes!

So here I am on Day #5 of my Kathy Freston Jump Start Cleanse and I can feel the fog finally lifting. The sluggishness of days 2-3 is gone and the constant urge to jump into bed with a big bag of Easter chocolates is starting to fade. I’m feeling quite nervous as I head into the weekend because I have a couple of social events planned and I know it is going to be super tempting to have just one glass of wine or a huge handful of nachos. I’m resolved to stay strong but this is going to be a big test!

I made a list for myself at the start of my cleanse of a few things I want to do over the next 21 days to try out some new things and to see if I can initiate a healthy habit or two. Here is what I wrote down:

  1. Meditate – at least once a day but preferably twice. I downloaded a Kathy Freston guided meditation from iTunes and I’ve been listening to it on my ipod at night before I fall asleep. I’ve also been using a Louise Hay meditation CD, some guided meditations I found on YouTube and simply stopping to do some deep breathing a few times each day.
  2. Floss – my dentist is always after me to make flossing a priority but I’ve never been able to make it stick. I read some stats recently about the direct link between oral hygiene and overall health and it was enough to make me rethink this nighttime ritual (did you know that according to Dr. Roizen in his RealAge Makeover book-  daily flossing can add 6.4 years to your life?)
  3. Visualize – I have been taking the time when I have a quite moment to visualize how I want my life to unfold in terms of family, career, vacations, etc. and to practice gratitude for the many wonderful things in my life. I try to really picture in my mind the things I want to manifest and to feel the emotion that I would feel in those situations. (Sound too woo woo for you? Just stick to the deep breathing if one is too weird).
  4. Dry Brush – another great pre-shower ritual that has many benefits including improved circulation, immune system boosting and reduced cellulite. Check out this video on dry brushing for tips. I bought my skin brush at Whole Foods but you can also order one online at Upaya Naturals.
  5. Oil Pulling – I read about this one online from a fellow health and nutrition blogger and I was intrigued. It basically involves swishing coconut oil in my mouth for 20 minutes a day for a myriad of health benefits including whiter teeth, better skin and clear sinuses. You can check out the post on it here.
  6. Exercise – at least once per day even if it’s just dancing around to Old MacDonald 10 times with my toddler. So far so good.
  7. Organize my Pantry and Fridge – time to toss the plastic and make good use of my mason jars for storing flours, nuts, seeds, etc. I also want to get rid of condiments that I don’t use and old Halloween candy that is luring me with its stale but sugary goodness.
  8. Massage – enough said. Got one booked on Saturday afternoon.
  9. Kindness – one of my favourite bloggers is Patience Salgado over at Kindnessgirl.com. She inspires me with her “Guerilla Goodness” acts and I decided to incorporate a few of my favourites into my 3 weeks. I’ll keep you posted on the ones I try.

Here are a couple of easy new recipes for you that I’ve had this week and they are goodies:

Homemade Almond Butter

almond butter 1

2 cups raw almonds
Pinch of vanilla bean powder
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp of agave nectar (or 1 tbsp. maple syrup)

This recipe takes some patience but it is worth it! Basically you pop the nuts into your food processor and start whirring.

almond butter 2

It will take about 20 minutes for those little babies to turn into creamy and delicious nut butter so don’t get discouraged. Just keep processing and scraping down the sides until you are convinced that nothing will ever happen and then like magic – you will have beautiful almond butter. Add a pinch of vanilla bean powder, sea salt and a hint of sweetener at the end of processing to kick up the flavor and there you have it! Spread on a rice cake or cracker or simply eat it straight out of the bowl.

Raw Tomato Sauce

raw tom sauce

7 sun-dried tomatoes (soaked in water until soft)
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 big bunch of fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp. gluten-free tamari sauce
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast

Toss everything into your blender and whir until smooth. I ate this cold over kelp noodles but I warmed it gently on the stove and served it over regular noodles for Mark and the kids. It is also great over rice and quinoa.

raw tom sauce kelp noodles

Enjoy!