Eat. Play. Love.

The Holidays are upon us and so are the sugar and refined flour laden goodies. It’s important not to deny yourself, but instead, be realistic about what you put in your mouth. Foods with sugar, flour and dairy in them are often too congesting for the mind and body. Eat too many of them and you find yourself congested or stuffy, battling a head cold, sluggish, not being able to think clearly and just plain sick. These foods are taxing to the immune system and can overload the liver, bowel and lymphatic system when ingested in excess.

If that’s not bad enough, these foods can cause the pounds to creep up on you which is never fun when you’re trying to get yourself into your favorite pair of skinny jeans.

So what can you do to reign in these temptations a bit during the Holidays?snowball_lights

1. Indulge on occasion. If you don’t, you just might find yourself binging on a half gallon of egg nog ice cream later which is much more taxing on the body than if you just had a bite or two of that decadent pumpkin cheesecake here and there. Balance your indulgences by making sure the rest of your meals are healthy and full of vegetables. And whatever you do, NEVER skip breakfast.

2. Dive into the healthy foods first. Let’s face it, when you’re at a party there are so many divine treats. Often we come hungry and fill up on heavy, calorie rich foods rather than kicking the party off with some crudités or lighter salads. Go for the lighter, nutrient rich foods first (provided they are available) so you want eat as much of the junky stuff.

3. Leaving grazing for the cows. Sometimes we think if we don’t grab a plate we’ll eat less. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A plate helps you gauge how much you have eaten. If you can handle it, skip the dinner plate and grab a smaller dessert plate. Start with one small plate and see how you feel. Eat slowly. Savor each decadent bite. You can always grab another if you’re still hungry, but chances are you’ll be just fine and you’ve just tricked yourself into thinking you ate a full plate of food. Ha!

4. Make a green drink before you head out the door. Green drinks are chock full of nutrients which eliminates cravings. Make a green smoothie or juice. Drinking a cup of homemade stock is another good choice. Not only are you getting some good nutrients into your system, you’re hydrating yourself as well. Try this tip before heading out to a party or shopping. You don’t want to stroll by Cinnabon on an empty stomach. It always seems like a good idea at the time… but this is a great segway into #5.

5. Slide into those skinny jeans at least once a week. I’m not a fan of the scale because it’s a number that may or may not be reflective of what’s healthy and causes us to become neurotic about our fluctuating weight. Putting on your slimmest pants a few times during the Holiday season will help you decide whether or not you’re packing on a few extra pounds. Yoga pants and leggings are comfy, but that waist band will grow right along with you!

6. Come with your own healthy dish. Bring something healthy that you love and enjoy it. If you fill up on that, you won’t reach for other temptations. Chances are other party-goers will appreciate it as well.

7. Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough rest tend to have increased appetites and eat more. Yikes. So make sure you get your butt to bed at a reasonable time and take a little cat nap before you go out if need be.

8. Watch your beverages. This is my downfall right here. Wine, oh how I love thee! I find that if I pour a half a glass, I drink less, but other folks find that if they just pour one large glass and nurse it all night they do much better. You can even try counting 1-2-3 when pouring to get about a 5 oz. serving. Bring mineral water and lime to a party…you can pour yourself a spritzer in-between glasses of wine to hydrate and slow you down. The bubbles help with setting a slower pace. I know some people that even add sparkling water to wine and enjoy it very much. Hell, some nights you may just want to skip the wine and have the non-alcoholic spritzer

9. Find a food-free space in which to mingle. If you’re standing next to the food table all night, chances are pretty high that you’re going to be tempted to try most of it if not all of it. Search out a food-free space so you’re not tempted to graze continually. If you’re hosting a party, be sure to set-up an entertaining space where there is no food. Your guests’ waistlines will appreciate it!

10. Make time to play and get your butt moving! Let’s be realistic. You’re going to eat homemade Christmas cookies and indulge in your Aunt Maud’s fabulous spinach and artichoke dip. Give those sedentary indulgences a little balance with some movement. Physical activity will help the body burn up a few extra calories this Holiday season AND it will give you the energy you need to attend to your Holiday “to do” list. Get a few extra walks in every week, take the stairs, sneak a few squats in during your walk and add a set of crunches or push-ups in-between batches of cookies.

Whatever you do, be playful about the Holidays. Enjoy them. It’s a special time to visit with family and friends so don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods with them. Feelings of deprivation are never fun and only breed a negative relationship with food.

The more mindful and playful you are with your food during the Holidays, the better off your mind and body will be. A healthy mind and body is the BEST gift you can give to yourself and others this Holiday season.

Here are a few other healthy holiday tips from past posts. Now I would like to hear from you. How do you keep the weight from creeping up during the Holidays? Share you tips below.

Coffee is America’s favorite drug. There are 100 million Americans who consume this breakfast tonic daily. 68% of these folks drink coffee within one hour of waking up.

Why are so many Americans obsessed with coffee?

Caffeine.

coffee and caffeine

Caffeine is a drug that produces a feeling of energy, alertness and wellbeing through its effect on the nervous system. It stimulates the adrenal glands which are responsible for your body’s stress response. If you encounter an emergency, certain things happen in your body to allow you to respond appropriately and let’s face it, get the heck out of danger!

For example, your pupils diets, your blood moves toward your limbs and away from your digestive organs, extra sugar pushes into your blood stream for energy (you need to run from that bear!), the immune system suppresses itself, your breathing becomes more rapid and shallow, more oxygenated blood moves into your larger muscles and so on and so forth.

Now here is the trick. Your body doesn’t know the difference between a bear and say…your boss…an annoying co-worker…your spouse…rush hour traffic…a missed deadline…or even your demanding children. The body responds this way not only to real danger, but also to perceived threats. So anytime your stressed, the body goes through this emergency response process to varying degrees depending on the severity of the stress.

In time, this leads to burnout, also known as adrenal exhaustion which creates a host of symptoms including digestive disorders, illnesses due to a suppressed immune system, weight gain, sleep disorders and depression to name a few.

Caffeine also interferes with nutrient absorption, particularly vitamins C, D, Bs, calcium, potassium, iron and zinc. All of these nutrients are essential to the body working efficiently and are easily depleted by environmental and emotional toxins.

Caffeine is processed in the liver and interferes with the liver’s detoxification process. Yikes! We are overexposed to toxins in our food, environment and even our thoughts. It’s important to keep the liver functioning efficiently!

Caffeine disrupts intestinal flora; stimulates acid production in the stomach when you’re not eating which can cause heartburn and ulcers; and contributes to bloating, colitis, IBS, food allergies, abdominal pain and both constipation and diarrhea.

Because it’s a diuretic, caffeine dehydrates the body. For every caffeinated beverage, you need two glasses of water to make up for it. Be prepared to spend some time in the bathroom. It also constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure.

In some, there is a link between caffeine and muscle and jaw tension, infertility, anxiety, depression, memory loss and PMS.

I know. So I just peed in your Cheerios or quinoa flakes depending upon your breakfast preference.

Remember, everyone has a different threshold and tolerance for caffeine. Some folks are affected by it more so than others so it’s important to understand how caffeine affects YOUR body.

Please don’t forget that in addition to coffee, caffeine can be found in sodas, energy drinks, snacks, teas, chocolate and numerous prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Read labels!

 So if you’re a coffee drinker affected by caffeine, what are you to do? PANIC! Joking.

You could switch to decaf which has much less caffeine, but coffee is still acidic and can have other affects on the body like depleting your tissues of vital nutrients. In particular, decaf is not recommended if you have bone density issues as your body will steal minerals from your bones in order to neutralize the coffee’s acid. (Please note, if you do switch to decaf, please look for water processed decaffeinated coffees because decaffeination chemicals can be toxic over time.)

Fortunately, there are a variety of herbal coffee alternatives at your health food store. Woohoo! Now before you roll your eyes, you have to try one of my personal favorites, Teecino. This herbal cup of deliciousness comes in a variety of flavors and works well with a coffee maker or french press. In fact during a recent program I gave during Active Aging Week, one of my program participants enjoyed the product so much that the whole bag inadvertently slipped in her purse. 😉 Yeah. That was awkward but it was a great testimony to the taste of Teecino.

Of course you can enjoy a nice up of herbal tea in the morning, but I have to admit that when your looking for something more viscous, with that smooth coffee texture, tea doesn’t always cut the mustard.

Fortunately, we have coffee alternatives, but how do we get off the sauce? As you know, kicking caffeine is no picnic for some. I suggest that you cut back SLOWLY and mix your coffee with decaf or Teecino as your wean yourself from the nectar of the gods. If you quit cold turkey, be prepared for big giant pumpkin head, anxiety, fatigue and other unpleasant symptoms. Taking buffered vitamin C may help reduce Crankasauras and other withdrawal symptoms.

I’m sure some of you have gotten off caffeine altogether or are attempting to get off of it again. What worked for you? Are their herbal coffee substitutes that you really like? Please share here!

 

The Skinny on Fats

  • September 9th, 2013

In my practice I get a lot of questions about fat.

Kim, should I buy low-fat products and eat a low fat diet? What about a no-fat diet?
Are vegetable oils spreads good for me or not?
What’s all this coconut oil hype?
Is butter going to jack up my cholesterol? What about animal fats?

All of these are valid concerns and with all of the the fat fads out there, it can be challenging to decipher which fats are best if any at all. I tell my clients that you want to eat fat in its natural form with all of it’s synergistic components. This is why I don’t recommend no or low-fat products. Often additional ingredients (i.e. sugar) are added to low-fat products to give it the same texture and mouth feel of the full fat version.

Unfortunately, this often can leave you feeling unsatisfied. It reminds me of those Wendy’s commercials back in the 80’s – “Where’s the beef?!” It’s better to eat less and go for the full fat version to satisfy your body’s needs. You don’t want the body to have to search for the “beef,” because these cravings can often lead to unhealthy decisions!

So why is fat important anyway? 

Fat serves many critical functions in the body including:

  • insulation – warms and energizes the body
  • protection – cushions internal organs and holds them in place
  • transportation of nutrients – carries important fat soluble vitamins A, E, D and K where the body needs them most.
  • structure – forms the structure of cell membranes and builds tissues
  • hormone regulation – helps various parts of the body communicate and function
  • nervous system health – plays a major role in brain and nerve development in addition to normal brain function and nerve transmission

There is a misconception that saturated fats are bad, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Saturated fats strengthen our immune systems, protect our heart and liver against toxins and stress, keep hormonal receptors on our cell membranes working properly and are required for hormone production.

Polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, safflower and sunflower oil should be limited and never heated. Studies show that many vegetable oils in the diet disrupt the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio which creates inflammation in the body. When we consume too many polyunsaturated fats and limit our saturated fat intake, our cells become flimsy and don’t work properly.

coconut and fat

So what fats should we consume? Let’s take a look at traditional diets before the invention of packaged foods. Most people enjoyed old fashioned, organic butter from grass-fed cows, unfiltered extra-virgin olive oil, balanced fats found in high quality foods (i.e. grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, nuts and seeds, avocados) and even minimally processed coconut oil.

If you want to learn more about the importance of fat, what fats to enjoy and how to prepare them so they don’t oxidize in the body and create inflammation, join me for my Skinny on Fats teleclass on September 18. I’ll be covering lots of information vital to your health in just one short hour.

Do you have a story or recipe to share using healthy, traditional fats? Feel free to post them here!

 

Collard Green Wraps

  • July 30th, 2013

Those of you who know me, know that I LOVE me some sandwiches. Unfortunately, since I’ve cut waaaaaay back on my gluten intake, I rarely eat them anymore. So what’s a girl to do?

Well, on occasion if I’m really in a sandwich mood, I’ll use a gluten-free bread or brown rice wrap, but some days it doesn’t cut the mustard. So I was noodling around on the internet and discovered some amazing recipes for collard green wraps. Now, I have made lettuce wraps before, but they don’t always hold up well if you’re transporting them. So this notion of wrapping my sandwich deliciousness in a dark leafy green rocked my world. I was kicking myself for not having thought of it earlier!

Collard green wraps are a healthy way to jazz up your traditional sandwich or wrap regardless of whether or not you’re gluten-free. You can stuff them with something more conventional like a tuna, chicken or egg salad or you could fill them with your favorite veggie toppings such as red pepper, sweet potato, avocado, fresh herbs and some type of protein such as hummus, quinoa or legumes.

Here is the recipe I made with families at the Washington Youth Garden a few weeks ago:

Collard Green Wraps

collard green wrap

Source:  Inspired by Sprouted Kitchen

Servings: 4 wraps

Wrap Ingredients:

  • 4 large collard green leaves*
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1 cup of tender greens or micro-greens
  • 2 cups of raw or roasted julienned or grated beets, peeled
  • small handful of scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup of radishes, sliced or julienned
  • 1 cup of potatoes, boiled or roasted (red, white, sweet)*
  • ½ cup of basil, marjoram or lemon thyme, chopped
  • ½ cup goat cheese (optional)

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 TBSP tahini or cashew butter

 Directions:

1.  Prepare the collard leaves by cutting off the stems at the base of each leaf, then, using a paring knife, carefully cut the thick bump of stem off the back of the leaf so it becomes flush to the leaf. This will make the collard flatter and easier to roll.

2.  Blanch greens, by placing them in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and place in a bowl of ice cold water to cool. Note, you can also use the leaves raw if you don’t mind the texture.

3.  Prepare the vegetables as indicated above.

4.  In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk together. Adjust ingredients to taste. Drizzle over prepared veggies and herbs.

5.  Layer veggie mixture at the base of the collard green leaf. Fold the collard sides over and roll tightly like a burrito. You can serve it immediately or store in the fridge, wrapped, for about 2 days.

*Notes: For a larger wrap, use 2 leaves at a time, overlap them halfway to create a bigger wrapping surface.

Feel free to add any combination of veggies and herbs, depending on the season. In lieu of potatoes, you could also add 2 cups quinoa, millet or buckwheat, soaked for 7 hours and cooked or beans, soaked for 12 hours and cooked. If you’re in a hurry, stuff with store bought hummus and/or guacamole!

I have pinned a few other collard green wrap ideas on Pinterest. Feel free to check it out. Post your collard green wrap recipe ideas below!

gluten-free salads

We had a great time on Saturday at the “Gluten-Free Summer Salads Playshop.” The group whipped up five seasonal salads including a Buckwheat Garden Salad, Italian Aduki Bean Salad, Quinoa Salad with a Lemon Tahini Dressing, Raw Kale Salad and Blueberry Avocado Salad. All were quite beautiful and delicious. Well, almost all of them – the aduki bean salad looked just like that – dookie. Fortunately the taste made up for it and as one of my students said, “it reminds me of refried beans, only slightly prettier.” Although that’s not saying much, I guess the presentation of the dish was not a complete loss!

So I wanted to take the opportunity to share the recipe for the Blueberry Avocado Salad inspired by Kimberly Snyder. So yummy and I LOVE the contrast of the deep indigo blueberries with the bright green avocado. Add some red raspberries or strawberries to the salad to make it festive for the 4th of July! But before we get to the recipe, what are some benefits of blueberries?

Blueberries are a cooling food full of vitamin C, pro-vitamin A and manganese. Loaded with anthocyanins and other antioxidants, blueberries are anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighters! They help to keep your memory sharp, your blood sugar levels and cholesterol low and they are good for your eyes and contain bacterial fighting properties that help to keep your urinary system in good shape.

fresh berries

Here is a delicious, simple recipe that contains avocados which contain healthy fats to help you absorb the fat soluble pro-vitamin A in blueberries!

Blueberry & Avocado Salad

Source: inspired by The Beauty Detox Foods by Kimberly Snyder

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups blueberries
  • 2 medium avocados, peeled and cut into 1-inch squares
  • 6 TBSP fresh lime juice
  • 2 – 4 tsp of raw honey, maple syrup or coconut nectar (or 10 drops stevia)
  • 3 – 4 TBSP of freshly chopped mint.

Directions:

1. Add the blueberries, avocado and mint to a mixing bowl.

2.  Whisk together the lime juice and sweetener and pour over the fruit. Gently toss together, being careful not to mash the avocado pieces.

3.  Enjoy!

 

What are some of your favorite ways to use blueberries? Please feel free to post them below!

 

Ditching Wheat Belly

  • June 18th, 2013

Let’s face it. Wheat isn’t what it used to be. It has been hybridized over the decades to contain more gluten, the sticky protein that gives bread it’s elasticity. Unfortunately, its “stickiness” has caused wheat to become increasingly more difficult for most of us to digest and creates inflammation in the body.  As a result, many people who are not celiac experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms and find that they feel better when they remove wheat from the diet.

In fact, it’s estimated that 99% of the people who have either a gluten intolerance or celiac disease are never diagnosed. Crazy, right?

So what are some of the common signs of a gluten intolerance?quinoa salad

  • bloating – wheat belly!
  • gas
  • digestive distress
  • fatigue
  • headaches and migraines
  • dizziness
  • auto-immune disease diagnosis
  • joint pain
  • hormone imbalances
  • mood swings

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consider eliminating wheat and other sources of gluten for 3 weeks and then re-introduce wheat and see what happens.

In the meantime, join me for “Gluten-Free Summer Salads” and learn how to use seasonal veggies, herbs and fruits to make an amazing dish for your next potluck or summer picnic. It IS possible to eat healthy and gluten-free at the neighborhood cookout without sacrificing taste. You’re dish will be a conversation piece, and folks will ask for the recipe after they have scarfed down every last morsel. We will also discuss proper bean and grain preparation techniques and how to store your fresh herbs. Includes materials, recipes, lunch and laughs.

 Feel free to post links to your favorite gluten-free recipes or resources here. One of my favorites is Elana’s Pantry.

 

Let’s face it. No one enjoys feeling bloated, but it seems to be even more uncomfortable when parading around in a swim suit. Do you sometimes feel like your stomach is a beach ball, ready to pop? Perhaps you happen to check out your profile in the mirror and wonder if others think you’re pregnant. You are not alone, Dahling! Often what we eat, how we eat and how we cope with stress has a lot to do with the size of our mid-sections.beach_ball_in_swinmming_pool

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help trim the belly bulge for the beach this summer.

Avoid Dairy
Believe it or not, many people are sensitive to dairy and don’t even know it. Commercial, ultra-pasteurized dairy is not a real food, Folks. In fact, it can be too congesting for most bodies, wreak digestive distress, cause or exacerbate allergies and make people plain sick. Also, as we age, we don’t produce as much of the enzyme lactase which is responsible for digesting the milk sugar, lactose. Try eliminating dairy from your diet for 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce it and see what happens. Bloating is a very common symptom. If you must have dairy, look for raw dairy products.

Avoid Wheat
Sadly, gluten in wheat and other grains can also cause the belly to bulge. Because our wheat has been hybridized to contain more gluten (the protein in wheat that gives bread it’s elasticity) it can be difficult for most of us to digest. Gluten can create inflammation in the gut which can damage your villi and microvilli which compromises their ability to digest food. Food in the gut that isn’t digested ferments, creating gas and bloating. In the end, this inflammation makes your intestinal lining more porous and allows undigested food particles to slip into the blood stream, creating an immune response that’s often unpleasant. This is called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Try eliminating gluten from your diet for 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce it. See how you feel and look. You might be surprised.

Increase Fiber and Fluid
Sometimes bloating is simply due to constipation. Food fermenting longer than normal in the colon can cause gas and bloating. The solution is to drink your darn water and plenty of it. Why? Water lubricates the intestinal lining and moves nutrients into the cells and waste out, an essential part of the digestion proces. It also dilutes extra acid around the cells that can create inflammation. So how much water should you drink? Most holistic practitioners agree that you should drink half your weight in ounces. Fiber, of course, also helps scrub the colon and keep it moving. So eat your veggies and fruits with abandon! If you can tolerate grains, toss in some gluten-free grains such as quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat for an extra scrub.

Chew Carefully
Sadly our society is all about multi-tasking and getting things done. Unfortunately, that doesn’t not work well for the digestive system. When you’re eating, focus on nothing but eating. Eat at a dining table – your coffee table or desk doesn’t cut the mustard! Take one bite and savor it for as long as possible. This may sound a little weird, but let you tongue play with it! Chew that bite until it’s liquid. This allows the enzymes in your food (if it’s raw or slightly steamed) and in your salivary glands to begin the digestion process. This means less burden to your pancreas (which secretes digestive enzymes) later! Eating should be playful and sensual. Enjoy.

Play
Stress contributes to poor digestion and constipation. When you’re stressed, your whole body tightens up. Your colon gets tense just like your neck and shoulders and that just isn’t working well for digestive system health. When elimination slows, stagnation grows and so does your belly. So what’s a powerful antidote to stress and bloating? Play of course! Play is a way to connect to ourselves, be present and experience joy. So what sounds more fun – joy or bloating? I thought so… 😉

So try one or all of these tips and see how they work for you. Feel free to comment here and let us know which tip works best for your body. And maybe you have some additional tips or experiences to share with our Eat. Play. Love. readers!

Yesterday I attended a corporate health fair and whipped up this delicious seasonal smoothie inspired by a recipe from The Healthy Apple. You know I LOVE me some fruit smoothies with herbs. Mmmmmm! This zinger of a recipe included cilantro which I’ve never used in a fruit smoothie. I was intrigued to say the least! So I picked up some organic cilantro from Calvert Farm s and then headed on down to Shlagel Farms in Waldorf, MD to get the themed ingredient for the event – strawberries! In addition to the smoothie, I made a Balsamic Chicken Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad.

So why was I so excited to find a recipe with cilantro? Oh let me count the ways! Cilantro has astringent and cooling properties which makes it a great detoxifier and an potent anti-inflammatory. It’s soothing to the digestive system and can help alleviate mental stres, headaches, arthritis and rheumatism. Loaded with phytonutrients, this natural chelator of heavy metals also has anti-microbial properties.strawberry cilantro smoothie

Bottom line – use cilantro with abandon!

In addition to adding it to smoothies, try it in cold soups, salads, egg dishes and even make pesto with it. Of course guacomole is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it.

Now without further ado, here is that tastebud tantalizing recipe:

Strawberry Cilantro Coconut Smoothie

Inspired by The Healthy Apple

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed
  • ¼ cup cashew butter
  • ½ cup oats, soaked
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 TBSP maple syrup, raw honey or coconut crystals
  • 1 TBSP coconut butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • handful of spinach (optional)
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup ice cubes

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth. Transfer to serving glasses.
2. Serve chilled.

 Notes:

  • You can substitute soaked cashews for cashew butter
  • You can substitute coconut flakes for coconut butter
  • You can substitute frozen strawberries for fresh and skip the ice cubes.
  • You can substitute ¼ tsp stevia for other sweeteners.
  • Party-up this healthy smoothie with the addition of rum (this will counterbalance the detoxifying effects, however) 🙂

 

What are your favorite ways to use cilantro? Please share them here!

I know, I know. Why the heck would anyone want to mess with a traditional favorite such as guacamole? I was skeptical as well until I tried it. My friend and co-worker at the Greenbelt Co-op Supermarket and Pharmacy found this delicious recipe at Taste of Home. If you’re looking for a low-calorie dip for tortilla chips and assorted veggies, this is the one to try. So yummy and so colorful! You can use your favorite guac recipe and substitute asparagus for a good portion of the avocado. The original recipe calls for low-fat mayo, but ya’ll know I don’t do low-fat products so I substituted one avocado and olive oil.

So what are the benefits of asparagus besides the fact that it’s a tasty low-cal snack? 

Well according to Rebecca Wood, it is the primary Ayurvedic root for strengthening the female reproductive system. It enhances hormones and fertility, promotes lactation and relieves menstrual pain. Yeehaaw!

Asparagus contains asparagine (think of the lovely smell when you pee), a diuretic which can cleanse the kidney. It’s also one of the foods with highest glutathione content, a nutrient with anti-carcinogenic properties. A good source of vitamins A, B-complex, C, E and K, in addition to potassium and zinc, it reduces mucus and eases constipation. Perhaps this is because it’s a good source of inulin which feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Sounds like a great detox food to me!

So without further ado, here is the recipe of asparagus awesomeness.

Asparagus Guacamole

Serves: 6-ish, yields 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus trimmed and cut into 1-inch piecesasparagus guacamole
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup chopped seeded tomato
  • ½ to a whole avocado with a splash of olive oil – original recipe called for 2 TBSP of reduced-fat mayo
  • 1 TBSP lime or lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¾ tsp minced fresh cilantro
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp chipotle pepper powder
  • 6 drops hot pepper sauce
  • Assorted raw vegetables and tortilla chips

Directions:

  1. 1.Place 1/2 in. of water and asparagus in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Drain.
  2. 2.Place asparagus in a blender. Add onion, avocado, and garlic; cover and process until smooth.
  3. 3.In a small bowl, combine the tomato, olive oil, lemon/lime juice, salt, cilantro, chili powder, chipotle powder and hot pepper sauce. Stir in the asparagus mixture until blended. Serve with vegetables and chips. Refrigerate leftovers; stir before serving.

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think. Or, post your favorite guac recipe for us all to try. 🙂

Chelsea and I just started week two of the PLAYdetox at the Glenn Dale Community Center. We checked in with our awesome detoxers after week 1 which was all about getting mentally and physically prepared. To be honest, week 1 is no joke. And, if you ask the beautiful women we are working with this month, they will confirm! Each participant had a different way of approaching their prep week to get their bodies and minds in the right place for the adventure that was about to start.

So what does prep week look like?

Well, before you even decide to take the plunge, take a look at your schedule and see if this program is even feasible for you at this time. If you have a family vacation coming up or a business trip, it’s not that it can’t be done, it just makes life more difficult. Personally, I like to cleanse when I know I can cook in my own kitchen for the most part. Also, I find it challenging to eat slightly steamed veggies and legumes when my family is chowing down on crab cakes and sweet potato fries while enjoying a microbrew. Actually, I get downright cranky.

fresh berriesAlso, detoxing is not for everyone. If someone is deficient and experiencing illness or burned out adrenals, their body needs to be built up before it can muster the energy to cleanse efficiently. Generally, it’s best to just put these folks on a whole foods diet that isn’t terribly restrictive. Pump ’em with organic veggies, legumes and high quality animal proteins and fats. Dump the sugar and flour.

The next important step is to start to prepare the mind and the body for day 1. Now some people go with the “let’s go crazy before we have to give up everything” approach, but unfortunately, for those addicted to caffeine and or sugar, it can make day 1 seem like a near death experience. Use this week to add more vegetables into the diet and reduce or even cut out poor foods such as sugar, refined carbs and coffee. It’s also a great time to try out detox recipes and channel Goldilocks to perfect your gluten-free breakfast porridge. During the experimentation phase, the porridge can look and taste like mushy gruel until you get it JUST RIGHT. Sometimes people find combinations that blow their minds. This is the goal of week 1. You gotta have something fun in the morning to get you going (literally and figuratively). And of course, you need to make time to shop for your food and supplements.

Now food is only one part of the detox experience. Our lymphatic system, which is basically the sewer system of the body, often gets bogged down by rancid fats, undigested proteins, dead blood cells, toxins, opportunistic bacteria and other pathogens. It’s an integral part of our immune system that needs to be cleaned and moved. Unlike our circulatory system which is always pumping due to our amazing hearts, the lymphatic system can only be stimulated by muscle movement. So what are you supposed to do? Figure out how you’re going to get your butt moving during the detox! Exercise, massage, foam rolling and dry brushing are great techniques for moving lymph.

Because PLAYdetox is a holistic approach to cleansing the body, we also have to consider the mind. Often we allow our thoughts to be hijacked by Negative Nancy. You know who I’m talkin’ ’bout! Nancy says things like, “I’m not smart enough, pretty enough, coordinated enough, strong enough, disciplined enough, creative enough, yadda, yadda, yadda. We doubt ourselves and never feel like we are good enough which is ridiculous. This kind of stress is more toxic to the body than a McFlurry.

So, just like you give your body tons of yummy, energizing veggies during a detox, you also need to pump that mind full of playful, sexy, super thoughts about you and your fabulous life. Chelsea and I enjoy creating affirmations and intention statements with our our participants, weekly. We also incorporate deep breathing and introduce a play menu in week 1 to relax the mind and soothe the soul. It’s a great time to internalize those powerful affirmations.

So let’s hear from you! If you were to detox, when would be a good time to start this spring, and what kind of intention statement would you create for yourself?

 
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