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Day three of the Joos cleanse. Feeling a little guilty now for falling short of the cleanse “rules.” My transgressions: A Lara bar. Too many Marys Gone Crackers with hummus/cashew butter. Ok, that’s not so bad when I look at it in writing. But I feel like I failed today at being discerning about being “hungry” or actually hungry. I didn’t really need the Lara bar, I just wanted to eat it because it was their new chocolate chip cookie dough flavor (delicious, btw). And crackers, whether made from flax, quinoa and brown rice, or regular old white flour, are an easy trap to fall into with mindless munching.

But tomorrow is a new day, and I hope to do better. On the plus side, I’ve been feeling surprisingly satisfied with the Joos as a breakfast and dinner meal replacement. This morning I had the Green Lemonade, and a banana and a handful of blueberries. At lunch I ate my quinoa and tofu, and for dinner I had my fresh batch of Immunity Boost, with some baby carrots and hummus. I think having some salad greens on hand might help me eat more vegetables throughout the day, since I’ve mostly been supplementing the Joos with fruit. Learning as I go along…

Joos cleanse has begun! I drank my first Joos yesterday at noon, after I picked up my Joos bottles at Healthworks in Back Bay. I felt pretty excited to dive into this and start feeling the benefits of a cleanse, which I’ve always been curious about and wanting to try.

I’ve been feeling under the weather for the past few days, so my first Joos was the Immunity Booster which is made from carrot, celery, cucumber, bok choy, beet, apple, kale, chard, collards, ginger, tumeric, lemon and lime. As Judith wrote in her blog entry, the Joos is a little…earthy? The first sip was surprising but I found myself liking it as I continued to drink. Because they are so potent, I’ve been drinking them very slowly, just a few sips at a time. Since I had started off the day with cooked oatmeal, I figured that I would count that as my vegan meal for the day, and drink Joos for lunch and dinner. I was fine for the most part, but it was a little difficult to have a liquid lunch and then come home to a liquid dinner. In between, I ate some blueberries, a plum, banana, and some Mary’s Gone Crackers (recommended by Joos-founder Lauri) with hummus. Not too bad! I’m normally a coffee drinker, and didn’t want to go cold-turkey, so I sipped on some black tea today instead.

Last night, I got some of the ingredients for my next cooked meal ready. I made some broiled tofu, which is delicious and has great texture – dip slices of tofu into a mixture of lemon juice, soy sauce, minced garlic, and water, then lay on a pan and broil for about 10 minutes. Pour the rest of the marinade over the tofu in the pan and continue to broil for another 7 minutes or so. It makes a great topping for salads. I cooked some quinoa as well and figured I would bring to lunch tomorrow with vegetables.

As it turns out though, I’ve been feeling sicker today (not because of the Joos at all though!), so I decided to call out of work. I drank my second Immunity Booster this morning, grateful for its army of vitamins and nutrients to help fight my cold, and went back to sleep. When I woke up, I wasn’t in the mood for the tofu, so I made myself the smoothie that I usually have for breakfast…I know it seems strange to want another liquid meal, but it’s what I craved so I went for it. It’s a pretty hefty smoothie – almond milk, banana, cocoa powder, 2 tbps of peanut butter, and a 1/2 cup of oats, plus some ice. The tofu will have to wait for tomorrow when I’m (hopefully) feeling better.

My feelings about the Joos cleanse so far have been good. I love the feeling of drinking something that is packed with  juices from amazingly beneficial foods that I don’t normally get into my diet all at once. I like that Lauri’s view of the cleanse isn’t too harsh, and that there isn’t any judgment about modifying to fit your needs. I sent her an email last night, because I was confused about whether or not our snacks between meals should be limited to fruits and vegetables, or if things like nut butters, gluten-free crackers, etc., were ok too. She responded by telling me that those foods other than fruits and vegetables are for in between meals ideally, but that other snacks could be added if I felt like I needed more. She also said: “We, as Americans, are afraid to feel hungry. In Europe, people eat 3 meals per day and don’t think about food in between while we think about it non stop, so it seems. Often we think we’re hungry when we’re really thirsty. We also can feel hungry out of habit. While we don’t want you to be uncomfortable, we do want you to learn mindfulness on this process and be able to determine if you’re truly hungry.”  I was happy to get this response, because it really hit home for me. While I’m a consistently healthy eater with my regular diet, I definitely think that I eat sometimes out of habit, or out of boredom. This is something I’d like to learn how to change, and I’m hoping that by bringing awareness and discipline to my diet during the cleanse, that I’ll be able to start being more discerning about when and how much I really need to eat.

- Jean

“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours” – Richard Bach

Cambridge Healthworks members: Did you know that your Healthworks membership gets you into the J.F. Kennedy School pool for just $3? The opportunity to use this pool is also available to Somerville residents at a discount.

I’ve wanted to try swimming as an exercise for a while, but had my doubts about getting started. I’ve never been much of a swimmer – I have the basic strokes down, but I’m slow as molasses with an irrational shyness around lifeguards, which had always hindered me in the past.

After suffering a fall on my bicycle during a ride on the Minuteman Trail this past weekend, my knee has been bruised and sore, so I decided to overcome my intimidation and take advantage of my access to this challenging, low-impact exercise. Excited by the prospect of a new exercise in my routine, I went shopping for a swimsuit (on sale at CitySports Boston right now), goggles, and the mandatory swim cap. My expectations were low – I figured about 4 minutes of breast stroke would leave me wiped out.

The pool lanes are separated into slow, medium, and fast, so there is little need to be worried about your speed in comparison with other swimmers. I showed up for the 6 p.m. start of evening adult lap swimming, and found it to be un-crowded, and unintimidating. Turns out, at almost 30 years old, I really don’t have to be worried about the judging eyes of lifeguards, or how slow my stroke is. And lo and behold, I ended up swimming for 35 minutes! Varying the strokes and pausing to catch my breath between laps helped to lengthen my endurance. I also tried using the kickboard for a few lengths of the pool – a serious leg workout. I looked to these pool workouts for varying skill levels from Fitness Magazine, to help me get started. The time went by quickly, as it usually does when you’re trying something new and are pacing yourself without judgment. I left feeling both tired and refreshed, and happy to have challenged myself with something new.

It’s nice to be reminded that  expectations for yourself can always be surpassed!

Lately the basil plant potted on my porch has been growing out of control, so I’ve been trying to find ways to incorporate basil into my recipes as much as possible! Its fresh flavor is an easy way to make even the simplest dishes taste gourmet. Last week I came up with two great recipes to make use of this lovely herb: zucchini basil soup and pasta with fresh vegetables, basil and parmesan.

The basil soup recipe was a variation of a dish that I found on Epicurious.com. I happened to have about 5 zucchini on hand, an impulse buy from Marketbasket that I couldn’t turn down (only $2.34!). I diced an onion and 4 cloves of garlic, and sautéed in olive oil in a 3 quart pan on the stove, for about 5 minutes until browned. Then I sliced up the zucchinis into large chunks, and added in, sautéing for another 5 minutes, until they were tender, then added 1 cup of chicken broth to the mix. This got added into my blender, in two batches (careful when blending hot liquids!). I grabbed a huge handful of basil and chopped it up – it came out to about a cup – and threw in the blender as well. The result? A delicious, creamy soup without any added cream! I was pretty amazed at how great the texture was. This recipe is definitely for basil lovers – the flavor is very strong, almost tasting like a pesto soup.

Later in the week, I brought home yet another zucchini, plus some summer squash and cherry tomatoes, from the farmers market. For a quick and easy dinner, I sautéed the zucchini and squash in some olive oil until tender, then added the cherry tomatoes for about 1 minute. I threw the vegetables in with some whole wheat spaghetti, about a tablespoon of olive oil, about ¼ cup parmesan cheese, and ½ cup of chopped fresh basil. Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best!

With every meal of this heat wave week, I’ve been on the hunt for something easy with little to no cooking required…For lunch, I also needed something that would survive Tupperware transit in good condition. I generally don’t like bringing regular salad greens to my office, because I find that their taste and texture goes downhill after being in a container for a few hours.

I found this recipe for a salad made with Japanese buckwheat soba noodles, edamame, carrots, and a citrus vinaigrette on the Women’s Health magazine website. It was delicious, nutritious, simple, and eaten cold/at room temperature – making it perfect for bringing to work, or maybe to the beach this weekend. Sadly, I couldn’t find the white miso that the recipe called for, so I left it out of the dressing, but it still tasted great. I ended up adding a sprinkling of white sesame seeds on top – they add a little crunch and flavor, and provide an extra boost of minerals like copper, manganese, and calcium.

The forecast for next week is looking steamy again — let me know if you have any suggestions for recipes that hold up in the heat!

Since it’s been about 75-85 degrees every morning this week, nothing could be less appealing than my normal breakfast of cooked oatmeal and hot coffee. As I mentioned, I recently purchased a new blender, and have been putting that appliance to work at every chance I get! I was inspired to change up my morning coffee routine, and came up with my own frozen frappacino-esque drink. I brewed a pot of coffee the night before and let it cool, then added it to the blender this morning with some skim milk, a dash of half-and-half, and about 6 ice cubes. Voila – frothy, cold java jolt. I’m not a fan of eating cold packaged cereals for breakfast, because they always leave me feeling hungry after about an hour! Instead, I’ve changed up my hot oatmeal by soaking ½ cup of regular oats in about a cup of almond milk overnight, and adding in fresh strawberries/blueberries, chopped dates and walnuts in the morning. The berries and dates are so naturally sweet, that this dish doesn’t even need to be sweetened. You could try this with any variations of nuts and fruit, for a filling, cool breakfast.

Have you been switching up your normal diet during this heat wave?

Certainly, Bostonians, you don’t need me to tell you how hot it’s been lately. Right now I’m actually thankful for being in my office where there’s air conditioning. Not so lucky at my apartment, where one little window unit is working overtime and struggling to keep us cool. Last night I made fish tacos with cilantro-lim crema, using this recipe I found on Cooking Light’s website. No one needs a sweltering kitchen right now, which made this recipe great – it requires minimal cooking (just baking the fish for a few minutes).  I left out the mayo, replacing it with extra sour cream, and topped with some salsa, yum!

I also recently invested in a new blender, just in time for icy drinks! When it’s this hot out, there’s nothing better than drinking something fruity and frosty. I made up some fresh margaritas using frozen berries, lime juice, tequila, triple sec, and ice. Frozen antioxidants, anyone?

Stay cool, ladies!

One of my favorite things about summer in Boston is the farmers markets all around the city. I’m a big supporter of eating locally produced foods – shopping at farmers markets is a great way to support our environment, our American farmers, and our health. I’m fortunate enough to work near the Government Center market, and I love walking over there on my lunch break and meandering around the farmers’ tables, checking out their latest harvests. Last week, on a whim, I bought zucchini, summer squash, an heirloom squash, a big bunch of bright green swiss chard, and some garlic scapes, which I’d never cooked with before. I also bought a dozen fresh farm eggs from Silverbrook Farms. These eggs are amazing – definitely pricier than a cheap dozen from the grocery store, but the taste and texture is so superior that I find myself savoring them in a way that I never do with “regular” eggs. Some research studies have suggested that the nutrition content of free range grass-fed eggs is also better than their factory-farmed counterparts – providing more healthy fats, less saturated fat and cholesterol, and higher amounts of vitamins.

When I got home, I threw together all of my farmers market bounty into a frittata, which came out great. Below is the recipe I conjured up. The beauty of the frittata is that you can put in whatever you want, though, so it’s a perfect base to experiment with as the seasons and available produce changes.

Farmers Market Fritatta

6 eggs (preferably farm fresh!)

1 cup skim milk

Dash of salt and pepper

Sliced zucchini and summer squash, one of each

1 bunch of chard, de-stemmed and torn into small pieces

1 tablespoon chopped basil

3 chopped garlic scapes

2 sliced shallots

¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper, and basil. In a cast iron skillet, or a large saucepan, sauté shallots in some olive oil until browned, then add garlic scapes and sauté about a minute longer. Add zucchini and squash and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add swiss chard and sauté about a minute. Preheat over to 400 degrees. Pour egg mixture into the skillet, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for about 5-10 minutes, or until it has mostly set. Sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs, and place in oven for about 10 minutes, or until the top has browned.

What are your favorite finds at  farmers markets?

As you may recall, back in January I wrote a post about resolutions, suggesting making small incremental changes in your life, instead of going for one big drastic goal. I’m a firm believer in the power of these small changes, and I also support making resolutions year-round. No need to wait once a year to make a difference –after all, today is the first day of the rest of your life, right? Recently, I added a small change to my daily schedule in the form of a twenty minute morning run. As it so happens, twenty minutes has turned out to be my magic number. It’s long enough to break a sweat and burn some calories, leaving me feeling refreshed, but not drained. As a result, I’ve had more energy at the office, and through some bizarre logic, has me getting to work on time!! This is the most surprising part for me, a chronic running-out-the-door-chasing-after-the-bus person my whole life. I think it’s from the combination of energy and time management that comes with prioritizing my morning.

Better yet, knowing that I’ve gotten at least a little bit of exercise relieves some stress in terms of finding time to work out later. I prefer to do some other physical activity later in the day in addition to these short runs – play tennis, do short interval training, or take a yoga class.  But if I don’t get to any of those, I know I already met my personal bottom line requirement for the day.

The biggest hurdle in morning exercise – getting out of bed – got a little easier after I invested in a few good accessories: Nike Air Pegasus + 26 shoes (rated a Best Value Buy  by Runner’s World), my new NUX cross back bra (made with some glorious moisture management material), and a teeny tiny ipod shuffle, loaded with upbeat music. All matching, of course ;) Never underestimate the power of good workout clothes and accessories to motivate!

What gets you motivated to start a new routine? Have you made any small changes that are making a big difference in your well-being?

- Jean

I have a serious crush on Healthworks right now.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to take part in the Healthworks Blogger Bash, which was amazing! Along with about 20 other women bloggers, I took an awesome (and seriously challenging) spinning class with Eden Kessler, then headed to Alibi at the Liberty Hotel to imbibe some deliciously refreshing RIPE cocktails mixed with Double Cross vodka, and nibble on pizzas from Scampo restaurant. It was great to be around so many inspiring ladies who author health- and food-related blogging websites. A big thanks to Healthworks for organizing! And of course, thank you to all of the sponsors who provided our drinks, food, and pretty awesome swag bags — (pretty awesome being a vast understatement). I’ve been loving all of the new blogs that I added to my Google reader after the event, and enjoying the swag bag goodies.

Among said goodies was some Mad Hectic oatmeal, which was totally new to me. It comes in delicious flavors like raspberry dark chocolate and almond pecan, and provides 13 GRAMS of protein! I am a diligent breakfast eater, and a big fan of easy, filling recipes to whip up in the morning. I mixed about half a serving of Mad Hectic chocolate raspberry with a half a serving of regular plain oats, in order to cut down on the sweetness a bit. It definitely kept me full through my work morning. When I reached my mid-morning snack time, I had the pleasure of sampling a cup of Siggi’s Icelandic skyr yogurt, for which I had a coupon in my swag bag. Siggi’s is amazing – slightly tart, with very little added sweetener (no high fructose corn syrup here!), super thick (even thicker than greek yogurt), packed with protein, and comes in unique flavors like pomegranate acai, and grapefruit. I opted for blueberry today, and added a little granola for what I consider to be a perfect snack. I’m looking forward to adding these new foods to my repertoire, and trying out the rest of my samples and coupons in the next few weeks.

In case there was ever any doubt – Healthworks is truly the best gym ever, and amazes me with the ways that it goes beyond a fitness center, to really be a healthy lifestyle support network for us Boston women.

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