You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2010.

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend. I took advantage of the sunny weather yesterday by going to Revere Beach with my good friend Steph, who is also my “foodie mentor.” I think we talked about food and recipes for at least 2 hours yesterday! Steph has an amazing combination of frugality and innate culinary talent that allows her to make the most out of every single ingredient she comes in contact with – no wastefulness ever for her. I hope to learn from this, because I am guilty far too often of letting things go to waste, or throwing out unused ingredients that I don’t know what to do with. Because our beach trip was a little last minute, she told me she barely had anything in the house to pack for a lunch, yet lo and behold managed to scrounge up the makings for a gourmet picnic – open faced goat cheese and fig sandwiches (with fresh chives and rosemary from her garden chopped up in the cheese) on top of slices of bakery-fresh olive bread. Plus, homemade almond amaretto biscotti and lemonade. Amazing!

I got home from the beach feeling inspired, and rummaged through my pantry, looking for unused ingredients that I could throw together. I ended up making a beautiful Israeli Couscous pilaf with chopped apricots and pistachios that served as my lunch today, on top of a bed of baby spinach greens. Israeli Couscous are bigger, chewier cousins of the standard couscous, and I love the texture! I cooked the couscous according to the package directions and added:

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cumin

½ cup of chopped apricots (which had been languishing in the back of my shelf)

½ cup of shelled pistachios

Juice from 1 lime

A few sprigs of chopped fresh mint

All of this was sautéed in about 2 tbsps of olive oil. It was super-simple and made for a delicious and exotic-tasting lunch. My frugal gourmet buddy would definitely be proud. I’m thinking this will also make a great side dish with some roasted vegetables and chicken later in the week.

 Do you have any tips for whipping up a gourmet dish, using what you have around the house? I’d love to hear!

– Jean

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This is the time of year when I always get a nervous/excited “back to school” feeling of anticipation, whether or not I’m actually a student. It so happens that this fall, I’m going to be a student for the first time in about 6 years – I’m beginning a Health Communications Masters program at Emerson College in combination with Tufts Medical School.  It’s a pretty cool program – combining the communications resources at Emerson with medical classes at Tufts. In the future I hope to be working in some sort of marketing form for a health related organization, possibly in the nutrition and exercise field, helping to communicate messages about healthy living to the public.I’ve been super excited to get back into the classroom, and purchased my books for class about 5 seconds after the course materials list was sent out! Yesterday I went to Staples and spent about a half an hour searching for the perfect note-taking pens and notebooks. A little overboard, yes, but there’s just something about the turn of the seasons and the start of something new that makes the end of summer/beginning of fall feel like magic to me.

I love that there are some upcoming programs at Healthworks reflecting the enthusiasm at this time of year – like the “Back to School Body Basics 101” workshop in Cambridge.  Even if your schoolbook days are over, there are always ways to take advantage of the seasonal momentum and brush up on healthy skills. If you’ve been lamenting the shortening of the days and the retreat of the heat, a little back to school excitement might be just what you need to stay motivated. 

– Jean

Yesterday, I had a serious case of the “Mondays.” One of those I-need-to-detox-from-the-weekend “Mondays.” After a great weekend that included: beers at a concert, Mexican food and margaritas at Jose’s, martinis at OM lounge, and beer, pretzels, and sausages at Fenway Park…I’m feeling the need to give my system a bit of a rest as I start the new week.  For the next couple of days, I figured I would try and cut back on white sugar, flour, excess caffeine, alcohol, etc.

 I’m also adding green smoothies back into my morning routine – something I haven’t done in a while. This morning, I made a healthy concoction by blending: 1 apple, 1 banana, 1 cup of water, juice from ½  a lemon, about a cup and a half of baby spinach, 1 stick of celery, and a sprig of mint.. The celery is a new addition for me, but Lauri from Joos raved about its health benefits so much, that I figured it deserved a spot in my detox smoothie recipe.  A quick online search of the benefits of eating celery revealed it as a great source of vitamins, as well as a source of potassium and magnesium, which help to aid as a diuretic. Drinking a green smoothie makes me feel great, knowing that I’m getting some fresh vegetables and fruits into my day, right away. I also plan on sweating it out tonight on the elliptical at Healthworks, drinking lots of water, and getting a good night’s sleep!

 What are your “recovery” tips to get back on track after over-indulging?

– Jean

Have you noticed that local food has been cropping up now more than ever? I’ve been happy to see a big selection of produce at stores like Whole Foods with the “I’m a local” sign next to it. And recently, I’ve also been seeing signs at more mainstream grocery store like Shaws, advertising a few New England grown produce items. A few days ago I picked up a convenient box of organic mixed spring greens by a brand called “Locally Known,” which comes from a farm in Maine. It makes me happy to see more sustainable food options growing, and I love being able to get food at my grocery store that hasn’t been trucked all the way across the country.

I took the box home, which contained  lettuces, mustard greens, beet tops, baby spinach, baby arugula, baby swiss chard and baby kales,  and attempted to re-create an awesome salad that I had at a restaurant last week, adding a few of my own twists. Even though I know how good it is to eat leafy greens, for some reason, I can’t ever get excited about a regular garden salad – if it doesn’t have a theme and extra add-ins, I just won’t end eat it. This recipe has heart-healthy walnuts, red grapes, a little bleu cheese, and a warm shallot vinaigrette to jazz it up:

½ shallot, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

About 2 cups of mixed baby greens

¼ cup chopped walnuts

1 tbsp blue cheese crumbles

½ cup of red grapes, sliced into halves

Sautee the shallots and garlic in olive oil in a small pan, until the shallots turn brown and crispy. Meanwhile, toss salad greens, blue cheese, walnuts, and grapes. Wisk mustard and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl, then add olive oil-shallot mixture and stir. Toss with the rest of the salad. So gourmet, and so easy! I made this as a single serving, and ate it for a very filling dinner. You could definitely make it in a bigger batch and serve multiple people, or as an appetizer.

– Jean

Last night was the second Healthworks Blogger party event. This time 12 other women bloggers and I met at Healthworks for a Bosu class, followed by a great picnic in Copley Square.

The Bosu class, taught by Kate, was super challenging! I hadn’t expected such an intense workout from a 30 minute session, but I was definitely feeling the burn right away – trying to balance on the Bosu takes some serious balance and core strength.

After the workout, we were joined by Lynay and Melissa from Whole Foods, who provided us with a picnic dinner – sandwiches (I went with Avocado on sprouted grain bread with hummus and tomatoes, which was delicious and very filling), quinoa salad with cranberries and oranges, and a fruit salad – all in a re-usable Whole Foods tote. We also sampled Joos and Joos bites, which are mini-muffins made with leftover pulp from Joos, and heard from Joos Founder Lauri Meizler, who I was happy to finally meet in person! There were also mini cupcakes from Mix Bakery in peanut butter cup and carrot cake flavors. They were the perfect size, and tasted great. Kelly, the owner of Mix says that she doesn’t put anything ingredients in her cupcakes that she wouldn’t eat by itself on a spoon – and the flavor of the cakes really benefit from it.

It was a perfect summer evening for being outside, enjoying good company, and sampling all of these healthy and delicious treats…thank you, Healthworks!

Today is officially my last day on the Joos cleanse. I had my final Immunity Booster this morning, a vegan fruit-juice sweetened bran muffin from Trader Joe’s with almond butter, and for lunch I packed some homemade tabouleh and baked falafel. I have mixed feelings about returning to a “regular” diet now. I’ve been feeling longing for foods that I’ve cut out – like ice cream and pizza, and yet at the same time, I think that if those foods were in front of me right now, I wouldn’t really feel like eating them. Strange! I’m planning on taking Lauri’s advice and adding back one ingredient at a time (dairy, gluten, caffeine, etc) and seeing how I feel. It’s definitely interesting to take those things away and then having a sort of level playing field for discovering things that your body doesn’t like. For instance, I had some seemingly innocent whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce and vegetables on Saturday for my vegan meal, and almost immediately noticed that I felt bloated and uncomfortable afterwards. Being on the cleanse has helped me a bit in some detective work, uncovering what works and what doesn’t for my body.

I’ve been really surprised to discover that I can get by eating a lot less food than I normally do, without feeling hungry. I’ve felt a lot lighter while still being satisfied, and realized how often I’ve been eating for fear of being hungry, rather than actually being hungry. In this sense, I feel that I met my primary goal for the Joos cleanse successfully.

Final thoughts and recap:

  • I’d say it’s been a very good experience. As far as external results: my skin is looking pretty good and my stomach definitely feels flatter. I lost about a pound and a half, and my boyfriend commented that he thought I was looking noticeably slimmer. All good things!
  • I really liked being able to drink my veggies, and get “a shot” of vitamins every day with the Joos. It definitely made me feel really healthy. I’m considering buying a juicer now, so I can continue to incorporate juicing into my regular routine.
  • Overall, I didn’t think that sticking with the cleanse was too difficult. I definitely started to feel a little bored of drinking the Jooses, which all tasted pretty similar to me, by day 5 or so. As Judith said, it’s really helpful to have plan out vegan meals in advance to avoid getting bored or getting in a panic over finding something to eat that fits into the cleanse. I would recommend meal planning, and shopping for your favorite fruits and vegetables in advance, to anyone considering starting the Joos cleanse.

And I want to say thank you to Lauri who provided me with the opportunity to do try the Joos cleanse and have this great experience!

I started off today feeling a little grumpy, a little annoyed at drinking yet another Antioxidant Blast instead of chewing food. Also a little jealous of other people’s pizza, breakfast sandwiches, soft pretzels…stuff I normally don’t even eat anyway. I think just the idea of something being off limits was making me want it more. But this is the same with everything in life, no?

By late afternoon, though, I’m past that and feeling good. Actually really good. Maybe it’s Friday, maybe it’s the Joos cleanse, but I feel pretty upbeat, alert, and good all around. For lunch, I bought a Macro-Vegan buckwheat noodle box lunch from Whole Foods, because I hadn’t prepared anything in advance. This actually had wheat in it, but I was having a hard time finding anything that was both vegan and gluten free, and actually looked good.  I haven’t been snacking much today though, just some cashews earlier this morning, and that was because I was actually hungry – which makes me feel ok about it.

This weekend will probably be a challenge for staying with the Joos cleanse. I’m going to do my best to stay away from alcohol and other “irritants” but being around other people will make it harder. Plus that Festival of Food Trucks is happening on Sunday…Temptation abounds, but I’m having a good time sticking with this and hope to keep it up. Wish me luck!

– Jean

I am sitting here sipping coffee. Fully-caffeinated coffee.

There is no seaweed in sight today as I write this blog entry.

My JOOS-turned-vegan-cleanse is over. I actually ended it on Friday night when I enjoyed  half a pizza in the North End. The experiment was interesting but I was ready to return to my normal game plan of eating.

Here’s why:

1. I was feeling super cranky all week.

2. I was incredibly tired.

3. I was not very happy.

4. I was tired of eating the same food (tofu, seaweed, cashews and fruit were my four mainstays). This is MY OWN FAULT because I did not take the time or effort to prepare/stock up on lots of interesting vegan food — which I know is out there. I was running around and trying to grab what I could and well, it just wasn’t all that exciting. This program would work beautifully it you took the time to prepare for it. My bad.

5. Friday was a beautiful summer evening and I wanted to soak up the night with some good food and wine with friends. I felt like I wanted to live in the moment.

Saturday (after a really good night of sleep), I ate yogurt (dairy never tasted so good!), oatmeal and fruit and felt like a million bucks.

The rest of the weekend? Well, it wasn’t so pretty but…I enjoyed. (I now need a court-ordered separation from pizza, but alas, it was tasty!)

(Note: Even though I broke my cleanse early, I did go a full week without caffeine! WOW! That was an accomplishment!)

Today is Monday morning and as I look back, I have some reflection.

I love the idea of the cleanse and I think Lauri is really onto something with her JOOS. It IS great to give your body a chance to reset and see what you foods you are sensitive to, and I love that her juices are made with organic fruits and veggies. I love that it is not a “crazy” starvation diet. It is definitely nutritionally sound and full of great, whole food. I did feel less bloated during the week — my guess is because of removing gluten from my diet.

For me, it was hard to get the full joos down and thus, I started adding other food so I would get enough calories. On some days, I went a little overboard with the vegan food (ie the trail mix fiasco) and even eating too much tofu at once.

I am used to being extreme — I have been waging a lifelong battle with moderation on all levels (in every part of my life, in addition to eating). Normally, I would have exceled at something like the cleanse, I have a lot of discipline and focus which has benefitted me (like while marathon training) and hurt me (like all of those times where I forced myself  to follow some sort of cuckoo diet plan or restricted my life/happiness because of my eating).

I guess what I liked about this experiment was this:  I tried it, I decided it wasn’t the best for me at this point in time and I stopped.

To me, that is a big step.

It is another step toward moderation.

 ** Big thanks to Lauri for allowing me to try JOOS, and of course, if anyone is interested in giving the cleanse a whirl, please tell her I sent you! **

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…

Yesterday afternoon was a  little rough.

I am not going to lie.

I was so hungry that I ate wayyyyyy too much trail mix too quickly and then some of the delicious JOOSbites and then I had a ginormous bloated stomach. And it hurt.

UGH. Lesson learned (once again). Too much fiber (or too much of anything) is not a good thing!

I went to an event work last night and brought two of those vegan heart-shaped muffin things from the Healthworks cafe with me to eat during the night. I also had a few bites of veggies from a Lean Cuisine dish (they were sampling at the event) and MAYBE four small sips of a grossly-sweet cocktail. So not my thing.

By the time I got home, once again I was hungry and tired. I wanted pizza!!!!!!!!

But, no, I cooked up a block of tofu in grapeseed oil and added some seaweed and cashews. I know Lauri does not suggest eating so close to bedtime but sometimes you’ve got to break the rules, right?

I woke up this morning after a battle with my snooze button and decided I was not feeling a JOOS at the moment. I wanted to chew. So I got some honeydew and sprinkled it with trail mix. I also enjoyed some water, a decaf coffee and a prune. Breakfast of champions??

Today is the Copley Square Farmer’s Market and there is a bakery that sells this delicious square of gluten-free bread (it is sort of sponge-y like cornbread). I am planning to get a chunk of that at some point today along with either a salad or a modified boloco burrito in a bowl (the summer with a little brown rice minus the cheese in a bowl with tofu). Tomorrow morning I am going to Vermont and will hike, eat healthy and rest.

So, what started as a juice cleanse for me has morphed more into the experiment of testing myself, my mind, my body and seeing what the result is. I am feeling a whole lot better today and while I am definitely missing “real” food, I am going to stick to my guns and finish this week out. There may be a little red wine in my future later but I am OK with that. I have added some mindfulness back into my eating this week and really forced myself to think about what I am putting into my body. I am grateful to Lauri for helping me do this and giving me the chance to try JOOS and learn about the cleansing process.

Here is an article about overcoming cravings that a friend who just finished a 7-day cleanse just emailed me. Interestingly enough, he also was craving pizza during his cleanse….

More either from or after Vermont…..