Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Going to See the Birdies

To distract ourselves from the pangs of hunger during our post-holiday detox, the hubs and I decided to drive down to Olympia to check out the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.  I saw something about it on TV and immediately decided I had to go there.  I love birds and we are always watching them out our windows, but decided that it would be nice to see something other than juncos, finches, and chickadees for a change.

And see we did.  It was awesome.  The rain held off and we saw more water fowl than I've ever seen in my life.  To top it off, we even saw three different species of mammal.  So cool.  We were hungry, but it was so nice to spend a few hours outside, taking in the fresh air and being a part of a world that is not quite our own.

The sky was really cool.
We were following these green winged teal because they were so cute.
There was a belted kingfisher on those trees.
Greater yellowlegs!
Did I mention that the sky was really cool?

GBH! GBH! GBH! We were thinking possibly a juvenile.
Geese are big.
 Final species list was as follows:
* Pied-billed Grebe
* Great Blue Heron (tons)
* Canada Goose
* Green-winged Teal
* Mallard
* Gadwall
* Ring-necked Duck
* American Widgeon
* Bufflehead
* Northern Harrier
* Bald Eagle (so many!)
* Greater Yellowlegs
* Ring Billed Gull
* Belted Kingfisher
* Downy Woodpecker
* Northern Flicker
* American Crow
* Black-capped Chickadee
* Marsh Wren
* Song Sparrow
* Dark-eyed Junco
* Mountain Beaver
* Sea Lion
* Harbor Seal

The ones in italics are the ones that are new to my bird list.  I LOVE adding new species to my life list.  I know, I'm a HUGE nerd.

That's 21 birds and 3 mammals.  I got so excited about the beaver that in my excitement I dropped my camera when Shawn and I were switching for binoculars and I scared it away.  But at least I got a shot of it.  It was also really fun to watch the seal and sea lion swimming around in the estuary.  Of course the birds were awesome as well.  My knowledge of water fowl is fairly limited so it was a fabulous way to test my ID powers.

Seriously, go there.  It's easy, only 3 dollars per four people, and a great way to get some laid back exercise.  I don't think there are very many situations where I feel more at peace than in a location where nature is allowed to take over just a little bit.  Thanks birds.

*Update: It has been brought to my attention that the "beaver" we saw is more likely a Nutria, a very large semi aquatic rodent.  They are considered pests so they're not as exciting as beavers, but I've never seen one before, so I'm still happy.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Post Holiday Detox: Lessons Learned

It's been 7 days since the end of our 4-day post holiday detox/cleanse experiment.  I've eaten pizza 3 times: free pizza day at the gym, at a committee meeting, and pizza Friday at school, and I've thoroughly enjoyed every bowl of cereal I've had this week.  My cough and cold are nearly gone and I feel back to my normal self.

So now that my head and body are back into the normal routine, I am in a good place to look back on our experiment and reflect on it logically and realistically.

So here we go.

The Hunger
I expected to feel pretty hungry.  Looking at the meals, there was almost no protein, and some fiber, but not too much since the whole point was to give our digestive track a break.  We were basically eating water mixed with fruit and vegetables.  So we were hungry for most of the 4 days.  The food was filling, but it only lasted about 2 or 3 hours.  We tried to curb the hunger with herbal tea and tiny oranges, which did the trick, but just enough to get us to the next meal.  We attacked each meal like zombies to fresh brains.  The hardest part was at night.  I feel like hunger pangs are much more painful when trying to fall asleep, and this was true for all 4 nights.  It pretty much sucked.

The Food
Some good, some not so good, but when you're really hungry, any food is pretty darn delicious.  There are some recipes I will keep in my arsenal, and some I will never make again.  (Can you say green kale smoothie? Gross.)  In case you haven't read the posts with the recipes that we tried, or would like to revisit them again here they are: The First 48 and The Final 40.

The Mind
Meh.  I don't think I was any more or less focused or at peace.  Just hungry.

The Body
I think my energy levels were up on the first full day, but after that, I can't say that I felt much different.  Though we were hungry and knew that we had little by way of energy coming from our food, we made sure to do something active each day.  On the first day we did some gardening and backyard work, on the second day we went to see the birds at the Nisqually wildlife refuge (a post on that to come later,) and on the third day we decided to do some gentle yoga.  The yoga was NOT good for me.  Halfway through, I felt incredibly nauseated and spent the rest of the afternoon feeling green and sipping on ginger tea.  Shawn, on the other hand, stated he was feeling pretty darn energized on the third full day.  He messed up his neck on the first day and was really feeling the caffeine withdrawals on the second day so the third day is when he finally was able to focus on how the detox was making him feel.  He also noticed a big improvement in his digestion.  I may have mentioned before, but we wonder about a gluten issue with him so this may be why he felt the effects of the detox more postitively that I did.

The Weight
We don't have a working scale at our house and I was afraid to know how much I weighed before the detox so I have no idea if I lost any weight or not.  Probably not.  I wouldn't be surprised if my metabolism decided to get back at me for not giving it enough energy by slowing down and storing as much as it could.  Asshole.

The Lessons
1. Almond milk is delicious.
2. Coconut milk is not.  Too thick.
3. Smoothies make great breakfasts.
4. Brown rice is nice and chewy.
5. It's ok to not have a large lump of protein with every meal.
6. Garbanzo beans aren't so bad.
7. Starving yourself of all the things you love about life is not the best way to feel better, or to make yourself eat less of those things.  After the detox ended, I spent a couple days eating all of the things that I dreamed about during the cleanse.  I don't think I overdid myself, but I did eat more that I normally would have.  I just couldn't help it.  I really couldn't.
8. Vegetables are delicious and I will eat more of them.

The Conclusion
After weighing the pros and cons, I think the pros barely outweigh the cons.  I discovered some new ways to eat healthier and I know that I can eat less during the day and feel ok.  I'm glad enough that I did it, but will never do it again.  I just didn't feel "cleansed" enough.  Sure, I felt alright, but it just wasn't worth it to me.  It is just who I am to love sweets and delicious food and I just have to be able to live with this love in a way to have a relationship with food that is not abusive. 

Shawn and I signed up for a 15k race in March so we have some serious motivation to get moving and train our bodies for a long distance run.  I'm confident that this coupled with my new knowledge of food will get me the results that I was hoping for from this detox.  That's the better way to do it anyway.

Final thought: My feelings and results from this detox are purely my own.  We all have very different compositions and it could be that your experience will be very different from mine.  So try it.  And if you do, I want to hear all about it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Post Holiday Detox: The Final 48 (or more like 40)

Here we are, at the end of the detox.  We made it most of the way, three and two thirds days out of four, but pretty good, I think.  We didn't do exactly what the two websites told us to do, but I think we stuck to it pretty well so we feel pretty good about ourselves.

Oh, and here are the two websites again, where I got the original recipes:


Breakfast:  Mixed Berry Smoothie (same as Thursday breakfast)

Way better than that bad kale smoothie we had on Friday.  I substituted a half cup of coconut milk for some of the almond milk and it was just as good as before.

Lunch:  Brown Rice Stir Fry
2 cups of brown rice cooked 
1 zucchini
2 carrots
1 clove garlic
1 tbs grapeseed oil
2 tbs organic tamari

Saute the vegetables and garlic in the grapeseed oil for about 10 minutes.  Toss with 1 tbs of the tamari when they are done cooking.  Toss the rest of the tamari in with the rice.  Top the rice with the veggies and enjoy.

The review:  Oh man, this was like eating real food.  It was so delicious.  At this point in the cleanse we haven't really had any carbs so this was a major life saver and moral booster.  I just wish we could have eaten more.  Shawn asked if he could have seconds and I had to sadly say no... though I caught him in the kitchen later stealing a mouthful of rice.  Poor guy.

Dinner:  Miso Soup
4 cups of water
a handful of bonito fish flakes
a handful of kale torn into bite sized pieces
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
4 tbs of miso
a pinch of dried wakame
1/2 block of silken tofu

Heat the water in a small soup pot until bubbles form around the edge.  Put the bonito into a small colander or strainer and let it sit in the simmering water for 5 minutes.  During that time, you can add the mushrooms to let them rehydrate.  After 5 minutes you can take out the bonito flakes.  Make sure you get all the good broth out of it, so you might want to squeeze it a bit.  Take out the mushrooms and cut into strips and put them back into the broth.  In a small bowl, combine the miso paste with a bit of the broth and whisk to combine. Put it back into the pot.  Cut the tofu into small cubes and add that with the wakame and kale to the pot.  Let simmer (but not boil) and serve when the kale is cooked.

The review:  Miso soup is good.  So this wasn't anything new for us.  The original recipe didn't have tofu, but I just couldn't justify it as real food without it.  So I added it and it was good.  I think it still fit into the guidelines of the cleanse since it doesn't have any of the forbidden elements in it.


Breakfast:  Awesome Energy Smoothie
1/4 cup almond butter
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup organic almond milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup organic frozen peaches
1 banana
1 teaspoon agave syrup
1/2 cup ice

Blend together and enjoy.

The review:  The banana provided a new flavor that was really good.  I will make this again just to have as a breakfast treat, regardless of whether I need to detox or not.

That's it.  We had a rather important football game to watch starting in the early afternoon and we didn't really feel like torturing ourselves by watching football with friends and not eating football food so that was the end of the experiment.  We didn't dive right in and eat like crap, but that first tortilla chip I ate was amazing.

I'll write another post with my final thoughts about the cleanse in the next few days.  I have a lot of thoughts and I don't feel like writing them all down now.  For now, I'm going to go into the kitchen and eat whatever I want.  Yes...

Sorry for the lack of pictures, I just didn't have the energy.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Post Holiday Detox: The First 48

Yep, this is hard.  Shawn is taking a nap, trying to sleep off the caffeine deprivation hangover, and I have to use all my willpower to stay out of the kitchen before I eat something that will undo all the work I've put in so far.  Each time I close my eyes, all I see is cake.


I think I'm going to go through the various meals we've had so far and rate them so that if you, my dear readers, decide to go through this, will be better equipped to do it in a way to minimize suffering.  All my recipes have been coming from two different websites.  I've included my recipes below, but all the originals can be found here and here.  Oh, and all the recipes make 2 servings, except for the squash soup, that makes about 5.

So we didn't have to start by jumping into a full day, we started with dinner on Wednesday:

Butternut Squash Soup
1 large butternut squash
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
3 carrots
2 apples
2 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 tsp nutmeg
herbs of your choice (I used cayenne, thyme, and sage)
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop the squash, apples and carrots into bite sized pieces.  Mince the onion and toss into a soup pot with a dash of olive oil.  Saute for a few minutes then add the garlic.  Add the liquids and bring to a boil.  Boil the squash, carrots, and apple for about 10 minutes.  Add the herbs and spices and let simmer until the veggies are tender.  Then, blend with an immersion blender until smooth. 

The Result:  This was really good.  I often make butternut squash soup and add sour cream but this really didn't need it.  We were a bit sad to not have a large slice of crusty rustic bread to go with it, but as a first meal for our detox, we really couldn't complain.


Start the day off first thing with a cup of warm lemon water.  This gets your digestive juices going (or so I've read), and it's good to rehydrate after 8 hours of no liquid intake.

Breakfast: Mixed Berry Smoothie
1 cup frozen mixed berries
2 cups almond milk
2 scoops/2 servings green power powder*
1 tbs almond butter

*This can be found in the supplements section in a grocery store.  There are several different brands, I had to go with the only one that my particular store carried.

Blend everything together in a blender and enjoy.

The Result:  This is also really good.  I've never had almond milk before because I really hate soy milk, which put me off of all alternative milks.  But the almond flavor is awesome and the berries are good too.  We'll be having this again.

We're drinking a lot of our meals these days.
 Lunch: Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing
For dressing: 
1 large carrot
1 small shallot
1 tbs chopped ginger
2 tbs white miso
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs cup grapeseed oil
2 tbs water

Blend all ingredients together in blender till smooth.  The salad can be made up of any pile of greens.  To that, top with a half an avocado, and some thinly sliced red onion.  Pour on the dressing and enjoy.

The review:  Holy hell.  I made this exactly as it said to in the website and it was not good.  Well, I could tell that it could have been good, but it BURNED.  We both barely finished the salad and we were crying at the end.  The above ingredient amounts are what I would do if I made it again.  It has half the shallots and ginger, and twice the avocado.  The original says to top the salad with a half an onion, which was WAY too much.  So I would make this again since the general flavor of the dressing was super delicious, just a bit too spicy.

For snack we've been snacking on satsumas.  They're good and though they aren't much, it helps to take care of the edge between meals.  A mug of hot tea helps with hunger too.

Dinner: Broccoli Spinach Soup with Some Arugula
1 large head of broccoli
1 clove garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 yellow onion
1 cup vegetable stock
1.5 cups water
1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper
a large handful of spinach or arugula or another leafy green of your choice
a smaller handful of sun dried tomatoes chopped

Saute the onion for a few minutes and add the garlic.  Chop the broccoli and add to the onions.  Saute for about 8 minutes.  Add the liquids and bring to a boil.  Simmer until the broccoli is tender, then add the greens until they are wilted.  Use your handy friend the immersion blender and blend until smooth.  Sprinkle the sun dried tomatoes in and enjoy.

The review:  This was better than I thought.  It doesn't have too much substance so you get hungry quite quickly, but we are making it again when we can have bread and some cheese.  I added the tomatoes to make it more interesting, but I've read in some websites that you should avoid nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc.), but there are some recipes that include bell peppers, so I'm assuming some is ok.

Though I doubt we're allowed to have dessert during a detox, our neighbor gave us some pomegranates so we allowed ourselves a bit of a before bed snack.  C'mon, it's just high antioxidant juice, after all.


Started the day off again with another mug of warm lemon water.

Breakfast: Green Peach Smoothie
1 cup of frozen peaches
3 leaves of kale
1/2 avocado
1.5 cups almond milk
1/2 cup coconut milk

Blend together in a blender till smooth and enjoy.

The review:  This was ok.  The original recipe called for mango, which I understand since it has a stronger flavor.  The peach flavor was completely taken over by the avocado and kale.  It tastes green and it's a bit hard to drink.  But it's not horrible, and by this time we were pretty hungry so we gulped it down to get the hunger pangs to go away.  If I were to make it again, I would use mangoes.

Lunch: Garbanzo Bean Salad
1 can garbanzo beans
1/2 cup each of chopped carrots, celery, and bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped red onion
a handful of chopped cilantro
a handful of chopped scallions
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
a pinch of salt
pepper to taste

Toss together and refrigerate overnight.

The review:  Once again, too many red onions.  I've halved it above.  It was ok, but I'm not a huge fan of beans or cilantro so this wasn't the best in my opinion.  But, the beans really help to keep you full so that's really nice on this day 2 of a 4-day healthy eating hunger marathon.

Satsumas for snack again. They're really good.

Dinner:  Leftover Butternut Squash Soup  (still delicious, and filling)

Dessert:  The other half of that pomegranate we started yesterday.

We're also drinking lots of herbal tea in between meals, which helps in curbing hunger. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Coughing Through Christmas

I hope everyone's Christmases and New Years were a blast and full of fun and family and overall goodness. Overall, ours was pretty successful.  Grandma came up from California, thoughtful presents were given and received, lots of delicious food was consumed, and many card games were won and lost.

The hitch was the presence of a tiny black cloud called a cold that I've been battling since the 21st.  It started as a persistent dry cough that followed me everywhere I went.  I didn't let it bother me too much though, as I was determined to have a great Christmas.  No matter how much I tried to cover it, I still ended up coughing on most of my family members and my sister came down with a cold several days later.

The biggest issue with having a cold during the holidays is the whole after-Christmas hangover that follows.  Days of eating heavy food and doing little physical exercise leads to feelings of bloatedness and sluggishness.  It's too cold and wet to feel the motivation to go outside, and everywhere you look, there's a mess to be cleaned.  This cough and cold made all these shitty feelings feel even shittier.

Part of me feels glad that I don't have to take work off to get over this, but the other part of me is angry that my vacation time is being totally wasted.  I can't do anything.  My cough was so bad that I could barely hold a conversation with anybody, my body was exhausted from my non-stop hacking, and the only thing I can do is quarantine myself from everyone so no one else has to go through this.  I've probably gained a bunch of weight from all the rich food and lack of movement.  I feel like Jabba the Hut (minus the womanizing.)  Now I have a constant splitting headache that is magnified every time I cough.  I'm just glad that the amount I'm coughing has been cut in half.

The only things that have brought any relief are Nyquil and a tea concoction I've been guzzling for the last 4 days.  I read somewhere that thyme can be a natural expectorant (nature's Mucinex), and honey ginger tea is great for soothing your throat.  So each day, I've been mincing about an inch of fresh ginger and putting it into my tea strainer that I have for our Keurig.  To that I've also been adding about a quarter of a teaspoon of thyme.  To each freshly brewed cup, I also add a squeeze of lemon and a teaspoon of honey.  I then sit on my couch and desperately cradle the mug to my face while sitting in a fetal position and try to breathe in the sweet ginger vapors to sooth the tickle in my bronchial tubes and let the tea warm my body from the inside out.  It has helped greatly.

My current favorite accessory.
But this whole ordeal got me thinking.  I feel like crap.  This must mean my body is full of crap.  In fact, I know my body is full of crap because I put it there.  And crap can't fight colds.  So I need to get it out.  I've always wanted to do a cleanse or a detox.  Shawn and I have 4 days off together starting tomorrow, so here is our chance.  I did some research and found a program, complete with recipes, that lasts 4 days.  We get to eat three meals a day, but three very specific meals.  I'll be making a lot of veggie shakes.  Will we hate it?  Probably.  Will we feel really hungry and sad that we don't get to eat carbs or sugar or dairy or caffeine?  Absolutely.  Will Shawn go into major coffee withdrawals?  Yes.  I know I have a sugar addiction.  That's a fact.  I will go into withdrawals as well.  Now Shawn hasn't really had to go through the whole cold thing as bad as I have but we've been wondering about a possible gluten issue with him so he's on board with this as well.  We might not last all 4 days, but we will try our hardest.

Of course, you will get to read all about it.

Next time you hear from me, I will likely be angry and miserable.

Here's to health and feeling better in the New Year.

Oh boy.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...