Spring Cleaning-by Mary Ellen
Now that Spring Break and the holiday weekend are nearly over, have you considered a little Spring Clean-up?
Maybe after pool-side margaritas, burgers and fries with your kids, or all-you-can-eat brunch buffets, you are thinking it is time to re-focus on your food choices.
The Cadbury Eggs, jelly beans, and yellow-dyed marshmallow chicks (OK, did you REALLY eat one of those!?) must go. It is time to clean-up your kitchen.
Most of us would not leave the debris in our yards hidden behind bushes and just mulch over it, right? Instead, for spring, you pull out the old leaves, weeds, twigs and other old waste after the long winter. You bag it, put a city sticker on it, and place it on the curb for garbage pick-up. So why would you leave all this waste in your body?
Now, a few friends of the Kitchen Remix have asked about “body cleansing”. Because we are proponents of eating real, whole-foods, we are not going to recommend cleansing with chemical products or short-term diet solutions of fasting or straight juicing. I once tried a protein powder, meal replacement years ago that was sold as a “cleanse”. I was crabby, hungry, and tired for the couple days that I was on this program. Being someone who is active, busy, and loves to exercise, this did not work for me. Not only did I feel horrible, I desperately searched in my cabinets for sweets and snacks I would have never thought about eating ordinarily. My body and mind felt deprived, and so I stood late at night on a kitchen stool seeking anything, even old Halloween candy my kids had left behind months before, just to satisfy this urge.
If you eat healthy most of the time and follow some of the tips we will be offering over the coming months, you do not need to invest in expensive systems that promise to clean your body. Good tasting food will nourish you and your beautiful body will function the way nature intended. A plant-based diet is rich in nutrients, enzymes, minerals, fiber, and all the goodness that will naturally cleanse your liver, colon, and kidneys.
The Kitchen Remix would like to offer some ideas to help you get back on track this week or maybe start some new habits. Especially as you begin to make changes in your eating, it is important to set small goals. Even if you just remove one bad habit and add a good practice in place, it may be enough to get you on the road to long-term health.
This week why not try The Kitchen Remix Challenge with these healthy practices:
1. Eat as much plant food over the next week as you want. You do not need to count calories or points; just eat when you are hungry. Stop eating when you are full. If you are willing, try an animal protein-free diet for this week. Eat raw veggies as snacks and salad for lunch. For dinner, eat veggie and brown rice stir-fry, gluten-free pasta with steamed broccoli, or red lentils with a spicy curry sauce and cauliflower. (Look for these featured recipes this week on Facebook). Try hearty soups and experiment with new flavors. Make the recipes below. Share meals with people you love. If you have children, get them involved in the process.
Start each day with a green smoothie. I will include an excellent basic smoothie recipe at the end of this article. Please also watch our Facebook page this week for additional ideas. Remember to buy organic whenever possible. Always peel your fruits and veggies if they are conventionally grown.
“Why?” you may ask, “should I make a smoothie?”
While I was on Spring Break, as my fellow travelers (who will remain anonymous), gobbled down chocolate glazed donuts, sugar-frosted corn flakes, and apricot danish, I was trying to be discreet and blend my smoothie.
Spinach, kale, chard, green pears, apples, and lemon blends are some of my morning favorites. While not too many of my in-laws (oops! OK, no longer anonymous), would try this bright, green, breakfast delight, a few took a sip or two. My critics said they would prefer to eat a salad or cooked vegetables to get their daily requirement. Then they went on to breakfast number two: bacon and eggs with cheese and fried pastries.
There are many reasons to “drink” your greens. Starting your day with blended fruits and vegetables allows your body to absorb more vitamins, minerals, and live enzymes. It naturally digests more readily, allowing you to get the cleansing benefits of fiber. The vitamins, natural protein, and minerals get you started without the mid-morning crash. You’ll gain increased energy and notice a positive difference in your physical appearance.
On my vacation, after a little morning exercise, I drank my green smoothie. This drink gave me plenty of energy to dodge my nephew’s Super-Shooter squirt guns at the pool, go biking with my children, and build sand castles on the beach. My donut eating counterparts were napping on lawn chairs, looking for the next sugar fix, and cranky about getting hit with the water guns, (I think I was a little jealous of the nap part).
This week, if you add a daily green smoothie to your morning, you will be getting great volumes of healthy veggies and fruits into your body. You will feel good about yourself and love the way your body, skin, and hair look. You may even have the extra energy to Spring Clean your house or yard.
2. Dump the sugary, processed foods and beverages. You do not have to commit to it forever but for at least this week, don’t eat the sweet treats, fast food, or other packaged convenience foods.
Especially drop the soda habit. Drinking soda pop not only loads on the calories and sugar but also offers no nutritive value. It is filled with acidic chemicals that rob the body of nutrients and can literally demineralize the teeth and bones.
Worse yet are artificial sweeteners, which include aspartame (Equal and NutraSweet), saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), and Sucralose (Splenda). Many studies have been conducted demonstrating the toxic chemical reactions of these sweeteners. They have been shown to cause users to actually gain weight. Other studies have shown that these artificial sweeteners can lower the good bacteria in the intestines. If you aren’t convinced, Google “artificial sweeteners”. There are hundreds of medical researchers who will tell you to quit the Diet Coke and “Skinny” latte. Instead, use natural sweeteners like Stevia or Blue Agave.
If you are looking for a soda replacement, try sparkling water with lemon. You may also drink another smoothie.
3. Commit to daily exercise over these days of your Spring Clean-up. Each day, choose a physical activity you enjoy and do it without excuses. Make an exercise appointment in your busy calendar and keep it. You would not miss your kid’s soccer practice, the school committee meeting, or the server who offered you the margaritas at the pool. Make it a priority.
As you try these three suggestions, see how you feel, look for our recipes, and share your successes on our blog. Call The Kitchen Remix if you need help or motivation.
Note to our Readers: I did indulge over the Spring Break holiday, too. Every margarita was delicious, and the last sleeve of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies (all in one sitting) was a guilty pleasure. My typical, rigorous exercise was replaced by a simple run to a near-by Starbuck’s for my morning mocha.
Just like you, though, I am back. My kitchen is stocked, and my blender is ready. I will sweat it out in my workouts. I will eat fresh, organic produce. I will cook for my family. I will live without regrets. At the end of the week, I may even tackle a little spring cleaning in my closets.
Emmie’s Green Smoothie
1 green apple, chopped
1 pear, chopped
5 cups spinach
1 cup swiss chard
3-4 cups filtered water
1 lemon- if organic, also use peel
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1/2 mango, peeled and chopped
Place all ingredients and mix in blender until smooth. Add ice, if you prefer.
Remix Asian Cabbage Salad
This is a remix on the traditional American favorite.
1 head green cabbage
1 red bell pepper
1 cup green onion
1 tbls. fresh parsley, chopped finely
sliced raw almonds
3 tbls. apple cider vinegar
1 tbls. sesame oil
2 tsp. sesame seeds
1 tsp. blue agave
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 cup water
Juice of 1/4 lemon
dried red chili pepper( optional)
chopped garlic (optional)
Slice cabbage, red pepper, carrots and onions into thin, symmetrical strips. Mix dressing ingredients in a separate bowl. Add salt, pepper, garlic and red chili pepper to taste. Mix vegetable ingredients into a large bowl, add salad dressing and toss together. Let salad sit at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Sprinkle almonds and parsley on top before serving. Serves 6 people.
Lentil & Leek Soup
2 tbls. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large onion cut in 3/4 inch cubes
1/2 large leek cut into 3/4 inch cubes
4 large carrots cut into 1/2 inch slices
3 tbls. chopped garlic
4 cups (32 oz.) vegetable broth
4 cups (32 oz.)
1 cup red lentils
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1 tbls. salt
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. marjoram
Saute onion, leek, carrots, and garlic in oil (low heat) until soft. Add broth, water and the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 1 hour or until lentils are cooked. Blend with hand blender until smooth. (If you do not have a hand blender, you may pour the soup mixture into your blender and blend until smooth.)