Fasting

A few times a year, although I haven’t done it since I moved to LA, I do a 3 day detox fast consuming only fresh juices, water and tea.  I first read about this process in a great book that I recommend everyone have a copy of in their home.  It’s called Prescription for Nutritional Healing.  You can find it at most book stores, all health food stores, and certainly Whole Foods Market.

Anyway, 5 years ago I found the section on fasting and the benefits of it really piqued my interest.  There are all different kinds of fasts you can do, but the 3-day detox is just right for me.  I’ve never done anything  more than that, although I have heard people talk about the great benefits to a 10-day fast.  At this point, I’m not looking to do anything more than clear out the ole pipes and start fresh.

I learned some really interesting things this round:

  • I WANT to eat more than I NEED to eat.  I only felt “hungry” twice in the entire 72 hours, but my desire to eat was really strong and I almost broke down a few times.  The late afternoon was hard because I would often get stressed with work, and I am a stress eater, so naturally, I wanted to put food in my mouth.  Evening was also hard because I love cooking and missed the ritual of preparing dinner.  My brain knew what was up and I forged on, but it was hard.  I could feel that my desire to eat was directly linked to the amount of anxiety and stress I was feeling, and that was startling to actually FEEL and resist it.  It didn’t take long to push through it.  It just required some mindfulness, deep breathing, and a dance party (or two).
  • Fresh Juice is not the same as what you buy in the store.  Even the stuff that says 100% juice and nothing added, there is something added.  I could feel a HUGE difference in my body’s reaction to the two kinds of juices.  Luckily in SoCal there are an abundance of places with juicers who will juice anything you want and I felt great after drinking them!  Bloom Cafe on Pico is fantastic (not only for their juices) and I discovered Real Raw Live in Hollywood.  I had stocked up on juices from Trader Joe’s, but after drinking those, I felt jittery and often had headaches.  The ingredients list that the fresh juices are from concentrate and there must be something keeping them from separating because my fresh juices would separate overnight.  At any rate, fresh juice is the way to go.  It felt like a full meal!
  • My energy level was great! When I do these fasts I expect to feel slow and terrible in the beginning and push through to a better side by the end.  I didn’t experience that this time.  Day 1 is always a challenge to get the routine down, and this one was particularly hard because I went to a workshop that night where I sat at a kitchen table FULL of food (including my favorite- brie!).  It was hard, but in the end, I was really glad to have a reason to avoid eating those foods because, for as much as I love them, they make me feel terrible.  At that workshop, I got to test my blood sugar and it was 91, which is in the normal range.  On day 2 I hiked Runyon Canyon all the way to the top and back, and Day 3 I went to a restorative yoga class.  I learned that I can’t stay in forward bend for very long without feeling a little woozy, but otherwise, it was fine.  I slept really well, and my pee looked GREAT (nice and clear despite all the beet juice I was consuming).

Some things to note if you decide to give this a try:

  • You really need to consult your physician before trying this.
  • This isn’t a quick weight loss gimmick, so don’t use it for that.
  • If you have a history restrictive eating disorders, this may bring up some things for you, so tread lightly.
  • You might break out.  Toxins are leaving your body and they tend to come out through our skin, so watch out!
  • You have to do it on a week or weekend when you can lay low if you need to.  I don’t have a dependence on caffiene, but those that do will get headaches and feel out of it as your body detoxes, so take it easy and slow.  You may want to take a nap and you should be able to.  I did feel a stronger pull to sugar than I expected, and that was a challenge.
  • If you have a partner or roommate at home, asking them to eat when you are not home or outside the house will make this a lot easier.  My partner was very accommodating =)

By Saturday I will be back to regular food, although I’ll be avoiding sugar.  I have been tuning in to my body’s response to sugar in the last few weeks, and it’s just no good.  It’s better with cane sugars, but that white sugar really spins me out.  And during this fast, I really felt a draw to sugar in a way that surprised me because in my mind, I don’t eat a lot of it.  Maybe the fact that it’s IN EVERYTHING has something to do with it…

Watch this 60 Minutes video about Sugar. And then put that cupcake down.

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April 20, 2012. Food, Wellness. 1 comment.

List #21

Things I Love About Fall

In Los Angeles

  • Rain.  We don’t get much, so it’s precious when it does happen.
  • The way people bundle up when it’s only 50 degrees out.  As if they even KNOW what cold is…HA!
  • Drinking warm drinks.  I almost never want to drink warm drinks.  Something about it does not agree with my (Pitta) body, so I generally opt for my froo-froo drinks over ice and then I actually drink them!  It’s also difficult to drink a hot drink in very cold climates (like Chicago) because it’s too cold to even take your hand out of the glove to hold the cup!  Here in LA, it’s not too cold, and drinking warm drinks actually feels good.
  • Wearing puffy vests.  I had always wanted a puffy vest, but in Chicago, it seemed ridiculous to wear one!  If I needed to be warm, I needed ALL of me to be warm- even my arms.  But here in LA, it usually perfect vest weather, so I bought one and love it!  It’s white, so I look like a marshmallow, but I don’t care.
  • Thanksgiving at Annie’s.  Annie hosts Orphan Thanksgiving and has about 20 people over to celebrate.  We are all out of towners and come together to create family.  It’s nice.  We all bring a dish and play ladder ball, and then a few rounds of Mafia in which there is too much yelling, but it’s fun all the same.  We all take turns talking or skyping with our families back home and then go around the table to say what we are grateful for.  Here are two recipes I like a lot:  Green Bean Casserole, Cranberry Sauce
  • Knowing that Christmas is coming and I’ll get to see my real family soon!  Being back in my beloved home state, seeing snow and hugging my family is so fantastic.  The fall weather lets my body know that those hugs are coming soon…soon.

In Chicago

  • The Smell!  There is just something so amazing about the way the air smells in the fall in Chicago.  Sometimes it’s leaves burning and I almost hyperventilate trying to take it all in because I love it so much.  Sometimes it’s just crisp air.  Whatever it is, it makes me feel so good inside.
  • The feeling of ducking into a warm bar when you’ve been in the chilly air. Followed by a cider or a beer- can’t beat it!
  • Watching holiday decorations go up on Michigan Ave.  Nuff said.
  • Crunching on leaves. The trees on Paulina Ave would turn amazing colors.  One tree I loved looked like it was set on fire- the bottom would be orange and it the top was red.
  • Cooking with squash. There is an abundance of squash in the Midwest this time of year, and I used to be annoyed that it was all we could get, but being in LA, it’s hard to find good squash!  They are so tiny here…
  • The fall progressive dinner.  When I first moved to the city, I got a job at a study abroad organization called IES.  I made some amazing friends there and after a time, many of us ended up living within a mile of one another (except Joe who is a Northist).  I came up with the idea of doing a Progressive Dinner whereby we each picked a course and we’d move from apartment to apartment eating and drinking.  Ryan would carry a boom box (aka: bucket) and we usually ended up at Dan and Daniella’s for dessert by the fire pit.  We eventually had so many people on the route that every other stop was a “drink” stop.  The fall progressive was my favorite because it was fun to bundle up, tromp through streets with travel cups filled with Peppermint Paddies, and arrive at the next house where we would peel off our jackets, scarves and hats to enjoy another amazing, warm dish.  I treasure those times and feel so grateful to those buddies.

November 12, 2011. 52 lists, 52 weeks, family, Food, LA, Recipes. 1 comment.

List #15

Things I am Obsessed With

Nail polish

I was a loyal OPI user, but now I am leaning more toward Essie.

Finding a knitting project

I really want to find a project that is challenging, but something I can actually see through to the end.  With cooler weather heading our way, my hands are anxious to get the needles going.  I really want to do a sweater- like this one, which I found on Katie’s blog.  I have attempted sweaters in the past.  The first one was with my Sweater Club (yes, you read that right) through Arcadia Knitting, which I just learned closed down!  (side bar: it wasn’t the best knitting store in the city, but I’ll never forget the day Buck and I were driving around looking for apartments, had just looked at a great one on Paulina, but I was not thrilled to be so far north.  We pulled onto Lawrence, heading East and I looked out the window and saw the knitting shop.  It was all the sign I needed that this was the right place for us, and we lived happily there for 6 years.)  Anyway, my first sweater failed because the sleeves did not work- too short and too tight in the armpit.  I still have it, but have never worn it in public because it’s baaaaaad. The second sweater, a cardigan, just didn’t grab me and I got too frustrated to finish it.

Figuring out how to make a web page

Uggh, this is overwhelming and I want to cry when I think about figuring this out.  I bought my domain name, but just have no idea what to do next!  Suggestions welcome!

Tea

Friends, I am a coffee lover through and through, but a few times a year I get grabbed by the tea bug and it hangs on!  I am trying to establish a ritual with my mornings and evening, and I’d like it to involve tea.  When I stayed at Tara’s during Caden’s birth, I fell in love with this one.  My all time favorite is this one.  And I am on the hunt for something like this.  Do I currently have any of these in stock at my house?  No, but hopefully that is remedied soon.

Hoodies

Despite the fact that I only own 3 (blue, purple and gray), I have been forbidden by Amber to buy any others.  Annie may also have forbidden me.  But, I’m sorry ladies, I just love ‘em and may have to add another this season…or maybe something like this will takeover…

Lululemon Universal Wrap

Toms

My super great mama in law (Mama Jan as I’ve taken to calling her) bought me my first pair for Christmas and I LOVE them.  I need to expand the collection because they are PERFECT for me!  Lightweight, easy to get on/off, cute, comfy and flat.

These are the ones I have

These are pretty awesome

Lotion

I love lotion.  If you have some in your bathroom and I’ve been in there, odds are good that I stole a little to try.  I’m always on the hunt for another good one.

Making my “List of Luxurious Things I Want”

It’s currently a list in my iPhone and only has “Burberry lip gloss #1” and “Chanel Perfume.”  These are things that are so out of the realm of “me” or “my budget” or “my lifestyle” but making the list is kind of fun, even though it is unlikely to go anywhere.

Reading Birth Books

Currently I am in the middle of The Birth Partner, The Thinking Women’s Guide to a Better Birth, and I’ll soon be starting Hypnobirthing.  Suggestions welcome!

September 14, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . 52 lists, 52 weeks, Birth, Food, Knitting. 2 comments.

List #7

This weeks list is “Things To Do On A Rainy Day.”

Being in SoCal means that rain storms rarely happen and become a treat when they do.  People from home think I am crazy, and I thought the same of SoCal friends before I moved here, but I truly do miss them.  We don’t get big lightening or thunder here, and that is sad.  Some of my favorite days in Chicago were waking up, realizing it’s raining, cracking the window, and grabbing my book.  Buck and I would read, doze, get up for food, bring it back to bed and continue reading and dozing through the day.  When we were in college and a good storm would come our way, we’d jump in the car and drive out to the cornfields to watch it roll in.  The lightening scared me, but it was so beautiful to watch.

So, this list topic is a fun one for me, although I kept it short because there really are limited things I do when it’s rainy- mostly because I cherish it so much and try not to fill up my day DOING things.  It’s an excuse to NOT do, and I love that.

Read in bed.  A novel is great, but anything will do.

Catch up on podcasts.  My favorites are: This American Life, The Story, Radio Lab, and The Moth.

Sew.   Sew Mama Sew usually has fun, easy patterns in a pinch!

Take Multiple Mid Day Naps.  There is nothing as nice as being under a down comforter with the windows cracked, a slight chill coming through, and the sound and smell of rain taking over your sense.  Bliss.

Snuggle.  A loved one is great to snuggle with, but I also hear babies and dogs are fun.  I’ve even snuggled a pillow and been pretty happy.

Storm Chase. Only really fun if you are in a rural area and are safe.  Getting picked up by a tornado is not something I am endorsing.

Bake.  Here are some of my faves:  Vegan Chocolate Fudge Muffins, Vegan Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache, Peanut Butter Cups.  I bake and cook vegan and these recipes are awesome!  The PB cupcakes are best if you keep them in the freezer!

Lament not buying cute rain boots.  In December, SoCal got something like 10 inches of rain and it was BRUTAL.  I was doing work at a theatre at the time and on the 4th day of constant rain, I HAD to leave the house to go to the theatre and thought my tennis shoes would be fine.  No.  Wrong.  BAD choice.  I was SOAKED within 2 minutes of being outside, with no time to turn around to change- not that I had anything to change into because I never think I will need rain boots, so I never buy any!  Having sopping wet feet is a terrible feeling, and I will not turn away from rain boots next time I see them.  But seriously, why are cute ones so expensive?

Get a hot coffee treat.  Coffee treat to me means something with chocolate and whip cream and maybe chocolate sprinkles on top.  Rainy days are the very best time to get those.

Next week I will be a guest blogger over at Get the Words Out for list #8!

List #7

July 17, 2011. 52 lists, 52 weeks, Baking, Crafts, Food, Recipes. Leave a comment.

Happy 3rd of July!

My friends and I decided to celebrate the 3rd of July together this year so that we can each do what we like on the 4th.  Annie and Josh rent an amazing house in Sherman Oaks and are frequently gracious hosts to our growing group of friends.  They have an awesome backyard with a hammock and a grill and a fire pit (the perfect combination for fun, if you want my opinion).  Andy organized a Ladder Ball tournament that went from 1pm-9pm.  Annie and I were on a team and we managed to play two games that were epically long.  We did not win either of them, but they were really close scores despite the fact that Annie and I are terrible at the game! I made a tomato basil bread salad that needed more juice, but was still tasty.  And vegan brownies that always go fast.

Enjoy some pics:

Katy and Buck in Hammock

The boys trying to rescue a ladder ball

Smore!

Nom Nom

Our Lovely Host- Annie

Buck + Smore = Happy Boy

Banana Boat: Okay, I know this looks yucky, but hear me out: take a banana, unpeel one section, cut out section of banana, smother section with peanut butter, chocolate and marshmallow, replace peel, wrap in tin foil, place on side of campfire for 10-15 minutes, remove, unwrap, eat inside with spoon, FREAK OUT at how amazing it is!!!

Ending the night with a few rounds of Dominion

 

 

July 4, 2011. Tags: , . Baking, Food, Friendship. Leave a comment.

Royal Wedding Gathering

Last night I had a few friends over to watch the Royal Wedding.  It was on at 3am here in LA, and while I was excited for it, I am not such a die hard that I wanted to wake up that early.  I mostly like having themed gatherings, and this provided an excuse to do so!

First, I thought Katherine Middleton’s dress was, in the words of my Mother, TO DIE FOR!  It was stunning on her and her second dress was also amazing.  She really is a classic beauty.

Dress 1 & Dress 2

I didn’t plan to get worked up over the wedding, but when I saw these set of printables from Design Editor, I knew I needed to put them to use.  And so I did:

From top left: flags with the Royal Crown on them, my attempt at a fascinator, Ginger Chocolate Scones, Princess Kate's favorite flower- the Lily

The scones were whipped up by Buck and the recipe was found at one of my favorite vegan food blogs, Post Punk Kitchen.  The fascinator was made in 0.5 seconds and looks more like something Cyndi Lauper would wear than a Royal, but it did it’s job by making me feel fancy.

I couldn’t find images of my favorite hats online, but here are two I liked a lot:

Doesn't Beck's look like a Ken Doll?

It was a fun event to celebrate and I can only hope that he doesn’t turn out to be a dawg like his dad and that their kiddos get her genetics.  Cheers!

Check out how other people got fancy with parties of their own here.  Doesn’t it make you want to have a themed party?!

April 30, 2011. Tags: , , , . Food, Friendship. Leave a comment.

Memories of an Artichoke

When I was little, my Dad traveled a lot for work, and I have two main memories related to his travel:

1. If he had to take an airplane, my Mom and I would take him to O’Hare Airport, and go inside to wave good-bye. This was back when you could go through security and sit with people at the gate (AKA: The Good Ole Days). We would watch him board and I would stand at the big window to wave, even though we couldn’t see each other. Once the plane left, I was sad, and to cheer me up, my Mom would get one of those big, soft pretzels with the cheese dipping sauce, and we would share it. To this day, when I go to the airport, I crave one of those, despite knowing that yellow, processed cheese is one of the worst things I can put into my body. I do have a love of processed cheeses…thanks Mom!

2. When I was a bit older, and perhaps when my Dad drove to his out-of-town destination, my Mom would get a special treat at the grocery store: an artichoke. I would sit in the kitchen and watch her prepare it.  First she cut the tops of the leaves and the stem off. Then she placed it upside down in a pyrex dish with about an inch of water and microwave it for probably 15 minutes. Once done, we would let it sit while she melted butter. I don’t know how long it took us to eat one together, but we dug through it knowing that the real prize was yet to come: the heart. The heart is covered with fuzz, so she would take it back to the cutting board and carefully scrape it all off. She would cut it into 4 pieces and we would dip it in butter, taking tiny bites to make it last longer.

Yesterday I was at Ralph’s and saw that artichokes were on sale for $0.99. I started giggling when I remembered eating them with my mom and decided to get one. I made it last night as a side dish to our dinner- Black Bean Tacos with Corn and Avocado Salsa from the amazing vegan food blog, Little House of Veggies. It’s a strange combo, I admit, but it was a happy meal for me! The corn and avocado salsa is killer- my husband and I once made ourselves sick eating the entire bowl- we could not stop ourselves!

Artichoke ready for steam bath

Artichoke in steam basket with fresh garlic and oregano in water below

Ready to eat with a side of melted Earth Balance

Corn and Avocado Salsa

April 19, 2011. Food. 1 comment.

Food I Do

One of the things I really love to do is cook. My favorite section in the bookstore (RIP Borders) is the cookbook section and although I am selective about the ones I actually buy, I have a deep affection for all 14 of them. The one I am lovin’ on lately is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberk and Zoe Francois.

I got this book for my dear friend, MPM, because he bakes bread multiple times a week. MPM is an amazing guy. He is one of those dudes that decides he wants to try something new, and then does it to the MAX! In college he became a killer bartender, but doesn’t drink a drip of alcohol himself. He became a ninja and a dad and is a truly great friend.

So, I gave this book to MPM and then forgot about it and when I was back in Chicago over the Thanksgiving holiday, my husby and I went to MPM’s house for dinner. I was experimenting with the Vegan diet at the time and MPM, being the aforementioned great friend, made a vegan bread from the book and it was DELISH!

I picked up a copy for myself recently and can’t stop making the following recipe:
Rustic Wild Mushroom and Potato Pizza Provencal

I make it on the Whole Wheat (Light) crust and it comes out awesome every time!

Whole Wheat Bread
Ingredients:
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tablespoon granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1 cup Whole wheat flour
5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Directions:
If you have a stand mixer, mix the yeast, salt and water. Attach the dough hook. If you don’t have a stand mixer, just mix this all together in a glass or metal bowl. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour. Once sifted, add flower to the wet ingredients. Again, stand mixer with dough hook is easiest (on speed 2), but a spoon works just fine too. Once combined, put a towel over the top of the bowl and place it in the oven, but don’t turn the oven on. It’s a great place to let dough rise because it isn’t bothered by the elements. Let dough rise for 2 hours. Once risen, sprinkle with flour and transfer to a storage dish. I like to use a Corningware dish I have because it has a glass lid to let the dough breathe, and because it’s the perfect size. Place in the fridge for up to 14 days. If you want to use it that day, leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes- it’s easier to use when the dough is cold.

Pizza
Ingredients:
A grapefruit size portion of dough
2 small red new potatoes, skin on and thinly sliced (or any small potato is fine)
6 large wild mushrooms such as chanterelles, shiitakes, porcini, portobellos, or oyster (I use baby bellas and lots of them- certainly more than six)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence (if you don’t have this, GO GET IT! It is totally worth it!)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (omit this if you are Vegan)
Cornmeal for covering pizza peel (I don’t actually have a pizza peel. I use a pizza stone and it works great!)

Pizza Stone

Directions:
Preheat oven to 550 degrees, or 500 if that is as high as your oven goes (like mine). Prep the toppings while the oven preheats, and wait until you are done with the toppings to roll out your dough.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan and saute the potatoes first for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the mushrooms and season with the herbes de Provance, salt and pepper (making sure to say “herbes de Provance” in an exaggerated French accent). Grab the dough, dusting it and the surface you plan to roll it out on, with flour. Shape into a ball and using a rolling pin, start to roll it out. Mine always ends up some strange shape and I don’t get ruffled by it because it’s pizza and as long as it tastes good, I don’t care what shape it is! Make the crust as thin as you like. I recently made it a little thicker than normal, and it wasn’t as great. A thin 1/8″ thick crust is best.

Cover your pizza stone with a solid layer of cornmeal to prevent sticking. Now, transferring from the rolling surface to the pizza stone is fun…just do whatever you need to do to get it there without tearing it. Distribute the toppings. I like to put the sun-dried tomatoes down first because when they are on top, they tend to burn.
Bake the pizza for 8-10 minutes and check for doneness. If the crust is not golden brown, turn it a little and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before cutting.

Here is what mine looked like pre-baking:

Delicious Mushroom Pizza!

Feel free to add what you like to the toppings.  I often add lots of garlic and red pepper flakes because I like it spicy!  I know this all sounded like a lot of work, but it really isn’t.  Make your bread early, or the day before you need it, and the rest is pretty speedy.

April 15, 2011. Tags: , , , . Baking, Food, Recipes. 2 comments.