Archive for January, 2011

Another Cleanse Down

The end! Today’s the last day of the second Community Cleanse. Yahoo, we made it! We can eat whatever we want …

Initially, I started The Healthy Junkie blog, not only to inspire others to be a little healthier, but also to help motivate myself get through a four-week cleanse. Some of you never started cleansing, some of you have cleansed for the past four weeks—and like me—some of you, have cleansed almost two months of the past three-and-a-half months. Wow, now that took some effort! Cleansing this much has felt more like a serious kick-in-the-pants lifestyle change.

My addiction to restaurants has certainly subsided and sugar cravings are a thing of the past. I didn’t go back to caffeine after the first cleanse because for the first three weeks, without my one cup of coffee per day, I was a complete yawn to be around. It took a long time for some sort of personality to finally emerge from the depths of caffeine-free Laura. So, I switched to decaffeinated soy lattes in-between cleanses. I hope to never re-experience dull, lackluster Laura again. After the first cleanse, I also ceased the mad stocking of the fridge with loads of cheese—my usual go-to snack. Instead I eat cheese on special occasions and at the many Napa wine and cheese events.

But I must admit I’m pretty excited to have that cheese partnered with a glass of wine this week. So imagine my surprise when my husband said, “You know, I think I’m going to continue the cleanse for the next seven weeks, until my sister’s wedding. I swear the cleanse is doing away with my chronic sinusitis. Plus,” he winked, “I’m going to look hot—get on my beach body for their destination wedding.”  

We’ll see how this works out – seven extra weeks is a long time. Of course, I support him one-hundred percent but I don’t intend to completely join in. I’m definitely having wine and cheese this week—for sure.

I’m a little scared to come completely off the cleanse. This time around I’ve incorporated regular exercise and I don’t see how this mixes well with slight hangovers (these days, I seem to get hung over after only a few glasses of wine). I’m no longer going to have the excuse, “I’m cleansing” to avoid the social implications of socializing. I guess I’m going to have to reevaluate what moderation means to me. I haven’t eaten processed, hydrogenated, refined food or white sugar for years and years (these non-foods weren’t conducive to healing tumors, so it became habit to avoid them). I mostly limit white flour to baguettes eaten in restaurants. So I guess, through process of elimination, alcohol is the non-cleanse friendly line item I’m going to have to contend with in my quest to continue to feel great.

Happy last day of The Community Cleanse cleansers!  

The Healthy Junkie’s Community Potluck is tonight, January 31st, 2011 at the Main Napa Library (580 Coombs Street, Napa, CA) from 6:30-8:00 in the Community Room. Many of you live far away—I wish you could all be here in person. All cleansers and non-cleansers are invited. If you can attend, please bring a cleanse-friendly dish that does not incorporate processed/refined or hydrogenated foods, sugar, white flour, dairy, caffeine, or alcohol. The event will begin promptly at 6:30 and end at 8:00. The room is not equipped with an oven or stove. So, your dish should be ready to serve. Please also bring serving utensils. Hope to see many of you there!

Yes You Can!

Three weeks down, less than one to go until The Community Cleanse is finished.  We can so do this!  In combination with this cleanse, and as part of my New Year’s Revolution, I decided to join the gym.  This morning I went to “boot camp” class.  Normally I do spinning.  I feel more comfortable with my form on a bike than jumping up and down doing burpees.  Elizabeth Champion teaches many classes and throughout them she yells, “YES YOU CAN.  OH YES YOU CAN.  YOU CAN DO THIS.  CAN YOU PUSH HARDER?” 

One thing I’ve realized through attending exercise classes regularly is that we get out of them what we put in.  Our efforts pay off in rewards later.  But in the excruciating moments, it’s not always easy to do our best, push ourselves as hard as we can.  This morning the ongoing banter in my mind went something like this, “Wow.  I really should’ve gotten up earlier and ate more for energy.  I should’ve had more sleep last night.  God, I’m so out of breath.  I might not make it through to the end of this class.”  And then Elizabeth startles me and shouts, “THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EASY.” 

Our negative minds can also be applied to our cleanse, “Wow.  I should’ve gotten up earlier, now I’m not prepared and I’ll have to eat whatever I can find for lunch at work today.  I should’ve slept more last night, I’m going to need coffee to make it through this meeting.  God, I’m out of breath – out of steam, if I had one bite, just one bite, of that chocolate bar I’d make it through the day.  Seriously, I’m not sure I’m going to make it through to the end anyway, there’s that party this weekend and I’m probably going to drink.”  And then I hear her – my inner-Elizabeth chanting, “THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EASY.  YOU CAN DO THIS.” 

Are you pushing yourself as hard as you can on The Community Cleanse?  Are you doing as much as you can to derive the benefits from this cleansing time?  Can you add more greens to your diet?  Have you tried kale, Swiss chard, dandelion greens, arugula, collard greens and spinach?  Are you incorporating Superfoods into the mix?  Have you been ingesting organic apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon in your water every morning upon rising?  Are you eating enough fiber like flax meal, chia seeds, oat bran, legumes, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and millet?  Are you reading ALL labels to ensure you’re avoiding sugar (with all its misleading names), white flour, processed/hydrogenated foods, caffeine, dairy and alcohol? 

I want to reap the rewards from this cleanse.  I want the healthy pay-off for all my efforts.  My voice screams, “THERE’S NO GIVING UP NOW.  THERE’S NO ROOM FOR CHEATING.  THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EASY.  I CAN DO MORE.  I CAN FINISH THIS.”

Happy cleansing everyone!

Candidiasis – What May Lurk Within

Photo of an illustration by Nelson Dewey from the book "Eating Alive" by Dr. Jonn Matsen N.D.

Photo of an illustration by Nelson Dewey from the book "Eating Alive" by Dr. Jonn Matsen N.D.

You have yeast.  “What?” You ask.  You have fungus.  “What?” You scream.  Well we all have yeast and fungus.  It’s just they’re supposed to live in harmony with other bacteria in our bodies.  But many of us are a little to a lot out of whack.  According to Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing, “Candida Albicans is a type of parasitic yeast like fungus that inhabits the intestines, genital tract, mouth, esophagus and throat.”  Candida Albicans is the most common species of yeast related to Candidiasis. 

This yeast like fungus can multiply out of control and voyage from the gut through the blood wreaking havoc on our immune systems causing all sorts of complaints and discomforts.  The list of ailments related to Candidiasis seem endless; fatigue, IBS, dizziness, bad breath, insomnia, yeast infections, vaginitus, ear infections, constipation, depression, lethargy, moodiness, loss of memory, rectal itching, joint and muscle pain, bloated, blurred vision, severe sugar cravings, arthritis, chronic heartburn, itchiness, cankers, sinusitis, thrush, athletes foot, the list goes on.

Photo of a drawing for "Eating Alive" by Dr. Jonn Matsen N.D.

Photo of an illustration by Nelson Dewey from the book "Eating Alive" by Dr. Jonn Matsen N.D.

Once it takes root, this persistent bugger won’t give way without a valiant effort on our part.  Candida can spread and thrive for years until we’re finally sick enough to complain about it.  There are many ways to throw our intestinal bacteria balance out of kilter; prolonged or repeated use of antibiotics, large amounts of sugar or alcohol ingested over time, oral contraceptives, HRT, corticosteroids, and chemotherapy.

Since many of us are already cleansing, I thought I’d talk about the anti-Candida diet and what it entails.  It’s not easy!  It’s much harder to follow than The Community Cleanse, but it works.  I did my time on the Candida Cleanse when I was sick.  It requires that we stick to it pretty much 100% for it to be truly effective.    

Candida Diet:

Foods to Avoid:

  • Sugar (all sugar including cane sugar, glucose, fructose, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup)
  • Grains containing gluten – no wheat (no white  flour of whole wheat, including pastas made with durum semolina), oats, barley, or rye
  • Corn (read labels because, like sugar and wheat, corn is in LOTS of foods)
  • Processed and refined foods (luncheon meats, hydrogenated, color, preservatives, food additives, MSG, nitrites, nitrates, all fast food chains)
  • Dairy (plain yogurt with nothing else added is okay)
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine (including coffee, black teas, chocolate, cacao)
  • White rice (eat brown rice)
  • Pork
  • Red meat
  • Soy
  • Peanuts, pistachios
  • Vinegar (apple cider vinegar is okay)
  • Mushrooms
  • No table salt (use sea salt)
  • Limit fruit (only 1-2 pieces of non-sweet fruit per day).  Many proponents of the Candida diet omit fruit all together.  However, I’ve seen more people succeed by allowing 1-2 pieces.
    • No fruit juice
    • No dried fruit
  • No active yeast, or Brewer’s yeast (inactive) – e.g. no yeast in any breads
  • Artificial sweeteners (including Splenda, aspartame and so on)

Foods to Include:

  • LOTS of vegetables
  • Fiber – like oat bran, flax meal, and chia seeds
  • Non-sweet fruit limited to 1-2 pieces per day – green apples, grapefruit, berries, (this is seriously limited)
  • Grains and flours made from quinoa, millet, buckwheat, spelt, amaranth, and brown rice
  • Quality protein – free-range, wild, organic meats like chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs
  • Drink herbal teas; dandelion, milk thistle, astragulus, and green tea is okay
  • Put apple cider vinegar or lemon in your water at least twice per day.  You can also mix lemon, cayenne and ginger in water.
  • Use organic, first pressed extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil for cooking
  • Eat fresh, raw nuts and seeds like almonds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, pecans, sesame seeds, pine nuts.  Make sure they’re fresh, rancid nuts carry mold. 
  • Stevia can be used to sweeten food. 
  • Use sea salt

Supplements:

Photo of a drawing for "Eating Alive" by Dr. Jonn Matsen N.D.

Photo of an illustration by Nelson Dewey from the book "Eating Alive" by Dr. Jonn Matsen N.D.

Supplements are also used to kill Candida and reintroduce the good bacteria.  You can purchase a Candida cleanse supplement kit or take caprylic acid, grapefruit seed extract, a multi-vitamin, essential fatty acids, acidophilus / probiotics, digestive enzymes, B-vitamins (at least 100mg), quercetin and vitamin C.  Low levels of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D are also found in those with Candidiasis.

Since I’ve already had the pleasure of experiencing the Candida Cleanse (many times over), I’ve decided to stick with The Community Cleanse for now.  However, I no longer show signs of systemic Candidiasis.  If you’re interested in a more challenging cleanse or have a barrage of the complaints listed above, you might want to step it up a notch.  

Happy cleansing!

Sources:

Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing; Balch M.D., James, Balch C.N.C., Phyllis; Avery Publishing Group; New York; 1993.

Eating Alive – Prevention Thru Good Digestion; Dr. Matsen N.D., Jonn; Crompton Books, Ltd.; Vancouver, B.C.; 1987.

Dragon Rice Bowl

I’ve been going to my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Toronto for about fifteen years now.  Whenever I go back to visit my family in the Toronto-area I begin planning, en-route, which day I’ll eat at Fresh Restaurant

Last night I made the Dragon Rice Bowl from the cookbook “refresh” written by the owner, Ruth Tal.  There are a few steps involved, but it’s well worth the effort.  The only thing I added was broccoli.  After a few bites, Jay said, “I think this is the best meal you’ve ever made.”  Jay says this every time we make a dish with varying kinds of miso gravy.  I could put miso gravy on bricks and he would say, “Wow.  This is delicious.”  

Happy Cleansing!

DRAGON RICE BOWL — Serves 4

 Ingredients

  • 1 large zucchini, sliced diagonally
  • 1 bunch of broccoli – medium florets
  • Tomatoes, sliced thickly
  • Marinated tofu steaks – see below
  • Cooked brown basmati rice
  • Miso gravy – see below
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Green onions, chopped
  • Brown sesame seeds, toasted

Method

  1. Cook 3 cups brown basmati rice according to instructions on the stove or in a rice cooker.  
  2. Grill the zucchini, tomatoes and tofu steaks in the oven at medium to high heat (I broiled them at 500 degrees F), until lightly browned.
  3. Steam the broccoli until bright green and crisp.
  4. Put 1 ½ cups of cooked brown basmati rice in a large bowl.
  5. Pour one 4-ounce ladle of warm Miso Gravy over the rice.
  6. Arrange the grilled vegetables, broccoli and Tofu Steaks around the inner edges of the bowl.
  7. Put chopped cilantro and green onions on the Miso Gravy at the centre of the bowl.
  8. Garnish with toasted brown sesame seeds.  Repeat for each serving.

Marinated Tofu Steaks

Ingredients

  • 1 block tofu (I used sprouted extra firm tofu)
  • 2 tsp. coriander, ground
  • 4 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ cup tamari
  • 2 cups filtered water

Method

  1. Cut the square block of tofu into ¼-inch-thick slices diagonally into triangles.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over the tofu triangles.  Marinate for 1 hour.  Store in a sealed container in the fridge.  Keeps up to 5 days.  (You can reuse this liquid for additional tofu if wanted).

Miso Gravy

Miso is high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals.  Miso is high in the trace minerals zinc, manganese and copper.  

Inactive yeast is used in this recipe and is also called nutritional yeast, or Brewer’s yeast.  It’s high in all vitamins and minerals.  It boosts high levels of chromium, selenium, all B vitamins including B12 and protein.  It’s yellow and often found in the bulk section at health food stores.    

Ingredients

  • 4 ½ tbsp. spelt flour
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¾ cup inactive/nutritional yeast (powder or flakes, Engevita is a popular brand)
  • 1 ½ vegetable stock
  • ¾ cup sunflower oil
  • 1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp. miso paste, light or dark (I used brown rice miso paste)
  • ¾ tsp. sea salt

Method

  1. Put spelt flour, garlic powder, and inactive yeast in a sauce pan over low heat.  Whisk in the vegetable stock to make a paste. 
  2. Let this come to a boil and simmer for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the oil, mustard, miso, salt to the ingredients in the saucepan.  Whisk until everything is incorporated and the mixture is smooth.  Serve hot.

Survey

I’m often asked, “How many people are participating in The Community Cleanse?” 

I respond, “I don’t know exactly, but I figure we’re about seventy or more participating in this January cleanse.” 

So, in an effort to ascertain the number of participants, I’ve put together The Healthy Junkie survey.  Please fill it out (cleansers and non-cleansers) by clicking on the icon on the top-right that reads “Take the Survey”.  It’s been designed to help us reconnect to our goals and will provide me with more information on how we’re all doing.  It’s anonymous and should only take a few minutes.

Happy cleansing, in remembrance of the honorable Martin Luther King, Jr.!

Why Cleanse – Part 2 of 2

After posting Why Cleanse – Part 1 a few days ago, I felt a little better.  The knowledge that The Community Cleanse is helping my body move away from a more acid environment, into a more balanced state, kept me sane at last night’s dinner party.  Not once did I snatch and chug the wine from the non-cleansers wine glasses.   But it never hurts to be further reminded because sometimes I still wonder – why the heck am I avoiding all this again? 

We eliminate sugar from the diet, in all its forms including; cane sugar, glucose, fructose, corn syrup and others, to allow the body a break from artificial energy.  White sugar is void of all nutrients and has to steal vitamins and minerals from the body to be metabolized.  See, White Sugar – Hazardous so Beware.  See, The Fake, The Sweet, The Goat, and The “Chips” for a complete list of names for “sugar”.

Coffee is acidic and can irritate the stomach lining.  It pumps excess adrenaline into the blood that can result in tension, irritation and mood swings.  Regular intake of caffeine can lead to a deficiency of calcium and B vitamins in the body.  See, Coffee Break.  

Most every cleanse involves eliminating dairy.  Dairy’s a difficult food for most of us to digest and if we’re unable to digest a food, the vitamins and minerals are not available for our cells to utilize.  Dairy can also create chronic inflammation, digestive issues, bloating, gas, pain and mucus build up.  According to the book Allergies Disease in Disguise by Carolee Bateson-Koch DC ND, “Milk is the number one allergic food.  An estimated thirty-three million Americans are allergic to milk.”  See, Dairy – Oh Cheese, I’m Going to Miss you.

For all of us gum chewers or diet-food eaters, aspartame and sucralose are highly toxic and should never be used as a sugar replacement.  Aspartame is known to increase nervous system dysfunction and promote multiple sclerosis, birth defects and many different types of cancers.  Aspartame breaks down to formaldehyde in the body and alters cellular DNA.  Best to avoid this one on and off the cleanse.  See, The Fake, The Sweet, The Goat, and The “Chips”.

Now for my favorite – alcohol, equals fun.  Unfortunately there are a few negatives when discussing alcohol.  One glass of wine (five ounces), one beer (twelve ounces), or one glass of hard liquor (one ounce) doesn’t seem to have an impact.  But ingesting three or more glasses can depress our immune systems by depleting the number of white blood cells and killer t-cells in our systems.  Not so fun!  How many ounces in my martini?  Alcohol is also acidic and can cause stomach problems, cankers and chronic acid reflux.  Excessive consumption, three or more drinks imbibed often (like many nights of the week) may result in nutritional deficiencies.  This is the main reason I take supplements – kidding! 

Again I’m reminded about why I’m cleansing and forcing myself to take a break.  I get to put a little distance between me and some of my “habits” like coffee, cane sugar inspired brownies, and cheese.  After all it’s not like our stored wines are going to go bad in four weeks. 

Happy cleansing!

http://www.elc.org.uk/pages/healthimmunesystem.htm

Why Cleanse – Part 1 of 2

Why are we doing this Community Cleanse again?  Why am I avoiding coffee, sugar, dairy, white flour, alcohol and processed and hydrogenated foods for a whole four weeks?  Anyone? 

I woke up this morning really wanting coffee, even though it’s been awhile since I had coffee.  After the last cleanse, I was so impressed with how strongly addicted I was to coffee that I switched to decaf.  I knew this January cleanse was on the horizon and I couldn’t fathom the thought of another three-week episode entitled, “try and find your fun personality without caffeine”.   

So back to the initial question, why cleanse?  Why put ourselves through all this; the parties without alcohol; the “wine tasting” events without the wine tasting; the brown rice crackers without cheese; the coffee dates without coffee; life without the sweetness of sugar; reading labels to find I can’t eat most everything because it’s laden with white flour or some kind of sugar?

Well luckily I’m already feeling a difference in my body after a week and a half.  Once again, I’m reminded of what it feels like to eat and drink clean for days in a row, without the stimulants of alcohol, sugar and caffeine.  I’m also more regular, something I thought I’d share even though we don’t always talk openly about it.  Sure I’ve had a few days of dizziness and feeling low on energy, but I attribute this to my body changing its chemistry, its barometer.  After all, It’s not every week I forego all alcoholic beverages, omit coffee – completely, avoid sugar like the plague, deny myself the baguette and say “no please” to cheese.

All of the elements we avoid during the cleanse are acid-forming foods.  When our bodies are overly acidic, our organs can’t function optimally and we set the stage for dis-ease in the body.  I write dis-ease instead of disease because most of us don’t have a full-blown disease, just some sort of ailment that’s uncomfortable like; digestive issues, low energy, skin eruptions, colds, joint pain, gas and bloating, acid reflux, and so on.    

Simply avoiding acidic elements, like white flour and sugar, helps our systems to rest and recharge.  We hopefully eat more alkalizing foods like vegetables and fruits.  Adding apple cider vinegar, fresh lemon or wheatgrass powder to water helps speed this along.  Incorporating Superfoods can also help push acidity from the body.

So I’m reminded of why I’m cleansing, and the urge to drink coffee did fleet quickly away this morning.  There may be more temptations coming, but I’m committed to allowing my body this break, a healthy recalibration. 

Happy cleansing everyone!