Better Breakfast Smoothies

As I’ve mentioned before, I intend to do a cleanse many times a year. Seasonally, I will get the urge to detox, get distracted by something sparkly (and/or a doughnut), and move on. The urge to cleanse is strongest around this time of year; with all the rich foods, booze, sweets, booze, cheese, booze, etc., I feel like I need to spend a few days in a sweat lodge consuming nothing but water and wheatgrass juice to get rid of all the poison. I could practice moderation and not buy a half-gallon thing of peppermint ice cream knowing I’ll eat it all. I could also avoid the white fudge covered Oreos entirely but I’m obviously not going to because they are LIMITED EDITION and who knows when they’ll ever be sold again?! I could even pass on the various cheese balls, logs, plates, and so forth but, come on, cheese is delicious – it is the number one reason I gave up being vegan long ago. That and hot dogs. Anyway, my point is – holiday food is super-tasty and I am going to eat it all and wash it down with a poinsettia so I need to do something daily(ish) to counteract the abnormally high levels of shit I’ll have in my system between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

Enter green smoothies, hot yoga, and apple cider vinegar drink.

Green smoothies are amazing for all kinds of reasons – mostly because you get a huge serving of nature’s little scrub brushes into one quick drink hidden beneath the taste of yogurt, fruit, honey, and whatever else you decide to throw in. Lately, I’ve really been enjoying the following combination:

1 cup (ish) packed baby spinach
1 cup (ish) frozen blueberries
1 cup green tea (brew 1 tea bag in 1/2 cup boiling water for 5 minutes, remove tea bag and add ice)
1/4-1/2 cup plain Kefir
Local Honey to taste
before
I blend all this up using an immersion blender (the most amazing kitchen appliance EVER – thank you Mom and Dad!) and it is ready to go in minutes with minimal effort and clean up required. Greens are good for everything – they are rich in iron, potassium, phytonutrients, and vitamins E, C, and K which means they improve your skin, your immune system, your heart, your bones, and they help get things moving through your digestive system so you can make room for more artery-clogging cheeses. I used spinach because it’s what we’ve had around the house lately, but you can use any dark, leafy, green you like. The blueberries are rich in fiber, vitamin C, and magical antioxidants which fight free-radicals, help you age gracefully, and prevent various diseases. Allegedly. The green tea does all those wonderful things PLUS it gives you a pleasant little caffeine boost to help get rid of any hang-over related head-aches you may have. The kefir (I really wish they’d change that name) contains lots of friendly bacteria and yeast to help balance and maintain a healthy environment in your colon. It can even, supposedly, help reduce flatulence. Although, drinking it in combination with lots of fruits and veggies probably won’t have that effect. Local honey not only helps sweeten this delicious dish, it helps strengthen your immune system, too.
after
It turned our more purple than green, but that’s OK. As magical as green/purple smoothies are, they aren’t going to handle all the nasty business of cleansing my system of holiday funk alone. So, I started going to hot yoga again after many, many months off and it is even more amazing than I remember. After class, I feel like my body has been completely wrung out. I’m sure the rest of the class feels that way, too – I sweat even more than one might expect while doing yoga in a 100+ degree room. It really is almost alarming. But, when class is over, I feel clean inside and out. Granted, everything is sore and I’ve been walking funny as a result, but that will pass.

Finally, the apple cider vinegar drink. Not as delicious as the green smoothie. Not even close. BUT it does all these wonderful things and then some for your body. So, I’ve been mixing one shot (2 Tbsp) of the good stuff in my 32oz water bottle and drinking it over the course of the day. There are many other recipes online for more delicious apple cider vinegar tonics using honey or maple syrup, but I’m keeping it simple for now. It’s tart, but I’ve grown to like it.

It might just be a placebo effect, but it’s working for now.

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Better Friends

So, the solstice has come and gone and now it’s hot as balls. The closest I’ve gotten to any sort of cleanse has been taking a few days during the week to avoid alcohol before enjoying weekend merriment once again. The right time just hasn’t struck yet – I had 4 of my closest girlfriends in town over the solstice for a reunion/birthday/bachelorette celebration – detoxing prior to such an engagement would’ve been futile.

This particular group of lady-friends formed 7 years ago when we were all in our early 20’s studying abroad in Granada, Spain. We bonded over the same things most folks who study abroad bond over: wanderlust, self-discovery, home-sickness, and alcohol. We’ve managed to get together once or twice a year since we studied abroad together. The first reunion was only a few months after we all got back to the states – it was my 21st birthday and we decided to throw a party at my folks’ house. We constructed a giant slip-and-slide in the back yard which turned mildly dangerous when, after the contraption was deemed not slippery enough, we added dish-soap to the mix creating a foamy, eye-burning mess. My parents must have been so proud watching me get hammered in their back yard and slide around on plastic sheets repeatedly getting soap in my eyes three years into my college career.

We’ve gotten together many times since then in various places and we typically wind up sitting around, enjoying adult beverages, and reminiscing about the time Christine pulled a ham leg out of the trash outside the Cathedral and used it as a mic to interview randos on the street about their views on abortion rights, or the time most of us decided it’d be a good idea to go to the beach for the weekend with dudes we’d just met and were all perfectly ok getting in the back of a white, windowless van with no seats – the exact kind you imagine sexual predators drive around in – to get there. In the e-mails planning this reunion, we all claimed we didn’t do much drinking anymore and that we’d like to get a run or two in over the weekend and maybe spend a day at the climbing gym. All bullshit. We didn’t get into to same kind of shenanigans we usually do – getting drunk and playfully harassing strangers – after all, one of the ladies is newly preggers. But we did spend the bulk of the weekend sitting in various establishments, drinking, and talking about everything from why (almost) all of us refuse to read Fifty Shades of Grey to what really happens to your nipples during pregnancy and, as always, what the hell we are all going to do with our lives next.

I certainly polluted my person with rich food and plenty of alcohol, but there is something cleansing about spending time with your true friends – with whom you can just let go. At least that’s what I’m telling myself for now to make me feel better about my failed (nonexistent) attempt at a cleanse. I’ll detox with Bikram yoga and plenty of wheatgrass juice one of these days, but today is not that day.

Better Detox

Every year since somewhere mid-college career, one of my many resolutions has been to complete some sort of cleanse seasonally. I have yet to complete any sort of cleanse. Ever. Unless, of course, you count those two times I got mono and survived off Jell-o and Sprite for a few weeks. I usually start strong, spending a lot of time Googling “detox” and whatnot but, then I remember I get awfully cranky when I’ve not been fed in a few hours and decide it’s in the best interest of everyone around me if I just continue eating whatever I want, whenever I want. Really, it wouldn’t be fair to my friends and family – I’m doing the right thing.

With the solstice approaching, I’ve decided it’s time to start the process of thinking about maybe doing a cleanse all over again. After doing some research, I’ve determined I need to just make up my own plan. My B.A. in Spanish and National Certification in Massage Therapy obviously qualify me to do such a thing. I have a few stipulations – most importantly: I must be able to eat for most of the cleanse. I must! So, the Master Cleanse and any juice fasts are out. My goal here is not weight-loss; it is giving my liver a well-deserved break from all the hard work it does for me so it can perform even better post-cleanse. Because, let’s be real here, my liver gets a pretty damn good work-out most of the time. The cleanse will be Ayurveda-based, (I found a great, 13-day plan in The Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook by Amrita Sondhi) focusing on gradually eliminating the more “toxic” foods from my diet and then slowly reintroducing them after a two-day siesta from solid food during which I will only drink water, which I can spice up with ginger and lemon to aid in detoxification if I’m feeling fancy.

BUT, I’m not ready for that shit yet. I’ve gotta get my mind right first. TWO WHOLE DAYS WITHOUT FOOD?! Besides, the solstice isn’t for another few weeks. So, today I decided to dip a toe in the detoxification pool and start my day with a little yoga. I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for about 10 years now, which is pretty sad given the current state of my practice. I know yoga is supposed to be all about accepting where you are in your practice and in your life and moving forward at your own pace and namaste and OM and BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, but, the perfectionist inside me is having a difficult time accepting the fact that I usedtocould hold a headstand for as long as I wanted and now I can’t quite get my toes off the ground. It did feel good to start my day with yoga again, though – even if I didn’t stop sweating till I got to work because, well, I’m a beast, and we still haven’t gotten around to breaking out the ole AC unit. Who am I kidding? The AC unit had nothing to do with it. Hopefully, over the course of the next few weeks, keeping up with the yoga and maybe even doing some meditating will prepare me for my first big-girl cleanse. One baby (crunchy hippie) step at a time.