Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Off the wagon

Friends, I fell off the wagon. There are certain times of year in a student activities office that it is physically impossible to eat healthfully. As finals approach, there is a steady flow of left over pizza, sandwiches, cupcakes, hummus platters, and cookies that appear and reappear in our office common area.  All left over food from all end of year celebrations end up in our office, and unfortunately the allure of free meals for a few weeks is just too tempting to turn down.  And so, I gave in, and ate pizza and chocolate chip cookies and croissant sandwiches. And here I am three weeks into May reluctantly pulling myself back up onto the wagon.  

Although I fell from my pristine diet, I did often find myself making the best choice possible, a plain slice instead of pepperoni, hummus in lieu of sliced deli meat. So, I will celebrate the small victory in my not too damaging fall.  To get myself excited about journeying back into the world of clean eating, I purchased a NutriBullet, and can I say it has been a great success! I have started the last two days with the most delicious "NutriBlasts" that are significantly less work than juicing, which I think will make this more sustainable than juicing, I hope. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

In Search of Savory

I think everyone in my life might be as sick of me talking about juicing as I am sick of myself.  But, I have successfully continued to juice for breakfast, and semi-successfully for lunch.  My lunch hurdle has been the challenge of feeling like I'm consuming quite a lot of sugar through my juices.  I have not graduated to straight up Spinach and Wheatgrass juice, and the apples and carrots used to make the spinach go down make a very sweet concoction. Delicious, but very sweet.

But, today, I think my wish for a savory juicing alternative may have been somewhat answered. This morning while perusing the Blog Serious Eats, I came across a post on the tea company Numi coming out with Savory Vegetable Teas (follow the hyperlink for the article.)  Much like the Serious Eats writer, my first reaction was gutteral and a bit grossed out, however, after reading through the tea-veggie combinations and her reviews, I think I might give it a try, after all Numi teas are organic and eco-concious.

Here is my official disclaimer: Vegetable teas are more than likely extremely limited in their nutrient delivery, especially in comparison to an afternoon juice, so I am not using it as a meal supplement, but as an accomplice to a small salad, or as Numi suggests an "Afternoon Snack".

Monday, April 1, 2013

Dinner with Kathy

When I explained to my father that I wanted a farm raised, organic lamb for Easter, one that the farmer took such good care of, he may even have named it, he brushed it off saying, "Yeah, yeah, this lamb is called Kathy." And, so, we ate little Kathy, marinated in rosemary.

Navigating Easter was much easier than I had anticipated, my parents were relieved that I had agreed to eat some meat, and so didn't pressure me when I only had one lamb chop.  I somehow completely avoided the jelly bean bowl, and in my moment of almost weakness, I quickly cut up an orange and placed it strategically between me and the jelly beans, shaming myself into the healthier option.  And today I feel good, I even woke up wanting my morning juice over the mountains of cakes and pastries left over from dessert.

Kathy at the dinner table.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Strife is O'er

It's Easter morning and the three day cleanse is over! Hallelujah! I am nervous about navigating the Easter Feast that is to come.  My family doesn't host a holiday dinner, they host holiday eating marathons.  We'll start with antipasto at 2pm, and continue with course after course until at least 8pm.  My parents have also purposely purchased all organic produce and organic, grass fed, hormone free meats all for me (or, really because of me).  Hopefully this won't create vast disappointment when I'm eating appropriate sized-portions, and limited meats.  Stayed tuned!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Juicehead, part 2

Carrot Apple Ginger Juice
When I decided to go on a Juice cleanse, visions of being an instant triathlete danced in my head.  My blood would be abundant with nutrients and I would be able to take on the world.

In reality, day one was a fog of headaches and mood swings, I did not feel like doing yoga or running a marathon, I felt like laying in bed with a blanket over my head.  I broke down and ate a salad and some whole fruits in the late afternoon.

Alongside the physical roadblocks, my family, who sincerely thought they were offering support, started criticizing my cleanse, concerned I was not getting enough protein and that I needed to eat some meat. My father, a Croatian man who is passionate about the craft of butchery as though he were the Mozart of meat, was surprisingly more supportive than my mother.  My mother, who is usually not the enabler, had a "get real" approach to my cleanse, as in, "get real, you can't stick to this for three days, eat something already."

But, to my surprise, I woke up on day two refreshed and revitalized. I had lost 5 pounds (which was not the point of this cleanse, but a welcomed fringe benefit), I was not starving as I thought I would be and I was excited for my morning juice.  Today is day three, and I'm even more motivated, and I feel that becoming a permanent juicer (if anything only for breakfast and lunch) is something I may seriously consider.

I will say, before I began my juice cleanse I did a lot of research on what I should be including in my daily juices, and I do not restrict the amount of juice I drink.  I'm drinking as much as I can throughout the day with plenty of water in between glasses.  It is not a juice fast by any means, I feel like I'm consuming a lot of fruits and vegetables, as you can see by the photo to the left!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Franciscan

This post has taken me quite a bit of time to write, and I actually think its quite appropriate. The weekend before last, I heard a Franciscan Monk speak about time. I don't typically spend my weekends pondering time with monks, but I was glad I had th opportunity and I was surprised by how much of what he said translated how I have begun to feel about food. He spoke at length about how time is one of the most valuable assets we have, and that it's the only thing we can never have more of, therefore, we have the opportunity to show what we truly value by how we spend our time. In thinking about this, though, I realized that I am definitely guilty of spending vast amounts of time on things I definitely don't care much about. I don't care very much about Millionaire Matchmaker, but I have no problem watching a 3 hour Patti Singer marathon on any given sunday evening. I do care about myself and my body, therefore, why was I less often spending time on my food?

Over the last few weeks, my biggest struggle has been the amount of time I now spend prepping food. It had been seeming like an extraordinary waste of time, and I don't just mean cutting and sauteeing vegetables. It's washing the mountain of cutting boards, utensils, jars and tupperware in the child size sink in my teeny apartment. It's thinking out the meals for the upcoming week to minimize waste, while still making sure I'm not eating the same salad every day for lunch (which, I have to admit I usually am). And also the time spent in the supermarket, checking the PLU numbers on vegetables to try to get organic when I can, if I can't find organic veggies, the time I spend researching which fruits and vegetables are ok to go non-organic if necessary and which ones you should always choose organic for. And sometimes the amount of time spent seems excruciating. I grew up in a household where we spent time on our food, but even my parents are surprised by this new focus.

But, as I imagine the Franciscan might agree, if I'm not going to spend my time keeping my body healthy, then what could possibly be more valuable to spend it on? And I certainly wouldn't want to give the Franciscan the impression that Bravo TV is more valuable.

So, I feel validated by the Franciscan's lesson on time. Perhaps I should spend some more time with the monks...but first I need to go wash some dishes...

Monday, March 4, 2013


We really drink shit in this country. I never thought much of my beverage consumption until I realized I had no options. Iced tea, sprite, diet coke, vitamin water. It doesn't really matter what you choose, they all have the same ingredient list! High fructose corn syrup, artificial flavor, artificial sweeteners, yellow no 5. And I've been trying to make the "healthiest choice" between these bottles for years. It sort of creates a helplessness, realizing that what you put into your body has already been chosen for you, masked by the illusion of options between label gilded bottles.

What has manifested by this lack of choice, is an intrigue in Juicing. Since the start of this crazy diet, I've thought about the health benefits of getting a juicer or a nutrabullet to make my own fruit/ veggie juice combos. Partially to end the tedium of day of water without end. I don't intend on becoming one of those juice cleanse, all I eat for breakfast is a wheatgrass shot, kind of juice head. But, there is something about a tall glass of glistening green juice that makes me think happy thoughts. And while juicing does remove most of the fiber in veggies and concentrate the sugars in fruits, there's something kind of beautiful in such a high concentration of nutrients packed into one place. And so, I took the plunge, stopped at a juice shop I passed as I walked home on saturday afternoon. I was overwhelmed and a bit intimidated by the row of refrigerated bottles, and the happy, informed, and people with gorgeous skin who worked the counter. But after weighing the anticipated taste and veggie content of each combo, I settled on two bottle. A deep pink confection romantically named "The Paris" that was a mixture of beets, carrots, apple, ginger, pineapple and pair as well as a short stouter bottle with w technical name that contained pineapple, ginger and wheatgrass. The Paris was absolutely delightful, rich in flavor, sweet and spicy from the ginger. The second bottle (shown here) was definitely more utilitarian, it was half the size, but took me twice as long to drink. Much more ginger, along with the earthy wheatgrass. After each one I felt full and satisfied, and happy. Which made me think, perhaps I could be one of those wheatgrass for breakfast kind of girls....but then i realized sometimes you really just want eggs.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Asking the hipster to leave
(or my failed relationship with kale).

Kale is that hipster in the ugly sweater we've all told ourselves we adore. Interesting and dark. A little tough. A little sensitive. Promotes biodiversity. Sticks around your fridge for way longer than he was invited. And quite frankly, he's a little bit of a jerk.

The last two days, I've dressed my Kale up and down, added some honey, balsamic it was ok, then tried it with cashews, red peppers and cheddar, then paired it up with sun dried tomatoes. But still, I find that it doesn't hold dressing quite like romaine and doesn't complement other veggies quite like spinach. I think its time we kick kale out of the party and make some room for the other leafy greens.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Butcher's Daughter

Since starting to eat clean, I've felt amazing. Digestive issues I didn't know I had have vanished, I have more energy, and my skin looks fabulous, however, there is one sacrifice I have made that has ignited a flicker of sadness in my heart. This is flicker is caused by the omission of one solitary item I am lacking in my diet -- a juicy, rare, meaty beef burger. Now, I do recognize that I have maybe but one burger every other month, but the thought of not being able to indulge in a thick, rare patty with cheese on a brioche bun on any given day has caused me much distress. For the most part, these days, I have almost completely eliminated meat from my diet for fear of what might lie within (see yesterday's post). But, as a butcher's daughter, meat has always been at the center of nearly every meal, it was my family's livelihood, and my earliest memories are in the back room of my dad's butcher shop happily playing with Barbie just a few feet down from the meat locker. Each time I've pondered going vegetarian, I could not face the disapproval that was sure to come from my father, as well as the horror of never having a burger again!

My pseudo-vegetarianism as of late, though, really comes from a lack of options at restaurants -- and a lack of an industrial meat grinder in my tiny two room apartment. If I'm going to eat beef, its going to be organic, anti-biotic free, grass fed and from the happiest, most well fed cow that ever grazed this earth. And last night, I dined at an organic carnivore's haven, Bareburger in NYC. Everything, from the burgers right down to their sodas and ketchup (ketchup!) are made in house and are GMO free, organic, anti-biotic free, and sustainable.

We started our evening with fries, spicy fried pickle spears and every dipping sauce you could ever want. It was absolutely delectable, and the pickles were encrusted in cornmeal, juicy, sweet and spicy. The burger was heaven, I had a grass feed, anti-biotic free bison burger topped with maple caramelized onions, applewood smoked bacon, avocado and pepper jack cheese -- clearly I went knee deep in burger. My one criticism would be on the construction of the sandwich, the toppings-to-burger ratio was way off in a way that made it difficult to eat. I was not lacking for burger at all, but avocado became the casualty of my inferior jawline. But it was not a bad problem to have. The all natural, organic house-made sodas were also sweet and fresh tasting and had no added coloring or preservatives. I will definitely be dragging friends here soon!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Horse Meat

After reading on Serious Eats that a number of other vendors (Including Burger King and Ikea) have recalled their beef (including those delicious little meatballs!) after being found containing high percentages of horse meat. Here's the link which includes two other food-policy related highlights.

The article goes to state that they traced this meat back to a plant in Ireland. And I've decided, I don't want to eat meat that has to be "traced." I've been feeling removed from my food, and perhaps that is what has mostly sparked this desire to change what I'm eating. In my home, food is how we bond and care for one another. Its something personal and deeply engrained in tradition, and often times, you're only as good as the last meal you cooked. But the traditions we have are rooted in a time when we took care of our food and knew exactly where it came from. My grandmother in Croatia still tends her own chickens and grows her own potatoes and asparagus. When its time to you, you slaughter the hen and dig in the yard. Food didn't have a connecting flight with a 3 hour layover to get to your table; it was in your backyard.

Now I don't intend by any means to turn my tiny Manhattan apartment into a chicken coop, but I want to start relationships with the farmers. I met a man who raises cattle upstate, and he looked so proud as he spoke about his cows and the different cuts of meat he had brought with him to the farmer's market. There was no horse meat in his cooler.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Coming Clean

It has been 2 weeks, 2 days and about 17 hours since I decided to go clean (but who's counting?) And the journey, so far, has not been as emotionally or mentally challenging as I thought it would be.

This life change of mine was catalyzed by a documentary I stumbled upon on Netflix while searching for cooking shows. The documentary (Fresh) focused on the food industry in America and how our vegetables are altered and the animals we eat are kept in filth and pumped up with antibiotics to keep them alive. I started to do some research, and the more I read, the more I realized I needed to take charge of what I put into my body.

So here I am, taking charge and making changes, and sharing my journey and any knowledge I pick up along the way.