We are now into week 4- our last week of the spring cleaning/weeding/eliminating phase of our spring plan! And I want to share with you a new find in the supermarket- flaxmilk!! I am always on the lookout for healthy milk alternatives and so far I have not found any I really like. It is getting harder and harder to find unsweetened ones - and I have never been a fan of soymilk. But flaxmilk- by a company called Karma- is really good! Creamy- 8 g of plant protein per cup and 1200 mg of healthy omega-3. Look for it! The other thing that has helped me through these past weeks is sipping on bone broth when I get home - before dinner. Helps control the hunger and although I confess it does not exactly replace a glass of wine - it is good.
Many of you may be thinking - now what? If you have a copy of Mullin's book Gut Balance Revolution- and you have read ahead- you know that the next stage is to "replant" our gardens with healthy bacteria that will live happily in our guts and help to keep us well and balanced.
If you don't feel you have really stuck to this plan, have not lost weight and don't feel in general lighter and healthier- you might want to think about giving it another couple of weeks- and really really stick to it! Whatever you decide- give these next few days a solid effort- and more will follow as we start adding foods back next week!
We are coming to the end of week 3 - and finally here on the east coast- it is maybe - just maybe - starting to look like we are coming out of this really cold period! All the flowers are blooming- the sun was even out today- it looked right but sadly still did not feel right. 40 degrees with 30 mph winds...ugh! But the green market vendors come to market...and I feel almost obligated to go and see them. Local produce is not great yet - but there is wonderful sustainable and VERY FRESH fish - and some really good greens. Dinner tonight: got some great Hake - a whitefish much like cod or haddock - but less expensive. Marinate it with a little sesame oil and minced ginger. Then bake at 400 for 10 minutes and if you like the top a little crispy - broil for 3 or 4. Done. Top with some peeled ginger and sliced green onions. Serve on a bed of sauteed spinach - add some brown rice if you want! Yum- for me- I get it - I do love this style of eating. I do know that many of you have families to cook for and for most of you this won't cut it.
So- Please - send me your questions-
do you have a family recipe that you would like to tweak a little? Lighten up a little?
send it to me and let's see what we can do with it!
For all of you who have been following this-
we are moving into our last week- and then we start adding things back and start to develop our plan for life! Or at least for the next few years!!
Now that we are more than half way through our spring cleaning plan- you may find that you are either missing bread less - or maybe more! Although the highly processed breads and crackers that many of us got rid of at the start of this journey should probably never come back into your regular diets- there are some really really good breads out there that will come back! In the meantime - while we are still removing gluten from our bodies here are a couple of good substitutes for things like avocado "toast", nut butter spreads - almost anything else you would want to put on bread. A go-to favorite of mine is the brown rice cake - a circle of puffed brown rice - that's it! Lundberg is a good brand - a mere 60 calories for 1 rice cake, no sugar, 1 g of fiber. All good and pretty satisfying! Today I found another good option- Norwegian Crispbread quinoa wholegrain crispbreads. Made by Sigday bakery - all good ingredients 2 g of fiber and 0 sugar. These are NOT a low-calorie bread at 130 calories/crispbread but they are packed with healthy nutrients and totally gluten free. So next time you shop- check these out!
It has been beautiful weather here both yesterday and today- maybe Spring might finally get here! But tomorrow will be cool and wet again- so maybe a good day to cook. I am starting to post useful recipes - both for the spring cleaning plan- but for other times too! These recipes will be posted under the general blog page. Check it out for a really easy way to prepare chicken breasts- or thighs - cook once and have them on hand all week!
Prepare a batch of quinoa, roast some vegetables and either keep separate or add to the quinoa and you have lunch to go! If you want to do this for dinner- add a green salad- some good olive oil, splash of vinegar- and voila!
Congratulations! You are almost through week 2- and hopefully by now you are in the groove of this spring cleaning! It looks like we are finally in for some real spring weather- so this weekend should be a great time to get outside and take a walk and look for signs of spring! What flowers are out? How does the air feel? Such a lovely time of year!
And think about doing some batch food prep to help with the next 2 weeks. Yes- just 2 weeks to go and we can move into a new phase! So think about preparing a big batch of roasted or steamed vegetables - if you want to roast- just cut up some low FODMAP veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, colorful peppers, toss with olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Roast at 450 for 20 minutes, turn and roast another 15-20 minutes more depending on whether you like them more or less cooked. Store in the fridge or mix with a batch of quinoa while still warm for a great veggie/quinoa salad. When ready to eat - top with some avocado, add some cooked chicken, salmon, tuna or shrimp and you have a great lunch or dinner.
Check back here daily for a new recipe each day to add some diversity to your next couple of weeks. And if anyone has come up with a new recipe or spring cleaning idea that is working for you- please share in a comment!!
Week 1 of our Spring Cleaning is coming to an end and tomorrow we start week 2. How has it gone for you? Are you the kind of person who jumps in with both feet and sticks to all the rules from day 1? Or are you the kind who tries it out- gradually removing the sugar, alcohol, starchy carbs, processed foods - most dairy and all gluten? Adding in LOTS of water, low FODMAP foods, mainly vegetables, nuts, fish? Whatever category you fit into- let's all aim to move into Week 2 with real purpose! Make sure your fridge is stocked with all your gut friendly foods. For me- I confess to being less than perfect this past week! But this morning after my workout I had a vanilla whey shake with unsweetened coconut milk, 1 Tbs of chia seeds, 1 Tbs of ground cinnamon - and a small bowl of melon. Coffee- black- and water.
Feels great! And - here's a tip for a possible late afternoon "slump" - try sipping some organic broth! Even add some chopped spinach or kale to give it a bit more substance- it really helps!
I would love to hear from you - and happy cleaning!
We have mentioned FODMAPS - and the importance of eating foods that are low FODMAP during these weeks of spring cleaning. But what are they?? FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, and Monosaccharides and Polyols. These terms refer to foods that are all short chain carbohydrate structures- with one (mono), two (di) or other (oligo) sugars linked together. Polyols are actually sugar alcohols - a sugar attached to an alcohol. Some are naturally occurring but most of these get into our diet as part of artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol. For us to be able to absorb these sugars we need the enzymes to break them to individual units and/or transport them and the ability to do this can be vary variable. For example, many people lack the enzyme lactase which is the enzyme necessary to break down lactose in milk (a disaccharide). These sugars become fermentable because they often pass unabsorbed, undigested through the small intestine to the large intestine- where our gut bugs feast on them, ferment them, and thus produce gas as well as a host of other problems, including abdominal pain and diarrhea. Of course, we can't cut out all FODMAPS - we do need to feed some of our bacteria making several of these foods are actually prebiotics - and feed our friendly bacteria. But in order to weed out our inner garden, a few weeks of eliminating high FODMAP foods will promote overall gut health - and then when carefully added back can be evaluated for each of us as fine (no reaction) or problem (gas, bloating, abdominal symptoms. And since gluten and dairy foods are the two most commonly problematic - we will eliminate/severely limit these groups during these weeks. Download the attached file for low, medium, and high FODMAP foods. Think about which of these ever give you discomfort - and plan to stay away from the high FODMAP foods for the next weeks!
So far we have talked about what NOT to eat - so where does that leave us? As I mentioned yesterday these next weeks will emphasize clean, lean protein - with colorful vegetables and some fruits being the major source of carbohydrate, in addition to quinoa, oats and brown rice. There are some good gluten-free crackers and cereals available - so if you really really miss these forms of carbs see what you can find- just please read the labels really well since the gluten-free market has been overrun by foods that are so heavily processed they are just as harmful as their predecessors! For protein sources - almost all fish - NOT breaded and fried- is great. Shark, swordfish, and king mackerel tend to have higher mercury so best to avoid - but most wild-caught seafood is great. For meats- please look for organic, pasture (grass)-fed and humanely raised poultry (no skin), as well as the more lean cuts of meat- beef, lamb, pork. Nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, natural (nothing added) nut butters , can also add great protein and healthy fat. In this regard, experiment with adding chia seeds to all sorts of foods. These little seeds are LOADED with healthy, anti-inflammatory fats and antioxidants, and lots of soluble fiber- even though it is considered a low FODMAP food- we will get to FODMAPS tomorrow! And of course almost ALL vegetables - no white potatoes please and of course nothing fried! But- try thinking about adding vegetables even to your breakfast! Just because it does not LOOK like breakfast does not mean it can't get your day off to a great start. Think of a poached egg on some steamed spinach- maybe add a little hot sauce! or a slice of swiss cheese and tomato rolled in a lettuce leaf. For something more traditional, try some natural nut butter on a sliced green banana! These type of breakfasts, or a whey protein shake with berries and nuts - maybe add in a little avocado, a Tbs of chia seeds - are all great. Best bet for lunches and dinners are salads - think healthy protein, some cheese (like feta, swiss, parmesan- not too much!) over raw or steamed greens. Finish it off with an orange or some berries or melon, green tea. For a snack try some salsa mixed with mashed avocado and celery, bell pepper sticks; olives; nuts; or even some celery sticks with a Tbs of natural nut butter. And if you want something sweet at night- here is one of my favorites- get some lovely red grapes- wash them and let dry. Then freeze on a baking sheet. When frozen transfer to a freezer bag - for a wonderful cold dessert or snack!
Welcome to Week 1 of our 4 week spring cleaning plan! By now hopefully you have cleared out the sugar and starchy carbs - and all other processed foods. During the next 4 weeks we will follow a plan that emphasizes clean protein and lower carbohydrate over all, which will also help us move into a more fat-burning mode for energy- and weight loss- as well as helping to weed our inner gardens. The next food group to think seriously about is dairy. This can be a very controversial topic! There are many people who have difficulty digesting lactose - and for those individuals the undigested lactose can cause bloating, gas, lots of discomfort and fuel our less healthy bugs. Fermented dairy however - yogurt, kefir- has lots of healthy bacteria and are considered probiotic foods. For this initial phase- because the goal is to weed the entire garden- it is best to limit- or even eliminate- yogurt. However- if you NEVER have discomfort with dairy - feel free to reduce the yogurt - and I mean plain 2% or full fat yogurt only- slowly. Instead- and especially for breakfast- think of adding in eggs and whey protein (preferably from grass-fed cows). Whey protein can make a great shake and can replace yogurt as a topping for berries and nuts! The next installment will cover what foods to start emphasizing and a basic meal plan.
Finally - drink LOTS of water. Coffee is also fine- but green tea is best!
As we start this very busy and for many of us celebratory weekend- here are a couple of more things to think about for the start of the program next week. Now that you have identified all the sources of sugar in your life, the next to go for next week is yet another form of sugar- the starchy carbohydrates. These are the breads, cereals, rolls, cakes, cookies that are mostly processed and very easily converted to sugar once eaten. Especially when they are made of refined, processed white flours! You don't need to say goodbye to breads and other grains forever - except for these white, highly processed ones, but for this first month we will be cutting these out. In addition, white rice and white potatoes are in the "out" category for now. The removal of the breads, etc and most grain products will greatly reduce the gluten load in the diet. Now- most of us are not truly gluten sensitive - but for this period it will be worthwhile seeing how you feel without it!
And- one other thing - alcohol. This is something else that will be added back- especially in the form of red wine- up to a glass (5-6 oz)/day - but for now it will be helpful to try for a month without it at all! So everyone please enjoy your holidays - whatever you celebrate- and look toward next week!