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  • How To: Start Eating Clean + Feeling Awesome Again!

    How To: Start Eating Clean + Feeling Awesome Again!

    A few weeks ago, I sent my top five tips for transitioning to cleaner eating to the fine folks over at Jule's Wellness, an awesome Canadian wellness company on a mission to help you feel healthy, strong, and more conscientious in your life. (Love their stuff! I've got my eye on their monthly subscription box!)

    Eating "clean" isn't nearly as complicated as you might think, but with all the different points of view and diets out there, it's easy to get overwhelmed and confused! I know I used to be. 

    It took getting sick (asthma, IBS, allergies, acid reflux, relentless colds), taking a bunch of meds that didn't work, and feeling hopeless, for me to finally find my way.

    And I'm still learning every day! But that's, I'm quite confident, how it's supposed to be.

    The secret?

    There really is no one-size-fits-all diet. Not in my book, anyway. We are all individuals with unique bodies and needs, so it only makes sense that we would need to take a similar approach when it comes to food!

    Here, I'm breaking the whole "eating clean" thing down into five simple steps. Start where you are, and remember: It's not a race. It's a journey.

    The idea here is to do a little better all the time.

    1 - EDUCATE YOURSELF

    I have a Bachelor's in Secondary Education, a Master's in Science, and 5+ years working as a Trauma/Emergency Department registered nurse, and I still had to go back to school to figure all this stuff out!

    Your story, surely, will be different from mine. And I'm not saying you need to do everything I did! But in some form or another, you're going to need to begin to dig a little deeper and explore a little further than what you've always heard about health and wellness. (Hint: Counting calories, buying non-fat, and opting for "magic pills" will not be getting you to where you want to be, my friends. At least not in any lasting way.)

    For me, it all started with the documentary Forks Over Knives. (You might like Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead or GMO OMG!) From there, I devoured book after book on the subject of food as medicine. A few early favorites were The Omnivore's Dilemma, Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole, and UnDiet. If you haven't read these yet, I assure you they will shed new light on old "truths". 

    Having experienced what felt like was my own "health miracle", I craved expert guidance, to deepen my understanding of nutrition. And I felt a very clear calling to help others begin to take back their health, too.

    I enrolled in T. Colin Campbell's Plant-Based Nutrition course, followed by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which truly expanded my vision of health (so much more than food!) and taught me the concept of bioindividuality, that what works wonders for one person might not be what's best for another. It was throughout my time at IIN that my vision of health and wellness (and happiness!) began to take shape. 

    If you're anything like me, you'll find that what makes you feel happiest and healthiest may (and likely should!) change over time. Be gentle with yourself as you explore and, ultimately, discover what works best for you. Consider hiring a coach to help you along the way. There is truly something extremely powerful about having a loving, supportive, empowering person in your corner, especially when you're taking on big changes like these.

    2 - THROW AWAY THE CRAP

    As soon as you start re-educating yourself, you'll likely begin to feel like there's a lot in your fridge and pantry (and perhaps hiding under the bed or some other secret stash location?) that simply must go!

    Warning: This could be a little painful. You may want to enlist the help of a supportive friend (maybe after watching one of those awesome documentaries together!), family member, or coach. 

    But, I promise you, this is a critical and crucial part of getting you feeling amazing again!

    You must must must get rid of the bad if you wish to bring on the good. (And I know you do!) If it hurts too much to throw it away, consider donation. Remember: The longer you keep it around, the longer it will take for you to get healthy again! This is something you're going to want to go "all in" on.

    CRAP: I mentioned earlier than I'm of the belief that what's best for me might not be best for you. That being said, my experience and education has taught me that there are a few key offenders that seem to cause a lot of trouble for people. If only for a while, I urge you to consider removing things like dairy, gluten, and processed sugar/sweeteners. Processed anything, really, should go!

    What you want left over is, quite simply, real food. (Not the creations of the food "industry", not those long ingredient lists of unrecognizable items, and definitely not those "fake" and "imitation" animal products laden with processed soy, sodium, and other questionables.)

    3 - REPLACE IT WITH THE GOOD STUFF

    Hint: Good stuff = Real food.

    And here's where it gets fun again! (And the produce department of the grocery store becomes your new best friend!)

    Think seasonal, local, and organic whenever possible.

    Wary about spending more on organics? This little video on The Organic Effect will inspire you to choose "cleaner" options. I also love the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists, which help you choose the cleanest options while also being budget-conscious.

    Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is another great tip! (Allows you to skip the a bunch of the processed stuff in the middle sections.)

    A couple of my favorite rules of thumb from Michael Pollan (and your great-grandma) that I like to use are: (1) Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. And I also love Rule No. 19 from his fabulous book Food Rules: (2) If it's a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't.

    Beyond these, if you're eating animals, please be mindful of their source, what they were fed, and how they were raised. Always look for words like pastured, organic, and non-GMO. If you'd like to learn more about conscious "clean" farming, check out the work of Joel Salatin.

    And if you're looking for another all-around excellent guide to help you identify the crap (and get rid of it), check out Meghan Telpner's down-to-earth and inspiring take-back-your-life book UnDiet. You will love it!

    4 - EAT THE GOOD STUFF

    And make it delicious!

    After throwing together random "plants" for a year or so, I realized I should probably actually learn how to cook! As much as I'd always loved food, I'd never really felt comfortable in the kitchen - until I found Meghan Telpner and the Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

    Mind = Blown!

    I learned that health-supportive, nourishing, healing food can (and must!) taste mouth-wateringly delicious. And I learned that even I could make amazing food! (This shocked me, I tell ya!)

    I started by just watching her free videos, reading her blogs, and experimenting with some of her recipes, which are - to this day - some of my favorites to recommend to clients, friends, and family!

    If you're not used to cooking with a lot of plants and doing it in a way that is nourishing and healing to the body, just do what I did and start trying out a bunch of different recipes - until you find the ones you looove!

    Over time, as you practice and play and experiment in the kitchen, you'll develop a natural intuition about food and ingredients, and you'll begin to find it easier and easier to throw together something that's both delicious and nutritious for you and your family.

    I've got a bunch of recipes here! A couple other favorites (I have so many) are Rachel's Nourishing Kitchen, Green Kitchen Stories, and Sondi Bruner. Oh - and definitely take some time to browse through all the awesomeness in the Academy of Culinary Nutrition's Top 50 Clean Food Blogs!

    5 - REPEAT (WITH FRIENDS!)

    And there you have it! Educate yourself (lots of great books, documentaries, and classes out there to explore), get rid of the bad (seek support if you need it), bring in the good (lots of plants, think seasonal, local, and organic), make it delicious, and eat it - with friends!

    That's how you transition to cleaner eating. In a nutshell. 

    But the learning doesn't stop there, and there are certainly going to be ups and downs as you find your way. So, I'd like to say a word about your support system. 

    Finding a group of supportive, encouraging, like-minded folks will do wonders for your health, both mental and physical! If you can't find one you love, join mine!

    Making changes to the way you eat isn't always easy. You're going to need to have someone(s) to turn to when you looking for an answer to What the heck do I do with rainbow chard?, or your husband isn't exactly thrilled about your newfound plantiful ways, or you just want something sweet to eat, for God's sake! - but you don't know which ingredients are best.

    Why? Because this is the important stuff. This whole "figuring out what to eat" thing will keep you living and thriving and loving life for a very long time. It's completely changed my life, and I have a feeling it will do the same for you!

    YOUR TURN NOW

    Now it's your turn to share!

    Where are you in this whole process? Wherever you are, I hope you've found something useful here. What's been your biggest takeaway, and where would you like more support?

  • Real-Food Shamrock Shake

    Real-Food Shamrock Shake

    Shamrock Shake? Do you KNOW what's in those things?!?

    Seeking a healthier, real-food version of this seasonal treat? Gotcha covered!

    Try This:

    2 cups packed greens
    1 tablespoon moringa
    1 tablespoon hemp hearts
    1 tablespoon ground flax
    1 banana
    1 tablespoon chocolate chips
    2 drops Peppermint EO
    1 cup water (or non-dairy milk)
    Handful of ice, to taste

    Blend and enjoy!!

  • Chewy Chocolate Cranberry Bites

    Chewy Chocolate Cranberry Bites

    Welp. We ran out of dark chocolate yesterday. Never a good thing! I like a piece of high quality dark chocolate from time to time. And my husband looks for it every night!

    After the success of the Wild Orange Power Bites at my essential oils class last week, I was really wanting to put together a chocolate-themed "bite" *for all the lovers* this Valentine's Day. (Or any day!)

    These are super easy, satisfying, and frankly, quite healthy! Throw them together today, pop them in the fridge, and enjoy throughout the week. Warning: They go fast! 

    Ingredients:
    1 cup almond butter
    1/4 cup dried cranberries
    1/4 cup sesame seeds
    1/4 cup hemp hearts
    1/4 cup maple syrup
    1/4 cup cacao nibs
    1/4 cup cocoa
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla
    1/8 cup chia seeds
    Several dashes cinnamon
    Pinch of sea salt

    Instructions:

    • Place all ingredients in mixer bowl.
    • Mix thoroughly, until well combined.
    • Shape into 1-inch balls.
    • Place in fridge to store.

    And enjoy!

    Happiest Valentine's Day to you and yours! Lots of love from me! 

    Katie
    XO

  • Easy Chickpea & Quinoa Salad (Vegan & Gluten-Free!)

    Easy Chickpea & Quinoa Salad (Vegan & Gluten-Free!)

    Whip up this super easy, light-yet-satisfying lunch: Chickpea & Quinoa Salad! It's plant-based, vegan, and gluten-free. Aaand it's delish. 

    Ingredients:
    2 cups quinoa (cooked)*
    1 can chickpeas
    1/2 cup diced red onion
    2 tablespoons dried cranberries, unsweetened
    1 tablespoon dijon mustard
    1 tablespoon EVOO
    1/2 teaspoon curry powder
    2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
    Juice of 1 lemon
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    Directions:

    • Combine all ingredients.
    • Allow to sit for 1-2 hours, or enjoy immediately.



    *Making quinoa is super easy and fast! To cook quinoa, rinse 1 cup of quinoa until water runs clear. Combine rinsed quinoa and 1.5 cups of water in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool 5-10 minutes. 

  • RADICAL SELF-CARE

    RADICAL SELF-CARE

    Radical Self-Care

    Too often, taking really good care of ourselves (in the same way we would lovingly take care of a newborn, a child, an aging parent, or a loved one fallen ill) is pushed aside with excuses of time, money, or the crazy idea that taking time for self-care is selfish.

    Develop easy self-care habits: People get so wrapped up in their busy lives that they forget to take care of themselves. This can be something as simple as a relaxing bath and as nice as a day at the spa. ― Joshua Rosenthal

    We put our own health at the bottom of our long list of priorities: raising a family, planning events, pursuing a career. Or we're too tired - and we spend our downtime on social media or in front of the television.

    This is all fine and good for a little while. Our bodies are powerful, miraculous machines that work tirelessly to keep us in balance. But eventually, our late nights, endless stress, and general self-abuse catch up with us. We feel like crap. Depressed and unable to keep up, our energy and enthusiasm drained.  

    The result? We can't enjoy the things we love, appreciate the things we have, or pursue our dreams.

    Something must be done.
    And that thing is called radical self-care.

    Self-care is just what you think it is: taking care of one's self. We do it every day: shower, brush our teeth, put food in our bellies. 

    But radical self-care is taking basic self-care a giant leap further. It is the quietly bold act of putting your health and your quality of life first. And it is in doing so that we are able to face (and overcome) the major challenges and stressors of life - and to live with greater balance and resilience.

    [Radical self care is...] acting on the premise that your need for sleep, time out, socializing with your friends, and exercising is JUST as important as getting the kids to soccer practice, doing laundry, and going to work. ― Aimee Gallo

    Here are some of my (easy, reliable, and) favorite ways to practice radical self care all day long:

    Start the day off right. Treat your body to cleansing, calming, energizing foods in the morning. A breakfast of fresh fruit and tea. Warm lemon water with cayenne. Maybe a green juice. And a little bit (even five or ten minutes) of you-time: to sit and calmly enjoy your meal. Take some slow, deep breaths, in your nose and out your mouth. Maybe swap the talk radio station for some soothing Pandora music on your way to work. (Often my ride to work is my morning me-time, and I treat it as such.) Consider starting your day with meditation. There's still time to start this one.

    Food as self care. What you choose to eat is a form of self-care. Choose foods that contribute to health - not disease. Whole, plant-based foods are the superheroes of nutrition, and summer is an easy time to eat this way. Experiment with new recipes and ingredients. Use spices to season and add flavor. Ditch the junk food, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods. Eat less meat, dairy, and sugar, and consume less coffee, alcohol, and tobacco. Pay attention to your body. How do you feel when you eat more of the good and less of the bad?

    Get it all out. When your mind is clogged with things to do and you feel like you're going a little cray-cray, it might be time for a mental purge. The good folks at zenhabits have put together an excellent list of 15 Can't-Miss Ways to Declutter Your Mind. Pick one and try it today.

    Throughout the day. Check in with yourself throughout the day. How's your breathing? When was the last time you took a deep breath, fully filling your chest and body with oxygen? If work is driving you mad, take a mini-break. Get outside - or at least out of the immediate environment. A change of scenery helps you focus on other things. Listen to your favorite song on your phone. Or take a quiet walk. It helps to break up the day with something more peaceful and positive. Another trick I use at work is humming. It brings me back to calm and helps me stay focused. GPS for the Soul, Insight Timer, and Relax Life are all great {free!} apps that help me through the overwhelm.

                     

    Disconnect. And reconnect. Take time to disconnect from the phone, computer, or television - and reconnect with family and friends. When my husband and I eat dinner, we put our iPhones out of reach. It's impossible to build meaningful relationships with people if you're constantly looking at your phone instead of actually looking at them and paying attention to the words coming out of their mouths. Be present and engaged. Your relationships will improve dramatically. 

    Evening self-care. A shower is an excellent opportunity for self care. Try a delicious-smelling body scrub. Dry skin brushing. Experiment with essential oils. Light a candle. After, while your muscles are still warm, treat yourself to an ayurvedic self massage. Check out this link for a how-to demonstration. On cold nights - or for sore muscles - fill a hot water bottle with hot water and take it to bed with you. It's comforting, warming, and healing. Old school - but super cool.

    Gratitude. Start a gratitude practice. (A good excuse to buy an awesome new journal!) Not buying it? Check out all these reasons why it's good to live gratefully. Starting a nightly gratitude practice is also comforting, and therefore a great exercise in self care. Instead of letting the worries and stress of the day (or day to come) cloud your minds - and keep you from a peaceful slumber - try writing down three things for which your grateful every night before bed. 

    How do you practice radical self-care?
    Which idea are you most excited to try?
    Leave a note in the comments below and let me know what you think.