Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Planning Made Perfect

Dear Readers,

It seems like good ideas bubble up, sound good, die off, and in a few months bubble up again.  The latest for me is menu planning.  I always thought this sounded like a great idea, but was honestly overwhelmed by the concept.  I thought I needed to be super crafty and come up with meals where I used part of what I made Monday on Tuesday, and took a full inventory of my cupboards and whatnot prior.  In essence, while the concept was intended to make my life less stressful, menu planning sounded very, well, stressful.

Then, last week, I re-read Kris Karr's guide to menu planning (love that girl) and thought "actually, this sounds easy."  I took a page out of her book and decided to just plan dinners, figuring we would take left-overs or eat out for lunch, and everyone would stick to their usual favorite breakfast.

Well, one week down and you know what?  It worked!  It was EASY!  Why haven't I done this before??  The best part:  the question "what's for dinner" the moment I walk in the house is no longer like nails on a chalkboard.  I happily refer Sweetie to my dinner chart and voila!  "Tuesday: Pasole."  Done.

Here are my newbie tips:

1. Plan.  Break out your cookbooks, iPad, favorite blogs, etc.  My favs at the moment are GP's It's All Good, VeganSparkles and Karr's Crazy, Sexy Kitchen.

2.  Go easy.  Pick things that you can (honestly) put together easily on a week night.  For me this includes soups, pastas, stuff over quinoa...basically anything containing simple ingredients like canned beans and frozen veggies, great spices, fast cook times, and the stove.

3.  Add variety.  Choose a different dinner every night, but stick with at least a few of your family's favorite, go-to meals interspersed with some new meals you want to try.  Also, I planned only 5 meals assuming that between leftovers and "life" we may not actually eat at home all 7 days.

4.  Make a List.  Write out a grocery list and menu for the week.  Grocery shopping is MUCH easier this way.  Plus, this handy-dandy menu (as seen below) makes you seem legit.

There you have it!  Fresh, home cooked wonderfulness and less stress.  Who knew?

A friend recently said of our family's constant new "plans" - vegan!  running!  cleanses! - "is this like everything else you start?"  I see her point, but seeking and trying new and better ways to live has paid off.  A lot of our "new" ways have stuck around with some pretty fab results (see: weight loss, better foods, happier family).  Who doesn't want to be healthier, happier and more present?  And menu planning, so far, is all that minus a nasty bag of chips.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Scrub a Dub Dub

Dear Readers,

When one has children, one has laundry.  Lots of it.  And this tiny laundry comes with many new wash challenges, stains being the biggest one.  Concerns that that favorite romper will ever look (or smell) the same do arise, and I am here to toss in my two-cents.

After a lot of trial and error, my favorite laundry products by far are:

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Baby Blossom Laundry Detergent.  The smell is insanely wonderful.  So wonderful, in fact, that Sweetie even commented out of the blue how much he loved the way our new detergent made the clothes smell.  Now that's something.

Totally Toddler Stain Removing Brush.  This is essentially what I've been missing these last few months.  So many adorable outfits could have been saved, including my own.  Gets out carrot juice, green smoothies, dirt, even blood (chair + lip = most dramatic morning ever).  Even out of white.  Buy it in bulk and never look back.

Also very useful and versitile:'s Oxy Boost.  Not only for clothes, this stuff can be used on carpet, showers, etc.  A bonus is it's non-chlorine, so it's gentle for baby skin.

Now all your hard work in the laundry room will pay off!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Clean Living How-To

Dear Readers,

By popular demand, here are the Clean Diet Cleanse Guidelines (full explanation of the Clean Cleanse, plus a comprehensive list of yes and no foods on page 8, here).  To feel better, fast, and without spending a fortune, you can eat from this list, and incorporate some shakes if you like (see below) without having to purchase the Clean Cleanse.  We did buy the full cleanse and really liked it.  The Wellness Coaches were wonderful.  When we do it again in a year or so, we'll probably go solo.  Up to you.

Now, the general deal is this: you cut out all common "toxic-triggers" and allergens for 21-days, then re-introduce them one at a time to see what may not be working with your body.  Gluten and dairy are common triggers, apparently, but soy, "nightshades" (aka tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers), bananas, you name it could be making you feel less than optimal.

And then there's the biggie - cutting out all coffee and alcohol.  I know, I know - it is the lamest most un-fun thing you can think of.  But if you're looking to feel better and cut some excess, give your body some time off of these since both are major inhibitors of good digestion.

And without further ado:


  • whole vegetables, leafy greens
  • brown rice, non-gluten grains
  • stevia
  • beans, lentils
  • green tea, yerba mate, filtered water
  • wild fish, organic chicken and turkey
  • nuts, seeds and nut butters (no peanuts)
  • avocado and coconut
  • whole fruits and berries
Don't Eat:
  • dairy
  • gluten
  • processed sugar
  • soy
  • coffee, soda, alcohol
  • beef, pork
  • corn
  • peanuts
  • tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes
  • bananas, strawberries, oranges and grapes
Limit:  Anything processed

I promise, it's not that hard after a few days to figure out what to eat.  Check out some recipes here, menu planning here.

Cleanse or no cleanse, consider a healthy shake for breakfast .  Don't want to invest in Clean's shakes?  I don't blame you.  Just look for a non-GMO, plant based pea protein shake base at your local health food isle (like Vega One) and add a probiotic.  You can mix whatever you like in the shake that's Clean-approved.  My fav is spinning frozen blueberries, kale, mango, coconut water and almond milk in my beloved Vitamix (for reals, worth every, single dime).  Within days, you'll feel like a new person.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Give Me Comfort, or Get Me A Taxi

Dear Readers,

This last weekend in San Francisco we walked.  And walked, and walked.  I love exploring cities by foot and love being on the move.  My feet, however, were a whole different story.

I packed what I hoped would be comfy shoes.  It's hard since where we live you drive almost everywhere, so truthfully while these shoes had seen their fair share of standing, sitting and moving they hadn't been city or, say, Europe tested.  Alas, my fav Tory Eddie flats were just NOT padded enough for serious street walking (which, let's be real: I knew better...).  But when your feet hurt, suddenly you're upset, cranky, tired and quickly looking around for anything to make your poor, sore feet feel better again.

But who wants to look like a loser wearing tennies around in a stylish city (even if they are your fab new Nike Lunarglide's)?  I mean, you might as well just buy some wrinkly, ill-fitting khaki capris and a fanny pack and call it a day.

Enter, Born's Julianne.  Cute, comfy, padded and basic.  When these arrived to my office the day after we returned (thank you Zappos VIP service!) I couldn't take them off and put back on my high heels.  They're just what my feet have been missing.

Fresh Air

Dear Readers,

Sorry for the long hiatus, but it's worth it, I promise!  The 21-Day Clean cleanse was amaze.  Simply the very best thing Sweetie and I have ever done for our health and overall well-being.  So here's the 411 (since you asked):

If you're contemplating a cleanse, I will warn you those first 2-3 days were brutal.  We were edgy, unhappy, tired and completely ready to give up.  However, cleaver, cleaver Clean has tons of support, including Wellness Coaches.  I had chatted with one before we began. Then, I wrote that same couch in a total state of misery on the evening of the third day something barely comprehensible that boiled down to: OMG, will we ever feel better?

Luckily, by the time Ms. Couch responded the next morning we both felt insanely better already.  More energy, no hunger, and clear-headed.  Like night and day.  And it only improved from there.  In the end, the biggest benefits to me were increased energy, clear thinking, reduced anxiety, weight loss (!!), and a general sense of well-being.

Sold?  I thought so.  Now, a few tips on making the most of your cleanse:

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare.  Know what you're going to eat, when, and go forth into the wide-world armed with cleanse-friendly snacks and, when necessary, restaurant choices.  Overall, hit up a grocery store vs. restaurants.  And on that note...

2) Eat in.  It's cheaper, easier, and takes the guess-work out of eating out.  There are restaurants that make it easier (and yes, most of them have a faint smell of patchouli oil), but overall it's easier if you center your socialization around something other than food.  If you must travel (we did) see #1.

3) Go full-in.  Don't half-do a cleanse, because you'll miss the benefits and prolong the "meh" stage.  To avoid that, see #1.

4) Drink plenty.  Water, cleanse-approved tea, juices and smoothies.  It's incredible how great green juice can make you feel at 3pm.

5) Move.  Don't start a kick-boxing class or marathon training, but regular walks and yoga round-out your experience and help you get a deeper cleanse.  We tried  Not bad if you don't want to have to go to a class outside the home (see: two working parents + one 17 month old darling Muffin).

6) Meditate.  This perhaps should have been my #1 piece of advise. is where it's at for me.  Everyone has 10 minutes, and those 10 minutes a day change everything.

So, right after completing our cleanse we went to San Francisco for the weekend.  We decided we'd stick to the Clean foods, but that quickly devolved into glasses of wine and French cuisine.  It wasn't pretty, and we both felt awful.  But it really solidified for us that we should stick with the Clean guidelines as much as possible because once you feel that good you're like a good-feeling junkie and you have to maintain that high.

Next on my list?  After reading through Gwyneth's "It's All Good" cookbook/book I've decided I'd like to pull a Julie/Julia and cook my way through her recipes.  They look incredible, but a little overwhelming.  I'm sure once I try them it'll be a new world.  One can only hope.

So, if you're on the fence about a cleanse and thinking "oh that's so hard I could never do that" I'm here to tell you that honey, if we can do it, just go ahead and trust me that you can too.  And you'll truly thank yourself.

To your health!