My Year in Review: Part 1

2013

At the start of this year myself and some friends decided we’d embrace 2013 as the ‘Year of Doing’ and we set out to accomplish things we’ve always wanted. Some friends moved job, some moved house, some moved country, some got married and some went back to college.

I had spend the 2nd half of 2012 reading and researching wellness concepts, things like juicing, veganism, yoga, crystals and organic beauty and decided there was a hell of a lot of things I wanted to accomplish in 2013. So I decided to put together the following timetable so I’d be able to fit everything in (organisational freak alert!):

Month

Give Up

Take Up

January

Alcohol

Yoga

February

Running

March

Meat and Fish

Reading books

April

Sugar

Meditation

May

Toxic Beauty Products

Getting up early

June

Social media

Meditation: Take 2

July

TV

Journaling

August

Caffeine

Juicing

September

Listening to the ‘Negative DJ’

Hot Yoga

October

Dairy

Embracing my ‘woo woo’ side: Chakra’s, crystals etc.

November

Toxic house cleaner

Clean Water

December

So here’s a very quick run through of how the first few months went:

January

Give Up: Alcohol

General Verdict: When I think back on it this was a very big deal to me at the time. I was unbelievably self conscious about doing this and telling people I was ‘off the booze’, but on reflection no one really cared except me! This was the first time I have denied myself anything for an extended period of time and I have to say, as strange as it sounds, it was actually kind of liberating. I felt so proud of myself for actually sticking to something and I also really enjoyed the non-hungover weekends and additional cha-ching in my purse.

The funny thing is that since this month I have completely reevaluated alcohol altogether and feel 100% times better for it too.

Success: 5/5

yoga3

Take Up: Yoga

General Verdict: I’ve always enjoyed yoga. Whenever I leave a class I feel renewed and refreshed in both body and mind. The only thing is that classes around here are bloody expensive, therefore I’ve never really been able to truly embrace my yogi side (‘hummmmmm…’). That was until I came across Yogaglo online (more about that here). Now I practice yoga in my living room  2/3 times a week and LOVE it. I love how I’m now able to do poses with my body I used to gawf at in amazement.

Success: 5/5

February

running

Take Up: Running

General Verdict: As per this blog post, I used to love running but nothing I could do this month, nothing, turned the hobby back on for me. I tried fun runs, running with friends, running alone, running with music, without music, on treadmills, along the sea but I just didn’t enjoy the activity. I found it boring and even tortuous at times (dramatic much?!). I decided to take this one on the chin and accept that sometimes our passions change and nothing we can do can reignite that flame. Therefore, once this month was finished, my running activity hobbled along for a few weeks before whimpering out of sight, never to be seen again for the rest of the year.

Success: 1/5 (the 1 point is for the 5 KM I ran a handful of Saturday mornings in Marley Park)

March

Give up: Meat and Fish

General Verdict: Like my January  attempt, this was another ‘challenge’ I had built up to be bigger in my head then it actually turned out to be. The problems is I come from a home where a meal isn’t considered to be a ‘proper’ meal unless there’s a piece of meat somewhere on the plate. The other thing is that before this month I didn’t know a whole lot about cooking with lentils or beans and therefore over the course of this month I existed solely on vegetables and salads (and one horrendous attempt to eat home cooked Tofu)… a happy, healthy girl I was not. More on that here.

A funny thing has happened since this month though, I’ve actually gone off the taste of chicken and red meat. I don’t like labels but now I consider myself to be 90% vegetarian. And very happy and healthy while at it! Saying that, if my body wants red meat I’ll adhere to it (and that’s why I gobbled up a rather yummy steak last month!), for me it’s all about doing what my body wants, not dictating to it.

Success: 5/5

Reading

Take Up: Reading

General Verdict: I’ve always enjoyed reading but this was a habit that was pushed aside once I was introduced to the bloody Apple App Store. I loved this month and it’s reignited my love of reading ever since. I’ve had the pleasure of reading some really great books over the course of the year (‘The Husbands Secret’ and ‘Gone Girl’ spring to mind). Myself and my friends have even started a Book Club which encourages us to keep up the reading. Nice work people!

Success: 4/5 (minus 1 for reverting to the iPad when in between books)

sugarlips

April

Give up: Sugar

General Verdict: What an interesting month this was (more on this month here). I’m no nutritionist so I won’t preach too much, but by GOD when I started educating myself on the effects sugar has on our systems and the levels of sugar in our everyday foods (22% RDA in a glass of orange juice?!!) I was gob smacked and a lot of what I’ve learnt this month I hope to never forget.

Today I still eat the occasional food with refined sugar but I’m now tonnes more aware of what I’m eating and am chuffed to say I haven’t had an evil soft drink since April.

Success: 4/5

meditation

Take Up: Meditation

General Verdict: Gulp. This one ain’t such a rosy story. I really, really struggled with this one. Firstly, I did everything in my power NOT to meditate, meditation- procrastination was the theme of the month. Then, if I did manage to force myself to sit with my eyes closed and a timer set for 10/15 minutes, I found it to be almost physically painful. More on that here.

Success: 1/5 (the ‘one’ is for the amount of YouTube clips and books I read about ‘how to mediate’… I just haven’t actually done it yet!)

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A Veggie Adventure

Picture1

As a reader of my blog you’ll (hopefully!) have picked up the fact I’ve spent the last year trying to live a more rewarding and fuller life by changing my diet and general relationship with food. I’m very proud to have gone from the person who slinks past the fruit and veg aisle, trying to make as little eye contact with the courgettes as possible, to becoming the person who yelps in excitement when they see pumpkins and kale on sale (true story).

Over the course of the year:

  • I’ve realised the effects stimulants have and reevaluated the emphases I place on them- therefore reducing my intake of sugar, alcohol and my beloved coffee.
  • I’ve put my ‘Little Ms Skeptical’ hat to one side, and listened to the incredible findings of those vegan advocates (the ones I once sneered at for being ‘mad hippies’) and as a result I’ve massively reduced my intake of meat and diary.
  • After a truly awful 1st try, I’m making a concerted effort to have regular green juices and smoothies. I even undertook a juice detox (which you can read about here)!
  • I’m also back on my supplements, drinking clean(er) water and eating lots and lots of fresh fruit and veggies- the greener the better in my book.

Next on my agenda is to find ways to get more of that good green stuff (or ‘rabbit food’- as my Granddad calls it!) into my system by extending my plant based cooking repertoire (and not having to rely on raw carrots like this poor guy!)

Rabbit-eating-carrot

Here’s some of my attempts so far:

1. Cauliflower base pizza: This one is cool!  I just love finding new ways to get plants into my system. You feel like you’ve found some kind of ‘life cheat’ when you’re mixing the dough made from cauliflower and ground almonds. The tomatoes sauce and lemon and basil drizzle really bring out the flavour too.

I was a bit disappointed not to have the crunchiness of a normal pizza base, but otherwise I felt on top of the world after eating this and would make it again in a flash.

photo (27) photo (29)

2. Courgette pasta: I actually can’t remember where I found the recipe for this one, so here it is from me old memory:

  • Two courgettes, very finely cut length ways (or else, if your a Fancy Pants, run them through a spiraliser. I obviously didn’t have one in the pic below)
  • 100ml toasted hazelnuts
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in two
  • Half a jar of the best quality pesto you can afford
  • Mix it all together in a bowl and, ‘hey pesto’ (intentional typo!), get stuck in!

This is great on it’s own, maybe for lunch but I tend to have it on the side of some fish or something a little bit more substantial.

corgette pasta

3. Spinach and squash salad: This is actually a variation of a meal I ate in the Mellow Fig down in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. I tend to use feta or goats cheese instead of the gorgonzola and only use olive oil and apple cider vinegar as the dressing.

 It’s a great one for these colder days when you still want to eat something nutritious and refreshing.

Baby-Spinach-Salad-with-Roasted-Butternut-Squash,-Dried-Cherries,-Gorgonzola-and-Pepitas

Happy Cooking! 🙂

September: A month for a fresh start

Boy, oh boy, did I have a good summer- friends weddings, mini city breaks, a week-long holiday in Italy, lots of wine and bread, dinners, nights out and lots and lots of sugar, salt and delicious toxins!

photo (19)

As much as I’ve loved the summer and all the indulgence, it’s left me feeling a bit ‘off’. My skin is back looking rubbish, my energy levels are bottoming out again- I long to be back in bed most days, my brain fog is creeping back, my mood is also defiantly darker and my old tumtum is playing up a fair bit.

I’ve always loved September, for me it brings with it a sense of ‘fresh starts’ – more so than January does. I associate January with being broke, cold and depressed while September for me is the time of new books, shiny new shoes, hikes on crunchy Autumn leaves, hearty meals, routine and new habits. In fact it was this time last year that I first decided to stop just ‘investigating’ wellness and holistic health and actually start living it.

(Basically, last September, after a particularly fun night out with friends I decided to walk the whole way home, a 30 minute walk,  at 2:30 AM, down quiet, deserted streets, all alone –  just so I could get cheese and garlic chips from my local chipper. I know, I know, so dangerous, such a flippen eejit.

I woke up the next morning, with a horrible hangover, eye make up everywhere, the remains of the chips on the coffee table and I decided I had had enough. I decided then and there I didn’t want to be ‘that’ girl no more and gingerly set out to become the person I wanted to be).

bfaa078b7aa0c8e19ad9a6c329ea846c

So, on this note I’ve decided that this September is again going to be my wellness ‘fresh start’. I’m going to go back to:

  • Drinking lemon and hot water each morning
  • Reducing my coffee intake to 1 skinny latté every other day
  • Doing a big veggie/ fruit shop each week so I’m more prepared for the week ahead
  • Eating at least 5 different fruits/ veg a day
  • Dry body brush before my shower everyday (not just at the weekends!)
  • Drinking 2 liters of filtered water a day (…must buy a filter!)
  • Get my body moving for at least 20 minutes every day– more yoga, get out and start walking in my lunch break, using our new gym.
  • Meditate more often (perhaps I’ll start a meditation class?)
  • Consciously work on silencing my ‘ego’ or ‘negative DJ’- she’s getting awfully loud and agressive lately
  • Reduce my reliance on cheese and bread and actively seek out and make new alternatives
  • Drinking either a juice or smoothie everyday
  • Cut out all beer and cocktails, they seem to be making an unwelcome return
  • Reduce my reliance on Facebook and Daily Mail… those bloody sites will be the death of me!!
  • Replace all my supplements which have long run out
  • Buy a vegan cook book and become more confident with vegan recipes
  • Take more time to Skype all my BFF’s living in far off places- I always feel 100% times more connected and grounded after a good old natter!

Yup, I think that is enough to keep me going! Here’s to feeling back fit and healthy by Christmas!

Ghastly Green Smoothies

Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie

The Green Smoothie: Take 1
The first time I tried to drink a Green Smoothie was when we returned from a holier in Spain and France. We had spent two weeks eating cheese, bread and pizza, all washed down by a steady stream of red wine. (oh God I love cheese and pizza. Maybe this wellness thing isn’t for me?!… Focus Eimear focus!!)

My poor system was crying out for some fruit and veg. So I decided to try what my Wellness blogs were preaching and set out making this famous Green Smoothie they all rave about.  I mixed the following:

  • A handful of spinach
  • Kale (which, by the way, I had never seen before, never mind bought or tasted)
  • Cucumber
  • Parsley
  • Almond milk
  • A teaspoon of bee pollen
  • A teaspoon of spirulina
  • A teaspoon of Maca

I whizzed it together in my Smoothie maker and drank the greeny sludge as my boyfriend looked on in disgust. Well, sweet BLOODY HELL, it was revolting!! Like literally, the worst thing I have ever tasted. I made myself take 3 sups and then just had to fling the remainder down the sink. It was so awful that I actually thought I would never be able to eat anything again, that it had tainted my mouth forever. I was so disappointed as I really felt this Wellness thing was for me and I had fallen at the first hurdle. I then had a glass of white wine to make my failure less painful.

Green Smoothie

The Green Smoothie: Take 2
As with all heartbreaks, time was a great healer, and after a while (I’m talking months here) I began venturing back to the Green Smoothie. All the research I was doing was pointing away from fruit filled smoothies due to their high sugar content (know this: a regular fruit based smoothie can be equal to 6 spoonfuls of sugar!!) and pointing me towards the green plant based, ‘super smoothie’!

I started back by just building up the green content slowly, e.g. adding small handfuls of spinach to regular fruit smoothies. And I am now proud to officially say I’m a Green Smoothie Convert! I’m sneakily getting 3/4 of my 5 Fruit & Veg a day into my system in a fast, effective and fun way and they taste is amazing. Honestly! Don’t get put off by the green colour!

Green = Good!!

Today I make (on my Kenwood ‘Smoothie To Go’) and voluntarily drink a delicious Green Smoothie regularly, it consists of the following:

  • 1 glug or two of almond milk (sans sugar)/ or coconut water
  • 1 handful of washed spinach
  • Thumb length section of pealed cucumber
  • 1 Banana
  • Another fruit of choice (I add another from a peeled apple/ pear to mixed frozen berries from the freezer)
  • 1 spoonful of a Linwoods mix (I use the probiotic and flaxseed one and bought it for €7 in Dunnes)
  • 1 spoonful of chia seeds
  • 1 tbls of spirulina (a green superfood- found in most health food stores)

Kenwood- Smoothie 2 Go

Go ooooooon, give it a go!

A Breakie Revamp

breakfast1

I had always thought I was bleedin deadly steering clear of stodgy toast and jam or sugar filled cereals in the mornings and relying on a warm bowl of porridge to see me though until lunchtime. That was until this month when I started to educate myself on sugar (more on that here).

I’ll write more about sugar in a bit but for now let’s just say that this stuff is toxic, it  promotes inflammation in the body which results in an acidic gut which results in disease and sickness and even death (…that escalated quickly!)

As I said, I usually have a bowl of porridge on full fat milk each morning. Once out of the microwave I’d drizzle the mixture with honey, chop up a banana and then sprinkle either some chia seeds or some linseed mixture on top.

While eating this mixture one morning I decided to do a bit of research to see what the sugar content was. Well holy flippen hell, the results nearly made me fall off my chair…

The sugar content of my old breakie stood at about 35% of my total sugar recommended daily allowance!!

And here I thought I was being healthy (by the by, I do realise there’s other nutritional benefits that come from the milk, banana and linseed but just let me hate on sugar right now).

This discovery, along with the fact that I’m suffering from a bad case of adult acne lately (which I’ve heard can be linked to gut health and sneaky food intolerances), was the reason I’ve decided to change up my breakie- for the first time since I was in college.

My new breakie of choice are the superfood Chia Seed (which I’ve talked about before) on unsweetened almond or coconut milk, with cinnamon and, if I’m feeling mad, a chopped up banana or some berries. Tis only delish!

breakfast

Here’s the method:

  • Mix 3 table spoons of chia seeds in 1 cup of almond milk or coconut milk, along with a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Cover and soak in the fridge over night (this makes the chia seeds even easier for the gut to digest)
  • Eat in the morning with a chopped up banana or some berries!

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