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!

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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).

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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!

Juice Detox: Day 5- Finished!

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Awhoohoo! Today is my last day of the 5 Day Juice Detox!

I’d just like to take a mo to reiterate the reasons why I did this 5 Day Juice Detox:

  • I did it to detox my body from all processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar and dairy.
  • I did it to give my digestion the time to process and clean out any toxins which might be residing in the deepest darkest parts of my gut and intestines.
  • I also did it to provide a nutritious boost to all my cells and organs with the help of daily spirulina and wheatgrass shots and mountains of fresh fruit and vegetables washed down with liters of filtered water.

I mean if that’s not good for you someone is going to have to take me aside, sit me down and give me a thorough lesson on what’s healthy!

It was once explained to me that when you’re on a detox (or that 5:2 day diet I’ve heard so much about) your system doesn’t have to spend it’s entire time trying to digest and convert the dodgy food we’re ingesting, so it can get involved in other worthwhile activities elsewhere in the body, like cleaning up your skin or improving your immune system or repairing your neglected liver.

Also while on the detox I made an extra special effort to incorporate 40/60 minutes of exercise into my daily routine and also to be in bed, with my light off by 11 PM every night.  As they say…

Feed your cells and your cells will feed you.

juicelife

So how am I feeling? Generally OK. In all honesty this week was hard, it was my first attempt at any extended detox and I don’t think I realised the level of preparation and dedication it would involve. We must have been shopping, washing, chopping, juicing, blending and cleaning up for about 2 hours a day, every day! I’m glad I did this in a quieter week or otherwise I feel I would have fallen off the band wagon.

Physically though I felt fine, actually I’d go as far to say I felt great. No bloating, no detox headaches and pains which I’d heard so much about, no stomach upsets or discomfort.

TMI possibly, but I did notice an alarming lack of poop over the week, probably due to the fact there wasn’t a lot of roughage or fiber going through me- that was an effect I didn’t quite enjoy.

I also slept like a baby all week (actually why is that even a saying?! From what I hear baby’s sleep terribly and are awake every couple of hours looking to be feed or something?!).

Oh and today during my ‘Work Lift Mirror Check’* I was surprised to notice all the little bumpy, pimply clogged looking pores on my face were looking a lot better, not perfect mind, but much improved – bar a whopper ‘3rd eye’ spot which has erupted overnight, but then that makes sense as it’s in the ‘detox’ part of my face (more on face mapping here).

*’Work Lift Mirror Check’: The lighting in our work lift is horrendous and shows up every imperfection on your skin. So, naturally, whenever I’m alone in the lift I torture myself by examining the quality of my skin in it.

Did I lose weight? As I’ve mentioned previously I wasn’t doing this to lose weight but then again I was happy to note that my skinny jeans slid on a lot easier this morning.

What was the total bill of the 5 days? About €100 for all the veg, fruit and supplements.

Would I recommend it? Hummmmm, let me put it this way, it’s not something I would rush to do again. I just found it very unnatural denying myself food and solids but I do think that the couple of days did my system the world of good. I think in future I’ll just integrate fresh fruit and veg juices into my daily routine.

Now, where’s that cheese sambo! 😉

Juice Detox: Day 3

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Today I was so happy to graduate on to different types of juices- as they say ‘variety is the spice of life’ (well no, it turns out ginger is the spice of life- it was so great waking up to a carrot and ginger juice this morning!). The afternoon juice was also very much welcomed as it was a kind of ‘juice- thie’ (see what I did there?! Juice + Smoothie?!… Sorry the lack of food is effecting my sense of humour) with a blended banana and live probiotic yoghurt thrown in at the end. DElish!

I’m not going to keep you long today, as I need to go get some work done, but if you ever decide to try a juice detox I just wanted to give you these prep tips:

1. I recommend having a few bowls out when making your juices. As per the pic, 2 for the chopped fruit and veg for our AM juices (chopped so it can be easily slid down the tube into the juicer) and then one for all the rubbishy bits. It just makes everything a lot neater and more efficient.

Juice2. If you are making the juices the night before make sure you have lots of appropriate sized glass jars and lids to store them in overnight. When fillings the jars you need to fill them right up to the very tip as the more oxygen in the jar the more they are oxygenated which reduces the digestive enzymes in the juices.

3. Listen to Jason Vale’s motivational clips each day on the App. Granted his manner and over enthusiasm is annoying, but he actually talks a lot of sense and gives you a kick of motivation when it’s really needed.

Day 3 Verdict: A bit of juice variety has pulled me back from the brink!

Juice Master Detox: Day One

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I realise I’m a month delayed starting Jason Vales Summer Juice Detox, but better late than never eh?

Myself and my boyfriend have decided to try the 5 day Detox (as the 7 day just isn’t feasible at the mo), his aim is to lose a few pounds and mine is to flush out my insides- they’ve gotten a bit murky looking over the summer.

We did a massive shopping hall in Aldi on Sunday and bought the Wheatgrass powder in The Hopsack, everything came to a rather affordable €30 (but then we did have the Spirulina at home and were only buying the 1-3 day stuff), and so I very skeptically and gingerly started my first juice detox…

day-one

 

Day 1, I have to admit that I was presently surprised…

  • What do you need? A juicer (here’s my baby), a shed load of fruit and veg, some super-foods to add to the drinks, a blender and either the 7lbs in 7 Days book (I picked mine up from the local library) or the App.
  • How many juices do you have a day? You are supposed to have 5 juices a day but today we only had 4 as we were stuffed after our ‘dinner’ juice (seriously! OK we were also a little ‘juiced out of it’ and couldn’t face making another one)
  • What did the juices taste like? They were all actually really yummy. I’m OK with green, kale filled smoothies and juices at this stage, but I was still pleasantly surprised to find these juices include lots of pineapples and apples in them so that masks the taste of most of the veggies.
  • Where they difficult to make? Nope, time consuming sure but not difficult. We made all the AM smoothie the night before in a bit of a production line which definitely helped speed up proceedings.
  • Can you drink anything other then the juices? You are allowed all the water/ herbal teas you want. Just nothing caffeinated- so my Green Tea and morning Lattee was out 😦
  • How did you feel? Surprisingly OK. I had a sudden and all consuming hunger pang at about 16:30 when in work but by the time I got home and drank my ‘dinner’ juice it had subsided. I also wasn’t as tired and cranky as I normally get when hungry (h-angry as it’s known round here). We even found time and energy to go for an evening walk- which is unusual for us. Then to top it all off, I slept like a log last night (and as we all know, logs sleep super deep). One thing, I did notice that I had this kind of woolly jumper effect on my teeth and a kind of gross coating on my tongue all day (apparently that’s a recognised side effect of the Detox) mingin but bearable.

Day 1 verdict: Generally fine- bar the woolly teeth.

woolly jumper

Super Trendy Super Food: Maca

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This time last year if you had asked me if I knew what Maca was I would wonder whether we were talking about a person, place or thing. So let me break it down a bit before we jump in. Maca is an ugly looking root originally from Peru. It’s sold mainly in Health Food Shops and comes as a dried powder in baggies for about €10.

As per the title we’re talking about a super food here, however in my books this stuff is more than a super food- this stuff is magic.

The great thing about Maca is that it works with the needs of your body. So for some it can decrease stress levels, others it can be used to enhance stamina, energy and endurance and for some it can be used to help with their fertility.

The reason I love it though is the effects it has on our hormones. Maca works with the body to stabilise any hormone that is out of wack. So if you are struggling with general PMS, feeling anxious, irritable, low, experiencing irregular or painful periods there’s a strong possibility your hormones aren’t operating as they should and could do with a little helping hand. That’s where Maca comes in.

Because of it’s lovely malty flavour I normally add mine to smoothies or use it when doing some raw cooking. Here’s two of my favourite Maca recipes:

1. Natasha’s Raw Living Food Energiser Smoothie: Throw all off the following into a smoothie maker or blender:

  • ¼ pineapples
  • 2 oranges peeled
  • ½ organic lemon whole (yup, throw the rind in too!)
  • 1tsp maca
  • 1 cup coconut water

 2. My New Roots Nut Butter Cups

 

My Juicing Adventure: My First Juice Detox

Juice-Land

Following on from a previous blog post about the wonders of juice, I have decided to try one of Jason Vales famous Juicing detox weeks starting next weekend. The detox follows Jason’s ‘7 Lbs in 7 Days’ book, starts on Saturday 13th July and lasts, ahem, 7 days. I’m not doing this detox to lose weight (actually, scrap that I wouldn’t mind losing 3/4 pounds) but my main aim is to scrub out my system, get all the junk and gunk outta there and get it all shinny and new- just in time for the onslaught that will be a week with four other couples in a villa in Tuscany, Italy!!

All details for this Juicing week can be found here, but in a nut shell:

  • I’ve gone the cheapo route and rented Jason’s book ‘7 Lbs in 7 Days‘ from my local library, this has all the juice recipes etc.
  • I’ve downloaded the App for my iphone and have my trusty list of juicing ingredients printed out and read for purchasing

I must admit I’m excited at the thought of doing this detox and getting to use my new juicer but I’m also well aware this it’s going to be difficult and I recommend people make a concerted effort to steer clear of me for the first few days at least! 😉

Any chance you are interested in trying it out too? I would love a little group of us to attempt it together- as they say, there is safety in numbers!! Although last year, over 28,000 people from 60 countries took part so I’m sure I’ll have a good support network! If you’re unsure about it I recommend giving this Lizze Fit’s blog post a read for more info- she breaks down what happens over the course of the week very nicely and is the reason I’ve decided to try it in the first place- thanks Lizze!

Anyways, I’ll keep you all updated on how I get on- wish me luck! 🙂

Juicing: The drink that packs a punch

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As per my past blog posts coffee is bad, soft drinks are bad, fruit juices are bad, alcohol is bad, tap water is bad (actually I haven’t done a blog on that yet, but I will, ooooh I will). At this stage your thinking ‘well what in the bleedin heck can I bloody well drink‘?  Good point, I’ve been a bit of a Negative Nancy of late harping on about all the things I’ve given up on this here ‘Wellness Journey’, so I’m going to change tact and talk about all the loverly things I’ve introduced to my diet instead. Numero Uno: Veggie Juice!

Veggie Juice is ‘so hot right now’ mainly cos it’s one of the best ways to extract all the vitamins, minerals and plain old goodness that comes from vegetables. Let’s face it, who wants to be eating 2 cucumbers, 3 handfuls of spinach and kale at 7am- but juicing enables us to get a healthy amount of vegetables in one go to start the day off with a bang!

Veggie Juicing  also delivers the zesty goodness  directly into your blood stream in the quickest way possible as juicing removes fiber, leaving the nutrients with nothing better to do but zoom right into your cells- pow!

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Finally green veggie juice oxygenates the body due to the addition of chlorophyll and enables us to release stored toxins in our bodies, increase our energy reserves and cleanse our system.

Until now I have been getting my Veggie Juice from the lovely people in The Hopsack, Rathmines (mine is the apple, beetroot and ginger one please) or else getting it delivered to my door by the beautiful Fiona from Rawfi. However a little birdie tells me I might be getting my very own juicer for my birthday this year (t-minus two weeks people!) which I’m unbelievably excited about.

(Side Point: it’s funny how life works, if my boyfriend had tried to buy me a kitchen appliance for my birthday last year I would have probably hit him over the head with it, but this year I’m only delighra!)

I’ll be back with more on my Juicing Adventure later, but for now, if you are lucky enough to own a juicer or would like to know more, I recommend having a lookie at this short video by the gorgeous Kris Carr.

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!

Raw Review

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If you’d have told me this time last year I’d be going to a raw food class 12 months later, and enjoying it I’d of laughed in your face and told you to lay off the booze… But that’s exactly what happened last weekend.

I came across ‘Natasha’s Living Food’ at the Mind Body Spirit event in the RDS and was blown away when the nice man behind the counter explained that everything Natasha and the team make are raw… everything, including their soups, pizzas, cakes, brownies and sushi. AND not only are they raw they are also wheat, dairy, egg and gluten free! This blew my mind, so I was 1st in line for her ‘cookery’ course last weekend.

So what is ‘Raw/ Living Food’?

Eh, it’s food that isn’t cooked…  Duh.

Ok smarty-pants, well why is it good for us?

Raw foods contain live enzymes that aid digestion, which activate as they are consumed. Once a food is heated above 118 F the enzymes begin to die, and destroys nutrients, minerals, amino acids and vitamins, and alters the natural metabolic structure of the food. So when you eat a food in it’s raw form you’re getting the very best from it.

Raw food also promotes an alkaline gut (as opposed to an acidic one) which boosts our immune system, lowers inflammation and reduces our chances of getting sick.

Sounds good. So what did Natasha make?!

  1. We started off easily with a refreshing and cleansing smoothie made with lemons, coconut water, pineapple and a sprinkle of Maca. As someone who’s only arriving at this super food party I was fascinated to hear how the body uses Maca for energy, stamina and as a hormone stabilisation. It’s defo on my shopping list.
  2. Natasha showed us how to make homemade almond milk (goodbye store bought crap), with which she made a delish ‘chocolate milkshake’ with cacao and cinnamon. Mmmmmm 🙂
  3. Then we moved onto sprouting and fermented foods and how they can give our gut an extra helping hand. Again this was all brand new to me so I lapped it up. Natasha is a hive of knowledge on nutrition and her enthusiasm is infectious. You feel healthier just listening to her.
  4. Then we had a spicy green soup– yes, a RAW soup, made on miso, spinach, coriander, coconut, Thai spices all blended together and heated with some hot water. Served sprinkled with sprouts. Bleedin delish!
  5. Natasha then made a cake with a seaweed mousse! You’ll just have to take my word for it that this was also scrumy
  6. We then had a late lunch of pizza and salad. But not any old pizza- this was a pizza with a buckwheat, flaxseed and courgette base, the cheese made of cashews, with an olive tapenade and tomatoy/ garlicy topping. Again the flavours worked really well together and I wolfed down the lot, not missing mozzarella for a minute.

All in all it was a great day and once this hectic week is over I can’t wait to get testing the recipes out myself!

Here’s a few pics of what we ate (with thanks to Viorica Vesa- another raw food enthusiast!)

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Magic spiralina

A Breakie Revamp

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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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