Thursday, October 31, 2013

Beating the Boring Breakfast Blues

Beating the Boring Breakfast Blues

This time of year, I need a breakfast to stick to my ribs (but not my waistline.) My office is usually freezing, so it’s nice to have something warm to eat when I get in. Also, I need my sleep. I do not have the time or energy in the morning to get up and make a real breakfast. Sometimes, even making a smoothie is too much work for me.

 I used to bring those instant oatmeal packets to work with me…saccharine sweet flavors like banana, strawberry, and peach, but now they’re too sweet for me to handle. Plus rolled oats, especially the instant variety, can easily become a pile a beige mush—not too appetizing!

That’s when I discovered steel cut oats. I really don’t know why I never had them before, but they’re awesome. They do take a few minutes to cook in the morning (usually 10…but if you like them mushy, I guess it could take 20,) but they’re low maintenance. Put some water on low heat and dump the oats in. I brush my teeth. Run to the kitchen to stir. Put my clothes on. Stir. Make my bed. Stir. ETC. Basically, when the water almost completely evaporates, they’re done! Yay! Then you can flavor them anyway you want! 

Little time saving hint: if you’re a commuter like me, and like to bring breakfast to work so you can eat it when you get in, prep all your add-ins the night before (fruit, nuts, honey, sugar, coconut flakes, peanut butter, etc.) and put them in a Tupperware in the fridge. That way in the morning, you just have to worry about cooking the oats, dumping them in the Tupperware, and running out the door. I have an hour and a half commute, so I still need to reheat it in the microwave when I get to work, but they stay hot for the first 20 minutes of the drive if you don’t have such a far trip! 

Also—I know there are “overnight oats” methods when you can soak them overnight and just microwave them in the morning, so feel free to experiment with that if you really hate the idea of using your stove in the morning.

Below is my favorite recipe. It really tastes good, it’s got texture—so you can chew it!—and it’s under 300 calories, and completely holds me over ‘til lunch!

¼ cup of steel cut oats (The ¼ cup measurement is the amount of dry oats; then you cook them according to your package, and voila!)
1 tbsp of chia seeds
½ tsp of cinnamon
1tsp of Sugar in the Raw
½ tbsp of sliced almonds
½ tbsp of dried cranberries
1 tbsp of vanilla almond milk 

If you use this exact recipe, the nutritional info is as follows:
285 calories. 41 g of carbs. 9.5 g of fat. 6 g of sugar. 11 g of protein. 11 g of fiber.  

Not too shabby!

I like Bob’s Red Mill brand for the oats and chia seeds, and you can get them at ShopRite, but it’s totally your preference. Same goes with the Sugar in the Raw; you could use brown sugar, agave, honey, whatever you like. And again with the dried nuts and berries—mix it up to your preference! You could also use regular or rice milk instead of almond milk, or leave it out entirely. I like it, because I have to heat it up again once I get to work, and it keeps the oats from getting dry. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

BluePrint: The cleanse for the health conscious and slightly masochistic

BluePrint: The cleanse for the health conscious and slightly masochistic 

**This is a LONG entry, but it’s thorough, and if you’re debating whether or not to try the BluePrint cleanse, it’s pretty detailed and informative (or at least I hope and think so!) so stick it out ‘til the end!

Let me preface this play-by-play of my experience with the BluePrint organic juice cleanse by saying—I’m a normal person!!! I currently have a BMI (body mass index) of 24, which— for those of you who aren’t familiar with it—is one point below slightly overweight (typically starts at 25+.) 

Now I don’t put too much stock in the exact science of the BMI Index, because it is calculated solely by your weight and height (they don’t take my XXL hips or very thick hair into the equation, and there’s not much I can do about that,) but it is a good general indicator of where you’re at weight wise. 

Anyway, let’s rewind to August 23, 2013 when Brian proposed to me. He did good. He kept it a secret and I was totally surprised, which is virtually impossible. I said yes, and the next morning he had another surprise for me—an awesome cruise!! We had a ton of fun, and the best part was the all you can eat all day every day—from a fancy restaurant, to a taco stand, to a  buffet, and a build your own Guy Fieri burger station—plus a few boozy drinks now and then. 

Unfortunately, when we got back and when I got on the scale, it was a bit scary. I put on 5 pounds in 5 days (this was on top of the fact that I never really got my beach body back completely since my senior year of college—so it was five pound on top of the other 15 I wanted to lose before I got engaged!)  I realized then that I was getting married, and, as trivial as this may sound, if I couldn’t get motivated to get in shape for my wedding day, I probably would never find a better reason. 

I started by cutting out all fast food (not that I ate much of it anyway, but once in a while I would give into some taco bell or chicken nuggets of a good five guys burger!) I cut out all processed foods; I stopped eating anything that came wrapped in plastic or cellophane, anything with an unlimited shelf life—no more “Lean Cuisine”and sodium loaded low fat soups for lunch, even though, in my past life, I considered them my “healthy”and “light”options.

(Don’t get me wrong, I lost 15 pounds on the lean cuisine diet, but I was cranky and hungry and bloated from all the added salt and preservatives…not worth it, not sustainable, and not healthy!)

I CUT OUT COFFEE. Which sucked for the 1st day, but I kept green tea on hand and was able to make the transition. I had 2 cups of green tea on my first coffee free day. Then 1 cup a day for a few days after, and finally I just stopped. No headaches or crashing. I was caffeine free for a whole month. Now and then I have a cup of green tea when I’m feeling slow, or just want it, because it’s good. And once in a while I’ll treat myself to a small coffee—because I like it, not because I need it to function! 

I found out about BluePrint at a yoga event in Philly. Some of their reps had a table set up and were giving free samples; they let my friends and I try the whole flight of BluePrint flavors, which was really nice, because it was good to know I could stomach the flavors before I took the plunge into a full-blown cleanse.  All of the flavors were very tasty, and the juices were all organic, cold pressed juices, from a variety of fruits, vegetables, and even nuts! I was intrigued, because the cleanse consisted of drinking 6 juices a day, lots of water, and herbal tea if you wanted. I was more intrigued when I found out that each day, I would be consuming 1200 calories—which is good because I don’t do starvation—I love food too much, and I am the originator of the adjective “hangry” – don’t believe me? Google it.
BluePrint offers 3 levels of cleanses—beginner, intermediate, and expert, and it’s basically based on how much of a crappy eater you are.  The beginner cleanse consists of 2 green drinks a day (out of the 6 juices,) and as the levels increase, so do the number of green drinks per day. Needless to say, I decided to go with the beginner cleanse, also known as the “Renovation” cleanse on their website. 

This cleanse consists of:

·         2 Green juices which include organic romaine, apple, celery, cucumber, spinach,       kale, parsley, and lemon juice.

·         1 Gold juice that includes organic pineapple, apple, and mint juice.

·         1 Red juice that includes organic apple, carrot, beet, lemon, and ginger juice.

·         1 spicy lemonade (kind of like the Master Cleanse drink!) that is water with organic lemon juice, cayenne, and agave. 

·         And finally, one drink that isn’t really a juice at all, it includes organic cashew milk,   agave, cinnamon, and vanilla bean.

OK—so at first, I thought, this is going to be easy. I just drink pre-made, pre-packaged juice for three days. Because, man, is juicing annoying. The chopping, the juicing, the cleaning of the juicer, and the fact that if you wait too long to drink it, it’s already a weird color, especially green juices. 

HOWEVER, this cleanse is expensive!!!

Check out the BluePrint website for further explanation of the juices, packages, and pricing, but if you want to do a three day cleanse, it costs $195 for 18 bottles of juice (6 per day.) AND if you don’t want to drive to NYC to pick it up, they charge you $30 to FedEx it overnight—since it has a short, refrigerated shelf life, there’s no other shipping option. So $225 for a 3 day cleanse. 

They offer 15% off group discounts, and bridal party discounts, but it still stays pretty pricey. Since I am a skeptic and a cheapo, I decided to look into the Wholefoods option (Because, as far as I know, if you don’t buy it directly from BluePrint, Wholefoods is the only other place that sells the juices.) 

I did my research and my math. If you buy the cleanse from whole foods, you need to purchase the following:

6 bottles of green juice (at $9.99/bottle) = $59.94
3 bottles of gold juice (at $9.99/bottle) = $29.97
3 bottles of red juice (at $9.99/bottle) = $29.97
3 bottles of spicy lemonade (at $6.99/bottle) =$20.97
3 bottles of the cashew milk (at $11.99/bottle—Yikes!!) = 35.97

Total cost for the BluePrint 3 day cleanse through Wholefoods is $176.82 –which already saves you $48.18 (compared to buying it directly from the BluePrint site.)


Wholefoods offers a 10% case discount. A case is 12 bottles (I believe) and must be made up of bottles in the same price point, so you can buy the 12 bottles of green, red, and gold juice that you need in one case since they’re all $9.99, and then just buy the other 6 bottles of cashew milk and lemonade separately. If you purchase them this way, with the case discount like I did, you’ll only end up paying $164.83, which is $60 cheaper than buying them through the BluePrint website!!! (You’re welcome. I’m a frugal genious! I know)

$164.83 is still pricey for 3 days worth of juice, but I justified this purchase by telling myself it was a good kickstart to a healthier lifestyle, and I was getting married. It’s important to note that I did not decide to do this cleanse with the intention or hope of losing weight. Yes, I did lose about 4 pounds (about what I put on during the cruise,) and yes I did keep them off, but it’s not a magic fat wand. 

So 3 days before the cleanse, you need to prep for it. Get rid of any heavy processed foods, coffee, dairy, red meat, etc. Basically, I ate steamed or broiled fish, whole grain rice or beans with veggies and fruit. 2 days before the cleanse I ate fruits and veggies rice and/or beans, and the day before the cleanse just fruit and veggies. Pre, during, and post cleanse, I only drank water and hot green tea. Then you start you 3 days of juice.

Day 1 sucked. The taster samples I’d tried a few weeks earlier at that yoga event were yummy! They tasted fresh, and trendy, and healthy! Chugging 16 ounces of green juice on my way to work was hard. You start your day off with one green juice. 

Chug water. 

An hour later, you drink your gold juice—which is decent your first sip, but is soooo sweet it was almost harder to finish than the green! I know it’s real fruit juice, but the gold has 45 grams of sugar in it!!! That’s A LOT! 

Back to chugging water, then onto my 2nd green juice—which is really rough by this point in my day. 

More chugging, then it’s time for a spicy lemonade (my favorite!) More water, and I make it to my most hated of juices—the red (beets, apples, carrots, ginger.) I really do not like beets, and I really, really don’t like drinking them. Also—don’t be alarmed when you go to the bathroom and it looks like you have internal bleeding worthy of a House episode. It’s just beets turning your poop a really scary color of red! Yay! 

Finally, I finish my day off with the cashew, cinnamon, vanilla, agave drink. You have to shake it really well or it gets a little chunky, and the instructions day that you should really try to chew your drink to mix your saliva into it for better digestion—whatever—I felt like a big idiot doing that, and I choked myself once on my own spit. Go me. This drink wasn’t so bad. The first half of the bottle I imagined it was almost like drinking a yummy milkshake. The 2nd half of the bottle gets a lot of chunky sediment, and I started to feel like I was swallowing a poorly mixed protein shake. 

I must say, I wasn’t really hungry all day because I was chugging so much liquid. I was also peeing every 10 minutes…and my pee was clear, so that’s good!

The next day went the same as the first, except I’d gotten used to the routine a bit, and definitely wasn’t hungry. I didn’t feel cranky or headachy. I did have a bit of trouble sleeping the 1st night, which might have been from so much sugar during the day. Gold juice has the most sugar, but the rest weren’t far behind. It was tough because I was at work this whole time, and my lovely office ladies kept asking me if I was sure I didn’t want to eat some pizza. 

That second night I had to go to an event for work where there was like….a wedding style cocktail hour and sit down dinner. I was really good for most of the night, but then I was really hungry, and couldn’t drink my cashew drink at this event without looking like an idiot, so I caved and have some of the steamed veggie side-dishes that were offered. 

The last day of my cleanse, went fine. However, at the end of the work day (it was a Friday) we had a big, fancy office retirement party. I had RSVP’d weeks ahead of time, so I couldn’t back out, and there was so much fancy food, I thought I would die. I caved (again) and ate some stuff…just a tiny appetizer plate’s worth, but I had a few shrimp with cocktail sauce, some veggie crudités, and (gasp!) a cute and tiny grilled cheese. I’m the worst at not eating real food. 

That 3rd night, after the retirement party, I skipped the beet juice and the cashew juice, because I felt bad about eating and really wasn’t hungry. I tried to extend the cleanse into a 4th day by drinking the beet juice for breakfast the next morning, but it was so gross; I could only stomach half the bottle. I felt so guilty about throwing out $5 worth of juice, but whatever. 

I saved the last bottle of cashew milk, and drank it after the gym as a protein shake that day. Good riddance, juice cleanse. I finished it. I cheated a little, but I don’t feel too bad about it. The cleanse was fine. I had energy, I wasn’t hungry, I got a ton of servings of fruits and veggies over that week. 

I eased myself back into regular food, but it took a whole week for my stomach to get used to it. I know this is TMI, but it’s important—I had diarrhea the WHOLE WEEK after the cleanse. Not terrible, not explosive or painful, but not normal. 

I probably wouldn’t do this cleanse again, because it was pricey, and I really think that I could have gotten the same nutritional value by just eating fruits and veggies. The green juice claims to have 8 pounds of produce in one bottle, so it might be hard to eat that much produce, but again—whatever. However, for me, it was a good mental cleanse and jumpstart to a good gym routine and healthier eating habits. I kept telling myself, you just spend $160 on a juice cleanse—you better keep up this healthy stuff! 

So, if you’re feeling desperate for a change and not very motivated or consistent, maybe this is for you. Maybe you love juice! Whatever floats your boat! I’m not going to recommend this either way, because I’m not you and I’m not a doctor. 

I would recommend that you NOT consider doing this for more than a few days. I read somewhere that this is safe for up to 30 or 40 days, and some people—especially crazy brides—do the cleanse for the whole month leading up to your wedding. I can confidently say that sounds insane. You will be cranky and hungry and wanting to chew stuff, and you will be taking in WAY too much sugar every day. Plus, good luck trying to eat anything awesome at your wedding or on your honeymoon because your stomach and colon will not be having it!

Whatever you do, make sure you do your research and make sure you do it safely. Don’t believe anything or anyone who tells you it’s a good idea to try XYZ fad diet or cleanse because it promises you’ll lose 10 pounds in 3 days. It won’t, and if it does—you won’t be feeling well and you’ll gain it all back!

Enjoy ladies and make good decisions!!! :)

The end. Feel informed?? 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Being old.

You know how I know I’m old?

Here are a few things that helped me reach this realization:

·         When people ask me how old I am, and at first I say 23, but I’m not. So then, I remember that I’m 24 and feel super old.

·         When I make a conscious effort to reach my daily fiber intake EVERY SINGLE DAY, and eat things like steel cut oatmeal with chia seeds (delish. Try it.) I also have been eating PRUNES. Not religiously, yet, but I’ve been eating them, and frankly, they are not so bad (especially the Orange Essence ones that Sunkist brand makes.)

·         I can no longer order a Domino’s pizza and eat the whole thing myself, because if I do, I’ll not only feel guilty—I’ll be spending significant time in the bathroom two hours after I ingest it.

·         I take a HANDFUL of mineral supplements and vitamins every day, and unless it’s a placebo effect, they make me feel better and stuff.

·         I have to thoroughly stretch at the beginning and end of every day. I “pulled something” in my back the other week (by sleeping funny, I think,) and I carry Icy-Hot in my purse to work. Every joint in my body cracks on a daily basis (including hips, elbows, STERNUM. Wth?!)

·         I go to a chiropractor, on a semi-regular basis.

·         I say things like, “Back when I was in college.” Or “Back when I could stay up past 10:30 pm.”

·         Most of my trips to TJ MAXX results in purchases of either yoga/lounge gear or business attire. (& for those of you [women] working in a corporate or government setting where you have to dress like an adult to work, may I suggest hitting up TJM for as many Cynthia Rowley dresses as you can find! They’re comfy, cute, and almost always look good on everyone. Plus they tend to be modest enough for work and around $25. WOOHOO!)

·         I have to carefully consider committing to weekend nocturnal activities, because FLAKEY PEOPLE are my biggest pet peeve, and I hate reneging on plans, but I also hate when Friday comes around and I am too exhausted from the work week to drag myself into the shower, much less to shower, blow dry my hair, put on nice clothes, and go do things.

·         I realize how much work it is to maintain lasting, quality friendships when you’re no longer running into your friends at school or work (but it’s almost always worth the effort.)

·         I’ve purchased a pair of pants that could probably be classified as “chinos.”

·         I check up on my monthly budget about once a month to make sure my savings is on track for my first home purchase plans.

·         When I’m in the car, if I’m not listening to a book on CD, NPR is on.

·         Next year’s birthday will be my quarter century mark.

Maybe 24 is the new 45? (<<<Insert Carrie Bradshaw voice over here.) 

I can say that I feel a million times better when I get active during the week, even if it’s just a nice walk a few nights a week, bedroom yoga, or whatever. And eating vegetables seems to help too. It’s tough to feel like exercising after an 11 hour day of sitting. Sitting in the car for 3 hours and at my desk for 8 is a killer.
I think I’m going to try some new things soon. 

Luckily, I have a boyfriend who seems pretty on board for new adventures, as long as they fit somewhere in our budget, so hopefully my next posts will be all about exciting/cool/new things I’m doing.