Tuesday, March 27, 2012

From Detox to Retox, Nashville Style

So, the 21 Day Cleanse is officially over, but wait...there's still almost a week left in April. What's the deal? Why would I plan a Lent that didn't last through the whole month? Because...I'm going to Nashville! Hello, retox...

While I'm there long enough for it to be considered a vacation, the real reason I'm going is that Dan (my BF and BFF) is recording the first song from his upcoming album there, which is being produced by singer-songwriter Matthew Perryman Jones. Cool, right? In between sightseeing and hanging out at Honkey Tonks, I'll be the official photographer and videographer of the studio session (we're planning on putting together a short documentary once we're back).

We'll be posting updates to Dan's Facebook Page, so make sure to "Like" it if you're interested in seeing what we're up to. Check out more details about our trip here too.

And don't you worry, I'll have a whole slew of cheesy, Nashville-centric Hipstamatic photos up here before you know it.


Monday, March 26, 2012

My Cleanse Review: Slim Fast Probably Tastes A Lot Better Than Beet Soup

After Thursday's obligatory carbohydrate and wine binge (which was totally awesome, btw), I've leveled off a bit and am back to eating "normally". I'm still holding true to my real Lent of going sans-sweets until Easter, but other than sugar, I haven't been limiting myself as strictly as I was before. Major sigh of relief...

So now that I'm about 5 days out, what's the verdict? Would I recommend this cleanse? Do I feel amazing? Was it worth it? Was it expensive? Doable?

In Short: Yes, I'd recommend it. No, I don't feel amazing, but I definitely feel good. Yes, it was 100% worth it for me. No, it wasn't too expensive. And yes, it's definitely doable, a lot of work, but doable.

The Whole Story: As much as I bitched and moaned, I'm really glad I did this cleanse. I was at an absolute low point with my eating habits and this was probably the only thing that could have pulled me out. Be warned though, if you're thinking of trying this yourself you need to really want to do it or you probably won't last past the first few days. The first week (where you literally just eat fruits and vegetables) is rough, mentally and physically, and you'll have no reason to stick with it unless you're really committed. Make it through that week though, and you're golden. You'll come out of the whole thing with a slew of healthy recipes, better eating habits, and a few pounds lighter than before. Plus, everything you've been denying yourself will taste more delicious than it ever has. You have no idea how good that bagel was...

But how do I feel? Amazing, incredible, better than I ever have? Honestly, not really. I feel good, don't get me wrong, but not much better than I did before. I did like the feeling of "lightness" that I had for those few weeks, but I was surprised how much better and more satiated I felt once I started introducing foods like bread and dairy back into my diet. What felt the best though, was knowing the whole time that I was eating such wholesome, nutrient-rich meals. The 3-week vacation from eater's remorse was definitely nice.

And as far as the logistics go, it really isn't too expensive. Sure you're buying an insane amount of produce, but you're not eating out, and you're not spending any money on alcohol—2 things that can end up costing a ton. And while it's certainly easier to have a partner in crime in all of this, you can alter the recipes to only serve one (most do anyways) or just make the full batch and have leftovers (and let me tell you, leftovers are amazing when you have to prepare every meal for yourself).

So, To Sum It Up: Do it if you need a dietary reboot and love testing your willpower. Don't do it if you're just looking to "detox" or lose a few pounds. Slim Fast probably tastes a lot better than beet soup...

My Biggest Takeaways:
1. Bread doesn't have to be the centerpiece of every meal.
2. That being said, I will never go on the Atkins Diet or become a vegan. Bread and dairy work well for my body (and it certainly was a relief finding that out).
3. Meal planning is life changing.
4. Dried fruit satisfies a sugar craving just fine.
5. Having healthy snacks prepared will save you from binging on junk.
6. It's always worth the extra effort to cook a meal—no matter how tired and cranky you are.

So, what now? I've got something fun planned for the last week of March and I'm working on finalizing the details for April's Lent.

As always, more to come.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 21: The Last Supper

Well, this is it. Day 21: The Last Supper (sorry, sorry, I know). Tonight I cooked up my final cleanse meal, Chickpea-Brown Rice Veggie Burgers, and even though they kind of looked like cat food when I was preparing them, they turned out pretty tasty. Would it have been better with a bun? Probably. Am I a little uncomfortable with the fact that I've turned into that person who wraps a burger in lettuce? Yep. But tomorrow morning, a whole new day awaits me. A day full of bagels, and pizza, and pinot, and...

I'll be honest, as excited as I am to have this cleanse over with, I'm a little nervous. I've been eating so well over these past few weeks, I feel good, I lost 5 pounds (which leaves me wondering what the hell I'd have to do if I actually wanted to lose weight), and there's no Catholic Guilt over what I've been eating. So, what now?

The plan I've been following offers a Bonus Week 4 and I've decided to use it as a guide as I make my way back to "normal" eating. My intention is to follow it, but not be too strict. As my Dad would say, "Everything in moderation".

So, back to the real world of dinner parties and Red Mango Smoothies I go. I do plan on writing up a more detailed review of my experience with this cleanse too, I just want to wait a few days so I can evaluate how I feel once my eating patterns shift back to normal.

Expect pictures of me enjoying forbidden foods tomorrow, YES.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 20: Healthy Snackin' and The Best Recipe Yet

Well guys, by an extreme test of willpower (this admittedly has been much more difficult than I was expecting) I've managed to make it to Day 20 of 21. Tomorrow is my official last day of this cleanse and I'm going strong over here (although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't psyched for a glass of Pinot Grigio). What's on today's menu?

Breakfast: Carrot Mango Smoothie and Gluten-free Granola with Almond Milk
Lunch: My favorite recipe from the cleanse thus far: Quinoa with Poached Egg, Spinach and Cucumber. Make this immediately, it's amazing.
Dinner: Leftover Red Lentil Soup
Snacks: Roasted Spiced Chickpeas and everyone's favorite: Kale Chips.

Only 2 days left, eyes on the prize Danne, eyes on the prize...

Healthy Snackin'

Saturday, March 17, 2012

This St. Patrick's Day, A Toast to My Irish Grandfather, Francis Stevens Joseph O'Connell

In lieu of hitting up the pub and toasting to my Irish heritage in the more traditional way (although the Catholic Church lifts lenten eating and drinking restrictions for St. Patrick's Day, my cleanse does not), I thought I'd take a minute to write a post dedicated to my Irish grandfather (who sadly died before I was born), Francis Stevens Joseph O'Connell.

The title of my grandfather's obituary states, "Francis O'Connell was a hero during World War II"—and that he was. The leader of an all Irish squad nicknamed, "The Shamrock Platoon", my grandfather served in the 26th infantry division of General Patton's 3rd army. He was stationed in Europe from August 1944 to November 1945 and fought in the infamous Battle of the Bulge, and liberated 2 concentrations camps: Buchenwald and Ohrdruf. He was awarded 2 Purple Hearts, one for when he was struck in the leg by a German sniper (which later caused him to have his leg amputated).

Dubbed "The Wild Irishman", my grandfather amassed quite the reputation. The Boston Traveler (what is now the Boston Herald), sent famed war correspondent Andrew Tully to Europe just to track him down for an interview. My grandfather's famous quote from the article was, "There are two kinds of people in the world: the Irish, and those who wish to hell they were Irish".

He returned home from the war and raised 4 children with my Grammy Helen, but as my mom said last night to me on the phone, "He survived the war, but he lost his spirit on the battlefield".

My grandfather passed away at the age of 62 from complications from emphysema. It's always been sad to me that I was never able to have a relationship with him, but what I do have is his name: I'm Danne Frances Dzenawagis because of him, and that will always keep him close to my heart.

So Grampy Frank, "The Wild Irishman", this one's for you. Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Your Granddaughter Danne

Friday, March 16, 2012

TGFP (Thank God For Prana)

One of the things I've missed the most while being on this cleanse is going out to eat. When you're avoiding dairy, gluten, added sugar, and anything processed, it's definitely not easy finding a restaurant to accommodate your annoying, restrictive dietary needs (and I used to think just being a vegetarian was a pain, ha!).

With Week 3's intro to a whole host of new detox-friendly foods, I thought I'd treat myself by hitting up Prana Restaurant in Newton, which serves mainly raw, vegan, gluten free fare (I just so happened to have a Groupon too, win!).

Tonight, I very happily dined on Walnut Lentil Croquettes and Zucchini Lasagna (and don't think I'm cheating here, it's made with nut cheese and zucchini strips in place of pasta), and Dan (who, for the record, dropped out of the detox about 15 days ago—sorry to throw you under the bus there, bud) enjoyed a big bowl of Kelp Noodle Salad.

It was 100% delicious and amazing and wonderful, but want to know what the best part was? For the first time in 2 and a half weeks I actually didn't have to prepare the meal myself.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Oh My Grains–Welcome Back

OMG (oh my god, oh my grains, etc.) this is the moment I've been waiting for (besides the moment when this cleanse is over). Today marks the start of Week 3, and this week I get to add gluten-free grains and eggs back in.


Going without alcohol has been fine, I haven't really missed sugar too much, and no dairy hasn't been bad, but grains? I have thoroughly missed grains, so this morning, you'd better believe that I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast of Toasted Coconut Muesli.


What else am I excited about this week? For dinner tonight I get to eat pasta. It's rice pasta, but still pasta nonetheless. Again...


Welcome to the home stretch, only 7 days left...

Monday, March 12, 2012

My Partner in Detox Crime

The Juiceman II, circa 1992. 20 years later, it still works like a dream...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Joy of Detoxing-Week 2

Let me just say that Week 2 has been much easier than Week 1. As of Thursday, I introduced protein back into my diet in the form of fish, organic soy, and beans. Omg, feeling full after eating again—amazing. There have been some great recipes this week too, such as:

Scrambled Tofu With Collards and Tumeric

Spicy Black Bean Salad
Grilled Salmon and Bok Choy with Orange-Avocado Salsa
Breakfast Vegetable-Miso Soup with Chickpeas

Now, for those of you who are thinking that this cleanse sounds like a piece of cake (mmm...), let me just remind you that even though I get a few tasty meals here and there, I'm still abstaining from consuming all processed food and drink, dairy, added sugar, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol. Not the end of the world, but still quite the effort.

All in all though it's been going really well. I feel pretty good, my energy levels are decent (the protein has certainly helped), and I've been eating all of the right foods and none of the wrong ones. Well, until today at least...

My very talented brother Sean, a senior in high school, won a Gold Key and a Silver Key in the annual Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards (follow the link to view his work that won). My family came up for the award ceremony this afternoon and suggested picking up a few pizzas from Pizzeria Regina afterwards to celebrate. Oh boy, here we go. Is it even possible to look at the most delicious pizza in the universe and not eat it? Maybe, but after toiling over the decision for the majority of the day, I decided to cut myself a little slack and have a slice. That's right, I cheated, and let me just say—it was awesome.

Yeah, I could have toughed it out, but hey, it was a special occasion, I haven't cheated at all until today (and I'm halfway through), and most importantly, it's Sunday, and Sunday is a legal cheat day during lent (my mom actually called the church one year to verify this). Don't worry though, I haven't abandoned ship. I used my one "Get Out of Detox Free" card and I'm back on track to finish out round 2 of this cleanse. I might even make myself eat the rest of the intolerable beet soup for dinner as a punishment...


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Few of the Ups

In case I've sounded a little negative about this cleanse, let me negate the hate by sharing a few delicious and detox-friendly recipes that my dear friend Jess Powers and I tried out yesterday afternoon. We spent an ungodly amount of time julienning vegetables while catching up on each other's lives (she's been away in Uganda building a farm from the ground up, no big deal) and many hours later, these 2 amazing concoctions were born:

Sweet Potato, Apple, and Celery Salad

Pistachio-Stuffed Dates with Coconut

Alright fine, so this detox isn't really that bad...

p.s. Make the pistachio-stuffed dates, they're incredible.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Detoxing

6 Days in...

The Ups

1. I feel good, surprisingly energetic and mentally alert, with the only side effect being a dull hunger ache that comes and goes.
2. I've consumed more produce in the past week than I probably have in the past month—seriously.
3. My cravings for refined carbohydrates, sugar, and dairy are virtually nonexistent (which is absolutely shocking).
4. It's been great having all of my meals planned out in advance and having an excuse to say no to unhealthy cravings that I normally love indulging in (pizza for dinner...again, the frozen dessert section at the supermarket, a glass or 2 of wine after a long workday).

The Downs
1. Drastically limiting your diet totally sucks as far as your social life is concerned. Do I really want to hang out with my friends and watch them eat pizza and drink wine? Nope! Guess I'll just stay in. Going out to dinner is 100% impossible at this point too which is a total bummer (although not for my wallet so I suppose that's a plus).
2. Some of the food is great (those "vegan deviled eggs" were delish), but some of it is absolutely awful (the beet soup was borderline unbearable).
3. I've realized that food accounts for about 75% of the joy in my day (looking forward to a nice breakfast or a hearty, home cooked dinner), and when you cut out enjoying your meals, you cut out some of the best parts of your day. Eating at this point is totally out of necessity, not enjoyment.

Wait, so why am I doing this again (I ask myself this question at least once a day)? There are a lot of mixed messages about detoxes out there, but the majority say that your body doesn't really need any extra help detoxifying, after all, that's the primary function of your liver. However, the plan that I'm following is more focused on cutting out all of the junk in your diet and loading you up with what you should be eating: real food in its purest form.

So, to answer my own question, I'm doing this to reset my diet and make healthier, more nourishing choices when it comes to food. It's been tough but I'm already 1/4th of the way through so I might as well just suck it up and go the distance.

After all, everything, including this detox, is impermanent.

Gotta love a lettuce, kale, parsley, pineapple, mango smoothie! Gag...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March's Lent: The 21 Day Cleanse

Remember back in January when I was sure that a dietary detox was in order because of my holiday hors d'oeuvres habit? Let me just say that things haven't really improved since then. While my diet could certainly be worse, it could certainly be better too—much, much better. Enter: Whole Living Magazine's 21 Day Cleanse.

Here's the basic gist of it:

What I'm Eating During Week 1: fruits, vegetables, and plant-based fats, including nuts, seeds, and oils
What I'm Adding Back in Week 2: seafood, beans and lentils, and organic soy
What I'm Adding Back in Week 3: gluten-free grains and eggs

What's Totally Off Limits: processed food and beverages, added sugar, dairy, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol.

Yes, it's going to be hard. Yes, it's going to be a lot of work. Yes, it's way more intense than the detoxes that I've done in the past, but it'll be worth it—honestly, it can only go up from here as far as my diet is concerned.

Plus, Dan has volunteered (willingly, I swear!) to embark on this detox journey with me as well, so that makes it a little more bearable. My little Fannefur just started her new diabetic cat food too, so over here at Fun House we'll be spending the next few weeks wallowing in our communal dietary misery. Hip hip hooray.

My detox goods from Russo's yesterday. Again, best supermarket ever. A whole week's worth of detox food for only $79!