are you clean inside?

ColonixThis is the cringe-worthy copy on the box of Dr. Natura’s Colonix, the three-month cleanse I just finished.  The graphic design is not much better (not the mention the name…).  Colonix, however, is great, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a natural cleanse, have never cleansed before, or want something fairly gentle.

Three months?  That’s crazy!

It really wasn’t.  Colonix consists of an herbal supplement, fiber, and a tea, plus an optional recommended probiotic supplement (which you could augment with kimchee or kombucha).  There are no specific diet requirement, though Dr. Natura advises eating healthy and avoiding all the things people normally tell you to avoid or limit (red meat, sugar, coffee, etc).  I personally drank a fair amount of ice tea and some alcohol (it was summer, man!) and it still worked great.

The idea of the cleanse is to eliminate all the gunk that’s stuck on the inside of your intestines (let’s not go into that), kill any bad parasites and let all the good ones flourish.  I can’t say I saw results immediately, but at the end of three months (recommended length for first time users), I’m pretty blown away.  My digestion is great (so great I don’t even think about it) and people keep telling me I look healthy (a feat for NYC!).  Another side benefit is my stomach is flatter.

There are loads of different cleanses out there, natural and not, and many don’t require you to buy specific products, but this one by far gave me the best results of the few I’ve tried.  As with any product, be sure to read up and google around to make sure it’s right for you, and follow the instructions.  My acupuncturist recommended this cleanse to me and said several of his clients have also found it beneficial.  If you want more info (it is a bit of a financial investment), feel free to contact me directly or comment.

*Word to the wise: While the testimonials on the sidebar are hilarious, do not look at the picture gallery on the website, unless you want to throw up.  Personally, I like to celebrate my inner cleanliness in the privacy of my bathroom, but not everyone feels that way.

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wild fermentation

kimchee.jpgMy dear friend Adam arrived in New York with a very exciting late birthday gift: Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Sandor has a lovely and modest website about fermentation as well. This man is truly WILD about fermentation, and after making my first foray into fermenting, guided by Adam, I think I am too.

Adam and I made the radish and root kimchee. After chopping up various radishes and roots, soaking them in salt water, adding garlic, ginger and chili flakes and pounding them down into a glass vase, we put a jar on top to keep them submerged by the next week, they were fermented!

Not only is it this kimchee delicious, I have this deep feeling of satisfaction after I eat it. Surprisingly, I have found it does not leave an lasting taste in my mouth as I would have expected, but it is important to store it in an airtight container to keep the strong garlic+ smell from taking over your fridge.

The process of fermentation creates probiotics like the ones in kombucha, which is also fermented. As Sandor puts it, we should invite this friendly bacteria to live in our bodies in a symbiotic relationship. He has a pretty special way of describing his passion for fermentation, adamsarah.jpgincluding a very touching story about radishes. This book is great for anyone looking to spice up their cooking, jump start their health in a new way or reconnect with the desire to do.

Me and Adam: fermented friendship —>

no impact man impacts me

noimpact.pngI want to give a shout-out to a blog I’ve been reading: No Impact Man. It’s actually a year-long, well-funded project where a writer, his wife and two-year-old daughter live for a full year in the middle of Manhattan without making any environmental impact what-so-ever. No subway even. No appliances. No packaging AT ALL.

While obvious there are issues to be worked out with how the rest of us could live more like this, I find it really inspiring. Both my roommate and I drastically reduced our use of plastic bags (so much so that we’re out when we want them!).

What I like about his point of view is that he points out the many health benefits (both physical and emotional) that his family has experienced from the project. Here’s a post on that topic and also a link to my favorite post (on how he entertains his daughter without TV).

My one complaint is that I wish he would be more explicit about how much time and money his activities cost. I have no doubt they are saving tons of cash, but it’s unclear to me what changes I would have the time to spend to complete them (i.e. doing all laundry in the sink, baking bread, etc.). Either way, the health benefits are clear and inspirational.

compose yourself with bach

rescue_remedy.jpgBelieve it or not, school starts on Tuesday for me (year two of my MFA).  I love fall (what?  summer’s over???) because everyone suddenly gets filled with The Desire To Do, complimented by the crisp weather.  I used to have a lot of anxiety about going back to school as an undergrad, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been seized in that physical way that is oh-so-paralyzing.  Still, so many of us have anxiety about various areas of our lives and I wanted to post on a natural alternative for those who don’t want to go the pharmaceutical route.

I found the best relief for anxiety to be Bach’s Rescue Remedy.  It’s a natural formula made from the extracts of flowers, and has been around since the 1930’s.  I’ve found it to be readily available in most health stores and even my local drugstore carries it.  It’s non-addictive and, as the website says, safe for everyone including plants (that’s good because my cactus is stressed out).

Rescue Remedy is available as a liquid that you squirt under your tongue and it calms you.  Sound magical?  I can only say it worked for me.  I used to use it at the airport before they banned liquids, because I would get highly anxious about getting to the gate on time (Thanks, Dad).  I also used it successfully before a job interview (it didn’t make me too relaxed to perform well) and for general ‘I’m-freaking-out-here’ anxiety.  My mom found it helpful for stress when going to the doctor.

I know several other folks who have tried and liked Rescue Remedy, but I don’t know much about the other Bach formulations.  They do have several, including one for panic attacks and another for insomnia.  I would be very interested to hear if anyone has tried the one that’s supposed to stop you from “interfering with other people,” which includes Beech extract to help you “be less critical towards  other people and accept them as they are.”  Who wouldn’t benefit from that?

just a spoonful of agave nectar…

tequilla_agave08.jpgI was talking with one of my dear friends who loves cooking, and he was looking for a sugar substitute, which reminded me of the wonders of agave nectar. I was first introduced by one of my roommates, who brought it home as a substitute for honey during those long winter months when we drank buckets of tea. Interestingly, agave nectar (or syrup), no matter what brand you buy, comes from Jalisco, Mexico, and is made (fittingly) from the agave plant.

Agave is lauded for having a low glycemic index and marketing towards diabetics. However, I personally wouldn’t drink buckets of it, rawagave23.jpgnot even diluted by tea. I found this fairly extreme article by a raw foodist, which lists the pitfalls of agave for raw food purists and and points out that you should check the label and make sure your agave syrup isn’t diluted with corn syrup, like everything else in America, including, apparently, your fingernails (best to stop biting pronto).

Still, I think agave nectar provides a great alternative to sugar, especially for sauces and stir-fry. I personally have felt a difference with agave: you don’t get the sugar high and crash, but still satisfy your sweet tooth. Agave nectar can be substituted for sugar in most recipes, with a little fiddling. It is quite a bit sweeter than sugar (at least to me) and the substitution is 1/3 cup agave nectar for every cup of sugar. You will also have to adjust the moisture in your recipe, depending on what you’re making.

I recently discovered Baby Cakes, a delicious Lower East Side Bakery that caters to people who can’t eat wheat, dairy, eggs or gluten (hallelujah, I had not had a cupcake for something like three years! Thank you, Baby Cakes) . Notably, they don’t use an ounce of refined sugar. They use (drumroll…) agave nectar! …and the result is incredible. Everyone I know who has tried it has agreedtoplogo_white.gif that it is some of the best confections they’ve had, hands down, and not just in the living without category. They’re known for their cupcakes, but I think the chocolate banana bread is slammin’.

*It would be interesting to know if there are any specific nutritional benefits to agave. Anyone?

the dirty dozen

organic_produce.jpg

I love summer for the produce. Even in NYC, which is seriously sub-par to California, I eat so much more fresh fruits and veggies during the summer months and pay so much less. Whole Foods certainly throws into perspective the price difference between organic and non-organic produce. While I think Whole Foods prices are particularly suspect (farmers’ markets and CSAs are ways to get delicious organic & local produce for less), it’s hard to find affordable organic produce year round. So, I bring you the dirty dozen: a list of produce that you should try to eat organic because it is most commonly filled with pesticides. Fortunately, there is also a list of produce that is consistently clean, for those of us on a budget or with limited access to organic produce.

I first saw this list in NY Spirit, and was delighted to see it again in my new subscription to Nutrition Action (thanks, Linds!). One thing that Nutrition Actions points out is that eating fruits and vegetables (PERIOD) is more important than anything else. An important reminder for me, because sometimes I can get so caught up in trying to eat organic that I might miss out on eating as many fruits and veggies as I should. In any case, this list should help. Drumroll….

The Dirty Dozen: Peaches, Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Pears, Grapes (imported), Spinach, Lettuce, Potatoes (Carrots were up there to)

The Consistently Clean: Papaya, Broccoli, Cabbage, Bananas, Kiwi, Sweet Peas, Asparagus, Mango, Pineapples, Sweet Corn, Avocado (YES!), Onions (Blueberries weren’t terrible either)

delicious accident

Sometimes lack of sleep results in brilliant accidental discoveries. After a night of not enough sleep, I was groggily exercising my morning routine, trying to get out the door and be on time to my summer job. I put some granola in a bowl and took out a cup for some ice tea (I’ve been making jasmine green ice tea, yum!). BAM! I poured the ice tea in the granola.

I was about to pour it out and start again when I thought, what the heck? I don’t have time, I don’t like to waste things, I’m just going to try it. And… DELICIOUS. This is a great alternative for no cow milk/no soy milk folks like myself (I usually use rice milk). I’m not sure it would work with cereals that are not as hearty as granola, but the possibilities for experimentation are endless. I’d love to hear your granola/ice tea combos. Did I loose my credibility with this post?