Thursday, October 2, 2014

Living Consciously this Holiday Season

Summer used to be my favorite season. I love the beach and the pool and usually work a lot less in July and August. But then, seven years ago, the kid was born in the fall, and fall quickly became my favorite season.

Whenever I go for a walk, and I see all the fall colors, I am reminded of those first walks I took with the kid in a carrier. He was barely 5 pounds when he was born, and people often asked if there was really a baby in there as he was so tiny that it was hard to see him. I also love pumpkin, cooler temps (still waiting for them here!), and reading a good book by the fire place. Plus, there are soups and stews and homemade apple sauce.

Yet, fall and the holiday season that follows can also be a source of stress. There are countless parties, often with few healthy food options. The days are shorter yet there is more to do with back-to-school activities, fall sports, and parties. It’s no wonder that we often look for the “reset button” on January 1.

Last year, I approached the holidays differently. I had done my first Conscious Cleanse - a food-based cleanse where you eat real food customized to your needs and preferences - in January and loved how it had positively changed my life. I had lost weight, slept better, had better skin, and felt more centered and mindful. For the first time in years, I didn’t have stomach pain and discomfort.

When Jo & Jules, the founders of the Conscious Cleanse, offered a pre-holiday cleanse, it made a lot of sense to me. Why wait until January to feel my best?

The pre-holiday cleanse helped re-affirm a lot of the positive changes I had made but had started to let slip a bit. I recommitted to starting every day with warm lemon water followed by a green smoothie. I got rid of all condiments and everything with added sugar. I gave up chocolate and anything with caffeine.

Conscious Cleanse8

Since I had followed the Conscious Cleanse guidelines most of the time, the changes weren’t radical but rather little tweaks here and there that left me feeling great.

One aspect I love every time I do a Conscious Cleanse is that it helps me to be more mindful in general. As recommended, I start each day by journaling for 10 to 15 minutes. It’s a great way to clear your mind and focus on what’s really important. I also always declutter my surroundings when I cleanse - from the kitchen to my closet to the garage. It feels great!

On January 1, 2014, I was at my lowest weight in 10+ years and felt great. I had had a great holiday season and felt ready to tackle the new year.

The 2014 pre-holiday cleanse starts on November 1, 2014. Right now early bird registration is underway, and you can get $25 off with code EBCC1114. The code is good through October 12. Click here for more information and to register for the Conscious Cleanse.

For those who are interested, here are some posts about my experiences during and after the Conscious Cleanse, including the foods I ate and how I planned and prepped cleanse foods. [Note: The posts are in reverse chronological order.]

Question: What are you going to do to be more mindful and present during the holiday season this year? Even one little change, like journaling for 10 minutes first thing every morning, can make a huge difference...

Be Well,
Andrea


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Freezer Prep to Make Meals Easier

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I do a lot of meal  planning, prep, and cooking on the weekends. Usually, it looks something like this:

Meal Prep 1027

Without it, we wouldn’t eat as well and life would be a whole lot more stressful.

In addition to my weekend shopping, prepping and cooking sessions where I focus on buying and preparing fresh, in-season produce, my freezer and my pantry are my best friends when it comes to keeping meal time stress-free.

Here is what I normally keep in the freezer:
  • Bone-in chicken – I use it to make chicken broth in my slow cooker. I buy organic chicken when it’s on sale and always have some in the freezer. The other day, I came down with a bad cold and was very glad to have chicken to make some broth.
  • Chicken broth – I always freeze some of the chicken broth I make to have around for an “emergency” when one of us gets sick. I also use the chicken broth in soups, stews, and sauces.
  • Vegetable peels, ends, etc. – I freeze the peels, end pieces, etc. from organic vegetables in a big freezer bag. I use the peels to make vegetable stock as well as bone broth (beef or chicken).
  • Pancakes – I make almond flour pancakes every few weeks and always make extra. The leftovers go in the freezer. It’s easy to take a few out for the boys’ breakfast.
  • Various homemade freezer meals: beef stew, chickpea stew, kimchi stew, and various vegetable soups are some of our favorite meals from the freezer. 
  • Leftover rice – it’s very convenient for quick meals.
  • Sourdough bread – I buy a good, four ingredient sourdough bread at the farmers market for the boys. They don’t eat a lot of bread, and I always freeze at least 2/3 of it (sliced). We defrost it a few slices at a time over the next couple of  weeks.
  • Frozen banana slices – I buy organic bananas at Costco and freeze most of them (sliced). I use the frozen banana slices in my green smoothies. When it’s warm out, I also enjoy eating a few slices as a little frozen treat.
  • Organic frozen vegetables – peas, asparagus, etc. – great meal savers when I don’t have other veggies around.
Questions: What do you always keep in your freezer? Do you use your freezer to make meals easier? 

Be well,
Andrea