Sunday, 2 September 2012


Quiet please. My blog is taking a bit of a nap.

A "nap" might be an understatement for a six-month hiatus, but he was really tired. I mean, he's been going for it internationally since 2007.

Anyway, I'm not sure what's going to happen with this blog, but I feel good (great) about leaving it dormant for a wee bit longer.

If you've stumbled here, feel free to poke around some of my favorite posts from the past:
Or, head on over to The Chalkboard to see some more of my recent writing.

When this little guy wakes up, I'll be sure to let you know.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

It's early...

I've been waking up at 5.30 am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays these past few weeks. It is by choice, though I may not have been of sound mind when choosing that choice. A pre-dawn boot-camp Groupon sounded positively invigorating when I signed up in January. And it is... once I can get out of bed and into the dark, wet Seattle mornings to the Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Association building.

When I wake up I tell myself, "Don't think, Alisha." Auto-pilot is the best way to get myself there.

After totally working the squats for an hour I do feel awesome, as anticipated. I signed up for this punishment not only for the physical benefits, but also just to remind myself that, not only can I wake up at 5.30 am to work-out, I am capable of quite a bit more. Starting my morning like this helps me to focus and get the momentum going for the rest of the day.

I'm totally into morning rituals to give me a bit of rhythm. These days, my ritual/ get-out-of-bed bribe is listening to my audio version of The Help in the car on the way to boot camp. (Audio is a great way to read The Help by the way. Those voice actors are something else!). It's so good I often find myself doing several loops around the neighborhood before parking to hear what's going to happen next.

When I wasn't doing morning work-outs, I started my day like this...
It's an immunity tea that really wakes the body up. The cayenne gives that little extra kick. (Be careful not to inhale any surface cayenne while drinking, now that is a kick.) While sipping I write my morning pages and set my intentions for the day. Sometimes I read for 20 minutes, just because. Then I drink drip coffee to off-set the immunity tea -- we can't be perfect.

I love having rituals to help me get going and stop me from reinventing the wheel every morning when faced with a new day. Even though I've been waking up and getting on with things successfully for three decades, it's always a bit of a shock to get started, isn't it? Rituals ease me right in...

What are your morning rituals?

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Raw, vegan AND happy? All at once?!

Welcome back!

That's what my blog said when I logged on today. This five month blog sabbatical has certainly been restful, but I was encouraged to restart the ol' engine today as I'm kind of overflowing with information.

 {Image from The Chalkboard Mag. Recognize that handwriting? That's right.}

At the end of 2011 I decided to kick off the new year with a month of intentional eating, or whatever the socially correct term for diet/ detox/ cleanse may be. I like the word reset, which I stole from Sarah Fae over at the incredible Addicted to Veggies website.

After just one too many peppermint crinkle cookies over the holidays I was ready to reset my health.

I read a lot of health and nutrition books but there was one that captivated my attention last year called The Beauty Detox Solution. I didn't become obsessed with it because of a desire to become even more beautiful, but more for the detox solution part. The author, Kimberly Snyder, packed that book with all sorts of good practice for healthy digestion and eating for cleansing, and she presented it all in a way that resonated with me.

Talking about digestion makes for fascinating conversation, but not the type you engage in as ice breaker material at a party. But this year one of my goals was to focus on gut health. Not only the literal gut and caring for my colon and surrounding digestive organs, but also my intuitive gut, and learning how to listen to it better.

I think this focus on gut health may have been a great example of me listening to my gut to be honest. For some reason I just became fascinated with digestion, and as I began the "reset" my grandmother was  diagnosed with abdominal cancer -- a complete shock to everyone. By the time they found the cancer it was spread all throughout her GI and abdominal organs, she was give ten days to live and she passed away on January 18 during one of the biggest snowstorms we've seen in a awhile. Cancer has taken another wonderful woman (who lived a long and rich life though -- my grandma was almost 90 years old). While I mourn and celebrate a life, I can also say my digestive vigilance has been strengthened.

This month, even with clearly a lot going on, I dug right in. Consider me reset. I feel healthy and empowered to make good, veggie-centric choices. I'm not going to become a hard-core vegan but I am definitely going to lay off the dairy from now on.

Last week, when a friend said they were about to start a Beauty Detox Solution-inspired plan I wrote down some of the key things I've learned along the way. I thought I'd capture them and share with anyone else as interested as I am in this plant-based, whole food, raw, vegan diet.

Here's what I did and what I learned:
  •  Week 1: Elimination Giving up my favorite toxins (coffee, chocolate and alcohol) nearly killed me, but it felt great to remind my body who was in control. Because herbal tea is no substitute for coffee, I was ecstatic to discover a formidable substitute called Teeccino. You can get it in tea bag or ground-up format, it's caffeine free and, with a bit of cinnamon and almond milk, is as good a replacement for coffee that you'll find.  
  • Throughout the month I focused on these basic tenets: 
    • Attempt to eat raw until dinner 
    • Vegan throughout (since I'm veggie anyway the main sacrifice was the dairy, though I'm surprised how quickly I got used to it. It helps when you start thinking about milk and cheese as "cow mucus", a term vegans seems to love. )
    • Start each day with a glowing green smoothie. Yes, it's green and an unorthodox breakfast choice, but I have converted a fair few omnivores to this amazing drink (see below). 

    • Weeks 2 & 3:Sustain  My original plan was to do some juice fasting in this second week, but life got a bit hectic and, listening to my body, I realized this wasn't the best time for it. As someone prone to extremism, though I loved the challenge of a mostly raw, vegan month, I knew that my long-term health was more important than winning a short-term health challenge. I wanted to try some new recipes, supplements and methods to build my heath portfolio and see what things worked for me. Also important to me, in addition to a squeaky clean colon, is quality of life. Stressing about food and deprivation isn't worth it, so giving myself grace through scheduled in splurge meals helped get me through. In week 2 I reintroduced coffee and dark chocolate (70%), but only every other day to give my body a break. (Baby steps.)
    • My average day looked like this:
      • Wake up to hot water with sliced ginger, a load of lemon and a dash of cayenne pepper
      • Probiotics: I used New Chapter and was happy with them. Want to check out Dr. Ohhira's (apparently the best, not cheap though). Heard that Garden of Life and Mega Foods are also good brands. Probiotics are good for grooming your helpful intestinal flora.
      • Glowing Green Smoothie! (love adding herbs such as basil, cilantro or mint. Ginger is also great; I use two apples instead of a pear, sprouts are good in it too. Love kale in the winter as a spinach sub.)
      • Some quiet time to set my intentions and remind myself what I'm doing. It's kind of a prayer/ meditation/ quiet time. At the beginning of the week I did some meal planning as well to make sure I had a general plan. Having a plan is essential.
      • Lunch: tried lots of Kimberly Snyder's recipes from the BDS. Lots of big, veggie-laden salads with yummy homemade dressings, some raw soups and, when really hungry, some avocado toast with Ezekial 29 sprouted bread. (Using coconut oil instead of butter is amazing. The toast isn't raw but we can only do so much.)
      • Snack: some fruit, kombucha (Love the GT brand gingerade flavor -- this stuff is amazing and full of probiotics, you can load up at Whole Foods or PCC; the cherry chia was also fun); raw almonds; a frozen banana smoothie with cinnamon/ almond milk/ splash of vanilla extract may rock your world. A good snack for when you need an energy boost is chia seeds soaked in almond milk with a bit of cinnamon/ sliced banana. I really like the taste!
      • Dinner: tried lots of new recipes, roasted or steamed veg with dressing, quinoa, salad. Basically just loaded as many vegetables into my body as possible with homemade dressings. Added 1-2 TBSP ground flaxseed. Great nutty taste and Spectrum is a good brand. Tried making the Probiotic & Enzyme salad but the Firefly Kitchen brand is much tastier. I love their kimchi and their Ruby Red Saurkraut is good too. This stuff is not cheap though ($6-10, depending on the type you get).
      • Before bed: detox tea (Traditional Medicinals or Yogi tea, or just plain Mint tea); magnesium supplements. Just started taking the Mag07 supplements that Kimberly recommends (supposed to filled your gut with oxygen and clear you right out!) but the jury is still out on these.  
    {Photo by}
      • Other tips:
        • Raw apple cider vinegar is supposed to be good for digestion. Braggs is a good brand. I've been putting a splash into hot water and sipping on that and it's surprisingly good.
        • Nutritional yeast is great for flavoring. You can use in dressings or sprinkle on food like parmasan. I bought some in the bulk section of my local supermarket, but again Braggs is a good brand to buy in a container.
        • I've been drinking tons of almond milk and am planning to try making some in the coming weeks. Raw almonds are always great to have on hand for when you hit an energy slump. 
        • I've found that the whole principle of light to heavy eating really works for me. Also, I try and eat my carbs for lunch and proteins for dinner and try my hand at food combining where possible. This can be a pain so I just keep it in the back of my mind. In BDS Kimberly goes into more detail about why it's good to think about food combining, and though I'd always been opposed (so much hassle) she makes some good points and I find it really works.
        • I highly recommend scheduled-in splurges so all this change doesn't seem oppressive. I think quality of life and not stressing about food is really important for digestion (and general happiness) so I'm not out to kill myself. 
        • is a great place to buy natural food items. Cheap and no shipping costs, plus you can choose some free samples with each order. First time buyers can use my voucher code (VUF744) for $5 off.
        • Favorite recipes:
          • Carrot-ginger dressing a la Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop (I LOVE this!)
          • Liquid Gold Elixir dressing from Natalia Rose. (Note: I use 1/2 cup lemon juice, olive oil, skipped the bee pollen and chili powder and cut the garlic in half. You can totally make it to taste. This is amazing over steamed veg and quinoa.) 
          • I'm always experimenting with a new combo of tahini, miso paste, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and tamari (just because nama shoyu/ raw soy sauce is like $10 a bottle) for dressings. Just a few tablespoons of tahini &/ or miso with the juice of a lemon and some water is always a treat. I am, in fairness, naturally inclined toward Asian-flavored foods.
          • Beauty Detox Solution recipes: love the oil-free basil lover's dressing (tastes like pesto), the raw teriyaki sauce is good and the red pepper soup I made several times.
        • Other resources: I find that reading about healthy eating during a reset is helpful. So much of our food choices are down to planning and motivation, so keeping the motivation levels high is important. 
          • Books: Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder; Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr; Clean by Alejandro Junger; Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose
          • Blogs: Linda Wagner; Kimberly Snyder (worth signing up to her newsletter); Addicted to Veggies (tons of raw, vegan recipes); Spinach & Yoga; The Chalkboard Mag (overall wellness features)
          • Videos: Forks Over Knives (what my husband calls vegan propoganda); Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (haven't seen but comes highly recommended), Crazy Sexy Cancer (haven't seen, just heard about).

            Hope there are a few morsels of wellness you can pick out and use for yourself!
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