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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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Recipe: Morning Blueberry Smoothie

This recipe is modified from one in the book Clean, by Dr. A. Junger.  Thanks to Jorie for asking me to post it!

Morning Blueberry Smoothie

This smoothie is what we have been drinking almost every morning for breakfast for the last 3 weeks.  We plan to continue drinking it after we’ve completed our cleanse/detox.

Serves two - if you are only making it for 1, cut the recipe in 1/2.

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup frozen blueberries (I use 1/2 organic blueberries, 1/2 wild blueberries)
  2. 1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
  3. 1.5 teaspoons raw agave syrup
  4. 3 heaping teaspoons raw cacao powder

Substitutes

  • You can substitute fresh blueberries for frozen, and add 1/2 cup ice.
  • You can substitute another non-refined sugar for raw agave syrup if you like.
  • You can substitute carob or cocoa if you like, though cacao – which is raw cocoa – is more flavorful and has more enzymes.
  • You can add 2-3 tablespoons ground flax for added fiber if you like.

Instructions

Blend all ingredients together for 30-45 seconds – it should be smoothe but still have some texture.

That’s it! Please feel free to share your favorite smoothies in the comments!

Cleanse: Day 20 - Discipline

Breakfast!

Welcome!

First off, I’d like to welcome all the new readers to One Green Generation.  Lately I’ve had a lot of emails, Facebook messages, chats, comments, and in-person talks with new and old friends who are reading.

I think this is a unique time for a lot of people.  Many of us are starting out on a new journey, and the idea of a cleanse as a way to begin to reset the balance seems to hit home for a lot of people.

I’m extremely glad to know that my writing is affecting you!  Thank you all for reading.  We’re getting around 2,000 views a day, and only a handful of comments a day – so I especially thank those who have reached out to me to let me know you’re out there and that I’m doing something right.  It’s really good to hear.

As always I encourage you to comment on the blog if you have questions, thoughts, or ideas.  But if you just want to read, that’s totally fine, too!

The Role of Discipline in Well-Being

I’ve talked with several people lately who have done or are doing cleanses, or who are just giving up certain foods both for health and as self-discipline.  I hadn’t really thought of it that way before.  But the essential idea is that sometimes you have to prove to yourself that you can resist things that you want – for the greater good of you.

I got to thinking more about it, and realized this discipline is not mind over matter so much as mind over culture.  It’s the part of our culture that says you should desire superfluous things, and that if you desire them and have the money, you should consume them.

I haven’t been hungry much at all on the cleanse – even after two days of liquid-only fasting.  What has made me want food is the stuff around me – signs advertising food, cultural pressures to eat and drink while convening together (as if we can’t have a good time without it), an “innate” desire to eat dessert after dinner (many cultures don’t do this), the little snacks that litter the grocery store aisles…

But my body is doing just fine without all those things I want to eat.  My body, in fact, is doing better without them!

Why do we want to eat when we’re bored or sad?  Why don’t we want to go on a run instead??  Can’t we rewire our thinking so that we choose to desire things that are better for us?

Now don’t get me wrong, I love food, and I can’t wait to return to some of my favorite things.  But when the cleanse is over, I will be thinking more about what I need when, and how it positively and negatively affects my mood and my bodily functions.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to know your thoughts – have you tried to be more disciplined in your eating or other aspects of your lifestyle?  What do you think is the root cause of our doing things we know aren’t good for us?  And how do we get past that, to do things that are good for us, our families, and our environment?

Day 20

Berry smoothie for breakfast.

Energy smoothie for lunch.

Chia smoothie for dinner.

Well Being Meter

I’m feeling back on track. In fact I’m feeling so well now, and felt so unwell the past two days, that I’m a teensy bit afraid to start normal eating again!

After two days of having only smoothies and water, I have gone into a different mode of detox. My intestines are on overdrive.  Those of you who are reading Clean now, I’m having some of those third-week bowel movements he writes about, the ones that seem to be pushing out years of old toxins.  And multiple times a day.

Psyllium husks are my friend – they’re both helping to push things out, and they are giving me some bulk in my stomach.  Taking it twice a day.

It feels good to be at a better weight, and I’m beginning to see a little extra muscle definition in my arms and legs.  How exciting!

A couple months ago, there is no way I would have ever thought I could do this.  Heck, even a couple weeks ago!  I thought I would waste away.  But I’m actually feeling really good.

Weight: 126.2

Cleanse: Day 19 - Fasting

Chia smoothie from last night

After the last two days of straying from the path and feeling the repercussions, plus the end of the cleanse coming so near, I decided to speed up the detoxing for the next two days.

Dr. Junger suggests that if you fall down on the cleanse, it won’t ruin it entirely.  It’s not great, but it’s not the end of the world.  He also suggests that if you want to speed things back up, you can go on an all-liquid diet the next day.  I decided that since I fell down for two days, I should go all liquid for two days.

So here we go… my smoothie and juice fast.

Day 19

Blueberry smoothie for breakfast.

Energy smoothie for lunch.

Green smoothie for dinner.

Well Being Meter

I feel good – surprise!!  I feel like I am decreasing the puffiness and returning to my pre-cheating state.

I’m extremely surprised at how good I felt walking home 1.5 miles, after not eating very many calories today.  I counted them up:  probably about 350 calories in total.  Lots of nutrients in that, though.  (Plus I am taking food-based multi-vitamins daily.)

There is no way that I would have been able to feel this good having this few calories in the past.  I am most definitely one of those people who ebbs and flows with my meals.  When I am hungry, I generally need to eat or fuzzy-headed crankiness will ensue.  Matt calls this “hangry.” I love that term!

So you can understand how strange it feels to be happy, clear-headed, and strong after such little to eat!

Weight: 127.4 lbs.

Cleanse: Day 18 - Tea

Hibiscus growing in the botanical gardens of Hawaii

Particularly at the beginning of the cleanse, my saving grace was tea:

  • Green tea helped me slowly wean off coffee in the mornings during the pre-cleanse elimination week.
  • Hibiscus tea helps us keep the morning ritual of drinking something warm together at breakfast.  It also makes breakfast a little more substantial than just drinking a small smoothie.
  • Herbal tea of any kind gets me through coffee and drink dates throughout the week for work or fun.  They’re also great to have at the office for drinking with clients or colleagues.
  • Tulsi tea gets us over the hump in the evening, after dinner, when we want but don’t need a snack or dessert.  It helps even more during our winter cold spells, when we want to warm our tummies a bit.

Teas also helps the cleanse!

Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus (pictured above) is full of antioxidants. It’s also natural diuretic, a source of vitamin C, and several studies have shown it to lower blood pressure.  It is also considered to have medicinal properties in the Ayurvedic medicine.

Hibiscus is an extremely flavorful and beautiful tea – the longer you steep it the richer the color and flavor (I steep it for at least 5 minutes).  It is also a great iced tea.  You can often find “Jamaica” in Mexican restaurants – it’s hibiscus iced tea with sugar.

Tulsi Tea

Tulsi - by Forest & Kim Starr

Tulsi is new to me – I discovered it on the tea shelves in our natural food store.  There were surprisingly few varieties of non-caffeinated herbal tea, so I picked it up to try it.  We’ve fallen in love with it!  Matt drinks it with a bit of almond milk and raw agave syrup; I drink it straight.

Tulsi is also an antioxidant.  It’s extracts are used in ayurvedic remedies for common colds, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning, and malaria.  Tulsi is considered to be an adaptogen – it balances different processes in the body and helps in adapting to stress.

It may have other potential effects according to Wikipedia:  as a COX-2 inhibitor (painkiller), to alleviate menstrual cramps, to reduce blood glucose levels, to reduce cholesterol levels, and to protect from radiation poisonin and cataracts.

Day 18

Berry smoothie for breakfast.

Cheated for lunch (see below) – booooo!

Green smoothie for dinner.

Well Being Meter

Yep, I cheated again.  With our clients in town.  Breaking bread together is such an important part of business!!

I tried to be so, so good!  I had beans and rice (white rice).  But it came with some cabbage and lettuce, all smothered in a whole bunch of red salsa.

And that salsa hit my stomach HARD.  Oof.  A big acid bomb in my mid-section.

The client who’d told me the day before I was glowing – about half-way through the day, said I looked spent.

My pants were tighter today, too.  I gained some of the puffiness back.  I was a little off my game.

Not sure if those symptoms were from the meals the day before, or this day.  Also not sure what food triggered the symptoms – was it the tomatoes from the Mexican food?  The white rice both days?  The not drinking as much water?  The bits of dairy from the day before?….?

In retrospect, I probably would have done it differently, given the choice of breaking bread or being fully on my game.

Weight 128.4.

Sunset at work

Above: the sunset we saw at the end of the day – makes up for half the bad feelings at least!  The view is from my office.

Cleanse: Day 17 - Fiber

Psyllium - photo courtesy of Herbs Hands Healing

You knew it was coming.  What’s a series about a cleanse without at least one post about fiber?!

With only one solid meal a day, it’s nearly impossible to get all the fiber you need to help your digestive tract push out all the toxins it has collected.  And… without being too graphic here… I’ll just say it gets increasingly imperative to take fiber as the cleanse progresses (both for the constipation factor and the increased amount of toxins being eliminated).

What Fiber Has Worked For Me?

  • In the first few days, I added course ground flax to my smoothies, and that helped.
  • But pretty soon that wasn’t enough.  So I learned I needed olive oil.  I started with one tablespoon, and a few days later upped it to two.
  • That worked for a bit, but somewhere toward the middle of week 2, I needed more.  I picked up an herbal supplement called “Cleanse More.”  It helped a bit, but not enough.
  • So a couple days ago, I began taking psyllium seed husks.  (We lovingly nicknamed it “colon blow” – oh yes.)

What works?  All of them together.  By the end of week 3, I suspect I’ll need psyllium seed husks twice a day.

Psyllium Husks - photo courtesy of Aatish Industries

A Few Words About Psyllium Seed Husks

First of all, I stayed clear of it for a while because I thought it was wheat.  I was totally wrong.  It’s a completely and utterly different plant, so those of us who are gluten free are a-ok.

Second, when the package says “Mix with 8 oz of water, and drink immediately” – it means immediately!  I mean, down that glass in one fell swoop.  A wee bit of psyllium husks will turn into a glass full of less than savory muck if you wait very long.

But it really, really works.  I was dubious in the beginning, but now I feel the love for psyllium seed husks.

Gardeners, if you want to try growing psyllium, check out Purdue’s website to learn more, and Reimer to buy the seed.

What Does Fiber Do?

Fiber…

  1. Improves the absorption of minerals, especially calcium.
  2. Reduces the risk of colon cancer.
  3. Reduces your risk for heart disease.
  4. Lowers cholesterol levels
  5. Reduces your absorption of sugar.
  6. Adds bulk and softens your stool.
  7. Binds to toxins and helps you eliminate them, rather than allowing them to reabsorb in the body.

(Anyone more knowledgeable than I, please chime in!)

Day 17

Blueberry Smoothie for breakfast.

Lunch and Dinner… sigh… see below!

Well Being Meter

A client who hadn’t seen me in over a month, walked into the door and said, “Wow, you’re glowing, you look really happy!” That was pretty darn awesome.

On the flip side, our clients are in town for all-day meetings today and tomorrow.  They are very social clients to boot, so I felt pretty strongly that I needed to eat with them.

For lunch, we got the closest thing I could get to the elimination diet:  Indian food.  I ate white rice (gasp!), spinach, lentils, chickpeas in tomato sauce, veggies (with tomatoes), eggplant, and a couple bites of fish.  There were several rules I broke. I didn’t have naan – do I get special points for that??  I suppose not.

For dinner, I had salmon with fennel and blood oranges.  And water with lemon.  The only rule I broke was the oranges.  Oh, and the whole two meals a day instead of one!

How did I fare?  It was the first cloudy-headed day I’ve had since the beginning of the cleanse.  I felt bloated, and like I’d regained half the weight (maybe a slight exaggeration).  I had a mild headache in the afternoon (though fortunately not a migraine).  I was tired, and wanted coffee to get me through the day – the first time that’s happened since I began the cleanse.  Overall, I felt a bit… blecky.

I don’t know what gave me those symptoms:  the dairy it was all cooked in?  The nightshade vegetables – tomatoes or eggplant?  The white rice shooting up (and then down) my blood sugar?  When I reintroduce foods at the end of the cleanse, I will have to pay particular attention to these.

Cleanse: Day 16 - Wellness Plan

My Favorite Beach in Hawaii - A symbol of wellness

You can be the master of your own health.  While physicians and specialists went to school for several years and are experts in their medical fields, you are – more than anyone else – an expert on you.

I believe that there are great things about Western medicine and great things about Eastern medicine and healing.  Both have their place.  And the only one who knows whether or not something is truly good for you is you.

Wellness Plan

And so here I have embarked on my Year About Me to nurture myself – physically, spiritually, and mindfully.  Much of this nurturing will happen on my own, but for some of it I will consult specialists in their fields.  I have already seen a naturopath who does acupuncture (ND) and a physician (MD).  There will be others.

As I was researching naturopathy a bit, I found the suggestion – over and over – to create a Wellness Plan.  Dr. Jung mentions this in Clean as well.

That sounded like the exact right thing for me to do to set my goals for my Year About Me.  So here is my start.

By the End of the Year I Hope To…

  1. Lift my arms over my head! (My shoulders are stuck, due to some old car accidents and tendinitis.)
  2. Learn to live happily gluten free. (Yes, I’ll write about this soon.)
  3. Figure out my next career step.
  4. Reduce my meds for asthma to just the rescue inhaler. (I’ve been slowly weaning off my meds for a few years – but still take 4.)
  5. Exercise regularly (outside of walking) – yoga or some other form.
  6. Increase my number of social interactions. (I’m a bit of a hermit at times and want to be more social and a part of my community.)
  7. Decrease my number of negative thoughts, words, and actions.
  8. Have a healthy garden we regularly eat from. (I’ve been neglecting it lately.)
  9. Write more, and write about the things I want to write about.
  10. Spend more time outside of work with my family.
  11. Become more in touch with my physical and mental wants and needs.
  12. Reduce and maintain a lower weight that feels good. (~120-125 lbs?  I’ll know it when I feel it.)

In no particular order really – I want all of them!  I will be updating this throughout the year, to be sure – there will likely be things on my Plan 6 months ago that I don’t even know I need or want now.

Do You Have a Wellness Plan?

I’d love to know what you all put on your plans.  Have you put everything in one year, or do you space it out – not too many changes at once?  Are you more specific?  And how do you tackle your Plan??

Day 16

Blueberry smoothie for breakfast.

Lentils, brown rice, and greens for lunch.

Chia smoothie for dinner.

Well Being Meter

I have picked up an absolutely hyper sense of smell. (No, I’m not pregnant!)  I have a crazy sense of smell – I smell toxic smells like you wouldn’t believe.  I smell the ink in pens, the cleaning products used in stores, the body smell of each person I work with, shoes, food from every direction, … the list goes on and on.  My walk home is becoming a cacophony of different smells.  Interesting, to be sure.

I do feel a bit bloated today.  Weight 128 lbs (gained a lb. from yesterday).  And there was a moment when I felt really depleted and spacey, so I decided to eat lunch early for the first time.

I had a dream last night that I was enjoying eating something, and about 1/2 through eating it, I realized it had potatoes in it.  (Potatoes are not allowed on the diet!)

My skin looks a bit dull today (ie not as vibrant as it has been during the Cleanse) - it might be because I’m not sweating enough. That’s one thing I haven’t been doing much – who has regular access to a sauna??  I’m putting it on the list of things to do for sure during my next cleanse.

I went out for happy hour and had… lemon water. While it was not the most fun happy hour ever, it was not as bad as I thought it would be.  And I saved about $25 in drinks and food!

Cleanse: Day 14 and 15 - Toxins In Your Home

Some of our household products

It turns out going green and going healthy often go hand in hand!

One of the important things you can do on a cleanse is get rid of the toxins around you.  Toxins aren’t just in your food, they’re in your home, your work, in the air you breathe.  They come from the clothes you wear, the makeup and hair products you use, cleaning products, your printer at work, the formaldehyde in your carpets, etc, etc, etc.

This is not to scare you, but just to show that there are a lot of places in your life where you can eliminate toxins before they ever enter your body.

Matt and I have already made most of the changes we could make in our home environment, so I’ve shared many of my tips with you already (I’ve even created a Challenge for it!).

A Few Posts About Toxins

  1. Toxic Soup
  2. What’s The Matter With SLS?
  3. Non-Toxic, Frugal, & Nurturing Skin Care
  4. Start Greening Your Own Home
  5. What Eco / Green Household and Personal Cleaning Products Do I Use?
  6. Why To Keep Toxic Products Out Of Your Family’s Home
  7. Ten Household Uses For Hydrogen Peroxide
  8. Twenty Uses For Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
  9. Vinegar: The #1 Cheapest And Most Versatile Product For Your Home
  10. Organic Ant Control
  11. How To Make Your Own Deodorant (A Very Simple Recipe)
  12. A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo; No ‘Poo: New & Improved!; A Year Without Shampoo

Day 14 and 15

Blueberry smoothie for breakfast.

Salmon, greens, brown rice from the Whole Foods grill for lunch.

Green smoothie for dinner.

Blueberry smoothie for breakfast.

Aduki beans, brown rice, and chard for lunch.

Chia smoothie for dinner.

Well-Being Meter

I woke up at 10am – I think I slept about 10 hours!

Weight 127.0 lbs (lost 6.6 lbs in 2 weeks).

I felt very normal most of the day, rather than super-normal as I had the past week.  Was it lack of exercise?  Lack of skin brushing (the only day I’ve skipped since I started)?  Just getting used to the cleanse?

I felt so normal, in fact, that I felt a bit hungry. Not sure if it was psychological, or I was actually a bit hungry.  I didn’t exercise today – I sat around the house and did odds and ends errands on the computer.  So it may be habit, boredom, or actual hunger – I’m not sure.

I feel like I’m getting down to my true weight and size. I always thought I was “big boned” or “never lost the childhood roundness.”  But apparently, that was inflammation.

We’re beginning to think about the next step, after the cleanse.  What shall we do in February…?