On clean eating, detox plans, and real nutrition

20130225-191249.jpgYes, I know. It’s a poorly lighted, badly cropped, and annoyingly small iPhone picture. The photographer within me is screaming, but I was too lazy to charge my camera battery, so bear with me here. It does get better. This quality photograph is my guilt-free ice cream dessert, made with only one ingredient.

I’m sure you’ve heard of this before. The miracle delicious soft-serve that is the product of a frozen banana in a food processor? Yes, well, this is my second attempt at banana ice cream. In the first, I added some cocoa powder and chocolate chips, assuming that they would somehow mask the flavor of banana. Wrong. I don’t mind banana, but not in my chocolate ice cream, and I ended up throwing most of it out. When I tried it again tonight, I decided to embrace rather than obscure the banana flavor (because we all know it’s impossible), so I added some vanilla and handful of rainbow sprinkles. I’m pleased to say that is was actually pretty good! I’m sure there are many other variations of this ice cream out there on the internet, but if you can’t stand banana, this is probably not the dessert for you.

This whole concept of “clean eating” is relatively new to me. Up until the past year or so, I ate whatever I wanted; I thought that just because I was skinny, I had nothing to worry about. This is a major flaw in our  society. We glorify thinness so much that many people see a low number on the scale as the only goal, when it is in fact hardly relevant. The more I learned about biology and nutrition, the more of an interest I took in my own health. I realized I was filling my body with processed foods galore, an abundance of sodium, and way too many carbs–basically, crap. About a year ago I started branching out in my tastes, filling up on more fruit and meat than cookies and lemonade. But we all slip up sometimes, and these past few weeks, especially over vacation, I gave up all pretense of healthy eating and let the cravings take over. Not that the food I was eating was particularly junk food, but I really hadn’t been getting the vitamins, minerals, and proteins I need, and it was starting to show. I started breaking out, became sluggish, and my depression took a turn for the worse.

I’d been hearing about “cleanses” for some time–flash diets that remove toxins from the system. While many of them sounded dangerous or maddening (such as the all-fruit cleanse or the liquids-only detox), others sounded reasonable, even doable for a slightly picky eater like myself. I found this great, pretty inclusive one-week cleanse and decided I would give it a shot. Why not break the sugar addiction and make myself feel clean and healthy? I sketched up a meal plan, down to the snacks and the times I would eat. This morning, I had some grapefruit and oatmeal (without sugar!) for breakfast at 6 AM, and a peanut butter apple around 9 AM which eradicated hunger until nearly 1 o’clock. I munched on some cucumber salad near 2, and after my Chamber Choir rehearsal, went home. Sitting on the counter were piles of fresh-baked cookies. Chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, double chocolate… I couldn’t resist. I broke the cleanse and had a cookie. It was kind of pathetic, but I’d say it was worth it. My mother bakes probably the world’s most delicious cookies.

I’ve carried on with my cleanse since then (okay, I had a piece of lasagna for dinner, but hey, who can turn down fresh lasagna?), although I think I’ve already ruined the whole point of it. I’m supposed to be breaking my sugar addiction, getting rid of toxins and all that, but I couldn’t even go one day without excess sweets. I did notice, however, the surprising energy levels I’ve had all day. Maybe I’m not being “cleansed,” but attempting this definitely made me remember how good eating healthy can feel. I’m not the sort of person who enjoys salads and quinoa and walnuts, or the sort of person who could ever go vegan or vegetarian. I like my brownies and burgers, but just because I enjoy food of the less-healthy variety doesn’t mean I can’t incorporate them into a largely healthy diet.

I think I’m going to carry on with my oatmeal and grapefruit and apples-with-peanut-butter, but I don’t see the need to continue an official “cleanse” when I’ve already spoiled the whole thing. For me, this was a rewarding conscious effort to control my health and lifestyle, and a great reminder of why I bother taking care of myself at all when eating pop-tarts on the couch is so much easier. Have you tried a cleanse or detox? If so, how did you feel throughout the process–were you pleased with the results? I’m curious to know how other people approach sensible eating!

 

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Inspiration: Georgia

I apologize for the gap in posts, all. I went on a lovely vacation to California over midwinter break to visit family, colleges, and of course, Disneyland. I’m back now, however, with as much to say as always.

Today I’d like to share with you one of my favorite people and biggest inspirations: my good friend Georgia. Zhe is an enormously talented photographer and a wonderful human being. For a while now, zhe has been doing a 365 photography project, which you can view here, at zer Flickr. It’s been incredible to see zer work evolve over the past several months, especially with all zhe’s been through lately. It ranges from blue-toned self portraits to stunning multimedia work to conceptual edits to stark black-and-white prints, film and digital. Georgia’s photography tells a story, something I strive to emulate.

“Would it be a sin if I can’t help falling in love with you?”

96/365

87/365 / (I’m the model here!)

Georgia inspires me daily, in who zhe is and what zhe does. Some day I hope to be as dedicated and talented a photographer as zhe is. I highly suggest you all go peruse and admire zer work! It takes my breath away every time.

 

 

Cinnamon Roses with Pomegranate Glaze

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With Valentine’s day close on the horizon, I decided it was time to share one of my favorite simple recipes for the occasion. And by simple, I don’t mean some recipe with five million weird ingredients but three easy steps, as most so-called “simple” recipes turn out to be. You’ll probably have everything you need for this in your house already.

Cinnamon Roses & Pomegranate Glaze

You will need:

  • Store-bought crescent roll dough (e.g. Pillsbury)
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • About ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • Pomegranate juice (alternative: milk and red food coloring)

To prepare the roses:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Unroll dough on a cookie sheet. For mini cinnamon roses, separate dough down the middle perforation. For a larger version, leave the entire sheet of dough intact.
  2. Sprinkle dough with cinnamon sugar–the more the merrier.
  3. Roll the sheets of dough up.
  4. Using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion so as not to squish the rolls, cut slices to the desired size. They won’t expand much. Lay these rolls on their side.
  5. Pinch the bottom of each roll with your fingers until it’s completely closed up. This will cause the center part of the “rose” to pop up a bit. Make sure that all the layers still stay relatively close together and that the center isn’t sticking out too much, because this will cause your roses to unravel during baking. Spoiler alert: no matter how hard you try, half of them will unroll anyway.
  6. Bake the roses for about 8 minutes (if you’re making mini rolls) or until golden brown.

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To prepare the glaze:

  1. Pour your powdered sugar into a small bowl. The measurements don’t have to be exact, and can be altered according to the amount of glaze you’d like.
  2. A teaspoon at a time, begin stirring in pomegranate juice. If you don’t have pomegranate juice, which can be bought in small bottles at most supermarkets, you can prepare a tradition powdered-sugar glaze using milk instead! Pomegranate is one of my favorite fruits, and I love the pink for Valentine’s day, but almost any liquid will do for making this glaze.
  3. When the glaze is thin enough to be drizzled, you’re done! If you’ve made the glaze with milk, you may wish to add a drop or so of red food coloring for festivity.

This is such a delicious, simple treat to make for your family or lover for Valentine’s day breakfast. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll probably end up eating them all yourself. No shame.

Pin-tested: cookie dough bites

P1100755I am by far the guiltiest person when it comes to eating raw cookie dough. No matter how many times someone (namely my mother) helpfully informs me that raw eggs have salmonella and asks whether that dough is really worth vomiting violently in the ER, I continue to scrape up every little bit. Cake batter, sugar cookie scraps, bits of pie crust, cookie dough on the beaters of the mixer. I can’t help myself. It’s delicious. The food poisoning gods have been merciful to me so far, but I know that the risk is out there. So when I found this simple recipe for cookie dough bites, I knew it was a win-win.

These don’t taste quite like real cookie dough, but it’s a good enough substitute for me. If I made them again, I might suggest decreasing the amount of brown sugar and butter slightly, or at least adjusting the ratios. You can definitely taste your arteries clogging up as you munch on these addicting little balls of dough. But hey, dessert is dessert. There’s no point having a treat if it isn’t as delicious as can be!