I know the 2020 holidays seem like a far off memory. So much has happened in the course of the first few weeks of January 2021, and the warmth and magic of the holiday season–even though the season was spoiled by virtual gatherings and socially distant gift exchanges–seems so in the past.
I don’t know about you, but the amount of sugar, butter, salt, and fat that I consumed from October through December without stopping, was pretty horrific. What can I expect? I was stuck inside my home with nothing to do but bake and cook for myself and my partner. And then family members and friends baked for me and gave me their food–grateful. But it was really out of control and pretty non-stop for three full months, and my body is still suffering the consequences.
A few holiday food highlights from November through December 2020. Left: Pecan pie made by my twin sister. Middle: Martha Stewart’s Brown Butter Cookies. Right: My homemade toffee with chocolate and almonds.
Now that I am 41 years old, I am finding that everything with regards to my body just takes longer. My hair takes longer to dry. My aches and pains take longer to heal. My body in general takes longer to wake up and feel perky in the morning. And of course, any attempts at weight loss seem to take quadruple the amount of time they used to. The weight also seems to latch on and stay there for WAY longer than I prefer, and it seems to park itself in parts of my body that it used to otherwise just kind of drive by at a leisurely but efficient speed. My hips carry weight as if they need to hang onto it for their survival, and so does my tummy.
That’s okay, though. I am all about body love and body acceptance, and I definitely don’t want to spend or waste my time trying to fight an uphill battle against age and excessive juiciness (I don’t ever like to use the “F” word when talking about body juiciness, since I think it carries with it such extreme negative connotations in our culture.
For more about this, read and enjoy my article “ELIMINATE ‘FAT’ FROM YOUR VOCABULARY”).
However, I do care about my health and it does matter how happy I feel in my body. I can work with this extended timeline if that’s what The Goddesses are calling for, but it’s definitely an adjustment, and I must be patient and proactive.
The older I get, the more I realize how long I want to live, and the more important my health and wellness become to me. During this period of detox, I have been trying to focus on eating tons and tons of vegetables and fruits, along with healthy grains. I’m also doing my best to avoid sugar and fat.
[I am not a medical expert and do not insist that anyone does what I am doing during my detox period. Please consult your doctor with regards to anything health and diet related. Also, I am not sponsored by anyone–I wish!!–and any products that I mention in this post are only because I love them and want to share them with you.]
I don’t know about you, but I am truly obsessed, enthralled, and intrigued by hearing about what other people eat. If you feel the same, then just sit back and enjoy!
I must begin by saying that when I am trying to trim down, I do dabble in a bit of intermittent fasting (if you have never heard of this, just google it, it’s a virally cultural sensation at this point, and is also highly controversial). When I say dabble, I mean, I try not to eat after a certain point in the evening, and I try to extend the time when I begin eating in the morning, so I can create a space of roughly 12-15 hours between eating time.
The rough theory is, it takes 12 full hours for our bodies to digest any amount of food. After that, our body goes in to “fat burning” mode and all kinds of supposedly positive things happen to our body.
For more information, check out this article by Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting
So, if I stop eating at 7pm, and don’t have any breakfast until 10am, I have achieved three full hours of fat-burning time, and it’s very do-able because I was asleep for most of it.
I know I am the oddball that typically doesn’t really care for breakfast food. I love an amazing plate of pancakes and bacon as much as the next person, I really do. But I don’t get excited about breakfast and I can never find anything that works for me.
Right now, this is working for me.
TOASTED NUT BREAD WITH RAW HONEY AND CHIA SEEDS
I buy a fresh loaf of harvest bread from Whole Foods (any whole grain nut bread will do) and this is filled with vitamins, minerals, and lots of fiber. It’s also yummy! I use Y.S. Eco Bee Farms Raw Honey because I just prefer the taste and texture of this brand. And I add chia seeds on top of my breakfast construction because they have an insane amount of health benefits.
As a post-holiday gift to myself, I purchased an affordable blender (I never had a blender before?!) and have totally gotten my money’s worth in just the last three weeks. Three words: Soups and Smoothies.
Making soup can be intimidating, but there are so many recipes out there for really delicious soups, and once you get the hang of it, you can get really creative and also tailor the recipes to your taste (pun intended).
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH A SIDE OF ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
My soup is a bit chunkier than a gourmet version, because I think restaurants typically strain their soups, and also probably have industrial blenders. My blender was kind of resistant to my efforts to de-chunkify the consistency, but I actually like a chunky soup, so this was glorious. Regarding the brussels sprouts, the image above is a whole baking sheet full of brussels sprouts, and I of course don’t eat all of that in one sitting. But I just love how they look when they come out of the oven all crispy, and wanted to show off.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
For the soup, I initially used this recipe by COOKIE + kate and it was so easy. I actually loved it so much that I made it a second time this week, but I tweaked it just a bit to make it more to my liking. The original recipe called for one shallot and four cloves of garlic, but that was a bit garlic-heavy for my taste, and I love a strong onion presence in my soups. So, for the second version, I used a large yellow onion instead of a shallot, and only two cloves of garlic instead of four. I also added some cinnamon to this recipe because I like a bit of sweet warmth in my butternut squash soup. Perfecto!
To make this soup, I sliced a squash in half (that’s seriously the hardest part of this recipe), seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted for 50 minutes. I added sautéed onions and garlic to a blender with the lovely, mushy, roasted squash, and then added spices and vegetable broth. Blended until smooth (ish). Yum Yum Yum.
ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
I also love me some brussels sprouts and have them for lunch every week, whether I am detoxing or not. My biggest problem is fighting over them with my partner. He loves them too and between the both of us, we go through them in about two days if we aren’t trying to conserve them.
For these, I take two small bags of already cut organic brussels sprouts, slicing off the tips and then slicing them in half. I spread them out on a baking sheet and drizzle with an excess of olive oil, and some salt and pepper. I place in a preheated oven at 425 degrees and roast. I tend to them pretty affectionately and once I start to smell them, I take them out, sprinkle more salt and pepper over them and toss them around. I let them continue to roast until they are golden with lovely crispy bits all over. Not gonna lie, what sets these over the edge is I add even more salt after they are done roasting. I pop those babies into my mouth like popcorn and can’t get enough.
When I run out of brussels sprouts mid-week, I make some steamed asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper. So fresh, crisp, and delicious!
If I’m feeling fragile, ravenous, or just don’t really care, I will have my go-to sugar treat after lunch. This is the only sugary product that I allow myself during my detox time (honey is sugary, but it’s a natural sweetener and has other added health benefits, unlike processed sugary products).
GHIRARDELLI INTENSE DARK 86% CACAO INDIVIDUAL SQUARES
Dark chocolate is a fantastic way to go when you are trying to behave yourself dietarily, for so many reasons. First, the bitterness actually curbs my appetite and cleanses my palette, so I don’t ever feel the need to keep going back for more. It’s also rich in anti-oxidants, and one square only has 1g of sugar.
I have tried all percentages of dark chocolate, and all brands for that matter, and this exact brand and percentage hits the sweet spot. Ghirardelli is by far the best quality that I have found, so I stick with that. The 72% cacao actually tastes too milky and sweet once you get used to the 86%, and the 92% is just wayyyy too bitter.
AFTER LUNCH SNACK
Since I’m eating so light during my meals, healthy snacks really sustain me throughout the day. I am not remotely interested in starving or depriving myself, and my body actually responds very well to small, but multiple portions all day long.
After lunch, I typically go for a 45 minute walk (it’s super cold in Pennsylvania right now, but I need the sunlight and the fresh air, and it’s also great for my metabolism, so I bundle up and try to do this at least four times a week). And when I return from my walk, I like to make myself a fruit smoothie.
BERRY AND BANANA SMOOTHIE
I will just start off by declaring that making smoothies is hard! Okay, making them is easy, but making them good is hard. I have new levels of respect for smoothie artisans who create healthy, delicious, and multi-faceted flavored and textured smoothies. I don’t think I have quite got the hang of this yet, but the way I do this now is at least edible, and healthy.
I combine raspberries and blueberries in a blender, along with some frozen slices of banana (I like to use this in place of ice and I love all cold beverages, all the time). I add a bit of coconut milk and pulse away. Last week I was using almond milk and I think I prefer that because it’s very bland and the coconut milk is a bit too strong for this. Maybe if I was making a pineapple mango smoothie I would use coconut milk, but not for berries.
Too much fruit can just be too much for my body to actually handle, so the amount I make fits into a mug-sized cup and that’s just enough for me.
BEFORE DINNER SNACK
If I’m really ravenous, which I am this week because I am pre-menstrual, I really crave some umami flavor in the afternoon, especially after the sweetness and tartness of the smoothie. Enter in CHEESE. I have been really trying to cut back on cheese because I have noticed that it’s been causing me a lot of acid reflux. But it’s sooo good, so I do sneak a few minuscule pieces sometimes.
APPLE AND PEANUT BUTTER WITH CHEDDAR CHEESE SLICES
I will take a half (or sometimes a quarter) of an apple (I prefer Honeycrisp) and slice it in two, covering it with some Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter. I like a bite of sweet and then a bite of salty, back and forth, round and round. So, with this apple/PB combo, I have a few small slices of Organic Valley Raw Sharp Cheddar Cheese. This definitely hits the spot for me and keeps me happy until dinner time.
Let me start by saying that my body really does need meat. Not just protein, but actual animal meat. This is just me, but I find that when I go strictly vegetarian, it really throws off my regularity, and a small portion of meat every day keeps me even. I also just feel less shaky and peaked when I have some animal products in my diet, in moderation.
HOMEMADE TACOS WITH GROUND TURKEY, DOUBLE BEANS, AND CILANTRO
For these tacos, I went with ground turkey to stay a bit lighter on the cholesterol. I started by sautéing some onions and garlic, and then I added the ground turkey, breaking up the pieces until it was browned. While the turkey was browning, I added some cumin, paprika, chili powder, garlic salt, sriracha, and salt and pepper. Once the meat was browned, I added one can of drained and rinsed black beans. At the very, very end, I added some freshly chopped cilantro–POW! This week, I totally forgot to get limes, but next time, I will also squeeze lime juice over the whole gamut.
My partner loves canned refried beans, so we heat up some of that as well and smear it on our tortillas to start building them. I prefer corn and he prefers flour, but we were able to find some corn/flour tortillas…BOOM! Then we add the meat mixture on top of the refried beans, and then a whole load of fun toppings to complete the ensemble.
Toppings include some pico de gallo (I get the pre-made, but fresh, version from Whole Foods), iceberg lettuce, and just a tad bit of shredded cheese (I can’t help it, I must).
These tacos are soooo legit good, and super healthy and filling. We also have some tortilla chips and guacamole on the side and we are good for the evening!
See “LUNCH DESSERT”
I just go with one more chocolate square after dinner, unless I skipped the square during the day, then I will most likely pop two in my mouth, maybe spaced out by an hour or so just to extend my pleasure into the evening 🙂
NO SNACKING AT NIGHT
This is by far the hardest part for me, especially when the TV is on and I am craving snacks to go with my entertainment.
I have been able to go this whole week without snacking after dinner, miraculously!
However, if I just can’t stand it and decide to give in to my cravings, I will have a bowl of Cheerios (not Honey Nut, but regular) with some banana slices. I might also have more of my apple/cheese combo. Or if I need salt, I will have two or three pretzels with a few swigs of freshly squeezed orange juice. Yes, that’s right. I love eating pretzels with orange juice. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Also, since I’m from Pennsylvania, and here we are known for our pretzels, I eat the only brand of pretzel that anyone should ever eat, because they’re the best…
PRETZELS AND FRESHLY SQUEEZED ORANGE JUICE
Unique Splits Pretzels are made in my hometown of Reading, PA, so of course I’m partial. But I have had friends in other states who have asked me to bring them some (these pretzels are pretty local and aren’t sold in grocery stores outside of the area) because they loved them so much and couldn’t find them anywhere.
So, there you have it folks. I’ve been doing this for about a week now, and I am actually starting to feel a bit too skinny, not kidding! I also believe that as we age, our plumpness actually keeps us a bit more youthful looking than when we are bony and frail. This is not to judge any body type, we are all doing the best we can! All I’m saying is, I want to keep some meat on my bones and don’t want to start feeling like I’m wasting away.
I’m 5’9″ and big-boned, weighing in this morning at 180.8 lbs. I have been striving to get into the 170’s since, in the past, my ideal comfortable and most attractive weight was around 172-175 lbs. However, with my newfound 40’s body, I’m starting to wonder if I want to dip that low. I am truly loving how I look in the mirror lately, like damn! So, I don’t know, we’ll see how far I want to go with this in the days and weeks to come. I want to feel healthy and strong and that is all, so I will use that as my barometer.
Please share with me your daily diets for the day, as I mentioned above, I just LOVE hearing what a person eats. And please, above all else, find that perfect balance between loving and accepting your physical temple (aka body) and striving for healthy practices. It’s hard I know, but it becomes easier when we have supportive goddesses surrounding us. Let’s build each other up and see what we can accomplish together!
xoxoxo to you!