the tinkerly half-arsed kinda-sorta cleanse/fast thingy.

After months of debauchery, I decided that I’d had enough of my disgusting eating habits (peanut butter from the jar anyone?) and that it was high time for a cleanse!  I had the best of intentions for following the Master Cleanse.  I had lemons and pure maple syrup and cayenne pepper — enough for days!  But things didn’t go quite as expected (as they never really do).

For the 25 people in the world unfamiliar with the Master Cleanse, it was conceived of by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s, and revised in the 70s.  Burroughs believed that consuming only maple syrup-sweetened, cayenne pepper-spiced lemonade for 10 days would detoxify the body and remove excess fat.  The cleanse is still widely practiced today, despite the obvious chinks in its proverbial armor (lack of nutrients, losing water weight vs. fat).  On the cleanse, the practitioner can drink as much of the lemonade concoction and herbal tea as desired.  There are 3 phases to the cleanse: ease-in, cleanse, ease-out.

This is my tale.

Day 1.

7:00am: Up and at em!  While the idea of drinking lemonade doesn’t sound like the most delightful thing on this great big planet, I’m resolved to do this!  At least for the 4 days until my scheduled pancake breakfast with favorite-landlord-ever, Errol. I decide that I will cheat, just a little, and allow myself coffee (decaf! almost exactly like herbal tea!), sweetened with maple syrup, of course.

7:30am: Lemonade! This stuff doesn’t taste so bad after all!

9:45am: More juice!

10:00am: I’m so very sleepy.  I take a shower and decide I will take the day off to recuperate from the ever-so-strenuous cabin weekend with handsome beau.

11:00am-5:00pm: Squeeze, squeeze, more juice.  At some point in the afternoon, I realize I have forgotten to add the cayenne. I  watch the entire Pillars of the Earth miniseries, plus a few episodes of Mork & Mindy, season 2.

6:00pm: It can’t hurt to have a few almonds, right?

7:00pm: Maybe a little coconut oil (Don’t ask, because I really have no answer as to 1. why this seemed an acceptable exception, and 2. why it sounded appetizing.)

7:35pm: I really don’t feel very good.

8:00pm: Trying simultaneously not to vomit and to fall asleep so I don’t have to experience how awful I feel. At this point, the idea of maple syrup is enough to cause dry heaves.  Eventually I fall asleep.

Day 2.

8:00am: Lemonade?  Please god, noooo! I’m still extremely put off on the idea of maple syrup.  I opt instead for coffee with almond milk, plus water and my daily vites.

9:00am: Running errands, depositing money in the bank.  Stop off at Trader Joe’s to stock up on lemons and maple syrup.  Still not able to stomach the combo, I buy a few bottles of 100% juice.  I know it’s a stretch, but I need to consume some calories, and I’m thinking the lemonade will not be palatable today.

12:30pm: Decide to walk 3 miles to have coffee with a friend, in lieu of driving.  Beautiful day for a walk! Plus, it’s the perfect weather for my Wellies.

1:30pm: Arrive at coffee shop.  Friend Elizabeth is eating a sandwich that I sort of want to rip out of her hands, or at least gnaw on the mostly-empty condiment packets to suck out the last traces of Miracle Whip or yellow mustard. I resist, and a lovely conversation ensues. I buy a Naked Juice, because it’s juice.  Perfect.

2:30pm: For the past hour, my stomach has been jump-n-jivin, and now I start to feel really off.  I ask friend Elizabeth if she’ll drive me home.  I have tunnel vision, and feel like I’m going to vomit, right on the curb in front of Dunn Bros. Grand Ave.  I feel embarrassed like a 3rd grader who’s just puked on the classroom floor. In the end, I prevail in not vomiting, and feel fine by the time I’m dropped off at home 10 mins later. There’s also some time spent in the bathroom, and I will not go into any detail in this department.

4:00-5:00pm: Sweet, blessed nap.

6:00-11:30pm: I’m feeling pretty energetic and spend some time working on websites, catching up on bills, getting stuff in order.  I feel fine!  I’ve also consumed a handful of almonds, drunk some black tea with almond milk and syrup, and splurged on one green olive.

Day 3.

7:30am: Coffee to get me going, and vites.  I have enough supplies to last a few more days, but am still hesitant about drinking the lemonade again.

8:30am: Begin work.  Feeling energetic and good!  Stomach feels hungry, and I may start the day with more of the Trader Joe’s juice, just until I can verify my stomach isn’t going to reject anything.

8:45am: Lemonade still entirely unpalatable.  Drink Trader Joe’s juice instead.

12:00pm: Handsome beau comes over for lunch and I successfully refrain from eating from his plate (well, all but one carrot, anyway).

2:00-3:00pm: Nap, obvi.

3:00pm: Decide to take a walk and realize that I will most likely pass out from lack of nutrients.  At this point I realize the cleanse has become a silly exercise in starvation, and that it’s time to stop.

3:15pm: Oatmeal.

4:15pm: Walk at Hidden Falls (see pics below).

5:30pm: Return hateful Master Cleanse ingredients to Trader Joe’s in exchange for fruits and veg.  The idea is to do the ease-out by way of eating mostly raw for a day.

6:30pm: Delicious soup, salad, and rice dinner.

7:00pm: Plus a little peanut butter.  Which makes me feel ill and I throw the dregs of the bottle away.

8:00pm: Clean out refrigerator and cabinets of all trigger and splurge foods (generally speaking, the ones I have difficultyeating in moderation).

So the conclusion here is that the Master Cleanse is probably not for me.  Had I not been so horribly nauseated on Day 1, this may have had a different, and later, outcome.  But, as it is, it may be a long time before I can use real maple syrup on anything, let alone subsist on it for days on end.

I do like the idea of a periodic fast, and intermittent fasting has gained a lot of momentum in the past few years. My reasoning behind attempting the cleanse was to regain some mindfulness about what I eat, how much, and how often.  For a long time I’ve advocated many small meals, but working at home and having the kitchen never further than 10 steps away means that eating was often out of boredom, or to break up the monotony of sitting at the desk.

My weakness is grains.  I cut down, only to find myself imbibing a carb-heavy diet mere months later.  I also struggle to find balance, as my diet has been gluten-free for several years.  Because I already limit what I choose to eat, I’m extremely loathe to adhere to even more severe dietary restrictions — both for myself, and for those who cook for me.

As with everything, this is a learning curve.  In the future, I’d like to do an actual cleanse, perhaps a prepared juice cleanse, or even the Master Cleanse — properly prepared for!  I don’t know that 3 days is enough to make much of a difference in my eating habits right now, but it has got me thinking differently.  It was nice not to think about food prep for a few days, or to think about food at all, really!  It was also highly interesting to know that I can really go a lot longer, and do a whole lot more than I’d have thought on very little food.

I’d love to hear your experiences with intermittent fasting or cleansing — share in comments!

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it’s coming…

This is it, we’re in the middle of it already! It’s the time of year that requires, to my way of thinking, the most adjustment: from Fall into Winter.  Yes, capitalized, just like that.  Its seems like only a few weeks ago that it was all sundresses, maybe paired with boots, but maybe not, maybe still with a bare leg and a cute heel.  But now! No dice.  Even though the temps can still be into the 50s and 60s, the morning-time is chilly-willy, down to the 30s.  Even I, Winter Lover Extraordinaire, experience some difficulty in acclimating.  No, it’s true.  I love winter, but I become slightly squeamish about getting out and doing stuff when it’s cold-yet not winter, with wind-but no snow.

Par ejemplo, last night, I went for a run.  But it took some mind-wrangling to get there.  I came home from work and, realizing I had eaten way too much office-chocolate (this is not a euphemism, though it really could refer to a number of things… there’s chocolate and candy f’ing everywhere in the damn office.  I look at it as a good exercise in self control, though it usually turns into let’s-eat-so-much-chocolate-at-work-that-it-makes-me-sick-and-I-don’t-want-to-eat-it-anymore, however.  This experiment, as yet, has not proven successful.), and because I had chosen not to visit the gym, I decided on the running.  I got home and started eating corn chips, mais oui.  And I ate a lot of them.  Stress-eating, you wonder? Procrastination-induced snacking? Yes, yes indeed.  Because it was COLD (44 deg F, or thereabouts) and it was windy, and I simply DID NOT WANT TO.  But, I went anyway, and once I got out there it was good.

The tricky part of cold-weather activity is managing the body-temp gap between starting the activity and being at the point of sweating.  Layering! Of course! But if you run, you know it’s a real hassle to take shit off and tie it around your waist.  Plus, you end up looking like an elderly woman mall-walking at 7am.  So I dress sparingly, and hope I’ve struck the right balance.  I did, last night, and the run was lovely.

My point being, though, that I have to remind myself every year that, while it stinks sometimes to get out there, it’s a matter of wearing the appropriate clothing, and then you can do anything.  Right?  I saw a guy driving to work yesterday morning, on a motorcycle, in 40-something degree rain.  But he was wearing a nice motorcycle suit and I thought to myself, I’ll be he’s real comfy.  And he probably was.  Because he was protected by his clothing, which is the whole point. Here’s a good frame of reference:

Image courtesy of The Arctic Kingdom Polar Expeditions.

This may seem like the most asinine pastime in the whole world, but there are those who love ice-diving.  I’ve heard it’s beautiful, though I can’t say for certain I’d ever endeavor.  Properly clothed, though, it’s nearly the same as any other cold-water diving.  It’s all about the equipment.

American Woman, redux.

So many good things today.  But this was a  highlight:

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I had lunch with my friend, Russ, today at the lovely Indian restaurant Gandhi Mahal, in South Minneapolis, near Lake St. and Hiawatha.  We ordered the lunch buffet, which was loaded up with all gluten-free choices, plus a few dairy-free options. And dessert: 3 options, all gluten free.  And some kind of magical fried chickpea patties, also gluten free. He had read an earlier post re: this album, and just happened to have it in his collection, and gifted it to me (Thanks Russ! Cherishing this as we speak!). A funny bit in this: Russ and I worked at a coffee shop together back when blogs were just becoming a thing. And I lamented them endlessly! How boring to read about what some joker had for lunch, or went on vacation… Clearly, I didn’t understand the depth and breadth of what one is capable of communicating via this commendable medium.

kombucha experi-fermentation, every now-and-then

Happy Friday!  I’ve been been mildly absorbed in my new fermentation adventures (NEW and IMPROVED!  Now with KEFIR grains!), and the butch hasn’t been doing a whole lot this week.  In part, I realized round about Wednesday, because there wasn’t any food in the larder, the cupboards were bare.  I courageously took a sip yesterday morning and confirmed that it was leaning more toward vinegar than is desirable.  I brewed up a fresh batch of sweet tea and added it into the mix.

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Sorry for the mash-up, still working on a system to get things from the phone to the computer, whilst maintaining date/time info.  And… yes, I was too lazy to walk upstairs to get the USB cord this morning.

kombucha experi-fermentation, douze(y) du jour

It’s definitely happening now, it wasn’t just a fluke yesterday.  The mushroom is definitely both gromandizing and aggrandizing (sorry, sleepy and in need of a little alliteration).  True to my word, I checked it just as many times today as usual.  And changed the location.  But it seems to be a resilient bugger and keeps on keepin’ on.

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I think I’m getting very close to being able to brew a batch of the coveted kombucha!

kombucha experi-fermentation dia diez

I was gone a few days at the cabin, so I took advantage of my absence to set the temp a bit higher in the room wherein resides the nascent scoby.  I’ve been gone since Friday morning, so you can imagine how excited I was to have a look this afternoon when I came home!  This is what I found:

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When I first looked, the mushroom was floating nicely at the top, but drooped because I moved it.  Kind of amazing though, that it grew that much just over 48 hours!  I should probably leave it alone rather than constantly checking on it… yeah right, that’s gonna happen 😉

kombucha experi-fermentation, days 1, 2 und 3.

Immediately after posting my desire for the home-brewed bucha, a friend let me know that he happened to have a little SCOBY on hand (this stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, I believe, but I’m too tired to go look it up.  So we’ll go with that, shall we?) that he would be happy to share.  Since I wasn’t able to pick it up that exact moment in time, I picked up another bottle of tea after work on Thursday so I could get the tinkering started that night.  Getting some of friend Tom’s SCOBY would be easier, but you know, it’s just so much more fun to have grown one, or at least to have tried!  It’s the small things that excite me.  Such as, and I don’t know if I mentioned, but last summer I scored an amazing 70’s sun-tea jar, complete with etched-on sunflowers and a green molded-plastic spigot and screw-on lid with built-in handle (see below).

The first bottle of kombucha I had this week was the classic GT’s, and it sounds like tons of people use this to start their own mother.  On Thurs, however, I happened by the Wedge, where I found the only plain brand on the shelf was NessAlla, which I’m excited about because it’s much closer to home (ok, I don’t actually know where GT’s is brewed, but it can’t be closer than Madison, WI). I tried as best I could not to drink any of the bottle, but I failed, so there was only an inch or so to start, which I’ve let it sit for a few days.  Here’s the progression: I checked again that afternoon:Then again this morning: I was thinking about it a bit today, and a vague little tickle in the back of my mind told me I was missing something.  I just haven’t read enough about this process, basically.  I had it in my mind that you can toss it in a jar and just let it grow!  But it is ONE BILLION living organisms, and the little buggers need food.  I did a bit more reading, specifically on starting a SCOBY this way (on this awesome site), and got learned.  In consequence, brewed up some sweet tea, and added it to the mix.  I also moved the jar into the furnace room, where it tends to be warmer (which whole living suggests is better) than other spots in the house, and also more remote, lest my roomies come upon it.

FOOD! (ok- drink, actually) Kombucha

I’m thinking of starting an experiment:

batch of kombucha, mature.

I was at Whole Foods last night, stocking up on vites, as ya do, and wanted to get a little treat, also as ya do, since it was dinner time, and a beautiful day, and I simply wanted something fun to consume.  I grabbed for a bottle of kombucha, of which I don’t think I have ever, not once, drank more than a thimbleful another time I was at Whole Foods and a sampler was schlepping his fermented-tea wares.  Original flavor, GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha.  I was hesitant upon first sip, but it was quite delicious and I drank the whole bottle whilst (finally!) watching the Season 2 Finale of Downton Abbey.  Sixteen ounces may have been a bit much for one sitting, but I do feel pretty damn good today for no apparent reason, so I’ll attribute it to the tea.

It’s funny, once you start looking into it, everyone absolutely raves about this tea; it’s a cure-all from everything to arthritis to lactose intolerance.  In any case, it’s a tinkerly-type thing, so I can’t resist.  It’s a little like brewing your own wine (which I convinced mummy-kins to do), or concocting limoncello (pops and stepmum still do this on occasion, on my suggestion), or tapping the maple trees for syrup (next year- right, dad?).  I can’t take all the credit since my parents were, and still are, the ultimate source of my tinkerlyhood: mom with the giant garden in the summers and her devotion to sourdough bread; dad with the vast and sweeping building projects throughout my lifetime, including building a cabin, and swapping out vehicle engines.

The experiment will begin as soon as I can make my way to a store that carries kombucha, so I’ll have fodder to grow the scoby, or mushroom.  I already have a fantastic old-school sun-tea container that will work perfectly.  Can’t wait!  More to come.

In the meanwhile, what are your favorite tinkerly-type projects and hobbies?

FOOD! Broke Bean Stew

It’s difficult to say broke bean, isn’t it?  Don’t you really want to say Brokeback?  Like this is a clandestine comfort food?  It’s not, of course.  There’s no shame in the Broke Bean Stew!  Well, barring any adverse reactions to the level of highly-soluble fiber provided by the magical fruit.  The recipe is from The Biggest Loser, which I have never watched, not once.  But the stew is really good!  Basic recipe, they’re not reinventing the wheel here, but a hearty, easy staple for a week’s lunches.  Also great fiber, low fat, freezes well, yadda yadda.

Per usual, I couldn’t be bothered to follow the recipe exactly.  Actually, the store I visited didn’t have kale or swiss chard and I wasn’t feeling the spinach.  The only alternative was collard greens, which works just as well, though I still would have preferred kale.  For beans, I chose 2 cans of navy/white beans and 1 can of black beans to blend for the broth.  I also made it a little easier by browning onions, blending the specified ingredients, then tossing it all into a slow-cooker overnight.  I can’t imagine it makes much difference.

A few notes to ensure gluten-freedom: packaged foods can be tricky, so check labels for canned beans.  Also, soups, broths, and bouillons are notorious for containing wheat and/or MSG (which I’ve read is unrelated to gluten sensitivity, but many people are highly sensitive to it, so why risk it?), so ensure these are safe!

Visit the Biggest Loser site for more info and other low-fat/cal/sodium/etc. recipes. (There are actually several that sound really tasty, including this chocolate-raspberry deliciousness.)

Broke Bean Stew

(makes 10 1-cup servings)

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 can (28 ounces) diced fire-roasted tomatoes
3 cans (15.5 ounces each) chickpeas (or kidney beans, black beans, white beans), rinsed and drained (or 4-1/2 cups cooked beans)
4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped kale or Swiss chard

Instructions
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in 4-quart saucepan. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Do not brown garlic.

Add spices and tomatoes and simmer about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups (2 cans) of beans and 2-1/2 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.

Place remaining beans and broth in bowl of food processor or in blender. Add cilantro and puree until smooth. Add mixture to stew. Add spinach and heat just until wilted. Stir well and serve hot.

Nutritional information (per serving)
Calories: 160
Protein: 8 grams
Carbohydrates: 26 grams
Fiber: 7 grams
Fat: 3 grams
Saturated fat: 0 grams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Sodium: 330 milligrams

Click here to download the recipe.

Adapted from “The Biggest Loser: 6 Weeks to a Healthier You” by Cheryl Forberg, RD. Copyright © 2010 by Universal Studios Licensing LLLP, The Biggest Loser™ and NBC Studios, Inc., and Reveille LLC. Reprinted by permission of Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098.