Friday, June 29, 2012

Veggie Nut Burgers and Chocolate Smoothies

On Monday, it will officially be one month since I started fiddling with green smoothie recipes for my up-and-coming recipe book. Things have changed for me in four weeks. I expected to have four week's worth of recipes. I do have that, but I also have four week's worth of major health changes.

To my surprise, my breathing continues to improve every day. The asthma I thought was not that big of a deal turned out to be worse than I'd imagined - at least when I compare my breathing now to what I've been used to my entire life. Breathing is a wonderful thing. This is my new mantra. My energy levels continue to climb, and I have this sense of balance and well-being that I'm not accustomed to. You see, I'm generally rather high strung. In case you've never noticed.

As my health improves, so does my hunger for healthy foods. I've always eaten fruit, and I'm fine having a salad with dinner. But now I really, really want fruit and salads and greens. I can't go through a produce department at the store without accidentally knocking several peaches, a pineapple, and various other items I can't pronounce but they look good and make me drool a little. I worry about what to do with them when I get home.

Yesterday, I visited a large botanical garden and sculpture park. While strolling through the beautiful flowers and greenery, I noticed several big pots of ornamental lettuces. I actually salivated. My first thought was not, "Oh, that looks so nice next to the chrysanthemums." Instead, I instinctively wondered if anyone would notice if I grabbed a handful for a light snack.

Today, I decided to give a raw food recipe a whirl. Raw foods baffle me, I'll not lie. While my first instinct is to just enjoy a salad when the strange urge for raw stuff hits me, I wanted to be a bit more adventurous. But so often, the recipes look complicated. No pans. No oven. No grease. Okay, maybe it's less complicated, but it's foreign to me and somewhat scary. All those seeds and grated veggies. This time, I used a food processor and fresh ingredients: almonds, sunflowers, carrots, onions, dill and parsley, lemon juice. Grind, grind, dump, shape. Done. I put the convincing-looking patties on beds of lettuce, topped them with tomatoes and a dollop of mustard. Then with a sense of delighted shock, I scarfed those puppies down. Even my little boy asked for seconds. Yes, we're going to have them for dinner, too.

Let's not forget the amazing cherry chocolate smoothie we indulged in this morning. A banana, 1/2 a cup of pitted black cherries, 2 tablespoons raw cocoa, 2 1/2 cups water, and 2 cups of spinach (which you cannot taste, not at all, trust me.) Heavenly. I thought I had another glass left and was looking forward to it at lunch, but apparently I drank it when I wasn't looking.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 10 - Not Suffering for the Next Book

It's Day 10 of my green smoothie experiment, started accidentally while researching for my next natural health ebook. Every day, while testing green smoothie recipes, I've been drinking about 2 1/2 quarts of green goodness throughout the day. While it does sound a bit nuts (I'm a sucker for research), the changes in my health have felt quite dramatic. But the most dramatic of all so far is a reduction in asthma symptoms.

I'm not the sort of asthmatic that wheezes - very rarely. But my breathing is definitely restricted, something I wandered around with for years before a doctor noticed that, indeed, I had not grown out of my asthma at all. I just wasn't having wheezing attacks.

I've been making green smoothies for years, and I've always noticed improved breathing after having one. But we're talking one 8 ounce glass in a day. Not over 2 quarts! Now, my lungs are opening up and I can take very deep breaths, like the kind they tell you to take during excercise - the kind that usually choke me.

Green smoothies at this quantity forever? I don't know. I'd like to think I can do that, and I have to say getting really good air is a major motivator. But at least for now, it's pretty darned nice not suffering for my art.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 8 of the Smoothie Experiment

Yesterday, I was thinking it's not easy being green. Day 7 of my smoothie book research experiment found me totally dissatisfied with the usual foods I might grab for a snack, and I didn't have the things I was craving. Usually, my snacks are relatively healthy. Not the greatest, but not your average junk food, either. Plantain chips are a favorite, for instance. Or tortilla chips and salsa, maybe a piece of good quality chocolate or some granola cereal. (Oh, cereal! My downfall.) But this time around, none of that sounded good.

Today, I went to the store and stocked up on some almonds and some sprouted chips I found, things that normally wouldn't get my attention. Sure, they're good for you. Fine. But I didn't crave them. Today, I think almonds are one dandy, delicious snack.

To say I'm shocked at my reaction to all these smoothies (about 2 to 2 1/2 quarts a day) is an understatement. My health is improving noticeably by the day, and I actually know what the word "vitality" means. I'm starting to rethink how I want to do the smoothie book in light of my discoveries. The research is opening lots of doors, lots of thoughts, and taking me places I thought were interesting before but not for me. Like raw food. Right now, my diet is easily 75% raw, although I'm not forcing any changes in my diet - just what comes naturally. Would I want a totally raw-food lifestyle? I don't really want to think that way right now. But adding much more to my diet is definitely gaining appeal - and fast.

Experimenting for the sake of a book just puts that much more excitement into the process for me. I'm thoroughly enjoying coming up with the recipes, and learning about the importance of raw fruits and vegetables has been a real eye opener. For instance, take 73-year-old Mimi Kirk. She's a raw food enthusiast. And a couple of years ago, she was named PETA's "Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50." Now, I've read some inspiring things over the last week, watched some amazing documentaries and devoured numerous books and web content, but nothing so far has inspired me like this woman. I'd be happy to look half this good!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Staring at Kale Like it's Chocolate Cake?!?

It's day five of what has turned into a green smoothie experiment in preparation for my next ebook. I'm sitting next to a tall glass of beautiful dark purple smoothie, this morning's breakfast. (Well, alright, it's actually breakfast #2, but thankfully it's advised to binge on fruits and greens.) I've been drinking green smoothies for about six years, but never in such vast quantities, and I'm quite frankly shocked at my body's reaction to this level of macronutrients.

Five days ago, I had half a homemade birthday cake sitting on the kitchen counter. Not a box mix, mind you, but a Better Homes & Garden recipe with homemade buttercream frosting. I was eating big chunks of it between smoothie experiments.

"But, Diane," you say, "I thought you were a health nut! You write all these ebooks, you blog about a healthy diet, you love plants..."

Yes, I do all those things. But if there is a birthday cake in the house, I am completely powerless. Which is why as soon as a birthday cake is in the house, I feel compelled to eat the whole thing really fast so it's no longer bothering me. Which is what I planned to do, but already by day two of the accidental smoothie experiment, I didn't want it. In fact, I threw the remaining cake out. I still can't believe I feel no remorse.

Just now, I tossed some blueberries, some cantaloupe, a large bunch of raw kale, and some water into a blender and was impatiently pacing for 30 seconds while the blender liquified it all. I realized I was reacting to it just like I normally would chocolate cake. Believe me, five days ago this smoothie would not have tasted sweet enough to my tastebuds. Now, I'm craving it. No one's more surprised than I am.

Only thing missing are the candles, but that can be arranged.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Accidental Experiment

Pretty much what the inside of my fridge looks like now.
I didn't mean to do it. It's really a big accident. After releasing "Teas for Life", I was anxious to start on the next book project. My husband suggested a recipe book filled with all those green smoothies I make for the family, the ones I've been blogging about for years. It sounded like a great idea, and to be perfectly honest, it also sounded like an easy idea. I'd just start taking notes of what I was making anyway, then compile a small collection of recipes, and another book would be born.

But instead, as all my ebook projects have done, it's taken on a life of its own. As soon as I told my husband I'd do the smoothie book, he was all excited for a trip to the grocery store to purchase ingredients for taste testing. (He does enjoy a good grocery store trip.) So we carted home armfuls of fruits and leafy greens.

The first day was a lot of fun. I came up with three smoothie recipes, all winners. But since I ended up with three quarts, I found myself drinking most of it. Felt kinda funny. Floaty. Good but... well, maybe not so good. Perhaps I'd overdone it. (Mind you, I did share with my son and husband, but they only had small glasses each, whereas I didn't want to waste any and drank the remaining 2 1/2 quarts. Perhaps that's why my son told me I looked pregnant. No, Mom, I'm not.)

I swore the next day I'd only make maybe one recipe, but it was so much fun. And I could have sworn my lungs felt more open. Perhaps this would help with my asthma. Three quarts later, I was feeling pretty darned good. Still oddly sluggish, but happy.

Day three, I forgot to eat lunch. Just forgot. Didn't feel like it after 1 1/2 quarts of smoothie, including a killer combo that includes cactus leaves. I realized I hadn't been constantly snacking, either. I felt pretty energetic.

Today is day four. I realized that when I awoke with a good dose of energy, that perhaps this simple recipe book thing wasn't going to be that simple anymore. There's something to this. I'm about to concoct the third recipe of the day, and I'm totally looking forward to it. Like, totally, like, 80's valley girl big-hair looking forward to it. So I thought I'd better share.

Normally, I'd post things like this at my other blog dkMommy Spot, but this is a writing project, after all. It just fits here. So I'll keep you up to date on my smoothie progress, share a recipe or two as a sneak preview, and I'll let you know if I stick with it, become more energized, or perhaps start to turn green or grow a third leg. So far, all I can think of is that bag of kale in the fridge. I got a smoothie to whip up.

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Friday, June 1, 2012

I've Just Given Birth to an ebook - I Wonder if There's a Tea for That

I've just published my latest ebook, "Teas for Life: 101 Herbal Teas for Greater Health." There's something about the writing process - any creative process, for that matter - that is like giving birth. Except there is no epidural for birthing a book. Which means the neighbors have to listen to me scream throughout the process, and no one gets to smoke a cigar afterwards. But when it's done, I am the proud mother of a brand new ebook. Shining, not quite sure what to do with itself, but so darned cute. People will stop by and say congratulations, then they'll leave and whisper that it's a funny looking kid but sure to be loved, anyway.

I'll probably wake up in the middle of the night and wonder how my e-baby is doing. Is it selling? Are people perusing Amazon in the middle of the night and clicking the "Buy Now" button? Will it graduate high school with honors and get a scholarship to Harvard?

Overall, I'm already proud of my new e-baby. A lot went into this one. (Have you ever had to research the chemical composition of the wahoo plant?) I poured over my herb notes, gathered together as many uses for each of the 101 herbs as I could find, and tried to organize them so they made sense. I cross-referenced dosages so I don't OD people on pine twigs. I even dug up a multitude of weird and unusual trivia on each plant. (Did you know ancient myths claim parsley came from the spilled blood of Archemorus while he was getting eaten by serpents? Ugh.)

A fun baby to grow, this ebook. But I've read it about 17 times now and it's time for me to turn it over to the rest of the world. Push it from the nest, hope it eats healthy when I not watching, and that it gets to bed at a decent hour. I may stare out the window and wonder why it doesn't call home more often, but I'll always remember the good old days when I was writing the first scratchings of it, sipping my herbal tea and dreaming about what it'd grow up to be.