Gentle Winter Cleanse (aka Digestive Reboot)

Feeling sluggish? Low energy? Bloated? Digestion not up to par? Trapped in a cycle of overeating?

If you feel like you need a little help in this area I’ve got just the prescription!

I call this a gentle winter cleanse, however, it’s really more of a digestive reboot or reset.

While cleansing is something that’s recognized as a great tool for the change of season, particularly spring and early autumn, you can still support your body’s natural built-in detox mechanisms all throughout the year by paying attention to what you’re eating, along with other lifestyle choices.

What I’m offering today though is a simple little protocol that you can put into action anytime or place whether you’re feeling sluggish or low on energy, or feeling like your digestion isn’t running as smoothly as it could be (i.e. you’re experiencing indigestion or bloating), or maybe you’ve found yourself in a pattern of overeating less than ideal foods and you’re having a hard time breaking the cycle.

This protocol can help you get back on the right track and give your digestion a rest, all while still providing your body nourishment.

You can follow this plan for as little as one day, but I suggest following it for at least 2 (or even 3) days for best results. This will depend on your current health status, lifestyle, and the intensity of the plan you wish to follow.

It’s really quite simple and you have full control over the menu.

Basic Guidelines

1) Consume any of the following during the protocol. Herbal teas, fresh vegetable juices, green-based smoothies, veggie broths, bone broths, and blended soups. You can pick and choose based on your preference. Unsweetened dairy alternatives are okay, as are seasonings for soup (i.e. sea salt, herbs, a drizzle of olive oil). You’re taking a break from: alcohol, flour, grain, meat, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds, and added sugar (with the exception of the optional raw honey I noted in the menu below), along with most other solid food.

2) You control the intensity. For example, consuming only fresh veggie juices and broths will be more cleansing (and intense) than blended smoothies and soups.

3) Drink plenty of pure water. Although this protocol is very hydrating already, be sure to drink pure water throughout the day. You can also sip on herbal teas and broths.

FAQ

Q. Can I still drink coffee?

A. This is the most commonly asked question! Ideally you will stick to herbal teas but I know that this one factor alone is one of the biggest excuses people give for not following it, or the reason why they will put it off for a more “convenient” time (I’ve fallen into this category many times too). So with that said you can still have one cup of coffee if you really want it (either taken black or with a splash of milk/cream or dairy alternative – NO sugar though). Although there may be many other reasons to take a break from coffee, since it’s technically a liquid you can still enjoy the digestive rest aspect of the protocol (unless of course it contributes towards digestive-related symptoms that you’re aware of – then avoid it).

Other Logistics

  • I personally stop taking all supplements during this protocol with the exception of a probiotic. You’ll have to decide what’s right for you. This does NOT apply to doctor prescribed medications.
  • Take into account your lifestyle and modify as necessary. For example, the last time I followed this I went for 5 days while keeping up with my regular busy work schedule, and workout routine (i.e. spinning classes and heavy weight-lifting). For this reason I added in some protein powder to my smoothie that I had post-workout. If you’re only following the protocol for one day this likely doesn’t apply to you – and if this is your first time following something similar then I would suggest more gentle exercise like walking and yoga.

Sample Menu

* Use all organic ingredients where possible

** Make quantities suitable for you (i.e. for soups you can always make bigger batches and store in the fridge)

Morning

Ginger tea with fresh lemon

Breakfast

Green Smoothie (2 handfuls of baby spinach, 1 chopped ripened Bosc pear, ½ ripened banana, ¼ avocado, ¼ tsp of grated ginger, a few sprigs of fresh mint + water for blending. Optional: add some lemon juice.)

Lunch

Broccoli Soup (Directions: steam broccoli florets until soft and then blend with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, and water and/or veggie or bone broth. Reheat on stove as needed.)

Dinner

Leek and Potato Soup (Directions: simmer chopped up leek and potato in some water until soft, drain and transfer to blender. Blend with a drizzle of olive oil, pinch of sea salt, water and/or veggie or bone broth. Reheat on stove as needed.)

Night

Warm Golden Milk (1 cup of dairy alternative whisked w/ ½ tsp of turmeric powder. Heat on stove until hot but not boiling. Optional: small drizzle of raw honey is okay)

This sample menu is simply to give you some direction and inspiration. Follow a menu that suits your tastes and lifestyle using the allowable foods/liquids noted under the guidelines above.

Here’s an easy recipe for veggie broth that I posted on Instagram.

Here’s a link to homemade bone broth. You can make it in a slow cooker or stove top.

Here’s a recent juice recipe I made that’s nice for the wintertime (if you have a juicer!)

This is how I store my soups and broths.

Have questions?

Write them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them!

xo Elaine

 

Post Holiday Eating Guide

Post Holiday Eating Guide

Can you believe it’s the last day of the year!?

I hope you’ve enjoyed the holidays.

I spent the last full week visiting my family in Niagara. It was so nice to kick back, relax and reconnect with the faces I hadn’t seen in a while. Plus I got to meet my new adorable baby niece who was just born last month.

Then of course there was the food, and plenty of it. There was no shortage of holiday goodies, including my mom’s annual Christmas baking.

Yes, I indulged and enjoyed. And I didn’t waste one second feeling guilty about it.

I knew it would only be temporary, plus I always know exactly what I need to do to get myself back on track afterwards if I veer too far off course.

The truth is, after a week of indulging in richer and heavier foods, my body naturally gravitates back towards lightness, and for the past few days since I’ve been back home what I’ve mainly been craving are vegetables and lots of them! I’ve been appeasing these cravings with huge veggie salads, vegetable sautés, and wraps made with cabbage leaves. I love how my body knows best, and I’m listening to it!

So if you’re feeling overstuffed after a few too many holiday indulgences and looking for a little post-holiday eating guidance look no further!

I know the New Year can bring with it pressures to start fresh by eating perfectly on January 1st or by beginning a new diet. But overhauling your diet in one night isn’t always the best solution, which you may be well aware of if you’ve been down this road before. You know how it goes, stick to an overly strict diet for the first few weeks of January and then slip back into old habits by the end of January when either the New Year excitement has worn off, or the diet is no longer sustainable.

This is why what I’ve outlined below is pretty simple, straightforward, and doesn’t involve you having to completely overhaul everything in one night.

The beauty of these tips is that you can start from wherever you are right now, regardless of your current diet AND without necessarily giving up your favorite foods (if you don’t want to at least). Sometimes though just knowing you can have something if you really want it is enough for you to drop your desire for it all together. Sneaky!

So if you’re looking to lighten up in January or just want to integrate some healthier habits – read on!

Post Holiday Eating Guide

Get Vegetable-Centric

It doesn’t matter what type of diet you follow, you can be vegan or paleo and the sentiment is exactly the same. Heck, you can be on a twinkie diet (heaven forbid) and still implement this tip. All you have to do is aim to eat at least 50% vegetables at each meal. This could be a combination of both raw and cooked, however it’s always a good idea to at least eat some veggies in their raw, uncooked form.

This isn’t an exact science and doesn’t require you to make any calculations. At one meal you might eat less than half your plate in veggies and at the following you might eat more, such as in the case of centring your meal around a huge raw salad. The point is to eat more veggies than you are now. I didn’t make this the #1 tip in my Hip, Healthy & Holistic Makeover Guide for nothing! You can download it for free here.

Swap out the Grain

Another easy way to lighten up your meals (and eat more veggie-centric) is by swapping out the grain for – you guessed it – veggies! How about trying your favourite bolognese sauce over spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles instead of pasta? Or stir-fry over parsnip “rice” instead of regular rice? If you really want to step outside the box and get fancy you can try making pizza with cauliflower-crust rather than regular wheat. As they say, the real magic happens outside of our comfort zone. Get creative!

Try Something New

Speaking of stepping outside the box, commit to buying just one new veggie at the grocery store each week. Eating vegetable-centric will be difficult and downright boring if you’re accustomed to buying the same old tomatoes, carrots and iceberg lettuce each week. There’s a whole new world of veggies out there just waiting to be discovered.

For instance, black radish! This was my new veggie this week. I used to walk by them in the produce aisle and would almost always mistake them for beets since they look pretty much the same except a bit darker in colour. I finally decided to pick one up and bring it home, and I’m glad I did! I’ve been enjoying it grated it over my salads, as well as sliced thinly and eaten raw with a dash of sea salt. Yummy!

Create some space

I don’t mean clearing clutter from your office space, although that can do wonders for your mental outlook. I’m talking about creating some space in your GI tract to give your body a rest from digestion. If you’ve been grazing on goodies throughout the holidays or just eating heavier in general there are a few simple tools you can use to optimize digestion and get back in touch with your true hunger.

Each and every night our bodies naturally undergo a fast until we break it with “break-fast”. Even just extending that fast until lunch by swapping your morning meal for a nutrient dense vegetable juice, or at the very least just waiting a few hours after you wake up before eating your first meal can give your body a much needed rest. Another easy way to reap the benefits of a mini fast would be to stick to some combination of vegetable juice, broth, herbal teas, cooked vegetables and/or salads for one full day. If a mini-fast feels to extreme for you, even just limiting snacking between meals can do wonders for your digestion.

Try Food Combining

Speaking of digestion, if things are feeling a bit off in this department and you’re constipated, bloated or just feeling plain sluggish, another way to ease the digestive burden and free up energy is by following the principles of food combining.

To sum it up, our bodies need simple, digestible food that nourishes us then leaves us, efficiently and effortlessly. By eating foods in easy-to-digest combinations we can ensure that things are moving smoothly all the way through (if you know what I mean). Even just properly combining 1-2 meals per day (ideally breakfast and lunch) can do wonders for our digestion. Not familiar with food combining? I wrote a whole post about it here.

Prep (just a little)

I’ve never been one for dedicating an entire Sunday afternoon to food prep, and most of the clients I work with usually aren’t interested in doing so either. With that said though, a little bit of food prep can be essential for making healthy choices during the week, especially when you’re caught in a pinch and need to throw something together fast.

An easy way to integrate food prep into your routine is to do it when you’re doing other tasks or household chores that need to get done anyways. For example, how about baking some beets or sweet potato chunks while you’re waiting for your laundry to finish? Or boiling half a dozen eggs while you respond to your emails (or ahem, watch tv)? Get strategic and fit in food prep where you can so it doesn’t feel like one big daunting task.

Apply the 80/20 principle

If you’re wondering where ice cream and chocolate croissants fit into the mix then the 80/20 principle is a great rule of thumb to follow. Aiming to make healthy choices at least 80% of the time can alleviate some of the pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect 100% or the time. Remember, progress not perfection. Overtime you might even find that a 90/10 ratio is more up your alley!

Now I want to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below which tips you’re going to put into practice this January.

Wishing you a healthy and happy 2015!

xo Elaine

Cut the Sugar, Keep the Sweetness!

jean harlow

If you found yourself dipping into the Halloween candy this past week or weekend, you may find yourself craving more of the sugary stuff this week.

It’s just the way your body is programmed.The more sugar you eat, the more you crave it – and as long as you continually give into your craving for it – the more the cycle is perpetuated.

So before you find yourself down at the drugstore purchasing discounted Halloween candy (oooh so tempting), or hitting up the pastry counter with your morning coffee, check out my suggestions below for satisfying your sweet tooth without the added sugar.

And let’s face it. There’ll be no shortage of sweet stuff coming your way in the coming weeks with all the holiday parties and events. Might as well give your body a break now;)

Cut the sugar but keep the sweetness with these ideas…

1) Baked apples (or pears). Slice them up and drizzle them with coconut oil and cinnamon (no need to add sugar), and bake them in the oven.  Feel free to top them with chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds. This used to be one of my go-to treats when I was a kid. Actually I just made these a few weeks ago – here’s the picture!

2) Cocoa sweetened with Stevia.  This can take many different forms from a stove top homemade hot chocolate (raw cacao or cocoa powder, stevia, plus dairy or nut milk) to a chocolate flavoured protein powder or greens powder (Botanica makes a yummy one) mixed with almond milk. This can be the perfect little snack in the evening hours when you desire a little something chocolaty. The key is that the sweetness is coming from stevia (a zero-calorie natural sweetener) rather than added sugar.

3) Root vegetables. Choose one or a combination of any of the following: beets, turnips, parsnips, carrots, rutabaga, and sweet potato. Chop them up and roast them with garlic and fresh herbs. As the veggies roast in the oven the starches naturally break down into sugar, making them not only easier to digest, but sweeter tasting too. They’re delicious eaten hot or after they’ve cooled in the fridge.

4) Winter squashes. I can’t get enough these days! Acorn, kabocha, hubbard, butternut, pumpkin, etc. Cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and roast them in the oven with some coconut oil, cinnamon, and sea salt. You can puree them into a soup or a side-dish if you desire, but my method of choice is to just eat them straight with a spoon. And yes, I eat the skin too!

5) Dark chocolate. Okay, technically there’s added sugar here BUT if you stick with a higher cocoa content (70-85%), and just a few squares, the added sugar is really quite low. The caveat of course though is if you can’t stop at just a few squares and find yourself regularly chowing down on half the bar (or the whole thing), you might want to reconsider this a viable option – especially if you’re determined to nix the sugar from your life. I posted a picture of my favorite 85% bar here. If you’re a dark chocolate fan you’ll love it!

Now I want to hear from you!

What do you reach for when you want something sweet but without the sugar? Share your favorite naturally sweet or low-sugar treats below!

xo Elaine

photo via pinterest

3 Tips for Juicing Wisely

3 Tips for Juicing Wisely

As the weather warms up and is beginning to feel a bit more like spring, I find myself getting back into my daily juicing routine.

There’s nothing like a fresh infusion of easily assimilated vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to energize and nourish your body, while helping to protect it against premature aging and disease.

Incorporating juice into your diet is a great tool for giving your digestive system a much needed break so your cells can go to work detoxifying and repairing themselves.

To learn more about the wonderful health benefits of incorporating fresh vegetable juice into your routine, and grab some yummy juice recipes, make sure to read this post where I covered the topic extensively.

As I’ve become somewhat of a “veteran” juicer over the years, I realized that there are a few things about the way I juice that have become second nature to me, and might not be so obvious to people just starting out.

So today I want to share with you…

3 Tips for Juicing Wisely

1) Choose Organic

This is a time when you definitely want to opt for organics since you’re consuming the juice in concentrated amounts. Some of the most heavily sprayed, pesticide-laden produce are among the ones commonly juiced. For example, celery, cucumber, apples, and kale are on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of most heavily sprayed produce. This is a handy guide to have in your back pocket when grocery shopping, especially if you’re on a budget, so you’ll definitely want to check it out if you haven’t already. If you’re going to use non-organic produce at least peel the skin off if possible – as in the case with cucumber and apples.

2) Juice Mainly Vegetables

While fruit can be a nice addition for added sweetness, especially as your palate adjusts to the taste of juiced greens, aim to make your juice predominately veggie-based with no more than 1/3 juice coming from fruit, or 3:1 veggies to fruit. Too much concentrated fruit sugar can cause blood sugar imbalances, not to mention it’s a major yeast-feeder. If you’re consuming mainly green juice with little-to-no fruit, you likely won’t have to worry about these issues. It’s when you’re juicing a lot of fruit and sweet vegetables like beets and carrots that problems can arise. Also remember that you can lower the glycemic index of any fruit or sweet veggie by cutting it with greens.

Most people can benefit from an all greens juice cut with lemon or just a little bit of apple. My average vegetable juice is usually a combination of celery, cucumber, leafy greens, ginger and lemon (as pictured above). I rarely juice fruit, except on occasion. If you already have blood sugar problems to begin with than this is the type of juice I recommend you stick with.

3) Drink it on an Empty Stomach

When you’re infusing your body with easily assimilated vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and enzymes, all of these healthful substances can go straight to work where they’re needed most repairing and detoxifying the cells of your body. That is until you impede the process by throwing food into the mix! Call me a juice snob but it always bewilders me when I see someone drinking their juice while eating a meal, because I know they’re not giving the juice a chance to work to its full healing potential. Not to mention that consuming large amounts of liquid with food is just a no-no in general.

Since juicing on an empty stomach is best, the ideal time for most people is in the morning before consuming solid food. Fresh vegetable juice is a great tool for breaking your overnight “fast” and extending your body’s cleansing capabilities, all while providing deep nourishment to the cells and tissues of the body. Once you consume your fresh juice try to wait at least 20 minutes before consuming anything else to reap the most benefit from your juice.

Don’t forget to check out this post to learn more about juicing, plus grab some delicious juice recipes!

Have a question about juicing? Ask me in the comments below!

All love,

Elaine

Don’t forget to schedule your complimentary, 20 minute “Get Acquainted” phone session with me if you’re looking for some extra guidance with your nutrition and healthy body goals.