Green Smoothies — Love Your Greens 30 Day Challenge

Real Life means many, many research papers and finals in my field of vision.  They seem never-ending at this point in the semester.  Whether you’re the one tip-tapping away on your keyboard or brandishing your new red pen, the last few weeks of a term are often a low-energy and high-requirements time of year, and it’s easy to get down about it.

Harley is an efficient but very harsh grader.  The students hate it when I let her grade their essays.

Harley is an efficient but very harsh grader. The students hate when I let her grade their essays, but how else is it all going to get done?

Well, up, up, up we go!  May is officially my challenge month.  I am most productive when I challenge myself, and, since May is my first full month back in Belfast, I’m charging myself with being a new and better me.  What am I doing?

1. I’m running my first 5K on 2 June, which means May is hard-core, prove-yourself time for my running shoes.  I’m running to support Cancer Research UK and for my friend Neil, who lost his mother last autumn.  To find out more about my dedication and my mission to go from lazy-buns to look-at-her-buns-go, visit my JustGiving page.  Any support, even the kind that doesn’t involve dollar and pound signs, is very appreciated!

2. I’m doing a month-long squats challenge.  By the end of the month, I should be able to do 250 squats in one day — just not all at once!  I know it sounds silly, but squats are great for your body.  I have to pay close attention to strengthening my knees (especially when it comes to Challenge #1 up there), and squats can also help you acquire better balance.  AND (did you need an AND?), this point is going to sound really silly by the time I get to the end of it — just picture it — squats can help your body move things along that need to be moved along.  Considering the biggest enemy I have in my body is, ahem, in that area, I could use all the help I could get.

3. Even though I saved this one for last, it’s not much of a surprise if you read the title of the post.  I’m following Desi at Unconventional Kitchen in her Love Your Greens 30 Day Challenge.  I love this challenge because it’s not a fast.  It’s not making you give up your favourite dinner.  It’s adding goodness into your diet, and the changes you make will happen organically.  I’ve already felt this magic taking place in the past two years, as I crave something green on every plate and my sweet tooth has almost disappeared as my body has healed.  It’s not too late to sign up for the program — it’s free, comes with a month’s worth of recipes plus extras, and has a built-in support group via Facebook.  Also, it doesn’t hurt that Desi is so sweet and encouraging. (PS. If you get there from here, let me know! Team!)

As Desi has publicized the first recipe from the Love Your Greens Challenge, I thought I’d show you exactly what we had today.  Believe me when I say that it was WAY better than I thought it would be.  We left the house as soon as we finished them, and I was daydreaming about having more for about a half hour.  I followed fairly close to her recipe, but she also permits making it your own, so I didn’t have to feel guilty about my switches.  I’ll be posting more about my progress with the challenge, but you’ll have to sign up to get any more of Desi’s great recipes.

Desi’s Basic Green Smoothie (Sydney-style)

Hulk Juice

Hulk Juice

Ingredients:
1/4 cup pineapple juice
3/4 cup water, divided
1 handful of spinach
1 handful of collard greens (Tesco only labelled them as ‘greens’, but this southern girl knows)
1 banana (fresh or frozen — I went fresh)
1 cup frozen strawberry, pineapple, and mango (mixed to whatever combination you want to make up the cup)
1 tablespoon flax meal

Hardware:
Blender
Small cup or bowl
Measuring spoons and cups

Directions:
Mix together the flax meal and 1/4 cup of water in the small cup/bowl.  Let stand to hydrate.

Dump the pineapple juice, remaining water, spinach, and collard greens into your blender.  Blend until you don’t see any more big chunks of green.  Add the frozen fruit, the banana, and flax-water mixture into the blender.  Blend until you reach your desired consistency.

Taste it.  If it’s not sweet enough for you, blend in some dates or raw honey.  It was plenty sweet for us with the pineapple juice.  It’s so tasty and refreshing, you’ll forget it’s good for you.

Drop and Give Me 20 Bites

I have recently had a friend come to me and ask to help her to go gluten-free.  More accurately, she knew that she needs to be gluten-free and knows, in many ways, how to be gluten-free, but she asked for help keeping her accountable.  She is already helping me to be accountable in another aspect of my health: exercise.  She also knows that learning about gluten could be even more important than taking care of herself because she has a son (a huge concern of mine I have briefly discussed before).  I suppose helping someone along this path is as much about instructing as it is about anticipating their needs.  In that regard, I have already stumbled.  She has learned the hard way that oatmeal isn’t safe.

I believe that everyone deserves to be the best versions of themselves.  For many of us, that goal takes years of discovery before we can even take the first step toward molding ourselves into who we want to be.

Going without gluten is hard.  A lot of you guys know this fact first hand.  Others can think: Would I really want to never be able to eat soft bread again?  Do I want to have a special birthday cake or no cake at all? [Full disclosure: Yesterday was my birthday, and I had no cake.  It’s still a bit of a sore subject.] How do I explain to a child who wants to share their snack with me that I can’t, not I won’t?  No doubt, a lot of people have these concerns about more or other things than gluten.  We are not alone in this fight.  I never wanted to be Celiac.  The first time I ever heard of it, I thought, “I am SOOOO glad that isn’t me!”

Accountability is the funny part that we almost never talk about.  We want to be accountable, don’t we?  We want to do right by ourselves.  Where is the disconnect in our brains that even allows us to not be good to ourselves?  Why is the desire to cheat so hard to fight — especially at the beginning — when we know we will only hurt from it?  Eventually, we grow.  We associate the foods which tempt us the most with the hurt they create, and we no longer truly want them.  At the start, we don’t have that.  We have the words, but we haven’t built it into our brains.  It’s not hard-wired yet.

I have some questions for you Celiac and gluten-free folks out there: Did you have a gluten-free coach?  Did a friend, family member, co-worker help you establish your new life with food?  Did you ask a lot of “stupid” questions?

While I had a supportive family and an understanding fiance/husband, I was on my own when I learned about gluten.  I wish I had had a guide to help me navigate.  I am a researcher by nature and by trade, so I used books and the internet to get me through it until I felt knowledgeable enough to start cooking and baking for myself again (i.e. until I was confident enough to try).  How did you do it?  Have you ever helped someone through a similar situation, maybe with another allergen?