Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Detox Time!

It's getting to be that time of year, I hate to break it to you.  It's getting darker a little earlier, and we're pulling the duvet out of the closet because it's feeling cooler at night.  We know the leaves will start changing soon, and a new season is upon us.

This is the time of year when some of us start to nestle in at home more often and think about cleaning up our act.  For me, there's something about September that signifies a new start, and I think it has something to do with that feeling of starting school each Fall, with a fresh new school year ahead.  I love that feeling!

I will be doing a Fall detox like I usually do.  It's time to stop drinking for a few weeks, get back to the gym, and really watch what I eat.  I did a detox in the Spring, and felt great.

When looking for a detox or cleanse to do, be aware that there is A LOT of garbage out there, unnatural, and full of chemicals, stimulants, and preservatives.  When I was searching for a cleanse, it was really important to me that it was as natural as possible, gluten free, caffeine/stimulant free, and vegan.  I also wanted something fairly easy and low maintenance, like a meal replacement system.  I ended up finding everything I was looking for in Kaeng Raeng, a company in California started by a young woman who was seeking the same kind of healthy system I was.....so she created it herself.  There really isn't another system like it.

With Kaeng Raeng, you have a juice/smoothie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and eat all the fresh, raw fruits and vegetables you want throughout the day.  The cleanse comes in 3 day packs or 6 day packs, and in three levels (Beginner, Veteran, Master).  Each packet is nutritionally complete, containing more than a full serving of fruit and fiber, 15g of lean non-GMO protein, 2 billion live probiotic cultures, essential amino acids, and daily vitamins.  You don't feel at all hungry on this cleanse, as the juices are quite filling, plus you're eating lots of fruits and veggies.  I just wish they didn't use soy protein.

I chose the 6-day Beginner cleanse.  You receive 3 packets for each day, one of each of flavour (Juu Juu - "Into the Blue" - blueberry, blackberry banana; Reunn - "Joyful" - strawberry raspberry pineapple; and Glai Roong - "Daybreak" - mango peach pineapple).  You simply add the contents of one packet to 24-32 oz water, and shake well.  You can also choose to make a smoothy out of it.  I stayed just with water, as I wanted to keep it simple.  I also knew I'd be getting plenty of fruit in my diet already.  As well, ensure that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day, at least 60 oz, as you'll be taking in a lot of fibre, and fibre needs water.



Everything went really well!  I lost around 5 lbs in 6 days, and I felt pretty light and healthy by the end of it.  In terms of my experiences during the detox, I didn't really feel hungry, but I still craved junk food from time to time.  Overall, I didn't struggle too much.  I just made a decision that I was doing this detox, and I was going to stick with it.  I even endured two work lunches at a breakfast restaurant, and managed not to go bonkers while I ate plain salad or fruit salad, watching everyone eating pancakes, eggs, and bacon.  I was a bit low on energy for the first day or two, but that levelled off.  In terms of detox symptoms, I have a slightly delicate digestive system, and I probably wasn't getting enough fibre prior to taking this product, so on the first day, let's just say my digestive system really "came alive."

The 6-day beginner cleanse is $109.00 (US, I think), plus tax.  But if you check out Kaeng Raeng on Facebook there are always promos like 10% or 15% off.  I got mine for 15% off, and I think it came to just $80.  Way cheaper than a lot of cleanses you'll find out there, and much, much better quality, and WAY healthier for you.  At the time I ordered mine, they didn't have shipping outside of the U.S.  Luckily, a friend of mine was living down there, and was coming home to visit, so I had it shipped to her, and she was kind enough to bring it back to me (thanks, Deanna!!!).  Apparently they will have international shipping starting around October, so I'm really excited for that.  I will definitely be placing an order soon.

If you're hoping to do a detox this Fall, and you're looking for something healthier and natural, I encourage you to check out Kaeng Raeng.  Read some other reviews and decide for yourself.  And let me know how it goes!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Secrets from your Sister

Hello!  I hope you've had a great weekend.  I sure have.  My parents came for a visit to see Cirque de Soleil - Totem, on Friday night -- my x-mas gift to them.  After they left in the afternoon on Saturday, Jeremy and I had a really nice, slow, lovely day, and the weekend has been equally slow, wonderful and leisurely since, with perfect late-summer weather.

Today I actually chopped up veggies in front of the TV, while watching episodes of Sex and the City and drinking white wine.  What a great afternoon!  I went on to make a favourite healthy recipe inherited from my sister, and then dinner, which was another idea handed over from her years ago.


And so, tonight, secrets from my sister.

LENTIL & QUINOA STEW

A hearty and healthy stew which makes a terrific lunch to bring to work.  This is a recipe from my big sister, Jen, who has always given me so many amazing ideas for recipes....and life.  Thanks, Jen!  xo

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cup dried green lentils
1/2 cup quinoa
oilve oil
6 cups veggie/chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
4 medium carrots, chopped
2-3 stalk of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves

Directions

Sautée onions in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.  When the onions start to look soft, add the red pepper, and a tiny pinch of salt, to bring out the juices.  Add the celery, carrots and garlic.  Sautée for a few minutes.


Rinse lentils and quinoa.  After veggies are sauteed, add the lentils, quinoa, tomatoes, bay leaves, and the broth.

You might find you need to add more broth -- don't worry, you totally can.  The lentils and quinoa absorb a lot of liquid.  This stew is ready in half an hour or so.  But give it a taste for the ultimate approval.  The lentils should be soft, but not mushy.

I add Sriacha for some spice.  The flavours work nicely.  This is definitely a stew, not a soup, so expect it to be thick and hearty.  I love bringing this for lunch, and it makes a great quick dinner when you don't have time to cook.

Tonight, for the first time, I diced up my own tomatoes, as opposed to using canned diced tomatoes.  You remember that canned diced tomatoes are lined with BPA.  It took very little effort, and from now own, I'm just using real tomatoes in my recipes -- NO MORE CANNED!  I'm pretty excited about this.


Voila, the finished product: Lunch for a week!


THE OTHER SISTER SECRET: PINJUR SAUCE

Way back in 2005, I was doing a co-op placement and staying with my sister on Thursday nights in Toronto, just before I headed back to St. Catharines for the weekend.  Every week for 7 months.

One of the amazing dinners she made me. back when I was a 28 year old kid, and she was in her early 30's, and I thought, quite sophisticated, was chicken with pinjur sauce, which is a beautiful roasted red pepper sauce available at the grocery store.  She would butterfly some chicken breasts, and stuff them with pinjur sauce, red pepper, and goat cheese.  De-lish.

Now, for a very simple dinner - tonight's dinner: I take from that sisterly cooking lesson, and simply butterfly chicken breasts, stuff them with pinjur sauce, along with a thick slice of red pepper, and put a generous helping of pinjur sauce on the top.  Cover with tin foil, and bake at 375 F degrees for 20-30 minutes (to be honest, I just take a peek and when they're done, they're done....).


The chicken comes out SO moist and delicious.  The sauce is amazing, full of savoury roasted red pepper flavour.  We steamed up some organic green beans, and it's just that simple: quick, easy, delicious dinner, inspired by my beautiful sister.

My sister, Jen, has been living in Vancouver, British Columbia, for about a year or so.  She made a wonderfully courageous decision to move out west with a man she loved (Ron), about 3 years ago.  They just celebrated their 1 year wedding anniversary, and I couldn't be happier for her.  I've always looked up to her; she's 5 years older, she has always had lots of advice and encouragement, and I've looked up to her my entire life.  I love and miss her dearly.

This is my favourite pic back from when we lived together about 4 years ago.

Left: Jen;  Right: Christine

xo Jen and Ron.  Happy anniversary to my favourite hippies.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Cleaning with Nature

Hello readers!  I hope you've been having another nice week.  This week I've been noticing that the days are getting shorter, and the other night at volleyball, I had to play in a hoodie!  What???  I have mixed feelings about the impending fall season, but I always welcome change.  The summer did feel very short though, and I only made it to the Island once.  Hopefully there will be one more gorgeous Saturday left so I can get over there and mellow out on the beach all day.

So.  After all we know about chemicals in our beauty products, we shouldn't be too surprised to learn that cleaning products are extremely toxic.  Here is a list of the common chemicals in a typical laundry detergent:

  • Phenols: Toxic, a suspected carcinogen and rapidly absorbed. Effects include swelling, pimples, and hives. Internal consumption can cause circulatory collapse, cold sweats, coma, and death.
  • Optical brighteners: Can cause skin allergy, toxic to fish and can cause bacterial mutations.
  • Phosphates: Environmental hazard causing excessive growth in aquatic plants which leads to the suffocation of fish and underwater life.
  • EDTA: Skin irritant leading to allergies, asthma, and skin rashes. Does not biodegrade readily and is an environment hazard.
  • Artificial fragrances: Toxic effects on fish and mammals, often causes allergies, skin and eye irritation. Do not easily biodegrade in the environment.
  • Ammonia: Can cause burns, cataracts and corneal damage. Long term repeated exposure can cause bronchitis and pneumonia. Also has a toxic effect on plants, animals and fish.
  • Sodium Sulfate: It is corrosive and a severe eye, skin, and respiratory irritant. Can cause asthma attacks.

Wow!  This is all very disturbing to me, as these chemicals can leave residue on our fabrics, and when we wear our clothes and sleep on our sheets, these chemicals can be absorbed into our skin.  Of concern to me are the phthalates (remember, from my last post that "fragrance" is a broad term which you can take to mean that phthalates are present?).  Indeed, laundry detergents commonly use phthalates to impart fragrance to laundry.  Most detergents contain these additives; there are few laundry detergents offered fragrance-free.

I have read that a CDC study in 2000 found that the phthalates in detergents, lubricating oils and solvents were more commonly found in human test subjects than the phthalates in PVC, food packaging, medical supplies, and children's toys.  Evidently the detergent borne phthalate is more easily transferred to the human body than these other more abundantly used forms of phthalate.  Even if the phthalates were present only in very small concentrations, it is very easy for them to transfer to our skin's surface, especially given how long we wear clothing.  This means that for a detergent user, this compound will be in contact with the skin on a long term basis.  Apparently once an oil soluble substance such as a phthalate makes contact with the skin it is readily absorbed into the skin layers and ultimately into the underlying living tissues. This is because cell membranes are themselves composed of fatty acids and naturally absorb fat soluble substances into their structure.  SCIENCE!!!

Now on to dryer sheets.  Dryer sheets coat all your clothes with a layer of toxic chemicals. When you wear those clothes, again, your body moisture causes those chemicals to come into contact with your skin and be absorbed directly into your bloodstream. It's an easy way to poison your system with cancer-causing chemicals.

Let's not forget those massive plastic jugs that end up in landfills.  There is not one piece of plastic made, since we started making plastic, that is not still on this planet.  We can recycle them, and think we should feel good about that, but let's not forget the first 'R" is Reduce.


The Solution: Soap Nuts




Well, perhaps it's not the only solution, as I'm sure there are cleaners that aren't as toxic, or even toxin-free.  But they will still create huge amounts of waste.

Soap nuts are actually fruits similar in appearance to lychees from the tree called Sapindus, which grows wild over parts of India and Nepal.  These 'nuts' are not edible.  The thing about the fruit of the Sapindus tree is that they are covered with saponin, a sticky substance which is a surfactant.  Surfactants work by breaking the surface tension of water so it can more easily penetrate into fabrics, effectively making water “wetter.”  Once wet, the agitation of your washing machine (or your hands) shakes the dirt loose from your clothes.  Then soap nuts’ saponin holds the dirt in suspension in the water (preventing it from re-depositing on your clothes) until you’ve rinsed it away.  There are surfactants in conventional detergent as well, only they are harmful chemicals instead.

Here's how they work: You put 3-5 soap nuts in a little satchel that comes with your package.  If doing a cold wash, soak the satchel with the nuts in 50 ml hot tap water for 2-4 minutes (to release the saponin).  Then put the 50 ml water and the satchel right into the washing machine drum.  If using a front loading machine, put the satchel in the drum, and the 50 ml of water into the detergent receptacle.  If doing a hot or warm wash, just throw the satchel right in the machine.  No need to use fabric softener, clothes come out soft with soap nuts (but don't put the soap nuts in the dryer).

If you can believe it, you can use that same satchel for 2-4 loads of laundry!  Once they're thin and worn, just put them in the green bin.

You can also make your own liquid detergent.  Place 12-15 soap nuts in 6 cups boiling water.  Keep at a rolling boil for 30 minutes.  Mash the soap nuts in a bit, to release the saponin.  The liquid will boil down to about 4 cups.  Strain the liquid over cheesecloth, and store in a glass container in the fridge  (no reason to allow plastic chemical crap to leach into your detergent).  Use 3 tbsp for a load of laundry as you would normal detergent.

You can use that liquid detergent as a household cleaner as well.  Put the liquid in a spray bottle, or just dab your cloth with it.  You can use it to wash your dishes as well.  It truely is nature's cleaner!

I bought my soap nuts from Earth's Berries a company located in Collingwood, Ontario.  It comes in 3 sizes: 250 g for $10.00 (75-100 loads), 500 g for $18.00 (150-200 loads), and 1 kg for $30.00 (300-400 loads).  Shipping is an additional $9.00, but they offer free shipping for orders over $60.00.  I decided ahead of time that I knew these things were going to be amazing, and ordered 2 x 1 kg bags -- and technically saved myself $18.00 over time.  If you're not ready for that many soap nuts at once, you may want to go in on ordering with a friend.  How incredibly economical is this: A 1 kg bag does a whole year of laundry, for $30.00!!!



My review is in: they are amazing!  They get everything clean, and the clothes come out smelling fresh.  You will notice they don't come out smelling perfumey, which might seem weird at first, since we're all so used to commercial detergents.  But now we all know that those fragrances are rarely natural, nor are they good for you.  We're better off without them.  If you really need the scent, you can add a few drops of essential oil such as lavender onto the satchel.

I had a great experience ordering from Earth's Berries.  In addition, I emailed them the other day with a question, and heard back at the crack of dawn the next day.  Fantastic customer service!  Here is how you can order from Earths' Berries.

You might be wondering about sustainability, carbon footprint, and who actually harvests these fruits.  From the Earth's Berries FAQ:

"What about the carbon footprint it takes to get Earth’s Berries Soap Nuts to Canada?
I choose to bring over the Earth’s Berries in Shipments of no less than 3000kg per shipment, below is the calculation between using plastic and the shipment and the CO2 difference
  • Each 3000kg shipment from India   = approximately  2 tons of CO2 to the carbon footprint
  • 3000kg of soap nuts replace= 27000 plastic 32 load laundry bottles
  • The production of 1 plastic 32 load bottle = 1kg of C02 carbon footprint
  • Therefore that is equal to 27,000kg of CO2 carbon footprint
  • 27 000 kilogram = 27 ton [metric] co2 carbon footprint
What is the sustainablility of the tree?
The seed of the Earth’s Berries are left in India, therefore providing lots of time for them to take hold and grow a new tree. It takes nine years for the tree to bear fruit that is usable as an Earth’s Berry. Most of the trees are centuries old.
How do you purchase the Earth’s Berries?
They are picked and packed for me in India. I feel so strongly about how well the workers are cared for and the income that both jobs provide to the community that I have chosen to have the packaging done there as well.
Are they organic?
Yes they most definitely are organic; however they do not, as yet, have the organic classification on them. My choice to hand pick my supplier, one whose mission is fair practices and fair wages to his employees, was more important to me at this time. He has a small operation and in time will have the organic classification.

How do they get here?

They arrive here by ship; I do my best to order in large quantities so that I can keep the carbon footprint as low as possible.
Where are they packaged?
There is much debate as to whether they should be packed in India or packed when they arrive. I have my bags packed in India because I know that I am then continuing the employment of a small village and because of the fair practices of my supplier it is important to me to support his company, and the people. The internal bag is sealed and protects against moisture in the bag."
I'd really love for you to just try these out, because I know you'll love them.  You will save tons of money, cut down on huge amounts of waste, and save your body from all the harsh chemicals listed earlier.  It's just one more way we can live cleaner.  I sort of see soap nuts as one up for the little guy - a way we can sustainably rely on nature to replace an entire industry that puts toxins on our skin and in our bodies, and waste in our landfills.  After all, since when does dirty equal clean?

Have a great weekend!  My parents will be visiting me - maybe they'll be curious to try out the soap nuts, and take care of some laundry for me! =)

Friday, 19 August 2011

Parabens and Phthalates: Beauty at a price

Hello everyone!  I hope you've had a wonderful week!  This was definitely an 'off' week for me.  I find that my eating patterns and motivation levels fluctuate throughout the month -- the last 2 weeks I ate absolutely no sugar or junk food, and had no cravings, and this week....that's all I seem to want.  Blarg!  This is a pretty major PMS symptom of mine that I'm trying to regulate, along with my hormones.  Let's just say that I didn't "just say no" this week to pizza Wednesday, or bagel Friday.

I don't want to scare away any men readers with all this PMS and hormone stuff.  The toxic elements in our world don't just adversely affect a woman's hormones.  Not by a long shot.  All human beings have many different hormones in their bodies, which regulate our function, though most of us know nothing about our hormones.  All men have some female hormones, and all women have some male hormones.  The hormone levels of all human beings are affected by foods we eat, our stress levels, and the xenoestrogens in our environment.  I delved into that a little bit in my Plastic Freedom post.

Detoxifying our home and environment as much as possible is a universal concern for men and women.  And so the next big area of my life I have undertaken a detox in is BEAUTY and personal hygiene.  I've been hooked on beauty products for as long as I can remember, as I'm sure many of you have.  Many of us gals just end up accumulating a lot of products for hair, face, and body over time.  But this is not exclusively female behaviour ;)

There are some evils lurking in our bathroom cupboards and shower, and you really should get to know them.

EVIL #1: Parabens


I know you've heard of them.  I had heard the word before too, but I really didn't look into it very much until recently, when it occurred to me that my hormones were messed up.  My research brought me to parabens.  Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in personal care products.  They stop fungus, bacteria and other creepie crawlies from growing in our creams, shampoos, soaps, and makeup.  You can find these preservatives listed on your products as methyparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and isobutylparaben, and if you take a look around your bathroom (or in Shopper's Drug Mart), you'll probably find them in almost everything.  Parabens have been widely used for about 70 years.

Researchers are now questioning the safety of parabens.  They wonder if the rising incidence of breast cancer is linked in part to the fact that parabens, which mimic estrogen in the body, have been found in breast cancer tumours and can be isolated from other body tissues.  They wonder if declining sperm counts and increasing rates of male breast cancer and testicular cancer are related to the fact that parabens can be absorbed into our skin, potentially disrupting our endocrine systems.

A very important study conducted in 2004 by Philippa Darbe, a senior lecturer in oncology and researcher in biomolecular sciences at the University of Reading, in England, detected parabens in 18 out of 20 samples of tissue from breast cancer biopsies.  While this is not conclusive proof that parabens cause cancer, they were easily detected in these cancer cells.  No study was done on non-cancerous tissue to compare the findings.  More research is needed.  The potentially frightening thing is that we use underarm deodorant containing parabens in very close proximity to our breasts, on a daily basis.

Even if there were no direct link to parabens and breast cancer, parabens do mimic estrogen in the body, causing estrogen dominance in some.  Estrogen dominance encourages the development of breast cancer and also stimulates breast tissue that can trigger fibrocystic breast disease.  Estrogen dominance in men can cause such problems as infertility, erectile dysfunction, enlarged prostate, and certain types of cancer.  That right there, is all I need.  Parabens are not good for the human body.

EVIL #2: Phthalates

You many not know much about them, but like parabens, they are insidious in our environments.  One billion tons of phthalates are produced worldwide each year. Phthalates, also called plasticizers, are used in a variety of common consumer products: they soften vinyl plastics that are common in toys, are responsible for the smell of new vinyl shower curtains and are a frequent component of fragrances used in air fresheners, detergents, cleaning products and more. They show up in cosmetics to hold color and scents, and have also been found in nail polish and treatments.

Most personal care products that contain phthalates don't list them on the label.  A significant loophole in the law allows phthalates (and other chemicals) to be added to fragrances without disclosure to consumers. Because fragrance occurs in nearly every conceivable product, including lotions, soaps, cleansers and hair care products, phthalates are common.

Here's what to look for in order to identify phthalates in your beauty products and elsewhere:
  • DBP (di-n-butyl pthalate) and DEP (diethyl phthalate) are often found in personal care products, including nail polishes, deodorants, perfumes and cologne, aftershave lotions, shampoos, hair gels, and hand lotions.
  • DEHP (di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) is used in PVC plastics, including some medical devices. 
  • BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate) is used in some flooring, car products and personal care products. 
  • DMP (dimethyl phthalate) is used in insect repellent and some plastics (as well as rocket propellant).

Also look for the term "fragrance," which I mentioned above, and is used to denote a combination of compounds, possibly including phthatates.

Phthalates have been found to disrupt the endocrine system. Several phthalate compounds have caused reduced sperm counts, testicular atrophy and structural abnormalities in the reproductive systems of male test animals, and some studies also link phthalates to liver cancer.  Phthalates can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled.

A 2003 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that five percent of women between age 20 and 40 had up to 45 times more phthalates in their bodies than researchers initially hypothesized. CDC found phthalates in virtually every person tested, but the largest concentrations -- 20 times higher than the rest of the population -- were found in women of child-bearing age. Meanwhile, another study, led by Dr. Shanna Swan of the University of Missouri, identified developmental abnormalities in male infants correlating to high phthalate levels in their mothers’ bodies.

Phthalates are found in most PVC products including vinyl upholstery, tablecloths, shower curtains, raincoats, and soft-squeeze children's toys.  In the U.S. and Canada, DEHP is no longer used to manufacture children's products intended for the mouth, such as pacifiers, but it may still be found in larger toys, especially those made in other countries.  Don't forget, lots of medical supplies contain PVC and phthalates: blood transfusion bags, tubing, and surgical gloves all contain DEHP.

I would like to refer all the ladies to this page for some further information on phthalates and nail polish: http://www.ewg.org/reports/beautysecrets.

What We Can Do?

We're just consumers, right?  Well, that makes us very powerful, actually.  We choose to educate ourselves, and then we choose how to spend our money. Here is a super handy website to check on the safety of your beauty products: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/.  I'm always checking products in this database, and you'd be really surprised to see that products you thought were good, aren't good at all.

Use your knowledge, and a bit of your spending money, to replace your beauty products.  What you might find, as I did, is that as you purge your cabinet you will see so much crap in there that you haven't even touched (thank god, actually), and that you can very easily do without.

What you might find when you replace your key products, is that you actually need way less in your beauty regime than you thought.  I got rid of tons of products, and I replaced them with much less.  Less consumerism, less wasting your money, and less clutter in your home.  It's pretty empowering.

Now here's what I did:

FROM THIS




TO THIS


Earth Science Olive & Avocado Deep Conditioning Mask (for hair),
Almost Natural Polish Remover, Hopscotch Kids nail polish, Green Beaver
Sunscreen, Green Beaver Natural Deodorant, Giovanni Vitapro Fusion
Leave-In Hair Treatment, JASON Healthy Mouth toothpaste,
Kiss My Face shampoo and conditioner, Sanctum Men's Shave Gel (it's Jer's)

I'm pretty sure I missed a number of products for the before shot.  Also not pictured is the makeup I bought.  I am using mascara and eyeshadow from Pure Anada (http://www.pureanada.ca/).  The mascara was $9.99 and the eyeshadow was about $6.00 each at the Big Carrot.  Really comparable in price to any drugstore brand of makeup.  I have yet to replace my liquid foundation or eyeliner, partly because I haven't found any at a really reasonable price - I've noticed that a lot of natural foundation and eye liner cost upwards of $40.00 - but I'm sure I will find some.  For now, I'm living without it just fine :)

Some of these products may not be totally perfect, but I'm still learning, and I was definitely very new to all this when I was buying them.  I feel much better for now, and know there is room for improvement.  Next on my list is replacing all of my cleaning products with safe, natural ones.

I really encourage you to look in your bathroom, read ingredients on your products, and give some thought to these issues.  Use up what you have left, or don't.  Take a trip to a health store like The Big Carrot, Whole Foods, Noah's, and plenty of smaller stores like Qi Natural Foods.  Another resource I've come to love is http://well.ca/ where you can order lots of different products and get free shipping in Canada.  Check out the 'Green and Natural' category!  Use the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database when researching different products.

We all have the power to change what we put on our skin, in our hair, and on our toenails and fingernails.  The science is complicated, but the bottom line is not: these chemicals are harmful to us.  I'm not willing to pay such a high price for beauty anymore.

If you've made it to this point, thanks for hanging in there on a Friday night to read about such heavy stuff.  Now go have a great night! :)

C.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

My Mom Makes the Best Lasagna!

Hi friends!  Hope your week is going well.  I'm just getting back into the swing of things after a weekend away camping, and wanted to pop in to share a fabulous recipe with you.  I'll tell you all about my camping trip soon :)

This is a recipe for the most amazing, delicious, cheesy, gooey, meaty, saucy, most savoury lasagna you'll ever try.  I've made it several times, and it never fails to impress.  Sure, it won't score too high on the health-o-meter, but hey, you have to indulge every now and then.  Lasagna is one of my favourite comfort foods, and just thinking of my mom's delicious lasagna is enough to make me drool.

I found this recipe on All Recipes, and after making it once or twice, I learned that my mom has been using this recipe for years, so it's kinda like my lasagna recipe has been passed down to me from mom.  And aren't mom's recipes always the best?  <3  Give it a shot.  Best enjoyed in the company of friends and family!

THE BEST LASAGNA

 

Ingredients:


1 pound sweet Italian sausage (slice the meat out of the casings)
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion*
2 cloves garlic, crushed*
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes**
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar (though I use more like 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon of salt (I use more like 1/2 teaspoon or less - there is plenty of salt in the meat)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omit this - there is plenty of salt in the cheese)
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced or grated (I use an entire big brick!)
3/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese


* I always end up using more!
** Don't forget to look for BPA free - Eden Organics makes crushed tomatoes in a jar!


Instructions:

1.   In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.  Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley.  Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

2.   You can use no-boil lasagna noodles, like I do.  OR: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water.  In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or omit this salt like I do).

3.   Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

4.   To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce.  Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture.  Top with a third of mozzarella cheese.  Spoon 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese (good luck with that!  LOL).

5.   Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

MY NOTES:

I have provided you with the recipe as I found it on All Recipes, but I'm serious when I suggest to you that you really cut down or omit the salt.  All the reviews of this recipe said that the dish came out too salty, and it's completely understandable, given the salt already present in the meat and cheese.  Even with the reduced salt I use, the dish can still be on the salty side.  Next time, I'll probably try cutting it out altogether.

This lasagna can be made gluten free by using gluten free rice lasagna noodles.  As for dairy, I hate to say it, but I just don't think this lasagna would be the same without three kinds of melty, gooey cheese ;)  (But you can give it a shot if you want....Daiya (http://www.daiyafoods.com/) is my favourite dairy and soy free cheese).


THE BEST BOLOGNESE SAUCE



Include all ingredients above, up to and including the first 2 tablespoons of parsley, and follow all directions, up to the part where you start boiling noodles and assembling and cooking lasagna.  It makes the best sauce ever, and I portion it out and freeze it - 1 1/2 cups of sauce will feed Jeremy and I on a weeknight when there's not much time to cook!










Thursday, 11 August 2011

My Fix!

I'm off to bed in a minute, and then out the door bright and early tomorrow for camping.  CAN'T WAIT!  Before I go, I just wanted to tell you about one thing.

In an effort to see if it would help my situation, I cut out caffeine for 2 weeks.  Caffeine is known to contribute to PMS symptoms, and in fact for some women, once they quit caffeine, their symptoms totally disappear.  This was back in April or May.  The withdrawal was simply dreadful!  I was sitting at work thinking I was so tired I would probably just stop breathing.  If you've tried to quit coffee, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.  I was more drowsy and tired than I've ever been in my life.  Well, it seemed that those 2 weeks of no caffeine really helped my cycle.  I had very few PMS symptoms that month.  And as for caffeine, once you get over the first 4-5 days, your energy really levels out, and you actually feel great and sleep like a baby.

After 2 weeks I decided to go back to coffee - by that point I wasn't really addicted anymore, but I really missed the taste.  I made myself a coffee, started drinking it, and within an hour or so I felt insane!  I was so shaky, anxious, hyper, and frazzled, and it lasted for 8 hours.  I decided that I didn't want caffeine any more, and have never turned back.  I started drinking decaf instead, because I really just love the taste of coffee.

3 weeks ago I decided to quit even decaf, to see if the trace amounts of caffeine are affecting my symptoms.  I can't tell you how much I miss it!  My god, coffee is amazing!  My morning just wasn't complete without a decaf Americano.  I've been drinking herbal tea in the morning, and it's just not the same at all.

Well, I think I've found a way to get my fix.  My boyfriend's parents used to serve something called Teeccino (http://teeccino.com/) after dinner.  


Teeccino Caffeine-free Herbal Coffee is a blend of herbs, grains, fruits and nuts that are roasted and ground to brew and taste just like coffee.  There are seemingly dozens of flavours.  Teeccino does have barley in it, so you would think it is not gluten free.  Their website addresses the question as follows:
"Although Teeccino contains barley, an independent laboratory at the University of Nebraska that specializes in gluten testing found no detectable levels of gluten in brewed Teeccino. Although gluten is present in barley, it most likely does not extract out of the barley using conventional coffee brewing techniques. Gluten is not extracted by boiling water although it can be extracted using ethanol alcohol, which of course is not present in Teeccino. Click here to see Gluten testing results.

For gluten sensitive customers, we highly recommend using a paper filter in a drip coffee maker to brew Teeccino so that no particles of Teeccino can leak into the brewed liquid. Teeccino Tee-bags are also perfect for gluten-sensitive customers because the Teeccino grounds are enclosed completely in the tea bag filter paper. Since ingesting small particles of Teeccino grounds could cause a reaction to gluten, we don't recommend reusable filters since they are not as completely reliable as paper filters in preventing particles from going through the filter during brewing. Read more about how to keep Teeccino gluten free."
I think I can live with that answer.  I picked some up tonight, and tried it out, and I was in heaven!  I'm so happy that now I can get my flavour fix without any caffeine.  Plus, I won't feel left out while all my camping buddies enjoy their morning brew this weekend.  I highly recommend you track this stuff down, if you're living caffeine free but really miss the flavour of coffee.

Off I go finally, thanks for reading!  Once again, have a great weekend, whatever you're up to! :)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Salad With a Side of Hormones?


I'm drooling over this amazing organic section.  Wish I had a store like
this near my home!

Happy hump day, friends!  I just have to get through tomorrow, and I'm off to Bruce Peninsula National Park for some camping with about 12 friends for a long weekend.  What a beautiful park!  I'm super stoked to get up there.  Hope your week is going well!

On to the matter at hand.....my ongoing crusade for health, balance and happiness.  I'm still fighting that war with my hormones, those pesky little jerks.  I just finished up with 19 horrendous days of my life being interrupted by them.  Yes, 19 days from start to finish.  How can someone live like this?  I know I'm not the only one, I'd love to hear your own stories!

My 2nd detox tool, along with eliminating plastic, has been to seek out organic produce and meat, whenever available.  Certified organic produce cannot be sprayed with pesticides, and no GMO's are permitted.  There is no way I can fully understand or explain the biological process of hormone disruption caused by eating food sprayed with pesticides, but I will try. 

Pesticides are chemicals that can mimic estrogen in the body (another type of xenoestrogen).  They fill up the estrogen receptors in our body so that the good estrogen can't get through to perform it's role properly (basically leaving all the good estrogen floating around, not getting used up).  The result is hormonal imbalance.  Simply put.

The Dirty Dozen

According to The Environmental Working Group, the following fruits and vegetables are most sprayed with pesticides, and if you have to be selective with your organic purchases, it's a good idea to buy the following in the organic section:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

The 12 least contaminated are:

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

I've gotta say, I find that some fruits and veggies taste way better organic.  I'm loving strawberries and blueberries this summer, and organic carrots are so sweet!

Of course, there is the GMO issue, which is HUGE!  It makes me feel quite sick to know that a company like Monsanto is allowed to exist and have patents on seeds that they have modified to withstand their own pesticides.  They own bits of Mother Nature, for crying out loud!  Watching the film "Food Inc." (www.foodincmovie.com) really opened my eyes to all this, and at this point, I will not eat corn unless it's organic.  I don't go near any soy products, as soy has very estrogenic properties, but if I did, I would only eat organic.  I do encourage everyone to watch that film, as it will really enlighten you about the unfortunate realities of the food industry, and will help you make more informed choices about the food you choose to eat.  It's hard to watch, but it's SO worth it.

I'd like to add one more thing about organic produce, as a word of caution.  On the weekend, I bought some organic veggies at an independent market which sells a lot of organics.  I came home, started putting away the veggies, and noticed that the tag on my celery looked kind of funny:

Sorry for the sideways pic!  But you can clearly
see that it says 'Red Leaf'.

I can't help but feel suspicious that the celery I bought was not organic, despite the higher price, and that a twist tie for organic red leaf lettuce was used to tie the celery.  I'm not sure that independent markets have the same level of accountability as larger markets.  There could be a perfectly innocent explanation for this, but I really have my doubts.

Incidentally, you might want to know about the numbers on those stickers you have to peel off your produce.  For conventionally grown fruit, (grown with chemicals inputs), the PLU code on the sticker consists of four numbers. Organically grown fruit has a five-number PLU prefaced by the number 9. Genetically modified fruit has a five-number PLU prefaced by the number 8.

Meat!!!  "You can't make friends with salad, you can't make friends with salad."

I have also chosen to buy only organic meat from animals raised without hormones and antibiotics, in a natural and humane environment.  Conventional livestock are injected with growth hormones and fed antibiotics.  Ingesting those hormones and antibiotics would also contribute to the hormonal havoc in my body (this world is dirty).  In addition, animals from factory farms endure the worst living conditions imaginable, and it absolutely turns my stomach.  If everyone knew how their meat got to the grocery store (again, see "Food Inc."), they would do their very best to only buy organic meat for the rest of their lives.

We buy our meat from Rowe Farms, as it is the most economical option for us.  Their steak is fairly comparable in price to steak at the grocery store, perhaps only a dollar or two more expensive.  We find the chicken is actually cheaper at Rowe Farms, provided you are okay with buying frozen chicken breasts.  They sell a package containing 4-5 large chicken breasts for $15.99.  Yes, you read that right!  At the grocery store, you can pay around $8 - $10 for 2 Prime chicken breasts, so the Rowe Farms price is either comparable, or even cheaper.  We like buying in slightly larger quantities, as we then have  enough chicken to last a week or more, and we usually end up popping them in the freezer anyway.  Perfect!  I do find that their ground meat (beef and turkey) is noticeably more expensive than the grocery store slop, so I cringe to buy it.

We also buy our eggs at Rowe Farms, because they are free-run, hormone and antibiotic free, and about $2.00 cheaper than the equivalent at the grocery store.  Sometimes organic is more affordable than we might think.

That said, I know that it is simply not in the budget for many of us to buy organic.  It's an unfortunate reality of the food industry as it stands.  Hopefully one day organic food will become more affordable and accessible to more people.  I think it will just take a bit more time.

I'm grateful that I have the means to spend that extra money on organic.  I feel that I can keep my body cleaner, and hopefully help my hormone imbalance along so I don't have to live this way for much longer.  Here's hoping!

Cheers y'all, have a great weekend!  I'll come back next week and hopefully I'll be able to tell you that I was able to go camping CleanLiving style!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

My Muffin Tops Are All That (Gluten-Free Banana Muffins!)

Hi All!  Phew, what a busy day!  I'm just finally sitting down to write after a day of cleaning, cooking and baking.  Baking has always been a favourite hobby of mine, though since going gluten free, I have had to learn how to bake all over again.  Gluten-free baking is really not that complicated though, once you have all the different flours on hand.  The result of gluten-free is a lighter end product that doesn't leave you feeling weighed down. 

A really excellent resource for me has been the Gluten-Free Goddess blog (http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/).  Her blog is gorgeous, and she's such an amazing gluten free cook.  One of the many recipes I've used from her site is a recipe for banana bread (http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2007/11/banana-chocolate-chip-bread.html), which I have adapted to be fat free, and low sugar.  Today I used the recipe to make muffins instead of bread.  They are perfectly moist and delish and you will never miss the fat and extra sugar.  Enjoy!


Gluten-Free Banana Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  You may spray the paper baking cups lightly with oil.

Combine in a large bowl:

4 smaller-medium bananas, peeled, mashed (if bananas are large, use one less)

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup organic coconut sugar (same as palm sugar)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk together in a separate bowl:

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend
(I made 2 cups of flour mix: 1/2 cup buckwheat flour, 1/2 cup sweet white sorghum flour, 1/2 cup tapioca starch, 1/2 cup potato starch (not potato flour), then measured the 1 1/2 cups needed, and put the rest in the fridge for next time - BUT YOU CAN CERTAINLY JUST PURCHASE A GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR BLEND LIKE PAMELA'S OR BOB'S RED MILL)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 rounded teaspoon cinnamon

Add the dry ingredients into the banana mixture and stir until smooth.  If the batter looks too thin and wet, add more gluten-free flour, a tablespoon at a time, to thicken the batter.  If too thick, add a tablespoon of water.

Optional:

Add in

1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
OR
1/2 cup walnut pieces

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted into the muffin comes out clean.  Cool the muffins or loaf on a wire rack.

This recipe works great for banana bread as well.  All directions are the same.  To prepare the standard bread pan, lightly oil it and dust it with rice flour.  Bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven, until the loaf is firm, a bit crusty and until a wooden pick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Plastic Freedom

I always knew my hormones were "out of whack" but never really knew what that meant until a couple months ago when my naturopath was pondering my continuing symptoms and mumbled to herself "okay, that's low progesterone."  That prompted me to do all kinds of research that has really led me to some startling conclusions: our environment is toxic.  The things I choose to have in my home and eat my food out of, are contributing to my hormones being "out of whack."

I read a great book last year called "What We Leave Behind" by Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay, which I highly recommend you pick up if you're at all interested in environmental and health issues.  I definitely sat up and paid attention when I read:
"By now plastic is almost everywhere.  By everywhere I mean in a huge portion of consumer products, in food and packaging, in liquid containers and the liquids they contain.  By everywhere I mean in the oceans and in the air and on the land.  By everywhere I mean on Mount Everest and in the Marinas Trench and in remote forests.  By everywhere I mean inside every mother's breast milk, inside polar bear fat, inside every fish, inside every monkey, inside every songbird, inside every frog.  And rest assured, it's inside of you too."
It seems like a HUGE violation that this man made product has taken over our planet and changed it in many terrible ways.  I am convinced that plastic will be our downfall - it's just so insidious in our world.

This post will focus in particular on the plastic in our food and packaging.  I'm sure you've all heard of a little something called BPA (bisphenol A). which is a component of polycarbonate plastic.  I hate to just throw quotes at you, but I think this really demonstrates just how toxic BPA is (from "What We Leave Behind"):
"The effects on living beings are horrific.  Exposure levels of only .025 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day (at this point low levels of human exposure from diet are around 1.5 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day, and relatively high levels are around 13; of course prior to the invention of plastic, everyone's ingestion was at precisely zero micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day) cause permanent changes to the genital tract, as well as changes in breast tissue that predispose cells to the effects of hormones and carcinogens.  Two micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day lead to a 30 percent increase in prostate weight (have you ever wondered why there are so many ads for chemicals to reduce the effects of enlarged prostates?).  At 2.4, the victims (for that's what they, or rather we, are) suffer early puberty and a decline in testicular testosterone.  At 2.5 there is an increased risk of breast cancer (and you have noticed the explosion in breast cancer rates, have you not?).  Doses of ten micrograms per kilogram per day lead to increased risk of prostate cancer (Do I need to keep putting in these parenthetical comments, of do you see this now in your life and the lives of those you love?).  That same dose leads to decreases in maternal behaviour.  Double it and you've got damage to eggs and chromosomes.  Raise it up to thirty micrograms per kilogram per day and you've got hyperactivity, and also a reversal of normal sex differences in brain structure (where are those damn family values people when you need them?).  Raise it all the way to fifty-one micrograms per kilogram and you've finally exceeded what the United States deems safe exposure."
The thing about BPA is that it can disrupt the endocrine system by mimicking estrogen.  Symptoms of excess estrogen in women can include: too much body fat around the hips and difficulty losing weight, gallstones, varicose veins, uterine fibroids, cervical dysplasia, endometriosis or ovarian cysts.  For men it can cause low libido, poor motivation, depression, loss of muscle mass and increased belly fat....there may even be breast development (from "The Hormone Diet" by Dr. Natasha Turner)  Excess estrogen has also been linked to breast, uterine cancer, and prostate cancer.  These environmental estrogens are called xenoestrogens, and they're found in many other places, which I will discuss in future posts.

The effects of BPA exposure can start to take hold while we are still in our mother's womb.  Prenatal exposure can cause irreversible damage in an unborn baby's reproductive organs.  This makes me want to hide in a corner and cry!  Exposure to BPA does make people fat - excess estrogen can causes more and bigger fat cells.  Jensen and McBay also say that BPA causes "victims" insulin to surge and crash, and they ask if there is "a correlation between the rise of plastic and the 735 percent increase in diabetes in the United States since 1935?"

In my life at the present time, excess estrogen has caused crippling PMS that takes hold of my body for 2-3 weeks every month.  Yes, I hardly get any time away from it!  Spotting and sore breasts for a week and a half, 5 days of period, and another 2-3 days of spotting after.  It causes me to crave all kinds of garbage food, and keeps a healthy supply of stubborn fat around my hips and thighs.  It makes me feel low and unmotivated to exercise to try to change all that.  It keeps me feeling utterly shitty.

I could go on and on.  I strongly urge you to pick up "What We Leave Behind." The point is, plastic is devastating.......I need a word that's even more powerful than devastating......to our health and the health of our planet. 

I decided that it's going to be up to me to bring my estrogen back to normal levels.  One way is to eliminate plastics in my food and drink - I personally don't feel that just avoiding BPA is enough.  All plastic had to go.  I took a look around my kitchen, and plastic was everywhere.  It wasn't going to be easy.  I took a trip to the Danforth, to IQ Living (http://www.iqliving.com/), and dropped some coin to buy some good quality products to replace the plastic in my kitchen.  As it stands, I have replaced all the major things that I use on a daily basis, including tupperware containers, cutting boards, cups, cooking utensils, containers to bring my lunch to work in, and my water bottle.  We have also been saving all our glass jars and using them to keep and transport food in.  Isn't everything so colourful and pretty?
Epicurean cutting board, bamboo mixing bowls,
silicone cooking utensils, ceramic food storage
containers with silicone lids, pyrex type glass bowls,
stainless steel kettle with silicone handle, & glasses to
replace plastic cups

In addition, I have not been using saran wrap or ziploc bags.  I have been buying food with less or no plastic packaging.  I no longer get the plastic produce bags, and I almost always make sure I leave the house with a reusable bag in case I go shopping.  I have bought a stainless steel water bottle that has absolutely no plastic on it, not even the cap.  It's made by Klean Kanteen (http://www.kleankanteen.com/), available at The Big Carrot.  For $35 to $40, it's an investment, but the idea of harmful chemicals leaching into my WATER, the essence of life, makes me kinda sick.  And it literally will make us sick.
Klean Kanteen Reflect

The plastics industry has lost a customer, in a very big way.  I'm pretty convinced that I will be healthier for it.  You see, in addition to the ways I already suffer from excess estrogen, I want to stay healthy as my life goes on.  I have breast cancer in my direct family: my grandmother had breast cancer at a very young age, and had a radical mastectomy.  I think that cancer is a product of our plastic world.

I have a long way to go to be completely plastic free.  It's even in can linings and on thermal paper (store receipts) - turn them down unless it's something you might need to return).  You can buy many products in jars instead, and some companies (ie. Eden Organic) have BPA free cans   Canned tomatoes were always the one thing you couldn't find in BPA free cans - even Eden Organic says the following:
"Eden Organic Tomatoes are packed in steel cans coated with a baked on r-enamel lining. Due to the acidity of tomatoes, the lining is epoxy based and may contain a minute amount of bisphenol-A, it is however in the 'non detectable' range according to independent laboratory extraction tests. The test was based on a detection level at 5 ppb (parts per billion)."
It requires a great deal of effort and creativity to go plastic free.  There's quite an amazing lady named Beth Terry, who basically lives nearly 100% plastic free.  Check out her website: http://myplasticfreelife.com/ where she has an amazingly exhaustive list of ways to go plastic-free.  She is quite inspiring to me, though I don't think I can quite aspire to reach her level.  She just proves though, that we can live without plastic.  The earliest form of plastic was only invented in 1855 and  later evolutions of plastic became widely used in the early 1900s.  For tens of thousands of years before that, there was no plastic.

Wow, we come from people who had true plastic freedom.  Why the hell did we have to go and screw it all up???

Just Say No!



Yay, it's Friday!  I'm super excited for the weekend, as always.  Friday always finds me sitting in my office trying not to give in to the weekly basket of bagels in the kitchen.  For some reason, my firm decides to reward the staff with bad food: Pizza lunch on the third Wednesday of every month, bagels every Friday, vending machines full of chips, chocolate bars, cookies, and pop, and 25cent candy machines full of skittles, jube jubes, chocolate covered almonds, and various other pieces of garbage we shouldn't really eat.

Sigh.  And I was never really a bagel person before starting to work here.  At 9:00 a.m. sharp every Friday, the bagels arrive, and the girls all line up to take their pick, slice it, toast it, and slather it in cream cheese.  Wonderful healthy start to the day!  I don't exactly have the greatest self-control, so it's been a real challenge for me not to join those girls.  I have enough weaknesses for sweet and salty snacks to begin with; I don't need a bagel fixation too.

I definitely find I spend a lot of time, thought, and effort on just saying no to the bad foods I want to eat.  Some days or weeks are better than others....likely controlled by those pesky hormones.  I usually do better during the weeknights than weekends, as I find the structure of the work week really helps with my discipline.  I really just want to be healthy through the rest of my life.  I don't want to struggle when I'm older.

Today I actually have no interest in having a bagel.  I'm really not sure why, but I'm just going to go with it, and be happy that for one more week, I'm not going to have a bagel bum :)

Happy Friday everyone!

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