Tag Archives: Crazy Sexy Diet

it is finished (the 3 week cleanse, that is)

part of my new morning practice--a glass of green juice

So often, it seems, life is a lot like a mosaic. I was going to say ‘more like a mosaic than ____’ but I couldn’t figure out what to put in the blank.

What I mean is this. A few weeks back, while at the Monday market (in town, a cross between a farmers market and a flea market) I bought a Juiceman Jr juicer. Did I go searching for a Juiceman Jr? Did I need a Juiceman Jr? No. It was a Monday market impulse buy. (I’ve also got a great pair of converse shoes for $8, and the entire Chronicles of Naria for $2–other Monday market impulse buys–sort of like Cosco without the same quantity or price tag attached).  My friend Dave Kamena (who happens to own a great sportswear company called Plastic if you want to check them out) pointed out the Juiceman Jr to me. “Hey, do you need a juicer?” I went and asked how much. $8. “It’s $8,” I said to Dave. “Is that a good deal?” “Yeah, those things are $100 in the States,” was his response. So I got it. What a deal. A juicer for $8 instead of $100. I got it home and wondered what I would do with a juicer.

Around the same time another friend had told me about a book she was reading, and how she was changing her diet and her lifestyle around some of what she was learning in this book. The book was called Crazy Sexy Diet, by Kris Carr, a cancer survivor who attributes her health to this change in diet and lifestyle.  I decided to get the book.

Somewhere in this same timeframe I gave a friend a ride to the airport. During our drive up to San Diego from Baja he told me about ‘juice fasting,’ a practice of cleansing one’s system of toxins accumulated in our systems from the food that we eat– over dependence on animal products (many of which are raised with hormones, anti-biotics and other harmful, unnatural byproducts), processed foods, sugar, etc. “Hmm…” I pondered. Perhaps I could do some sort of fast during Lent, which at that time was still a few weeks away.

Cut to today. Day 21 of a 21 day ‘adventure cleanse‘ (I think that is supposed to make it sound more exciting) as described by Kris Carr in Crazy Sexy Diet.  Though I didn’t do the ‘juice fast,’ for the past 21 days I have consumed no sugar, no gluten (no bread, pasta, flour tortillas), no alcohol,  no ‘animal’ (no meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, yogurt, milk, ice cream, etc.) and basically no processed foods. I’ve added ‘green juice’* to my morning ritual, thanks to my $8 Juiceman Jr from the Monday Market.

Being one with a tendency to ponder (for which I both thank and blame my dad, who was wont to answer when asked what are you doing “Oh, just pondering”) I’ve been doing my share of pondering over these three weeks.

Ponder #1: I feel great. I don’t think that’s just because I have to convince myself that giving up so many yummy food items was worth it. I really do feel healthy, awake, aware, present.

Ponder #2: My cravings have been a bit on the crazy side. It’s only 3 weeks. It’s not forever. What’s the big deal, right? I found that some days all I wanted was a shrimp burrito (a la plancha) and a Negro Modelo from Splash. Their willingness to accommodate my rather un-Mexican vegan diet by providing me with rice and steamed veggies was nice, but nothing comparable to the deliciousness of the shrimp burrito. I miss the shrimp burrito.

Ponder #3: It was a bit awkward socially. “Do you want to come over for Spaghetti and meatballs?” one friend asked, only to quickly follow it up with “Oh wait, you can’t eat any of that, can you?”

Ponder #4: Now that I can see the finish line, the cravings have pretty much subsided. I actually feel like I could do another 3 weeks (which would be the duration of Lent, for those who keep track of such things) and it would be no problem. Which leads me to…

Ponder #5: Are the cravings really cravings, or something more than just food? Augustine (as in St. Augustine) says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God” (okay, that might be a bit of a stretch of an association, but go with me here). Lent, the 40 day season preceding Easter, is traditionally celebrated as a time of penitence, or of self-emptying, of making space and of learning to dwell in the present moment, to be open to God. Often fasting can be a part of Lent, from which has come the tendency to ‘give up chocolate’ or sugar or some other item.

Ponder #5: Is there something in the idea of persevering through our cravings that actually allows us to be more present, to ourselves and to the divine? I didn’t really intend that my 3 week cleanse was for Lent, though I did start it at the same time. And I wasn’t really planning on it being a ‘spiritual practice’ as much as a ‘healthy eating’ practice. But of course, the two are not always so easily separated from one another. Most of the time I stayed in my cravings “I really want ______” was what I thought, and didn’t go much further. Often I tried to fill the craving with something else. “I can’t have chocolate chip cookies, but I can have a spoonful of peanut butter with a bit of agave nectar.” But I kind of think that misses the point. What about the practice of not having exactly what you want, when you want it, and the precise moment that you want it? (I know, heresy in much of our American culture.)  What about allowing some emptiness, that we don’t immediately try to fill?

Ponder #6: Will I keep it up, or will I revert back to my pre-cleanse ways? Part of me says “You feel great, why in the world would you change that?” (Part of my asks why I’m talking to myself as well…) But I also enjoy and appreciate food, and sharing a meal with others. Living in Mexico the no-gluten (have you ever had freshly made, by hand, flour tortillas?!) and vegan (birria, carne asada, huevos Mexicanos, in addition to my favorite shrimp burrito) aspects are on the tricky side, socially. Sure, if I decided I wanted to stick to them, I could navigate it and it wouldn’t be the end of the world. And yes, I will probably stay fairly vegan, fairly no-sugar, and fairly no-gluten, with a responsible amount of alcohol in the mix. But I like food, and I like sharing meals together with friends. I’ve managed to come up with some pretty delicious and creative vegan concoctions (if I do say so myself) like veggie stacks and vegan chile rellenos so I may also try to ‘evangelize’ others into some of my new habits.

Ponder #7: The final ponder, as 7 is the number of completeness. Ponder #7? It remains to be written, or, more exactly, to be lived.

*Recipe for Green Juice

Using a juicer, juice:
-One broccoli stem
-A bunch of romaine, arugula, wild greens or whatever other ‘lettuce’ you’ve got
-One pear (entire)
-two small (or one large) cucumber (entire)
-two celery stalks
-one small piece of fresh ginger
-half a paddle of ‘nopal’ (Mexican cactus)–I added this one, based on local availability. The nopal (uncooked) gives a great consistency to the green juice)

veggie stacks (with sundried tomato and pine nut couscous on wild greens)

the finished product

Since I’ve been in the midst of a slightly modified version of the “21 day ‘adventure cleanse'” from a book called ” target=”_blank”>Crazy Sexy Diet (really much better than the title might make it sound!) I’ve been on a no-sugar, no-gluten, no-alcohol, and vegan meal plan. Let’s just say it has been a bit of an ‘adventure’ in trying to figure out interesting and yummy things to eat. It’s not the vegetarian thing that has been challenging, I’m a mostly vegetarian normally. It’s the no bread and no cheese that’s been more of a challenge.

Last week I tried a modified version of “The Great Ozzie Veggie Stack” from one of my favorite cookbooks, “>enjoy: new veg with dash by nadine abensur. Here you go:

veggie stacks (with sundried tomato and pine nut couscous on wild greens)
serves 2

1 Sweet potato, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 roma tomato, sliced

olive oil
1 T soy sauce
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
pesto

Couscous
sundried tomatoes
pine nuts

Combine oil, soy sauce, vinegar and garlic. Brush the vegetables with this mixture. Transfer veggies to a cookie sheet and roast about 15-20 minutes at 200. Remove earlier if they get too cooked. Once they are done, toss them with pesto.

Meanwhile, cook couscous, adding in chopped sundried tomato. Toast pine nuts.

On a plate, put wild greens (I had arugula and mustard greens). Then stack the veggies, starting with sweet potato, onion, zucchini, tomato. Top with a wee dollop of pesto, and a few pine nuts.

Put the couscous in a small dish (we called them custard cups) and press down firmly. Turn over onto the plate to create a small molded mound. (I learned this trick from my mom, who always used to serve our white rice in this manner). Garnish with pine nuts and sundried tomatoes.

Enjoy!

Jesus and cheeses

a plate of juevos mexicanos (and bacon) at Paola's

I’m not sure how it happened, but, through a series of events which I can actually trace backward a few steps, I’m 1 week into a 3week ‘cleanse’ that is most easily characterized by: no sugar, no alcohol, no gluten (bread, pasta, etc), no processed foods (my one exception is the BEST corn tortilla chips ever, found at our local tienda), and no animal products. At all. So, no birria tacos at the Monday Market. No shrimp burrito ‘a la plancha’ (grilled) at Splash.  No juevos Mexicanos with bacon at Paola’s… But also, no cheese. No ice cream. No yogurt. No butter. Zip.

At this point I realize you may be thinking, um, what can you eat? Believe it or not, there are actually still many foods to choose from, even with the above removed from the list….(do I sound convincing?)

Not that long ago I was talking with a friend about a book she was reading, Crazy Sexy Diet. As she talked about alkaline vs. acid in foods and in our systems, green smoothies, and how the author, who had been diagnosed with a rare, untreatable cancer, had beaten it through a change in diet and lifestyle, I was hooked.

I’ve got to admit, I’m an easy sell for ‘transformation.’ Tell me a story of how you, or how someone you know, or how a book you are reading has made some sort of tangible impact on you that has changed your life for the better, and I’m there. I love stories of transformation. Come to think of it, that may be part of why I’m ordained as an ‘evangelist’ but that’s a story for another time…

So, I ordered Crazy Sexy Diet.  I happened to read it right before Lent began, so I decided, “Why not begin Lent with this 21 day cleanse?”

So, here I am, a third of the way through. I’m actually cheating in one aspect–I have not given up my morning cup of coffee. I mean, c’mon, you want me to give up coffee too? Now that’s just crazy talking.

But the thing is, though it is awkward to go out to eat (last week at Splash I got rice and steamed vegetables, which were actually good, but not nearly as good as my favorite shrimp burrito, or when a friend invited me over for ‘spaghetti and meatballs’ and then said, “Wait, you can’t eat any of that, can you?”)

I actually do feel healthier. Perhaps it is a placebo, who knows. I’m just beginning to not crave dessert all the time–somehow a banana is not nearly as exciting as a plethora of other dessert options I can think of.

Though the 21 day cleanse (she calls it an ‘adventure cleanse’–is that supposed to make it sound more inviting?) is not technically ‘fasting’ (it does call for one day of fasting every seventh day) some of the elements of fasting seem to be rearing their ugly heads.

Fasting, as a spiritual discipline, is often done to allow us to feel our hunger and to connect the physical hunger to the spiritual. Is it actually a brownie that I am hungry for, or is the brownie just what is convenient and in reach?

I’ve realized how accustomed I am to ‘consuming’ pretty much whatever I want, whenever I want it. Having to limit that ‘consumption’ is an exercise, again, in allowing an emptying or a paying attention, so that we might make room or make space, and in the case of a spiritual discipline, space for God. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

For now it’s just Jesus, not cheeses…

*I have to give credit where credit is due–I did not come up with the phrase, but got it from Chad Fransen and thought it was too funny not to use…