Documentary Details: Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

I have been talking about our new healthy eating habit to pretty much anyone that will listen. A coworker was really excited by the idea, and told me I needed to watch the Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead documentary for inspiration. It is the story of one man’s adventures in juicing as a means to get down to a healthier weight, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I felt like Joe was very relate-able, even though he is more well off than the average viewer. His motivation for documenting his weight loss progress mirrors my own motivation for starting this blog. I also found him to be a very generous spirit and loved that he took some of the people he met on his travels under his wing. Finding liked minded people to help you on your journey is key!

I really liked that they showed health care professionals in the documentary, and that both Joe and Phil met with physicians before they started the “reboot.” It helped me see it as a viable option as opposed to a story about someone who starved themselves for two months. I don’t think I could do a 60 day challenge, but I am very interested in trying one of the shorter challenges.

Reboot With Joe is the companion website to the movie. I have saved the link for future reference since Clayton and I are motivated to try the 3 Day Plan. They also have modifications you can make to the plan that would accommodate blending instead of juicing. But we’ve got to finish our current habit before we take on a new one. Baby steps!

I’ve got Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 on the docket for this weekend. Will you be giving it a go?

Food Friday – The Start

A new habit for the new year!

Clayton and I went back and forth for weeks discussing what my new habit should be. We both wanted to make more progress in improving our diet and looked to the 8 Weeks to Wellness program for inspiration again.

Habit: Plan and eat one 8WW approved meal everyday for 66 days.

Start Date: Sunday, 01/10/2016

Projected End Date: Tuesday, 03/15/2016

Action Plan:

  • Try 2 new recipes from SparksRecipes
  • Try 2 new recipes from the 8WW workbook
  • Keep a photo journal on Instagram
  • Track our weight every Sunday
  • Post weekly progress on Fridays about developing better eating habits

Incentive: If we build our meal habit AND lose 10 pounds each over the course of the 66 days we will take a trip back home to attend Cubs vs. Angels opening day game!

8WW Meal Day 4: 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta with meat sauce, side salad, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower.
8WW Meal Day 4: 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta with meat sauce, side salad, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

Lofty Goal: Being healthy

I have less action items for this habit than previous ones because I think this habit will take up more of my time than any of the previous ones. You might also find our incentive to be a little extravagant. We figure losing 10 pounds is a big deal, and this is something that will keep both Clayton and I motivated. I will get to see my family, and Clayton will bend over backwards to see Cubs opening day!

Wish us luck and please share any of your favorite health recipes in the comments!

Cooking Class Cop-out

The last item on my action plan was to attend 2 cooking classes that would help get more vegetables in our diet. All the classes I could find this time of year centered around holiday feasts so I decided to find some vegetarian YouTube chefs that could help me accomplish the same goal. A happy coincidence is that my favorite chefs have smoothie videos for me to feature!

FullyRawKristina

Kristina is funny, engaging, and I like her style. She has a full backlog of videos for me to peruse that cover diet, exercise, and other interesting topics. The videos have great production value and they are very well organized. She has 26 videos just on juice/smoothies!

Vegan Black Metal Chef

If you get nothing else from my blog I hope you love discovering Vegan Black Metal Chef along with me. I have no words…

Sometimes alternate solutions turn out better than the original might have. I am excited to have new YouTube channels to follow that will provide a lot of great meal ideas as I maintain this habit in the future.

What is your favorite way to work more vegetables into your diet? Please share your ideas in the comments!

Restaurant Reviews

Part of my action plan in building this smoothie habit was to try vegetarian meals at 3 new restaurants. It was a happy coincidence that two of them had smoothie options!

Ecopolitan1.  Ecopolitan

This restaurant is located in a converted home and now houses the restaurant and other wellness shops. We were the only patrons in the restaurant for a while, so I had plenty of time to take in the surroundings. The mosaics and artwork all over the walls provide a lovely atmosphere.

They only serve organic, vegan, raw food which is a big departure from our normal diet. I ordered the Sunrise Smoothie, rawnola, and a banana EcopolitanFoodcrepe for breakfast. The smoothie was top notch and made with banana, pineapple, dates, and orange juice. The rawnola was odd… I got used to the taste after a few bites, but I would not recommend it. The banana crepe was not at all what I was expecting, and I didn’t eat much of it. The crepe itself was made with bananas and was filled with avocado, carrots, and onions. I didn’t love the food, but if this location was closer I would be at their smoothie bar all the time!

Birchwood 2. Birchwood Cafe

Clayton selected this restaurant, and it was my least favorite of the three we visited. It is located in a quaint neighborhood, but there is only street parking. My favorite part about the location is that it is across the street from the Dead Media Record StoreBirchwoodFood

I ordered the Green Curry Rice (a staff favorite) and Clayton had their chicken noodle soup. The curry was spicy, and different than what I was expecting. I really enjoyed the citrus they added, but once that was gone I lost interest in the rest of the dish. Clayton’s soup was okay, but didn’t seem to have much chicken or noodles. The bread was fantastic!

Seward3. Seward Cafe

The outside of the cafe is uninspiring, but inside is vibrant. There are murals, plants, and chalkboards covering almost every wall and window. It’s a great atmosphere.

SewardFoodWe arrived at an odd time and the kitchen was closed to switch from the breakfast/ lunch to dinner fare. We were still able to order a smoothie, cookie, and cherry scone. The smoothie had mixed berries, bananas, and grape juice and was delicious. The cookie was average, but the scone was exceptional. I am excited to visit again and try the vegan mac and cheese, after 5 pm.

Setting out to visit 3 new restaurants that specialized in vegetarian food certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone. While none of them have become a new favorite, I am glad we made the effort to try something new.

What is your favorite vegetarian restaurant? Please share your favorite menu item in the comments!

Book Breakdown: Green Smoothie Revolution

Green Smoothie Revolution: The Radical Leap Towards Natural Health is a 2 part book. Part 1: “Unleashing the Healing Power of Greens” is composed of 10 short chapters explaining the benefits of adding green smoothies to your diet. My key takeaways:

  1. Rotate your greens
  2. Only add greens to your smoothies (kale, spinach, etc.), not other vegetables (carrots, beets, etc.)
  3. Simple recipe: greens, fruit, water
  4. Drink your smoothie by itself, not as a part of a meal

Part 2 offers a tremendous amount of recipes, some more appetizing than others. After reading through the recipes I’m excited to try new ingredients like bok choy, celery, and tomatoes.

This book is a quick and enjoyable read, but there were too many dubious claims for me to give it a higher grade. In appendix 2 Clent Manich lists out 18 benefits he has experienced from drinking green smoothies including whiter teeth and sweeter breath. There is also an “Anticancer Smoothie” recipe. Despite the widely quoted material there still seemed a lack of credible evidence.

I read this book hoping to get some new ideas for smoothies recipes and pick up some helpful tips on smoothie prep. In that respect this book was spot on, but could have been 50 pages shorter.

Did you notice any significant changes once you started drinking green smoothies? Please share your experience in the comments.

Holiday Habits

Clayton and I spent the week of Thanksgiving in Texas, and we had a great time! I tried to plan in advance how to accommodate this habit while away from home for 3 days, but the best laid plans of mice and men…

Texas Smoothie Plan

Tuesday – green smoothie from Jamba Juice.

Wednesday – lunch and green smoothie at Vegeria.

Thursday – buy ingredients to make a smoothie at family’s house.

Texas Smoothie Reality

Tuesday – Success!

Wednesday – Naked Juice green smoothie.

Thursday – forced down a Boathouse green smoothie after our second Thanksgiving dinner.

Vacations with family always seem to get away from me. There are so many people to see, and I always underestimate the time it will take to do anything. Also people don’t just go along with my plans like I anticipate they will. At 5 pm on Wednesday, when I realized that we would not be able to accomplish my smoothie plans, I took advantage of a Walgreen’s pit stop to stock up on backup smoothie options.

Naked juice and Boathouse were not ideal solutions, but it was unrealistic of me to expect to be able to take over my aunt’s kitchen on Thanksgiving to make a green smoothie. A good lesson that I have learned in building these habits is to be flexible. I need to make this habit work in my normal life, and that means adjusting to hectic schedules while still making this habit a priority.

I’m glad to be back on track, and drinking our home-made smoothies. Do you have any holiday smoothie recipes? Please share them in the comments!

Smoothie Sunday – The Middle

I’m half way through the initial 66 days of building this smoothie habit. Let’s take a look at the numbers!

Action Plan Progress:

  • 36 of 66 consecutive days of drinking a fruit and vegetable smoothie.
  • Smoothies have been consistently prepared on the weekend.
  • 36 of 66 photos with smoothie recipes shared on Instagram.
  • 1 of 2 books read on food science.
  • 0 of 2 cooking classes taken that will help us get more vegetables in our meals.
  • 1 of 3 new restaurants with vegetarian options visited.
  • My weight has not changed since adding smoothies to my diet.
  • 6 of 11 weekly posts shared.

Grade: B

SmoothieMiddle
2 cups chard, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup raspberries, 1/2 pear, and 1 cup water.

Lessons Learned:

Overall I feel like I am making good progress on this habit. I was disappointed to see that there has been no change in my weight, but eating more fruits and vegetables is better than not. Not everything is dependent on a scale, and that was not the primary objective in developing this habit. I need to get on the ball with the cooking classes, but everything this time of year is related to Thanksgiving. Ah, I’m sure something will turn up!

Mixing up the ingredients by usings fruits and vegetables that I wouldn’t normally eat has kept up my enthusiasm. This project would be tedious if we ate the same thing over and over. My favorite new fruit in smoothies is honeydew and vegetable is chard.

I’m happy that we have made it to the half way point, but this is where things will get more difficult. With Thanksgiving this week I am worried that we might fall off the wagon with all the travel. Please share any helpful tips and tricks you have about eating well while traveling in the comments!

Smoothie Science

Green smoothies are all the rage right now, but a few people, including my mom, said to be careful because drinking my veggies might not be as healthy as eating them. So I thought it would be a good idea to look into the pros and cons of green smoothies.

I started my research at the USDA and Mayo Clinic and found they both have recipes for green smoothies. That seems like a good endorsement to me.

The articles I found on the the Washington Post, Time, and USA Today seem to have balanced reports on the topic. They linked to similar studies and interviewed nutritional experts. While green smoothies are not as nutritious as eating whole fruits and vegetables they are a good way to get people to add fruits and vegetables to their diets. Also green smoothies shouldn’t be a meal replacement unless you try to balance the carbs with proteins and good fats.

IMG_20151102_150919 (2)

Nothing I read has made me want to give up this green smoothie habit. I will increase my vegetable to fruit ratio going forward, and use 3 cups of vegetables to 1 cup of fruit. I will also keep using ingredients that we wouldn’t normally eat whole, like carrots and beets.

Have you read any persuasive/ fact based articles on smoothie science? Please share the link in the comments. Cheers!

Book Breakdown: Food Rules

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual is a short book that expands on the manifesto Pollan presented in his book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual is a list of 64 easy to understand rules about the practical application of this manifesto.

I read this book in one sitting. The rules are grouped under each section of the manifesto and Pollan recommends adopting one from each section. These are the three rules that resonated with me:

Eat Food: “Avoid food products that make health claims.”

Mostly Plants: “Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.”

Not Too Much: “The banquet is in the first bite.”

Some of the rules have a paragraph or two explaining them, but for the most part they are pretty self explanatory. This book does not go into the extensive research that Pollan presented in his previous book, and I was more receptive to the message in Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual because I had read In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto first. I would these books together for anyone looking to reevaluate their eating habits.

Have you read these or any of Michael Pollan’s other books on nutrition? What are your thoughts on his manifesto and rules?

Smoothie Sunday – The Start

Clayton had the idea that my next habit should focus on something that will improve our diet. We struggled with agreeing on a change that would have a positive impact but wasn’t too much to take on all at once. We finally settled on a habit that addressed the fact that we do not get enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.

Habit: Drink a fruit and vegetable smoothie everyday for 66 days.

Start Date: Sunday, 10/18/2015

Projected End Date: Wednesday, 12/23/2015

Action Plan:

  • Prep smoothies for the week on Sundays.
  • Keep a daily photo journal with my smoothie recipes.
  • Read 2 books on food science.
  • Take 2 cooking classes that will help us get more vegetables in our meals.
  • Try vegetarian meals at 3 new restaurants.
  • Track weight weekly to measure benefits of change in diet.
  • Post weekly progress updates on Sundays about developing better eating habits.

Incentive: An excursion on our Mexico Christmas trip!

Lofty Goal: Being healthy

We are planning on incorporating this habit into our morning routine. This should be especially helpful during the week since we often turn to Starbucks for a quick breakfast. We are both excited and ready to incorporate this change into our diet but we do see some risks.

The first 66 days of cultivating this habit will take us through our Thanksgiving holiday in Texas. We’ll have to figure out a way to keep the habit up while we are traveling. We’ll also need to make sure that we plan enough time for food prep and smoothie making. Clayton and I are both committed to this habit and I am sure that will carry us through the first 66 days.

Please share your favorite smoothie recipe in the comments! I’m sure I’ll have time to try them all. Cheers!

2 cups spinach, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup blackberries, 1/4 POM juice, 1 1/2 cup water
2 cups spinach, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup blackberries, 1/4 cup POM juice, 1 1/2 cup water