I love going out to eat. Ever since I was a kid, I would spend a part of my allowance on dining out at the local hot spot. In the mid-1980’s, it was Taco Bell and Dairy Queen. When I made some big bucks from babysitting, Davanni’s Pizza was our hot spot. Years later and now that I eat clean, I’ve found ways to enjoy restaurant meals while not compromising my clean-eating ways. Sometimes they even have an item on the menu that is vegan and delicious. My favorite summer salad is an endive avocado salad from our neighborhood bistro, Quattro Pazzi. I order it every time and recently re-created it in my home. It’s simple to make and delicious as a side salad or meal.
One of the challenges of eating clean is finding snacks on the run. In a perfect world, I would prepare food on the weekends or spend a few hours a day to cook fresh meals. But, I live in the real world. Regardless of how busy I am (or not), I don’t enjoy hours working in the kitchen for dinners let alone snacks. When I’m in a bind, I can find a Larabar in the grocery or gas station convenient stores. These bars are raw and have few ingredients. The only problem for me is that they are made of nuts. So, if I’m with my son, who has a severe nut allergy, these are a no-no. So, I challenged myself to figure out how to make my own nut-free version.
I love summer. School’s out and the kids are running around everywhere. When Fourth of July hits, I’m thrilled that the season is in full swing. See, I lived up north my entire life, so I’ve cherished the warm summer weather after months of being stuck inside. Even with the heat, I’ve found happiness by puddle jumping, diving in pools and buying treats from the ice cream truck. You see, I’m still a kid at heart. I love glow-in-the dark necklaces, patriotic songs and fireworks, so patriotic holidays bring a smile to my face.
Now that I’m a mother, I share my holiday spirit with my family by decorating the house together, choreographing our own parades and leading a kiddie DIY project such as this healthy American flag cookie. I’m very proud when I can trick my 7-year old into thinking a healthy snack is cookie-licious.
When I first started on my clean eating journey, I scrutinized medical journals and books looking for disease prevention ideas. While many of my doctors don’t believe in a superfood to cure cancer, per se, it was hard to ignore all the literature on the health benefits of using turmeric with black pepper. Used medicinally for thousands of years, turmeric has been widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The root of it, curcumin, has been a potent healing agent in ancient Chinese and Indian practices. Even today, integrated practitioners tout the possibilities of lessening the side effects of arthritis, joint pain, stomach pain and several chronic diseases with turmeric. So, I thought I’d try it.
I love chocolate and prefer it before any vanilla or fruity dessert. Now that I eat mostly plant-based foods, I’ve learned to find substitutions for my favorite sweets. Rather than using processed chocolate to bake or include in chilis, smoothies and sugary desserts, I use cacao. While cocoa powder has a richer, sweeter flavor, it’s more processed. Cacao is a pure, raw powder that is high in antioxidants and therefore provides more health benefits. Ever since my cousin, Lisa, a dietician and incredible vegetarian cook, blended a creamy cacao mousse for me, I’ve been hooked. I eat it for snacks and sometimes breakfast, too.
I used to get sick a lot. I ran myself ragged sleeping little and hurrying from place to place. I seldom took preventative measures. Instead, as soon as a cold snuck up on me, I popped zinc pills, downed gallons of orange juice and took nighttime cough syrup before bed. Still, every season, the bug hit me a number of times. Since I changed my lifestyle, though, I get sick less. I sleep more, eat clean, walk a lot, use less toxic products and overall keep a hearty, positive spirit. Even though I’ve changed my ways, I’m not about to say that I’m not prone to sickness especially now that I’m on this new chemo pill. So, while I realize that there is no one superfood or miracle activity to boost my immunity, I’m always intrigued with wholesome or natural modalities. Initially when the media made such a fuss over bone broth soup, I discounted it because I’m vegan and don’t eat meat. After speaking with a naturopathic oncologist recently, who suggested I consume it regularly, I started to explore it further.