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Hiya! Updates + It's almost Spring.

Hi Guys,

I've been laying low these past few months, busy with work and other things, and have been feeling like I've been in a bit of a funk.

When I stop to think about why I have been feeling this way, a few things instantly jump out:

1. My sleep schedule has been alllllllllll over the place. Late nights / late mornings combined with feeble attempts to get back to my beloved early bedtime. This does not work well for me. Some of this has been out of my control (noise disturbances etc.), and some of it has been my doing - such as just giving in, and staying up late even though I know it's not good for me.

2. Of course, having an erratic sleep schedule has led to me having an erratic eating schedule. This too, does not work well for me. I like to eat at the same time, every day. Call me boring. I don't care. Eating at random hours feels way too cray cray for this little guy (me).

3. Erratic eating schedules also lead to erratic eating choices. Poor sleep + inconsistent meals times = plenty of snacky snack snacks.  I would say that I'm always fairly consistent in eating vegetables and high quality natural foods, but I have definitely been eating a bit "wider" on the Macrobiotic spectrum these days, mostly because I've been eating out more than usual, and I've been feeling very carefree. Hello red wine! yee-haw! This for sure can be good every once in while. But, my body is telling me that it needs a little re-centering.

4. It also makes sense that if I haven't been getting proper sleep, and proper fuel, that I might also overlook the self-care routines and practices that make me feel so good. No matter how erratic my days are, I am always good at taking a few moments to sit in the sun and enjoy a cup of tea. But self-care goes beyond this. It means finding the right balance between social obligations and alone time. It means being consistent in the practices that improve your life. It includes processing emotions and feelings, and taking time to breathe, and to meditate [if you don't meditate, then contemplate ;) ]. And sometimes, self-care means a hot bath and a green sea monster face mask.

Self-care, self-love, and creating a happy and healthy life require diligence and maintenance.

I always appreciate these down phases and feel-like-i'm-in-a-funk periods because they remind me that a good life doesn't just happen to you ... you have to create it! Each person is different, and will require different things to live a big life.

I wouldn't say that it's unusual to feel in a funk in January / February. These are generally considered to be two of the hardest months of the year. But, Spring is in the air (at least over here!) and I'm already feeling my energy shift.

Spring energy is upwards moving. It is invigorating, and motivating, and I'm definitely tapping into that. Think about the colour green. Fresh new buds and sprouts. Right now, there are a billion cherry blossoms and magnolias. Every single time I step outside, I am instantly grateful for this.


So, I know what I need to do to shift back into feeling lovely and balanced! It's always about the simple things for me. Consistent sleeping schedule, regular meals, and lots of cooking at home. In fact, I am already dreaming of the beautiful produce that will soon be in abundance at the market!

So friends, please share: if you're feeling off, what do you do to shift yourself back into balance?

Much love and pink cherry blossoms,
Jess

MacroTreat Friday: Spring Lemon & Berry Kanten

I love lemons. And I love berries. And the weather has been beautiful these days. So naturally I wanted to create something that involved all of these happy things.

This dessert is super simple, delicious, & mega refreshing. It's a great way to celebrate the changing seasons and warmer weather. Plus, it's kind of like jello...and while I never really had the stuff growing up, I do like this. Also, there's seaweed in it, so you can feel extra good about yourself <3

You should probably try it.

MTF: Spring Lemon & Berry Kanten

Kantens are a classic Macrobiotic treat, and are a delicious way to enjoy whatever fruit your heart desires. For this version, I wanted to use up some frozen berries I had, and just so happened to have some delightful pear juice on hand. Feel free to be creative with your juice & fruit choices.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups juice of choice - I used really natural pear juice
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 pack of kanten powder (4g) or appropriate amount of agar-agar flakes / bar ***see below
  • a touch of lemon zest
  • optional: a few spoons of rice syrup or maple syrup, if you want something a bit sweeter.
  • 2 cups frozen berries of choice. (I used a blackberry, blueberry and black currant mix). Fresh berries work great too!
  • *** For the agar agar: I still had a bit of powder from Japan, and it came in 4 gram packs, meant to gel up 2 cups of liquid. If you don't have these convenient packages, and are using agar flakes, 2 tbsp should do the trick, and if you are using agar powder use 2 tsp. For more info on what kanten/agar is, please check out my previous Macro Monday post on it here!

Directions

  1. Put frozen berries into a bowl, or pyrex dish - just something that will hold about 4 cups ( I used a big round glass tupperware, it all fit perfectly, and I could easily pop a lid on to put it in the fridge).
  2. Add juice, a pinch of sea salt, lemon zest, & sweetener (if using) to a saucepan. Whisk in the kanten powder, and bring mixture to a boil over low heat. Stir until dissolved (should only take a few minutes with powder).
  3. Pour mixture over frozen berries.
  4. Let cool completely. Mixture will set as it cools. You can put it in the fridge and enjoy it within a few hours, or wait and eat it the next day. Serve it up how you like - in slices, or by the spoonful!

If you like lemons a lot, feel free to serve with some lemon slices as I did, and it will get all juicy and wonderful and the sourness is just perfect with all the berries.

Nature is the best medicine, and sunshine on your face, with a touch of something simple & refreshing afterwards is probably one of the best things ever, in my opinion.

Have a FRESH, FUN, and DELIGHFTUL weekend outdoors, friends.
xo Jess

 


Spring Clean-up Recap

Good morning!

Seeing as how we've had lots of late spring rain over here in Alberta these days, I thought it would be the perfect time to chat a bit about my experience of cleaning up my diet for 2 months straight (all of April & May). As you remember, as the beginning of April I did a post outlining a few of my goals for a wee bit of a spring "cleanse" (eww, still don't like that word).

My main focus was: reducing my sweet tooth. Even for someone who rarely eats actual sugar, I had a big sweet tooth for fruit, brown rice syrup and even stevia etc.


My second focus was: being the kindest possible to my digestion by chewing more, snacking less, and eating less foods that have a tendency to slow down and irritate my digestion: nuts & nut butter, puffed/popped grains etc. So these two things combined provide a plan for me to be a lot stricter with my two biggest indulgences: decaf lattes (usually made at home with almond milk), and cocoa in all forms.

So, how did I do?
Well, I've experienced some big changes, and a lot of them are emotional / mental:

♥ Sweet Tooth: This has gone down substantially, and I'm so happy about it! I haven't touched stevia in 2 months and don't plan to use it...well, ever again, I hope. I think it is definitely the best choice as far as artificial sweeteners go, because it is more natural. But for me, it is just too concentrated and too strong. It simple fires up my desire to eat eat eat sweets all day long. I don't feel the need (and I don't give in every time when it is there) to eat something sweet after every meal. I haven't had any maple syrup in a few months, but between it and brown rice syrup, I feel as though if I want it, I can get all the extra sweetness I need there, when sweet veggies & fruits just won't cut it.


♥ Cocoa / Chocolate: Haven't had any in 2 months. I'm going to hold out for as long as I can, until I build up trust with myself that I can indulge on occasion with moderation. I have a tendency to start out small with my true love, dear chocolate, and then it always sneaks it's way into being a daily thing. Which isn't necessarily bad for some people. Good quality dark chocolate with little sugar and no dairy is one of the world's best things! :) But, quite sadly, I have a sensitive system and for myself, it's better as a rare treat.


♥ Coffee: I missed this more than chocolate. Even though I was only drinking decaf espresso, and not every day, I found it to be a big source of comfort. And also, I find that it helps my digestion. Does anyone else find this?  (I've read that blood type As receive coffee well). BUT, I started sleeping immensely better even after cutting out decaf. I have had a few decaf lattes since June started, as a treat, and I enjoyed and savoured them immensely. I think this will be something I can have moderately again for a treat in the future, or if i'm out at a nice cafe. But, I don't want it to be an everyday thing. And not even a regular planned thing.


♥ Better Digestion: Overall, definitely feeling less sluggish and bogged down. I think the less snacking and chewing more is quite simply the best thing for this. I didn't have any flour products for the two months either, which helps digestive issues.


♥ Less Snacking: Very hard at first, but now it seems normal. The only time I find I need to snack is if I will be teaching or practicing yoga and ate my meal quite a long time ago. I usually have something small to hold me over and give me energy to work, until the next meal. Since it's almost summer, I've been enjoying fresh local fruit as a snack: berries & apricots, mainly. Apples, pears, and grapes sometimes too.


♥ Fats:  I found simply reducing my fat intake a bit for awhile gave me a chance to clear out a bit and freshen up my organs/skin/energy for spring and summer. I use a tiny bit of  oil (sesame, toasted sesame, flax) everyday, and some days enjoy some seed butter, and it seems to be working out great.


♥ Lightening up: Am definitely a bit lighter (clothes fitting better), and I feel like my body is simply processing things better. I am sleeping better and my digestion is better. Both these things affect body weight as much as diet and exercise, in my opinion. Simply being more conscious of my daily food choices is also a big part. I'm pleased all around.


♥ Spiritual/Energetic: I feel as though I've been able to connect into my heart and intuition a bit more over these past months. I think cleaning up my diet has given me the space to move inwards. Just recently I've made a very difficult, big change and stopped working at the main yoga studio I've been at for a really long time. I've been avoiding/ignoring processing and decoding this feeling for months because I truly love all the people there and have a strong devotion to my teacher (which hasn't changed). But, for some reason last week was the breaking point, and I felt like the light bulb was turned on. In a moment of clarity everything was processed, and I realized how I was feeling. So I followed that part of my heart and am now teaching yoga much less for awhile. I'm going to be doing a bit of bookkeeping work while I look for classes in the style of yoga that that has a message for me, that I still need to explore. Even though there was a lot of turmoil and heartache these past few weeks, overall I feel much more clear now.


♥Mental: Simply taking a step back as far as diet goes, seems to create a lot of mental chatter. Every time I do this, I become so aware of the "mental need" and the "mental voice" that tells me to eat the chocolate, or want the coffee. But in fact, most of it is just habitual, and comes from a thought/emotional process, not from actually listening to one's body. When I told myself that despite wanting chocolate, I just wasn't going to have it for now, I didn't drop dead. I didn't starve. I just had a little kid style tantrum in my head, and then got over it. It takes 21 days to break habits. Now that it is no longer a habit, and I see these lovely foods / stimulants / mind-expanding treats for what they are: something fun. Something playful that can bring a bit of uplifting and creative spark---when used moderately. If they are used regularly they create a big sweet tooth, lack of energy, and overall loss of vitality. Used wisely, they are there to bring a bit of different energy into play.

I am still working on finding the best balance in my life, but I don't imagine that this will be a quest that is ever over, because I want to continually improve and grow and expand. That's why I connect to Macrobiotics. It's all about the big picture, and creating the best life.

Have you tried anything similar before?
What has your experience been?

Grains and Vegs.

Grains and Veggies are all I need for a yummy meal.

Throw in a bean or two and it feels all fancy :)

Simple Spring lunch of leftover aduzki bean / brown rice & steamed veggies:

Grains and Vegs.
Grains and Vegs.
Grains and Vegs.

I think the spring "cleaning" is doing it's magic...my body and mind are definitely clearing out whatever is unnecessary. As a result, my moods have been up and down. I was feeling really energetic and lighter for a few days, then I was randomly & irrationally angry yesterday---> I think it's probably my liver clearing out some old junk. Feeling up and down is a normal process when the body is cleansing. The best way to handle changing emotions is to be accepting and grateful for everything, and then to let it go.

Today I am feeling happy, but really tired. Overall though, I feel much brighter, more clear headed, and motivated. And still no insanely bad sweets cravings, and I haven't for a milisecond desired chocolate which is almost unheard of for me...I actually really can't believe it! The veggies and grains sure are working their magic!

I've been upping my amount of leafy greens, usually having a portion with lunch and dinner. I'm mostly focusing on greens and wholegrains, and chewing lots. Sour tastes go with spring eating. So i've been loving the lemon. Umeboshi anything is great too! I had a teeny bit of the vinegar yesterday, but unfortunately don't think my stomach is ready for it yet.

I am still having a bit of almond milk here and there with some dandelion coffee, but want to eliminate it.

So, I need your help!

Do you have a good (macro is preferable) recipe for grain milk?

Or, second choice is a recipe for seed milk?

I have a few exciting posts coming up:

* I made my own black sesame gomaisho (black sesame & sea salt condiment). So delicious. The smell took me right back to Japan, which i've been missing a lot lately.

* I will also have a guest post coming up, about natural & organic body care and make up...so excited!

Happy spring time friends :)

Heya, spring cleaning!

Hi Friends, Happy Easter!

Heya, spring cleaning!

I'm back from a week of crazy yoga-subbing, and am full of spring time vigour and vitality!

My body was asking for a bit of spring cleaning, so that's what it's getting. Most people think I eat very cleanly, and truthfully, I eat mostly macrobiotically, all the time. But like many people, Christmas involved a few over-indulgences, and they seemed to have carried over into the first few months of the year. I think my sensitive system was carrying around a few too many of my winter treats in the form of sluggishness, dullness, and a few extra pounds.

With the chirping of little birds, more sunlight, and the beginning of April, everything clicked and I knew it was just time to clean up a bit. For me, this means a few obvious goodbyes for now. The main culprits were: decaf almond milk lattes, cocoas, dark chocolate, stevia, and little snacks here and there.

Step 1, and my biggest challenge and goal: To reduce my sweet tooth.

I was simply answering it's call far too often. Although I wasn't using actually sugar, stevia is just as bad for me, because it takes away a sense of needing to moderate, and adding stevia to little treats a few times a day was just firing up my desire for all sweet things. And while I love cocoa and dark chocolate, and they are wonderful "soul/emotional" treats, they should be TREATS, not a daily occurrence.

Umm...duh!

So, for the past week:

I have successfully had no stevia, no cocoa, no chocolate, no decaf espresso. I don't even miss them a bit, this means that it's 100% the right decision.

 And the best part is that already I feel great.

I have more energy, am sleeping better, want to snack less, and am already a bit lighter. Instead, I have focused on my usual 3 meals a day of whole grains, lots of veggies, a few roasted nuts/seeds, and some lentils and adzuki beans. 

For now, I have substituted decaf espresso with dandelion coffee, and i'm loving it. Dandelion is a great for detoxifying the liver---> perfect for spring! Liver & gallbladder are the organs associated with spring, so if we can help them clean out a bit, we'll feel great! Also, kukicha tea is just delightful.

I am satisfying my sweet tooth in a few ways:

using my willpower to ignore it (the best choice, obviously), a few tiny spoonfuls of rice syrup in my tea here and there, a bit of fresh fruit (apples, pears, & berries), a bit of carrot juice, and sweet baked squash. 

I am also incorporating some lovely spring foods:

lots of lightly cooked leafy greens and fresh herbs (dill, parsley). And some great macro-foods to help the cleaning out/lightening-up process: daikon, green onions, leeks, and turnip.

I'm helping my belly by taking a very high quality probiotic.

 I have a very high sensitivity to anything fermented (I get horribly bloated for a few days, which makes we wonder about candida), so for now am being gentle by avoiding miso and pickles. For this reason, pickles are the one area of macrobiotics that I don't regularly include, but i'm always wanting to. So that is a goal of mine, to slowly test the waters after my stomach feels great. But i'll wait for awhile, until I feel ready. 

The next phase of my spring cleaning:  To be the kindest I possibly can to my digestion.

This means a few things:  

Cutting out all unnecessary snacking in-between meals (which is hard because I teach at random hours). 

Get better at chewing, and not letting it slide sometimes. 

I'm also going to reduce/eliminate the amount of nuts and nut/seed butters

 I eat (mostly almonds, sunflower butter, and tahini, & very rarely peanut butter).

Reduce even further any puffed/popped/flaked whole grains like popcorn, rice cakes, rolled oats, and wraps (even though I don't eat them often at all, I hope to eliminate them completely for awhile). 

The snacking & chewing are things I hope to permanently change. The other foods i'm going to avoid just temporarily  because they are known to be harder to digest. 

Often when you reduce/eliminate things that you love or naturally gravitate towards, it feels like you are being mean to yourself, or you can feel deprived. But this time

I feel excited, inspired, and rejuvenated.

Eating this way is how I want to eat all the time, and if I need to be stricter for awhile to re-gain my sense of moderation, then that's what i'll do! In fact, i'm actually being kinder to myself! I also have a brown-rice fast in the back of my mind.

So, here's an example of a lovely quick spring-time inspired lunch that I had to throw together in 5 minutes:

Heya, spring cleaning!

Pressure cooked brown rice, roasted almonds, parsley, and a bit of carrot juice.

Not perfect, but getting there, and really quick and easy.

I've also been having this a few times a week, with my whole grains:

Heya, spring cleaning!

Grated daikon with a touch of tamari.

Are you doing any spring-cleaning in any sense? If so, what?

Any tips/advice for a macrobiotic spring cleaning?