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The Plan: Finding the Path to Clean Eating

Once I decided to adopt a Clean Eating lifestyle I realized I needed a Plan. ASAP.

I broke my Plan into three parts.

Part One

I read a number of books and browsed websites (including Mercola.com, DrWeil.com, Pritikin.com and EatWasaFeelGood.com (the Best Life page has good snacks/recipes)). Then I sat down Saturday morning and outlined a meals for the week as well as guidelines for eating. In a nutshell: I want to wildly increase my intake of vegetables, drastically decrease my consumption of animal products (a maximum of one serving per day), and eliminate sugar, refined flour, caffeine, and alcohol.

Let me add a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, a nutritionist, or a dietitian. I am simply a 33-year-old woman trying to eat clean foods after discovering that the third ingredient in my “healthy” cereal was sugar and my 100% whole wheat bread contained high fructose corn syrup. Also, I fully intend to tweak my eating habits as I explore what works for my body.

So – back to the Plan. Some changes would be easy. For example, I already found nearby farms to frequent. Eating locally grown grass-fed chicken would hopefully be smooth sailing. Some changes would be hard. I’ve spent the last few weeks weaning myself off of the very large cup of coffee I drink each morning and replacing it with caffeine-free herbal tea. I miss the aroma of those Kona beans! Some changes I’m still on the fence about, like dairy products. I’ve heard all sorts of arguments and ideas (both pro and con) when it comes to milk, cheese, and eggs. This is going to require more investigation. I’m heading to a farm in Virginia next week to learn more about raw milk.

Part Two

The second part of my plan involved making a list of my ailments. I want to track my physical problems over the course of a year and observe improvements. I’ll spare you the entire litany of conditions, but here are a few:

Eyesight: will drinking fresh homemade vegetable juice and eating clean foods restore my eyesight to the point where my prescription is weakened or obsolete?

Skin Problems: in addition to acne (yes, I’m still breaking out at age 33), my skin doctor is constantly chopping off “suspicious” looking moles. She says they’re benign but she also calls them a not-so-pretty word that I can’t pronounce. I’d love to start getting a clean bill of health during my annual dermatology appointments.

Colds: I’ve heard of people who haven’t had a cold in 30 years. Sign me up. No more colds!

Endometriosis/Infertility: This will be the most personal challege. Endometriosis has not only caused severe physical pain, but has resulted in surgery where the doctor had to remove a cyst the size of a cantaloupe as well as most of my ovary. Plus it has caused problems with fertility. I’m thinking…will Clean Eating restore my hormone balances and clear the way for a healthy pregnancy? We’ll see.

Part Three

The final part of my plan seemed crucial: restaurants. I Googled all the restaurants within 30 miles of my home that serve local, organic fare. Then I taped the list to our refrigerator. If I’m ever too exhausted to cook or if I completely demolish a recipe as I experiment in the kitchen, my husband and I can escape to these spots – one of which is a restaurant that serves vegetarian Indian cuisine. Score!

Freedom

I was “birthed” into the world of yoga through the Iyengar style where precision and alignment are emphasized. My teacher would adjust our poses starting from our pinky toe (literally – she’d have us lift it up and try to spread it away from our other toes) all the way to the tops of our heads (which, she would tell us, should be lifting toward the ceiling, as if a string was attached to our scalp and someone was pulling).

I’m one of those follow the rules, read the directions, life is in the details type of girls, so I ate Iyengar yoga up. The fact that my hamstrings are tight, my shoulders are scrunched, and my hips are narrow make Iyengar a fitting practice because I benefit so greatly from the blocks and straps and blankets that are generously encouraged in that style of practice to help with proper positioning.

From time to time I’ve experimented with other yoga styles – this article describes various kinds – and recently I found myself in a session where the teacher was leading a flow with pretty much no regard to form whatsoever.

At first I was distraught.

“Beautiful!” the yoga teacher said when I moved into Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II).

“Oh, yeah, right,” I thought to myself.

In an Iyengar class, the instructor is always adjusting my Warrior II pose. I’m like a toy where you push one section in and another section pops out. If she moves my left thigh, my right knee tweaks to a different place. If she tilts my pelvis, my arms plummet. If she tells me where to fix my gaze – whoops – there goes my thigh again.

Anyway, I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t want to spend the entire practice mentally upset that this yoga teacher wasn’t going to focus on form. Other than calling out the pose, she was giving no instructions, and deep inside I knew that was okay. Because yoga really isn’t about form. Not at its core. It’s about being in a present state of mind. Finding a place where I’m not worrying about the future or obsessing over the past, even if those thoughts relate to yoga itself. As I continued the flow, I let go of the details and the precision and simply enjoyed the movement.

I felt warm and flexible and free.

Bring It On

I’m about to fall asleep when my husband, Ron, reaches out and shakes my shoulder.

“Are you awake?” he asks.

“Yes,” I say.

“What do you want for your birthday?”

“Hmmm,” I say. “I don’t know. Let me think about it.”

But I do know. I’m debating between various brands of juicers (Green Star or Omega – any thoughts?). Ron is going to keel over when he hears this. In the six years we’ve been together, I’ve never asked for a single item relating to the kitchen.

Not a pot.

Not a pan.

Not a knife, a spatula, or a whisk.

Growing up, I never learned how to cook. My girlfriends and I — we were women of a new generation. We were going to be doctors, lawyers, and mathematicians (and we are). There would be no time for preparing meals. (I’m not sure what our eating plan was — hired help? fast food? — we didn’t think about that part). I do vaguely recall taking a Home Economics course in high school. Men were required to take it too. We baked a pie. I stared at the aluminum container holding the crust and debated between leaving it or removing it. I wasn’t sure aluminum should go in the oven so I took it off. My pie looked more like a pancake.

People change, though.

Now I see our kitchen in a whole new light. Cooking spinach lasagna the other night, I sipped a glass of wine and turned on some tunes. I had to call my mother — twice — and ask her whether I was supposed to cook the whole wheat lasagna noodles or layer them in the dish uncooked. (The first time she said, “Cook ‘em!” and the second time she said, “Yes, I’m positive. Cook ‘’em!”) I cooked the noodles. The food was delicious. I’m no longer intimidated by the kitchen. Bring on the juicer! Š

Wasa with Zucchini, Cherry Tomato, and Goat Cheese

Ingredients

¼ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced thin lengthwise
2 tablespoons goat cheese
2 pieces WASA Hearty Rye (may substitute any WASA variety)

Directions

Sauté zucchini in a non-stick skillet until soft and golden in color.
Spread 1 tablespoon goat cheese on each crispbread.
Top with sliced tomatoes and layer zucchini on top.

TIP: Substitute eggplant or yellow squash for zucchini.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Serves 1

Nutritional Value Per Serving

Calories 205
Total Fat 6 g
Saturated Fat 4 g
Cholesterol 15 mg
Sodium 260 mg
Total Carbohydrate 34 g
Dietary Fiber 7 g
Protein 9 g
Calcium 94 mg

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