I decided at the beginning of January, 2012 was going to be all about me. I was going to spend more time looking after myself; mind, body and soul. After the fast pace and crazy schedule of 2011 some serious changes had to be made because I was really tired, not to mention unhealthy and it was taking its toll. It was time to take a step back and reset. 20 days in and I am only now able to start sharing some of the improvements I have made with you. These are not New Year’s Resolutions to be broken and forgotten before we get to February – these are healthy choices that I am making because my life depends on it.
I bought the daffodils above on January 3rd – a little taste of Spring in the middle of Winter – kinda strange and not very seasonal – but they made me smile. A small gift for myself, this host of golden daffodils. As well as the bright sunny yellow and the optimistic promise of Spring, I especially love their scent – very subtle – the smell of my childhood and picking wild daffodils by the river in Devon.
Wordsworth sums it up at the end of his verse, The Daffodils:
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company!
I gazed, and gazed, but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
The first part of the equation was looking at what I was feeding myself and my family. Compared to most American households we eat well, but I knew there was room for improvement. We needed to eat a lot more vegetables and a lot less bread, pizza and pasta. We needed to clean up our diet and get back to eating food that wasn’t processed. I pledged I would always buy organic at the supermarket, rather than opting for organic when I could. There’s a big difference here – when I go to Trader Joes looking for organic turkey breast and they don’t have it I now substitute for the organic chicken breast rather than taking the turkey.
Like all life changes, they have to made with baby steps – almost one small change a day – rather than all at once, otherwise I was setting myself up to fail. This new way of being had to be sustainable – after all it’s for life rather than a quick fix fad that would easily pass. That said I did want to reset and a great way to do this is to break the bad habits with a 14 day kick start. I turned to James Duigan’s Clean and Lean Diet: 14 Days to Your Best-Ever Body for help and motivation. I love this book and I love how easy it is to follow, I love how clear the message is and most of all I love how good it has made me feel. In the coming days and weeks I will be posting more about this eating plan and the recipes I came up with.
No alcohol for 14 days? I didn’t know how I could get by without my daily glass of wine with supper. I did. I haven’t had alcohol in 20 days and I’m much better for it – my skin is clear, the dark circles under my eyes have diminished and best of all I’m not fuzzy in the morning. I wake up after a full nights sleep feeling energized and good. Cutting out grains and white carbs wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be – and this is coming from someone who loves loves LOVES her pizza! By far the biggest battle for this sweet tooth has been cutting out sugar… how can I live without chocolate?! Cookies? Pies? No cake? And there in lies the problem – I am a sugar addict and like any addiction I am working on breaking it – and it’s really hard. I’m working out the kinks and getting better day by day.
The other big change that I am doing is taking time for myself everyday to exercise. No smelly gym for me but I have signed up for Pilate’s and spin classes at Circuit Pilates and I’m loving it. I have driven past this studio on the way to and from school, sometimes four times a day, and never stopped to check it out. I’m so glad I did and I kick myself for not joining sooner. My first week was brutal – muscles that I hadn’t used in years were woken up with a jolt and boy oh boy did I ache. I’m working through the pain! No pain, no gain right? Or as Rémy said, “That’s good mummy, means you are working out hard!” The best part is my posture is already improved – I’m walking taller. My friend Marla Meredith at Family Fresh Cooking posted about finding an exercise you love and how it’s a true gift – I couldn’t agree more.
Today I came home after my spin class, legs like jelly having pushed myself o’er vales and hills and giving myself the gift of a great sweaty workout, craving comfort food for lunch – which is hard when you are not eating grains, sugar and cheese! My goal was to turn baby kale and broccoli into something that would give me a hug within the limits of my healthy regime. So I made soup. And not just any old vegetable soup. I made warm rich velvety soup with layer upon layer of flavor using Indian spices. “This is as good as anything I would expect to eat in a restaurant,” said my hubby as he tucked in. I asked him to guess the ingredients. “Broccoli, coriander – oh and some Indian stuff?” So there you have it – a soup full of comfort and goodness wrapped in the delicate flavors of Indian stuff. Now I’m off to dance with the daffodils.
Baby Kale Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil,
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon gram masala
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 cups organic broccoli florets
5 0z organic mixed baby kale
1 quart filtered water, boiling
1 tablespoon Better than Bouillion organic reduced sodium chicken stock
Makes 4 servings
1. In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and gentle sauté the onions, garlic and shallot for 2 minutes.
2. Add the coriander, cumin, ginger, gram masala and turmeric and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add the broccoli, kale, water and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Using an immersion blender liquidize the soup until it’s thick and creamy.
5. Serve in large bowls.