Thursday, May 9, 2019

30 Plants-in-a-Week - 5/9 Update

The last two weeks have been -uh- interesting to say the least. The first thing of note is that I had my annual checkup with the doctor, and when I told her that I had made the dietary change to eating 30 different plants in a week, her literal response was...

"How are you finding them? Are you going out and foraging in the woods?"

And I cannot begin to tell you about the look of pure disgust on her face. I think she thought I'd turned to some new exciting diet fad. I could tell plain and simple I'd lost her there.

"If you're doing this for your gut health," she says. "You should just take a probiotic."

I disagree. And I disagree with good reason. I started this journey about six weeks ago, and I have actually noticed something quite fascinating in this process.

I've learned that if I go more than two days without drinking a smoothie, my stomach starts to act up. I'll leave what that means to your imagination, but I find this quite fascinating. Before I made the change, I was regularly taking omeprazole every day - every fucking day. And I know I mentioned this before, but since the switch, I haven't had to take it.

However in the last two weeks, I was less than diligent with my new diet, and after having an emotional breakdown in front of my doctor, I slipped back into old habits for one too many days... twice. And on day three of each round of missing smoothies, stomach troubles abounded. This new discovery means the world to me, because it shows me that my diet changes are doing something. They're helping my stomach. They're improving my gut health - probiotic or no probiotic.

She didn't even give me the chance to tell her about my kefir intake. PSSSSH.

Another thing that I've noticed is that I while I would love to shove a brownie down the ol' pie hole, after drinking smoothie after smoothie after smoothie, I really long for salty foods.

This is fascinating because I did one of those 23andMe tests a while back and it said that I preferred salty food, but up till that point, I hadn't really noticed that being true. I was more likely to indulge in a chocolate chip cookie or some Smarties before I'd pick up some peanuts. But I think my sweet tolerance is hitting the roof, because all I'm ever craving are chips and cheese and peanuts and salt. SALT SALT SALT. Probably means I'm missing salt in my diet, and that is something I shall mention to the dietician...

Oh yeah... my doctor wants me to talk to a dietician.

Because seeing me for 3 years, she's only really concerned about my weight now that I've told her I'm foraging for plants in the aisles of Whole Foods.

Anyway on to the recipes!

First, I have to admit though... I fell off the wagon, and when I did I didn't drink/make as many smoothies as I normally have. But that's okay because I still made it to 30 plants each week. But only just last week.

I'm already doing better this week, but because of that little falling off the wagon, I don't have as many good/bad recipes.

The Sunrise is a great start to a day, it's bright and toasty and has enough oomph to get your day going on a positive note. And as I noted with the break down in front of my doctor. I needed some positivity over the last few weeks. I definitely recommend this one.

The Sunrise 340.3 Calories

½ cup Low Fat (1%) Kefir 60 calories
¾ cup Elmhurst Milked Cashews 97.5 calories
½ cup Strawberry 23 calories
½ cup Kale 11.5 calories
½ cup Mandarin Oranges 22.5 calories
1 tbsp Cranberries 2.75 calories
¼ cup Raspberries 16.25 calories
¼ cup Cherries 19.3 calories
2 tbsp Toasted Coconut 42.5 calories
1 tbsp Pecans 45 calories

The Cauli-what!? is the first cauliflower recipe that I made where I couldn't taste the cauliflower. It was such a success... that I actually just forgot that I even had cauliflower in my freezer, and I haven't tried it again. Haha!

Cauli-what!? 296.95 Calories

½ cup Low Fat (1%) Kefir 60 calories
¾ cup Elmhurst Milked Cashews 97.5 calories
¼ cup Riced Cauliflower 6.25 calories
¼ cup Carrots 15 calories
½ cup Mandarin Oranges 45 calories
¼ cup Aronia Berries 50 calories
¼ cup Strawberries 11.5 calories
½ tsp Chia Seeds 11.7 calories

And the last tasty recipe I have for you is The Cobbler. This tastes to me how the name suggests. It tastes like a cobbler. I'm not sure what kind of cobbler, but you can try it and let me know what you think.

The Cobbler 366.24 Calories

½ cup Low Fat (1%) Kefir 60 calories
¾ cup Elmhurst Milked Cashews 97.5 calories
½ cup Kale 11.5 calories
¼ cup Edamame 32.5 calories
¼ cup Cherry 19.3 calories
1 tsp Flax Seed 12.33 calories
½ cup Blackberries 31 calories
1 tbsp Walnuts 49.06 calories
¼ cup Peaches 15.3 calories
¼ cup Blueberries 35 calories
1 tbsp Cranberries 2.75 calories


And then there was the bad. What I've learned from this bad recipe is that strawberries can't overpower everything and unsweetened Elmhurst Cashew Milk isn't something I'll repurchase. The Upchuck City was so rough that I couldn't chug it. Nope. I had to take a sip every 10 minutes to get this down, because chugging would have meant puking. So I do NOT recommend this. I recommend avoiding it like the plague. And I know what you're thinking. You're looking at this and thinking... noooooo that can't be that bad. It was. BLECH BLECH BLECH. It was insanely insanely bitter. Do not recommend.

Upchuck City 249.5 Calories

¾ cup UNSW Elmhurst Cashew Milk 97.5 calories
½ cup Low Fat (1%) Kefir 60 calories
½ cup Spinach 3.5 calories
2 Lemon Wedges 4 calories
½ cup Strawberry 11.5 calories
¼ cup Blackberries 15.5 calories
¼ cup Blueberries 35 calories
¼ cup Mandarin Oranges 22.5 calories

Sunday, April 21, 2019

30 Plants-in-a-Week - 4/21 Update

Hoppy Easter my good friends. This past weekend started off with nasty weather, but it managed to keep the tornados off the condo. Thank goodness. Tried taking Lady to see the cherry blossoms by myself after my last post, but they had completely disappeared. Absolutely heartbreaking. I also discovered that there is an actual high tide at the Tidal Basin, which was news to me. I knew it was called the Tidal Basin, but I didn't know that at high tide the water covered the 5-foot sidewalk and blocked off paths around the walk. Alas. Instead of a nice jaunt, Lady got to people watch and smell all the dead blooms.

My success these past two weeks was absolutely smashing. I ate 41 different plants on the week of the 7th and 39 this past week. High-five to me. Yes, I just gave myself a high-five. Deal with it. And I have a fun little side effect to note. I have not had any sort of acid reflux or excess stomach problems since I crossed the 30 plants-in-a-week mark. As someone who has been treated for gastroenteritis for three years now, I have been able to get off my pill and have no ill effects. I'm impressed.

Another part of the challenge that I've saddled myself with is trying foods I might not have really gravitated to all that much before in attempts to shove more things into my smoothies. This past fortnight I finished the plum and nectarine from the period prior and added in cauliflower, which I am having some trouble figuring out how to mask. It also included the addition of butternut squash, an opal apple, dried golden and mulberries, flax seeds, and raw sunflower kernels. This coming period, I've collected some pears. I don't like pears, but we shall try them because I like them more than bananas, which have no place in my concoctions. 

So without further ado, here are the top 3 recipes for the past two weeks.

The Absolute Number ONE best smoothie I've made so far is the "Pink Dream." I will admit with full honesty. It looks like Pepto Bismol. But the taste is anything but. It is a smooth, sweet beverage that tastes super fruity and bright, and was exactly what I needed after a day of feeling like my actual head was spinning. I could not taste one hint of veggie, but it contained three different kinds. I'm almost on the tail end of my last batch of yellow squash I froze up, but I bought more just to make this drink again. 10 out of 10 - HIGHLY recommend giving it a try. 

Pink Dream 270.75 Calories

½ cup Low Fat (1%) Kefir 60 calories
¾ cup Elmhurst Milked Cashews 97.5 calories
½ cup Kale 11.5 calories
½  cup Yellow Squash 9.5 calories
¼ cup Edamame 32.5 calories
¼ cup Pineapple 20.5 calories
¼ cup Raspberries 16.25 calories
½ cup Strawberries 23 calories

As the week went on, and the weather started to warm up, I really clung to this idea of "lemonaid" smoothies. I still haven't perfected that, but I did start adding in lemon to bring a more palatable tart flavor that didn't involve the bitterness of the current bag of frozen cranberries I have. So I created the Raspberry Delight. It reminded me a bit of the bright and fruitiness of a Sunny-D, hence the name. Now granted it doesn't taste like Sunny-D, but it does taste a bit like summer in a glass. I would probably play around with this recipe a bit more. Maybe increase the lemon count, and eliminate the blueberries to really focus on the Raspberry flavor, but it was quite tasty.

Raspberry Delight 289.5 Calories

½ cup Low Fat (1%) Kefir 60 calories
¾ cup Elmhurst Milked Cashews 97.5 calories
½ cup Yellow Squash 9.5 calories
½ cup Pineapple 20.5 calories
1 Lemon Wedge (no skin) 2 calories
½ cup Raspberries 32.5 calories
¼ cup Blueberries 35 calories
¼ cup Edamame 32.5 calories

And the final top 3 smoothie is A Pick Me Up. This one I made for lunch one day, and I had already had a kefir/cashew milk based smoothie that morning. So I wanted to switch it up and maybe cut out the 97.5 calories that always comes with the cashew milk. The result was another drink that was bright, fruity and lip-smacking tasty. It was a bit more tropical with the dragon fruit and coconut than the Raspberry delight, but it was still sweet and tart and provided an excellent dose of plant goodness (blech, I vommed in my mouth typing that. I don't know who I'm becoming, but I plan on impressing the pants off the doctor at my annual checkup.

A Pick Me Up 225.3 Calories

¾ cup Hint Watermelon 0 calories
3.5 oz Dragon Fruit Pure 60 calories
½ cup Kale 11.5 calories
½ cup Blueberries 70 calories
¼ cup Cranberries 11.5 calories
1 oz Coconut 30 calories
½ cup Peaches 30.6 calories
½ tsp Chia Seeds 11.7 calories


And now for the mistakes. I'm going to put a LOT of the failed drinks that happened this week squarely on the shoulders of the honeydew melon, cauliflower, a mistaken wish to deplete my cupboard of fruits I bought a while back for the hurricane threat we had here last summer, and that damned opal apple. I don't care if you never get brown opal. You lack enough robust flavor to cover things up!

Before I get into the two recipes, I want to mention that I can just about chug anything that doesn't taste particularly appetizing if I do it in one go like a frat bro in a drinking contest, but just like last week, I had one smoothie I could not finish.

The first one is "Dear God No." I do NOT like the standard Cavendish banana that you can find at most grocery stores. I have sampled other bananas through Miami Fruit (recommend getting a banana sampler box), but overwhelmingly I only like maybe one or two of the bananas that I have tried. It is not my fruit. It makes me gag. I wonder if in a previous life if I was stranded on a deserted island with only bananas to eat. Anywho, now that you know this tidbit. I can tell you why I did not like the Dear God No, because for some unknown-to-me reason, this smoothie tasted like fucking bananas. I don't know why or how. No banana was included in its creation, but somehow it did and it was horrible. I chugged it down as fast as I absolutely could, and managed to not expel it into a toilet, but mysteriously something else in here made my lips PHYSICALLY VIBRATE. At first, they felt tingly, but then they started to vibrate and hum. I strongly suspect something in this smoothie is something that I am allergic to. I am pointing out that it could be the cup of fruit that I had from the hurricane scare last summer, the dried goldenberries, or that damn opal apple. Either way. I would not make this specific smoothie ever again.

Dear God No 302.7 Calories

½ cup Low Fat (1%) Kefir 60 calories
¾ cup Elm... Milked Cashews (UNS) 97.5 calories
4 oz Cup of Fruit Peaches 50 calories
1 tbsp Dried Goldenberries 25 calories
½ cup Spinach 3.5 calories
½ cup Opal Apple 32.5 calories
½ cup Mandarin Oranges 22.5 calories
½ tsp Chia Seeds 11.7 calories

The next horrible smoothie was the "Nope Nope Nope." I have nothing to say about this other than it was bitter, savage, and gross. I suspect a few of the milder flavored ingredients did not mask the flavor of the jackfruit bulb and the spinach. I'm looking at you honeydew! And you too you stupid opal apple! I drank half of it and could not stomach another single drop. Was not even chuggable. I do not recommend. What I do recommend is not using honeydew in smoothies, but here I am with an entire frozen honeydew chopped and frozen in the fridge. I shall try to find a way to make it work. Or, I shall thaw and eat separately. I like honeydew. I just don't think it's a hearty enough fruit to mask nasty flavors in smoothies.

Nope Nope Nope 285.1Calories

½ cup Low Fat (1%) Kefir 60 calories
¾ cup Elmhurst Milked Cashews 97.5 calories
½ cup Spinach 3.5 calories
¼ cup Mandarin Oranges 11.25 calories
¼ cup Cranberries 11.5 calories
½ cup Opal Apples 32.5 calories
¼ cup Blueberries 35 calories
¼ cup Honeydew Melon 15.25 calories
1 Jackfruit Bulb 18.6 calories

Sunday, April 7, 2019

30 Plants in a Week - Update

Today was absolutely gorgeous. For a day that was supposed to be completely overcast, mother nature had the last laugh and the sun peeked out and gave us a gorgeous blue sky, and what do you do with a gorgeous DC Metro day in early April?

Cherry blossoms. Yep, that's correct. You pull on your tourist shoes and pack up one of the dogs and take them on a walk around the tidal basin.

Lady has had the last couple of solo outings to a beach when we were down in Florida. So it was Nymeria's turn. And what a turn it was. Nym absolutely loves to meet people and she met quite a few today and allowed them to bask in her glory. And with a jaunty smile on her face, she was looking quite pettable. And she allowed a few of them to give her pets under her chin and on her back.

But any who...

Two weeks into my 30 plants a week challenge and so far so good. I thought this past week would beat me, but some last minute Tex-Mex saved the week! Never underestimate the powers of guacamole and pinto beans.  😂  

I've also realized as part of this challenge, that I can share my best of the best smoothie concoctions with you so that you anyone else looking for some tasty recipes packed with plants can reap the benefits of my trials and learn from the mistakes I made.

Here are the top 3 smoothie recipes for the past two weeks! Oh! And unless noted assume all of the veggies/fruits are frozen.

This first smoothie recipe is in the works, but still pretty delectable as is. It was my first go at trying Aronia Berries (aka Chokeberries). I wanted to start small because with a name like Chokeberries I was a bit apprehensive. But there were no issues and it was absolutely delicious. The bit that's in the works on it in particular is I'm wondering what it would taste like with coffee or green tea instead of the cashew milk and maybe a teaspoon of cocoa powder or cocoa nibs. I'll more than likely try that down the road, but this is a good start.

Chokale 258.2 Calories

½ cup Low Fat (1%) Kefir - 60 calories
¾ cup Unsweetened Cashew Milk - 37.5 calories
½ cup Kale - 11.5 calories
¼ cup Aronia Berries - 50 calories
½ cup Pineapple - 41 calories
¼ cup Strawberries - 11.5 calories
¼ cup Blueberries - 35 calories
½ tsp Chia Seeds - 11.7 calories

For this next smoothie, the main goal was to get in yellow squash and start trialing other liquids aside from kefir. And it was a smashing success. This is a very filling smoothie that is definitely a meal replacement. With the other smoothies I've made so far, I've been eating carrots, nuts, grapes, cheese or the like on the side to really round out what I'm eating. But Feeling Full is a great option for something to blend together before you head out the door for work. As for the flavor, it leans more into the sweet, robust, and nutty profile. It would be a great starter smoothie for someone trying to add in a variety of plants into your diet because it has nuts, veggies, and fruits.

Feeling Full 463.75 Calories

¼ cup Yellow Squash - 4.75 calories
½ cup Kale - 11.5 calories
¼ cup Strawberries - 11.5 calories
¼ cup Aronia Berries - 50 calories
¼ cup Pineapple - 20.5 calories
¼ cup Blueberries - 35 calories
¼ cup Almonds - 210.5 calories
3.25 oz Acai Berries Pure (thawed in fridge) - 70 calories
1 cup Unsweetened Cashew Milk - 50 calories

And for the final recipe, this was the smoothie recipe that I started with. The first recipe that I pulled together over a year ago to start to sneak greens into my diet. I knew I liked the berries mixed together and that they would provide a pretty sweet flavor to mask veggies. It's also one of the easiest to source, because all of the plants are readily available in the frozen foods section. The important part of this recipe that might be hard to find is the Elmhurst Milked Cashews. This specific cashew milk is important in this starter recipe because they have more cashews per ounce in their milk than others. So the flavor of the cashew milk helps to mask the spinach further. You can pick another one, but if it's the first time you're trying to trick yourself into eating spinach. I recommend this specific brand.

A Decent Meal 244 Calories

½ cup Spinach - 3.5 calories
½ cup Low Fat (1%) Kefir - 60 calories
¾ cup Elmhurst Milked Cashews - 97.5 calories
½ cup Blackberries - 31 calories
¾ cup Strawberries - 34.5 calories
¼ cup Blueberries - 17.5 calories


As for the mistakes I made in my smoothie preparation for the last two weeks...

Well, the first one I would like to point out is that cranberries need to be balanced with sweeter than usual fruits. At least the most recent bag of cranberries I got did. I've used cranberries before in smoothies, but something about this mixture was off. I don't know if it was because I wasn't using Elmhurst Milked Cashews or what, but this recipe below was so tart, I felt like my face was going to be frozen into a pucker. That said. The overall flavor wasn't bad. It was just way too friggin' tart for casual drinking. Would probably be great if you’re looking for something to kick in the ol’ saliva glands/lymph nodes around the neck. Here's the recipe.

Pucker Up 213.8 Calories
½ cup Low Fat (1%) Kefir - 160 calories
¾ cup Unsweetened Cashew Milk - 137.5 calories
½ cup Spinach - 3.5 calories
¼ cup Edamame - 32.5 calories
1 Jackfruit Bulb - 18.6 calories
¼ cup Blackberries - 15.5 calories
¼ cup Cranberries - 11.5 calories
½ tsp Chia Seeds - 11.7 calories
½ cup Strawberries - 23 calories

And the other mistake I made was using roasted seeds instead of raw seeds. I picked up a container of Planter's roasted sunflower kernels for something new this past week, because I used to love gnawing on sunflower seeds back when I used to play softball, and I thought it would be a great way to add in a new plant. And it would have been great except for the fact that I didn't think about the roasted flavor profile with the sweetness of all the fruits. This smoothie was so bad that I couldn't finish it and actual threw half of it away. However, I've learned my lesson and will get som raw sunflower kernels to try next time. 

The Sun Nut 274.3 Calories
½ cup Low Fat (1%) Kefir - 60 calories
¾ cup Unsweetened Cashew Milk - 37.5 calories
¼ cup Cherries - 19.3 calories
½ cup Peaches - 30.5 calories
¼ cup Blueberries - 17.5 calories
¼ cup Edamame - 32.5 calories
½ cup Spinach - 3.5 calories
½ cup Purple Grapes - 31 calories
1 tbsp Roasted Sunflower Kernels - 42.5 calories

Saturday, March 23, 2019

30 Plants in a Week

I struggled with how to start this blog. It's been a hot minute.

But I need some accountability for my little project. Last year, I turned 30. I called it my "purdy thirdy," and I gave myself the goal of creating an actual skincare regime and getting back in touch with my artistic side specifically in regards to makeup. 

Before 30, my eye-dea of makeup was a Mally Evercolor Shadow stick, some powder foundation, a coat of mascara and bit of blush before I ran out the door. 

And a skincare regimen was... wash my face if it looked dirty. 

Did I mention that mascara was waterproof? 

Oof. I had a lot to learn. 

So I did. I now have a multi-step skincare regimin that has virtually eliminated my years of acne. 

And I've gotten pretty darn good at my makeup if I do say so myself... 

But that's just the outside package on these old bags of bones. And I'm not quite too certain about that blush with that eye look, but that's neither here nor there. 

This year, the 31st year of my life on this planet, I am going to work on my insides.

You see...

I'm what is commonly called a supertaster. 

Which is not as super as it may sound.  

It means that I can taste things that 75% of the population cannot. And it means that some foods taste particularly nasty - specifically the bane of my tongue's existence is plants.

Imagine the bitterest thing you've ever eaten... now multiply that by 10. That's what eating arugula tastes like to me. How people can eat an entire arugula salad is beyond me. I taste it and immediately want to upchuck the last week of food.

On a lesser level that's what most green things taste like to me and in general most fruits by themselves. It's not that I'm being picky. It's that what a lot of people stick on a healthy plate of food to me physically makes me want to spit it back at whoever put it there. 

It means I have a hard time with salads and "healthy" foods. 

Because if I had to eat that. I wouldn't eat. 

So this year, I am on a campaign to get more plant (blech) foods into me by doing it in a way that I can actually stomach it. 

Last year, we got a Vitamix. I wanted to try to make my own smoothies without all the ice cream and sherbert a lot of the other places put in them. And I've gotten pretty damn good at making them not taste like pig vomit. 

I have them multiple times a week, and it's given me a way to trick myself into eating things, I normally wouldn't eat. 

You can ask my mother. She's been trying to get me to eat healthy for years. 

I'm still not eating your disgusting cavendish bananas, but I have discovered a lot of other things that I will consume in a smoothie that I would not think of consuming in any other manner: blackberries, raspberries, spinach, kale, squash, dragonfruit, other kinds of bananas (thanks Miami Fruit!), chia seeds, kefir, jackfruit, apples, strawberries, peaches... 

Yeah, a lot of people look at the things on that list and think I'm crazy for not liking them. But I don't. I sit there and eat them and cringe. 

I once had to eat green beans in college because it was a pot luck with two people... me and my friend, and the other person only made green beans... and it was the longest hour of my life. I'd eat a green bean, gag, shove something else into my mouth, green bean, gag,... you get the picture. 

But I have discovered that with a few minutes tumbling around in a Vitamix, I will willingly consume just about anything if I can add a bit of Elmhurst Cashew Milk in with it too.

Over the past year, I've also learned more about the microbiome and how what I eat affects all the lovely bacteria in my gut. Why? Because the DC Shiba Inu Rescue, of course. 

It was when I realized that my dogs got more plant diversity than I did that I needed to make a change. 

Over the next year, I am going to strive to eat 30 plants every week. 

I've picked that number because that is what research says is the biggest indicator of a healthy gut. Didn't matter if you were a vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, pescatarian, flexitarian, etc... if you ate 30 DIFFERENT plants every week. Your gut microbiome was healthier than those that did not. 

Yep. I'm not going on this 30 plants in a week thing to slim down and lose a couple of dress sizes. I'm doing it because I would like to not get sick when someone just breathes on me. I want to diversify my microbiome to improve my immune system. 

Really, it's very selfish. Improving my health to look slim and pretty doesn't really benefit me. It benefits the people looking at me. And as we've already seen in the picture above. I'm gorgeous (why yes I do have a ridiculously high opinion of myself, thanks for noticing!).

I probably could do 31 plants in a week in honor of my 31st year on planet Earth, but I need to keep my goal number as low as possible, because I've been trying this for two weeks, and I've only gotten up to 17 plants each time. 

I'm going to keep track of it in this handy-dandy spreadsheet that I made for myself. And my goal is to get closer and closer to that 30 plants number every week. 

It's aspirational. I might not make it. Some weeks I sure as hell won't make it. But the closer I can get to that goal number, the healthier my gut will be and the less likely I will be to catch your damn colds. STOP SNEEZING ON ME PEOPLE! I HAVE AN AUTOIMMUNE DISORDER!

And no, I will not be counting the varieties of fillings in my Pop Tarts as plants... as much as I would like to because that would knock off 5 plants right there every week. 

But seriously. More plants into me to make my gut healthy, got it? Unless anyone would like to apply for an FMT... Anyone?

I'll take that as a no.

Actually, just to clarify, that was a no even if someone said yes. 

Peace out yo,