The Cleanse Ah-Ha!

When you’re doing a cleanse like I am, it’s pretty easy to pinpoint the food-related problems that might arise, if your mind is functioning. I started thinking about why I might be having gut issues and what I had incorporated that was different than when I was just eating whatever I wanted. The one thing that stood out, when I finally got there, was the granola!

Granola is such a simple, wonderfully healthy snack with no gluten, dairy, or processed sugar in it. So I made a couple of batches to satisfy my sweet tooth with something natural. Today, I went without and, lo and behold, my gut has had no problems.

Now, there’s no way to tell which ingredients are causing the issue, but I’m guessing it’s either the nuts or the oatmeal. If I really want to know, I will go off all nuts and oatmeal for two weeks, then add them back in, one at a time, to see how my system reacts. If it’s a specific nut, I’ll know. If it’s the “raw” oatmeal, I’ll be able to tell that as well.

On the good side, I haven’t had problems in the past, so if I follow a rotation diet and eat each thing no more than every three days, that will help cause less stress to my system than if I ate them every day. Whoo-hoo to good health!


October 13, 2011 at 7:33 pm Leave a comment

Days 7 through 10

Never does it become more apparent that there are foods your system has issues with than when you are doing a cleanse.

I should feel great by now, but something has not been working to make that happen. I mull and mull and cannot figure it out. Finally, directly after yoga tonight (a class that was all about focusing on what is going on with you right at this moment), it occurs to me: Aha! I made granola and have been using that as a sweet snack. It’s got nuts (something that my mom and grandpa don’t tolerate well) oats (not cooked, just toasted and therefore the phytic acid has not been mitigated); and even though I used a reduced amount of honey and maple syrup instead of processed sugar, it’s possible that there is just too much of it.

So, tomorrow I choose fresh and/or dried fruit to quell the need for a little something sweet. I just dried a bunch of apples, peaches and yellow pear tomatoes, all of which provide an amazingly sweet blast of chewy goodness. Summer may be over, but between my dehydrator and my freezer, I can still visit it from time to time.

Cleanse is going well and I’m feeling more and more like I can do this for a week longer than the initial two that I set for myself.

October 12, 2011 at 8:57 pm Leave a comment

The Cleanse: Day 6

Pizza fresh from the Garden, including being cooked in the garden, on the BBQ grill

Garden Pizza, So Colorful

Today has so far been a gorgeous day. Woke up to deep clouds and rain, which turned to snow about mid-morning. It’s now slightly sunny, go figure. Colorado is a weird place when it comes to weather, but I love it.

It rather mirrors my mood – One minute I’m content to sit on the couch and write or read. The next minute I’m buzzing around prepping food, cleaning, walking the dogs or whatever other task awaits. This morning started with detox tea and a good book. Of course, I had to snack a bit on the granola, it tastes so good! But not too much since I’m not sure if I’m going to be a couch potato or a kitchen witch today. This may end up being an indoor day based on the amount of snow and rain that has filled the gutters in front of the house.

Yesterday had to be a garden day. A potential freeze was predicted for last night and tonight is an almost certain freeze. While I live on an upslope and usually don’t get the freeze quite as soon as other places in the Springs, there’s no sense taking chances, so we harvested approximately 100# of vegetables out of the two gardens.

Today is the day to do something with all of that produce. So far I’ve made granola, steamed beans to freeze, frozen peaches and am in the process of drying peaches and apples. I still intend to make a big batch of vegetable soup to freeze, then prep parsnips, carrots, beets and potatoes to roast for dinner. There are large zucchini (and other summer squash) to use for making zucchini bread. The harvest was huge and there are still things in the garden that I will continue to harvest for another month or until they are gone. It’s so incredibly flavorful that I don’t even miss sugar, cheddar cheese, or bread…for now.

October 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm Leave a comment

The Cleanse: Days Three and Four…

I didn’t immediately sit down and write about day three because it was a bad day. I woke up exhausted and everything seemed difficult. While I am certain that I was feeling detox emotions, when you are in it, it’s hard to remember that it will go away.

As it always happens, the day moves forward, turns into night, you get some sleep and with that, another chance to make the most of your life. Day four, on the other hand, was much better. Having friends over for dinner helped because I got to play in the kitchen and come up with a delicious meal that worked for my current diet.

I had forgotten how easy it is to make ice cream. I was recently given some goat milk, so I started by making goat milk ice cream flavored with honey. It was so simple and all from Colorado, mostly all sourced within a few miles of my home – the milk, egg yolks, honey and the last of the fresh peaches from the Western Slope.

I then proceeded to caramelize garden onions and cook a batch of quinoa. Later in the day, I sauteed up yellow squash with chipotle chiles, grated a little manchego cheese and tossed it all together. Then I stuffed this mixture into beautiful red bell pepper halves that I had lightly steamed. With it’s aluminum hat, I put it in the oven for about twenty minutes, then sprinkled a little more manchego on top to melt it and dinner was served.

The amazing, clean, healthy food tasted so good and sharing it with friends made it, and my life, all the better.

October 7, 2011 at 8:04 am Leave a comment

Two Days In…

I technically started eliminating most of the foods I intended on Sunday, but not quite everything. Sunday was my last day to revel in wheat-based bread, one of my favorite things, for at least two weeks, but up to six.

Three days in, the only thing I have yet to give up is cow’s dairy. With cottage cheese and yogurt open, I decided to finish what was there and then switch to lower dairy and goat or sheep’s milk options. Part of my decision about dairy is that I’ve already given it up once and I’m pretty darn sure, from that experiment, that dairy does not give me problems. Actually, being vegetarian, the last time I gave up dairy I experienced a complete lack of energy and brain-fog, leading me to believe that I need the fat and protein.

You may wonder how easy or difficult it is to do a cleanse. I’ve done them before, even including a short fast and, so far, this has been the easiest yet. Maybe my body was just ready, I know my mind was, but I have had no withdrawal symptoms. In the past I experienced headaches due to caffeine withdrawal and cravings for the things I was emotionally addicted to such as sugar and wine.

The upside to all of this is that I am already sleeping better, which means that I have more energy throughout the day to accomplish what I want! My moods have almost instantly evened out. I still got annoyed with the broken dishwasher and the cost to repair it today, but if that’s the extent of my angst in a day, I’ll take it!

I’m also loving the fresh food. In 45 minutes I put together polenta, roasted acorn squash and a side salad. Yesterday was corn chips with cheese melted on them and a bigger salad. Tomorrow, after yoga, something simple will be in order…maybe another salad (can you sense a theme), but with lots of ingredients – olives, nuts, tons of different garden-fresh veggies.

Then the weather changes, gets colder, so it will be time to start roasting potatoes, parsnips and carrots or making mashed potatoes. Keep watching and see what comes next. I’ll try to post regularly.

October 4, 2011 at 8:26 pm Leave a comment

The Art of the Cleanse

Most people, when they hear the word cleanse, get a weird, uncomfortable look on their faces. I can see the thoughts flinging themselves through their brain, “Ew, why would you want to do that?” or “I could never do that! There’s so much I would miss.” They are focusing on the deprivation, what they can’t have, as opposed to the whole world of food that they still get to play with. I prefer to think about the beauty of connecting with what’s in front of me and the artistry of combining real foods and flavors to make something truly taste-full.

If you are going to try a cleanse, first you have to understand your reason for doing it. Is it weight loss? Clearing toxins out of your liver and/or kidneys? Breaking a food habit that it’s time to ditch? Whatever your reason, there is a right way to go about it. You could include a fast, but check with your doctor to make sure that it’s appropriate for you. When you deprive your body of food, it creates stress of a different sort, so be careful.

The Cultivate Health cleanse is a two-week change of pace that gets you back to eating real foods. It’s about all of the above, but done in a gentle way so that you don’t suffer any ill side effects. Here’s what I do:

Beautiful Whole Foods

Spice up your next meal with beans and chiles.

I start by cutting out processed foods and sugary foods such as crackers, cookies, salad dressings and pre-made items. I fill my fridge with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, all organic because, if you are going to cleanse, why would you put something in your body that has toxins on it? I make sure I have lemons to add to my water and ginger or “Detox” tea to replace the caffeine I normally get in my morning tea. I stop drinking alcoholic beverages and sugary drinks. Finally, I focus on incorporating more whole grains and legumes.

On this particular cleanse, I’m also cutting out gluten, which is being reported more and more to directly affect thyroid.  Since I have a thyroid issue, cutting out gluten could help my thyroid readjust so that I don’t have to take medication for the rest of my life.

Finally, I’m going to stick to goat and sheep dairy because the proteins found in those are more gentle and more easily digested by most people than cow dairy.

My goal is to eat this way for four weeks, however, after two weeks, I will start to re-incorporate certain foods. I’m fairly sure I don’t have an allergy or intolerance to dairy, so I will probably bring back the cow’s milk dairy first. I love my black tea in the morning, so I will probably bring back small amounts of caffeine next. I hope to go the whole month eating out of my garden because there’s so much great produce out there. At the end of October, I will consider bringing back gluten in small amounts and

The best way to accomplish something like this is to make the commitment and then take a day to do some planning. Write a list of easy meals that you can make that fit into this way of eating. Examples are:

  • Nachos
  • Yam tacos
  • Rice with stir-fried veggies
  • Quinoa-stuffed bell peppers
  • Polenta with sauteed veggies
  • Mashed potatoes and a side of steamed cabbage and butter or a salad
  • Roasted root vegetables (a mix of parsnips, beets, potatoes, carrots and winter squash is lovely!)
  • Mushroom-stuffed summer or winter squash
Then figure out what ingredients you need and stock up on three or four meals worth of ingredients. If you have time, prep some of the items on the weekend – grate carrots, chop peppers (no more than two days in advance), shred lettuce, cook the polenta or rice, soak some beans, etc. Then, when it comes time to actually cook, it will make it much more quick.
Do this for two weeks and I would be shocked if you didn’t report having more energy, feeling more alert, and tasting your food more deeply. Let me know what you think. I’ve done it and I know it feels great!

October 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm 2 comments

Local Food Week 2011

Southeastern Colorado’s Local Food Week starts on September 17 this year. There is a great line-up of classes and events, restaurant dinners and specials, a movie screening and more to tempt your tastebuds for the best of what Colorado has to offer.


This is an annual initiative of the Peak to Plains Alliance, so go to their website: and click on the Local Food Week link at the top to find out all the details! Then just go and explore and enjoy the world of local food! 

August 31, 2011 at 7:37 am Leave a comment

First Caprese of the Season

It is official, summer has arrived. I just picked and ate my first beefsteak (read big and juicy, not cherry-sized) tomato of the season this week. Of course, it’s already the end of August, so that means that I’ve got to get busy enjoying tomatoes in every way imaginable.

Salads are clearly a fabulous option because the fresh taste of a garden tomato shines against crisp, watery lettuce with just a light oil and vinegar dressing. However, there are tons of other great ways to enjoy tomatoes:

Toss hot, freshly cooked pasta with chopped tomatoes, basil a little coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese. No cooking required!

Make (or buy) a pie crust. Roll it out to a 14″ circle and place on a cookie sheet. Spread a light layer of flavorful mustard to about 2″ from the edge. Layer fresh tomatoes, feta cheese and a sprinkling of oregano. Fold the edges of the crust over the tomatoes and crimp if it breaks to seal any cracks. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes until crust is brown and filling is bubbly.

These are just a few of my favorites and I’m ready to get started, so I’m off to the kitchen to play. Enjoy!

August 30, 2011 at 10:40 am Leave a comment

National Awards and Saving the Harvest

You may have heard the Agriculture segments that Western Skies presented last year to the Colorado Springs Community. I happened to be a part of that effort and was delighted to get the news that it won a first prize for “News/Public Affairs” from Public Radio News Directors, Inc., a national organization of journalists who give the award “to honor the very best in local public radio.” If you want to listen to the whole broadcast, click here.

It’s always interesting to me to get to mid-summer and see just how much produce we have available to us in southern Colorado. This year I doubled the size of my garden, just to see if I could handle it. If I could, I intended to “put aside” a bunch. To put aside refers to canning, freezing, drying or otherwise saving your harvest for a later date because, let’s face it, there is actually a limit to just how many tomatoes you can stuff in your face in a season, once they start coming.

I have roughly the equivalent of two 15’x20′ plots in my personal garden. In taking on my neighbor’s garden, I doubled that. My neighbor helps from time to time and my ex-neighbor, who started the garden there, asked to come back and help in exchange for veggies since she and her husband were not going to be around enough of the summer to have their own garden.

This being the year of the weed, I’m so glad to have the help. It turns out that my personal garden is probably about all I can handle without quitting my day job. The good thing is that others are helping here and there and reaping the benefits.

Which brings me back to putting aside. I’ve already blanched and frozen the spinach and snap peas. I’m still harvesting kale, chard and broccoli in the garden, but just enough to use and not enough to freeze.

The root veggies are about big enough to start using. Carrots, parsnips, and many root vegetables will keep in the ground through the winter under a thick layer of mulch, so I will only pull those as needed. While beets could be treated the same way, they are so delicious roasted that I will roast and freeze them in their skins.

You can also freeze peas, beans, corn and anything else you see in the frozen section of the grocery store. Freezing vegetables preserves nutrients better and produce tastes fresher this way, so it’s my preferred method for putting aside food. However, if there’s ever a power outage, you could lose everything , so I am going to learn to can this year.

A quick nod to drying and pickling foods: Apples, plums, peaches and cherry tomatoes,  are wonderful cut into 1/4″ thick slices and dried. Cucumbers, of course, are wonderful pickled. Check out this easy refrigerator pickle recipe from Organic Gardening

Audrey’s Pickles

Organic Gardening, Aug/Sept 2010

Makes 2 quarts, approximately 18 servings

1 lb. medium cucumbers

3 cloves garlic

½ t. black peppercorns

½ t. whole mustard seed

1 t. fresh dill weed

1 whole dried bay leaf

2/3 c. brown sugar

6 ½ T. white distilled vinegar

6 ½ T. white-wine vinegar

¾ c. water

Cut the cucumbers into spears or slices and place in a 2-quart glass container or jar with a lid. Add the garlic, peppercorns, mustard seed, dill weed and bay leaf.

In a bowl, stir together the brown sugar, vinegars and water. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers and shake the jar well to combine. Cover and chill. For fullest flavor, wait at least 24 hours before serving. These pickles will keep up to 3 months in the refrigerator.

Finally, there is canning. Canning is a little more labor intensive and requires special equipment to keep the food safe, but it’s worth it in the long run because you can really keep things for a long time without refrigeration. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great website with tons of information on safely preserving foods: You can put aside tomatoes and tomato sauce, beans, and pureed winter squash very easily. Fruit is perfect to make into jam or put aside sliced and ready to eat.

Preserving food is a time-honored tradition. It’s so rewarding, in the middle of winter, to be able to pull out a slice of summer. Maybe this is your year to learn a new skill as well!

July 31, 2011 at 8:22 am Leave a comment

Strawberry Landscapes

Mmmm, Strawberry Tart

Your Lips Will Love This

Yesterday we ate the first two strawberries of the season from our front yard. They were amazingly sweet, fragrant and delicious, much more flavorful than grocery-store strawberries, making me wish we had more. Which is why I’m going to take really good care of what’s left after this winter-of-no-water and hope that we can encourage more healthy plants to take over.

I started growing strawberries under my plum trees to create a living mulch that would eventually take over the area. I have to remember to keep up with the watering. I’m a withholder at heart, feeling that in our dry climate, things need to figure out how to live without extra water. However, when it comes to fruit, you must give it decent water when it’s blooming and fruiting to encourage better and more fruit. Berries are so expensive that it’s worth it to spend a little more on water and have super-fresh, super-flavorful fruit, packed with all the goodness of food plucked right from the source.

Strawberries are also pretty easy to grow. They don’t take a lot of extra work once planted and want to move all over the place, so find a spot where they can take over, if they like it. Make sure the soil is well-amended and mulched to help new plants maintain moisture. Then, sit back and enjoy as the berries come rolling in!

June 11, 2011 at 9:32 am Leave a comment

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