Thursday, January 31, 2013

Project 333, Phase 3: Update!!

Well, my final list has been stalled. I had posted a preliminary list (Project 333, Phase 3: The List) a few weeks back, and as I was working to whittle away seven items, I discovered an error in my count! Luckily, it was to my favor and I only had to whittle down three items. But it got me thinking. As I was looking over my list again and again (. . .and again!), the overall style just felt wrong to me. It was far too conservative. My personal style has run the gamut through the years, from Ultra Preppy (I was voted EGHS Class of '90 Class Prep, afterall!) to Hippie Boho. Either I am a style schizophrenic or everyone morphs through stages in their personal style. Well either way, I decided that for this phase, my wardrobe should meld my two extreme styles, so that my creativity in dressing will not be hindered, and I may fulfill any style whimsy that comes my way.

Another thing that kept popping into my head, was something I had read from an interview with Nanette Lepore (check out the amazing stuff on Nanette Lepore's website). When asked about her upcoming line, she replied that "more and more, everyone wants their pieces to be seasonless". How about that?! I've said it before. . anyone that knows me, knows I love a challenge. My wheels started turning. The notion of putting together a core wardrobe that could carry me for 365 is very appealing, indeed. It won't happen with Phase 3, but perhaps with the future Phase 4. I believe I could make this work, with a new set of parameters; a set core with limited variables that are switched out between the seasons? I don't know, I will have to mediate on this one. My preliminary Phase 3 list was not that far off from being some sort of a resemblance of a seasonless core. Sure, I have some courduroy and one heavy sweater, but I think with some conscious effort, I can get it on track. Part of what I will be considering over the upcoming days.

So my final Project 333, Phase 3 list is currently being refined, in order to meet a new set of criteria:

1. It will consist of a balanced set of conservative 
    and bohemian pieces, that can easily intermix 
    and play well together

2. I will strive to include pieces that will support 
    and set the groundwork for a potential 
    "seasonless wardrobe" in the near future

3. No items that require ironing or dry-cleaning 
    will be considered (my rule from Phase 2, 
    that just makes a whole lot of sense!)

Can't wait to see what I come up with. This should be interesting. . .

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Candida Cleanse Diary

I am nearing the end of Week 3 of a Candida Cleanse. Day 20, to be exact.

What is Candida, anyway? Candida is basically a yeast that lives naturally in your body. On occasion, the balance of your system can get out of whack and the Candida can become overgrown, causing mild to severe symptoms. Often, this will happen after use of antibiotics, as was the case for me. Many people have an overgrowth, and don't even realize it.. . or they simply live with symptoms day after day, not knowing the cause behind them.

My first experience with a known Candida overgrowth was two years ago, after Otto was born via C-Section. I was given heavy duty antibiotics after surgery, and about a week later my skin (mainly on my torso) became covered in an itchy rash! Thanks to my mother-in-law, who suspected a Candida infection and had me take a saliva test, which proved positive for an overgrowth. She advised Acidophilus (a probiotic) and a very loose version of the Candida Cleanse diet I am currently following.

After battling some ongoing issues with my body since Thanksgiving, I realized I needed to put my system back in balance. My Naturopath and I decided a strict Candida Cleanse might be just what the doctor ordered! There are a million and one versions of a Candida Cleanse out there. After doing research on the internet, I became so overwhelmed by the contradictions in theories of acceptable/prohibited foods, that I ultimately decided to follow my Naturopath's recommendations and look no further!

You see, a Candida Cleanse is designed to basically starve the yeast. By cutting out the yeast's food source (um. . evil sugar), you will ultimately kill off the yeast. Easier said than done. "Sugar" includes all carbohydrates, including the complex variety (whole grains), dairy (due to the lactose, with the exception of plain yogurt and fresh goat cheese).Many other things are prohibited too, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, certain nuts (peanuts, pistachios, cashews -- due to high mold content), mushrooms, vinegar (except apple cider vinegar), etc. And of course, the foods we would conventionally think of as "sugar" (cane sugar, fruit, honey, agave, maple syrup, corn syrup, etc..) are all prohibited. Being a vegetarian (and a vegetarian that is still calorie counting toward a weight loss goal!), this leaves me little to work with.

I originally set out to do this cleanse for two weeks (typically, people with a systematic Candida overgrowth, are on the cleanse for a minimum of three months!). After week one, my saliva test reported negative overgrowth. Great news! But still, I decide to carry through with my original plan and also figured I'd tack on a third week. Why not?! And to be perfectly honest, now that I'm closing out my third week, I am planning to keep with the diet even longer. As you can imagine, with all of these food restrictions, the consumption of anything that resembles a processed food has screeched to a halt. It just feels so great (mentally and physically) to be eating in such a clean manner. It's more work than I had imagined, since all my food needs to be prepared from scratch, by me. There are few shortcuts, but I have figured out a trick or two along the way. Cooking and eating within the parameters of this diet is as a challenge. It has almost become a game for me. Those who know me, know how much I do love a challenge.

I thought I would share a few of the dishes I've truly enjoyed while on this cleanse. Some of these have become a staple go-to food item that I always have on hand. Some of these recipes I obtained from the small collection of Candida Cleanse dishes my Naturopath set me up with from the beginning. Some I learned in just talking with people with similar diets. And some I thought of, completely on my own!

Chilled Tomato-Vegetable Soup
This was a staple in my fridge from Day 1! Very easy to make, and I tried
several variations. The key ingredients are: organic vegetable juice,
seeded cuke, celery stalk, green bell pepper, fresh cilantro lots of garlic
a gread Candida killer)!  Blend up veggies until mostly smooth, then whisk in 1 cup
plain yogurt. I also like to add a squeeze or two of  fresh lemon juice and
a good crack of black pepper. 

Cauliflower-Crust Pizza
This recipe was modified from a version I found on the internet.
The crust is made with grated and cooked fresh cauliflower, an egg, garlic,
herbs and a bit of vegan parmesan cheese. It is baked at 400* for about
 30 min, and then toppings are added, and then it's put under
the broiler. The top pizza is a simple homemade tomato sauce with oil
cured black olives and vegan parmesan cheese. The pizza below it is topped
with sauteed spinach, goat cheese, oil cured black olives and pine nuts.
It's really delish. Pizza, it is certainly not.
But if you can't have the real thing. . this is a great alternative!

CCCC (Candida Cleanse Chocolate Cake)
And then I discovered coconut flour (thanks to one Miss L.A.!!), and a
whole new door opened for me! And behind that door, was a myriad of
pseudo-baked goods. Certainly not what we might think of, when we think of
 traditional baked items. But they are a welcome bite of something sweet.
This basic batter consists of: 2 TBS of coconut flour, with equal part egg white
(or egg beaters), stevia (as desired), 1/2 TBS flaxseed, a dash of baking soda
(thanks to one Miss D.T.!!), a dash of salt, a dash of cinnamon, a bit of good
vanilla extract and unsweetened almond milk added until batter consistency
 is achieved. That is a great basic cake batter. To make chocolate, simply
add a heaping TBS of unsweetened baking cocoa. I also like to mix in unsweetened
 raw coconut flakes. (Note: These cakes can be microwaved for about 2 minutes,
or spread thin in a loaf pan and baked at 350* for about 20 minutes.)

CCBC (Candida Cleanse Blueberry Cobbler)
Blueberries and raspberries are about the only fruits allowed on the cleanse
(within moderation). For this variation on the CCCC, I took the basic
batter recipe (above) and simply swirled in a handful of blueberries in lieu of
the cocoa powder. I then topped with plain yogurt.

CCCM (Candida Cleanse Chocolate Mousse)
This is my personal concoction!! Start with a couple TBS of almond butter,
add in at least a TBS of unsweetened baking cocoa, a bit of vanilla extract, some
stevia to taste. Start adding unsweetened almond milk, whisking, until it looks
 fluffy and light! (another variation is to add less almond milk,
more cocoa, and you will get what tastes like a dark-chocolate
 brownie batter. . or a truffle center!)

Veggie-Rich Omelette
Eggs have been my ally on this cleanse. Omelettes filled with any
variation of sauteed fresh veggies (here: garlic, onion, spinach)
and a sprinkle of vegan cheese, were a weekend breakfast favourite!
Quick and easy for dinner too.

No-'Tater 'Tater Tots
These tots, are made with pureed frozen cauliflower. mixed with a bit
of vegan cheese and spices (garlic powder, dried minced onion, S&P).
A small bit of the mixture is formed into a small ball,
dropped into a bowl of vegan parmesan
cheese, and then flattened, pressing cheese into the tot.
They are then baked at 400* until
they are browned on both sides
(flipping if needed -- about 25 min in my oven).

[Cauliflower] Chips + Dip!
A variation on the No-'Tater 'Tater Tots, per my Mother's
suggestion, I used the same pureed cauliflower mixture,
added a few extra spices (like dried chives & paprika)
and vegan cheddar cheese, then spread the batter in chip
sizes, super thin on a well-sprayed cookie sheet.
 I pressed as flat as I could, then dowsed with vegan
 parmesan cheese. These should bake 350*
for however long it takes! And it will take awhile.
Flip as you go, and you just want them as brown
as can be on both sides. They crisp up very nicely
and will even retain crispiness the next day!

For the dip: plain yogurt, finely minced onion,
finely minced garlic, paprika, garlic powder, S&P
[Cauliflower] Chips + Dip were a huge hit in my house.
Out of all my Candida Cleanse dishes, they were probably
the most loved by everyone. . .especially lil' Otto!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

i am an idiot but in this case it's a good thing.

As I am sitting here, reworking and eliminating items from my way-too-long "Project 333, Phase 3" list, I discovered something. A mistake. A simple jump in numbers, which has instantly made my task infinitely easier:

"...3, 4, 9, 10..."


What happened to items 5, 6, 7 and 8??  Well, It looks like all my pieces are accounted for in the list, so I have to assume I simply made an error in numbering. Which means. . instead of being over by the 7 items as I originally thought, I am only over by 3 things! This is very good news, indeed. And with all this wiggle room, I will consider a couple adjustments and might even keep an item or two that might have been on the chopping block.

What a luxurious error!

Take a look at the revised list, including some new eliminations:
Project 333, Phase 3: The List