Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Real Food Cleanse Challenge

Somehow, I managed to gain 10 pounds after the babies were born. As in, I had the chirrens, was a nice, healthy size, and then quickly GAINED the weight over a few months. Sigh. Too much of the wines. Now, I’m not very weight-obsessive, but when my nice Buckle jeans stop fitting, we have a problem. I can’t go buying a new wardrobe of jeans every time my butt moves up or down a size. That badonkadonk’s gotta stay consistent.

Anyhoo, cleanses are cool because they help punctuate a “Big Change”.  I’ve done a few, and I knew I didn’t want to fast. I wanted to eat real food. What was I looking for in my cleanse?

  1. Lose a few pounds
  2. Abruptly change my eating habits
  3. Super-infuse my body with good for you foods

That, said, I came across the 3-Day Real Food Cleanse on one of my favorite vegan blogs, Vegan Crunk.  Written by vegan chef Amber Shea, the premise is to jumpstart the retraining of your body to crave healthy natural foods, while ending your cravings for unhealthy ones. Chef Amber is known for her “Practically Raw” series of cookbooks, which espouse mostly living foods, with some cooked items. Perfect for me! I love eating raw, but don’t have the time, energy, or desire to eat a completely raw diet. The challenge was on!

Here’s the down and dirty of my cleanse experience.


Here’s what I did to prep for the cleanse.

  1. Ordered the Real Cleanse Diet for a whopping $14.99. I figured if I didn’t like it, then no harm done. I’m worth $15 bucks to try something new. That’s the cost of 3 Starbucks lattes.
  2. Went to Whole Foods and bought everything on the ready-made shopping list. Grand total? $100 for Steph and me. That may or may not have included a few vegan cookies to eat pre-cleanse.  A single person doing the cleanse, buying pretty much everything organic can expect to pay $50. Too much? You can buy just the most important items organic, and cut that down to about $35.
  3. Nothing else. In retrospect, I should tapered off of caffeine, but ain’t nobody got time for dat. For this, I suffered. More on this later.


My mindset:  Holy crap! I’m gonna eat clean and fresh and powerful, y’all! I will be an iron woman by the time this is done!I can do this! I can totally cut out alcohol and sugar and caffeine and did I mention alcohol for 3 days! I will rock this cleanse!

The reality: Day 1 was actually pretty easy, and the recipes were GREAT! Breakfast was the most gargantuan bowl of fruit you’ve ever seen in your life. Now, I’m a fruit-hater, but I actually enjoyed this, because it was smothered in a tahini sauce that really cut the sweetness and gave it some depth.


Lunch was a huge salad with with black beans and a tahini-lime dressing. Dinner was an entire head of steamed broccoli with chickpeas and nutritional yeast sauce. All of these meals were fantastic, and this was the my favorite day of the fast. I even had dessert – medjool dates stuffed with coconut butter. I’m not a big dessert fan, but who am I to pass something lovely up on my cleanse. Good thing I didn’t!


My mindset What the frickin frack am I doing? Horrible headache from not properly weaning myself from the caffeine. As in, I rubbed my temples and looked side-eyed at people all day. I finally had to pop some Tylenol. Not sure if Tylenol counts as a whole food???

The Reality Went as well as it could go with me holding my head between the hands. I was a bit weary of the food processor by tonight – be prepared to become one with yours. Breakfast was a cherry-coconut “porridge”. It was ok, I just was already craving something different. For folks that love fruit, though, they’d be in heaven! Lunch was probably my least favorite meal of the cleanse – crudites with hummus. I basically had a huge-ass bowl of veggies and the hummus. Here’s just a small part of the veggies that I was eating at work. I thought I’d never finish!


Dinner was a salad with black beans and a sweet potato. I’m probably the only person in the world (besides my mom) who doesn’t like sweet potatoes. It was….as good as a sweet potato could be. Dessert was an avocado-strawberry pudding. Pretty good, but I didn’t really finish mine. I’d had it with the fruit. I went to bed tonight feeling a bit hungry, very discouraged, and not enjoying the food. Definitely the hardest day. I wanted to quit. A glass of wine was singing to me, like a damn siren.



{Side note. Was anyone else confused by this dude? I kind of just sat there through the whole thing, mesmerized by smoke. WTF?}

My mindset I can do this, yo. Today will be a breeze, especially after the craziness that was yesterday.

The Reality I made the decision that I wasn’t going to do anymore of the desserts after last night’s, so today was a bit lighter on the prep end. The dessert prep was a bit like another meal, and since I’m not a sweets kinda girl, I decided it wasn’t worth the calories and that I’d have more nutritional yeast, dammit. Meals today were pretty good. Caesar salad with olives for lunch and roasted kale and cauliflower with curry cream for dinner. Some kind of chia seed fruity thing for breakfast. I felt like I could do this and that I was high on clean-eating!


Despite my whining about the fruit, I LOVED this cleanse. I was barely hungry and ate copious amounts of food. I also learned that I rather liked a huge-ass bowl of fruit with tahini dressing. (Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.) And, I learned some amazing sauces that really jazz things up. Like the the tahini-nutritional yeast dressing that I smothered my broccoli and “chick-un fingers” in tonight. It’s raw, and you can pour that stuff all over your veggies, instead of drizzling a mere teaspoon. I’m a fan.

In the end, I lost 5 pounds. I’m about 4 days past the cleanse, and have kept it off. Though I didn’t really start the cleanse to lose weight, it’s definitely a side benefit!


Wasn’t hungry!

Loved the sauces.

Lost 5 pounds

Fresh, simple food that made me feel clean as a whistle!


A bit time-intensive with chopping up all your simple, clean food

I got tired of washing my food processor bowl!

It was a bit fruit-heavy for my tastes, but I understand that’s just a personal preference.

If I had to do it over again:

I would cut the desserts (except for maybe the figs with coconut butter). I’d rather use the calories for something else…or not at all.

I’d probably cheat with all the veggie chopping, and buy pre-packaged stuff. For example, tonight (I’m done with the cleanse), I was CRAVING that nutritional yeast-tahini sauce with broccoli. Instead of chopping up the broccoli, I just popped a steam-in-the-bag thing of broccoli into the microwave. I know not everyone is comfortable with that, but dude, I have 9-month-old twins. I have to cut corners somewhere.

That’s it! All in all, it was a phenomenal cleanse. Nicely done, Amber! I’ve already bought her book Practically Raw, and have sung her praises to a slew of people who were wondering what the hell I was doing toting in big bags of veggies to work. Give this whole foods cleanse a try, and you’re on your way to a more healthful, cleaner, vibrant way of living.

That’s all I’ve got. xoxox





A Letter To My Dad on Father’s Day

My father died in a trucking accident when I was 14. He left behind me, my two younger sisters – Sarah (10) and Rebecca (7), my mom, his parents, and his brothers and sisters.

I let most Father’s days pass by me, without much thought other than a few silent words to my dad.  After all, I don’t have my dad here to gush over. This year, though, he is on my mind constantly, even more so than usual. It could have to do with the fact that I’m 39…the same age he was when he died. Here is what I want to say to him on this Father’s Day:


Dad –

You are so missed.  I think about you all the time, and to this day, I can’t talk or think about you without my chest feeling like it’s under a ton of bricks. I think that’s the weight of grief.  You leaving us was so abrupt, and it was during a time in my life that I was miserable. For that, I am sorry. 14 is a hard age. I was sad and confused. You were a rock, though, and I always felt safe with you.

What I remember most about you is that you worked SO HARD. I don’t even know how you had it in you. I have to tell you that many people have asked me throughout the years how I did what I did in college – being in NYC with the babies. I have no answer, really, other than that you worked so hard and got up every morning at the crack of dawn to go pick up your haul and head out to deliver yet another load in yet another city. How could I do anything different? Ophelia and Dakota’s dad always told me that an image he couldn’t get out of his mind was me pushing them in the snow in Brooklyn one winter day, so that I could take them to the babysitter and go in to Barnard College for my classes. “Why didn’t you just stay home that day?”, he later asked me. I remember being confused. “It was never an option”, I said. I learned that from you, dad.


Cooking dinner for Sarah and Becky after a full day’s work. Dad is still wearing his work shirt! I think that’s kielbasa he’s cutting up.


Taking the easy route was never an option with you. You worked so hard. I know you had other dreams than just being a truck driver. You told me you wanted to be a teacher. You would have been an awesome teacher, dad! I think it’s awesome that you saved enough money to buy your own semi, though! 7122 – Commercial Carrier Corporation – CCC. I’ll never forget it. They’re still out there, dad. I see the CCC fairly often. But none of the cabs look like yours – silver and big and beautiful, with colored swooshes. You worked from pre-dawn til dusk. I remember you’d often go to Jacksonville – where I live now. Where did you drive, dad? What loads did you deliver? I know that West Palm Beach was another place you’d often deliver loads to. That was where the accident was – where you died. What were you trying to deliver there?

Dad, I remember that morning. The last morning you had. I remember your alarm clock going off at 4am. You were supposed to get up to start your truck run. I remember waking up to the alarm clock and being too tired to go into your room to make sure you were awake, like I often did.  I don’t know if that was survivor guilt making me have that memory , or  if it really happened. But, I often think of what would have happened if I had been there to make sure you weren’t late for your run. I’m sorry, dad. I know I didn’t have control and that this was beyond me, but I’m still sorry. I wish I could have been there for you.

Dad, you were also playful. I’m not quite sure how, since you worked such long hours and took care of the three of us, but you had the best sense of humor!


Dad, there are so many memories I have. Mostly, this Father’s Day, I want you to know that YOU ROCKED at being my father. Even though you left me when I was at a terrible, pushing-back age, I listened to every word you said. I remember them all now.

You’ll be happy to know that I have lots of joy in my life. I have four beautiful children, a loving partner, and great friends and family. I try to walk through life causing no harm, and bringing joy to people. I learned that from you. You cared so much about everyone and were so sincere. I want to honor you and I try to walk through life in a way that would make you proud. I am also a ridiculously positive person – I have an ability to pretty much always look at the bright side of things. I think it’s because I’m a survivor. I just know that I got that trait from you.

Dad, Mom, and me (about age 3?)

Dad, Mom, and me (about age 3?)

I know you can see the rest of us – Sarah and her beautiful brood of chirren 😉 Becky and how beautiful she is, my mom and how hard she works making us feel loved by feeding us copious amount of food. Your mom and dad, and how grandma is busy at 92 making quilts for all her great-grandchildren, and how grandpa pops up on Facebook to keep it real and admonish us for not calling grandma enough 😉 I know you see all that and I hope it makes you smile. We’re always your family.


You are loved, dad. You are missed. I’m not sure what I believe about heaven. But, I do feel your presence from time to time. I wish you were here so that I could share my life with you – to show you how I turned out. That I’m ok! That I made you proud.

Anyways, dad. I think I’d like to write to you from time to time if that’s ok. This feels really awesome. I know you’re out there. I know you can see how I turned out. I know you love me, mom, Becky, Sarah, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Marley, Uncle Kurt, Aunt Laura, Uncle Tim, and all of your grandchildren that you never got to meet.  I hope you’ve been able to spend time with your brother, Chris. To comfort him and surround him with love. You know what, dad? We love you, too. Your memory is kept alive. And I know you’re out there somewhere to sense and understand that.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! My present to you is to keep trying to make you proud. That’s so important to me. Please know that you were a fine specimen of a human being and that I wouldn’t be me, without you in my life to shape me for 14 years. You’re always my dad, and I hope beyond hope that I am able to connect with you again one day. Until then, I’ll write letters.

Love you,


PS. To keep it light-hearted, I have to end by posting this old Olan Mills photo of us. Can we submit this to Awkward Family Photos? Why is Sarah so prayerful and the rest of us just oblivious?