Being a teacher is hard. Let’s be real, being anything can be quite difficult some days. Technically a school day is from 7:30-4:30, but most teachers I know put in many, many hours outside of school in order to be prepared to teach daily. There were some days this winter that the prospect of going home to cook dinner, clean up, and then face 2-3 hours worth of more work to do was enough to bring me to tears. Something had to give, and unfortunately my healthy lifestyle took a bit of a hit. I was only partially prepared for my last marathon. I did well, but it was difficult because I was not eating, sleeping, or working out how I should.
I’m happy to say that with the onset of Spring my resolve to be healthy has strengthened. I have had a little more free time, which has allowed me to explore my non-teaching interests again. I can’t tell you how amazing the effect of having some time for myself is. I know people who need to be busy all the time to be happy. I am not one of those people. When I look at a weekend in my planner and see nothing written on it, I’m giddy. Writing this blog is an exploration of my interests. I just haven’t had the energy to write, even though I have made dozens of delicious vegan meals during the past few months. After a long time period of dormancy, I’m happy to write a post again!
Here is a cycle that I was caught up in for awhile that I know many of you will recognize:
I come home tired. Because I’m tired, I don’t want to cook. I also crave junk food when I’m tired, so we end up getting unhealthy takeout, which in turn makes me more tired. I wake up not feeling rested, deal with tiredness until after lunch, then eat five pieces of candy like a fiend to get myself through the afternoon. Once my blood sugar crashes from the candy, I am once again too tired to make dinner and the cycle of not feeling my best begins all over again.
So I decided to break the cycle. I began a detox starting May 1. I’ve been calling it a detox, but I don’t think it would actually be considered a detox by any standard definition. I made my own restrictions and I’m not following any plan that has been set up by a company or organization. I’m also eating out. Many detox plans discourage eating out because of all the added sodium and calories, which is completely understandable and generally a great idea. But this detox isn’t just about changing how I look, and my diet wasn’t crazy in the first place. I decided to continue eating out so that I can retain some normalcy in my routine and work to find places to eat that can accommodate my eating principles. I’m finding food that meets my restrictions without much trouble. Eating this way has really helped me get away from processed sugar. I also feel much happier knowing that I am not contributing to unethical animal treatment by buying and consuming animal products (minus the exception explained below). I feel like I am detoxing a lot of negative energy from my life.
Here are my restrictions:
No refined sugars or artificial sweeteners*
I am eating some eggs, so there is a caveat to the no dairy rule. I am eating eggs if they are what I call Happy Chicken Eggs. These are eggs that come from, you guessed it, happy chickens. My father in law has three chickens, so we are lucky to get fresh eggs from him.
I am using honey and agave nectar sparingly. Honey and eggs are what keep this from being a strictly vegan diet, but these are allowances that I feel good about. For the first week I avoided gluten as well. The plan was to avoid gluten during the whole process, but I just can’t bring myself to care about gluten. I feel like I would have obvious complications by now that would have convinced me to give it up already. I could be wrong, though. I’m wrong a lot. But my week without gluten didn’t feel any different from the subsequent weeks with it, so whatever. Show me the gluten!
Some people might ask, “Well what the heck are you eating then?” Lots of things! Vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils. So much deliciousness can be made with these ingredients. And I feel so much better already. The processed sugar was killing my energy level and my mood. I still love sweet things, though, so I want to share a dessert recipe with you that I’ve made a few times lately. In fact, I had this dessert for dinner last weekend! I got the recipe from Oh She Glows. If you haven’t looked at this blog, you definitely should! Angela also just put out a cookbook. I really want it! She takes beautiful pictures of her food, which is not always an easy feat.
Chocolate Chia Pudding
- 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 4 large almond milk ice cubes (freeze these ahead of time)
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 5-6 pitted Medjool dates (Soak them in hot water for 15 minutes if they are super firm. Drain well.)
- 2.5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (or more if you want)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch fine grain sea salt (brings out the chocolateyness)
This recipe makes 2 servings. Good luck sharing!
- Put everything in a blender.
- Using the highest speed, blend the mixture until it is very smooth.
- Eat immediately or put it in the fridge for a little while to allow it to thicken more.
I have a good blender, but it still doesn’t completely break down the chia seeds; this is okay because I really like chia seeds whole in this recipe. It gives the dessert an interesting texture.