conscious cleanse review

Let’s talk cleansing!

I know – not a normal subject around here, but a few weeks ago, I participated in The Conscious Cleanse, and I LOVED IT.

conscious cleanse smoothie

Just over two weeks ago, I was starting my two week trial on the Conscious Cleanse – a program that focuses more on mindfulness than deprivation, which is common to see in other cleanse programs. My friend Holly asked if I wanted to try the cleanse for free in exchange for a review, and, since I’m usually up for exploring new healthy eating programs, I agreed.

So… what is it?

This was my first question, too. I’ve seen and read about other cleanses. Just juice for days on end? No thanks. This is where the Conscious Cleanse is different – it’s more of a learning process than a diet. The two weeks on the program give you the chance to really focus on food and how it nourishes (or causes issues in) the body. For me, I definitely noticed how different I felt after cutting out certain foods over the two weeks.

conscious cleanse brown rice with broccoli and avocado

The cleanse is run by nutrition coaches Jo Schaalman and Jules Peláez. By eliminating things from your diet for two weeks - gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, peanuts, corn and caffeine - it gives your digestive system a break. And I know – it may look restrictive, but doing this cleanse actually got me OUT of a cooking rut and excited about planning meals again! Plus, I didn’t miss those things as much as I thought I might.

How do I prep for this? The planning process was a bit of a doozy simply because you really do have to have meals and snacks planned out…and because meal planning is one area that I’ve really been slacking on for the past couple of years. I used to be on top of things when it came to meals, but I’ve been struggling to get back into a good routine, so this was really, really helpful for me.

To plan, I simply read through my manual and the book, listened to all the support calls (these were really helpful to me and kept me motivated during the two weeks), and then planned out two weeks worth of meals and snacks.

The biggest question: What did I eat?!

For breakfast: Most mornings, I made a smoothie of some kind. Some of these recipes came from the Conscious Cleanse manual or book; some were just ones I made up with what we had in the fridge. One of my favorites was water, spinach, frozen peaches, pineapple, and mango. Yum. I usually made enough for me and Nick in the mornings. This went with a big mug of warm lemon water, which is great for clearing skin and jump starting your metabolism in the morning. I also had hot herbal tea most mornings that I took to work with me. I  didn’t notice any big drop in my energy without coffee, but I had already been cutting down on caffeine before starting the cleanse.

almond tuna salad

Lunches and Dinners: These meals were either a big salad or leftovers from dinner. Of course, all of these were made from scratch and were cleanse friendly, meaning they were dairy, gluten, sugar, soy, peanut, and corn free.

Some of my meals?

An adapted version of this Almond “tuna” salad, which I’m completely obsessed with.

Chicken with a celery / radish / olive salad and asparagus (first ever from our yard!).

Brown rice with broccoli, lemon zest, avocado, and olive oil.

Spiced chicken with sauteed kale and carrots over mashed cauliflower.

Bison meatloaves with cauliflower, mushrooms, green beans.

celery salad

Snacks/dessert: I made little almond joy balls Jo and Jules created for the cleanse that were made of nuts, dates, and almond butter. They were SO good. I purposefully only made one batch during the two weeks, just to keep myself from reaching for those instead of other non-sugary options.

How I felt:

Honestly, for the first week of the cleanse, I was battling horrible allergies along with a sinus infection and a viral respiratory thing that was going around. So I felt like crap and couldn’t really taste anything. But I stuck with it. And into week two, once my head was clearing up, I felt amazing, especially in the last few days. Clear headed, lighter, way less bloated, sleeping better, more energy, more mindful – all around feeling great!

But the biggest change in how I felt? My daily random pains (thanks to a history of endometriosis and cysts) were gone. Completely gone. Since eating this way is basically taking out things that can cause inflammation, I’m sure it gave my system a break from all the things that make the pain even worse. I couldn’t believe how great I felt!

conscious cleanse dinner

So…what do I really think?

After doing the Cleanse for two weeks, I felt like my body and mind began working together – maybe the best they ever have. It was a mix of moving past bad eating habits I’d fallen into, getting rid of foods that were doing my body more harm than good, and giving myself foods that heal and work together rather than against each other.

Did the changes stick?

Even though the official cleanse is over, I’m still mostly sticking with the foods I was eating during the two weeks and limiting everything else. In the book, Jo and Jules note that an 80/20 approach is one of the best ways to keep your diet mostly clean/allergen free, while still allowing for the things you enjoy in moderation.

turkish chicken

Would I recommend it?

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! I’m so grateful for the experience I had on the Conscious Cleanse and was surprised (and excited!) at how different I felt even within the first few days. I cannot recommend the cleanse enough.

And one of my favorite things about the Cleanse? Besides the support calls, there is a Facebook group for everyone that’s doing the Cleanse, so you have great support and a place to voice concerns, ask questions, and get/give encouragement if you’re having a hard time. Both Jo and Jules contribute in the group, and they also have coaches for the Cleanse there to answer questions and give tips.

If you’ve ever considered doing a Cleanse for any reason – to see if you have food allergies/sensitivities, to clear out some bad habits, to fall in love with good food again, even to lose a few pounds – I would suggest this in a heartbeat. In fact, I already know that this will become a regular thing for me. I never felt deprived – or hungry!

If you’re interested in joining the next round, it starts on June 7 and registration is opening officially on May 12. If so, make sure to use code RFCC614 at checkout to get $25 off! If the timing works out, I might be doing it again, too ;)

I was given the opportunity to try the cleanse for free, but I was in no way compensated for my time or for this review. My opinions remain my own.

Iced Spicy Chocolate Chai Tea

I am usually the first one to argue that coffee beats tea. I don’t even consider them in the same category, really. Hot drinks for the morning? Sure. But they couldn’t be more different.

chocolate chai tea latte

Don’t get me wrong – I love tea! But coffee has a depth of flavor that tea just can’t touch. From the slight varieties in the beans to the roasting, there are a million little flavor punches in coffee that I’ve never found in tea.

But when you give me something like a spicy, sweet, chocolatey chai to sip on? Then coffee and tea are basically on the same level.

chocolate chai tea latte

A few months ago, I saw an ad for a **new** Chocolate Chai latte at Starbucks. Of course I had to try it. But silly me – I was thinking it was either a chocolate chai tea bag steeped with the steamed milk or something they made. I didn’t even think about it being a mix until I saw the barista break out the box of tea concentrate.

It was pretty good, but way too sweet for me. I knew I could try to make it better at home. And it would be cheaper! And with ingredients that I know and love.

chocolate chai tea latte

And you know what? This was way better than the box concentrate! And it’s super easy to make.

Blog Buddy review + giveaway

I am a list maker. Always have been.

blug buddy

You can pretty much bet that, at any time, I have no less than 5 lists tucked into my notebook in my purse, plus a few more at home, on my phone, and a whole different set at work.

I like having things on paper. Yes, google calender is great – it sends you reminders! – but paper still wins, every time. I like being able to cross things off my list as I go. It’s so nice to see a scratched-thru list at the end of the day!

So I’m really excited to be a part of this giveaway!

blog buddy

Have you heard of the Blog Buddy? It’s a Blogging Planner, made for bloggers by a blogger. Which basically means that everything has been thought of.

The hard cover and binding keep the planner open to whatever page you’re on. It comes with a bookmark to hold your place. There are lists inside of lists and check boxes galore, making sure you have options for everything!

blog buddy

It’s divided into sections, giving you space to plan out months and days separately, plus random notes, blog idea lists, guest post tracking….you name it, it’s in here!

My favorite things?

  • All. the. lists. It totally indulges my list-loving obsession.
  • It has an elastic that keeps the cover closed when you’re not using it or carrying it around.
  • There’s a zipper pocket in the binder, giving you a great spot for random things like receipts or invoices or business cards or anything else related to your blog that you need to keep handy.
  • It’s made in the USA!

Nothing like a blank slate of a week ahead. I love seeing all those spaces, just waiting to be filled. I’m a nerd. It’s okay.

blog buddy

To help spread the planner love, the team at Blog Buddy is offering everyone a discount – just use the code SHIPMEFREE to get $10 off the planner!

And, that’s not all – I and a bunch of other bloggers are holding a giveaway this week. If you like list-making and planning as much as I do, you will LOVE this planner.

Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Finding me time in the daily grind

If you’ve been watching the news at all this week (or just know what this time of year brings), you’ll know that Marathon Monday is coming up! That’s right – the Boston Marathon is next week, and one really cool thing about this year is that Stonyfield is the official yogurt sponsor of the 2014 Boston Marathon!

  • They’re sending 10 runners who just missed the cut off due to this year’s large amount of sign ups
  • They’re handing out hundreds of thousands of cups of organic yogurt on race day – to runners, their families, volunteers, etc.
  • They’re giving away a bunch of healthy living themed prizes including a year long gym membership on the day of the marathon – simply tweet or instagram #StonyfieldSuperFan

Exciting, right? I think it’s great – especially that they’re sending runners that missed the cut off and handing out healthy snacks.

As part of the Clean Plate Club, I’m sharing how Stonyfield Greek helps me through the marathon of life.

stonyfield greek yogurt

Some days, being an adult stinks.

The bills, the jobs, the errands, all the responsibilities. It’s easy to get overwhelmed between deadlines and traffic and daily commutes and the price of gas and the horrible stories on the news. We get excited about things like new vacuums. What would my teenage self think about that?

Between our 35 minute drive to and from work every day, dealing with house stuff like leaky sinks (twice in the past 2 weeks – seriously?!), dishes, laundry, cooking meals, prepping stuff for lunches, and trying to keep the house somewhat put together….it gets tough sometimes.

And those times, I just need a few things.

1. to take a couple deep breaths.

2. to sit for a few minutes and open up a book or magazine or turn off the computer and watch one of my favorite movies.

3. to make sure my fridge / pantry is stocked with good, healthy food.

One thing we love is having greek yogurt, ready and waiting. I love plain (I like to doctor it up myself), Nick likes the flavored ones for lunches and snacks.

But my favorite way to use it? Either in baking (or non-baking), smoothies, and treats. Greek yogurt is such a great healthy swap for recipes, and it can be used in sweet or savory ways!

Some of my favorite recipes using greek yogurt:

greek yogurt cheesecake cups

Cheesecake Yogurt Chocolate Cups

raspberry chocolate chip frozen yogurt

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt

single serving oatmeal pancake

Single serving yogurt and fruit topped oatmeal pancake

almond coconut no bake cookie bites

Almond Coconut No Bake Cookie Bites

What do you do to help get yourself through the crazy days? I’ll take any tips you’ve got!

Make sure to join in Monday and tweet/instagram with #StonyfieldSuperFan to enter to win some fun prizes!

Sabra giveaway

After sharing my love (again) for Sabra hummus on Monday, I couldn’t wait to get this posted.

jalapeno hummus

I don’t know where all of you live, but being in a small town isn’t always great.

1. There is no such thing as public transportation here. I could walk to a Dollar General, but that’s it. No buses out here or subways (besides the restaurant, which is still 2 towns away).

2. Concerts and events don’t normally come close to us.

3. Foods you see online or multiple flavors of something usually aren’t in Kroger or Food Lion – the only grocery stores we have here.

I think, in the end, small towns win out for me. I hate traffic and I love having quiet nights where you can see the stars. But the food thing drives me crazy sometimes.

falafel rice 1

Like these two Sabra flavors: jalapeno and lemon. My two favorites. Thankfully, Sabra sent me some to use when coming up with my recipe, but without them, I would never even know these existed!

And lucky for you, the fantastic team at Sabra is offering up a HUGE prize pack of all their products.

sabra giveaway

The winner will get 4 products from each line!

That’s 4 options from their hummus, salsas, guacamole, and veggie dips. I’ve tried every flavor of everything when I got to visit their headquarters in Virginia last year, and I can honestly say that I loved them all.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Sabra is providing the giveaway prize. This contest is only open to U.S. residents.

Lemony Falafel Brown Rice

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sabra Dipping Co, LLC.. All opinions are 100% mine.

If there’s one thing I love, it’s taking one of my favorite dishes, taking those same flavors, and making them into something new. Pizza quesadillas. Breakfast pizza. Blueberry Muffin Smoothie.

Lemony Falafel Brown Rice

This is also the best way to get myself out of a cooking rut – by taking my favorite flavors and just using them in a different way than I normally do.

I don’t know about you, but I get into cooking ruts every few months it seems. It tends to happen near the end of each season, when I’m ready for some new foods and produce. Which basically means I’m in a bit of a rut right now. I’m so ready for spring, and it’s just not happening fast enough for me! I want asparagus and radishes and strawberries, and our market is still just full of apples and potatoes. All in good time, I guess.

Lemony Falafel Brown Rice

So when Sabra asked me to cook up some recipes for them, I knew I had to try something different. I’ve done quiche. I’ve made pasta. But rice has been my side dish of choice lately. I just can’t get enough! And for this dish, I decided to take all my favorite things from falafels and mix them into some brown rice for a kickin’ new side dish.