Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Green Monster Madness

This week I began my first foray into uncharted territory – green smoothies.  Angela, of the blog  Oh She Glows, first started the “green monster movement” and it has caught on so much that she had to create a separate site to keep up with readers’ recipe submissions.  What is a green smoothie?  It is a smoothie that has something green in it, most often spinach or kale.   Why go green?  It is a fabulous way to add extra fruits and veggies into your day. 

I am a fruit lover.  I am not a vegetable hater, but I naturally reach for fruit before the veggies.  I am not what you would call adventurous in the food department; between the IBS, GERD and my natural inclination to be extremely picky and overly imaginative often prevent me from eating certain things or from trying new ones.  For example, I can often be heard saying things like I don’t eat bananas because they make my ears itch, or, you may find me in the produce aisle listening to an apple to determine if it is worthy.  I am not a fan of public kitchens, most especially microwaves, or potlucks.  That communal stuff really freaks me out.  I am a huge believer in food segregation, in other words, no food group shall touch another food group while on my plate.  What is my point?  The idea of putting something green in my smoothie really throws me for a loop and feels inherently wrong. 

I have no idea what pushed me over the edge, but I am currently spiralling down into the world of green monsters.  My green of choice was spinach.  Not fresh spinach, and as far as I can tell non-organic spinach.  Most people would buy fresh spinach, not yours truly; I have a current fixation with spinach.  I like things to be perfectly ripe; otherwise, if I find a flaw, I will have to abstain for months until the infraction is forgotten.  The way around this is frozen spinach.  I bought a block of chopped, frozen spinach for $1.79.  I thawed it out and put that puppy in the food processor, and then portioned it out into three containers for future use.   

The verdict?  Not too bad!  I could not taste the spinach (I think it was about 1/3 to 1/2 cup puréed).  My one warning – carry a compact and floss around when you drink this.  It should not be your beverage of choice for a perfectly white smile. 

What about the IBS spin on this one?  It has made me into a raging hot air balloon and has made me frequent the restroom – frequent being the key word here.  In the past, my nutritionist and I have not agreed on smoothies.  She recommended that I drink a smoothie measuring one cup or smaller, and she also recommended that I consume my smoothie later in the day.  My flare-up time always lasts until about 13h00, so, if I consume it in the afternoon I will be less likely to go to the loo.  Given my fear of using public kitchen facilities, I like to drink my smoothie in the morning so it is still somewhat cold when I drink it.  Will I continue on with the green monster movement?  I will definitely continue to play with the smoothie recipes and will try it for at least the next few weeks.  I would like to give my body time to acclimatize to the smoothies.  It is a large intake of fibre all at once for someone who suffers from IBS-D, however, if I can trick my body into cooperating it will be worthwhile.  

Please share your green monster recipes/experiences.  I would love to know how others are approaching this! 

Tuesday’s Recipe
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Yogurt
  • Teaspoon of honey
  • Container of spinach
  • Splash of apple juice

Wednesday’s Recipe
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Container of spinach
  • Frozen blueberries
  • Frozen cherries
  • Yogurt
  • 1.5 teaspoons of chia

Monday, 11 June 2012

Attitudes and egos should be checked at the door

It has now been 64 days since I injured the vast majority of my lower body.  As I have mentioned I have been seeing a physiotherapist twice a week for the past month and am slowly improving.  The verdict is that I tore my right hip flexor and strained both IT bands and both knees.  With all of this ground to cover she told me I better not injure my arms.  Similar to my last injury-related update, I can ride the recumbent bike, I am permitted to do yoga once a week and swim once a week (provided I do not do breaststroke or elementary backstroke).   The swimming is a recent development, so I have yet to hop in the pool, but am hoping to give it a whirl sometime this week.

My exercises are getting slightly more interesting – a few lunges, a few calf raises and my personal favourite – the balance board.  I have discovered the joy in outsmarting the balance board and found a way to do something productive and somewhat “active” while watching TV.  I recently went to Toronto to visit my brother, and was extremely apprehensive about being the loser who had to take a break while everyone else enjoyed walking around the zoo.  Luckily, I surprised myself with my impressive stamina.  I have now exceeded my 1k walking capabilities and can now walk 3k-5k depending on the day and how my legs are feeling.  This was quite a triumph for me and I was very relieved not to have to drag anyone down while on vacation.

Last week I went back to yoga for the first time, and I have to say, it was the first yoga class where I really understood the idea of not competing – with others, or, yourself.  I must have been pretty full of myself to think that I could get right back into it at the level I was at before.  Wrong.  So, so, so wrong.  I have never done a yoga class where I perceived my “performance” to be so poor.  Any posture that involved my legs pretty much hurt like hell.  Warriors?  Not quite, more like Gumby, if he was frozen.  Happy baby?  Definitely not, more like turtle on its shell.  Runners’ pose?  Ha!  What a cruel joke!  And, as always, the moment that I always dread – pigeon pose. 

The whole class felt like it was designed to inflict pain upon me and give me a reality check as to how far I have fallen.  However, as the class progressed and I could not help but ignore my different abilities, I had to just accept that my range of motion is not great.  I can now empathize with someone new to exercise or who possibly has arthritis.  Once I accepted that these were my current abilities, I stopped judging myself for my perceived shortcomings.  This was not an issue of trying harder; it was an issue of not being physically capable of doing more.  Upon acknowledging these facts I was able to look at what was most important – I showed up.  I showed up and I completed the class despite my heightened level of frustration.  When Yoga Wednesday rolls around this week I will definitely check my attitude and my ego at the door.  Yoga instructors are right – there really is no place for competition in your practice, doing your best with what you have is all that you can ask of yourself.  In the words of Miss Scarlett O’Hara: “after all, tomorrow is another day”. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Rhubarb - A Public Service Announcement

Rhubarb season is finally upon us, and if you are anything like me, you went straight out and bought a bunch of stalks.  Every year I anxiously await their arrival so that I can make a batch of stewed rhubarb.  I use stewed rhubarb on everything, on toast, in a sandwich, over yogurt and over ice cream.  It is cheap and easy to make and it tastes fantastic.  However, when I first began using rhubarb I noticed a strange phenomenon - I could not stop using the washroom!  It turns out that rhubarb is high in both water and fibre and is often used as a digestive aid for those who suffer from constipation.  This certainly is no joke; even though I am aware of this side effect, I go through my annual accidental rhubarb cleanse.  

Two weeks ago, I was speaking with a friend of mine who had cooked up a batch of stewed rhubarb.  She noticed she was feeling ill throughout the weekend, and thought she might be getting the flu.  Not wanting to go hungry, she ate a lot of yogurt and rhubarb and continued to feel sick.  My friend was unaware of the stimulating effect rhubarb has on the digestive system, and honestly, it never crossed my mind to warn her.  I took it for granted that everyone was aware of what rhubarb was capable of, apparently I was wrong.  Hence the public service announcement. 

So, to make it abundantly clear - tread with caution.  Rhubarb is amazing, and because of the flavour you can easily eat too much.  If you eat too much you will spend much of your day on the toilet.  You will feel as though you have taken several laxatives.  If you are constipated, reach for rhubarb and you should enjoy a great sense of relief in very short order.  This is by no means a recommendation to avoid rhubarb, but rather a warning not to eat too much.  As with anything, moderation is the key to success; start out eating a little less than you think you should and increase your intake from there. 

Other bloggers have been covering rhubarb from a culinary perspective, check out the following post at  Bite Size Wellness for some ideas on how to prepare.