Ok Reader, I'm about to do something I never do. You've heard me wax lyrical about cakes of all shapes and size, I've shared my indulgent recipe for three cheese and caramelised onion tarts, I've even talked about the joy of comfort food. But today (on my 200th post no less!) I am going to wax lyrical about something I never thought I'd be praising.
A healthy food choice.
Not just a healthy food choice Reader-green smoothies.
I know! Vegetables, as a drink! Not even a juice, a chunky, takes forever to drink, liquid MEAL in fact! How could I possibly, as a foodie, be praising something so gym-bunny dull?
Well here's the thing Reader.
I love food. Scratch that. I am obsessed by food. I am a brilliant cook (I know that sounds up myself, but I really am, it look lots of hard work and messing up and making rubbish food, but years of having to cook for veggies, wheat intolerances, vegans and people on diets plus your usual picky folk, means that I now know how to make most things taste awesome). I spend my days dreaming of stodgy roast dinners, fabulous Moroccan feasts, smoky American BBQ'd meat and diner food, piles of ice cream and almost any kind of Asian food you could mention. I'm also a complete snackaholic. Generally, I need a few snacks in the day, else I get a bit dizzy and grumpy.
All of this is fine, but it means that my weight is a constant struggle, because I have one internal voice that is going 'EAT ALL THE FOOD' and another reminding me that I have to fit into a bridesmaid dress, or various costumes, or play a role where being a UK size 10 is mentioned in the script. Inevitably, I therefore find myself a constant victim of Feast or Famine. I will eat everything that takes my fancy for months, put on lots of weight, briefly enjoy having a bottom that bounces, then remember that I need to be a size smaller to fit into my clothes comfortably. So then I undertake a diet. I've tried them all, Slimfast (chemical awfulness but quite handy when your lifestyle is as crazy as mine), High Protien, no carb (I gained weight-I ate a LOT of cream and cheese on that diet), Weight Watchers (lost weight but put it all back on and then got obsessive about calories), Rosemary Connelly (probably the best of the bunch as their ethos seems to be 'cut out the processed shit, eat less, do a zumba class once a week'.) Inevitably I lose the weight (or sometimes don't lose it, annoyingly) feel ill and deprived whilst doing so and crave every other kind of food whilst doing so.
Reader, last week I was in Tuscany. The week prior to that, I'd been doing slimfast, so I'd feel less guilty about eating everything in sight in Italy. I'd spent the week with an awful metallic taste in my mouth, a weird tired feeling and a breakout of spots. I hated it, because it's such a terrible, chemical, processed way to eat and as a foodie, goes against all my instincts, but I'm so busy at the moment, I don't have time to count calories or do food maps or even fill in a food diary. While I was away, I was reading Good Housekeeping (I only ever read that, Woman and Home or Red-they're targeted at older women and are far more interesting than the awful, sadistic magazines targeted at 20-somethings in my experience) and came across an article about a young woman who had completely changed the way she ate, and, as a side effect, her life.
Now, this young lady also has a really brilliant website, which you can read here . Essentially, after months of feeling tired, fat, bloated, dizzy, crampy and nauseous, she decided to stop eating processed food, wheat, dairy and refined sugar. I read the article and enjoyed it, but then couldn't stop thinking about it. Now, there is no way I could be vegan 100% of the time. I've tried that, but the thought of never having cheese again just...no. Nor could I be wheat free the entire time. But maybe if I developed an 80/20 method, I might find it easier. That way, I could save eating wheat etc for holidays to Italy where I couldn't resist the home made pasta and pizza, really incredible meals in London and dinner parties.
Even so, I didn't really think that it would work out for me. When I arrived home (feeling sluggish and knackered) I had a night in with my girlfriends and sat about eating every kind of cheese you could possibly imagine, bread, crisps, ice cream and by the next morning, I felt dreadful. Bloated, tired, wrung out. So I got up and went to Asda and got some basic ingredients I'd seen on a green juice and smoothie website. I picked up avacados and celery thinking 'Really?' I nearly gave up when it told me to buy kale and spinach. 'For DRINKING?!' I though, aghast. But I decided to give it a go anyway and if it was dreadful, just chalk it up to experience.
The first smoothie was made. It was a dreadful, murky brownish green and I was convinced it was going to be horrific. But actually, due to the fruit, you couldn't taste the veggies. And I was so full after, I couldn't have dinner. So now I've been making vegetable smoothies for a week. I have them instead of two meals a day, and have now perfected the balance so they're a bright, vibrant green rather than that weird murky colour. I feel amazing, I've never been fuller, I'm not snacking much at all and when I am it's a handful of nuts or a spoon of almond butter. My skin is clear, my eyes are bright and I'm feeling slimmer already. I've been so full of energy that I've been waking up at 7.30am each day naturally and at night can't sleep till the wee hours. I'm even finding that I'm drinking more water and less diet coke because the smoothies taste sweet enough to me that I don't need the artificial sweetners as much.
It's weird because normally by now I'd be passing restaurants and lingering over their menus, or trying to justify to myself why it's totally ok to have a bag of chips, but actually, I just don't want them at the moment. My current diet is so natural and clean that it seems wrong to have things that aren't, and I can feel the difference in myself. Last night I had a peanut butter cookie my housemate made. It was delicious, but within an hour, my stomach was hurting and I felt a bit gross from all the sugar. Normally I'd be the one in the corner eating a whole plate of the things, so this felt pretty odd!
I'm not preaching Reader, just giving you my experience. You never know, by next week I might be sick of them (I somehow doubt it though, each one tastes so different, I'm not sure you could get bored!)
Look at the bottom of this page for my recipe for my favourite energy burst smoothie!
Energy Burst veggie smoothie
(makes 4 servings)
Two handfuls spinach
Three handfuls kale
Small handful frozen raspberries
Half an avacado
Two stalks celery
Juice of one lime and one orange
Enough coconut water to fill the blender up by a quarter
One Tbs Almond Butter (get the natural, no added anything one)
A Third of a Pineapple
Whiz up in a blender and enjoy!