Juice-it-yourself breakfast

Now that I’m on two liquid meals a day I figured it was time to break out the juicer.

This thing is powerful. When you turn it on it sounds like a lawnmower. It’s a little scary, but it does the job.

What comes out is a little scary, too. First it’s this multilayered colorful juice, and then when you mix it all together it becomes the color of pond scum. Not so appetizing, but the weird part is that it does actually taste good. If you’ve ever bought a Green Machine juice at the grocery store you know what I mean.

So anyway, here’s my recipe. Never thought this is what my breakfast would look like.

1 apple
1 lemon
2-3 carrots
2 big kale leaves
2 ribs celery

I tried adding pineapple once and it was a little too sweet.

For dinner I’ve been having a really yummy butternut squash soup. I bought organic squash, and they turned out to be the brightest orange color and full of flavor. I roasted one squash (cut into chunks) with a couple of carrots and one apple. Then I sauteed some onions and celery, added four cups of water, a little apple cider vinegar and turmeric to my pot plus all the roasted veggies, and blended it all with my immersion blender.

It came out so well. There was no need for cream at all. I tried having a chilled avocado soup, too, but it wasn’t very good. It just made me think I was eating a bowl of salsa with no chips.

My other discovery this week is that it’s fun to blend red and plain quinoa together to add a little more color to your meals.

Next week I tackle lentils. I know you’re excited.

‘Clean’ snacks

The weekend was pretty brutal. I must have been detoxing from something because I had a throbbing headache, sore throat, and a low fever. I didn’t want to do anything but rest. The book tells you not to take pills for headaches, so I just had to ride it out. At times I felt like quitting the whole thing, as the whole point is to feel good. But today I finally broke through it and started to feel better.

I’ve had a lot more energy and way less hunger today, which is such a relief. I went to the store and stocked up on more ingredients that will help me be more creative in the kitchen. Now my vegetable drawer runneth over!

I love buying ingredients I’ve never worked with before. Have you ever had adzuki beans?

I’ve also never cooked with coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature but melts in your hands). If you get some on your hands it’s like lotion!

And let’s face it, this is the most important part of any cleanse.

I also trashed some temptations.

Over the last few years I’ve slowly been breaking my attachments to certain processed foods, and I’m still working on it.

I had been getting pretty frustrated over the weekend at feeling like I was eating the same things over and over, especially for snacks. You can only eat so many handfuls of nuts and fruit. So I thought I’d share some other recipes for quick snacks that you can pop in your mouth if you need a little energy or want to satisfy a sweet tooth without eating refined sugar.

(Use organics where you can.)

Hummus and carrots
adapted from the Clean book

2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Add a little extra water for smoothness.

Brown rice crackers
adapted from Clean‘s recipe book

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
I pinch each of dried oregano, basil, thyme, and black pepper

Mix flour, salt, herbs, and oil together in a bowl until you have coarse crumbs.

Mix in water until the dough forms a ball.

Roll out on a baking sheet to 1/4-inch thick and score it so you will be able to break apart the crackers.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, or until the edges start to get brown. After the crackers cool, gently break them apart.

Raw fruit/nut balls
adapted from my own recipe

1/2 cup finely grated coconut
1 handful pecans
2 handfuls almonds
1 handful dates (make sure they’re pitted!)
1 handful raisins

Toss all of the ingredients into your food processor and process until the nuts have turned into fine pieces and the mixture is starting to clump together. The smoother the better, in my opinion. Roll them into 1-inch balls.

If you like, you can roll them in a little extra coconut.

Chocolate almond butter balls
(they’re kind of like Nutella!)

1/2 cup almond butter
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar

Combine ingredients in a bowl, and roll them into 1-inch balls. Keep them refrigerated, so they hold their shape.

(I realize what these look like, but they taste much better than they look.)

Raw coconut macaroons
from Fork in the Road (I like to halve the recipe)

3 cups shaved coconut
1 1/2 cups raw cacao powder
3/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls (or use a mini scoop). They can be dehydrated too, if you like.

I also just wanted to say that I had never realized how dependent my diet was on wheat. It seems like it’s in everything. I have a whole new appreciation for those on a gluten-free diet, and I will try to put more gluten-free recipes up here.

Cleanse, day 4

I still haven’t technically started the cleanse part of the cleanse yet, but I’ve definitely changed my eating habits in a big way this week.

The biggest thing I notice (and it was the same when I tried a raw foods experiment) is just how colorful every meal is. I think if you take nothing else away from something like this, it should just be to try to get more color into your diet.

I’m not gonna lie, the shake I had for breakfast the first two days was pretty gross. The ingredients sounded good: almond butter, peaches, and cardamom. But the consistency was sort of watery and weird, and the cardamom was way too potent.

Day three I tried a berry smoothie, which tasted much better. You have to be careful with those blueberry bits, though. They get stuck in your teeth! Maybe if I had a VitaMix…

The best smoothie by far was the one I made this morning (sorry, I drank it before I remembered to take a photo). I decided to improvise rather than using a recipe, and I came up with frozen mango chunks, homemade coconut milk, a bit of agave nectar, and flax seed meal. Mango has just the right consistency for a smoothie, and the flax seed gives it a little more body and protein. I will definitely make it again.

I’ve also made some really yummy veggie stir-fries with brown rice that I will make again.

I’m thinking about trying my own sushi, too. The only dinner that was a total fail was last night. I tried making buckwheat noodles, and they came out one giant gummy mass. Blech.

The big challenge will be the weekend. It’s Mike’s birthday, and I know we’ll eat out. I’ve already been feeling more energetic and less hungry in the afternoons, though, so I’m hoping that holding on to that feeling is more important than indulging.

Road trip: Sonoma

Mike has the day off work today, so we thought we should do something fun with our long weekend. The Napa/Sonoma area is only about a 45-minute drive for us, so we thought, why not?

We started off by driving to Santa Rosa for lunch at the Russian River Brewing Company. It seemed like a great place to take a group of people. Lots of fun and great beers. We took home a growler of Pliny the Elder. All the beers there have great names.

Then we started making our way through the wineries up there. We didn’t really have a plan (which is a good idea since there are so many options up there), but we had fun just stopping wherever we felt like it.

We tasted a few wines at St. Francis, and bought a Cabernet Franc to take home. Being a winery newbie I didn’t realize that there’s quite a price difference between the shelf at Trader Joe’s and a local place up there (or even any of the other wineries I’d been to previously). But it’s fun to save up and build your collection.

Did I mention it was pretty much the most gorgeous and perfect day ever? We really did have to pinch ourselves.

Next we went to Chateau St. Jean, where we discovered that we need a clementine tree. Since they grow in pots they don’t even take up that much space.

This winery has a picnic area, where you can grab a seat on an adirondack chair and look out at the vineyards and mountains. (Note to friends and family – the guest room is ready for you anytime…)

Finally, we stopped at a smaller place, Mayo Family Winery, where we got a better deal on a huge tasting. They had some pretty unusual varieties there, and we ended up getting a sparkling wine, of all things, just because we pretty much never buy them normally.

Pretty close to there is Jack London State Park, which we didn’t have time to visit (like everything else around there, it closes at 5), but I’m putting it on my list to return to. I just love the gnarly, moss-covered trees back there, and I think it would be a great place for a hike.

Around sunset, we drove into Sonoma. The guy at the last winery said that businesses on the town square there are open later. We looked around at the shops and restaurants, which kind of reminded me of a place like Aspen or Estes Park (frumpy clothing and fudge, mainly), and then we picked a really good Mexican place for dinner.

There’s quite a bit of history down there, including the Mission and a general’s home. I’m thinking we’ll be back again to explore more, and then I want to see Napa as well.

When I got home I was dying to watch “Sideways”, which I have on DVD. It was as funny as I remembered, and much more meaningful after a trip to wine country.

2011 resolutions

First of all, apologies for the long absence. Our internet has been down for the last few days and we finally got it working again.

I’m not usually a big resolution maker, but I thought that since my life has completely changed in the last year, that it would be a good time to get a fresh start in some ways. My first big goal was to take the box of wedding/honeymoon albums, miscellaneous travel souvenirs and extra photos and put it all together into something that someone could actually view!

It cost me about $100 in prints (for 600+ photos in various sizes) and a few days of putting together albums, but I finally got that project finished.

My helpers were not so helpful.

I am also going to try another cleanse over the next four weeks. The last few months have involved a lot of overindulgence, stress, and adjustment to change. I feel a bit unhealthy and low energy. I read about the book “Clean” in the latest issue of Outside, and it got a pretty ringing endorsement from a skeptical editor.

So I’m going to try it (one week of elimination diet with no wheat, dairy, or highly acidic foods, and three weeks of the Clean diet with two daily liquid meals and one meal from the elimination plan).

After that I am really going to try to work on my relationship with food, which has never been particularly healthy. I want to release myself of the guilt and anxiety I feel about eating certain things, and try to focus on eating what makes me feel good physically rather that emotionally. I have been working on this already, and have been amazed at how less stressed I feel about eating generally.

Hopefully having more energy will lead to more adventures in California. We’re in the middle of a long stretch of great weather (60s and sunny in January!), so we’ve been trying to get out and enjoy it. We went to the dog park again the other day, and it was just gorgeous.

I love the birds out there, and Mike sees something new every time we go.

We spent a long time just watching this pelican dive into the bay.

That’s not something I ever thought I’d spend my weekends doing!

What do you want to do more of this year?

Around the house

I realized the other day that it’s taken me so long to feel ‘moved in’ because it’s not just that I moved really far away to a completely new life, but that I haven’t had time to do much of anything around the house for the last few months. I basically went from my wedding in September to Spain to Erin’s wedding to Halloween-California-Thanksgiving-move-boom! All the sudden it was Christmas and I finally had time to process everything that happened in 2010. It was a pretty amazing year, and I especially loved getting to see three of my best friends get married, too.

So after our trip to see the redwoods I got to work on some long unfinished projects. One thing I had really wanted to do was change my button sign to a knit sign. People at craft shows loved the button sign and commented on it a lot, but it had gotten ripped and damaged in transit, and I just had this vision of a sign made of yarn that would complement my knitted goods. So I’ve been working on that, and it looks really good.

It’s actually more finished than this, I just want to repaint the frame before I put it all together and do the big reveal.

Next I want to make some more of those crocheted hangers (I got new colors), and I might make some fingerless gloves out of the alpaca yarn I got in the mail the other day from Mike’s aunt.

I’ve also been dying to read a book. I’ve had this stack of half-read books in my bedroom for ages, and I’m determined to get them read and move onto something else. Maybe the Stieg Larsson books? There was a great article about him in Rolling Stone, and it piqued my interest.

I’ve been reading this book by the same author as one of our book club reads. I was pretty disappointed in “A Secret History”, but I actually like this one a lot better.

Mike’s been reading his Christmas gift from me, the first part of Mark Twain’s autobiography.

It’s huge! But Mike totally has the patience to get through ultra thick books.

Also, this has nothing to do with anything, but I just thought it was kind of funny that I can turn my new curling iron up to 11. Actually I can turn it up even higher than that!

But anyway, back to the house. I finally got almost all of the framed photos that have been in boxes up on the walls. While I was doing that I discovered these prints from Spain that I need to frame.

And when our honeymoon prints come in the mail I can finally call wall decorating finished.

Finally, I also started experimenting with dyeing rope for rope rugs. It turned out that the rope I was planning to use doesn’t take dye well, so I have to go to Plan B. But now I can order the right materials and get started experimenting with patterns.

So, that’s item #18,000 checked off my to-do list, and I’m starting to welcome myself back to the real world!

Last night we met up with a friend from college, who took us to the San Francisco Tape Music Festival.

I had no idea what to expect. I just heard it was like ambient music that you listened to in the dark. And that’s pretty much what it was. But I felt like it was one of those things that I would never do if I lived anywhere else, so I’m glad I went.

We also discovered this really great gem of a sushi restaurant in the Mission called Minako. It was tiny-tiny, but had great reviews on Yelp. They specialize in vegetarian and allergy-friendly sushi, and every roll came with brown rice instead of white. Usually I don’t like imitation meats, but I loved the spicy vegan eel roll, which was a total surprise. It seems like there are a lot more so-so restaurants here because there are just a lot more restaurants here. But when you find a good one it’s really good.

Road trip: Monterey and Big Sur

We decided that since Mike had the week off between Christmas and New Year’s for the first time in pretty much ever, that we should take advantage and go on a road trip. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money or leave the dogs alone for a long time, so we opted to take the roughly 3-hour drive down to Big Sur and check out the redwoods.

It turned out to be pretty much the best idea ever.

We picked a day when we heard the weather would be nice, and we ended up the most picturesque day you can imagine. First we stopped in Monterey to check out Fisherman’s Wharf. We couldn’t believe how much wildlife you could see (and get close to) in such a short amount of time. Plus, we made a mental note to come back another time for a while watching boat tour.

We saw seals and sea lions and otters playing in the water and sunning themselves on rocks.

Then we had fish tacos and tamales at a really yummy Mexican place, and continued the drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur.

The drive alone is worth the trip. It was crazy windy that day, so it made for dramatic scenes of waves crashing up against the cliffs.

We opted to hike in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park based on some online recommendations, and it did not disappoint. For a mere $10 entrance fee, we got to explore the amazing redwoods and hike up to a pretty waterfall at the end of the trail.

The scale is just unbelievable. I didn’t even realize how unbelievable until we came home and saw our photos.

We saw this guy on our way back. Fortunately we saw no mountain lions.

I highly, highly recommend this trip, and anyone who comes to visit us will be going there for sure!

New items for 2011

I’ve been working on some new designs for the new year (hope you had a great celebration, by the way!). In hopes of improved time management and sanity, I’m paring down my offerings to a few styles that I will have in a variety of colors. I found a new roving yarn that I absolutely love to work with, too. It’s a super soft wool blend that comes in the loveliest neutral colors.

So anyway, here’s what’s new at Mary Marie Knits.

Twisted cowls that can be worn like a scarf or a neckwarmer.

Matching hats are in the works…

Wool sweater cups (cozy vessels for your pens and things).

Crocheted vintage wood hangers in 3 colorways.

And some changes to the poufs. First, all of the different sizes are now knit on the same size needles with a double strand of super bulky yarn. This is for consistency throughout the line and for a sturdier product.

Second, the stuff-it-yourself version is available in both large and extra large. As always, this is a great option if you want to save on shipping.

And third, I am working to improve the quality of the larger poufs that are stuffed with foam so they can be used as footstools. Unfortunately I’m realizing it means I have to spend more on materials. So, you’ll see two options for the medium, large, and extra large sizes based on the type of fill.

I’m currently working on testing out rope rugs. I think these are going to be absolutely amazing, but the materials are super expensive, and it’s going to take me some time to test out my patterns and color options. I’ll keep you posted!

After unpacking my craft room, I found a few items left over from 2010 craft shows, so I decided to put the up on Etsy. Some cute button thumb tacks and magnets.

And because I think you’re awesome, I’m giving blog readers a 20% discount on anything in the Mary Marie shop and 10% off anything in the Mary Marie Knits shop for the month of January. Just enter coupon code JANUARY at the checkout!