Cleanse Virgin

Cleanse Virgin - Under the Monkey Bars blog

I’ve watched many friends go through cleanses. Not once have I been interested in jumping on the bandwagon — until now. I’m happy to report that I’m longer a cleanse virgin!

My body has gone through a lot fighting Lyme over the past 6 months. I’ve taken more medicine and supplements than I ever thought I would at age 38. I started looking for a way to detoxify my body without depriving it.

Cleanses clear out toxins from your body, like pesticides on produce and automobile fumes. They often involve limiting your food intake to different concoctions of pressed juice that can remove these harmful toxins from your body so it can focus on healing. A typical juice only cleanse helps shift your intestines away from digestion and absorption and towards ridding the body of toxins.

This makes sense to me, but I’m a firm believer in feeding your body and soul. In my mind, traditional juice cleanses do just the opposite. I don’t have time to sit around feeling exhausted and hungry all day. These two monkeys need their Mama! So I assumed cleanses just weren’t for me.

But what about a cleanse that’s more than just juice? As soon as I heard about Jubali’s nourishing cleanse, I knew it was just what I needed. Have you heard of Jubali? It’s is a certified organic juice, dairy-free smoothie, and herbal tea company based in Boston. They use only whole food ingredients, mostly sourced locally, with no added sugars or preservatives. All products are gluten free and vegan — my kind of company! I’ve been drinking their yummy smoothies for a while now but never realized I could use them as a cleanse.

Jubali’s whole foods smoothies keep fiber, healthy fats, protein, and sugar together. With this nourishing cleanse, you won’t get the massive sugar spikes and hunger pains of a mainstream juice cleanse. Plus, their super herb infusion teas help balance and heal throughout the cleanse process. 

I was able to really customize my cleanse, and I loved that flexibility. I kept a dairy so you could see what the cleanse was really like, minus what happened in the bathroom of course. I’m not ready to talk about poop on the blog yet, guys!

Cleanse Diary :: Day 1
6:30am :: 14 ounces of water
7:30am :: 10 ounce bowl of raw chocolate buckwheat parfait with berries
9:00am :: 14 ounces of water
11:00am :: Jubali Greena Colada smoothie: great flavor combination. Didn’t waste a drop – licked the cap!
12:30pm :: 16 ounces of Jubali Reishi Revive super-herb infusion tea, cold.
2:20pm :: Jubali LaLa Berry smoothie: loved the raspberry seeds. Didn’t need to chew them but I was happy to chew something!
3:30pm :: 14 ounces of water. Feeling a little cranky. Craving black tea.
5:15pm :: 14 ounces of water. I’m normal hungry for dinner. Not going to fall over surprisingly.
5:45pm :: Homemade potato leek soup with a small bowl of kale salad.
6:15pm :: I actually feel really good! Thought I’d be dragging.
6:30pm :: 14 ounces of water
8:00pm :: 4 ounces Jubali almond milk with 1/4 cup of homemade applesauce (apples + lemon). Feeling less tired than usual with balanced energy.

Cleanse Virgin - Under the Monkey Bars

Cleanse Diary :: Day 2
6:00am :: 14 ounces of water. Woke up feeling great. Not hungry at all.
7:30am :: 8 ounces of hot Jubali Clover Cleanse tea. This tea flavor was tough to get used to.
9:00am :: 16 ounces of homemade dinosaur smoothie
9:15am :: Gentle yoga. Felt so great to move slowly and massage my organs with twists and stretching. Not dizzy.
10:30am :: 14 ounces of water after yoga
11:15am :: 10 ounces of hot Jubali Deep Mineral tea: my favorite!
12:00pm :: Orange Jubali smoothie: made with bee pollen, which is apparently the single richest source of vitamins found in nature. Delicious flavor and great texture. Yum!
1:30pm :: 14 ounces of water
2:00pm :: Small sweet potato with avocado oil and salt
2:30pm :: 8 ounces of hot Jubali Clover Cleanse tea
3:00pm :: Slight headache.
4:00pm :: Jubali Mocha Bliss smoothie: totally cleared my headache.
4:45pm :: 14 ounces of water. Feeling zen. Would be a good time to curl up with a good book! Finished mine yesterday 🙁
5:15pm :: 14 ounces of water
6:00pm :: Homemade carrot soup with a small bowl of roasted cabbage.
7:15pm :: 6 ounces of hot Jubali Deep Mineral tea
8:00pm :: 4 ounces of Jubali almond milk with 1/4 cup of homemade applesauce. More energy than usual again at this time of night.

Now that I’ve done a cleanse, I can definitely see myself doing something similar seasonally. Besides detoxing, it’s a great way to give your body a kick start and change your habits. I was a little cold the first day. I realized on day 2 of the cleanse that I could warm the tea, which was a total game changer.

After the cleanse, I didn’t have a sip of caffeine for almost 2 weeks. I have more energy. I’m not craving sugar. I’m not as hungry. I truly feel more balanced. Next time I cleanse, I’ll clear my calendar and treat myself to a few days off with gentle yoga classes, a good book, and maybe get a massage. We all need more self care. A cleanse is a great way to start.

Every body is different. It’s really important to listen to your body, which is the number one way you can evaluate whether or not a cleanse would work for you. You can’t do a cleanse and expect to be healthy. Health is a journey. It needs to be a part of your daily life — not just a few days where you starve yourself. For me, this nourishing cleanse helped my body heal. It removed toxins from my body and gave me a fresh start for 2016.

If you’d like to check out Jubali’s products, head over to the Natural Grocer in Newburyport or look for them at Whole Foods Market. Jubali delivers in Boston by bike!

Sausage Eggplant Tomato Sauce

Sausage Eggplant Tomato Sauce - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

New year…new recipes! If you’re looking for dinner ideas, you’ve found the right post. Sausage Eggplant Tomato Sauce with pasta has been a favorite weeknight meal at our house for the past 6 years. Everyone devours it!

When the monkeys were toddlers, I diced up the eggplant really small so that a bite or two would sneak into their picky, little mouths. Now eggplant is Bean’s favorite part of the dish! Small Mommy victories like these keep us going, right?

Eggplant is full of antioxidants, low in calories, and high in fiber. It protects against inflammation and disease formation — including cancer. Eggplant helps maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels. Plus, it’s shiny and purple. Plenty of reasons to pick up some eggplant next time you’re at the market!

This recipe for Sausage Eggplant Tomato Sauce comes together quickly with only 8 ingredients, most of which can be kept in the pantry or freezer. The sauce is naturally gluten free if your sausage is gluten free. In fact, it tastes best with sausage from a local farm or butcher. We love the sweet Italian pork sausage from either MEat (Kittery, Maine) or Lilac Hedge Farm, which is available at farmers markets across Massachusetts including Boston Public Market.

Serve this Sausage Eggplant Tomato Sauce over any kind of pasta or pasta alternative. Choose Jovial or Andean Dream pasta to make it gluten free. For a veggie packed meal, try this recipe over homemade zoodles like in the picture above. It’s a great way to eat more vegetables. I use this spiralizer to make the noodles from zucchini. Sweet Pea loves to crank the lever to help make noodles.

Leftovers freeze well or pack it up for tomorrow’s lunch. Cómelo todo!

Sausage Eggplant Tomato Sauce
Serves 6
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  1. 1 eggplant, diced
  2. 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
  3. 1/2 cup red wine
  4. 2-3 garlic cloves, diced
  5. 1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken or beef broth
  6. 25 ounce box of chopped tomatoes
  7. Olive oil
  8. Salt to taste
  1. In a dutch oven, saute eggplant and garlic in olive oil until eggplant is soft, stirring frequently. Remove to a plate.
  2. Cook the sausage in the same pot. Add the red wine and scrape up any brown bits. Reduce the liquid.
  3. Add broth and tomatoes. Return eggplant to the pan and salt to taste.
  4. Simmer up to one hour until the liquid has reduced slightly and sauce has thickened. If you're short on time, crank it up and cook for about 20 minutes.
  5. Serve over hearty shaped pasta, zoodles or steamed broccoli.
Adapted from
Adapted from
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Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree

Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Did you catch last week’s post about Ceia Kitchen + Bar? If you can’t make it to Newburyport, you can experience a taste of Ceia in your own home with this delicious recipe for Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree from Ceia’s Executive Chef, Jeremy Glover.

I’ve made these brussel sprouts twice since Jeremy shared the recipe with me. You are going to love them! Brussel sprouts are so decadent roasted this way. With the sweet and tangy puree on top, Bean couldn’t get enough of it! 

I’m not going to pretend Schmaltz was part of my culinary vocabulary. I had to look it up. Wikipedia says it’s “rendered chicken or duck fat used for cooking in European cuisine.” You can skim the fat off homemade bone broth, or cheat like I did and pick up a container of duck fat at a local market like Grand Trunk World Market or Whole Foods. For a vegan option, just roast the sprouts with olive oil and follow the rest of the recipe for the shallot puree. Chef Jeremy recommends this olive oil.

Set up your puree ingredients while the sprouts are roasting. Pre-measure your olive oil. Pour the shallot vinegar and honey into the blender or food processor. I used my 15 year old Cuisinart and it was totally fine. Once the shallots and garlic were roasted, the shallot puree came together quickly. I can see myself making it with other meals for sure.

I served these Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts on a weeknight with a roast chicken, butternut squash, and quinoa.  The flavors meshed really well with the sprouts. There was plenty of shallot puree to drizzle over our plates, which we did. Maybe even more than a drizzle! It tasted amazing over the quinoa. 

Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree may sound complicated, but it’s not a hard recipe to follow. Add it to the menu for your next dinner party because it will definitely impress your guests! These fancy sprouts will be a gorgeous addition to any holiday table with their festive combination of red and green. Cómelo todo!

Schmaltz Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Puree
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  1. 24 Brussel sprouts
  2. 3 tablespoons chicken or duck fat
  3. 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  4. 2 shallots, cut length wise
  5. 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  6. 2 tablespoons raw honey
  7. 4 tablespoons quality extra virgin olive oil
  8. 12 pomegranate seeds
  9. Salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut sprouts in half lengthwise, smash the cloves of garlic, cut shallots, and toss together with warm chicken or duck fat and salt.
  3. Roast on sheet pan until Brussel sprouts are dark and crisp. The garlic and shallots should be soft as well. This may take 20 – 25 minutes.
  4. Take sheet pan out of oven, peel shallots, place one and a half in blender with vinegar, honey, and garlic. Blend mixture until smooth. Drizzle oil slowly until fully emulsified.
  5. Arrange sprouts in a pile, petal out the half shallot that isn’t in the vinaigrette. Place vinaigrette in a few spots on the sprouts. Finish with the pomegranate seeds.
Adapted from Executive Chef Jeremy Glover
Adapted from Executive Chef Jeremy Glover
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Simple Shortcuts: Skillet Potatoes

Simple Shortcuts: Skillet Potatoes - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Today I’m sharing the second post in a series of simple shortcuts to save time in the kitchen when you’re in a rush. Even when life is busy, we still need to make healthy food choices to keep our bodies and minds nourished.

White potatoes get a bad rap because they’re high in carbohydrates. But because potatoes are real food, they’re a much better choice than processed food any day. Potatoes are a great source of fiber, protein, vitamin B6 + C, and potassium. I love potatoes, and so did my Irish ancestors. There’s something to be said about eating the foods of your heritage. Bottom line, everything in moderation. White potatoes are a healthy choice a few times a week. 

These skillet potatoes work for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even a quick snack. We typically use this simple shortcut side dish on a weekday morning. I bake 4 to 6 potatoes at a time, depending on the size of the potato. Choose organic russet, yukon gold, or red bliss. You’ll need about a half of potato per person for a serving.

Anytime you’re using the oven between 375-425 degrees, throw in some whole potatoes. These guys aren’t fussy about temperature. Check them at about 45 minutes to an hour. Potatoes are done when they give in to a little squeeze. Let the baked potatoes cool; then store them in a glass container the fridge for up to 4 days.

When you’re ready to use this simple shortcut, the skillet potatoes will cook really fast because you’re skipping the step of boiling the potatoes first. You only need to sauté the potatoes enough to brown them since they’re already cooked. In the meantime, scramble up some eggs. Maybe make some veggies in another pan — like onion, spinach, and tomatoes. A nourishing breakfast will be ready in 8 minutes or less, getting you out the door on time with a full, happy belly.

Stay tuned for more Simple Shortcuts. Cómelo todo!

Skillet Potatoes
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Total Time
8 min
Total Time
8 min
  1. 4-6 Baked potatoes
  2. Pad of butter, extra virgin olive oil, or vegan substitute
  3. Sea salt and pepper to taste
  4. Fresh parsley or rosemary, if desired
  1. Warm a skillet over medium heat with butter or extra virgin olive oil (skip the canola!).
  2. Add a shake of salt and pepper directly to the skillet instead of tossing the potatoes in a bowl. Add your favorite herbs or spices if you’re feeling fancy.
  3. Cut the already baked potatoes into cubes or wedges.
  4. Add the chopped potato to the skillet. Shake every few minutes.
  5. Devour your browned skillet potatoes and make them again soon!
  1. Choose organic potatoes and herbs when possible.
  2. Make sure your ketchup doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup. Organic ketchup is the best choice.
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Rustic Sweet Potato Salad

Rustic Sweet Potato Salad Recipe - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Sometimes happy accidents happen in my kitchen. A few weeks ago, I was staring into my refrigerator willing the shiny appliance to make me some lunch. I ended up mixing together some left overs with a can of beans and Rustic Sweet Potato Salad was born.

This recipe is a perfect make ahead lunch to grab before work, or an easy Meatless Monday dinner. Serve it over a bed of arugula or just dig in with a spoon. Maybe add a fried egg and try it for breakfast. You can eat this Rustic Sweet Potato Salad anytime!

Next time you have the oven on, throw in a few sweet potatoes (roughly 400 degrees for about 45 minutes). Sweet potatoes are lower on the glycemic index than regular potatoes and are full of vitamins (A, C, B6 and potassium). Add in some black beans for fiber and protein; then onion and pepper for crunch. The recipe is naturally gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, nut free, dairy free, refined sugar free, and delicious! 

Rustic Sweet Potato Salad comes together quickly. Mix it in one bowl for easy clean up. I always start with the dressing and just whisk it at the bottom of the bowl. Don’t worry about cutting everything perfectly; that’s what makes it rustic! Be generous with the sea salt. Maybe even add a few cracks of Himalayan pink salt when serving.

Cómelo todo!

Rustic Sweet Potato Salad
Serves 2
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Maple Vanilla Vinaigrette
  1. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  2. 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. Sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  2. 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  3. 1 cup of cooked, cubed sweet potato (skin on!)
  4. 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  1. 1. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
  2. 2. Add black beans, pepper, sweet potato, and red onion.
  3. 3. Gently stir to combine.
  4. 4. Serve chilled, warm, or at room temperature.
  1. - Use organic ingredients when possible.
  2. - Double the dressing ingredients for another day's garden salad.
  3. - Always check your labels: sometimes canned beans are full sodium. I love Eden Organic because there's no added salt.
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