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!

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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Tuscan White Beans

Tuscan White Beans Recipe - Under the Monkey Bars

Recipe time! Tuscan White Beans is a solid recipe I’ve been making all summer. You’re going to love it – even if you’re not a big bean person.

Tuscan White Beans is a super easy side dish that compliments fish or chicken beautifully with a green vegetable like broccoli or zucchini. Add a little extra water and a handful of leafy greens like spinach or kale to make it a main dish.

You can keep these simple ingredients on hand and make Tuscan White Beans anytime. The dish comes together really fast. Cook it whenever you have time because it doesn’t need to be served hot. I throw it together while I’m baking muffins or cooking dinner. Tuscan White Beans will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days but these beans never last in our house more than a day or two!

The recipe calls for cannellini beans, which are white Italian kidney beans that you can buy in both dry and canned forms. It’s healthiest to soak dry beans and cook them yourself, but there’s not always time. Sometimes you need homemade shortcuts and Tuscan White Beans is just the dish. This recipe gives you the benefits of cannellini beans without the extra steps.

Packed with protein and fiber, Tuscan White Beans are low in fat and contain negligible sugar (just a smidgen from the tomato). The dish is vegan, vegetarian, dairy free, nut free, soy free, and naturally gluten free.

Fresh rosemary adds so much flavor to this dish. I used a ton of rosemary sprigs from our container garden this summer. I’m planning to move the rosemary plant inside this winter. Fingers crossed my black thumb can swing it.

Did you know rosemary has anti-cancer properties? And it’s a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B6. Rosemary also boosts your immune system — for real. It’s that time of year, and frankly, I’ll do anything to boost our immune systems. Bring on the rosemary!

Cooking an easy, family friendly dish like Tuscan White Beans will help you minimize eating processed foods while saving money. Beans are cheap! I buy Eden Organic beans at Market Basket: 2 cans for $5. Make sure the brand you buy comes in a BPA-free can without added salt.

Try making Tuscan White Beans this Fall for your family. My monkeys absolutely love the mild flavor and texture of Tuscan White Beans. It’s perfect to pack in lunch boxes! I brought this dish to my friend’s Champagne and Kleenex party last week and it got rave reviews — even among the toddler set.

Cómelo todo!

Tuscan White Beans
Serves 4
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Total Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
  1. 2 garlic cloves, smashed and lightly chopped
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1 plum tomato, chopped
  4. 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  5. 2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  6. 1/2 cup filtered water
  7. 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  8. Sea salt
  1. In a medium sized pot, cook garlic cloves in olive oil over medium-high heat for 1 minute.
  2. Add chopped tomato and rosemary. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add cannellini beans and cook for 5 minutes, partially smashing beans with a wooden spoon.
  4. Remove the rosemary.
  5. Stir in the water and parsley. Season with salt.
  6. Optional: add a drizzle of olive oil when serving.
Adapted from Food Network Kitchen
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Perfect Popcorn

Perfect Popcorn - Under the Monkey Bars

While I don’t think corn is that good for you, I do believe that a bowl of popcorn — when made properly — is a healthy, nutritious snack. Everything in moderation, right? Today I’m sharing my recipe for Perfect Popcorn.

We all know that microwave popcorn is a big no-no. Here’s why if you need a refresher. There are some new brands that are cleaner than others, but it’s still always better to make your own. When you need a grab-and-go snack, popcorn is perfect to keep in the pantry. Buddha Bowl is our pick for the best organic, allergen free popcorn in a bag (I often find it at Marshalls for less than $3!). Check your popcorn to make sure it’s non-GMO, organic popcorn with 3 ingredients or less.

I’m sure you all know about GMOs or genetically modified organisms. The long term effects on our bodies is unknown and untested, yet allowed into our food supply by the FDA. Corn is the biggest offender since the late 1990’s when Monsanto patented a corn seed that was injected with genes drawn from bacteria to create a pesticide called Bt toxin within the corn. As a family, we choose to avoid genetically modified foods. If you haven’t already, do some research to help you decide if you should avoid GMOs.

When you make homemade popcorn, you know exactly what’s in it. I found this recipe four years ago when we were going gluten free and cutting out processed foods. It’s really fun to count to 30 with the kids when you take the kernels off the heat! I’m still surprised that almost all of the kernels pop and it never burns. I only had 6 unpopped kernels in my last batch! This really is the perfect popcorn recipe, especially with these kernels.

Popcorn is high in antioxidants and fiber, making it an easy, fun snack that’s healthy too. Adding healthy fats to your popcorn helps your body digest it better. Coconut oil is a perfect match because it’s a high smoke point oil (unlike olive oil) and it has amazing nutritional properties. The flavor is so rich that there’s no need for melted butter on top of your popcorn. Just add some salt! The girls like to shake it up with a little cinnamon, which adds extra antioxidants and lowers blood sugar levels. 

Perfect Popcorn - Under the Monkey Bars

It wouldn’t be a Friday night movie night without homemade popcorn. Last night we watched The Princess Diaries with a big bowl of what? Popcorn! We added some chocolate chips and apple pie spice. Cómelo todo!

Perfect Popcorn
Serves 4
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Total Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
  1. 3 tablespoons Coconut oil
  2. 1/3 cup of organic, non-GMO Popcorn kernels
  3. Sea salt to taste
  4. Cinnamon, optional
  1. Heat the oil in a 3 quart covered saucepan on medium high heat. Add 3 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan.
  2. When the kernels pop, remove them and add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count to 30 seconds. This method heats the oil to the right temperature first. Waiting 30 seconds brings all of the kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are back on the heat, they pop at about the same time.
  3. Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove your pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.
  4. Shake the popcorn around with some salt. Maybe a little cinnamon too!
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Adapted from Simply Recipes
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