Cheers to Kale

Kale, this one’s for you.

I love you, Kale.

Don’t worry Ry, this isn’t a confession of my love for your co-worker, Kale.  It’s about my love affair with a vegetable.

Kale is considered to be a super food.  You’re getting the most bang for your buck with this guy. In just one cup of chopped you’ll get more than 100% of vitamin C, A and K for the day.  It contains a high amount of manganese, a powerful cancer-fighting antioxidant.  It has shown to improve mental function and boost metabolism (one of my biggest reasons for eating it and for dedicating this post to it).

Have you ever tried Kale plain?  Go ahead, try it.  Go and buy a big bunch of it, chop it up and pour some dressing on it, You’ll LOVE it!

Umm, on second thought, don’t do that.  You’ll throw up.  I almost did.  The first time I tried it…
Kale is a lonely vegetable.  You’ll find him in the produce section.  There’s usually a huge stack of him since he tastes kind of bitter.  He doesn’t really fit in with the popular crowd, spinach, lettuce, broccoli.  He’s NOT good in a salad.  He’s good in soups, but eating him raw is the way to go if you want to benefit the most from him.  But if not in a salad you ask, then how?

GREEN SMOOTHIES!

You might remember the post I wrote on green smoothies shortly after I started drinking them regularly.

The first time I tried a green smoothie was in March of 2011.   A green smoothie was a great place to start for me at that time.  I felt slugglish all of the time.  It had only been a few months since I had had a nervous breakdown and I was still REALLY struggling with my depression and my hormones were out of wack.  I felt like I ate alright.  But a handful of baby carrots and a salad just wasn’t cutting it.  I remember thinking that if I were to change up my diet somehow I would probably feel a lot better.  Yet, I was so easily overwhelmed that thinking of how to improve my diet just made me more depressed and less motivated.  Then I was introduced to the Green Smoothie Girl.  How simple!  Throw a bunch of greens and berries into a blender (you don’t need a fancy one, I have an Oster, 40 bucks Amazon) and bam, you’re done!  After a couple weeks of drinking one daily I started to feel better and I started craving healthier foods.  Slowly my grocery list changed.  I started having energy to exercise more and in August of 2011 I was able to reach my goal of a triathlon.

It’s been over a year now and I’ve seen a significant improvement in my weight, depression and overall health.  It was a great jumpstart for me into healthy eating.  I’ve had people comment on how I look, and ask me what I’m doing.  Figuring out my hormones and getting on anti-depressants had a lot to do with that.  However, I didn’t see a real improvement in my thyroid levels, metabolism and depression until I started green smoothies.  I started on thyroid medications in August of 2010 and it wasn’t until March of 2011 when I started drinking a green smoothie daily that I started losing weight, had a lot more energy, I stopped getting sick and was able to start managing my depression.  Am I 100% cured?  YES! well…

No.  But that’s not the point.  The point is, it has changed my life so much for the better.

There’s actually a lot more to my smoothie than just the Kale.  Kale is the main ingredient in my smoothies but I also include spinach, frozen berries, a frozen banana, water and rice milk. I also add a bit of Chia Seed, Flax seed, Wheat germ, Maca Powder.  All are super foods and make a killer nutrient dense drink.  Perfect way to start out your day.

Go easy on yourself though.  Start with one cup Spinach and one cup of Kale, a cup of frozen berries, a banana, some water, and apple juice.  We are trained to crave SUGAR.  Almost all of our food contains sugar.  The goal of a GREEN smoothie is to level your blood sugar, not spike it.  Over time I went from including sweetened yogurt, apple juice and a lot of fruit to making the majority of my smoothies just plain greens.  My recipe as of now?  Stuff as much greens as I can into my blender, add some water and blend.  Then, stuff more greens in and blend.  I try to put in at least 6 cups of kale and spinach in each smoothie.

Recipe for a first timer:

1 cup of Kale

1 cup of Spinach

1 cup of water

1/2 cup of milk (almond or rice is best)

yogurt of your choice (work your way up to PLAIN greek yogurt.  It has TWENTY grams of protein in just one cup!)

1/2 cup of apple juice Start here.  Just try it.  If it’s too bitter for you, add more juice.  You will get so your body craves it!

Cheers!

P.S. ok so it’s now 11:30pm.  I just got back from the grocery store an hour ago.  Random time to shop I know, but I’m sure it doesn’t seem random to any other mom out there.  When I get to go to the grocery store kid free I feel like I’m going to disneyland and there aren’t any lines for any of the rides!  It’s just fun and refreshing!

I just wanted to throw in a little blurb about some of the other “green brothers” that I neglected to mention in this post.  SWISS CHARD and COLLARD GREENS!  How could I forget them.  Also super nutrient dense!  And actually my love affair doesn’t have to be your love affair.  Not everyone finds Brad Pitt attractive.  Weird if that’s the case.  I do, he’s my ‘kale’.  Maybe you’re a Johnny Depp fan (blech!).  Maybe collard greens and spinach will be what you like best in your smoothie.  The whole point of this post was to promote eating LOTS of greens and do it by drinking smoothies.  I have a whole lot of other nutrition information that I’ve learned that has helped me improve my hormone function and depression.  The green smoothie was just the ‘spring-board’ for me to get started on eating healthier and then craving healthier foods and incorporating them into my diet.  Enough said!  Time for bed.  I could use any advice and motivating tips on how to improve my sleeping habits.  Definitely a weak part of my health… good night!

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Twelve characteristics of TOUGH-MINDED optimists


“Well, just try to be positive.”  To anybody who has ever dealt with depression, you know how awful this advice can sometimes make you feel.  How can I force my mind to be positive when it’s my brain that isn’t functioning properly?  When the chemicals in my brain are so sluggish that I am not capable of producing positive feelings, literally. When the actual problem with depression is your actual perception of the world.  There’s a dark cloud that hangs over you and there is no light.   By very definition chemical depression is marked with feelings of hopelessness, fatigue and apathy.  Sometimes I feel like despite all the self-will and motivation I have, it seems impossible to conjure up positive feelings because my brain just feels broken!

The phrase ‘be positive’makes me feel like I’m just covering up what’s really going on.  Instead of facing an issue I tell myself to just be positive and somehow by doing so the problem will just go away.  It’s a close friend asking me how I’m doing and me saying “great” and ending the conversation right there.

I like the word optimism better.  I guess you could say that the two words are synonymous.  HOWEVER, a friend gave me this list and since then I’ve decided I like OPTIMISM DEFINED.

12 CHARACTERISTICS OF TOUGH-MINDED OPTIMISTS:

1.  Optimists are seldom surprised by trouble:  They know it’s part of exisiting

2. Optimists look for partial solutions: One step or task at a time

3. Optimists believe they have control over their future: They set goals within their limits

4. Optimists allow for regular renewal: exercise, laughter, sleep

5. Optimists interrupt their negative trains of thought: they change the channel in their brain

6. Optimists heighten their power of appreciation: list it daily, in your head or on paper

7. Optimists use their imaginations to rehearse success: imagine the best outcome

8. Optimists are cheerful even when they can’t be happy.

9. Optimists believe they have an almost unlimited capacity for stretching and growing.

10. Optimists build lots of love into their lives: reach out to others.

11. Optimists like the swap good news.

12.  Optimists accept what cannot be changed: other people or the past.  They know that the only thing they can change is themselves.

I LOVE THIS!

It’s not vague, it’s not covering up the problem.  It’s helped me in restructuring my thought process by giving me specifics.  I like the title, ‘TOUGH-MINDED’ optimists.  I may not have control of how I feel when I hit a low, but I am tough.  I know that no matter how cloudy my perspective gets, no matter how dark the depression may be I can utilize optimism defined to get me through it.  Not being surprised by trouble:  accepting the ups and downs of depression and not freaking out or complaining when I hit a low.  Expanding my power of appreciation: I’ve written down lists, dedicated a prayer to appreciation.  Even though a lot of the time when I’m super depressed I don’t FEEL grateful or even FEEL much of anything about anything I can KNOW that I can stil be optimistic.  I can.  I’ve tried it and I can and so can you!  I still continue to fight through the ups and downs of depression but trying to develop the characteristics/coping skills of a tough-minded optimist is really helping me.

I hope this can help you like it has helped me.

Another thing that really helps me on a daily basis is this…

Today he was “helping” me plant my flowers.  He came up to me and said “Look Mom, I’m a pot-head”.  Awesome.  Definitely made me feel optimistic.