52 Weeks to Wellness

I dream of being the perfect consumer, living an eco-friendly, healthy, environmentally-conscious life. I’d like to rid my own world of dangerous chemicals and food products that contribute to issues within the food industry AND my body, and find a way to do most actions just a little more care and information. I’d love to be one of those people who only eats local, organic, clean, paleo, antibiotic-free foods and buys products that support the local economy and are good for the environment and my body (I totally realize what a yuppie I sound like right now…)

But, as I reflect on my own habits I realize that there is a LOT of change needed, and I simply can’t do it all at once. As I’ve learned with my weight-loss efforts, change takes time and considering the sheer number of issues that a consumer must face, it really isn’t possible to do it all at once. So I’ve decided to compile a list of 52 habits I’d like to adopt each week for the next 52 weeks in order to make my personal universe just a little more healthful. I will tackle one habit a week and once I do I won’t go back to my old ways. Here I go (in no particular order and with corresponding money signs to denote whether the goal will require a financial investment):

  1. Begin going to the farmer’s market and purchasing only grass-fed, local, antibiotic-free and non-factory farmed meat.
  2. Buy only local (no more Mexican or Latin-American produce with the exception of certain tropical fruits).
  3. Build or buy a composting unit and begin composting. $
  4. Spend time researching the chemicals in ALL my makeup products and research eco-friendly, healthier alternatives.
  5. Spend time researching the chemicals in all of our beauty products (hair sprays, lotions, shampoos, etc.), research eco-friendly, healthier alternatives and compile a list for future purchases.
  6. Begin making my own deoderant!
  7. Invest in glass tuperware and recycle all of the plastic ones we have. $$
  8. Buy new, BPA-free water bottles (a few of them) and commit to never buying a plastic bottled water bottle again.
  9. Replace all Teflon pans with stainless steel or copper-coated pans. $$$
  10. Toss every product that has triclosan and replace with healthier alternative.
  11. Buy spray bottles and begin making my own cleaners, ditching the heavy chemical products found in stores.
  12. Spend time learning about seasonal farming, and committing myself to only purchasing food that is in-season.
  13. Clear pantry and stop buying any foods with synthetic preservatives or coloring.
  14. Invest in indoor plants for every room. $$
  15. I love candles BUT I don’t like that many contain dangerous chemicals. Research beeswax or soy-based alternatives.
  16. Research safe, eco-friendly, at-home dry cleaning alternatives.
  17. Switch to a biodegradable, fragrance-free, non-toxic detergent for clothes.
  18. Educate myself on the proper way to dispose of things such as batteries and toxic waste so I do so in the future.
  19. Find a more eco-friendly, healthful option to plastic wrap, ziplocks and foil.
  20. Take time to educate myself more about recycling and the list of items I may or may not be able to recycle.
  21. Switch to organic produce for all “dirty dozen” foods from here on out.
  22. Commit to buying all-organic dairy (right now we do organic milk and eggs, but are “ify” on butter, kefir, yogurt, etc.
  23. Plan out the most cost-effective way to get local, organic produce, dairy and meat.
  24. Become much more careful about wasting electricity. Spend time researching how to lessen my footprint when it comes to electricity use.
  25. Invest in a reusable cat litter-“filler-upper.” Our local petstore has a bin of litter, which you fill up with a bucket, reducing waste. $
  26. Finally ditch the paper towel habit (or at least set up specific rules for using them) and switch to using “bartender rags” for cleaning and dusting.
  27. Invest in paper napkins. $$
  28. Get rid of our microwave (put it outside in the garage and reserve it for rare occasions where I’ll need to reheat for a party).
  29. Educate myself on the fish industry and commit to buying sustainable, healthful fish.
  30. Make vegetarian, no-cook meals once a week.
  31. Invest in eco-friendly organic cotton and/or bamboo towels made with plant-based dyes. $$$
  32. Research accessible, cost-affordable recycled toilet paper.
  33. Get in the habit of turning off the water when brushing my teeth.
  34. Unplug electronics when they aren’t in use.
  35. Buy organic, sustainable sheets & pillow covers $$$
  36. Update our pillows with organic, non-chemical ones. $$$
  37. Make it a habit to carefully monitor towel-use (we tend to toss towels after only one or two uses) and invest in an outdoor towel rack so towels dry faster.
  38. Begin washing out own cars at home (instead of taking it to the car wash).
  39. Start prepping produce more efficiently to avoid unnecessary spoiling.
  40. Plan out my meals every Sunday, so less food and money is waste (and gas from unwanted trips to the store).
  41. Make sure every single bill is paperless and recycle all junk mail.
  42. Cut back to only indulging in added-sugar once a week in a small amount.
  43. Commit to buying less STUFF. For every one thing I buy, I need to get rid, giveaway or recycle something else.
  44. Get down to my healthy weight (long-term goal!) and eat much less food everyday.
  45. Wear a healthy, chemical-free sunblock everyday.
  46. Floss everyday and brush twice a day.
  47. Switch to a healthier, chemical-free toothpaste.
  48. Commit to eating vegetables at every meal (including breakfast).
  49. Purchase bicycles. $$$
  50. Use my hand-held earpiece instead of putting the cell phone directly against my head.
  51. Make the car a phone-free space, and yes, that means no fiddling with the iPhone to find a song, using it for navigation, etc. We survived (better) without these “useful tools” for decades, and we should do that again.
  52. Commit to everyday movement/exercise, at the very least adopting a regime for stretching.

Birthday Post 2011

Today is my birthday and it’s been a fabulous year full of food, friends, family, travel and life! I’ve been reflecting on all the amazing times I’ve had over the past year and feel super blessed to have the life I do! Here are some highlights & awards:

Favorite Restaurant: Angelini Osteria (going there  tonight for my birthday din-din) Fresh, delicious, flavorful gourmet Italiano with an L.A. feel. Love the vibe, the intimacy and the food. I haven’t been to Mozza or Bocca, but I have a feeling this place isn’t easily topped.

Favorite Restaurant Runner Up: Cucina Urbana in San Diego. This is like the Bottega Louie of S.D. but it doesn’t have the pretense, anorexic-looking hipster Los Angelinas and the food was a notch better. Smaller portions, better, quirkier ambience.

Best breakfast: My Dad’s house. Seriously, my Dad makes the most amazing waffles ever. Sadly I don’t have any pictures, but hopefully I’ll fix that this weekend!

Best pastry: Lobster Tails from Court Bakery in Brooklyn. Crunchy, light and flaky on the outside, creamy, thick and sweet on the inside. Amazing pastry. Sadly you can’t find them anywhere near California (if you know of any place that has them, send me a message).

Favorite Dessert from my kitchen: Coconut Creme Pie. I was really impressed with my pie. I did not however, use fresh coconut or my own crust, but nonetheless, this was the best dessert I think I made all year.

Favorite meal from my kitchen: Eggplant & Zucchini Lasagna. Though, I’m super proud of my risotto, I thought this lasagna turned out amazing for my taste buds.

Favorite meaty meal: Lamb chops with apricot preserve and baked carrots.

Worst dish this past year: Egg soufleé a la microwave. This was quite possibly the most disgusting thing I’ve single-handedly made in my life. SO bland, mushy, uncooked, and simply revolting. So glad I’ve ditched the microwave too.

Favorite moment when I ate too much and got sick: Max’s Birthday Party catered by Ciao Cupcake. I think I ate 10 cupcakes that day, no joke.

Cooking goals for this birthday year:

  • Lobster Tails. I need to learn how to make them and give them as Christmas presents
  • Pad Thai (made it before years ago and it came out super dry)
  • Paneer from scratch
  • Mozzarella from scratch
  • Ice cream cake- always wanted to make an ice cream cake.
  • More curry!
  • Fondant-covered cakes
  • Healthier recipes! Now that I’ve started Weight Watchers, I can still eat whatever I want in moderate portions, but I want to learn some recipes that have fewer points and are healthier.
So happy birthday to me, and here’s to more eating, healthier recipes, and lots of cooking!

(PS: I’ve started noticing WordPress is now beginning to run ads on my blog. Not cool. So not cool.)

On Fleas & Channeling Paula Deen

Life has been kind of crazy and sleep-deprived these past few days. Abby had fleas; about 40-50 “sand fleas– the nasty kind,” according to the disgusted groomer. I feel like such a negligent pet owner. In my defense, Abby is 95% indoor-only, long-haired and we have brown carpets, so I had no idea this was going on.

We got her shaved with a lion cut, Frontlined and we “fumigated” our place today, so I’m praying we don’t have this problem anymore. She was pretty pissed off about the whole thing:

I’ve also been designing my new photography website and it’s taking me forever. I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turning out though, and now I just need to update the portfolios– I have tons of new pieces waiting to be uploaded.

Cooking has been the last thing on my mind lately, but it has to change since I’m doing the South Beach Diet again. I had success the past few times I’ve done it, but never had the time or motivation to commit to the intense cooking it requires (and creativity.) You have to plan out five meals/snacks a day, include vegetables with every meal (including breakfast…) and forgo starches and sugars for a while, and ultimately limit them. It’s not a crazy fad diet though- more like healthy eating principles and guidelines on how to integrate them in your life.

And as fate would have it, my family is coming over to our apartment tomorrow night to drop off my baby brother who is spending the weekend with us, and I volunteered to cook dinner. I was in a Paula Deen mood when I decided on the menu, and must not have been thinking straight: ribs, mashed potatoes, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, a salad and a cake (still debating what). This is like a diet kamikaze. But I guess it will test out my down-home cooking chops and motivation. It’s too late to change the menu at any rate since I have 2lbs of pulled pork baby back ribs in the fridge…

The mac & cheese is for the vegetarian boyfriend, who can’t have ribs nor exist solely on mashed taters. I’ll grill-up some pieces of frozen chicken with a homemade sugar-free bbq sauce, shrimp cocktail and salad for me (and maybe indulge in a rib or two).

I’m happy to be back on SB now that I’m graduated and have time. It’ll expand my cooking repertoire and force me to learn some new recipes while getting healthier. As a plus, Indian and Thai mesh well into the SB principles, so I’ll use it as an excuse to dig out my light coconut milk and make some curries too.

Now if you have a minute, watch this… it’s probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen: