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Blog

Filtering by Tag: clean eating

Awakening Via Food

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 9 OF 28

Again I’m here, late night, or at least my version of late night: 10pm, remembering that though I’ve written plenty today, I haven’t put something together that felt worthy of sharing. But I’ve committed to sharing daily and in that is the lesson. Over and over I am reminded of progress, not perfection.

I wish I didn’t define so much of my enough-ness by how much I accomplished in the day. I wish I didn’t turn to food to numb my overwhelm or stress. Sometimes I wish I never deepened my consciousness and could go back to the “go with the flow” day-to-day attitude I used to have. And then I’m reminded of just how rewarding this inner work has been. It is grounding and filling and inspiring. I hate to call it an awakening as I think that can sound entitled, but that feels like one of the only ways to say it. My awakening started with changing how I ate. I did the Whole30 challenge and after 30 days there was no way I could ignore the significance of my transformation. My brain had never been so sharp, so clear, so focused. And it was completely natural. I started seeing things and knowing things that had puzzled me for over two decades. It cleared the fog enough that I started listening to a place inside of me that I had never before accessed, and in there I found all of my answers. Clean eating lead to meditation, gratitude practice, improved sleep, fitness, writing, and so many of the other self-care techniques I use daily today. It is why I am so incredibly passionate about the power of food. It changes everything. I wish I had the words to express the depth and magnitude of this transformation fully. It frustrates me that I can’t communicate the bliss that shifting what I ate has had in my life and can have in the lives of others. I want them to feel it. But it seems there’s a disconnect. I hope one day I can solve it. I hope one day I can not only help to change WHAT people eat but HOW and WHY. There’s so much to this food game. 

Things That Have Been in my Mouth: Ginger-Garlic-Cashew-Dijon-Jalapeno Dressing

Danika Brysha

Another delicious meal has driven me straight to the blogosphere. I was craving a salad for lunch (that sentence was about as recognizable as Arabic for me a few years ago) and I was somewhat bored of my usual olive oil-balsamic-salt-pepper dressing.  I'm traveling to Costa Rica in a few days for a yoga retreat so I'm holding off on going grocery shopping and trying to make use of what I already have in my fridge.  Enter this new salad dressing concoction! And it is DELISH! My mom didn't really cook much growing up- leave it to me to point this out on MOTHERS DAY- but really, she didn't.  We were always on the go so I ate a lot of fast food- pizza, McDonalds, bagels, Taco Bell.  As a result I never really learned how to cook.  As I got older and started caring much more about what went into my body, I was forced to teach myself... and honestly it is super easy. The number one concern I get from people wanting to eat healthier is that they think they can't cook.  I promise you, you can.  Pick a recipe, cook it, and then you can forever use it as a starting point to make your own varieties and mix up flavors and ingredients.

I've been eating super clean for over four months now and essentially follow the Whole30 program, which is quite similar to Paleo.  My diet consists of organic fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, and meat that is hormone/antibiotic free and properly fed/raised, and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, and raw nuts. If it doesn't fall into one of those categories, I don't eat it.  Period.  I've learned so much about our food industry and I think that we desperately need to get away from all the processed foods, chemicals, and added sugars we are filling ourselves with these days. I don't count calories, fat, or really anything. I eat when I'm hungry and I try not to when I'm not. Four and a half months later, 30lbs lighter, and more vibrant, happy, and energetic than I've been in my entire life- I am living proof of how powerful nutrition can be.  Food is most certainly the best medicine. And I am most certainly in this for life.

I often miss those creamy Caesar and Ranch dressings that I used to eat before I realized what was in them, and I've found the secret ingredient to get back that comforting consistency without the poison.  Cashews!!

Ginger-Garlic-Cashew-Dijon-Jalapeno Dressing Recipe (Paleo, Whole30, and Life-Friendly)- Makes about 4 portions for meal-sized salads

1-3 Organic Garlic Cloves (I'd aim for 1, I used 3 and the Garlic was a little overpowering)

1 1/2 tsps Organic crushed Ginger

1 small jalapeño pepper chopped- seeds/center removed

1/2 cup soaked raw cashews- You must soak these or the dressing won't have the same consistency- Just cover them in water and soak for about 6 hours... or if you're me three weeks because I forgot about them.  I recommend making a double batch so you can use them for other things

3 tbsp Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

3 tbsp Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

Salt, Pepper, and Red Chili Peppers to Taste

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor, magic bullet, or whatever fancy apparatus you have that I can't afford. Store excess in a glass jar or tupperware in the fridge. I don't know how long it can stay there. I don't work for the FDA.  I'm surely thinking about it though. 

Arugula Salad with Avocado, Pear, and Cherry Tomatoes (Amounts are for one meal-sized portion)

1/2 bag Organic Arugula 

1/2 Organic Pear

1 cup Organic Cherry Tomatoes- halved lengthwise

Freshly Ground Pepper

Toss arugula, pear and cherry tomatoes in dressing with your hands to coat evenly.  Arrange on plate and add avocado across the top because it will look prettier that way in your Instagram photo.

Enjoy!!

VIDEO: Meditation, Tuning In, and My Weave

Danika Brysha

I've gone and done it friends.  I've started meditating.  And I can't really stop. It's a massive game changer and I had no idea what those crazy meditating people were talking about until my girl Oprah offered me a free 21-day meditation challenge. And if there are two things in this world that I can't say no to, it is Oprah and anything that's free.

Just by sitting still and quieting my conscious thoughts for 20 minutes a day, I have uncovered so many things that I had previously buried with ideas of how things should be, expectations and anxiety, and stories of how I wasn't quite good enough. It has been less than two weeks and I've already discovered a few key points AND seen them playing out immediately in my daily life. Let's just say I've been using the phrases "Wow!" and "Holy Sh!t" in my journal a lot lately.

Here is what I now know for sure through my mediation practice:

1. Everything we need, every single thing, is within us

2. When we find it in ourselves to stop worrying and to trust that we'll be taken care of and everything will be ok, the universe will have the space to get to work.  And that damn "universe" (or God or Energy or whatever you prefer to call it) knows what's best for us. Like always.

3. Letting go of our conscious thoughts allows us access to our core, deeper ones- the ones that know us best and that aren't affected by the stories and lies we tell ourselves- the subconscious self has all the answers but we have to be in a position to listen.

And so maybe this makes me a hippy but I'm certainly ok with that identification if it means I can keep this up on the reg. Do you meditate?  I'd love to hear about your experience if so... mainly to prove that I'm not crazy.  And because I love you. I realized that while meditating. You're welcome.

Check out my experience via video blog, a cameo from Kingsley, and find out why I put my weave in for your viewing pleasure...

Practicing Vulnerability: Journals Unedited

Danika Brysha

In the last couple months, I have been journaling every day.  I absolutely love to write and when I do, time stands still. It has been the first time that I've been able to really make sense of my thoughts and to truly access that deeper level that has been buried or numbed for so long. Most of my blog posts take fragments from my journal and are edited to suit an audience but every now and then I want to share with you the dialogue that comes straight from my heart.  My journal entries, completely unedited.  Here is what came up this morning...

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Date: Friday, April 11th, 2014

Time: 12:30-1:30pm

Location: NYC- Meatpacking District: random table and chair outside Gaslight

I decided to stop and sit in the action of the city to do this morning's journaling.  With the exception of the cigarette smoke that's reaching my health bubble, everything is pretty perfect.  I just had a casting at Milk Studios so I'm looking pretty top notch as well. I like being alone in a big city occasionally.  All sorts of energy passing by as I peacefully sit here and write.

I want to feel like New York is as magical as if I was sitting in the middle of Paris or Barcelona.  And it is!  It can just be hard to recognize when you feel like it isn't going anywhere.  When you live here it is really easy to take for granted the fact that I'm living in the most beautiful part of the most amazing city in the world.  How lucky am I?!

I really don't need much to make me happy.  Getting good sleep, getting up and ready for the day, and getting out into the world is so fulfilling.  What I'm doing right now is what I hope to be doing forever.  And its so great to know just how little I really need to be happy. A journal, a pen, a roof over my head, food to eat, and love and support around me.  I could really make that a reality anywhere.

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It's truly a great day in NY.  The first since I've moved here that was really suited to sitting outside and writing.  I have a feeling that Spring will be when I fall madly in love with this place.  As I've been spending more time out and about, meeting people and being present, I'm reminded of how many wonderful people are out in this world.  It's a true shame that we don't get to meet all of them but I trust that the universe brings together the right ones. 

I've been really wanting to be my true, authentic self more lately.  I notice that I still wear a lot of masks and that I want nothing more than to totally strip myself of them in all arenas. The thing is, I know I'm a beautiful, passionate person worth of love and I truly believe that I'd find even more support and much deeper connections if I could just find a way to cut out all the bullshit.  All of the caring what people think, trying to please everyone, and anything I do that suggests I'm trying to be something that I'm not.  I know I'll get there.  I've already come so far and I know it's just a matter of time.  I'm just going to try to be more aware of when I think I may be faking or trying too much and to make some positive shift.

(My friend) Julia is staying with me and she's just so real. So able to be vulnerable and not concern herself with what I think when she tells a story.  She seems to just be really in tune with herself which I admire.  For so long I numbed myself to all my emotions so I can't expect to start feeling and being completely in tune with them right away.  It all takes time.  It's a journey much like mine with food.

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I'm beginning to get a lot more comfortable with being hungry.  I've found that now that I've told myself that being hungry is ok, I'm a lot less frantic about the concept.  I can relax and live more, knowing that I don't have to plan every move around my next meal.  Knowing that food will always be there and that I won't starve.  It feels really freeing.  And I think that's gonna be the key to being able to tune out the thinking about food all day thing.  Because when I know its ok to be hungry, I can forget to worry about it and in turn focus on living fully during the remainder of my days.  When its not a constant concern, I'll be able to forget about it- which for me is the ultimate goal. 

To only think of food and eating when my physical body tells me it needs fueling.  That would be a true cure for me.  The goal of all of this.  To take all the power away from food and to view it strictly as fuel. 

Be someone who "forgets to eat" or who finally views eating as another normal daily task like going to the bathroom or sleeping.

Something we think about when our body alerts us to its necessity and that we don't think about when it doesn't. That's how I define being cured from food addiction.  That's the END!

I think I've always had a hard time determining what the goal was.  What to strive for at the very end of all of this.  What I can tell people to expect when they can finally conquer all of this.  Being the kind of person that can have a box of Cheez-Its go stale in the cupboard or find a bag of peanut M&M's that have expired in your pantry.  

And fortunately through all of this I've managed to become super passionate about health and nutrition as well.  Thinking for so long that they were two completely related concepts but really they're quite different.  I'm glad my comfort eating led me to thinking nutrition was the answer because though I'm realizing that it isn't, I managed to gain an extreme love and passion for quality, real, whole foods in this process of self-discovery.  And that is truly invaluable!

Danika

Things That Have Been in My Mouth: Carrot and Broccoli "Spaghetti" with Meat Sauce and Sweet Potato Fries

Danika Brysha

Get your mind out of the gutter.

So I just made something for dinner and my mouth/body fell in love to the point that I felt almost sinful not sharing the recipe with you guys immediately.  Like, I want you to eat this for dinner.  And cover your body in it.  Or maybe I was just really hungry and it wasn't that good but there's really only one way to tell.

This is technically my first recipe post but as many of you know via my Instagram FoodFlashMob (@danikabrysha) I've been cooking up a storm since I began my journey to health a few months ago.  I've been wanting to share recipes with you and so let's cheers our tea and ice waters to the start of something awesome.

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Now, just a few notes.  I mainly shop at Trader Joe's because I like my money, so most of the ingredients I use are from there.  Also, I don't measure anything... because who has time for that?  Really I just don't have a dishwasher in my NY studio apartment that I pay way too much for, and this gal is not about to wash an extra tablespoon for nuthin'.  So if you have more specific questions, please don't hesitate to ask in the comments and I will not hesitate to answer you.  Unless I'm really busy.  Like on Pinterest or refreshing my Instagram feed or something. I also keep a lint roller close by the stove at all times. I just feel safer that way.

Everything I eat is free of dairy, grains, added sugars, additives and hormones, legumes, and all that junk that holds us back from functioning at our optimum level. And our goal here in my cyber universe is to help you be your best self ever as I continue my journey to be mine.  I try to buy all organic as far as produce goes but it definitely isn't the end of the world if not.  For meats, I make sure they are free of hormones, humanely raised, and fed proper feed.  For beef, that means organic and grass fed.  Cows are so stuck up.

I didn't plan on writing a blog on this but when my mouth felt that warm, salty, meaty explosion I sprinted (ok, I didn't sprint) to my computer to shout on mountaintops.  Enough banter, more beef.

Grass-Fed Meat Sauce (Makes about 3-4 Servings: awesome left-over with just about anything expect probably fruit...)

1 Package (1lb) Organic Grass-Fed Ground Beef from TJ's

Extra Virgin Olive Oil- If I had to guess I'd say 2 tablespoons)

3/4 red onion chopped

4 mushrooms (I think they're button, whatever that means) chopped

5 cloves of garlic chopped finely

10 cherry tomatoes- halved lengthwise

1 green bell pepper chopped

1/2 can (3oz) of TJ's organic Tomato Paste (comes in a 6oz can)

Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Oregano, Basil, and lots of Red Chili Flakes if you like to spice things up

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Organic Carrot and Broccoli Spaghetti (Makes about 2 servings)

One bag of TJ's Organic Broccoli and Carrot Slaw

1 tbsp Coconut oil

Salt and Pepper to Taste

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Organic Sweet Potato Fries (Makes 2 servings)

2 small to medium organic sweet potatoes

1-2 tablespoons coconut oil

Salt and Pepper to Taste- (cinnamon and unsweetened shredded coconut are great additions too)

Sweet Potato Fries: Preheat the oven to 400.  Chop sweet potatoes in half length wise and cut into skinny fries.  Toss with melted coconut oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until some of the fry ends turn black. I like them crunchy. And this is my blog so thats how you're eating them.

Meat Sauce: In a large pan, sauté (fancy for "mix with plastic spatula I got at Target for $1") olive oil, bell peppers, onion, garlic, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes on medium-high heat for about 4-5 minutes until soft-ish.  Add whole package of ground beef by breaking into pieces and then continuing to break with spatula.  Mix meat in will with veggies and oil. Add spices to your liking- I love salt and red chili flakes so I went heavy on those but about 1-2 teaspoons of most of the spices should do. Cook until browned and add half a can of tomato paste and mix in well.  Let meat sauce simmer on low heat for however long it takes to get everything else ready- anywhere from 8-20 minutes is great.  Clearly this is a very serious recipe.

"Noodles": In another large pan, heat coconut oil and add full bag of carrot and broccoli slaw.  Mix with coconut oil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Saute for about 5 minutes until soft and noodley where you're like "woah, are those noodles or vegetables?... I guess I'll never know".

That's it! I'm not going to tell you how to arrange this on your plate because I like to believe that the people I surround myself with, i.e. you, know how to do such a thing.  If you don't, maybe send me a private message.  We'll have more to talk about than food aesthetics.

And Voila!  A delicious Paleo, Whole-30 Approved, fancy looking meal that won't have you heading to bed or the toilet immediately after.

Let me know if you'd like to see more recipes or if you made this one and what you thought of it!

I love you.

Danika

Health Challenge: Cutting Out Processed Foods… without obsessing

Danika Brysha

I had the privilege of interviewing health and wellness expert, Chelsea Hise-Strate, of Life Balance by Chelsea.  She is like my own personal Dr. Oz.  Except not really anything like that.  I recently decided that I want to do whatever it takes to live my best life ever and that it was time to start questioning almost every behavior that I have.  I told Chelsea this and she decided to give me a personal challenge.  The challenge was to not eat any processed foods for one week and to keep a food journal documenting what I ate, when I ate it, and how I was feeling.  Chelsea sent me over a cheat sheet and some info for my first day of the challenge which you can see here.  Check out the video to see how the challenge went.  Spoiler alert:  I’m addicted to clean eating!

And if you missed the original interview, you can see it here

There you have it.  I’ve been sucked in to the healthy living lifestyle and I don’t see myself leaving it any time soon.  I love that feeling when something just clicks and you know you are on to something.  I knew I could do the challenge but I had no idea just how much it would change my body and ultimately my life.  If I feel this great after a week of eating like this then I can’t imagine how I’ll be feeling in a few months or even years.  I’ve always had some acne and it has been clearing up like crazy.  My energy and positivity is through the roof and I have had multiple friends comment on the physical change they see in me, specifically in the brightness of my eyes!  I sound like a total hippy granola lover right now (raw, organic granola that is).  And I’m ok with that.

If you’re interested in seeing what I ate over the course of the week and how I was feeling, click here.

Food has always been an issue for me.  As some of you know, I had a pretty severe eating disorder for about a decade of my life.  I spent all my energy being consumed with weight loss and food.  I have to admit that when I was given this challenge, I was a bit fearful.  Afraid that consuming my mind with food would plunge me back into the disordered mindset I had finally fought off.  Scared that putting so much energy into recording my every bite would flash me back to the years I spent counting every single calorie.  But after honest consideration, I decided that I am at a healthy enough place in my life that I could take on this challenge.  And I am more than grateful that I did.

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So much of my eating issues have been based around control.  I’m not sure if eating disorders ever fully go away but I can promise that they lose almost all of their power with each and every day that you commit to overcoming them.  Not only was I altering my diet and recording my every bite, I was continuing the ongoing process of learning to eat out of physical hunger rather than emotionally. I have to fight every day to not reach for comfort food any time I feel stressed, tired, overwhelmed, sad or bored.   Geneen Roth is an author who has changed my life and I highly recommend her books to anybody suffering from emotional eating or who feels like they are constantly in a battle with food and their body.

But with this challenge I found that I felt more in control than ever before.  I didn’t obsess over what I was eating- I chose to eat things because I started listening to my body and paying attention to what made it feel good.  I was able to recognize that I didn’t need to be perfect with this.  All that mattered was that I did my best.  I was more in tune with my body than every before.  Where I used to look for food as an escape from how I was feeling, I was finally able to get fully in touch with myself.  I felt like I could finally shift my thought process from seeing food as an evil, to recognizing how wonderful fresh nutrient-rich food could make me feel.

It is early to say this, but I’m fairly certain that this is the start of a lifetime of health, wellness, and self-appreciation.  I have no plans to be perfect but I have every intention of giving it my best shot.  This challenge has woken me up to how connected everything truly is.  Because I am feeling so great physically, my mind is clearer and I am happier.  I am infinitely more productive, driven, and present, and I have been spending my new excess of energy on trying to bring joy to all those that I come into contact with.

Have any of you experienced similar results from a change in your diet and lifestyle? I would love to hear your story of transformation and share it with other readers so we can continue to inspire people to live their best lives possible.

I will keep you guys posted on how this all progresses but as of now it has been two weeks since I started and I have no intention whatsoever to stop.  Thanks for supporting me in this journey and if you have any questions, comments, or feedback, I would absolutely love to hear it!

Check out Chelsea's website here: Life Balance by Chelsea