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Have you ever tried a cleanse? The Master — drink spicy, syrupy, lemon water only — Cleanse? The goopy avocado shake cleanse? Or perhaps a strictly juice cleanse?

I have… I’ve tried many a cleanse and I’ve never lasted on any of them. I can’t get through the day with just water and some vegetables in my system — no way. And if you think drinking spicy lemonade is the path to resolving your problems, you’re just…………. well, I don’t have to say it.

So, when one of my favorite yoga instructors let me in on her annual Spring Cleanse (that actually allows you to eat, you know, like, food) I decided THIS WAS IT. This was my cleanse, and I was finally going to do it!

The main point of this cleanse is to cut out harmful substances, cleanse yourself of toxins, and replace all that crud with mainly raw, whole, organic goodness. The first three days were the toughest for me, but by Day 4 I was used to my new routine, my hunger had subsided, and I was feeling completely in tune with my body. I felt strong and focused (although I will admit to needing an afternoon cat nap, which is probably better than my usual 4pm dose of caffeine).

What you’ll need:

Willpower

A really big bottle of water to carry around with you at all times

A vegetable juicer (or a reliable juice bar that uses fresh, organic, whole ingredients)

An assortment of tasty black teas (to convince yourself that cutting out coffee and alcohol isn’t so bad)

Raw and unsalted nuts (for snacking)

Organic fruits & vegetables (for snacking and juicing). These include, but are not limited to: 

Carrots

Beets

Bell Peppers

Apples

Ginger Root

Spinach

Romaine Lettuce

Cucumbers

Celery

Parsley

Kale

Bananas

Avocado

Mango

Berries

Oranges

Here’s the deal: for 7 days you will not consume alcohol, dairy, grains, refined sugar, or coffee. Instead, for breakfast you will have a big juice, for lunch you will have a green juice, and for dinner you will have veggies with an organic protein of your choice. In between meals you will drink TONS of water and snack on nuts, fruits, and vegetables. You can also allow yourself 2 cups of black tea a day with almond milk (I added a tbsp of organic agave as well).

Here are 3 of my favorite morning juice recipes (play around with them and see what you like best):

3 carrots

1/2 – 1 apple

1-2 inches ginger root

OR

3 carrots

1 beet

1-2 inches ginger root

OR

3 carrots

1/2 yellow bell pepper

1/2 cucumber

2 handfuls spinach

1-2 inches ginger root

For whatever reason I don’t enjoy parsley or celery in my juices, so here is a recipe for my favorite green juice:

3-4 leaves kale

2 handfuls spinach

1/2 cucumber

2-3 leaves romaine

1/2 green apple

My dinners were simple, organic and as local as possible — an asparagus and beet greens frittata made with fresh eggs from a farm 30 miles away, organic chicken with a medley of flavorful veggies and herbs picked straight from my garden, thinly sliced radishes dressed up with micro greens, tomatoes and really good olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar.

I can’t say I was all that deprived. I felt fantastic filling my body with so many vitamins, minerals and nutrients without ever opening a package, scooping out a powdery replacement, or popping any pills. And getting past the no coffee or alcohol bit wasn’t too bad either — organic loose leaf chai, early grey, and ceylon black tea with mango were in constant rotation.

Now that I’m through with the cleanse I am still avoiding dairy, eating very few grains, small portions of meat, having only 1 cup of coffee a day, and I often forgo alcohol for a nice cup of tea sweetened with agave.

If it comes in a package full of processed ingredients I kick it to the curb. If my body is craving something, like a burger, I eat it. If I’m tired by 9:30 pm, I go to bed early. I’m listening to my body, because apparently it’s had something to say all this time.

Now the question is: What’s your body saying? I bet it would thank you if you’d just take the time to listen…

Farm Life

Take a chance. Take a road trip with a nearly stranger. Take too much candy and plenty of music. Take a pit stop through Augusta, GA — have an espresso, sit in the sun, stroll down by the river, spend an hour in a used book store reciting poetry and falling in love with the yellow smell of old weathered pages.

Arrive on a farm in the middle of Georgia. Catch up with an old friend. Make a few new friends while you’re at it. Drink a lot of wine, let the road roll off of your shoulders. Sit quietly with a bowl of pasta. Let your full belly lull you towards sleepiness. Fall asleep before your head hits the pillow.

Wake up to rooster calls, fresh eggs that need gathering, plants that need watering, hot espresso that needs sugaring, and toast that needs buttering. Sync your pace with the rhythm of farm life. Lose track of time. Feel like you are exactly where you belong.

Make lunch with freshly picked greens and a handful of those just laid eggs. Sit down, eat, chat, savor, rest. When the hottest part of the day has passed and the mud on your boots has begun to crust and flake off, return to the fields until your arms and back are spent and it’s time for another meal.

Open a bottle of wine, thinly slice some radishes, mash fresh marjoram into soft, salty butter. Toast a baguette and cut it into thick crostini. Layer each slice with marjoram butter, radishes, sea salt, cracked black pepper, and a few drops of olive oil. Crunch on that while the lamb stew bubbles on the stove and the bottle of Slovenian Cabernet opens up a bit.

Sit out on the porch and recount your day with your new farmer friends. Have a smoke, ok have two — relax, dinner is almost ready.

At midnight when the last drop of wine is emptied from the last bottle and your eyelids can hardly remain open any longer, grab a flashlight and head down a gravel path, through the greenhouse, past the chicken coop, and around the anthills with your hand tucked warmly into the hand of someone who is no longer such a stranger.

Climb into bed and hurry to sleep — another day on the farm awaits you.

A light rain is coming down on the tin roof overhead. The pitter patter wills me to sleep… or is it the full effect of a big, long lunch setting in?

I’m in the middle of Georgia, about 30 miles west of Atlanta, visiting a dear friend who is currently working on the Glover Family Farm. Life is slower here, and more rewarding. I’ve pulled the wool of mother nature’s blanket over my eyes and now all I can see is green. Beautiful, fertile, bountiful green.

When farming is your life, I’m sure the days run together and the chores lose their novelty, but as an amateur farmer — and a temporary one at that — I am enjoying the day-to-day tasks as they take me far away from my city life and the rhythm of the farm turns down my inner chitchat. I like this pace, I could be comfortable here for awhile…

I awoke to the sound of Umberto, the rooster, welcoming the coming of a new day. Birds chirped their hellos to the blue sky as the scent of strong dark coffee slid under the crack beneath my bedroom door and floated across my pillow. And so my first day on the farm began.

Sweetened espresso in a mason jar, a few scattered clouds, the assignment of daily chores — water the seedlings in the greenhouse, feed the chickens, collect their eggs, wash them one-by-one, harvest greens for lunch, pluck a few carrots out of the soil, visit with the dogs, pat the horse on the nose — all in a day’s work.

Feeding the hens at Glover Family Farm. My dear friend Brittany shows me how it’s done.

While my hosts set about weeding, transplanting tomato plants, and pulling up old crop, I started on lunch. I had to get my hands on some of those fresh eggs, and with bacon, parmigiano-reggiano, and spaghetti at my disposal, lunch practically made itself.

Pasta alla Carbonara is a classic Italian dish, although it varies from region to region. Some people add cream, some don’t use the egg whites, just the yolks, some folks can’t have it without onions. I was taught the “right way” to make carbonara by my Venetian cousin, Giulio. It was a serious business, but the truth is, Carbonara is so dang easy to make!

Today I punched it up a notch with onions, parsley and lemon zest. I even sprinkled a little crushed red pepper over my finished dish — I’d be lying if I told you I wouldn’t make it this way again. And again. And again. Hopefully Giulio will forgive me.

Carbonara will fix your soul. Kind of like a road trip or a week long stay on a farm in the middle of Georgia.

Pasta alla Carbonara

1 lb spaghetti

4 eggs

1/2 onion, chopped

4 strips of bacon

1 cup parmigiano-reggiano, grated

salt & pepper (heavy on the pepper)

parsley, roughly chopped

lemon zest (to taste)

crushed red pepper

Fill a large pot with water. Set on stove covered on high.

Chop onion and bacon. In a medium saute pan, cook bacon on high until some fat renders. Add onions, turn heat down to medium, and cook until translucent.

In a bowl, crack 4 eggs. Add 1 cup of grated parmigiano-reggiano, salt to taste, and 1 tbsp of cracked black pepper. Add 1 tbsp of water and whisk the egg mixture together until creamy and smooth. Set aside.

Remove bacon and onions from heat. Set aside.

When water is boiling, add 1 tbsp of salt and put the spaghetti directly in. Cook until al dente — about 7 minutes.

In a large bowl, add a ladle of pasta water. Drain the pasta and add to the bowl. Pour bacon and onions in as well.

With a wooden spoon, pour the egg mixture on top of the hot pasta, stirring the whole time so as not to cook the eggs — rather than scrambled eggs, you will achieve a creamy sauce.

Sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest, and just a pinch of crushed red pepper.

Serves 4-5

Buy some seeds and a tray of peat moss like this one right here — it comes with a nifty greenhouse top.

Pour some warm water over the peat moss pellets and watch them expand. You’d be surprised at how much water they can hold. They’re good to go at 1 to 1 1/2 inches tall.

A dear friend gave me all of these heirloom seeds — I can’t wait for my first crop!

When all the water has been absorbed, peel away the netting from the top of the pellets and fluff the peat moss. I used a small fork to break up the soil and level it out.

Stay organized — I color-coded my peat moss tray so I can be sure that my cilantro is cilantro when it starts sprouting.

My trick — nail polish — kinda girly, I know.

Purple jalapeno seeds — aww yea!

Tri-color bell pepper seeds!

Place 2-3 seeds in each pod and cover them lightly with peat moss.

Boston lettuce getting tucked into the soil.

When you’ve finished sowing your seeds, place the greenhouse top on the tray.

I placed my garden plan on top of my mini greenhouse to be sure I know what’s what.

A friend and fellow gardener suggested I mix my basil seeds and plant them all together so they’ll grow in a wild medley… I took his advice. My pesto will pack a punch this year!

For now, my greenhouse will live on top of my fridge, out of direct sunlight. When the seeds start sprouting, I’ll prop the lid open.

When the sprouts start developing leaves, I’ll pick the strongest seedling in each pod and remove the others. That strong little seedling will eventually be introduced to the light of day — I’ll leave the tray outside during the day, and bring it in at night.

After a few days, I’ll transplant the seedlings into the soil and/or pots to place on my front porch.

There is really nothing more satisfying than opening your front door and picking your produce and herbs for a home cooked meal.

Unless, of course, you have a glass of wine in hand, and some dear friends inside helping with supper… that’s my idea of happiness right there.

Happy gardening folks!

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When I come home from the store with a dozen fresh, hormone-free, cage-free, organic, big brown eggs, the very first thing I do is poach them. Two to be precise.

Then I put them on toast, or a few thick slices of a juicy tomato with sea salt and fresh pepper, or perched on top of a crisp leafy salad.

Textures — I like them.

Runny yolks — I love them.

Runny whites — I hate them. I just got the chills thinking about them.
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