Going Natural Inside and Out

Is eliminating chemicals from your hair related to eliminating them from your diet? Don’t know for sure, but I suspect they are. Three months after I stopped eating sugar and products with added sugar, I decided to stop coloring my hair. Three months ago, I gave up coffee and Splenda. Except for naturally occurring sugar in foods, I have been sugar free since January 2008 – no ice cream, cake or cookies since then. It took my mind and body four months longer before I stopped craving them. Giving up Diet Pepsi and Coke was no hardship.

Going natural inside has had some real benefits. Eliminating almost all caffeine not only brightened my skin, I no longer have a persistent hip muscle pain — go figure! Switching from Splenda to stevia with the occasional agave syrup has helped balance my sweet tooth and I hope will balance out my metabolism. I drink natural sodas like Izze that are not sweetened with sugar, or make my own from Poland Springs fizzy water and purple carrot and pomegranate juice. I drink decaffeinated breakfast tea with the occasional cup of Harrogate’s Scottish Breakfast tea – the coffee of teas – thrown in. I sweeten my frozen tropical fruit smoothies with stevia.

My taste buds have certainly improved. I bought a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks recently that used to be a staple. It tasted bland, doughy and tasteless. And I know substitutions don’t work for me: tofu or TVP for meat; caffeine free coffee for the full test; sugar-free ice creams and cookies. Sugar-free in the American market means sugar alcohols, aspartame and sodium acesulfate.
My Everest is bread. I am addicted to Nashoba Brook Harvest, a high-priced, locally made sourdough studded with fresh apricots,figs, cranberries, pecans, walnuts and candied ginger. Alone,toasted with Olivio, in a sandwich—that bread is my crack.
And I love me some meat. I was vegetarian for more than 2 years until 2004 and frankly wonder how I stayed away from meat that long. Vegetarian eating was good for me; I lost between 35 and 40 pounds in a year. But the meat crept back.

My ultimate downfall was Thanksgiving. Keep in mind I’m not all that fond of turkey. But on that Thanksgiving I had the Tofurkey. (Try to not confuse this with the Turducken or you’ll be sorry). God knows what Tofurkey is, but I’ll tell you what it is not. It’s not meat, has no business trying to spoof meat and should be outlawed. Couple of days after Thanksgiving I’m in line at the Brazilian buffet, staring at the rows of grilling churrascaro, salivating at the smell and the drippings falling on the glowing charcoals. So much for vegetarianism. Cows and pigs – watch out! Anthony Bourdain is my hero now.
I now eat meat wholeheartedly and know from my experience that restrictive diets are a recipe for lapsing. People like me are rubber bands – stretch us too much and we snap back with a vengeance. So I gained back 15 of those dropped pounds. But I am happier and healthier too. I love me some meat.
I love the rotisserie pork and beef from the Brazilian buffet and all kinds of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan comfort food – stewed oxtails, Pernil, stewed chicken, rice and black beans. Chicken wings. Medium rare New York Strip steaks. But I actually prefer natural turkey bacon to the pork stuff.
And I also thoroughly enjoy meatless meals, even days — oatmeal with fruit for breakfast or the aforementioned frozen fruit smoothie; a pear, avocado, Havarti sandwich on harvest bread for lunch; fruit, yogurt and nut snacks;peanuts in the shell (I hate peanut butter); veggies and rice or an arepa for dinner. I still love vegetarian meals, and have enjoyed dining out with the Boston Vegetarian Society on some wonderful sample vegetarian meals.
Funny how things naturally balance out when you trust your body. And your hair.

Tropic of Smoothies – Soursop

Last night I stopped at El Oriental de Cuba in JP to pick up a Tamarindo Smoothie. Across the street is a Hi-Lo Supermarket. I needed harvarti cheese so I walked over there. No sign of havarti, because this is a tropical supermarket. They have Goya products you won’t find at your local Hannafords and — oh joy! — they have frozen unsweetened tropical fruit puree — Tamarindo, soursop, parcha (passionfruit) and more. I bought the soursoup, also known as guanabana.

I had my first soursop shake in Cruz Bay while on vacation in St. John, USVI and was immediately hooked. I would amble down to the town every day for a shake and a patty. These days I pay $3.00 for one but now — I can make them myself!! The puree, which makes 3 shakes is just $1.49. I use a modified recipe to substitute for sugar and milk. This was my breakfast shake:

Soursop Breakfast Smoothie

Makes one large shake:
– 1/3 package of frozen soursop puree
– 1/2 cup frozen strawberries (optional)
– 3/4 cup of almond milk (unsweetened)
– juice of 1/2 a lime
– scoop of whey protein powder (optional)
– liquid stevia (I like NuNaturals brand) to taste
– 2 or 3 ice cubes
– 1/2 cup of water
– 1 heaping tbs. of Benefiber (optional)

Blend thoroughly and enjoy. Here’s a more traditional Jamaican version:


  • 1 pound sour sop peeled, seeded & sliced
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 5 tablespoon sugar (add more or less to taste)
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1 squeezed lime (optional)

I see no reason why rum and more lime cannot be added for an evening libation.

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