The EAT WELL, LIVE VIBRANTLY Spring Clean-Eating Challenge!

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Spring is in the air! I can feel the energy seeping into my bones. I have a pep in my step, there is sunshine for longer hours, the birds are chirping, and I feel the world start to come alive with possibilities again.

Spring is a great time for positive transitions. We feel energetic and open to new things and we have the energy to try them. Some folks in the health world consider spring a good time for a cleanse – re-booting the body and the diet, as it were, from heavier winter foods and preparing for the new lighter energies of spring.

I personally struggle with the idea of restrictive cleanses, like week-long or month-long juice fasts. They work wonders for some people, but for others, they might be too much and too hard on the mind/body. That said, I do love a good personal challenge (like no TV for a week, no food packaging for a month) and something in the universe called to me in recent weeks and said, Emily, it’s time for another challenge.

So I am proposing a food challenge that has a cleanse-like intent to it, but really comes down to this simple concept:

Super clean eating for all of April.

green juice2

In recent months I’ve been feeling tired, run-down, and kind of like crap. Yes, part of that is winter. God love it, but those early dark mornings really put the boots to my state of mind and energy reserves. So with spring on the horizon, and my little energy cups filling up again, I really want to see what happens in my life, energetically and physically, if I optimize my diet and focus on healing foods. This is a challenge that anybody could do – it’s not overly restrictive, there are lots of food options, and I’ll be posting recipes over the month that give you some guidance about what you can eat and how. Most of them will likely be about raw chocolate (going without store-bought dark chocolate will be my greatest feat!), but hey.

Overall, the way I’ll be eating for the month is anti-inflammatory and generous on the fruits, vegetables, nutrients, antioxidants, unprocessed foods, and healthy proteins front.

You’re all like, okay, great Emily – but let’s cut to the chase. What CAN’T I eat?

Here’s a summary:

What you CAN eat on the challenge:

  • Fruits (fresh; limit dried, no canned)
  • Vegetables (all)
  • Whole Grains & Healthy Complex Carbs (specifically and exclusively, quinoa, brown rice, and sweet potatoes)
  • Spices and Herbs (organic & unprocessed)
  • Healthy Proteins (organic tofu, organic tempeh, protein powder)
  • Natural Sweeteners (brown rice syrup, raw honey, stevia, blackstrap molasses, or maple syrup)
  • Healthy Condiments/Seasonings (ACV, wheat-free tamari, lime juice, lemon juice, cocoa powder, etc)
  • Nuts & Seeds (not peanuts)
  • Nut & Seeds Butters (almond, sunflower, hazelnut, pumpkin)
  • Healthy Fats & Oils (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, walnut oil)
  • Occasional Indulgences (quality dark chocolate)

What is NOT INCLUDED in the challenge:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Refined sugars
  • Refined grains/flours
  • Poor quality fats (vegetable oils, hydrogenated oils, rancid oils)
  • Processed foods (and with them, additives, preservatives, food dyes, etc – with the exception of packaged tofu, etc)

What else I’m throwing in to remain sane:

  • Cocoa Butter
  • Cashews
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Goji Berries
  • Gluten-free Crackers
  • Organic Peanut Butter

If there is something you need to include that you know will help you stick with it for the month, include it as an occasional indulgence. My birthday is in April and I know I want to make a raw dessert that will use cashews and dates. So I’m putting ’em on the list, goldarnit.

For my readers that consume animals products, there is space for fermented dairy, organic and pastured eggs, wild-caught fish, or organic and pastured meats. Check out this Healing Foods Shopping List from Dr. Josh Axe if you want more guidance on what types of animal products you should or shouldn’t include, as well as more details into the types of foods to consume during your clean eating challenge.

I used The Healing Foods Shopping List as my inspiration for the April Eat Well, Live Vibrantly Challenge and it’s great.

So let’s do this! My aim is to make a few tweaks here and there and see what my body can do when it’s being given only the best. I’m really excited about it, actually. And when you think about it, it shows you how simple healthy eating can be – organic, whole, real, natural, good quality foods. That’s it!

Now time to go cook up some homemade dark chocolate….

OTHER RESOURCES:

Some recipes to get you started! Plus, check out this post on reducing inflammation.

homemade chocolate with nuts, seeds, and goji berries

© Backyard Owl 2016

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