Hello, from sunny California!!!
I am on a little road trip down in the Bay area. Well, to be a little more precise, I am really up in the Napa area – a bit inland, just North of San Francisco, where they grow an awful lot of grapes. No, I am not here to visit wineries and get sloshed for free. I am here to shoot things (typically things that do not breathe – think fences and flowers), get inspired, and get revived. It’s been a long and super-busy 6 months, and while I am certain that a week in Cali-forn-i-a won’t fix all of that, it will certainly help. On a whim, I flew down from Seattle instead of driving, and while I missed the long drive down, the air miles made for a compelling (read free) alternative. With any luck I’ll have some lovely images to share with you when I get back. While you’re waiting you could always peruse some previous trip images. I do love shooting in California.
Anyway, enough of California. Let’s talk about green tea!!! If you’ve been listening to the Smarter Science of Slim / The Calorie Myth Podcasts for any length of time, I bet you never imagined you’d *EVER* see a post from me with “Green Tea” anywhere in the title and I suspect you might be wondering what on earth has happened to me. I know, right? The unimaginable has happened, lovely people! It took 18 months, but I have finally succumbed to The Bailornator’s pleas to drink his favorite beverage, and I figured that HAD to be worth a blog post all of its own. In fact, I am so excited to be able to write this post I can barely stand it! I know there’s a lot of you out there who, like me, struggle with getting your green tea on.
The reputed health benefits of green tea abound. Everything from helping regulate glucose levels in the blood, reducing LDL cholesterol, being anti-viral and anti-bacterial, protecting brain cells, and reducing blood pressure, to reducing the signs of aging. Not to mention it’s reported ability to reduce tooth decay, kill cancer cells, help depression, and protect against clot formation. Green tea should pretty much come wrapped in a cape, not a bag.
But the reason that green tea got it’s very own principle in JB’s brilliant book, The Calorie Myth, is because of its unique fat-burning effect. Drinking water alone allows our bodies to burn fat far more effectively, but add polyphenol-packed green tea and you can supercharge that. Since I am not the scientist in this outfit, please feel free to take any insatiable quest for hard-core green tea knowledge to the web to get all the scientific studies and research you could ever want. I am just here to share some ideas on how to get your daily green tea fix, especially if you find it as distasteful as I do. Or maybe now I should say used to do.
Jonathan recommends drinking 10 bags of green tea per day to maximize all the benefits that green tea has to offer. Woah. That’s a lot of green tea. Except this is Jonathan Bailor we’re talking about, so of course there’s a way to do it smarter while still getting the same effect. The easiest way to do this is to brew all 10 bags (decaf if you prefer) in a small amount of hot water in one go, let it brew for a few minutes, then remove the bags and drink it. You can even add ice to make a cold drink if you prefer it that way over hot. See! 10 bags is easy peasy! IF you like drinking green tea. Ah. Yes. The big IF.
I hate the taste of green tea. I’ve tried to like it, so many times. I’ve forced it down anyway, so many times. No matter how hard I tried, I just hate the taste of green tea. And no matter how good something is for you – and boy is green tea good! – if you can’t stomach the taste, it’s really hard to get it down.
I know I am not alone in my distaste, so a couple of things you can do instead are to add other flavors to your green tea such as lemon juice (this also provides Vitamin C which makes the healthy compounds in green tea easier to absorb – winning!), or adding some sweetness in the form of xylitol or stevia. The other trick that avoids you having to drink it altogether is especially for you smoothie drinkers out there. Simply add the contents (the leaves themselves) of 3 or 4 bags of green tea into your Green Smoothie when you blend it. You won’t be able to taste the green tea but you’ll get all the benefits of drinking 10 bags worth. Hurrah!
But here’s my Big! Green! Tea! Discovery! that I made recently. Here’s the thing that made me love green tea. Yes! Love as in I-look-forward-to-my-green-tea-every-day-now. Peppermint. I love peppermint herbal tea, and a little while ago while I was musing on my green tea problem yet again, I found myself wondering what would happen if I brewed my peppermint tea with my green tea. Voila! A miracle occurred at the Brown house! I found that by brewing 4 bags of green tea with 1 or 2 bags of peppermint tea and a dash of xylitol in one large mug, I have a drink that I truly enjoy. My struggle with green tea is over. I make a couple of mugs of that a day and I’m all done. You might find a different ratio works better for you, or you might find an herbal tea other than peppermint that you love works better for your taste buds. Do whatever floats your boat, but if you struggle with drinking regular green tea, I urge you to give this a go. It transformed my green tea consumption overnight.
Green tea for President!
PS. You will retain more of the healthful properties of green tea if you use 175 degree water to make it rather than boiling water. Also, if you use too hot water you will “burn” the leaves and it will taste bitter. So you can either boil your water and then let it cool before you pour it on your leaves, or, if you have the same kettle as I do you can push the magic button that says “green tea” and get water at the perfect temperature. Once my water is the right temperature I steep the bags for only 2 minutes – I actually use a timer so I don’t leave them too long – because over-steeping can also result in bitterness.
Drink and enjoy!
On a side note I found that drinking all this peppermint green tea halted my desire for soda. My last bastion of pop consumption – Hansen’s Diet Black Cherry – has now left the building. Ding! That was easy.
Now I’ll get back to California. Toodle pip!
Sunday was a most spectacular day in my little corner of the world when Mr. McHenry wandered up the bed and perched on my chest, purring and squeaking “hello”, as is his want once he feels me stir in the mornings.
Through the window I could see a sparklingly clear, deep – almost cobalt – sky, the rooftops on the sunny side glistening in the sunshine, the heavy frost clinging stubbornly to the rooftops on the other. From my supine position under a big, fat duvet and a fluffy white cat, it looked like summer. While most of America has been in the grip of an arctic blast, we West coast dwellers have enjoyed an unseasonably dry, bright, and sunny winter, and I am not disappointed about that in the slightest. It’s true I am sad for the Eastern seaboard and the big flat bit in the middle, but I admit I am enjoying seeing the wintry sun shining up here in February.
Due to a little scheduling snafu involving family in Spokane – and I suspect a little thing called The Super Bowl – one of my breakfast buddies asked to be rearranged to another date for our Big Breakfast Adventure. I was a trifle disappointed since we had planned on eating my favorite breakfast of all time – Octopus Hash at Lola – but given that I’d still be able to get my octopus on next month, I quickly came up with a new escapade: a trip to my Happy Place – Café Presse on Capitol Hill – where I have eaten so many times I have lost count. It’s great food done right, and I suppose you could say I cheated a little, since I knew in advance exactly what I was going to order and exactly how *SANE it would be, so this was hardly an “adventure” in the true sense of the word; more of a homecoming. I hope you don’t mind.
This whole town was in a complete dither this weekend. The Seattle Seahawks made the championship and for the last two weeks it’s been fever-pitch around here. I almost cried when I saw the pictures of the thousands of fans lining the streets to send them off to New York for the Super Bowl last weekend. Seattle has been a city completely in love with their team, pulling together in a way it’s been awesome to experience. I love the exuberance and all-in-ness that is the Seahawks 12th Man. There was a 7000-person 12th Man “flag” created on the Microsoft playing field, the Space Needle was lit up in Seahawks colors, there was a sea of green-and-blue nails, cupcakes, and beer cans, and skittles at every turn. It almost made me wish I understood football and had a TV. Almost. I cheered them on in my heart and that’s what matters.
I pulled on some clean and comfy jeans, found some soft, thick socks, and picked out a green sweater. It wasn’t the right shade of green, but paired with blue denim it was as 12th Man as I could muster for the big game day. Go HAWKS!!!
As I strolled through Café Presse’s door I spied my favorite spot at the counter in the window, as if it was waiting just for me. I plonked myself down with a contented grin and exchanged “Isn’t it a beautiful day!” pleasantries with the lady two stools down, before she went back to her non-GMO shopping booklet and a large dish of baked eggs. A woman after my own heart.
Soon enough, along came a pot of peppermint tea, and as luck would have it, I was unsuccessful in trying to inhale the piping hot liquid into my right lung, but it was a close call. I sat with my face to the sun and thought about all the good things in life.
Shortly thereafter came *SANEity on two plates – no substitutions or alterations required! At Café Presse, if you choose wisely, there’s SANEity right there on the menu, staring at you and cooing softly. My only request was that they not bring the baguette with the baked eggs. Sometimes if the devil is right there in front of you it can be hard to ignore.
Have you ever seen such a splendid looking plate of lettuce? A fresh butter lettuce – oh how I love butter lettuce! – drizzled with hazelnut vinaigrette and a smattering of fresh hazelnuts. For breakfast? Yeah, baby! It was magnificent in its simplicity and outstanding in the taste department. I didn’t miss the piece of French bread in the slightest. My taste buds were far more interested in the softness of the lettuce, tang of vinegar, and the crunch of the nuts.
Then there were the Baked Eggs – two generous pieces of ham, two eggs and a thin layer of Gruyère cheese. I chowed down, filled up and washed it all down with two pots of peppermint tea and some water. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Kevin, the impossibly polite, purple-haired young man serving me, offered the dessert menu, and even knowing from my pre-SANE days how fine their French desserts are, I was – dare I say it – too full for dessert. JB – you are with me wherever I go!
After a glorious *SANE breakfast I headed over to Alki Beach to delight in the beauty of Seattle on a sunny day. I sat for a while and pondered all the things that I am so very grateful for. I soaked in the warmth of the sun through the glass of the sunroof and silently thanked the world at large for everything that I have – a sure way to continue the good feelings generated by my scrumptious breakfast feast.
Feeling good is important. Really important. It will help you in all areas of your life, including your journey to *SANEity.
Whatever makes you feel good – do more of that.
As I suspect most good – and by ‘good’ I mean mostly conscientious and consistent – bloggers do, I usually feel somewhat obligated to write some kind of New Year post. As luck would have it, this year – or maybe I mean last year? – in the wee, wee hours of New Years Eve my head exploded into a scream-inducing headache of migrainous proportions which required a trip to the local ER and several shots of sleep-inducing liquids which turned out to be quite lovely in comparison. The rest of New Years Eve went down in a stream of semi-consciousness that was only briefly interrupted by a bevy of fireworks and hip-hip-hooraying at midnight from my neighbors. When I awoke from my drug-laden slumber at some point on New Years Day, and stumbled down the stairs, all thoughts of welcoming 2014 in via my blog had been eradicated in a haze of painkillers.
But really, you know, that’s not a bad thing, because this whole sane lifestyle isn’t something that was designed to go on a list of resolutions that come out once a year and are forgotten about by February. No sirree! This is something to be embraced as an all-singing, all dancing way of life, because who doesn’t want to just live better – all year round?
So aside from the fact that it is now almost the end of January and New Years Resolutions would be a little ridiculous at this point, I decided instead to focus on just one word this year: EMBRACE.
Here’s a few things that would be great to embrace on your journey to health. Some will be easy to embrace, others not so much; we’re creatures of habit and change can be hard – even when the results are good. All change towards a saner life is all good.
- EMBRACE the real truth about all those calorie myths we’ve been slaves to for the past few decades. If you haven’t picked up a copy of Jonathan’s book, The Calorie Myth, yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. In it he lays out why so much of what we’ve been told about dieting and exercise has led us down all the wrong paths to all the places we didn’t want to go. This is your “why”.
- EMBRACE eating smarter. Grab the Eat Smarter! Smoothies and Sides, Eat Smarter! Soups, and Eat Smarter! Ice Creams cookbooks crammed with scrumptious recipes. These are your “how”. Between them they cover a basic sane day: smoothie for breakfast, soup for lunch, grilled protein and sides for dinner, ice cream for dessert – all the basics are covered to get you off on the right track. Why do I *really* want you to buy my cookbooks? The same reason as I wrote them: because they will help you reach your goals faster, easier, cheaper, and more deliciously. Smarter food can be super-delicious and you won’t feel in the lest deprived.
- EMBRACE more sleep. Great sleep is critical to great health. Hit the snooze instead of getting up to go run! If you’re not getting 7 hours a night you’re robbing yourself of health. Put sleep at the top of your to-do list every day!
- EMBRACE eating healthy fats. Healthy fats such as coconut, nuts, avocado, cocoa, eggs, fish, meat should be eaten in abundance to keep your brain and body functioning at it’s best. Fat does not make us fat, and in fact, healthy fats make us healthier and leaner. Embrace the good fats and eat your fill.
- EMBRACE veggies. Eating an abundance of non-starchy veggies really is one of the best things you can do for your health. One of the few things that everyone in the health profession and every lifestyle can agree on.
- EMBRACE exercising less. You don’t need to spend hours getting in shape every week. Exercising smarter allows you to get your body in shape with a fraction of the time. Think of all the other fun things you can do with that time!
- EMBRACE eating more. You don’t need to eat less food to maintain a healthy weight. Eat more of the right foods and you’ll be slim without ever being hungry.
- EMBRACE drinking water. If you don’t care for the taste of plain water (guilty!), drink herbal teas like peppermint, or add a splash of lemon or lime juice. Whatever you need to do to drink more water, just do it! Or, if water just does not do it for you, then a have a cookbook for that! Drink Smarter! Beverages will make getting hydrated more delicious and nutritious than you ever thought possible.
- EMBRACE green tea. If you don’t care for the taste of green tea (guilty!), add 4 teabags of leaves to your morning smoothie and get the same benefit.
- EMBRACE getting rid of your bathroom scale. You body scale does not serve you well as a measure of progress, and may encourage you to fall off the wagon when the number doesn’t go down, even when the results are clearly showing in other ways. Down with body scales! If you need to measure something measure your waist, your chest and your neck every week or two.
- EMBRACE non-scale victories. Tightening the belt buckle, wearing smaller clothes, feeling energetic, glowing skin, reduction in aches and pains, no bloated feeling – just a handful of the signs that your body is getting healthier. Look for the signs that your body is healing without caring about what it weighs!
- EMBRACE success. Be ready – mentally and emotionally – to enjoy the new you!
- EMBRACE community. Subscribe to this blog (in the left hand menu bar) to keep SANE content coming right to your door when you need support, or inspiration, tips and tricks, or a scrumptious new recipe to help you keep going in the right direction. Connect on Facebook to get some sanity in your newsfeed, and join the Carrie Brown Life in the Sane Lane Community to get ideas, share stories, and celebrate success with other people sharing similar health goals to you. Staying connected *REALLY* helps. Make use of these fabulous free resources!
What will you EMBRACE this year that will make the most positive difference to your life?
Yes, yes, I know. I expect for most of you 2013 is a rapidly fading memory already, but before it disappears entirely from view I wanted to share last years Top 10 most popular SANE recipes and Top 5 most popular non-recipe posts. I think it will be a good place to start for all you lovely new readers who have joined in the last few weeks since Jonathan’s book burst onto the New York Times Bestsellers List.
For me, 2013 was an interesting year: I changed day jobs twice and bosses thrice – not an approach I recommend although it certainly added some color, not to mention drama, to the proceedings; I travelled to California, Louisiana, Texas, and Georgia; JB and I reached over 2 million listeners on our Smarter Science of Slim Show; Mr. McHenry joined the Brown house; JB and I shot a two-day creativeLive Smarter Science of Slim workshop, and I published my first 3 SANE cookbooks. Phew. I was also diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder, but decided early on that I wasn’t going to let any silly old chemical imbalance take me down.
All things considered, it was a most fantastic year and a wildly exciting year and a most exhausting year all at the same time. Some of the very best bits of 2013 were brought about by you, and I thank you – hand on heart – for all your support and cheering and love and laughter that you add to my life. There were a few times when you totally pulled me through, and at the risk of sounding a little sappy, I heart you. 2013 would not have been half the year it was without you in it. Thank you.
It seems you lovely readers were all about breakfasts and snacks in 2013 – SANEity on the go was what you needed – if the Top 10 most popular recipe posts were anything to go by.
Green Smoothie – Strawberry Milkshake
Hot and Nutty Cereal
Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies
How To Cook A Pork Chop
Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Green Smoothie – Chocolate Raspberry
Cheesy Scones (Biscuits)
Cranberry Almond Protein Bars
Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Chocolate Yogurt Supreme
And then there were the most popular non-recipe posts of the year, which don’t have pretty pictures but do offer up oodles of tips and tricks on living a SANE life.
Top 10 SANE Recipes of 2012 – proof if any were needed that “Top 10” posts are well-read and useful!
Smarter Science of Slim / The Calorie Myth ——>> Start Here! – a great page to get you started if you’re new to what SANE means and how to do it.
What are those strange ingredients and where do I get them? – ah those strange ingredients. Soon you’ll be wondering how you ever cooked great food without them!
It Can Be One Hell Of A Struggle – a lot of you found this post resonated with your own or a loved one’s journey. Living SANE doesn’t exempt us from trials along the way!
8 Tricks That Make Being SANE At Home Easy – half the battle is won if your home is on your side.
What was your favorite SANE recipe of 2013? What tip helped you the most to stay SANE?
When I started this blog a month shy of 4 years ago, little did I know what it would one day become; we can all thank Mr. Bailor for the switch from it being the #2 food blog in Seattle for restaurant reviews – known as The Big Breakfast Adventure – to recipes and tips for living a SANE lifestyle. Much as I enjoyed creating my blog in it’s first iteration, it’s re-birth as a SANE recipe blog is my dream-come-true, my lifetime nirvana, my joy, and my passion. I’m tremendously thankful every day that I get to share my life and recipes on here with you.
Hand on heart though, I have missed my weekend breakfasting adventures to discover new eateries – and since breakfast is my favorite meal to eat out I thought it would be fun to get back to my roots a little and do a SANE version of the Big Breakfast Adventure given that the original Big Breakfast Adventure was entirely inSANE.
Some of you have struggled with eating out and staying SANE, so let’s see how well I can do at eating out around town. Join me as I scour Seattle for the SANEst breakfasts around. If you live in or are visiting this fabulous city you can use this as a guide to great places to get awesome SANE breakfasts and brunches – and sometimes the places to avoid *cough, cough*. If you don’t live here, I hope you will be inspired to start your own SANE Big Breakfast Adventure where you are, or you’ll get meal ideas to cook up at home, or at least feel inspired to keep on living a SANE life knowing that eating out needn’t be hard or have you falling off the wagon.
So let’s get this SANE Big Breakfast Adventure on the road!
It all started at 7:04 when I pulled up outside Alisen’s house and tooted my horn. Clad in some fantastic purple checkered pants she stumbled from her house, hopped in beside me, and we were off down the freeway like Thelma and Louise, careering towards North Ballard in a quest to find out just how SANE a start we could get to our Sunday. We elected to drive along the downtown waterfront instead of shooting up the freeway, got completely freaked out to discover that they have pedestrianized part of said waterfront, were relieved when the car-free-zone ended and we were able to get back on a road we knew, and headed over the 15th Avenue bridge gasping at the gorgeously sunshiny-but-misty views of Fisherman’s Wharf as we sped past. Eager to be first in line for the 8 am opening of The Fat Hen, we weren’t stopping for anything – not even cheap gas at Safeway. They couldn’t possibly raise the price in 2 hours; we figured we could fill up the car after we’d filled up ourselves.
We turned onto 70th and delighted in the vista of empty curbside parking before us. I didn’t even have to parallel park to get us situated. The benches outside The Fat Hen were gloriously empty, the lights were on, and it was just 8 minutes to the hour. We perched on one of the stained wooden benches and buried our hands deep in our pockets against the morning chill. A few minutes later the line started to form – usually a good sign of a great breakfast. The door swung open and we toddled forward, chose the table by the window and settled in, thrilled to discover that the window seat not only gave us light but also the heater. It’s the little things.
The peppermint tea was fast on it’s way to the table while we cooed over the simple whitewashed décor and cozy marble café tables. A neighborhood gem in the ambiance department if ever there was one.
We eyed up the menu and quickly decided what was what. Alisen went straight for one of the Egg Bakes while I plumped for the Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict. Oh, I know what you’re thinking, but just wait. When the chirpy server waltzed over to our table I asked if I could have my Benedict without the muffin. Without batting an eye she shot back, “How about some slices of avocado instead?” “That would be perfect!”, I swooned. “Oh, and salad instead of the potatoes, please.”
How SANE is this breakfast??!
And here is Alisen’s Egg Bake. Another skillet of SANEity.
By the time we departed, the place was full and the line snaked out the door. We left feeling like we’d stumbled upon one of Seattle’s best-kept breakfast secrets.
Replete and giddy from our Sunday brunch discovery, we meandered back to the car, headed south, stopped off for gas, and then drove to Golden Gardens where we sat in the car overlooking the Sound, with the heating on full-blast, and nattered like school girls on a sleep-over.
What an entirely fantastic start to a Sunday!
Whatever makes you feel good – do more of that.