Ready, Set, LONG Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Well, it's been a while but I'm back into the swing of things again. My friends at DK Publishing sent me another stellar book to review and let me just say, I have a "gut" feeling you are going to LOVE it. Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun and there's more to come.

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So what is the Healthy Gut Cookbookall about? It's a compilation of recipes and advice designed to help alleviate leaky gut syndrome and other digestive problems that can result in physical and physiological ailments. Just to clarify the term leaky gut, it's not like a leaky faucet, which I keep picturing in my mind. No need to call a plumber, you can fix this by changing your diet and repairing your very long and winding digestive tract.

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There are over 150 "good for the gut" recipes that prove that your meals don't have to be bland and boring.

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With a very interesting concept of "healing in stages", this book lays out the foundation with 6 stages of gradually adding GOOD foods into your daily routine, ending with the "full diet" once you have completed the healing process. Stating that you must follow these steps very strictly, each stage has recipes that will not disappoint your palate.

I read this book cover to cover and found that the diet is very similar to the one I've been on for the past 3 months. With the Healthy Gut Cookbook, I have finally found some wonderfully delicious recipes to try rather than having to figure out what to do with a sweet potato and brown rice.

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This salad in particular caught my eye. A hearty mixture of kale and other good for you ingredients all melded together in one eye pleasing dish.

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I mixed up the recipe a bit to make it my own signature salad with the addition of avocado, goat cheese and topped it with a phenomenal coconut avocado yogurt dressing. Total yumminess and yes I threw some flowers into the mix for these photos because, well, I hadn't killed them yet so why not?

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There is certainly nothing wrong with working towards a healthy lifestyle and clean eating. To be honest, I fell off the wagon a few times over the past week because it was my birthday and there was CAKE. Lots of cake in fact. So much cake that I actually don't want to look at cake again for a while. Don't get me wrong. It was so sinfully good but not the best thing to do to my body since I started this pristine diet. Think of it like wearing freshly laundered white pants then rolling in the mud. Uh ya.

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What amazes me is this - I had a great time stuffing my face with processed flour, refined sugar and lots of fondant roses BUT boy did I ever have a "gut" reaction to all that crap inside my body. I had visions that I turned into Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

You know what they say? You are what you eat. In my case, I was a giant white slab cake and I paid the price for it.

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NO guts? No glory. You need guts to try to change your lifestyle but I found that following this regimen wasn't so gut wrenching.

Thanks for letting my spill my guts out to you today. I'm done.

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Calming Kale & Spinach Salad -8 cups spinach or kale -1 green apple, sliced -1 cucumber, finely chopped -2 avocados, pitted, sliced (or made into a rose if you dare) -1 cup pecan halves -1 cup green grapes, sliced -4 - 6 oz crumbled goat cheese -coconut chips for garnish - optional

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Coconut Avocado Yogurt Dressing -1/2 cup coconut yogurt -1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt -1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice -Zest of 1 lemon -1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley or dill -2 tablespoons avocado oil -Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

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Plate all salad ingredients on a large platter or in a bowl. Using a blender or whisk, mix together all ingredients for dressing. Drizzle over salad, toss and garnish with coconut chips if desired.

See ya next week!