(Soon to be) Queen of the Virgin Lifestyle


I really thought that I was eating healthy foods. Besides eating lots of vegetables, I eat egg whites, edamame, yogurt, and cottage cheese, low-calorie popcorn, peanuts, and whole grain breads on a daily basis. I crave these foods. That’s great, right? That’s what I thought until I read J.J. Virgin’s book, The Virgin Diet.http://thevirgindiet.com/ It’s possible that all of my healthy food has been all WRONG!
The Book:
Just the other day, I received Dr. Josh Axe’s newsletter. Dr. Axe is very well-known for his healing diet. Dr. Axe  I am a big believer in the effects of food. A few months ago, I cut out diet drinks and aspartame. As a result, my chronic joint pain ended. Completely! In Dr. Axe’s newsletter, he promoted the book, The Virgin Diet by J.J. Virgin. This diet is based on eliminating foods that cause food allergies. As I read the symptoms of food allergies, I realized that I suffer from joint pain, stuffy/runny nose, dark eye circles, fatigue, throat clearing, moodiness, and water retention. Those are only a few of the symptoms that food allergies or intolerance can present. The book listed the foods you should avoid to overcome these symptoms. Did you know that 80% of people have allergies or intolerance to certain foods? Food allergies cause inflammation in the body, which creates a plethora of serious problems, such as cancer and autoimmune disease. Food allergies cause water and fat retention, making weight loss nearly impossible. The worst part? We CRAVE the foods in which we are allergic. This book explains the science behind the allergies and reactions. Besides the book being easy to read, it includes recipes and testimonials. I was able to read the book in one night.

The Diet:
For three weeks, you must avoid seven foods:
Dairy (Yep, used to have an allergy to that!)
Eggs (Allergy for that, too!)
Gluten (Crave it!)
Corn (OMG, popcorn!)
Peanuts (I could eat tons!)
Soy (Heart breaking!)
Sugar/Artificial Sweeteners (except Stevia)

After three weeks of eliminating these foods from your diet (the detox period), you can add in one of the offending foods per week. If you note a reaction, you eliminate these foods completely. Forever!
Peanuts, corn, and sugar should be omitted completely for everyone. Peanuts and corn are GMOs and are horrible for your health. Sugar has lots of negative side effects for everyone. http://www.rheumatic.org/sugar.htm
This “diet” is really a change in lifestyle eating habits. Once you realize that you have an allergy, you must avoid the food long-term. Otherwise, the symptoms return. The diet promises to promote healing and energy, and to eliminate stubborn extra weight .

Since there are a lot of foods eliminated, cooking and dining out will be a challenge. You must read labels and be very informed about food preparation. Fortunately, the book promises that you will lose your cravings for the seven bad foods. I imagine as you get used to the diet, it will be easier to find substitutions and you will better know which foods to purchase.

My Reasons for Trying the Diet
Although this book promises that you can lose up to seven pounds in seven days, that’s not my reason for trying the diet. I, personally, would like to improve my overall health as well as lower my risk of disease. Also, I would like to reduce cravings for sugar, gluten, peanuts, and soy. More energy and younger looking skin would be a plus, too! Another think that I like about this diet is that I can still drink my wine after the three-week detox, as it has only naturally occurring sugar.


Follow me as I try this diet. Will it be a pass or fail?


Breaking Up with Ed


Ed hates me. I am good with that because I hate him more! I first met Ed when I was trying to diet. I was in an unhappy marriage and somehow thought that I’d feel better if I lost five pounds. I had tried losing the extra pounds and failed, feeling even more depressed than I had before. Quietly, Ed suggested that he had a diet that would work. I wasn’t interested at first. However, Ed convinced me that his plan would work. His advice? Eat three apples a day. If I did that for five days straight, then he would allow me to have a treat on the sixth day. I am a planner and this seemed like a plan that would work. I didn’t think that I would have the willpower to tackle such a restrictive diet, but with Ed’s constant encouragement it wasn’t as hard as I thought. However, the treat that Ed promised on the sixth day was more like an all-day eating fest in which I felt completely miserable and overwhelmed with guilt. Even after the binge day, I had lost weight for that week. Suddenly, I believed in Ed. Actually, I worshiped Ed.
I should have seen the signs that Ed was a control freak, but I was blinded by a temporary feeling of self-confidence because I was accomplishing my goal. Already, he knew me so well! I reached the five pound mark easily. Ed told me that I could do better. I could lose more. He began telling me that I was fat. Sometimes he would make me feel so ugly, that I couldn’t leave the house. I felt so confused. How could someone that had become my soul mate treat me so badly? Before long, he would not let me participate in any activities with my family or my friends. He wanted me home, alone with him. I had never met anyone more possessive. I tried, with great desire, to attend family meals and birthday parties. I tried to leave Ed behind. Uninvited, he would always appear. He’d whisper in my ear that everyone else was trying to make me fat. He caused me to become distrustful of everyone.
Finally, I became desperate to escape. As my health deteriorated, I knew that I was going to have to let him go, before he caused me to lose everything. The days that I was with Ed were the darkest days of my life. At 68 pounds, I just wanted that nightmare of a relationship to be over! As he attempt to keep my trust, Ed shared a secret with me. He said that he only reserved this secret for very special people. He invited me to become part of a unique club. In this club, people could eat whatever they wanted, as long as they got rid of all the food afterwards. It was a very scary idea, but Ed promised to keep me safe from harm. I had read about the harmful effects of bulimia, but Ed assured me that those horrible things could never happen to me. It wasn’t long before Ed was back in my good graces. He promised to let me spend time with my friends and family. He promised that I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I could live the perfect life. Ed’s promises were all lies. While my life was a little happier, I developed a new set of problems. Ed made me spend hours a day in the bathroom, while he laughed at me. Also, as soon as I ate, he shouted at me that I was a gluttonous pig. I couldn’t concentrate after I ate and felt desperate to rid myself of the food. And the worst part? I gained weight. Ed caused me to have an addiction that would unknowingly stay with me for twelve long years. When I discovered that I wasn’t going to be able to get rid of Ed myself, I began seeking therapy. Therapists promised to help and I spent thousands on doctors’ bills. As soon as I’d begin to feel as if I could leave him, he’d beg to me to stay. I’d always give in, thinking I’d stay with him just a little while longer. After I divorced, I felt that I should I date. Not a single relationship lasted. Ed demanded that I be alone with him only. He wanted my body, heart, and soul. He was so very jealous.
Eventually, while I was still with Ed, I met my future husband, Ashton.  When Ed tried to come between us, Ashton simply ignored Ed. Ashton wasn’t confrontational, and he wasn’t angry with Ed. Silently, Ashton made it clear to Ed that Ashton was going nowhere. As my relationship with Ashton became stronger, Ed became weaker. Ed even tried to ruin our wedding day. Once again he called me every horrible name in the book, but, for the first time ever, I completely ignored him. I wasn’t going to let him rob me of the most beautiful day of my life. After ignoring him once, I knew that I could ignore him again. I knew that I no longer needed Ed. Ed continued to be a third wheel in our relationship for four more years. However, his name-calling was becoming much weaker. Finally, I began to recognize Ed for the controlling monster that he was!
Today, Ed rears his ugly head once in a while. But for me, knowledge is my weapon. These days, I talk back to Ed. I call him ugly names. I fight with all the strength that I have. Eventually, with enough time between us, he will be a distant memory. Although he has won a few battles, he will NOT win the fight! Ed, Mr. Eating Disorder, you have made me a very strong woman! To any woman in my situation, be it an eating disorder or a bad relationship, fight for yourself. You are beautiful and you deserve better.  There is a better life waiting for you!

French Toast


photo 2

Lately, I have been craving pancakes. I tried the 2 ingredient pancake recipe that has been floating around the internet. It was a total FAIL! I had nightmares about it last night. Horrifying! This morning, I had an idea. French toast could easily be made lighter and I could still indulge in the sweet taste. It was simply fab! I will definitely make this again. Think of all of the topping possibilities. I can visualize it topped with homemade cooked apples in the fall, or fresh berries in the summer. You could adjust this recipe according to your caloric needs. Had I been making this for Ashton, I would have used whole eggs beaten with a little almond milk. I would have upped the quantity also. My calories are low because I eat so frequently throughout the day. Plus, I plan on splurging tonight on superbowl goodies!

The ingredients:

photo 1

Lite whole wheat bread ( Ideally, I would use a gluten-free bread)

3 Tablespoons of egg whites



Drizzle of sugar-free syrup


I put the egg whites on a small plate. Next, I soaked the bread in the egg whites on both sides. I placed the bread in the pan and cooked on medium heat for a couple of minutes on each side. I sprinkled with cinnamon and stevia and flipped it once more, melting the sugar. I drizzled it VERY LIGHTLY with syrup.

I added a little whipped cream and added an orange for vitamin C.

Can’t wait to try this one again!

Money Saving Soup


Can soup save you money? Absolutely! By not throwing away aging produce, you can concoct a wonderful mixture that you can freeze to eat later. Whenever I get sick of lunch salads, I often pull out a container of soup. Easy, peasy!

First, I cleaned out the fridge. Any produce that wasn’t perky was chopped and thrown into a big, shiny pot. I am very embarrassed to admit that I had a lot that could be thrown into the pot. For the past few days, my diet has consisted of snow cream and left over dips and finger foods from the first snow day. Not a single vegetable was eaten. You have to celebrate snow when it only comes once in five years!. We had a complete eating fest of junk for three days straight. Bad, bad, bad!photo (2)

The vegetables I used were zucchini, yellow peppers, and carrots (leftover from my non-eaten breakfast omelets). I also had part of a cabbage, diced tomatoes, limp kale. and black rice that were added to the mix. I debated on using the black rice, but since  I didn’t have brown, I decided to live on the edge. Black rice is full of antioxidants and it’s a good source of protein. That’s good, since I didn’t add meat.

photo (1)

 Last, I poured the box of chicken broth into the pot and added water to cover the vegetables. Before I added seasoning, I let it simmer for a couple of hours. Believe it or not, it only needed black pepper and salt. I didn’t have to add any other spices.


Conclusion: Yummmmmy!  The black rice did give it a darker color, but I did not find it objectionable. I am very open to trying new things. However, the true test is when I take it next door to my sick mother. She is the typical southern cook. Will she find it palatable, or will it be an epic fail?

Life and Snow


                 photo 2 - Copy (7)

What is it about snow that makes the memories flow? As I watched the snow fall, my mind traveled back to many years ago. It was a late March snow, and I was seven. I was so bundled, I could barely move my arms. My sister and I couldn’t wait to go outside. We shivered, not with cold, but with the excitement of the falling snowflakes. The sight of the snow was so magical and the world was a perfect place. We played for hours, throwing snowballs and making snow angels. We must have been so cold and wet, however, nothing mattered except being outside. The air was so clear and brisk. We only came inside long enough to dry our mittens and eat snow cream. As soon as we were warm, we would head out again, not wanting to miss a moment of fun. I remember the sadness that came with nightfall as I watched the last bits of daylight glistening on the snowy surfaces. How I wanted to snow to stay forever. Tired from the day’s activities, I’d happily drift into sleep underneath a mountain of cozy blankets, remembering the perfect day. Life was so simple.

photo 1 - Copy (7)

I remember another snowy day, much different from the one before. I was thirty-one and struggling through a painful divorce. As I woke one morning, I realized that I was surrounded by a sea of white. I sat in my all white bed, in my all white bedroom. Outside my window, there was nothing except the white snow. I had never seen anything more peaceful or more beautiful. Suddenly, I felt as if my whole life had been wrapped in a blanket of white. A fresh canvas. Freedom. Acceptance. I knew that as the fresh new snow laid outside, I had started a fresh new life of my own. Instead of playing outside, as I had years ago, I spent the day sipping hot chocolate, reflecting on my life; where I had been and what the future was to hold. On that snowy day, I made peace with my past and found an appreciation for myself, as an adult. Although the snow melted, that day stayed with me.

With this past snow, I spent a joyous day with my family, playing outside with my precious nieces and nephew, I felt young again. Catching my reflection in the mirror, I was saddened for a moment as I saw the wrinkles in my skin and felt the aches that were now in my joints. How is it possible that time could pass so quickly? However, the sadness faded as quickly as it came. I felt a rush of joy and thankfulness because not only was I able to enjoy the snow as a child, I was able to appreciate the opportunity it brought to bring closeness to my family. As an adult, I felt a tremendous gratitude for nature, life, and God. I have been through so many different phases in my life. Every experience has made me the person that I am today. The lesson? Enjoy life with the enthusiasm and excitement of a child and appreciate life and experiences as an adult. Life is very much like the snow. It is magical and glorious, but it doesn’t last forever. Make many memories, take lots of photographs, and savor every moment. The snow, as are our lives, are truly gifts from God.



GOODBYE, Five Pounds!


Goodbye, Five Pounds!


I am excited to announce that Ashton has lost five pounds! According to Ashton, it has been very easy. Especially considering that he started the diet on the weekend. Weekends have always been challenging because the temptation to overindulge is always near. I have posted some of Ashton’s meals from the past few days. After the first day, we did change his meal plan. We divided his calories to include a mid morning snack. Actually, he had a difficult time eating enough calories because he wasn’t hungry. Instead of skipping meals, he was eating constantly! Ashton did make the mistake of not eating a protein breakfast before working out at the gym. When he got home, he was very light headed and shaky. Lesson learned! Also, his heart rate was entirely too high when he was working out. This can be dangerous. Especially since he hasn’t work out in a while. This was the one time I didn’t go with him. This is what happens when he is not under QueenJarrell’s strict supervision!

Ashton’s Revised Calorie Plan:

Breakfast: 300

Mid Morning Snack:200

Lunch: 500

Afternoon Snack: 200

Dinner: 600

Snack: 150


Ashton’s Breakfast (He hasn’t been very adventurous, yet!) For breakfast each morning, Ashton ate a packet of oatmeal, which hopefully, will help to lower his cholesterol. He also ate 1 tablespoon of peanut butter on a rice cake. Rice cakes are a great substitute for toast when trying to cut out flour. Ashton also included a banana. (Hooray, he ate fruit!)


Ashton’s Midmorning Snack  Ashton ate 1/4 cup of all natural almonds. This was a great choice for an on-the-road snack, as it didn’t wind up on his shirt! On the mornings he was home, he made a green juice with fruits and vegetables. He said that it was horrible, but kudos to him for trying!


Ashton’s Lunch (Yuck, that’s all I can say about that!) Ashton, the man who hates fish, actually likes canned tuna. That’s a good thing because I recently read that fish should be incorporated into your diet four times a week. To make his tuna salad, he mixed one can of tuna with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil mayo, a little chopped onion, jalapenos, sea salt, and cracked pepper. His calorie content was actually lower than was needed. He decided that he could add a boiled egg as well as eating his tuna on whole grain bread. He could also add a small orange.


Ashton’s Afternoon Snack  Because we were heading to the gym, Ashton needed fuel. He made a protein shake with a scoop of protein powder and 12 ounces of unsweetened almond milk. He also purchased a cool mixing cup! He really enjoyed the shake. We plan to experiment with adding different fruits once we purchase the vanilla flavor.


Ashton’s Dinner  For dinner each night, Ashton aims for about 8 ounces of meat and two cups of vegetables. Once he has lost weight, we can add a healthy carb, such as quinoa, a potato, or a whole grain pasta. 

Ashton’s Nighttime Snack (Going to bed on an empty or too full stomach causes disturbance in sleep!) Because Ashton doesn’t tolerate dairy well, we will only try to add a serving per day. He is enjoying the flavored greek yogurt!

As the week continues, we will make a better effort to post pictures of his nightly meals(before we get too excited and eat them), as well as new menu items. Please stay posted!

Ashton’s Dieting Adventure with QueenJarrell




This is Ashton, my sweet and wonderful  husband of five years. He is on a diet. Although I love his charming self at any weight, we know that carrying excess weight around your middle section is not heart healthy. Of course, I have delegated myself as Queen Cheerleader and Queen Diet Planner. I would love to go back to school to become a nutrition counselor, however, the thought of getting another four year degree does NOT appeal to me! With that said, I am going to designate Ashton as my guinea pig.  I plan to use all of the nutrition knowledge that I’ve been storing in my head. The key to a successful diet is planning. As I have said before, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail! If Ashton will trust me, this just might work! Here we go……..

Step 1: Make a list of your long term goals.

Ashton’s Goals:

Loose 40 pounds before summer

 More endurance for exercise

Less Meds (and an empty drawer!)



 Develop a taste for vegetables (Seriously, I could chase him around the house with a piece of broccoli!)

Make healthier choices by limiting sugar, gluten, and white starches (Who really wants to eat paste?)

Maintain a healthy weight without restricting and without the use of diet supplements


Step 2: The Plan

First, we had to figure out how many calories Ashton needed for his daily intake. www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator is the calorie calculator I used to figure out his caloric needs. Once we start working out, we may find that he needs to increase his calories.


 I divided the calories to ensure that they are equally distributed. He is to wait no longer than four hours between meals.

Breakfast-500 calories

Lunch-500 calories

Snack-300 calories

Dinner-500 calories

Snack-200 calories

After we allotted the calories, we made a list of options for each category. We tried to find things that he can easily eat on the road or when he is at auctions. Our focus is staying within the calorie range and making healthier choices. Later, we can fine-tune his eating.

There two helpful apps that I use regularly to track my nutrition. MyFitnessPal is one that I use everyday. Another is CalorieKing, as it is great for helping to choose healthy food options.

Also, we will make a weekly plan so that we can buy the appropriate groceries. This will also take the guess work out of planning dinner. WooHoo!  We will aim for 180 minutes of cardio exercise. Any cardio counts! *wink*Image


What is Ashton’s reward for losing the first 20 pounds? I will buy him one of the French cuff shirts with monogramming that he loves so much. A goal accomplished always deserves rewards! Even my art students would agree!

Now, with the planning done, we can sit back, relax, and let our plan do all of the work for him! Stay tuned as we post meals, as well as obstacles that he might encounter along his weigh loss journey!