Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Tale of Tastebuds - Advice for New Vegans, Seasoned Vegans, and the Vegan Curious...

Since going vegetarian, and then vegan I’ve witnessed many different changes, both physically and mentally within my body. There are of course the standard things you might expect - weight loss, increased energy, improved mood, better digestion, etc. - but the one thing that never occurred to me to consider is the one thing that never, ever fails to amaze me - even now after nearly 3 years of veganism - and that’s the changes that took place within my tastebuds, and my those of my ever-developing palate.

The two most common reasons omnivores always give me for why they could never go vegan are these. 1) I could never give up - insert animal flesh or by-product here - because I’d miss it too much. And 2) I could never go vegan because I don’t like - insert nuts, beans, tofu, tempeh, or assorted vegetable here. These are the two most common reasons people give me personally when I’m engaged in conversations about veganism, and to be honest I think they’re both pretty silly reasons. After all, people - most people - don’t go vegan because they don’t like the taste of animal-flesh or animal by-products. People go vegan for their health, for the animals, for the environment, and when you go vegan for these reasons it becomes a part of your ideology. If it’s something you truly want, then you make it happen, end of story, and overtime you forget that you ever liked this product or that product and you realize that yes, you really can live without meat, or cheese, and wow it’s actually super easy. We vegans know this well enough and I think a lot of omnivores know it too even if they’re not ready to admit it, but it isn’t this that I want to really talk about. What I really wanted to address today was the second reason that people give for not being able to go vegan. The “I don’t like this/that” reason. I think most people have some sort of preconceived notions about one type of food or another. Sometimes it’s based on a childhood experience, or a really bad meal they had once, sometimes it's reinforced by the media, and sometimes it’s based on nothing at all.

But let’s take a step back for a moment. Close your eyes, and think back to your childhood. Did your mom or dad ever cook something that you didn’t particularly like? I’m sure they did, after all it’s pretty universal, but did they ever tell you that when you grew up your tastebuds would change? Well my Mom sure did, and you know, she was right. Over the years growing out of childhood and into adulthood as an omnivore my tastebuds changed here and there, and my preferences for certain foods shifted. Not a lot, but noticeably, slowly I became a more adventurous eater. When I went vegan however my tastebuds, flavor preferences and food preferences all shifted monumentally. Of course it didn’t happen all at once, it took time, perhaps it was a gradual shift that took place over the course of a year, maybe my palate is still developing who knows, but changes did occur.

I remember when I first became vegan I would often hear other vegans - usually vegan authors and educators, - talk about food, the things they cooked, the things they liked, and so often the foods they were talking about seemed so super simplistic to me. I thought how could I ever chow down with relish on a bowl of raw kale coated thinly in lemon juice, olive oil, maple syrup and salt? It didn’t seem reasonable to me, and it didn’t seem realistic. Plain steamed veggies with a drizzle of olive oil didn’t sound appetizing to me, baked tofu didn’t sound good. I thought these people were scamming, I was perfectly committed to veganism by then but I didn’t quite get what they were talking about. I wasn’t a junk food vegan either, - though I did eat more oil, salt, sugar, pastry, and convenience foods then, than I ever would now. - but still I thought all this high-minded talk of loving the natural taste of food, and how plain vegetables were more amazing then anything else on the planet was all a bit of a ruse. A charlatan trick to convert more to the cause, but I was already converted and so I just shook my head in skeptical disbelief. I think a lot of brand new vegans might feel this way, certainly vegan-curious omnivores might be a little skeptical, it’s pretty damn hard to transition from the standard American diet to a bowl of steamed kale.

But then it all clicked for me. You see, when you become vegan it’s like a new door opens, a door you’ve never seen before, and out of curiosity you step through and are thrown into a whole new universe of possibilities. You discover all sorts of new foods that you’ve never even heard of let alone seen before, foods you previously thought you didn’t like suddenly start warming up to you and calling your name, you begin combining food groups and flavors you never considered before. All of this happens because there isn’t any meat, and for the most part, for most of us starting out anyway there aren’t any rules. You’re like that kid in a candy store who’s aloud to go wild and crazy. Without meat, and without cheese you’re forced to get creative. What’s for dinner tonight? Well it isn’t roast chicken and potatoes, and it isn’t fried, breaded pork chops and fries, it isn’t a steak sandwich or a bucket of chicken wings, and it’s not a bowl of dairy cheese and butter laden macaroni. You may still want these things in the beginning and so you have to come up with new ways to enjoy them vegan style, and sometimes the best way to satisfy yourself is to go so far out of your tastebuds comfort zone that you’re not sure whether or not you’ll ever make it back.

We’re conditioned to love and crave the taste of fat, salt and sugar. Our plates and our palates are so loaded and coated with animal flesh, animal based foods and animal fats that we’re no longer capable of enjoying the delicate natural taste of plant-based foods. When you go from the SAD diet to vegan or even just vegetarian it takes time for your tastebuds to adjust. It may take you a few days it may take you a few months but the adjustment does eventually come. When you’re an omnivore or a new vegan hearing that for the first time from a seasoned vegan it sounds like hocus pocus, but I can assure you it’s true. The longer you stay away from animal products the more your tastebuds awaken, and the deeper you delve into the world of vegan food and see just how fun and creative it the wider that door opens.

Really, there is such a wealth of food available to us in this country but as omnivores we tend to get stuck in a rut. We make the same old things over and over again and never branch out. There are certain vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains that are entirely neglected in the average American cuisine, many foods don’t even get consumed at all in the standard American diet.  Even health-conscious omnivores aren’t exempt from this fact. I was a health-conscious omnivore once and still there was a world of food that I’d never heard of nor tasted. Omnivores always say veganism is limited, but it’s not. When I think about what I ate as an omnivore and what I eat now as a vegan, I can only describe veganism as expansive and unlimited where as my diet as an omnivore was almost totally restrictive. Meat - vegetable - grain. Meat - vegetable - potato. Pasta with meat and bread, and really, what's more restrictive then eating the same 3 or 4 protein sources day in and day out. - Pork, Beef, Chicken, maybe fish, oh spaghetti again, tacos again, pot roast again? BORING! Take the meat away and you have all the freedom in the world.

This creativity fuels my life. I have never been as adventurous in the kitchen as I have been since going vegan. I love to try new flavors, new tastes, new dishes new foods, new combinations, new cuisines. Heck you best believe that if I come across a food in the grocery store that I’ve never eaten or heard of then I’m going to be buying it, and bringing it home to cook. Excluding meant and dairy of course there isn’t a single food I neglect or refuse to eat these days, and considering I used to be such a picky eater this is pretty damn amazing! Even my husband - a self-described bean and nut hater is slowly changing his ways after nearly 2 years of veganism! - tastebuds change with time, so do preferences and opinions. But it’s all well and good for me to tell you this, if you’re an omnivore or a new vegan and a skeptic like I was then you’re probably thinking I’m just the latest charlatan spewing hocus pocus in an attempt to convert new recruits. But trust me, new vegans, stick with it and you’ll see the changes for yourself.

And since examples are often more powerful then sentiments I’ll leave you with two lists. One is a list of foods I absolutely hated as an omnivore and wouldn’t have eaten to save my life, but now eat with much love and relish. The second list is a list of foods that as an omnivore I’d never heard of or tasted, these foods I never tried until I was vegan, and once I did try them I couldn’t believe I’d never eaten them before because I love them so much.

Foods I absolutely Hated as an Omnivore 

1) Mushrooms - ALL kinds. Since I was a little kid these were the bane of my existence.
2) Beans - all kinds except Chickpeas, and when I grew into my teens I gradually began to enjoy black beans and edamame. All other kinds I hated until I found veganism.
3) Eggplant
4) Fennel - especially the seeds
5) Anise - extract, seeds the lot
6) Brussels Sprouts
7) Dates
8) Avocados
9) Tofu - thought it tasted like mush and made me want to puke
10) Chocolate - I know, strange right? I would eat Chocolate occasionally but I was never a great chocolate lover until I went vegan.
11) Tempeh and Seitan - These I never actually ate as an omnivore but as a new vegan I hated them. And actually didn’t start to like seitan until I started to make my own at home.
12) Arugula
13) Sauerkraut
14) Apple Juice & Apple Sauce
15) Raisins
16) Green Olives, Spanish Olives
17) All Seaweeds
18) Marinara Sauce
19) Spaghetti Squash and Acorn Squash
20) Maple Syrup - I know, strange right?

Foods I’d never eaten or never heard of as an Omnivore 

1) Kale - OMG what? I can’t get enough of this stuff now
2) Collard Greens
3) Mustard and Turnip Greens
4) Dandelion Greens
5) Carrot and Beet Greens
6) Broccoli Rabe
7) Broccolini
8) Kohlrabi
9) White Eggplant
10) Chia Seeds, Sancha Inchi Seeds
11) Quinoa, Millet, Amaranth
12) Red Rice, Forbidden Rice
13) Farro
14) Christmas Lima Beans, Cannellini Beans, Navy Beans, Great Northern Beans, Borlotti Beans,  all heirloom variety beans
15) Micro Greens
16) Fiddleheads
17)Raw Cacao
18) Coconut - like actual real coconuts that you buy in the store and crack open yourself
19) Coconut Butter
20) All nut butters except peanut and almond butter
21) All non-dairy milks except soy
22) All non-dairy cheese, yogurt, butter, and mayo products etc..  (except soy yogurt and rice cheese)
23) All vegan meat products
24) Fresh Figs
25) Polenta
26) Spirulina
27) Blood Oranges
28) Dragon Fruit
29) Capers
30) Virtually all olives except kalamata and black.
31) Tahini
32) Black Sesame Seeds
33) Virtually All Squashes except Butternut, and the ones indicated on the list above.
34) Garlic Scapes
35) Ramps
36) Living Pea Tendrils
37) Daikon Radish
38) Heirloom Tomatoes
39) Beluga Lentils
40) Sichuan Pepper

This is by no means a comprehensive list, I’m sure there are plenty of things I’m forgetting but it gives you a good idea. I mean there are over 50 items on this list that as an omnivore I’d either never eaten or wouldn’t eat and that’s just foods themselves. This doesn’t even include cuisines I would avoid or particular dishes - onion rings I’m looking at you! Yes I had a bad onion ring experience when I was 7 and never touched another onion ring again until after I’d already been vegan a year.

The foods on these lists are foods that I never in a million years thought I would eat or enjoy, and now I eat them all, and love them all. Well I’m still experimenting with fennel and mustard greens but I certainly don’t hate either of those, and in fact I really love them in certain preparations. I think preparation is one of the keys to helping your tastebuds evolve. I always say this, but just because you don’t like something cooked one way, doesn’t mean you won’t like it cooked another way. Trial and error, keep on plugging along until you find that combination that works.

Preparation, Creativity, Strength, and Perseverance. Keep these things in mind and if you’re a struggling new vegan or an omnivore struggling to make the shift to veganism just take it one step at a time, and have faith that overtime your body and your tastebuds will adapt. Your preferences will change, and your senses will awaken to a glorious and magical new way of eating. When the door opens to you, be brave, and step through!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Product Review - Silk: Mocha and Vanilla Iced Latte...

This week my husband has decided to take my lead and try doing a juice fast for himself. Which means I’ve only been cooking for myself this week, which means I haven’t been making anything to exciting. However, even though I don’t have any recipes to share with you today I do have something else I’m excited to share.

Last month my husband and I discovered at our local grocery that Silk had two new products on the market. Both were Soy Iced Latte drinks, one in Vanilla the other in Mocha. Now, I know that some people question the integrity of Silk as a company because of their parent company, and I know a lot of people who avoid buying Silk products for that reason - amongst a few others - but it’s hard to deny that Silk Soy Milk is probably the most accessible and easiest to find brand of non-dairy milk available - along with Rice Dream. - Silk is so common these days that you can find it in small town Wal-marts, and even gas stations which makes it an important staple for many vegans living in rural areas. I of course am not living in anything even remotely considered a rural area so I have my pick of non-dairy beverages, I do however love to try new vegan products. Even if I never buy them again, I like to try them out and see what they’re like. On top of that insatiable curiosity I do have a soft spot for Silk. See, I never liked cows milk not as a kid and not as an adult so I kind of grew up on Silk Soy milk the first time I can remember my mom buying it was in the mid-late 90's when I was in my early teens, and I loved it. I was absolutely hooked on it for all my milk needs until I grew up, got married, went vegan and discovered the vast world of non-dairy plant-based milks. But as you do when you’re young, you form attachments, and so even though I almost never buy Silk these days I had to at least give these new iced lattes a try, you know, for old time’s sake.

So first we tried the Mocha Latte and I have to say it was much, much better then I expected. The flavor is really good and definitely reminds me of a less strong and less syrupy version of an iced latte you might get at one of those big chain coffee shops. This stuff tastes great on it’s own right out of the carton, but it also tastes good over ice, and as my husband discovered it makes a delicious and unique ‘creamer’ for actual coffee. You want your Strong Italian Roast to have a mocha flair? Pour this in instead of creamer. Incredible! I think this would also be fantastic for use in baking if you’re making anything coffee flavored like coffee cakes, coffee cupcakes, or even using it to make a coffee frosting.

Nutritionally speaking it’s nice that this beverage only has 100 calories per serving which puts it on par with most other sweetened non-dairy beverages. It also contains 2g of protein, 1g of fiber, 4% Iron, only 1g of fat, no saturated fat, but it does have 20g of sugar. Which I feel is a lot, however as long as you’re making this a sometimes drink and not an everyday one I don’t think you have much to fear. The ingredient list contains the usual suspects, coffee, cane sugar, soybeans, coco powder and the like, nothing to concern you too much however this product does contain Carrageenan as so many other beverages do. So if that’s something you are trying to avoid then this isn’t the drink for you. I personally have been avoiding carrageenan for months and feel better for it, and I wish Silk and other non-dairy beverage producers would stop using it, but again I think as long as this is a treat for you rather then a dietary staple there isn’t too much need to worry. If you like Mocha flavored stuff give this drink a whirl.

Next we tried the Vanilla Latte which was also quite good although I liked the Mocha latte better. That’s just me though, I think on most days I’d prefer mocha over vanilla anyway and even though I love vanilla when it comes to vanilla flavored stuff I’m usually less then impressed. Even if artificial flavors aren’t used, most vanilla flavored things taste artificial to me, and I don’t like that. Overall though this was a pretty good drink. Again you could drink it straight from the carton and be pleased or it would be good over ice, and my husband enjoyed this one in his coffee as well. I think it would also be good in baking if you were going for a café-vanilla type of thing.

Nutritionally it has the same 100 calorie per serving as the Mocha Lattew, and has the same amount of protein and sugar though it has no iron, no fiber and less fat. Only 0.5g instead of 1g. The ingredients too are nearly identical minus the cocoa of course, and this drink too contains carrageenan. So if you like vanilla lattes but don’t want to pay $5 for one at a big chain coffee house, try looking around for this and make your own latte at home. Retail both of these drinks sell for the same as other Silk products, - $2.99-$3.99 depending on where you live, - and come in the same half-gallon sized cartons.

Other great things to keep in mind about these products and about Silk products in general is that they’re Dairy free, lactose free, casein free, gluten free, egg free, and MSG free. They also don’t use artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners, and they don’t use high-fructose corn syrup. Silk is also enrolled in the NON-GMO Project’s, Product Verification Program which means all of their products are either certified as NON-GMO or on their way to being certified as such. This is nice, because even though Silk offers some organic products not all of their products are organic, but with the non-GMO certification you can feel safe and assured that even their non-organic products are free of GMO’s.

Happy Drinking!
and for More information on Silk Products check out their website - Silk 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Restaurant Review: In The Raw in Highland Park...

In the Raw - Really tiny place on the corner

Now I promised you a restaurant review and here it is. Right before my Juice Fast started back in January I went to the most amazing raw restaurant. I’ve mentioned before that after each class I pass with an A my husband takes me out for a celebratory dinner, and since I had passed my Chinese Medicine class back in December I was overdue for some celebration. Now originally I wanted to try out this vegan Korean restaurant in Chicago that I’ve heard amazing things about, but like many Asian restaurants they are closed Monday’s and Monday was the only day we could go. So since I knew my fast was coming up and I didn’t want to go too crazy on fatty vegan food I decided to try my luck at In The Raw, which is a new restaurant in Highland Park that opened last year. I’ve heard some very good things about it and since we’re often in Highland Park anyway seeing Independent Films at the theater there I’d been meaning to pop over for some time. Of course, the reason I never went before was because I was skeptical. I guess you could say that I’m kind of skeptical of raw foods in general. I love the idea of living food cuisine, but I’ve had some pretty mediocre raw food in the past, at restaurants as well as things I’ve made myself using popular raw food cookbooks. So I wasn’t 100% about this place, but the reviews were too good to deny and so we went, and boy am I glad we did! Trust me when I say that if you live in the Chicagoland area and you too are curious but skeptical of raw foods, this place will make you an instant believer!


First of all the place has a super funky vibe. Right from the minute you walk in you know your somewhere special. It’s got a café atmosphere with a new-age sort of charm about it. The kitchen is pretty open so you can peek at some of the goings on, and the furniture is really neat. Tree stump tables anyone? It is quite a small place, and depending on the day you go or the time it may be pretty busy, it was for us. Monday afternoon around 2pm it was packed but the wait was only maybe 5-10 minutes so that wasn’t bad, well worth it really.

Almond Butter Cup

Maca Mocha - I know it's hard to tell the difference

So once we got seated we decided to start off with some smoothies and an appetizer. I ordered the Almond Butter Cup smoothie - I know that sounds a little lame, and I wanted to get something really crazy and original but I’m a total sucker for the Cacao, Almond Butter + Banana combo, and it was fantastic! My husband got the Maca Mocha which has espresso, banana, maca, cacao, cinnamon and agave and almond milk. This too was super delicious, it’s the kind of coffee you can feel good about unlike the concoctions you get at some big name retailers. Actually I think I liked this drink even better then my Almond Butter Cup.

Mushroom Dumplings!

For food we started with the Mushroom Dumplings which were freaking incredible! Seriously, they were so rich, gooey, and packed with flavor, and you would never know that they were raw. That’s what I love so much about this place, it’s delicious nutritious raw food, but you would swear these dishes were cooked. They don’t have that ‘raw food taste’ you know what I’m talking about? A lot of times raw food tastes like nuts or dates, or agave or it’s crunchy and crispy when you don’t want it to be. Not so with the food at In The Raw, this food was absolute perfection!  So anyway these mushroom dumplings were made with a carrot coconut wrapper then stuffed with shiitake mushrooms, basil pesto and drizzled in parsley oil. Really incredible!

My husband then ordered the Butternut Squash soup, which was actually cooked. Occasionally In The Raw has a cooked or sometimes two cooked soup’s on their menu. This was one of the soups they were offering that day and since it was so chilly out he decided to get a cup. I should have got a cup too because this soup was delicious! Seriously! Probably one of the best butternut soup’s I’ve ever eaten anywhere. It was packed with flavor and tasted so rich and creamy. It also wasn’t piping hot, it came out luke warm so I’m not entirely sure how ‘cooked’ it was but it was phenomenal!

Butternut Squash Soup

For my meal I had a really hard time choosing what to get because everything sounded so amazing. Pasta, pizza, delicious salads, quinoa, sandwiches, eggplant parm - can you say YUM! In the end though I decided to go with the Taco platter. It just sounded to good not to order and I felt like something Mexicana style you know? In the end I was super happy I ordered it because I was not in the least bit disappointed. Like the mushroom dumplings these tacos were full of flavor, and packed with rich, creamy goodness. Aside from the cabbage you would never know this was totally raw! There were two raw corn tortillas, loaded with pumpkin seed ‘refried beans’ which were fantastic! Then it was topped with cabbage slaw, guacamole, salsa and a creamy chipotle cheese drizzle. The tortillas also came with a side salad that had a rich and creamy dressing with a bit of kick. The perfect accompaniment. I honestly can not say enough how amazing this meal is. If you go to In The Raw you must try it!


My husband ordered the Falafel Sandwich for his meal. Though it came out looking more like a sloppy ‘egg’ sandwich then an actual falafel it was really delicious. He gave me a couple of bites and it was definitely one of the best raw falafel’s I’ve had. The sandwich comes on really delicious sesame bread that’s crunchy but tender at the same time. It also has mixed vegetables, zucchini hummus, herbed tahini sauce, and the falafel itself is made mostly out of sunflower seeds. It too comes with a side salad with a lemony dressing. Very, very good.

Falafel Sandwich 

Though we were pretty stuffed by the end of all of that we couldn’t just leave it there. You know we had to get dessert right? The dessert options looked amazing, and I seriously wanted one of everything. I especially wanted to try the crepes, the chia pudding, the cheesecake, the tiramisu, and the mesquite chocolate pudding with whiskey walnut ice cream but we decided to keep it low key. Instead we ordered one pineapple upside-down cake, and four chocolate truffles. One salted caramel, one orange sesame, one coconut, and one that was just orange.  When we had enough space to finally eat them they were each delicious. I particularly liked the pineapple upside-down cake which was dense yet moist, full of flavor and didn’t have that ‘raw cake’ flavor of nuts and agave. The pineapple topping was really fantastic!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake and Chocolate Truffles

I also got a bottle of their liquid gold juice to go which was a mixture of spinach, kale, celery, cucumber, parsley, apple and lemon. It was really good you could definitely taste the green factor and it wasn’t overly sweet but with each sip you take you know you’re doing something really good for your body. They have a really great assortment of juices and their juice bar is pretty cool. I’ve love to try them all, perhaps another day when I have more room in my stomach and more money in my wallet.

Fresh Juice! Liquid Gold

Money is one thing I suppose I should address. In all the reviews I read of In The Raw that was the one constant complaint, the price. Most people said that In the Raw is expensive but I thought it was pretty comparable to other raw places I’ve been, and even other high-end vegan, or high-end omnivore places. I mean if you’re looking for Olive Garden prices or something you’re going to be SOL and if you go into In The Raw looking to order as much food as my husband and I did then you’re looking at $100 meal. But if you go in there and buy a juice and breakfast, or an appetizer and dessert, or a smoothie and lunch you can probably get away with a bill that’s under $25 which is pretty reasonable. It’s also not badly priced considering all the food is organic.

Overall I will definitely be going back to In The Raw it was just that amazing! Seriously it’s probably one of my new favorite places, and since I’m in Highland Park often it’ll probably be my go-to spot when I’m there. The food is excellent, the service is good, and the atmosphere friendly. I highly recommend it if you like good food and a fun experience. Though consider their hours, right now since it’s winter they’re only open till 4pm so make sure you duck in before then.

For more information or to check out their menu you can head on over to their website!

In The Raw 
483 Central Ave
Highland Park, IL
In The Raw

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thai Inspired Cabbage Salad with Creamy Tahini Lime Dressing...

This is one of my favorite salads. Seriously. I’ve been making it frequently over the past couple of years and though it’s super simple and easy it never fails to amaze me just how satisfied I am after eating it. This is one of those recipes that came about because a growling hunger was gnawing at my stomach at a time when my refrigerator was looking pretty sparse, so I had to make due with what I had. Sometimes that’s the best way to cook. Though it can be restrictive to cook with an empty fridge and an empty pantry, it can simultaneously be inspiring. It can provide you with the kind of freedom to be creative that you might not have otherwise. There’s always something a little magical in that.

Over the years this recipe has changed and transformed. The basic heart of it however has stayed the same. It was initially inspired by Thai flavors, - Thai cuisine being one of my favorites - and those hot lazy days of mid-summer when you don't want to do a lot of cooking anyway. Though no matter how I choose to make it these days, it always has the same six basic ingredients. Cabbage, cilantro, green onions, tahini, lime juice and soy sauce. Some days I use a little more of this, or a lot more of that. Some days I throw certain ingredients in, and leave others out, it all depends on my mood and what I have on hand, and that’s the beauty of this. It’s versatile! There are no hard and fast rules to making it, as long as you have those six basic ingredients it’s a winner every time.

I really do love the cool crisp cabbage slathered in thick rich, creamy, and nutty tahini. The sourness of the lime, the saltiness of the soy sauce, the bite of the onion, and the earthiness of the cilantro. It’s such a satisfying combination, made even better by various additions. A little sweetness from agave, or bell pepper, extra crunch from bean sprouts, a little spice from the radish. Cool and creamy avocado, or sweet mango, a hint of ginger or a hint of garlic. This version that I present to you is definitely a more jazzed up version of that original salad that I first made years ago, but it is extremely delicious. Of course it’s meant to be simple, so if you don’t have everything on the list don’t fret. In keeping with the spirit of the original work with what you have, and enjoy!

Thai Inspired Cabbage Salad with Creamy Tahini Lime Dressing 

1 Small Nappa Cabbage sliced thin
½ Head Red Cabbage sliced thin
1 Large handful bean sprouts
2 Large Carrots shredded
1 bunch green onions Sliced
1 bunch cilantro Minced
6 Red Radishes Sliced Thin
1 Cucumber Sliced thin
1 Red Bell Pepper Sliced thin
Handful of Raw or Roasted Unsalted Peanuts

Half a Mango sliced thin (Optional)
Half an Avocado sliced thin (Optional)

Creamy Tahini Lime Dressing

4 TBSP Tahini
4 Tbsp Lime Juice
2 Tbsp Tamari
2 Tbsp Water (as needed)
1 Tbsp Agave
1 small piece Ginger Grated finely
1 Clove Garlic Minced
1/8 tsp Cayenne

- To make the salad slice, chop or mince all ingredients as directed and place into a large mixing bowl.

- Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and taste for flavor. Adjust seasonings as needed if you want more lime, more tamari, more garlic etc.. or if you need to thin it more with a little water.

- When the dressing is to your taste pour it over the salad in the mixing bowl. Mix the salad thoroughly to combine and serve!

- Enjoy garnished with extra cilantro and peanuts if desired. Or with sliced avocado and/or sliced mango.

PS: I chose to use Tahini here in the dressing because I love it, and it's what I had on hand. However if you were interested in a more traditional Thai taste, you could easily substitute almond butter or peanut butter for the Tahini. Though it's not something I do myself i'm sure it would be just as lovely.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Product Review - Earth Balance: Sweet Cinnamon Spread...

Today I have another product review for you. I know, two product reviews in as many days? But I’ve been sitting on this one for a while and I’ve been dying to share it with you. I promise to give you an actual recipe tomorrow, and then later in the week I have a restaurant review for you.

So last month some time I discovered that Earth Balance had introduced two new flavors of non-dairy butter to their product line. Sweet Cinnamon Culinary Spread, and Garlic & Herb Culinary Spread. Now I love me some Earth Balance! Everything from their regular buttery spreads, to their coconut spread, to their mindful mayo. Everything I’ve tried from them has been delicious and I use both their original buttery spread and shortening in my baking all the time. I also really love cinnamon, and I’m obsessed with trying new vegan products regardless of what they are or who makes them. So needless to say I was pretty damn excited when I aw the two new spreads being stocked in my local health food store. I picked up a tub of the Sweet Cinnamon flavor back in January, but with the juice fast and everything else going on lately I just didn’t get around to posting about it until now.

This spread is seriously special, I’d go so far as to say it’s magical. It spreads easily, and melts just like every other EB butter, but the flavor is really something amazing! I first tried this spread on simple slice of sprouted grain bread and it instantly transported me back to my childhood. I mean, did you ever eat cinnamon toast when you were sick as a kid? I know I did. Whenever I would get sick as a child - and I mean puking sick - and couldn’t eat anything or keep anything down my mom would always make me cinnamon toast. Which is basically toasted bread slathered with butter and loads of ground cinnamon. It was often the only thing I could eat when I was really sick, or the only thing I wanted to eat when I was sick. Even now if I ever feel ill I always want cinnamon toast, and even when you’re not sick there’s something really comforting about this simple childhood pleasure. Well, Earth Balance Sweet Cinnamon spread slathered on toasted bread tastes just like cinnamon toast without having to actually sprinkle cinnamon on it. It also tastes fantastic slathered over warm biscuits with some maple syrup, or melted over pancakes. It also works wonderfully in baking as to all of Earth Balances butters. I have yet to try it in a savory dish, but I would really love to make mashed sweet potatoes with this spread.  The cinnamon flavor of it is very pronounced, and it’s sweet without being overly so.

Earth Balance Sweet Cinnamon Spread is also vegan - of course - gluten free, Organic, non-GMO, uses Expeller-pressed oil, and is of course lactose & Casein free. Oh yean and it’s made with real organic cinnamon not cinnamon flavor. If you’re interested in more information beyond that you can check out their website Earth Balance Natural But I highly recommend that if you see this spread in your local health food store or grocery that you pick up a tub. It’s inexpensive, and so delicious that I know you wont be sorry!

PS: I'm also super excited and curious to try the Garlic & Herb Spread, when I do i'll be sure to let you know what I think.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Product Review - REED'S: Culture Club Kombucha...

Okay, I’ve been wanting to share this with you guys for a couple of weeks now. Y’all know how much I like Kombucha right? I mean I drink a GT’s or Kevita everyday, well now there’s a new brand on the scene, and it’s quickly won my heart.

REED’S Culture Club Kombucha! Now, you may know REED’S inc as a Ginger Ale manufacturer. After all it’s what they’re most famous for. They specialize in making good quality, great tasting, natural ginger ale in a variety of unique flavors, that can be commonly found for sale in health food stores and whole foods around the country. Now I am not a pop drinker, I never cared for it all that much anyway, so I gave it up years ago because it’s so unhealthy. Seriously anything that can peel the paint off your car or rust a nail shouldn’t be going inside your body. I mean imagine what it’s doing to your gut! Still, even after giving up pop, I would on occasion allow myself a Ginger Ale, as a sort of treat. - and when I say occasional I really do mean occasional, I can’t even recall when the last time I had a ginger ale was. Six months? Seven? - Provided of course that the ale in question was natural, didn’t contain a heinous amount of sugar, and was brewed with real ginger. As a kid growing up I loved Canada Dry - who didn’t? - but after having ale brewed with copious amounts of real ginger I wouldn’t even dream of going back to my childhood ways. Their Jamaican style is really my favorite, it’s loaded with ginger, and spices that make your tongue tingle. So when I was in my local health food store a few weeks ago and saw that REED’S was now making Kombucha, well, you know I had to give it a try right?

According to REED’S website they use the finest Oolong and Yerba Mate teas along with a kombucha culture to create their delicious kombucha packed with beneficial enzymes, probiotics, and organic acids.  So far their Kombucha comes in four flavors and all of them have ginger in them. Would you expect anything less?

The four flavors are Goji Ginger, Hibiscus Ginger Grapefruit, Lemon Ginger Raspberry, and Cranberry Ginger. I love the unique flavors, and combinations, of these drinks. I’ve tried all four and I have to say they are all fantastic! Each flavor is so delicious you can hardly stop drinking. Another bonus is that each serving only has 2g of sugar which is comparable to most of GT’s Kombucha flavors. Also for the kombucha haters out there these drinks are significancy less vinegary then GT’s or other Kombucha’s that I’ve tried. The ginger flavor is strong though, so if you’re not a fan of ginger these might not be the Kombucha’s for you. They’re also Organic and Raw of course, as other Kombucha’s are.

Out of the four flavors my absolute favorite is the Hibiscus Ginger Grapefruit, it is hands down on of the best Kombucha’s I’ve ever drunk anywhere. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take a picture of it to show you guys because I drank it in the car before I even got home, it is that good!

So if you like Kombucha and you’re interested in trying something new check your local health food stores for REED’S, or you could go to their website for more information. Seriously though, if you see these at the store, pick one up! You won’t be sorry!

REED'S Culture Club Kombucha

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Big 'Ole Valentine's Day Post of 2013...

Blueberry Blintzes

There is nothing I would have loved more then to post about Valentine’s Day on actual Valentine’s Day. Alas it was not to be, because right in the middle of photographing our dessert my camera battery died. I do have a backup battery of course, but because they hold such a long charge - months! When all I’m using it for is everyday food photography anyway - I rarely keep the backup charged. Of course by the time the battery was finally charged it was a little past midnight, and I was half a sleep. I couldn’t bother to get back out of bed. Though I truly hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day, however you celebrated it.

I personally think Valentine’s Day is a silly holiday - really it’s not a holiday at all, - and before I met my husband I never celebrated it. I’ve never thought of myself as being particularly romantic, and when I was younger I was certainly more practical then romantic. My husband on the other hand is a very romantic man, and the only romantic man I’ve ever been with - former boyfriends of mine were like me, more practical then romantic. - After six years of marriage and nine years together I think a little - or maybe a lot - of that romanticism has worn off on me too. I’ve celebrated every one of the past nine Valentine’s Days, and each year they become a little more meaningful.

In our early years together we would celebrate with gifts, cards, flowers and a nice dinner out. These days however I don’t like the hustle and bustle of busy restaurants on Valentine’s Day, and so we typically go out for dinner another day of the week, while Valentine’s Day we stay home and I make something delicious and romantic. Any excuse for me to make something fantastic right?

Well, this year was no exception to the rule. As is my custom I like to start holiday celebrations off with a special breakfast, so I began our day with Blueberry Blintzes. I used Mark Reinfeld’s recipe from his book "30 Minute Vegan Taste of Europe" - a book I was very excited to buy and then never got around to actually using! - According to Reinfeld Blintzes are of Slavic origin and are a popular feature in the traditional cuisine’s of Eastern Europe. I was really interested to try this recipe because though I know what a blintz is I’ve never actually ate one - not that I recall anyway, - and the picture looked divine. I didn’t grow up in an area of the world that hosts a lot of Eastern European immigrants, and aside from one or two Russian restaurant Vancouver doesn’t have many Eastern European eateries. Chicago by contrast is overflowing with people of Eastern European decent, and has many restaurants devoted toe the cuisine. However it isn’t very vegan or vegetarian friendly cuisine and since I became vegetarian so soon after moving here I didn’t really have adequate time to explore it.

As it happens Taste of Europe is not the only vegan cook book I own to contain a recipe for blintzes. I’ve seen them in several other cook books of mine, and while I always felt intrigued by them I also always felt intimidated. I am not a crepe master, as much as I love crepes they are really not my forte, but besides the crepes other books made blintzes seem so complicated, while Reinfeld makes them look easy. In fact these were far easier to prepare then I expected them to be. It took me longer then 30 minutes but hey, I’m a newb at this.  This was my third or fourth time making crepes and I found them a lot easier this time around then I have in the past so that was a confidence booster. Making the filling was easy as well, as it’s a combination of vegan cream cheese, steamed tofu, tahini, lemon juice, sugar, nutritional yeast and salt. Then the blueberry sauce is super easy. Blueberries, arrowroot, water, cardamom and sugar although I replaced the sugar with maple syrup for the sauce. Once everything is prepared you stuff the blintz, saute it in a pan on both sides, then top if with the blueberry sauce and a little dollop of extra filling.

Romaine Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing

Man were these delicious! They taste so decadent. I really couldn’t get over how rich and wonderful they were, and now I’m super excited to make more blintzes in the future. With both sweet and savory fillings!

Red Wine Mushroom Sauce

For dinner I wanted to make something equally delicious, that was special, and romantic yet cost effective. I didn’t want to go overboard since it was just the two of us. After some careful thought I decided to make the Seitan Scallopini from Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg’s book “Spork-Fed” I really love this book, but I haven’t used it to make anything since Canadian Thanksgiving last year. It’s one of those books that I always forget I have. Initially I wasn’t sure if this would be the right dish to make, but the picture looked so gorgeous and inviting that I thought ‘what the hell? Why not?’ I had plenty of seitan in the freezer, and all the other ingredients called for in the recipe I had as well, which made things easy.

Seitan Scallopini with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce

Now, I’ve never eaten actual scallopini because most scallopini I’ve seen on restauant menus was made using veal and even when I ate meat I never, ever, ever ate veal. - Gross! And Sad! - and the thought of chicken scallopini didn’t much interest me either, so I have no idea what a ‘traditional’ scallopini is suppose to taste like, but I don’t care because this dish was freaking amazing! Seriously! The Seitan is sliced into thin cutlets, then briefly coated in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and lemon juice, then breaded in flour, garlic powder, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Once breaded it’s fried in olive oil till crispy brown on both sides.

Strangely enough the combined smell of this process along with the garlic I was roasting in the oven reminded me exactly of walking into my grandma’s house for a Sunday night roast dinner. Sunday night roast dinners at my grandma’s were a prominent feature of my childhood, and one of my very favorite things. Since my dad’s parents didn’t live as close to us as my mom’s parents did, we didn’t see them as often, so dinner at grandmas was always a big deal for me, and her roast dinners were seriously the best! I can’t say I exactly miss them now since I have no desire to eat meat, but I do miss that sense of family unity, and the warmth of her house at the holidays, and making this dinner really brought me back there, if only for a few moments.

Anyway, the next step in the scallopini recipe is the sauce. Which is made using red wine, vegan butter, mushrooms, flour, maple syrup, lemon juice, salt and pepper. To me this didn’t sound like enough ingredients to make a rich delicious wine sauce but boy was I wrong. This sauce was simply amazing! And it was super amazing poured over the scallopini and garnished with fresh minced parsley. Seriously, we were in heaven eating this!

To accompany the meal I decided to make a light salad. Since I was going to be eating so much gluten - and as I mentioned before I’ve been keeping pretty much gluten-free since my juice fast - I figured it would be best if I ate something light on the side, and preferably raw. So I deiced to make the Romaine Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing from Donna Klein’s book “The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.” I chose this recipe because it was simple, and because I wanted an ‘Italian’ style salad to go with our ‘Italian’ style main course. The salad is literally very simple, it’s just romaine lettuce - although I threw in some diced tomato and red onion for good measure - but the dressing is fantastico!  You roast 8 cloves of garlic in the oven and mash them into a puree when they’re cool. Then combine it with another clove of minced garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, lemon juice, Dijon Mustard and vegetable broth. I didn’t have any Veg broth though so I subbed water, then I added a touch of agave to sweeten the deal, and man it was phenomenal! Not all of my garlic cloves mashed completely so there were still chunky bits of roast garlic in the salad that were absolutely amazing!

Finally for dessert I made the Cinnamon Scented Tiramisu also from Jenny and Heather’s book “Spork-Fed.” I know so many people who go ape-shit for Tiramisu, and while I do enjoy it I never really saw what all the fuss was about. For some reason Tiramisu is something I never order when I go out, I never buy it, I never make it and I never think about it. Sure if it’s around I’ll eat it, and I enjoy it, but it’s just one of those things I never think to make myself. Of course their version sounded delicious and I wanted to keep with the Italian theme so I thought I’d give it a go. Plus I had two more containers of Vegan Cream Cheese leftover from Christmas that I needed to use before March.

Cinnamon Scented Tiramisu 

An Inside Shot of the Tiramisu

There Tiramisu was surprisingly easy to make. The cake is flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, sugar, soy milk, apple cider vinegar, and oil. I actually used Date sugar for this, and coconut oil instead of a ‘nuteral oil’ and think it worked out fantastic. I’ve been using date sugar a lot instead of actual sugar and I’m really enjoying it. Then the cream layer is made with vegan cream cheese, vegan butter, sugar, soy milk, lemon juice, orange juice, and salt. I didn’t have orange juice though so instead I used 1 tsp orange extract and 1 tsp almond extract. Worked great. I also added in cinnamon to the cream layer. After all this was called cinnamon scented tiramisu and I wanted there to be a lot of cinnamon! So I added in double the amount of cinnamon into the cake, and 1 tsp into the cream layer. Then you brew some strong coffee or espresso, mix it with sugar and amaretto, and bam! Everything’s finished except the assembly.

Of course the assembly is easy. Cut the cake, pour the coffee mixture over top of it to let it soak in. Then layer cake, cream, cake, cream until you run out of both. Garnish as desired with chocolate. I used chocolate chips and formed them into cutesy little hearts!

And that was Valentine’s Day, I hope you all had just as much fun as we did!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The End of the Fast...

Wow, I really fell behind in posting this week. I’ve had so much stuff to share with you all but I’ve just been so busy lately that finding the time to sit down and write it all out has been somewhat difficult. Before moving onto other topics and other recipes I wanted to do a Juice Fast Conclusion post. I had meant to post it last week, but one thing led to another and, well you know how that goes right? So without any further adieu...

Originally I set out to do a juice fast because I was inspired. It sounded like exactly the kind of thing I needed in my life at that particular moment. I wanted to feel re-energized, and I wanted to break food dependence and bad food habits as well as clear up some persistent and annoying problems that had been plaguing me of late. I wanted to feel good in my body, while doing something good for it. Though these are the things I set out to achieve it never occurred to me that I would also learn so much about myself, and human eating habits through fasting. I am really amazed by the experience and am really happy I decided to take on the challenge. Despite the ups and downs I found this to be an overall good experience, and something I would definitely do again in the future, because I feel that I derived great benefit from doing it. Whether or not a juice fast will benefit everyone else however I have no idea. Nor can I claim that it’ll fix all that ails you, but what I can say is that it helped me. Of course if you suffer from any kind of health problems, or are on medication you should not try juice fasting without consulting your doctor and getting his or her okay first. Especially if you plan on doing a prolonged juice fast.

What I Achieved By Doing A Juice fast 

- The excessively itchy skin and itchy ears that had been bothering me for weeks cleared up around the second day. That’s not to say that I never get an itch now, but I’m not sitting around constantly scratching until my skin is raw, and marked and close to bleeding.

- The issues surrounding my navel have improved greatly. There’s no itching or redness, no infection. Although I think there are greater forces at work here then simply my diet. I have very sensitive skin, and I think the contact between my clothing and my navel has been one of the main causes of the irritation, which is something I’ll have to pay greater attention to.

- The sore gums and canker sores also went away I would say sometime around the first or second day, and they have not returned. I’m inclined to think these problems were due to sugar and chocolate indulgence.

- I’ve always been particularly gassy, and after a large meal it’s common for me to feel bloated too. After the first day I wasn’t either of these things. No bloat for the entire five days, and I wasn’t gassy. In the time since my fast has ended I have remained pretty free of bloat, and gas as well and for the most part my gas has been completely odorless. I am thinking that in addition to large meals being responsible for the bloating that gluten-containing products and sugar are also contributing factors.

- I’ve never had bad skin, and I’ve never suffered from acne. When I get pimples it’s usually one, or on a bad day two or three, but sometimes I get smaller blemishes beneath the surface of the skin. They never form into an actual pimple but it’s something that’s noticeable to me, and I find it irritating. At the time I started the juice fast this was happening under my left eye, and I had two pimples. Over the course of the fast my skin completely cleared up, and returned to normal. Not to mention my skin took on a healthier more robust and youthful glow. Since coming off the fast my skin has perhaps lost a little of that ‘glow’ but otherwise it remains the same, clear and blemish free.

- After about the second or third day on the fast I realized I had no mucous in the morning, and there was no need for me to clear my throat upon waking. This seemed like nothing sort of a miracle to me and I was pretty happy about it. I also didn’t sneeze once in the entire five days I was fasting. Since coming off the fast that hasn’t been the case. The first week off the fast I remained mucous free in the morning but I was following a primarily raw food diet that week. Now as I transition back to eating more cooked foods I find the mucous has returned, and though I am now sneezing less then I used to, I am sneezing again.

- I lost a total of 10 pounds. Not a pound of which has come back on since ending the fast. So that was a nice little bonus.

What I Learned By Doing A Juice Fast

- People really do not need to eat as much food as they think they do. You would be amazed at how full you can get on a 32oz juice and how it can keep you full for hours. We never think about liquids as food, or meals but really that’s exactly what they are, especially if we’re talking about some of the high calorie beverages that some people are accustomed to drinking.

- When and how we eat really is connected to our moods, and emotions as well as other psychological factors, even when we don’t think it is. I had never really considered that mood effects what and how we eat, but it does. If I’m in a good mood and feel happy I’m more inclined to eat something healthy. If I’m in a bad mood or feeling upset I’ll probably eat anything and usually I’ll eat something less then healthful. I know this is true of a lot of people but it never occurred to me that this might also be true to me. I’d never made the connection. It also became painfully clear to m on the fast that for whatever reason, everyday between 3 and 5 no matter when I’d eat lunch I felt ak ind of ‘crash’ and the desire to eat, even if I wasn’t particularly hungry. Before the fast I probably almost always indulged this ‘need’ without even thinking about it. Now that the fast is over I haven’t really felt that ‘crash’ not as severe anyway, and now I know that I can satisfy that need with water, herbal tea, kombucha or by reminding myself that it’s not really food that I’m interested int.

- People definitely do snack and eat when they’re not hungry. They snack and graze constantly between meals and I suppose I wasn’t much different. I may have been snacking on healthier foods but I was still snacking. Snacking is definitely a bad habit to get sucked into. Typically I would snack between the time of 3pm-8pm, and I was particularly bad about snacking at work, even if I wasn’t hungry. Since the fast ended however I’ve been really great about not falling into that trap again. Honestly most days I feel no need to snack anyway. Being at work makes the snack impulse a little harder to deny but I’ve come up with a great solution for when I’m there. Smoothies!  Seriously it works. I make a big fruit smoothie, divide it into two travel mugs and when I’m on breaks at work and want a snack I drink one. That way I’m filling myself with something nutritious that satiates me, and prevents me from snacking elsewhere. Also I’m notorious for eating chocolate at work, I almost can’t help myself but I’ve found another perfect solution to this. Dates or coconut date rolls! By them in the bulk section of your local health food store and bring along 3-4 of them to eat after I finish my lunch and bam! I don’t need chocolate when I have dates or coconut dates because my sweet tooth is satisfied and I don’t feel that crash that you do when the chocolate buzz wears off!

- It’s also true that the hungrier a person feels the more food they tend to eat. I know this is true in my case and so since I’ve been off the fast I’ve been trying to adopt the practice of Buddhist monks which is to eat my food slowly and with relish. When you eat slowly you allow time for your stomach to send signals to your brain to tell it that it’s full. I also try and pause for five to ten minutes after eating my food before deciding on whether or not to get a second helping. Or if I do get a second helping I make sure the second helping is very small. You would be amazed to realize that just because you feel really, really hungry doesn’t mean that you actually need to eat huge heaping plates of food.

- One of the most important things I learned on the fast was to listen to my body, and to actually understand what it’s telling me.

- Another thing I was hoping to accomplish was to retrain my tastebuds so that I could enjoy food after the cleanse without using so much oil, or sugar. I thought this would be hard, but it’s been surprisingly easy. First we’ll start with oil, I am using oil now that I’m off the cleanse, but I’m not using it everyday as I cone did, and I’m using less when I do use it. I don’t miss it. I have no interest in giving up oil for good and switching to an ‘oil-free’ diet but using less of it less often in favor of getting some of my fats from whole plant food such as nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut etc... appeals to me. As for sugar I haven’t touched the stuff since coming off the fast. I haven’t used white sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, raw sugar etc... I have only used a minimal amount of agave, or maple syrup to sweeten dishes when a sweetener was called for, and I’ve tried to use agave very, very sparingly anyway. I did bake a loaf and a batch of brownies last week and for both instead of using cane sugar as the recipe required I used date sugar. It’s less sweet then sugar and I find I actually like it more. I also use whole pitted dates to sweeten things, otherwise I simply rely on the natural sweetness of the food. I thought I would really miss sugar and crave getting it back into my life but instead when I look at sweet recipes I’m actually thinking about ways to decrease the sugar asked for or trying to decide how to switch it out. I consider this a big success.

- Also since the end of my fast I have been mostly gluten, and soy free. The first week after the fast I was entirely gluten free, and soy free except for using Tamari. The second week, and this week I’ve tried to remain both gluten and soy free because I like the feeling but I’m not strict about it. I’m not going to run out and buy certified gluten-free oats or worry about gluten-free condiments. I’m more interested in keeping away from bigger gluten items such as bread’s, breadcrumbs, pasta’s, pastries, and seitan. This has actually been pretty easy and I like experimenting with gluten-free flours in baking. I’ve come to really enjoy teff flour and I made the most delicious gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-free vegan brownies ever! Now, I don’t have a gluten intolerance and so I have no interest in being 100% gluten-free for the rest of my life, but I do feel better, cleaner and leaner when I’m not loading up on gluten, and so I like the idea of keeping gluten foods as ‘sometimes’ foods. As for soy, I have no soy allergy either but processed soy can really make you feel bogged down and so I want to stay away from that. I’ll still eat tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy milk but perhaps - at least when it comes to tofu - with less frequency then before.

- Lastly, my first week after the fast I ate a mostly raw diet. The second week was more balanced with me eating mostly raw food throughout the day and cooked food for dinner. I like this set-up, and while I don’t have any desire to go 100% raw I think raw food is something that was perhaps lacking a little in my pre-fast life. Sure I ate salads, and fruits and raw veggies sometimes but it wasn’t everyday and it wasn’t in abundance. So I’m going to strive to include more raw foods into my diet on a regular basis. Again it’s something that makes me feel cleaner, leaner, lighter and healthier.

So I guess that about does it for lessons I learned on the Juice Fast. I hope you enjoyed my little juice fast adventure and I hope you learned something too!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Juice Fast Day 5...

Sweet Greens

Friday was my fifth and unfortunately last day of juice fasting. I had originally intended to do the juice fast for a minimum of 7 days but hoping to achieve a maximum of 10 days. However an unforseen event changed all that. Those of you who know me, know that I’m clumsy, very much so. I’m constantly dropping things, spilling things, falling over, tripping, stumbling, breaking things, hurting myself etcetera. Friday afternoon was just another clumsy misstep in a long line of them. I was frantically trying to get my things together before work, while simultaneously trying to organize the kitchen. My juicer was still disassembled from breakfast, and the parts were scattered over the counter top to dry. In a flash I decided I should hand dry the parts and put the machine back together before work, so as I scrambled to do this I accidently knocked one of the pieces off of the counter top where it went crashing to the floor - breaking. Yes, after less then 10 days I broke my brand new juicer! Can you believe it? I was so upset, heartbroken really. The piece that broke was pretty important, it’s the part the houses the blade and pulp basket, it also has the nozzle that directs juice into your glass. The juicer doesn’t really work without it. So a few tears later and a long story short we were able to order a replacement part, however there was no getting it by the next day and thus my fast was ended for me. Which sucks because Friday ended up being the best day of the fast!

8:30am - Woke up, felt very happy, and positive and looking forward to the day. However since I went to bed kind of late I was also feeling a bit lazy, and since I didn’t need to be at work for hours, and since I didn’t have anything pressing to do I decided to remain in bed with my husband and cuddle. It’s not often the case that we have a lot of free-time in the morning to cuddle and be carefree so when these opportunities present themselves I always try to take them.

10:30am -We finally got out of bed. I was still feeling pretty good. Happy, rested, rejuvenated. Though I’d gone to bed late I’d had a particularly good nights sleep..

11:30am - Made breakfast. 30oz Green Juice called Sweet Greens from Kris Carr’sCrazy Sexy Kitchen” which had Apple, Kiwi, Lemon, Cucumber, Kale, Romaine and it was suppose to have dandelion Greens as well, but I didn’t have those so I subbed arugula instead. Man I really like juicing arugula!  Overall the juice was pretty darn good.

12:30am - I decided to make a 25oz fruit juice called Apple Twist from "The Art of Raw Living Food" by  Doreen Virtue and Jenny Ross. It had Apples, Pears, and Blood Oranges. SO YUM! Really, truly amazing!

Apple Twist

1pm - Went for a walk.

2:45pm - Started getting ready for work. I was feeling good, full of energy and positive. I wasn’t hungry yet but knew I would probably be hungry in a couple of hours. I debated making juice to bring with me to drink on my breaks but then realized I wouldn’t have enough time to make any juice plus clean the machine before I needed to leave. Instead I opted to make a coconut-wheatgrass-spirulina drink to take with me, and it was just around this time that I broke my juicer. I suppose at this point I could have ended the fast, but I was feeling so good that I was determined to make it a full five days at least.

6pm - Drank half of my coconut water-wheatgrass drink on break then went and bought a 16oz raw fresh pressed pineapple, apple, mint juice. This was fantastic! The juice was made by a company called BluePrint Juice and it was really phenomenal!

8pm - Drank a couple of glasses of water and a kombucha

10pm - Finished the rest of my coconut water - wheatgrass drink

Coconut Water-Wheatgrass-Spirulina

11:15pm - Upon arriving home from work I wasn’t feeling hungry at all, but I felt I should have something so I just had some herbal tea and a bit more coconut water. Plain this time, no wheatgrass.

12:30am - Went to bed.

Overall Thoughts for the Day - 

This was the best day by far. I felt positive all day, and aside from breaking my juicer I didn’t feel depressed or frustrated at all. I never once thought about braking my fast or even wanting to break it. I was looking so forward to achieving seven days, and feeling positive and confident enough in myself to think I could probably manage ten days after all. I was high on good vibes and I had a lot of energy which was nice. I don’t know if I would say I had more energy on Friday then on any other Friday, but I certainly started having more energy then I’d had on pervious days of the fast.

As for ‘Detox’ symptoms there were none, and I really mean that. No headaches, and there was no stinky vegetable breath, and no vegetable taste in my mouth. Not even after I drank my breakfast juice or any other juice or the wheatgrass. My mouth tasted clean, and my breath smelt normal, finally. I think I was more happy about this then almost anything else because that vegetable taste was really driving me mad. I still had a white coating on my tongue but it wasn’t as much, and of course all the other things still applied. Meaning the bacterial infection was gone, the itchy skin was gone, the itchy ears, the pimples, the gas, the bloating. Everything had cleared up and I’d even lost a little weight on top of it. I  felt really fantastic, light, and clean. It’s really hard to accurately describe just how good I was feeling, but I felt like I could do anything like I could conquer any task. I felt really alive. So I was pretty sad my fast came to such an abrupt end.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Juice Fast Day 4...

Iron Builder Juice

Thursday was my fourth day of juice fasting, - I know, I’m behind, I’d hoped to catch up over the weekend but things were a bit hectic.

8:30am - Woke up, felt positive, happy, full, and energized for the day.

10:30am - Made breakfast. I made the same Green Juice I’d been making the previous two days - the Bitter Detox juice - but this time added some collard green stems and a mango as well. I also followed with the same strawberry kiwi juice I’d been enjoying.

12pm - Went for a walk.

2-2:30pm - Enjoyed Kombucha, herbal tea and water

4pm - On hearing the results of my final exam for my Anatomy and Physiology Class I was pretty bummed out, and started feeling really depressed. I passed the final with a more then acceptable grade, a low A but I had hoped to do better. - Yes, I am a bit of an overachiever. - I started feeling frustrated and fed-up and didn’t want to do the fast anymore. I was upset about the test and wanted to eat - or more accurately ‘junk-out.’

5:30pm - Instead of giving into negative feelings and breaking my fast I decided to take a nap.

6pm - I was still feeling depressed, but also hungry so I made myself a juice. The Iron Builder Juice from Douglas McNish’s book “Eat Raw, Eat Well’ it contains beets, carrots, apple, and lemon. It tasted better then I thought it might although 32oz was a lot of it to drink. After drinking it and feeling full again I felt a little better, slightly more positive. I decided to take some time to relax and clear my mind. So I read.

9pm - I was feeling much better. I wasn’t hungry so instead I just had the same coconut water - wheatgrass - spirulina mix from the day before with a glass of water.

1:30am - Went to bed.

Overall Thoughts for the Day -

Par usual I felt great in the morning and as it drew nearer to the afternoon I started to come down, and began feeling depressed. The news of my final didn’t help matters and that just made my frustration and negative feelings worse. I really wanted to break the fast and quit, but by 9:30-10pm I was feeling good again. I’d taken some time out to relax and clear my mind and rethink why I was doing the fast in the first place. I forced myself to look on the positive side and reminded myself not to get so bogged down in silly details.

As far as ‘Detox’ symptoms go I still had the vegetable breath, and vegetable taste in my mouth, along with the milky coating on my tongue. However I started to notice other positive changes. The itchy skin and pimples had long since vanished already, but now I began noticing other things improving. Things that ad never even occurred to me. For starters, every morning I wake up and have a lot of mucous in my throat. I have to clear my throat a lot in the morning and it’s very annoying to me. This has been going on for years now, and it started after I moved to Chicago. I don’t have any diagnosed or confirmed allergies but I know this morning mucous has to do with the level of pollution in Chicago, as well as the climate.  Both of which were very extreme changes to me when I first moved out here from Vancouver, and both of them are things I still am not - and can not get - used to. When I travel I notice the morning mucous either goes away completely or lessens depending on where I am in the world.  Yet while on this juice fast the morning mucus went away. I also sneeze frequently, not all day long or anything and not always everyday but I sneeze enough to realize that while on the juice fast I hadn’t sneezed even once. Which I found notable.

Little realizations like this reminded me in my most desperate moments why I was doing the juice fast, what I was trying to achieve and what else I might be able to achieve. These things kept me strong, and I ended the day looking forward to the next, and what it might bring.

PS: Sorry, I only have one new picture for you today, since the other juices I drank are all stuff you’ve already seen.