Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cumin Is The Spice of Life...

Long time readers of this blog may remember that there was a time when I did a series entitled “The Spice of Life” in which I featured a different spice and told you about it’s cultural history, as well as it’s healing properties or potential. It’s been a few years since I did the last one, I got side-tracked with other things and school took up so much of my time that I didn’t have any time leftover to really do personal - non-school-related - research, but I really miss doing those posts, and I think it’s great information to share and so my goal for the year is to start doing them again.  Starting today, with one of my favorite spices of all time - Cumin! I absolutely love cumin, I adore it, I use it liberally in a lot of my cooking, it is fantastic and wonderful, and makes food taste great, but that’s not even the best part.

Cumin -


Cumin is a flowering plant in the Apiaceae family, native from the East Mediterranean all the way to India. For millennia it has been used as both a spice and as a medicine. In fact there’s evidence of cumins use in Indian archaeological sites that date back to the second millennium BC and some New Kingdom Archaeological sites in Egypt that date as far back as the 11th century BC, where it was used - at least in part - in the mummification process of the Pharaohs. Cumin is even mentioned in the Bible, both as a culinary spice, as well as a form of currency! All this is to say that Cumin has been around for a very long time, and was once highly prized.

It’s hard to say exactly where it was originally cultivated, some say Iran, some say Egypt, some say the Mediterranean.  The ancient Greeks and Romans used cumin widely in their cooking, and the Greeks actually kept jars of it on their kitchen tables as we would do with pepper today. During the Middle Ages cumin was one of the most common spices used in Europe, where somehow it became a symbol of love and fidelity. It was carried in the pockets of wedding attendees, and women would commonly bake it into bread to give to their soldier husbands as they left for war. Certain Arabic traditions also consider cumin a symbol of love and fidelity and even consider it to have aphrodisiac properties.

From Europe Cumin was introduced to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese colonists. Though popularity of the spice dropped off in Europe after the Middle Ages it still remains an widely used and extremely important spice in the Middle East, and India. Interestingly today India produced 70% of the world cumin supply, and consumed 90% of it’s own supply! (63% of the world production) Other producers of Cumin are Syria, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Morocco, China, and Chile.

Health Benefits 

Cumin has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine as a digestive aid. In fact in Sanskrit Cumin is known as Jiraka, Jira meaning “That which helps digestion.”Ayurvedic medicine also uses Cumin as a way to enhance appetite, taste perception, vision, strength, and lactation. It’s also used to treat ailments such as fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal distension, and edema. Though it has been used for centuries as a digestive aid medical science is just starting to prove it. Recent research has shown that cumin may stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes which are compounds necessary for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation.

Recent research has also suggested that Cumin may have anti-carcinogenic properties. In animal studies cumin was shown to protect laboratory animals from developing stomach or liver tumors.  It’s thought that this is due to cumins potent free-radical scavenging abilities as well as the ability it has shown to enhance the liver’s detoxification enzymes. Since free radical scavenging and detoxification are important for the general maintenance of wellness, cumin’s contribution to our overall health may reach even further then that, only time will tell.

Cumin is also a significant source of iron which helps to boost our energy and is integral to enhancing our immune system. Iron is particularly important to children and menstruating women. 2tsp of Cumin contains 15% iron, 7% manganese, 4% copper, 3% Calcium, 3% magnesium, 2% Phosphorus, and 2% B1.


There are many ways to enjoy cumin. It’s typically used most in North African, Middle Eastern, Spanish, and Indian cuisine. So use it in curries, korma’s, and dal’s. You can use it to flavor chili, stews, and soups. It’s often used in hummus, and chili as well as other Spanish or Tex-Mex dishes. You can add cumin to a black bean salad or a black bean dip or even a black bean salsa. Add cumin seeds to bread, or flatbread, or incorporate them into homemade pizza dough. You can rub vegetables with a little olive oil and sprinkle cumin over them and roast them for a delicious side dish. It makes a great compliment to any hearty bean or lentil dish, and adding cumin seeds into brown rice gives the rice a really nice aromatic flavor, add some dried apricots and almonds for extra pizzazz. You can even saute vegetables in a little oil and cumin along with other spices you might like and serve it atop a plate of rice or cous cous for a North African flavor.

If you’re interested in a more medicinal use you can make cumin tea by boiling cumin seeds in water and then letting them steep for 10 minutes. This concoction is reported to be both warming and soothing.

Lastly the combination of black pepper, cumin and honey is considered an aphrodisiac in certain Middle Eastern countries, whether or not it actually works is anyone’s guess , but it is a tasty way to dress vegetables, tofu or tempeh. Only I’d urge you to replace the honey with agave instead, for a cruelty-free option.

May your life be rich in spice! And as always happy and health eating to you!

If you enjoyed this post check out -

Close Is The Spice of Life
Sage Is The Spice of Life
Thyme Is The Spice of Life
Dill Is The Spice of Life
Black Pepper Is The Spice of Life

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January Cleanse Part 4...

I really love everything I’ve been eating this month. I love clean meals, and whole foods prepared simply, but I also love decadence, and I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so this week was kind of weird for me. I feel entirely satisfied by everything I’m eating but my brain keeps day-dreaming about things like pizza and dessert. Unfortunately I had a few ‘slips’ this week but in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t all that bad.

Monday started off the same as all the other days, water and a orange/grapefruit juice. - Definitely a favorite combo of mine. I followed that up with this Luscious Fruit and Flax Smoothie that I talked about earlier this week. Seriously it’s so good! And that actually kept me going right until dinner. Monday was kind of busy for us, we were out and about and so there wasn’t a lot of time to stop and make lunch, plus we ate dinner earlier then normal so it kind of worked out.

Fruit and Flax Smoothie 

For dinner I made these delicious Black Bean and Roasted Sweet Potato Burgers from Kris Carr’s “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” they’re full of black beans, sweet potato, onion, brown rice, garlic, cumin, chili powder, tamari, and cornmeal, and they are amazing! No lie, I could probably eat these everyday. Instead of eating them on a burger bun with all the fixin’s though I opted for a healthier approach and served them atop a green salad that had romaine, spinach, diced tomato, green onion, and avocado. The greens were lightly dressed in the leftover Organic Green Garlic Dressing I bought the night before.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Burgers 
On a salad 

Monday night I was also feeling something of a sweet craving. After being so good all month I really just wanted something that felt decadent, but I didn’t want to fall completely off the wagon and so I made these Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies from Kathy Hester’s book “The Great Vegan Bean Book” Now. I know what you’re thinking, “Chickpeas in a cookie?” it sounds wrong, and maybe even a little bit disgusting but they are AMAZING! Even my husband loved them and he’s skeptical always skeptical about beans. What’s really great about these cookies is that they’re simple and not all that terrible for you. There are only 81 calories per cookie, and they’re made with whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chickpeas, non-dairy milk, vanilla extract, sugar, and chocolate chips. I only used ½ Cup of sugar instead of the recommended 1 cup so they were even better! The cookies are also suppose to have chopped pecans which I love, but my husband doesn’t like nuts and so I opted to leave those out. I was truly amazed at how moist and fluffy these cookies were, and I’m super excited to try some of Kathy’s other beany desserts. Of course I probably ate one or two more then I should have but I also started going back to the gym Monday - FINALLY - so I think it works itself out.

Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Throughout this cleanse I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not going to be very realistic for me to train my body/tastebuds to not want sugar or sweets ever, but I think re-training myself to be satisfied with only a little - rather then gorge myself on a lot - is doable for the long term.

Tuesday I stared with a green juice and then another Fruit and Flax smoothie. For lunch I made a big green salad. It was kind of like a coleslaw only it was full of collard greens, green cabbage, shredded carrots, green onions, sunflower seeds and cranberries. As a dressing I made Kris Carr’s Artichoke Cashew Aioli which is made with cashews, water, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, agave, garlic, salt, artichokes, tarragon, parsley, shallot and lemon zest. I thinned it out with a bit of water so it was more like a dressing and it tasted amazing over my salad.

Collard Green Cabbage Salad
With Cashew Artichoke Aioli

Dinner was left over Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers atop another salad. The salad was basically the same this time except it had corn instead of avocado and was dressed with chipotle olive oil and pineapple vinegar. Delicious!

Wednesday started off with another green juice, but instead of following it up with a smoothie I decided to have some home-made cereal. I felt like something chewable, and I wanted something fiber-rich and filling. So I made my favorite cereal. It’s a bowl of rolled oats, flax seed, chia seed, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, raisins, fresh banana and almond milk with a few drops of vanilla stevia. I also added in some fresh diced pineapple since I had some. It’s so good, and kept me full all day.

Home-made Cereal 

Dinner was new, and it was kind of a feast. First we had Zucchini Carpaccio from Kris Carr’s “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” which is raw thin sliced zucchini drizzled with olive oil and garnished with parsley, sea salt and black pepper. Super simple and yet so flavorful.

Zucchini Carpaccio

With it we had the Sauteed Chard from CSK which was super simple too. Just chard, garlic, shallot, tamari, olive oil, and nutritional yeast.

Sauteed Chard 

I also made the Pastrami-Spiced Carrots with White Bean Sauerkraut Puree from CSK which was AMAZING! Truly the standout dish, I mean this may be my new favorite recipe for carrots. All you do is rub them in a little olive oil, then some Montreal Steak Seasoning - Quebec Beef Seasoning in my case - and roast them for about 25 minutes until they’re tender but still crisp. Then you pari them with a deliciously flavored white bean puree. Kind of like a hummus but it’s got that tangy umami flavor thanks to Dijon Mustard and Sauerkraut. What an inventive way to use kraut by the way, I never would have thought about it!

Pastrami-Spiced Carrots 
White Bean Sauerkraut Dip

Lastly we had the Polenta Squares with Marinara from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s book “The 30 Day Vegan Challenge” I like polenta well enough, but I’d never had these fried - or you can grill them - polenta squares before. Since I was really craving fries I thought why not go for a healthier option, and it was magical.

Polenta Squares with Marinara 

Later for dessert I had 1 square of Endangered Species Dark Chocolate. Just one square! Do you know what an accomplishment that is for me?

Thursday was pretty much the same as Wednesday except I started with orange/grapefruit juice. I had the same cereal and that kept me full all day.

For Dinner I was feeling like noodles and so I decided to make the Double Mushroom Jap Chae from Terry Hope Romero’s “Vegan Eats World” Her recipe is pretty simple and still tastes really traditional. It uses Sweet potato noodles, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, gochuchang, shiitake mushrooms, black cloud mushrooms, bok choy, onion, carrot, green onion, and sesame seeds. Only I didn’t have shiitake or black cloud mushrooms and so I subbed in Woodear Mushrooms and Chinese Black Fungus. I also didn’t have bok choy but she says you can sub in spinach if you prefer so that’s what I did. I also took her suggestion and added some diced baked tofu. The end result was incredible, and so satisfying.

Double Mushroom Jap Chae

Friday began the same again. Orange/Grapefruit Juice, and a small glass of green juice as well. I had a small bowl of cereal, and then in late afternoon I had some leftover polenta squares with marinara and the remainder of the Pastrami-Spiced Carrots and white bean sauerkraut dip.

Around six I grabbed a Suja Mango-Feugo Juice which was incredible.

And when I got home from work that night I enjoyed a nice steaming bowl of this delicious Chickpea and Root Vegetable Tagine from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. It’s got chickpeas, carrots, sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, lemon, raisins and olives. Along with red pepper flakes, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon. It was suppose to be green olives but I didn’t have any and so I used kalamata instead. I served it with couscous and it made a wonderful hearty meal for a cold winter night.

Chickpea and Root Vegetable Tagine 

Overall Aside from a few cravings I felt pretty good. Good energy level, felt pretty accomplished, was in a positive mood etc... but the biggest thing was I started back at the gym. Weights, and swimming how I missed thee! Due to schedule conflicts I only got to go 3 nights out of the week, but 2 nights I did some exercise - light weights, sit ups, pushups - at home, and now that I’m no longer sick I started walking again. Each day I went out for a thirty minute walk in the afternoon. Though I’d like to have gone longer I think 30 minutes in this arctic temperature is about as much as my dog can handle.

Until next time.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Luscious Fruit and Flax Smoothie...

I thought I would take a moment to share with you my favorite smoothie of late. I’ve made it quite a few times now and it’s everything you could want in a smoothie. Dense, satisfying, filling, sweet - but not too sweet, and nutritious. I’ll admit that as much as I love flax, I’m not always so diligent about eating it, but I just recently watched a fascinating video with Michael Gregor about the importance of Omega-3 Fatty Acids that’s got me thinking up new ways to include this vital powerhouse food into my diet daily.

Smoothies are the easiest way for me to consume flaxseed. I feel like if I do it all in one go right in the morning then it’s done and I don’t have to worry about it. If I leave it until later the truth is I’ll probably forget to sprinkle it on my salad or my pasta or my broccoli or what have you. Best to do it first thing, and why not have it in a delicious smoothie? The addition of flax to a smoothie gives the drink a really luscious texture reminiscent of a milkshake, and with the great flavor bursts in this particular concoction you’ll feel like you’re having something decadent when really you’re drinking tons of healthful nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. So give it a try, and enjoy!

Luscious Fruit and Flax Smoothie

1 Navel Orange
1 Banana
1-2 Handfuls Baby Spinach
1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
2 Tbsp Ground Flaxseed
1 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
4 Drops Liquid Vanilla Stevia (Optional)

- Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend on high for 60-90 seconds until completely smooth.

*** Note - If you can't find liquid Stevia or don't wish to use it you can use another sweetener of choice and add in 1/2-1 tsp of vanilla extract instead.***

Monday, January 20, 2014

January Cleanse Part 3...

Wild Mushroom and Minted Brussels Pho Show

Last Tuesday began much the same as any other day I’ve had on this cleanse. A glass of water, a bottle of Immune Me Juice, and a little later on a bowl of oatmeal. Since I was rather busy on Tuesday and we had a ton of leftovers I decided that Tuesday night would be a ‘leftovers’ night. I ate the leftover Coconut Red Lentil Soup, My husband ate the left over Crazy Sexy Chili, and we each had a nice bowl of Garlic and Greens Soup since there wasn’t much left of either of the other two.

Garlic and Greens Soup
Wild Mushroom/Brussels Pho

Wednesday brought a new day and a new dinner. The morning was the same, juice, and then a green smoothie of spinach, banana, wheatgrass, water, and stevia. Which I forgot to photograph. I ate the last bowl of Garlic and Greens Soup for lunch and then dinner was this luscious and delicious Wild Mushroom Ginger, and Minted Brussels Pho Show from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. I’d been dying to make this soup ever since I got the book but somehow I just never got around to it. I have to say it doesn’t exactly taste like a traditional pho - one of my favorite ever soups - but it is damn delicious. There are so many mushrooms in it - portobello, shiitake, maitake, and button! It has baby corn, water chestnuts, mint, onion, bok choy, anise, lime, soy sauce and brussels sprouts. I love the idea of using brussels sprouts in this soup. I love them, and I think they’re a really under utilized vegetable. Everyone always roasts them, which is great and all, but it’s nice to have a little sprout creativity once in a while. You can eat this soup as is or serve it with your choice of noodles, I picked rice noodles because pho just isn’t pho without some rice noodles you know?

Thursday started off with more juice, and then a smoothie. I wanted something a little different from my usual green smoothie and so I decided to go with the Aztec Spirit from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. This smoothie has almond milk, cacao powder, vanilla, cayenne, maple syrup and kale. It also calls for espresso but that’s listed as optional and so I opted out since I’m staying away from coffee on this cleanse. The flavor of this was really crazy, you could definitely taste the ‘greenness’ but it was almost masked by the sweetness and the chocolate. The strange combination really appealed to me, and I found it really satisfying. Since chocolate is something I’m trying to stay away from on the cleanse I cut the amount of cacao powder to a 1/4 cup. I’ve definitely had a few chocolate cravings in the past week, and this smoothie really satisfied that need without turning me into a choc-o-holic.

Woodstock Peace Salad 

Lunch was another giant Woodstock Peace Salad - this one had romaine, spinach, red cabbage, sunflower seeds, green onion, tomato, chickpeas and black olives. Super delicious.

Lentil and Chard Ragout Over Wild Rice 

For dinner we had another meal from Crazy Sexy Kitchen - the Lentil and Chard Ragout. Honestly when I looked over the recipe I didn’t think it was going to be that fantastic. I feared it might be bland but it turned out to be super delicious, I was really amazed/ I love how simple it is too - just Beluga Lentils, Swiss Chard, shallots, garlic, peas, nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes, parsley, lemon zest, salt, pepper, thyme, broth and sherry. It also calls for Earth Balance but I left that out. I took Carr’s advice and paired it with a plate of wild rice, which was a delicious suggestion but doesn’t make for a very lovely or cheerful photo - sorry.

Friday started off with more juice and then an Aztec Spirt. For lunch I made a big batch of the Greensicle Smoothie from Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen to take with me to work. It’s got almond milk, oranges, vanilla, agave, spinach, and romaine leaves. Very tasty. I also ended up drinking a Suja Mango Juice that had mango, Serrano chili, and some other tasty fruits in it.

Aztec Spirit Smoothie 

Dinner was leftover Pho and leftover Ragout.

Saturday I had no more juice left and no time to make anymore before work. Instead I started my day with another Greensicle smoothie, and then I made a batch of the Strawberry Fields Smoothie also from Crazy Sexy Kitchen to take to lunch. This one had Almond milk, strawberries, lemon zest, orange, banana, and spinach, and it was amazing!

Greensicle Smoothie 

The smoothie kept me mostly full throughout the day but I did get hungry around 7pm or so and so I ate 2 packets of Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter. I find that when I’m working, and I get hungry something small and protein rich gets me through.

Curried Nada-Egg Salad Wrap

For dinner we had the Curried Nada-Egg Salad with Watercress Wraps from Crazy Sexy Kitchen except I didn’t have watercress and so I used Arugula instead. This was a really good tofu ‘egg’ salad. I love a good curried tofu salad, and this one had tofu, green onions, carrot, parsley, cilantro, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, curry, sea salt - I opted to use black salt instead, - and black pepper. I didn’t have gluten-free tortillas and so we used sprouted tortillas which is better then just eating the regular wheat kind anyway. The salad also uses a home-made cashew aioli but I didn’t have the time to make it before work so the recipe says you can use Vegenaise instead which I had, so I used that despite not wanting to eat processed foods on the cleanse. These were really good and filling wraps though I think next time I’ll do it with the gluten-free or regular tortillas. Sprouted tortillas are great, but they’re a bit tough.

Sunday I started with another Greensicle Smoothie because I didn’t have time to make juice that day either. Then I made a big batch of smoothie to take for lunch with me. This time it was my own concoction of almond milk, blueberry, orange, banana, spinach, flaxseed, and vanilla. Very tasty, and a very lovely shade of blue but I forgot to take a picture.

Again this smoothie kept me satisfied most of the day but around 6:30pm my stomach began rumbling and I started craving something solid. I knew I had a nice dinner waiting for me at home and I didn’t want to ruin it but I needed something. I wanted sweets, and I wanted chocolate and I craved pizza and all the bad things I can’t eat right now but instead I opted for a quarter pound of maple roasted cashews and surprise, surprise that did the trick. No more hunger, no more cravings. They weren’t overly sweet, nor were they overly salty, just enough of each to stave off the crazy cravings and give me the satisfaction mastication.

Rice Bowl - Brown Rice, Red Cabbage, Broccoli and Green Onion
With Annie's Organic Green Garlic Dressing 

Dinner was a big hearty rice bowl. Full of brown rice, red cabbage, green onions, and broccoli. Super simple, but delicious. Originally I intended to make a dressing of my own but was so tired by the time I got home I decided ‘to hell with it’ and used Annie’s Organic Green Garlic Dressing instead. This was a super tasty and satisfying meal and I quite liked the dressing which I’d never had before.

And that about brings us up to speed. Overall I still feel great, though I experienced more cravings this past week then I did before. I’m not sure why, but I find the days I have the worst cravings are the days I’m working, and particularly seem to hit at night, around the 7pm mark. It’s all mental I’m sure, and probably related to my soaring stress levels at work but I was happy I had the control and the willpower to recognize this and reject the cravings instead of falling prey to them.

Also since I’m feeling much better today will be my first day getting back into an exercise routine! I’m quite excited about that because it’s been far too long.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January Cleanse Part Two...

And so the cleansing continues - I had meant to post a couple of days ago but time gets away from me, and then I caught a cold middle of last week and didn’t feel all that inspired to write. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping track though, and interestingly being sick has helped me stick pretty rigorously to the cleanse. Since fresh fruit and veggies - lots of garlic, onions and greens - are the best things to eat when you’re under the weather.

Each days starts the same with a 20oz glass of water - there’s nothing particularly special about this number it’s just that all my drinking glasses hold about 20oz of liquid. - Sometimes with lemon and sometimes not it depends on how I feel. I normally drink immediately upon waking, but I don’t always drink a full glass before decided to eat. I’ve found that waiting to eat until I’ve drunk a full glass of water better helps me to determine whether or not I’m actually hungry. You’d be amazed, sometimes those ‘hunger pains’ you feel in the morning is just a need for water.

Grapefruit/Orange/Lemon Juice &
Immune Me Juice 

When I begin to feel hungry again I grab a 12oz bottle of fresh juice. Either it’s the grapefruit, orange, lemon concoction I mentioned before or a green juice. The Green Juice pictured here is the Immune Me Juice from Kris Carr’s “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” it contains cucumbers, green apples, lemon, ginger, and romaine lettuce. Though it’s not my favorite juice from the book - nor my favorite green juice - it’s still pretty good, less sweet then some green juices I’ve had before, with a real cucumber taste. Great ginger zing though.

Everyday Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and today I followed my 12oz juice 2-3 hours later with either a smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal. My bowl of oatmeal is always pretty well the same. Quick cooking oats, sliced almonds, dried cherries or cranberries, fresh or frozen blueberries, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, unsweetened almond milk and a few drops of liquid vanilla stevia. Super hearty and filling.


In the case of the smoothie - which I neglected to photograph each day, my apologies - I either had a Green smoothie - usually a combination of spinach or kale, wheatgrass, banana, pineapple, mango or blueberry and water - or I made the AJ’s Power Smoothie from Kris Carr’s “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” this is a smoothie combo of Almond Milk, Blueberries, Mango, Almond Butter, Cinnamon, Kale, and Spinach. Overall this smoothie is pretty good, though not as sweet as I initially thought it might be.

Masala Tofu Scramble 

On both Friday and Yesterday I was feeling inspired and decided to treat my husband and myself to a breakfast of solid food that wasn’t oatmeal. On Friday I was really feeling like a hearty tofu scramble and so I decided to make the Masala Tofu Scramble from Anupy Singla’s book “Vegan Indian Cooking” It’s a very simple recipe - Tofu, cumin seeds, onion, ginger, Serrano chilies, turmeric, chili powder, sea salt, black salt and cilantro.

Now on this cleanse I’m not doing ‘oil-free’ ‘salt-free’ or ‘gluten-free’ but I am trying to limit all three of these items in my diet to minimal amounts or in the case of wheat - a few times per week. So instead of using the 1 Tbsp of oil called for in this recipe I used 1 tsp. I also used only 3/4 tsp of black salt as opposed to ½ of black salt, and a ½ tsp of sea salt. I also decided we needed a little more green in our life and so I added 1 cup of frozen peas and a generous handful of baby spinach to the scramble. It might sound crazy, but this was one of the best scrambles I’ve ever had. It was moist, and flavorful with great combination of tastes and textures. To make it a bit heartier I served it over dry toasted wheat bread and sliced tomatoes. - The toast in this meal was the first wheat I’d had in 5 days.

Chickpea Flour Crepes 

Due to our tremendous sucsess with Anupy’s Scramble I decided yesterday that I wanted to give another one of her breakfast options a try. This time I wanted something gluten-free and so I picked the Chickpea Flour Crepes - or Besan Poora - from “Vegan Indian Cooking” Making them was a bit like making a socca except instead of cooking the entire batter in a cast iron skillet all at once you make smaller thinner crepes with it. I was kind of skeptical at first about how it might turn out but I have to say these were incredible and so filling! This kept me full pretty much all day. At around 5pm yesterday I had a 12oz juice, and was still only moderately hungry when dinner was ready at about 9pm.

So what’s in these delicious magical crepes you ask? Chickpea flour obviously, and water, onion, ginger, serrano chili, cilantro, sea salt, coriander, turmeric and chili powder. There were also suppose to be fenugreek leave in the batter but I don’t know where you might find those for sale around here - possibly the Indian market but I wasn’t about to run out to look, and so I just left that out. Anupy says that the recipe is pretty adaptable and she encourages you to experiment with different batter ingredients and also suggests filing the crepes. I liked the idea of filling the crepes and so I sauteed the half an onion that didn’t go into the batter, along with some garlic, spinach, and tomato. I happened to have fenugreek seeds in my pantry and so I used 3 tsp of those rather to replace the flavor the leaves might have imparted.  She also suggests serving the crepes along with mint or peach chutney but I didn’t have either nor did I have the proper ingredients to make chutney. Instead I mixed some tamarind concentrate with water and made a quick tamarind chutney to drizzle over the pancakes. Tamarind chutney is my favorite anyway and so I didn’t feel like I was missing out.

The flavor of these crepes was really spectacular, and they kind of reminded me of an egg, even though there were no eggy ingredients in them. Typically I prefer a sweet breakfast if I’m going to have breakfast, but this just might have made me a savory breakfast convert.

Now what I’m sure you’ve all been waiting eagerly to hear about. What have I been eating for dinner? Well Wednesday night was simple I was really just craving greens you know? So I made one of my ‘go-to’ quick and easy rice bowls. This particular one contained brown rice, steamed kale, minced raw garlic, minced pickled ginger, diced tomato, red cabbage, and sesame seeds. Over top I drizzled some of that spectacular Tahini dressing that I’ve been using on my Woodstock Peace Salads. - Which I talked about in January Cleanse Part One

Rice Bowl with Kale 

Thursday night I really needed some immune support you know? All Wednesday night into mid-day Thursday I had a fever of over 100. By Thursday evening I was feeling a little better because the fever had finally broken and gone, but I was tired and needed some food that would support me. I decided to make the Garlic and Greens Soup from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s book “The Vegan Table. This is a super simple soup that uses a whole head of garlic! Plus an onion, potatoes, vegetable broth, kale, salt, pepper, and rice vinegar. It’s actually a really tasty soup despite how simple it sounds although I thought it could use more garlic. Maybe it’s just because I naturally put ½ to 1 full head of garlic into almost all of my meals anyway that I didn’t notice the garlickyness of this, but I ended up adding some extra garlic powder.

Garlic and Greens Soup

Along with the soup I made a salad. The Chopped Salad from Kris Carr’s “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” this is a super simple but delicous and satisfying salad of romaine, chickpeas, parsley, sunflower seeds, flax oil, white balsamic vinegar, sea salt and black pepper. I also added avocado because, well why not? I’ve made this salad on a few occasions before and really like it. Even my husband enjoyed it and he’s neither a big fan of sunflower seeds or chickpeas.

Chopped Salad 

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we ended up having the exact same thing for dinner. The Crazy Sexy Bean Chili from “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” I had really been craving chili for a while and it seemed like the perfect time to make one. Typically my husband is not a fan of chili - he hates beans! I know a vegan that hates beans, absurd! - so he wasn’t too thrilled about it but I decided I didn’t care. I wanted chili he could eat leftovers. This particular chili is made with cumin seeds, olive oil - I used half the amount listed - onion, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, seitan or tempeh - I used seitan because I had some homemade seitan patties in the freezer - zucchini, potato, black beans, kidney beans - I was a bit concerned about this because Kidney beans are the only variety of bean I don’t like! - crushed tomatoes - I didn’t have any so I used 14 oz diced tomatoes and 6 oz tomato sauce - water, maple syrup, sea salt, cilantro and kale.

Crazy Sexy Bean Chili 

This is a super veggie packed chili, but I was a bit skeptical. Most chili recipes I make call for vegetable broth not water, and they typically have more spices so I was worried this chili might be bland. Crazy thing is, it was the most flavorful chili I’ve ever made. Seriously I’ve had some good chili in my time and this really tops the list, it’s probably going to be my ‘go-to’ chili from now on. I didn’t even notice the kidney beans and the mixture of veggies, seitan and beans provided a perfect balance. The chili was so good in fact that my husband tasted a little and then devoured an entire 2 bowls! I’ve never seen him go crazy for chili like that, I’ve never seen him eat beans with such relish! Since he loved it so much and It was so easy to make I decided that after our leftovers ran out Saturday night that I’d make another batch for Sunday. Seriously, this is a totally heavenly chili, and so good it doesn’t need extras like vegan sour cream or vegan cheese - though we did add some diced avocado to the top, because, like, why not?

Last nights dinner was another winning meal from “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” I made the Coconut and Red Lentil Soup and it’s probably one of my favorite red lentil soups now. It’ll probably be another ‘go-to’ recipe for me. Again it’s a super simple recipe, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, olive oil - I used less then half the amount called for - Serrano chili, onion, red lentils, vegetable broth, coconut milk, ginger, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt - the recipe calls for ½ Tbsp but I couldn’t in good conscious put that much salt into anything! So I used 1 tsp. Black pepper - a ½ Tbsp is also called for but I used a little under 1 tsp instead,- fresh cilantro and diced avocado. This soup was really flavorful, really creamy, and just plain delicious.

Coconut and Red Lentil Soup 

So, how have I been feeling? Overall I’d say that despite being sick I’ve felt a lot better then I had been feeling previously. Most noticeable is an increase in energy. I feel more alert, more awake and I’m better able to make it through the day without yawning or laying down for a nap. My brain doesn’t feel foggy, my body doesn’t feel so leaden and heavy. I don’t think I’ve lost weight but I feel lighter and leaner despite that. Probably because I’m not bloated and my bodily functions are normalizing. I have less trouble waking up in the morning and can stay up later - like I used to be able to.

As far as temptations are concerned, yes there have been some hard moments. At least a few times I’ve found myself craving something sweet - particularly chocolate - but I’ve been able to find ways to overcome this. I find these cravings often come in the evening and so if I make a hearty satisfying dinner they typically don’t persist. However if they do I’ve been able to stave them off with fresh juice, or in Thursday’s case a healthy dessert. Thursday I really wanted something sweet and it was driving me bonkers so I decided to make the Banana Chia Pudding from Matthew Kenney’s book “Everyday Raw Express” it’s a super simple Vitamix recipe. You blend together cashews, water, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, ginger, bananas, and agave - I used 1/3 cup instead of the ½ cup called for. Then you pour it over a ½ cup of chia seeds stir and refrigerate until it’s congealed. Bam, practically instant pudding, and while this might not sound all that phenomenal let me tell you. This stuff is like crack! I’m serious, if I could mainline this stuff I would. It’s amazing! What’s great is you don’t even have to feel guilty about eating it! It’s absolutely perfect on it’s own or you can jazz it up with some fresh fruit or chopped nuts.

Banana Chia Pudding 

I also had some caffeine cravings and there was nothing I could do to find a suitable replacement and so I just had to ‘be strong’ and exert my willpower. I try and drink a significant amount of water, and I have been drinking quite a bit of tea - due to the cold - so that does help The occasional Kombucha or coconut water doesn’t hurt either and I remind myself that I feel great after drinking these things as opposed to how I feel after drinking coffee which is an immediate buzz, and then a total crash and ‘blah’ feeling.

So far I’m most proud of myself when it comes to eating at work. I have a bad habit of snacking on junk at work, and work is really my biggest downfall when it comes to sweets. That’s when I crave chocolate the most. Since I’ve been sick I’ve been arming myself with travel mugs of hot tea, and 2 12oz bottles of green smoothie. I sip these things slowly over the course of the day, or save a bottle of smoothie for my lunch break and I’ve found that my hunger was completely satisfied and I felt no need whatsoever for sweets or snacks. Packing a smoothie is also quicker then packing a ‘traditional lunch’ and so I think I’ll continue this trend even after my cleanse is technically over.

The only thing I haven’t been able to do is exercise. I was hoping to get into a real good exercise routine as I started my cleanse but having this cold has kind of thrown that out the window. Low pressure activities like walking would have been acceptable if the weather wasn’t so bad, but with -20 degree temperatures I hardly think it wise to venture outdoors for a walk. I could do some easy yoga inside but the headache and sinus pressure I’ve felt over the past few days made that impossible. Just bending down to tie my shoes had my head feeling like it was going to explode. So exercise will have to wait, but at least the eating portion of the cleanse is going as planned. Stay tuned for the next installment.