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.

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