Friday, January 23, 2015

12 days without Chocolate (and a few other things) [RECIPES]

Last night a group of friends came over for a craft party. One of my friend brought a bag of chocolate covered pretzels—my weakness, I thought…that salty sweet, and a treat I didn’t have to buy myself. I had peeked at the packaging and saw sugar as the second ingredient, confirming that these were out of line with my 2015 goal to cut out processed sugar. Then, despite a few attempts of my brain trying to rationalize it being okay to have “a few,” deep down I knew better, and soon the feelings quieted. The test of my willpower to stick with my resolutions wasn’t complete, however. Most of my decision was made because sugar, chocolate and anything with flour, like pretzels, aren’t a part of my 12 day cleanse.  
Craftin' it out

Like countless American’s across the country, I started my new year with a vow to “be healthier.” My twenty year old self would roll her eyes (just like some of my friends and family do) at this resolution, stating that I’m already really healthy. “So what, you’re just eating vegetables now? Are you on the rabbit diet?” they might tease. But the truth is, there are endless improvements you can make to your diet, lifestyle and exercise regimen to feel better about yourself. Honestly, there are a LOT of different diets and lifestyles that you can practice at to find which one fits you. I should have also rolled my eyes because “be healthier” is a pretty crappy resolution in terms of measurability of success.

To achieve my more specific goals (which I won’t outline here), I started the Wild Rose Herbal D-Tox: a little cleanse in a box that I had done before. Compared to the Master Cleanse I did in 2011, in which I had nothing but spicy lemonade for 9 days (didn’t quite make it to 10), this one is a breeze. I mean, getting to actually chew food is a huge step up, but getting to chew food that I enjoy is cake. I like that the small D-tox guide reminds us that “this is how most of the world eats. And to them, this would be a feast.” This is a gentle way of saying not to bitch about not getting to eat bananas or cottage cheese.

What was mostly appealing about this diet, other than the easy instructions (6 pills at breakfast and dinner with some liquid herbal extract) was that it’s very similar to my general plant-based diet. By cutting out the extra flours and yeasts, I hope to negate some of the sugar and creams I gorged on during the holidays (if only it were that easy).

The results during this detox were a lot more evident than what I remember from my previous run. I didn’t exactly take it easy like they recommended, doing long workouts each day. I did take a few more rest days than I normally would but that’s also ‘cause I’ve been working out harder and longer than usual. I noticed getting light headed more than usual, but attributed that to not drinking enough water. The guide reminds us that during any detox you should drink more water than usual (although I generally drink a lot). I definitely felt some other symptoms of a detox- fatigue, swelling of glands, white-coated tongue. I even started my period. All of these things, as I’ve learned from various sources over the years, are signs of the body releasing toxins. It felt good knowing those things were being pushed from my fat cells (where many toxins are stored), but it always makes me wonder just what’s hiding in there.

The biggest successes are my change in cravings. I’ve read in countless diet plans about people who start drinking juices every morning or switch to a plant based diet and finally cut out sugars and now they’re actually craving fruits and vegetables. I always thought this was sort of a crock… I mean, you can want fruits and veggies, but you’ll still know how good a chocolate covered ice cream sandwich is, right? Well, I can officially say that I understand now. Without sugar or bread as an option for starches, I began to think of an apple with tahini as key lime pie, or an avocado drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper as a delicious creamy treat. I’m still working on tapping into what my body truly craves…but eating simpler is a way to focus on that, while meeting my ultimate goal of cutting out processed sugar.
Shortly after I began my 12 day d-tox, my partner began his own shift in diet. Going back to a specific diet that he tried a few months ago, Amil is phasing into a lot of fasts, simple meals and cleanses. I won’t give it all away on here, because I won’t do it justice, but if you want more information (and I highly encourage you to check it out), then you go his blog(which I hoped would be up and running by the time I published this, but it's check back?).
Seeing Amil’s simple diet next to mine, the cabbage tacos, vegan potatoes au gratin, and salads I was eating looked very complex—I felt like a fat kid in acandy store. As I reached for salt and pepper to spice my meal, and looked longingly at the nutritional yeast (nooch), I would think about how many hours it had been since Amil last ate, and be thankful I was about to shove anything in my mouth, let alone a full meal.

With him embarking on his own dietary journey, I’ve found myself lonely in my meal creating (but PROUD that I was even doing meal creating, since he’s usually the chef!). So I thought I would share some of my goodies with you.
Here are some of my favorite d-tox friendly recipes that I’m sure to try again—even when not on the d-tox.

Carob-dusted Roasted Almonds
  1.     Put a couple handfuls of almonds on a baking pan and roast at 200() for about 30 minutes, checking once in a while to ensure they don’t burn.
  2.      Once golden and just a *little* steamy, take out of the oven and pour hot almonds in a bowl. Cover almonds with a few drizzles of coconut oil (if your oil has hardened put it in the warm oven for a few minutes). Finally, put a tablespoon or two of carob powder (like cocoa but sweeter and without caffeine) in the bowl.
  3.      Stir um up! Mix like hell, then let them cool down and store for a sweet (yet sugar free) treat. Then lick the bowl- don’t let all that extra carob/coconutty goodness go to waste!

Chick-pea Salad (Inspired by the sisters at Sketch-free eating)
  1. Cook 2 cups (1 cup dry) chick peas until soft. I like to sprout mine for a few days beforehand. 
  2. While beans are cookin' chop 1 stick of celery, 1/2 a red onion, and some pecans. 
  3. When beans are done, mash them up to desired consistency. I like it kind of chunky. 
  4. Add the chopped ingredients (plus anything else on hand you want to get rid of)
  5. In a jar, mix 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup tahini, 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon Braggs liquid amino's, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, and juice from 1 lemon. Pour on salad and mix. Add salt, pepper, smoked paprika and red pepper flakes to taste.

I put it on a bed of kale and topped with avocado. 

Meatless taco salad/Cabbage Tacos.
Inspired by one of my favorite salads growing up, and by the abundance of grains and beans in my pantry, I put together this little salad:
·         2 cups cooked barley
·         2 cups cooked black beans
·         1 10oz bag of corn (lightly roasted on the stove with some Mexican spices)
·         1 cup chopped carrot tops
·         5 green onions sliced from end to end
·         1 shredded carrot
·         ¼ cup olive oil with salt and pepper
·         1 lime, squeezed
I mixed it all up and enjoyed! For days! It was great cold, and I took it with me whenever I knew I’d have to eat out (at a meeting) and wouldn’t find any food (like at the pizza place my book club convened). 

I also tried it hot in Cabbage Tacos.
  1.     In a medium pan, sautee 2 thinly sliced bell peppers with oil of choice ( I used grapeseed). After they start getting tender, add a sliced onion. Continue cooking until tender, adding preferred spices ( I used cumin, chipotle powder, salt, pepper and cayenne).
  2.      When the onions start to caramelize (usually you can tell this because they’re translucent, but with all the spices I put on, they just looked golden) take the pepper mixture off the pan and put on a couple scoops of the previously mentioned salad. Squeeze on some lemon juice and cook until warmed.
  3.     Pour salad on a large leaf of red cabbage, top with peppers and mash on some avocado. Enjoy!

I reinvented it yet a third time (yes there was a lot and by this time I was eatin’ it by myself) by making a sort of taco salad.
1.       Heat leftover peppers and salad in a pan on the stove. Add extra seasoning as necessary +.5 tablespoon of oil. Crack an egg over the mixture and stir until cooked.
2.       While that’s heating, finely chop some greens of your choice. I used kale and beet greens, but it’d be fine with romaine or iceberg if that’s your preference (though it’s too white to be considered a green by my book).
3.       Put the heated stuff on the green stuff and top with an avocado. Mix and mash then shovel it in (to your mouth).

Bean dip (adapted from Poratos au gratin recipe in The Vegan Stoner Cookbook)
  1.      Cook up about two cups of soaked white beans.
  2.      Mash beans with 3 gloves chopped garlic, ½ cup coconut milk ½ cup rice milke, ¼ cup tahini, mustard powder to taste, and a little thyme.
  3.      Spread into a pan and bake at 250 for 10-15 minutes, until light brown on top.
  4.      Use it as a dip with your favorite veggies. I love mine with slices of bell pepper.

Black Bean Pasta with Lima Bean “alfredo”
One day while I was at the gym, I had a craving for oily noodles. Wheat is not recommended on the cleanse, nor is any flours, so you’d think that would pasta…however, I happened to have a bag of black bean pasta, made not from flour but from just black beans, sitting in the pantry from Amil’s co-op days. Instead of just drizzling it with oil I decided to use the lima beans that I had been soaking for two days.
                Lima Bean alfredo- 

White beans on black beans with some cabbage on the side. And I was surprisingly non-gassy!

  1. Cook beans until soft. 
  2. In the mean time, heat ¼ cup of oil in a pan and saute a couple cloves of garlic. 
  3. When the beans are done, put them in a blender/food processor with the garlic and oil and 1 cup of alternative milk (I used organic sprouted rice milk because that’s what was on sale the last time I went to the co-op, but I wished I had a thicker one like oat, soy or hemp milk. I considered opening a can of coconut milk, but the rice milk turned out fine). 
  4. Blend until creamy. Pour into a pan with spices of choice. I used salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. And a little thyme. I added a little arrowroot powder to offset the thinness of the milk, but then poured a little water in to the blender to rinse out what was left and dumped that into the pan. 
  5. 'Alfredo' in pan. It looked pretty convincing. And a lot more appealing to me than 3 kinds of dairy.
  6. Cook black bean pasta according to package. Scoop white onto black and enjoy. I had mine with a little salad. 

With the 12 day d-tox behind me, I’m going to continue to eat a sugar-free, dairy free diet whilst slowly adding in flours and yeasts. I’ve been craving my nooch (nutritional yeast)!

I had a nice realization at the beginning- what takes 12 days of focus to remove can be undone with a single bite, in a single moment, so I'm definitely going to stay focused on this. 

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