Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wellness Cleanse Week 2

And here's how the Wellness Cleanse is going into week two.  Overall this cleanse has been easy-peasy:

Day 8: 
Breakfast:  Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie (with quite a few adjustments, such as one fewer banana and one fewer tablespoon peanut butter, add fennel, apple, chia seeds, and kale), Decaffeinated Chai Tea with Almond Milk.
Lunch: 3 oranges

Dinner:  Paparot (Spinach and Polenta Soup)
Workout:  90 minutes yoga
  • Back to work today after having last week off.  My usual breakfast in the past was yogurt and granola.  The smoothie is simple and really convenient. 
  • I am pretty sure last weeks bumps were bug bites.  Phew.

Day 9: 
Breakfast:  Almond Banana Smoothie (1/2), Decaffeinated Chai Tea with Almond Milk.
Lunch: Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango
Snacks: popcorn
Dinner: Paparot (Spinach and Polenta Soup), Mary's Gone Crackers Herb Crackers, Date-Cashew-Chocolate Balls (minus the sugar), glass of rice mik.
Workout:  75 minutes yoga, 60 minutes bootcamp
  • I really liked this spinach and polenta soup; I found it super filling.  However, the husband found the spinach to bother his teeth.  So we found out why--click the recipe above.
  • I am having a lot of cravings today (sugar, mostly, but also some meat), but mostly because I am exhausted.
  • I am rediscovering making my own popcorn.  Seriously, I have spent years just popping a bag of popcorn into the microwave.  And let's face it, that corn is most certainly genetically modified, covered in preservatives, and loaded with salt and fat.  I have been popping some corn in a big pot with olive oil and light salt.  Yum.

Day 10: 
Breakfast:  Almond Banana Smoothie (1/2), apple, Decaffeinated Chai Tea with Almond Milk.
Lunch:  Paparot (Spinach and Polenta Soup), glass of rice milk
Snack:  Date-Cashew-Chocolate Balls
Dinner: Fajitas (portabello mushrooms, red peppers onions in corn tortillas with salsa), glass of rice milk, Date-Cashew-Chocolate Balls
Workout:  took the day off
  • I want a hamburger.

Day 11: 
Breakfast: Tropical Smoothie (1/2), Decaffeinated Chai Tea with Almond Milk.
Lunch:  Homemade chips and salsa, the last (!) of the Date-Cashew-Chocolate Balls
Snack:  Decaffeinated Chai Tea with Almond Milk, apple, goji berries
Dinner: Wild Mushroom Ragout with brown rice and wild rice.
Workout:  60 minutes bootcamp
  • This week's cashew-date ball is last week's paella--it never seems to end.  Finally, I ate the last one.
  • I am a fan of chips and salsa; however, like microwave popcorn, tortilla chips are loaded with preservatives.  So, I took last night's corn tortillas and fried some up in some sunflower oil and salt and then dipped them into some salsa.  It was perfect.
  • Tomorrow is Family Dinner, a monthly dinner.  I know that Kathy Freston has all kinds of advice about calling ahead to say you're on a cleanse.  But I find that a little, um, inconvenient.  If I were a full time vegan or gluten-free eater or any of that, I would probably actually make that call, but I feel a little weird asking people to accommodate this cleanse.  So I am just going to choose wisely and in moderation. And it's doubtful that there will be a hamburger option, so I am safe from yesterday's craving, which seems to have passed.
Day 12: 
Well, we had family dinner.  I definitely had to break the cleanse, so I am just going to count against the day and start the next one.  I definitely felt quite full and heavy at the end of the night, but I was thoughtful about what I ate, focusing more on the olives, the stuffed mushrooms, and the leek and potato salad. 
Day 12 (part 2):
Breakfast: Grapefruit and Pear Smoothie and Decaffeinated Chai Tea with Almond Milk.
Lunch:  Mushroom Ragout with brown and wild rice.
Snack:  Cornichons, popcorn, date pieces
Dinner:  Falafel with cucumber and tahini dressing.
Workout:  90 minutes yoga
  •  I don't really feel anything after having broken from the cleanse.  However, last night I did feel heavier, more sluggish, but I feel fine today.

Day 13: 
Breakfast:  Smoothie (I cannot remember what kind...) and Decaffeinated Chai Tea with Almond Milk.
Lunch: Homemade chips and salsa
Snack:  dates pieces, hearts of palm
Dinner: Mushroom Ragout with brown and wild rice.
Workout:  60 minutes bootcamp

Day 14: 
Breakfast: Another Everything But the Kitchen Sink Veggie Smoothie (beets, parsley, tomatoes, fennel, kale, cucumber, chia seeds) and Decaffeinated Chai Tea with Almond Milk.
Lunch: Pint of blueberries and the other half of the smoothie
Snack: Pint of blackberries, popcorn (and I even busted open the vegan butter).
Dinner: Glass Noodles with Edamame
Workout:  Took the night off...
  • No real cravings.  Things seem to be going good.
  • I busted open the vegan butter to try it on the popcorn.  It was better than I expected, so that's nice.  However, I don't think I will be reaching for it a lot--but I think that's because I don't use a lot of butter anyway.  I do wonder how well this butter bakes--could one use it in a baking recipe as a substitute for butter if you wanted a vegan baked good?
Overall observations:
  • I definitely had to break the cleanse, but overall, this was an easy week. The husband and I talk about how to continue elements of the cleanse after its over; we keep mulling over that, and I'll try to have some conclusions next week.
  • Okay, it's true, I did want a hamburger, so I even looked at the Morning Star "hamburgers."  Back in the day (as in for ten years) when I was a vegetarian, I used to love these things.  However, this time I decided not to buy them because they contain milk, soy and egg.  
  • I am loving the portability of the smoothie. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Paparot: Spinach and Polenta Soup

Spinach and polenta soup? Yes, please. This rather hearty soup comes from the Fruili-Venezia Giulia region of northeastern Italy, you know, the region where Hemingway spent a good deal of his time. Now, it is doubtful that he spent his time concerned with spinach and polenta soup (no, he had cheese and spoiled wine to attend to*), but this soup would have been well worth it and would have provided plenty of hearty warmth on a cold winter's day.

*Seriously, my favorite part of A Farewell to Arms is when the soldiers are on the run, and they stop in a shelled-out ruin to eat cheese and drink a little spoiled wine. Never was there cheese so well-eaten in such strange circumstances as when the shells explode around them. While this book is not my favorite Hemingway (either For Whom the Bell Tolls or The Sun Also Rises takes that prize), I do love me this book. Cheese. It was good.

Paparot in the dialect of Fruili means "pulsed" and so you can see where this simple soup earns its name.You can easily pulse the spinach in a food processor but it is just as easy to chop it.But you need a lot of spinach. And when I say a lot, I mean 1.25 pounds after it has been cleaned of its stems.That's a lot of green.

Despite the short list of ingredients, it's a hearty soup, which I have needed. I am working through the Wellness Cleanse, and I have been feeling a little unsatisfied these past few days, like I needed to eat a little more. Choose the coarser cornmeal (like the kind used for polenta) rather than the finer cornmeal (although some recipes do call for the fine cornmeal) for the heartier feel and the chewier texture.

The husband, however, was less inclined to like this soup. He said that the spinach made his teeth feel funny, like they were chalky: a sentiment at which I scoffed. Bah. However, it turns out he's not just wackadoodle. According to Science World, the feeling of chalky teeth that some people get while eating cooked spinach is because of oxalic acid; Oxalic acid combines with the calcium in your saliva, and you get "Spinach teeth."This acid also prevents the absorption of and iron, unless you eat spinach with vitamin C, such as a squeeze of lemon.  And there ends your science lesson for the day.

This soup made more then plenty and the leftovers, which took me three days to eat because the husband was not interested in chalky teeth (admittedly, I was a little sick of soup), were just as tasty as the first. If it's only you and one other, perhaps half this recipe. If you're feeding an army, I say double it, and then add a glass of wine on the side. And maybe even some cheese.

One Year Ago: Chicken with Charred Cauliflower and Red Peppers
Two Years Ago: Broiled Crispy Skin Salmon with Gingery Greens
Three Years Ago: Gajar Aur Matar Ka Pulav (Vegetable Pilaf made with Carrots and Peas)

Adapted from  Best Soups in the World

4 servings

2 1/4 pounds spinach, heavy stems removed and washed well
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup cornmeal
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour (again, I am on the gluten-free train, so I used brown rice flour)
5 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Place the spinach with only the water adhering to it from its last rinsing in a large pot.  Cover, turn the heat to high, and steam until the leaves wilt, about 5 minutes.    Strain the spinach, pushing out the excess water with the back of a wooden spoon, and save this water.  Chop the spinach very finely, or pulse in a good processor.

2.  In a pot, heat the olive oil and garlic over low heat.  Add the spinach and cook for 4 minutes.

3.  In a bowl, combine the cornmeal and flour, then stir in a ladle or two of the vegetable broth to form a smooth batter with no lumps.  Pour the remaining broth into the spinach, bring to a near boil over high heat, then return to low and stir in the cornmeal batter slowly, stirring continuously.  Add 1/2 cup of the reserved spinach liquid and cook, partially covered and stirring frequently, until is is thickened and gooey, and the cornmeal is tender, about 20-25 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Another Trio of Smoothies

Another round of smoothies as part of this Wellness Cleanse.  I am learning that because of my sweet tooth, I like the fruit-based smoothies more than than the veggie-based ones.  However, it is still important for me to vary it up.  You'll also notice that the vessel of choice this week was jars.  I had to get them to work.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Veggie Smoothie
4 tomatoes
1 small carrot
2 stalks celery
5 leaves romaine lettuce
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
1 small red pepper
1/3 cup basil
1 pinch salt
1/4 bulb fennel
1/2 cup jicama
2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Hot sauce to taste

Some notes:
  • Oh, well, hello salad.  This literally is drinking your salad.  But quite yummy.
  • Again, another monster smoothie.  But I think I am coming to understand that I like my smoothies a little on the thinner side, so I add more water.  You can add less, have less, and have a thicker smoothie.
  • And seriously, I don't think it matters what veggies you put in this one as long as you have tomatoes as your base.
  • Sweet business:  high in manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin C, not to mention fiber.  
Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 220
Total Fat:  3.9 grams (Saturated Fat .5)
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 229 mg
Carbohydrates:  40.4 grams (Fiber 17.3)
Protein 9.5 grams
Vitamin A:  311%
Vitamin C: 315%
Calcium:  17%
Iron:  19%

Almond Banana Smoothie
2 cups almond milk
1/4 cup almond butter
1 banana, peeled
2 tablespoons flax seed
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or from a vanilla bean
greens (I used 2 leaves kale, 8 leaves romaine)

Some notes:
  • I split this one over two meals because it's a big one.
  • But look a the calcium people!
Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 671
Total Fat:  48.7 grams (Saturated Fat 4.1)
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 369 mg
Carbohydrates:  49.5 grams (Fiber 15.1)
Protein 18.4 grams
Vitamin A:  182%
Vitamin C: 95%
Calcium:  84%
Iron:  33%

Tropical Smoothie
1 cup coconut water
1 blood orange (which I peeled 1/2 of and left the peel on the other half)
3/4 cup mango
1 banana
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 stalk celery
3 leaves kale
1 cup fennel
Ice cubes

Some notes:
  • This one has a lot of sugar grams, which is troubling, but it also has a ton of fiber and vitamin C (and its calcium ain't bad either).
  • One of the tastiest smoothies I rocked this week, and I actually think it is because I used some of the orange peel.  The orange is the dominant flavor, and in a good way.
Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 428
Total Fat:  6.8 grams (Saturated Fat 1.2)
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 324 mg
Carbohydrates:  93.6 grams (Fiber 20.8)
Protein 10.3 grams
Vitamin A:  101%
Vitamin C: 310%
Calcium:  31%
Iron:  19%