After thirteen days drinking a cayenne pepper-lemonade concoction and no food, you'll understand that I've been drooling over food the last few days. I've been reading Vegetarian Times magazines, and creating a list of yummy recipes. I only started doing the cleanse in 2006, which I blogged about in sisterhood of the lemonheads and weirdest place to put cayenne pepper, and I never thought I'd go more than a few days but to my surprise I made it nine days. You're supposed to do a minimum of ten days, but I thought nine was a-ok for me. I've used this cleanse in the past as a way to give up bad food habits, such as my old habit of drinking Diet Coke. I knew aspartame was bad for me, but I was addicted to the stuff. Not anymore! I haven't touched it since that first cleanse in 2006. I had thought I may have a gluten allergy at one point, and I gave up wheat, oats, and all gluten-containing products for over a year by first kick-starting that with the Master Cleanse. It's a good transition to a new healthy food lifestyle. And you lose a few pounds in the process! I've been working out nearly every single day at the gym, or walking or running, for the past month and am super proud of myself for that. I can thank Doug, who joined my gym and has been a huge motivating force.
I really wanted to make it to day 14, but when yesterday evening came around, I munched on an almond, slowly chewing it and delighting in each and every savory bit of flavor. And then I had a golden raisin. And then another almond. And I knew it was time. Time to transition back to regular food. I had been doing very good with extending my cleanse a few days past ten (yesterday was 13) and the transition is liquid and soup for a couple more days. So in a sense the cleanse aspect will continue through the transition.
I call the transition soup "Stone Soup" like the children's book! I put some filtered water in my crockpot, and then add whatever veggies I have on hand. This time, I threw in chopped celery (including leafy bits), chopped fresh cilantro, a chopped carrot, a bit of frozen spinach, frozen butter beans, frozen green peas, a half can of garbanzo beans, and a can of chopped tomatoes with green chiles. I also added about a half cup of millet and quinoa (combined) - two healthy whole grains. Then in a tiny bit of olive oil I sauteed some white onion, elephant garlic, and a half of a yellow bell pepper, and added this to the soup. (Just now I remembered to add some dried shiitake mushrooms). It's really a hodgepodge of stuff in there. For spices, I add hot curry powder, some turmeric (curry contains turmeric but it's super good for you so I added more), garlic powder, and salt. Then I let it cook in the crock overnight and through the day. Today for lunch I will have broth and tonight more in combination with fresh squeezed orange juice (organic of course) and more lemonade.
So after I created this creation and it had started brewing in my crockpot, I remembered I'd bought leeks at the grocery store for this very purpose. I had never bought or cooked with leeks before, but I knew that they sounded like they go in soups, right? So I got them out, and thought, what the heck do I DO with this thing? If you're not familiar with a leek, it's like a ginormous overgrown chive. With chives you just cut up and eat the green parts. With the leek, the leaves are tough, so I was clueless. Thank God for Google! I found a site that said to put a couple of the leaves in soup for flavoring. In fact you can create a bouquet garni, which is a little creation tying the leek leaves around cracked peppercorns and bay leaf (where's the Youtube video for that, I ask! sheesh), and then plopping that in your soup. The leek leaves didn't seem long enough to tie everything up (I later learned you're supposed to tie with string or something else but I was in a hurry because Doug was coming over so we could watch Seinfeld, a show I've never watched, believe it or not).
I knew the white bulb part of the leek could be used but I didn't know how far up the stem - in the "light green" part of the leek between the white bulb and the dark green leaves - I could go. So I just chopped a bit of the white bulb part and threw it in the soup. I saved the rest in my fridge, but I just found this video online "How to Chop a Leek" that I wish I'd seen last night! Apparently you can go about 5 or 6 inches up the leek from the bulb. One thing I'm glad I learned was that all the leaves hold a lot of dirt and grime so you really have to peel each of the leaves back and clean or you'll end up with dirty leeks in your food. I'll leave you with a video on how to chop a leek (unfortunately it doesn't show a good view of what a whole leek looks like). Another video on ehow.com said that in soups he just cuts the leek part in half (3 inch pieces). He shows several different cutting techniques, which is cool.
I have made a list of vegetables I plan to use in various recipes. I've decided it doesn't totally count to use it as a part of a hodgepodge stone soup either. The recipe has to highlight that veggie prominently. I'm going to try to go mostly vegetarian again, and I have found a bunch of amazingly delicious recipes that I'm going to try out on my family, and when he's in town, Doug. Here's the veggie list in no particular order... drumroll....
Sugar snap peas
Mung bean sprouts
Yellow (summer) squash
Jersalem artichoke (sunchoke)
Note that while I generally love most things, and most veggies, a couple of these things I have absolutely hated my whole life. Those include green peas and brussel sprouts. And turnips and parsnips? Meh. I have already found a couple recipes with Brussel sprouts and green peas that look actually very good, so I'll keep ya posted!