One of the gifts I'm giving to myself in 2012 is starting it off with a vegan cleanse. In other words, I'm going vegan for at least 30 days, and (though this isn't tied into veganism, per se). I'm also giving up refined sugars, processed foods and all meat, milk and animal products. I actually started two days ago in a pre-cleanse phase, where I'm still drinking coffee and soy creamer (which has sugar and is processed) but I have not totally decided whether I can handle giving coffee up altogether or not... I am a total addict. Which is, of course, all the more reason to give it up but you know, what can I say.
I often start a new year doing the Master Cleanse (the lemonade thing - I blogged in 2010: foodie blog one, in 2008: I give up, in 2006: weirdest place to put cayenne pepper, and visions of hamburgers dance in my head and sisterhood of the lemonheads) and I may well add a week of doing the master cleanse here at some point. But I found when doing it that I would lose some weight and then gain it right back. I don't want this to be about weight per se, but about a commitment to healthier eating. Don' get me wrong, I eat generally fairly healthy but I also have a major sweet tooth and I use food as comfort when I am upset, as a lot of people do - and the food I gravitate to when upset includes... ice cream, queso dip, chocolate, and other sweet stuff. I want to see how my body responds to really cutting out the dairy, and cutting way back on sweets (especially with sugar and corn syrup - apparently brown rice syrup and other more natural sugar sources affect our body differently). I also already use Stevia, which is an all-natural plant-based sweetener with no calories. I use it in coffee and when I drink tea, tea, but never in cooking.
I started a healthy eating/vegan cleanse email list of friends for support and recipe sharing (if you want to join, let me know) and plan to blog a recipe a day, maybe including my meal plan in case others want an idea of what to do. There are two main books that will be my staples to follow: Crazy Sexy Diet by the inspiring 30-something cancer-survivor Kris Carr (who has incurable liver cancer but was able to stop its growth by changing her diet), and The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone who is a vegan and also includes some macrobiotic/vegan recipes which she calls Superhero recipes. Crazy Sexy Diet actually has a 21-day follow-along guide, that includes not only meal and recipe ideas, but inspiring messages and things to do that day, which I may actually try to do. I tried to do this once before but never completed it. She also has a whole website dedicated to this - Crazy Sexy Life - including a forum of people who want to interact, share recipe and health tips. I may explore that - better than time-wasting on Huffington Post or Facebook!
I'll share tidbits of wisdom from the two books or other info I gather over the next few weeks. One thing that Kris says is that she covers like 2/3 of her plate with vegetables (rather than beans or grains), and I think she tends to eat that much raw. I am really trying to eat more raw, but I'm not going overboard with the raw recipes. I'm just trying to eat more greens... Alicia, on the other hand, is all about macrobiotic which is grains and beans and of course veggies. So I'll have a sort of mix of those two. I tend to love salad but be too lazy to make it, so inspired by my triathlete warrior woman friend Jen (who I saw in Miami recently but didn't include a pic, and in 2007, after my Galapagos trip), I made what she and her family call "a bowl of health" - just a giant salad with whatever they feel like tossing in - greens, of course, and then nuts, raisins, olives - whatever. Then it's already pre-made and you can just eat every day until it's gone. It probably helps if others in your household will eat it, but my kids hate a lot of the veggies I put in things (in fact, they call most of my food "unidentifiable vegetable mush"), so... I will have to ingest it all myself! This is the Bowl of Health I made yesterday:In it, I put spinach, romaine lettuce, chopped leek greens, pumpkin seeds, Kalamata olives, tomato, cucumber, green onions, capers, carrots, snow peas, and black & tan Gomasio (black and tan sesame seeds with sea salt). Oh that reminds me, I have some celery in the fridge I need to use. I'll have to add that in too. This doesn't have any salad dressing, so you just add that onto each bowl. I will probably be mostly using some vinegar and oil combo or homemade dressings to keep it vegan/healthy/natural, but do whatever you like!
I was on a kick last night, and also made Simple Mediterranean Salad with capers from the Crazy Sexy Diet book - and combining that with the 'bowl of health' - ZOMG - yum! The mix of apple cider vinegar, olive oil & I added a dash of lemon juice - was just scrump-deli-icious. The image is before I mixed it all up - not that pretty but soooo tasty!
1 cucumber, sliced in thin rounds (peel if not organic)
3 roma tomatoes, sliced thin (or any kind, really...)
1/4 cup red onion, julienned/sliced thin
1/4 cup caper berries
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade (OK I didn't know what this meant, so looked it up - it means cut into thin strips - you learn something new every day!)
1/2 tsp sea salt
I halved the recipe, basically, because I only had one (really a half!) tomato because I'd used the rest in my bowl of health. REALLY good! Oh I added a splash of lemon juice, also. I'll be making more of this fo' sho!
And though I teased you all with the totally amazing Thai peanut sauce veggie recipe experiment photo at the top of the post - you will have to come back tomorrow for that one! It even involves my first use of my dehydrator, which I got for my birthday this year.