Have a great day - eat something healthy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where to Begin?

Getting ready to cleanse can be a daunting process but I've put together some tips to help make it easier.

Setting Up for Success shares ideas about stocking your fridge with cleanse-friendly food so when those moments of hunger (or boredom) sneak up on you, you'll be able to turn to healthy, tasty food.

Cleanse Prep - Marketing 101 is a shopper's guideline with a shopping list and tips on reading labels. You don't need to buy everything on the list but there's a great selection of foods from which to choose - it's entirely up to you.

Cooking and Baking Stand-ins offers some cleanse-friendly substitutes for cooking and baking ingredients.

Preening Your Produce lists healthy ways to clean your fruits and vegetables.

When to Buy Organic - A Shopper's Guide to Produce is a list of the infamous Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 - the 12 fruits and vegetables you should always buy organic, and the 15 fruits and vegetables that are safe to purchase in non-organic form.

And be sure to click on the links on the left side of this page to find a host of recipes for meals and snacks.

Now you've got everything you need to prep for success! See you Monday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

So What is this Cleanse, Anyway?

This blog has been focused on introducing people to the Quantum Wellness Cleanse introduced by Kathy Freston. She wrote an amazing book by the same title - it's definitely worth the read.

For 21 days cleansers eliminate gluten, alcohol, sugar, caffeine and all animal products (beef, pork, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs and dairy) from their diets. Jane, one of our regular cleansers, came up with an acronym to help us remember everything we eliminate during the course of the cleanse – GAS CAP (Gluten, Alcohol, Sugar, Caffeine, and Animal Products).

I like to think of this 3-week program as an experiment in mindful eating. In order to eat mindfully you must pay attention to what you’re putting into your mouth. That means reading labels and asking questions while shopping and dining out. And while that might seem inconvenient and confusing at first, it will provide an immediate connection with your food and bring you into the act of eating.

That connection might bring up a host of other issues that you have around food. Maybe you eat when you’re sad. What kinds of foods do you crave then? What can you do to address the sadness instead of washing down your feelings with a bag of Cheetos? Maybe it’s stress that brings you to the trough – is it sugar or caffeine that helps you rise to the occasion? When you cleanse you have to face those things without your usual crutches. But that allows you to let the issues arise, face them, and then actually deal with them. And at SkinnyPlus, there's always someone here to listen and to offer help. 

The fascinating part of the process is that after going through a bit of withdrawal (getting off caffeine and sugar often causes a lack of energy; depending on your level of usage, cutting out alcohol can have a similar effect because there’s sugar in many types of booze; and gluten and animal products are tough and tasty habits to break) cleansers report having more energy, focus, and clarity than they’ve had in years. And that helps them navigate those emotional minefields that lurk around their favorite go-to foods and beverages.

Good things come out of doing this cleanse, whether it’s losing weight, feeling more awake and aware, or dropping emotional baggage. In 21 days cleansers dispel myths they carry about themselves (“I’m addicted to chocolate,” or “I can’t fall asleep without a glass of wine,” or “I just can’t lose that baby weight.”) And they realize that they're in control of all the choices they make about what they eat and drink – not the other way around.

I hope you'll consider joining us for our next cleanse (beginning Monday, January 3rd). It's the best way I know how to empower yourself one bite, one sip, one day at a time!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Go Now, and Live

This showed up as a link on one of my favorite sites, GirlieGirlArmy, but it originally appeared on JustAFuckinBlog and was written by Jeanette LeBlanc. Sometimes it's good to have some encouragement staring you in the face...

Thanks for sharing a great cleanse week with me and here's to a wonderful holiday season!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Fastest Way to Make Steel Cut Oats

Happy Saturday, everyone! I'm so excited because I've finally found the fastest way to make steel cut oats! Who in the world has time to stand over a stove for half an hour or 45 minutes in the morning? But this recipe is a game changer! It cuts the cooking time way down by starting the night before and letting the water do the work. Simply put, you boil the oats for 1 minute at night, let them sit overnight, and then warm them up for about 10 minutes in the morning. And because it requires less time on the stove, not only is this recipe quick and easy - it's green! Talk about a win-win!

Have a wonderful Day 6!

Quick and Easy Steel Cut Oats

Typically, steel cut oats require around 30-45 minutes to cook. But this recipe cuts the cooking time way down. The secret? Get started the night before. Simply boil the oats for one minute in the evening, cover and let them sit overnight, then warm them back up for about 10 minutes in the morning. This recipe suggests cranberries and almonds as toppings but you can add your own. I like fresh cinnamon and stevia, some raw slivered almonds and a handful of raisins. Have fun with it!

Overnight Oatmeal with Almonds and Dried Cranberries

1 1/2 C steel-cut oats
6 C water
1/4 C chopped salted roasted almonds
1/4 C dried cranberries
Agave, cinnamon and stevia for sweetening

In a large saucepan, boil the oats in the water for 1 minute. Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature.

The next day, uncover the oats and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the oatmeal is cooked and creamy but still a little bit chewy, about 10 minutes. Spoon the oatmeal into bowls. Top with the chopped almonds and dried cranberries and sweeten to taste with agave syrup or cinnamon and stevia.
The prepared oatmeal can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Reheat a microwave oven and thin with water if necessary before serving.

Adapted from a recipe from Food &Wine, found on thebittenword.typepad.com

Friday, December 17, 2010

That's How We Roll - Cleanse-friendly Sushi

My dinner last night.
So many people who consider cleansing or going vegetarian or vegan say that they’d have a hard time giving up sushi. I couldn’t agree more.

My husband and I love sushi so much that we took a sushi-making class so we could make it at home. And after I went vegetarian I knew that sushi would most likely be the food to lead me astray. I was so afraid of the temptation that I stayed away from sushi restaurants for over a year. And when I finally went back, I was pretty sure that the overwhelming desire to order my old favorites would bring an end to my vegetarian life. But then I saw the vegetarian part of the menu. And I found so many incredible flavors there that I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything.

I started wondering if I could add sushi to my cleansing menu. The first question was whether or not it was gluten-free. All of the research I've done shows that it is. Then the challenge was to overcome the recipe - it calls for sugar. I decided to try agave nectar as a substitute. And after a few tries I came up with the right amount to create the perfect taste and consistency (click here for recipe). In fact, it’s so good I’m going to make it this way from now on.

I like to combine avocado, cilantro, jalapeno, carrot and cucumber for a great vegetarian Mexican roll. For a rich, savory flavor I love spinach, avocado, mushrooms and tofu. And squash or pumpkin with mushrooms and sesame seeds is sweet and crunchy. The possibilities are endless and if you’re up for experimenting, sushi is a great way to expand your cooking repertoire.

So today’s great news is that we can have sushi while we’re cleansing! Just remember to use tamari instead of soy sauce (there’s gluten in soy). After that the sky’s the limit!

Have a great Day 5!

Sushi Rice

At last we have a cleanse-friendly version of sushi rice! And that opens up the door to a wonderful world of vegetarian sushi that we can eat even while we’re cleansing! I make Mexican rolls with avocado, cilantro, carrot, English cucumber, jalapeno and tofu; I love a roll with blanced spinach, carrot, English cucumber, sauteed mushrooms (with a splash of tamari and agave), and tofu. And squash or pumpkin with sauteed mushrooms, tofu and sesame seeds is another favorite. Just remember to use wheat-free tamari instead of soy and you’ll be fine. Wish I knew how to say bon appétit in Japanese…

Sushi Rice

2 C white short grain rice
2 + C water
1/3 C rice vinegar
¼ C agave nectar

Rinse the rice until the water is nearly clear (2-3 times). Drain and add fresh water, slightly more than the amount of uncooked rice (e.g., 2+ C water for 2 C rice). Cook the rice in a pot with a cover over high heat until the rice comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff (cut & fold) the rice with a flat wooden spoon. Let sit covered at room temperature for an additional 10-15 minutes.

In the meantime, combine rice vinegar, agave and a pinch of salt. Gradually pour the mixture over the warm rice and lightly mix (but do not stir). Let the rice cool down to room temperature (spread on a large platter or cookie sheet covered with Saran Wrap to cool faster).

Adapted from a recipe by Masami Suga at Cooks of Crocus Hill, St. Paul, MN

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gimme a Drink Before I Die!

George Jean Nathan said, "I drink to make other people more interesting." He must have been at the same party as me last night. Because last night I endured a display of social ineptitude that brought a new intensity to the word "excruciating."

During the course of the evening I learned that we should be grateful for mass mailings because they're single-handedly saving the post office (what a relief to know my bills will continue to arrive.. in someone else's mailbox). I learned that someone's distant, dead relative won a Nobel Prize in 1928 for doing something with soil (perhaps the knowledge that his medium would eventually become his permanent residence prompted an otherwise inexplicable fixation with dirt). And I learned that a tissue placed against a vent will reveal which way the air is flowing through it (I don't care if the guy who shared this little nugget with me was 75 - you know he's smokin' dope to know this old trick!).

I am an interviewer by profession - my job requires me to look interested even when I'm not; to ask questions as if I really care about the answer. Perhaps I cannot turn that off. And perhaps the bores are picking up on that vibe and sensing that I will remain when most others would walk away. Because they flock to me like dying sinners to a confessional.

Last night it would have been nice to gulp down some ancient vine zin while stuck in my predicatment. I would have even welcomed some swill from a box. That way I could have drained my glass and used it as an excuse to escape. But, no. Thanks to this cleanse I did not have that option. I couldn't even use an empty plate to steal away - there were no cleanse-friendly options at the buffet. So I simply stood there, hands dangling by my sides, with nowhere to go.

After I finished screaming a string of expletives in my head, I reminded myself that I had chosen to be at this gathering, that I was there out of respect for the host, and that a couple of hours of utter tedium wouldn't kill me. And maybe that's the lesson learned - that sometimes you just have to endure whatever is right in front of you, even if it's uncomfortable. But if you stay in it and sit with it, it will pass.

Eventually I extricated myself from the narcolepsy-inducing conversations. And eventually I laughed about them. A glass of wine wouldn't have made things any better; it just would have made me feel more tired and headachy this morning. And running off to the buffet table would have loaded me up with extra, empty calories. But if I hadn't been cleansing, I probably would have turned to those crutches in attempt to endure (and escape) the situation.

I feel good about the choice I made this week, and for sticking with it last night. And today I feel great. And, in my opinion, that's exactly the reason why taking a breather during the holidays is such a good idea.

Here's to a kickass Day 4!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Recipe Swap

All that talk yesterday about being prepared in the kitchen made me realize that it's been a while since I've posted any new recipes, so I thought I'd share a few with you today. I've got two favorite appetizers for everyday - Cilantro and Lemon Hummus and Spinach Hummus. And this recipe for Gluten-free Stuffed Mushrooms is a wonderful option for entertaining. Then, check out this gem -Whole Roasted Carrots with Ginger - it's so good it instantly became a favorite at my house.

Today I'm going to monkey around with some dishes I've wanted to add to our cleanse repertoire - like (believe it or not) quick steel cut oatsgluten- and sugar-free sushi rice, and celery root puree. I'll keep you posted on the developments. In the meantime, be sure to check out the menu pages just to the left of this paragraph - you'll find some great recipes in all the categories.

And if you have any favorite recipes you'd like to share, we'd love to see them!

Remember - the kitchen is a great place to stay warm so get in there and get cookin'! And have a wonderful Day 3!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cilantro and Lemon Hummus

Mark and I love cilantro so we adore this hummus recipe. We add more garlic and often thrown in a jalapeno to give it some extra oomph. Be sure to add the lemon juice in small increments – just to make sure you don’t overdo it.

Cilantro and Lemon Hummus

1 16-oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
1/4 C liquid from can of chickpeas
3-5 T lemon juice (depending on taste)
1 1/2 T tahini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 t salt
2 T olive oil
1 t cilantro, finely chopped (I use a big handful!)

Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus. Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with extra cilantro (optional).

From mideastfood.about.com

Whole Roasted Carrots with Fresh Ginger

I just tried this recipe for the first time a few weeks ago and it produceds the best cooked carrots I’ve ever tasted! The ginger adds an almost sinfully sweet flavor and the garlic brings in an earthy base note. You’d never think this dish is so good for you!

Whole Roasted Carrots with Fresh Ginger

1 lb medium organic carrots, peeled
1/4 C water
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
Six 1/4-inch slices fresh ginger
1 T canola oil
1 T unsalted vegan butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°. In a medium baking dish, combine the carrots with the water, garlic, ginger, oil and butter and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 30 minutes, until tender. Uncover and roast for about 30 minutes longer, until the water has evaporated and the carrots are lightly browned in spots. Transfer the carrots, olives and garlic to a plate and serve.

Adapted from a recipe by Gracie Parisi

From Foodandwine.com

Gluten-free Stuffed Mushrooms

I just tried this recipe for a dinner party I had a few weeks ago and these little gems were a hit! However, the next time I make them, I’ll probably use a little less than ½ cup of sundried tomatoes – they added a very strong briny/salty flavor that was a bit overpowering. Still, this is a great recipe that I’ll use again and again.

Gluten-free Stuffed Mushrooms

1 C parsley, chopped
½ C sun dried tomatoes
½ C pine nuts
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 t lemon juice
¼ t Celtic sea salt
¼ C olive oil
1 (8-oz) package mushrooms

In a food processor, place parsley and pulse briefly. Add sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice and salt, then pulse until almost smooth. Drizzle in olive oil and pulse again briefly to incorporate.

Remove stems from mushrooms and stuff with pesto. Bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes.

Serves 4

From elanaspantry.com

Spinach Hummus

I love making hummus at home – that way I can tweak it to my taste on any given day. Sometimes I like more garlic; sometimes I like to add jalapenos to jazz it up. Whatever I choose, this recipe has been a consistent winner in my house and Mark and I snack on it all the time. And to keep the calories and carbs low, we use sliced cucumbers, fresh cauliflower and carrots instead of crackers. Play with the ingredients and make it your way!

Spinach Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas (15 oz), drained
1/2 C fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 C tahini
2 T garlic
3 T lemon juice
2 T olive oil
1/4 t Kosher salt

In a food processor, process beans, garlic, spinach and olive oil. Add lemon and salt and blend. If spinach hummus is too thick, add 1 tablespoon water until desired consistency. Hummus should be smooth and creamy.

Spinach hummus can be made up to two days in advance. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator. It can be served hot or cold. (I like mine at room temperature.)

From mideastfood.about.com

Monday, December 13, 2010

3 Easy Tips for Navigating the Holiday Party Scene

Happy Day 1! Here's to having the courage to check in, reassess our diets and reclaim our healthy ways in the middle of the biggest eating season of 'em all! And because we're starting in the thick of the party season, it's a great time to revisit the topic of dealing with social situations while eating a non-traditional diet. Here are three simple things we can do to gracefully maneuver through the holiday party scene:

1. Be prepared - There's nothing worse than showing up at an event when you're starving. That's when temptation poses its biggest threat. If you can, try to eat something beforehand - a protein shake, a couple of slices of tofu, or a cup of carrots, cauliflower or broccoli  with a bit of hummus - that way, when you're faced with a dry salad, you won't feel deprived or hungry. And just to be safe, you might want to carry something in your purse or keep something in your office - an apple, a bag of carrots, some raw almonds - they'll help keep you feeling satisfied.

2. Find a new drink of choice. When the social calendar brims with one event after another and you find yourself indulging in a toast here and a glass of bubbly there, the good cheer can add up in the way of empty calories and mood-altering chemicals. So fill up a champagne flute with seltzer water and a lemon twist, or a martini glass with seltzer water and a couple of teaspoonsful of cranberry juice and toast to your own good health! And offer to be a designated driver!   

3. Get into the spirit of the season. Remember that the reason you're getting together with your friends, family or colleagues is to be together and celebrate the season. We've said it before at SkinnyPlus and it's worth saying again - it's not about the food; it's about the people. And because you’ll be alcohol-free and less focused on food you’ll be able to concentrate on your companions and really hear what they're saying. Who knows? You might just have a better time because of it. 

We're only in this mini cleanse for seven days; holiday favorites will still be around after we've finished our week. There will always be another cookie; there will always be another cocktail. We don't need to eat like every meal is our last, and we don't need "just one more" drink. Our bodies will thank us for reining in our diets - we'll feel great while everyone else is overeating and overloading, and we'll keep our calorie counts low and loaded with nutritional foods.

Here's to a great week of mindful eating and greeting - I'm glad we're in it together!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Get Ready - The Mini Cleanse Starts Monday!

It's time to get serious about what's going to happen on Monday. For seven days we'll be eliminating gluten, alcohol, sugar, caffeine and all animal products (or GAS CAP, as coined by our cleanse buddy Jane!) And there are some things to bear in mind as you get ready...

First, if you have tempting non-cleanse foods around the house, you'll want to dispose of them or at least move them to less prominent spaces in your fridge, freezer and pantry.

After that, the key to success is being prepared with ready-to-eat stuff in the fridge. Plan on picking up your groceries and spending some time in the kitchen making up a few entrees and prepping snacks that will last through the week. There's a wide assortment of recipes on this blog so check them out, see what appeals to you, and make a plan for the week. Then click on the Shopping List link under "Pages" on the lefthand side of this page for a shopping guide - and remember that this list is designed for the 3-week cleanse so you won't need oodles of supplies.

Typically, I make two entrees (all the recipes are fairly ample so two should last you until Friday), a bunch of quinoa, and a batch of soup. Brown rice and beans (black beans are my favorite) are great to have on hand too. And don’t worry – none of the recipes take much time at all.

Every few days I bake a couple of blocks of tofu so I can have it on hand. Just dry a block of tofu and slice it into 5 steaks. Marinate them in a bit of Bragg’s Amino Acids while you wait for the oven to heat to 375F. Then bake them for about 10-15 minutes, turn, and bake for another 10-15 minutes (I go 15 because I like mine a little crispy). I nibble on tofu slices throughout the course of the day and use them as chicken breast substitutes for salads and sandwiches (use lettuce instead of bread). Each tofu steak has only about 70 calories and about 8g of protein – very efficient!

For snacks I clean up some organic carrots and celery and make sure to have fresh fruit on hand. And I keep gluten-free crackers and tortilla chips around for something to crunch on. For quick treats, I mash up an avocado with a drop of lemon juice and a dash of kosher salt for a simple guacamole to serve with gluten-free crackers or gluten-free tortilla chips. Nuts are great to have on hand, too – my preference has been almonds up until a few weeks ago when I started munching on raw cashews. For a sweet treat, mix in some raisins.

If you need portable foods (for lunch at the office or meals on the go), you can put some soup in a travel mug or put together a Tupperware feast of some of the entrées you’ve made. And the tofu steaks are super easy – you can eat them with your hands! I keep baggies of nuts or carrots in my purse for hunger emergencies; gluten-free crackers work well, too.

Just make sure there’s something that’s always ready and within reach – it’s when you’ve run out of good food and you’re hungry that you can get into trouble. When there’s no alternative it’s easy to turn to the donuts or pretzels or whatever’s in front of you. So keep the fridge stocked and give yourself lots of options!

I'm looking forward to sharing the week with you. Here's to combining the spirit of the holidays with good health!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Liar, Liar - How I Lost 4 Pounds in 3 Weeks

I had five pounds that had to go. They were stuck to me for the last year and they were so damned stubborn that I began to wonder if they were a present for my 50th birthday -talk about the gift that keeps on giving! But ads and articles kept telling me my hormones were whacked and my metabolism was slowing - and I began to think that maybe I should just resign myself to the fact that I'd be carrying around a little more weight than I did when I was younger...

Screw that! No way was I going to accept all the B.S. about aging that I was being fed every day. I cleansed five or six times a year, I worked out like an Olympian, and was stronger and fitter than I was when I was 30. So why should I have to weigh more, especially if I was working harder, than I did 20 years ago? Sorry, I wasn't about to take this lying down.  

I turned to my eating habits for a solution. And for the first time I was completely honest about them. I'd been kidding myself for a long time, convinced that I had my calorie count under control. But the truth is I was lying to myself. As I used up my daily calorie allotment, I'd let things slide. I wouldn't count the 1/4 avocado I put on my tofu burger. Or the oil-based giardiniera sauce I put on just about everything I put in my mouth. I didn't count the oil I used for cooking. Nor did I count the Veganaise or Earth Balance vegan butter I ate almost daily. And when I ate cashews I never stopped at seven - the accepted serving size - my serving size was more like 20.

And I conveniently forgot that just because tofu is healthier than meat, or vegan butter is better for me than real butter doesn't mean they're lower in calories. Even the healthy stuff can be fattening. The foods I just listed add up to about 500 calories - 500 calories I didn't count each day! And if I continued to ignore them, eventually they'd demand my attention - by making my pants tighter. It takes about 3500 calories to put on a pound and at my rate I was set up to GAIN a pound each week!

Lying to myself hadn't done me a bit of good. I'd been working out - hard. I had the muscle tone to show for it but it was hiding behind that last five pounds of insulation that I hadn't been able to shed. All my hard work was hidden behind my lies.

So I promised myself that I'd be honest about what I put in my mouth. I devised an eating plan that balanced my daily intake of protein, fiber, fats, carbs and calories. And I created a spreadsheet with a list of the foods I'd eat for breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner. Each day I'd check each food item off after I'd eaten it. I know it sounds a little - well, a lot - anal, but it's really been helping. After three weeks I've lost four pounds.

Now I can see where I am on my caloric timeline for the day and spread out the foods so they last throughout the day. And by referring to the list over the course of the day I can see that I'm not going to go hungry. And I'm not mindlessly (or sneakily) popping handfuls of cashews into my mouth or having an extra spoonful of brown rice as I clean up the kitchen. After I've eaten everything on my list I'm done. And I know my body has everything it needs.

Telling the truth about my eating habits wasn't easy, but once I did it, I was able to address - and solve - my problem. The truth is not an accusation - it's a statement of fact. And if you approach any problem from a factual basis you can be efficient and effective. You face the issue, come up with a solution, and then implement the action to reach that solution. I faced the fact that I was eating too many calories without accounting for them, I reassessed my caloric intake, and I began losing the weight I wanted to lose. How simple is that?!

It's never too late to learn a lesson. And I learned that the truth doesn't have to hurt - in fact, once you face it, it can be of invaluable help.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Facing the Inevitable - Holiday Overeating and What to Do About It

This week is the start of the holiday season; the time of year when temptation reaches critical mass and threatens even the most mindful of eaters. We're all bound to stray from our typical ways this time of year. The question is - how far?

Too often we give up on ourselves too quickly after we've given into temptation. You know the drill: You feel deliciously naughty when you eat your first piece of pumpkin pie. But then you have a second piece. And that one makes you feel downright guilty. So you start thinking about how to make up for it - an extra hour on the treadmill, starving yourself the next day - but that's almost too difficult, unrealistic or exhausing to consider. So you beat yourself up for having no will power. You call yourself a failure. And in the time it takes to down two pieces of pie you've gone from festive to forlorn, feeling defeated and derailed. Once you've gotten to that point, it's hard to get back on track. But if if you don't, you'll end up eating unhealthy food, gaining weight, and feeling like crap - physically and emotionally.    

Here's a thought:  Get real! Accept that temptation is going to happen and you're going to give in. But remember that one piece of pie doesn't need to set off an unstoppable downward spiral. Here's an article from RealAge.com has some great advice about what to do when you get off track. It's a reminder that even if we lose our way for a short while, we can always find our way back to center.

In the meantime, here are some useful tips to consider throughout the Thanksgiving weekend:

1.) Remember that this is NOT the Last Supper! It's not the last time you will ever see stuffing, pie, egg nog, or whatever your favorite holiday food is. There will be leftovers. There will be other parties. And there will be other holidays. Soon!

2.) If appetizers are served, stay close to the veggie tray. Fill up on carrots and celery (eating them plain is best, but if you like to dip, choose hummus instead of creamy dressings).

3.) Fill your dinner plate with veggies first. And I'm not talking about candied yams. Look for veggies that are closer to their original state and give yourself a hearty helping. That way you'll leave a smaller place on your plate for the stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and other foods that are high in fat and calories and low in nutrients.

4.) Go easy on the booze - a good buzz leads to bad food choices.

5.) Drink lots of water. Squeeze in some lemon juice - it's refreshing and can help curb your appetite.

6.) Don't beat yourself up. If you overindulge one day, it's not the end of the world. Remember that every day is the chance for a fresh start. So if you eat too much today, dial it back the next day. It's as simple as that.     

I hope these tips help keep you sane and sated; I hope this Thanksgiving fills you with hope, joy and gratitude; and I hope this season finds surrounded by people you love!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 12, 2010

More Skinny on the Skinny -

The other day I was listening to a health show on the radio and heard some very reasonable information. See if this resonates with you...

When you eat sugar it spikes your blood sugar level. And the exact same thing happens when you eat starches because they turn into sugar in your system. When you spike your blood sugar level, your body has to work to bring it back to normal. And if there's more sugar in your bloodstream than you can use at that time, it gets stored in your cells... as fat.

That's my rudimentary interpretation of a very complex process, but I got it from Dr. Rob Thompson, a cardiologist and author of "The Low Starch Diabetes Solution," "The Glycemic Load Diet" and "The Glycemic Load Cookbook."  In those books, Thomspon suggests eliminating starches to lose weight, lower blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol.

"White bread, brown bread, white rice, brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, corn, pasta, breakfast cereals, oatmeal, pancakes, English muffins, potato chips and corn bread," Thomspon says. "As soon as they reach your digestive tract they turn to sugar and will raise your blood sugar."

I know this is a list of some of our favorite comfort foods, but consider this little gem from Thompson, "On their own they don't have much taste - it's what you put on them that brings the taste." Think about it - who eats dry toast (except people with the flu) or naked pasta (two-year-olds)? Every food on that list needs something to turn it into the tempting diet busters we crave. "Stay away from starches and you will see some changes," Thompson says. "Eat what you want, but eliminate three products - flour products, potato products, and rice."

For those of you who have cleansed with us, by virtue of eliminating gluten we've stopped eating a number of foods on the list. But we still eat steel cut oats, brown rice, quinoa and gluten-free pasta. And even though they don't contain gluten they still have the same effect as the other starches. So if you want to shed some pounds during a cleanse, consider dropping your intake of gluten-free starches and upping your intake of tofu, leafy greens and veggies.

For most of us, it's unrealistic to eliminate all starches completely, but we can certainly give more thought to how much starch  we're consuming. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Putting the Skinny in SkinnyPlus

For those of us who want to experience the "skinny" in SkinnyPlus, here's the new bible!
I couldn't resist the cover of this book - just look at her! And once I started reading Jackie Warner's latest effort, I couldn't put it down.

This is a common sense, no BS approach to stripping away fat, eating sensibly, and working out effectively. And it has step-by-step instructions on what to eat and how to work out.

For the first two weeks of this program, you don't remove foods from your diet - you add them. Fruits and veggies, oatmeal, and protein powder (Jackie strongly recommends whey protein but I don't use it because it contains dairy). She also recommends adding two eggs a day (I haven't done that because I like to avoid animal products as much as possible). 

After the first two weeks, the plan encompasses healthy eating for five days in a row and allows for two "treat meals" on weekends in which almost anything goes. This is an eating plan that's satisfying, realistic and, if or when necessary, cleanse-friendly.

So far it's the exercise program that's really flooring me. I've been doing P90X for the last year and have loved the results. But I was ready to shake up my workout routine. And this is doing it! For the first two weeks all you do is 20 minutes of interval training on your choice of cardio equipment (treadmill, elliptical, stair climber or bike), or swimming or outdoor walking. I'm doing the treadmill and it's kicking my ass! And I'm in good shape so it was surprising and humbling to be knocked out by a mere 20 minutes. But thanks to the intensity of interval training, I'm working up a sweat and really working my heart and lungs in this quickie workout!  

After the first two weeks, the program adds weight training three days a week and continues with cardio five days a week. The book provides photographs to demonstrate each exercise and lays out the weight training routines, one move after another. And it contains a variety of sample menus to illustrate a typical day of eating. This is a book that completely sets you up for success by laying everything out; all you have to do is follow the plan.  

Our cleanse buddy and my neighbor Kathleen is doing this program with me and she gives it a thumbs-up as well. It's fun doing this together - we stay in touch and share our experiences and discoveries each day. And I'm hoping that when it's time to weave in the weightlifting, we can do that together. Kathleen and I did our first cleanse together (I honestly can say that I wouldn't have done it without her), and when she was toning up for her wedding last year we were workout buddies, keeping each other on the straight and narrow. Doing any kind of health program is so much more fun and gratifying with a friend (that's why SkinnyPlus exists!). If you're interested in Jackie's program, I recommend enlisting a buddy. And if you can't find anyone, check in right here! I'll be your long-distance buddy!

So there you have it - a sure-fire way to slim down, tone up, and eat healthy without going to extremes. If you decide to jump on board, keep us posted here! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

Here's something to think about... Where do the products you buy come from? What are the stories behind the corporations that make them? How would you feel about supporting a company that dumps some kind of toxic sludge into rivers? Or is involved in child labor practices? What about a company that supports a political candidate whose political agenda is in opposition to your own?

It's hard work being a conscientious consumer - you've got to research products, the companies that process or manufacture them, and the retailers who sell them. For most of us, that's too much to think about; and too much to do.  

But The Better World Shopping Guide makes it easy. It's a website that rates products and the corporations that make or distribute them according to their practices in human rights, the environment, animal protection, community involvement, and social justice. You can look up all sorts of products like foods, beauty and body supplies, appliances, cars, insurance and airlines and learn whether or not you're supporting a corporate hero or villain.

Along with the website there's a pocket-sized guide book, which is available for about $10.00 at BetterWorldShopper.org. I carry the book in my purse so I'm armed and informed whenever I want to make a purchase.

I've been pleased to see that many of the products on my shopping list are on the plus side of the spectrum, but there are a few that aren't as upright as I'd like them to be. And that means they have to go bye-bye. But I feel much better knowing I'm supporting companies that conduct themselves in an ethical manner.

The next time you go to make a purchase, please take a look at the website and learn the truth about the product (and company) you're considering - then decide if it's worth the price.

Happy Election Day!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Waking up in Tibet

Remember spinning as a kid? How you'd twirl as fast as you could until you fell down on the ground, hugging the earth while it spun under your belly? It was freeing and fun and utterly frivolous. When was the last time you felt like that... without a hangover?

Believe it or not, spinning is the first move in an ancient ritual called The Five Tibetan Rites. A quick morning exercise routine consisting of five yoga-based moves, the Five Tibetan Rites has been performed by Tibetan monks for over 2500 years. And it's said to have numerous benefits like looking younger, sleeping soundly and feeling refreshed, among others. 

Each of the the five movements is performed up to 21 times before moving on to the next and is designed to awaken specific parts of the body. When performed together the exercises rouse the whole body to life. The philosophy is that they get the energy moving outward from the core and help the chakras spin normally (the link above explains this in detail). Here's a short demonstration.

I tried it for the first time yesterday morning (I did each movement 12 times and plan to work up to 21). It made me feel alert, awake, strong and focused. And the spinning (the first move of the ritual) was just plain fun! Last night I couldn't wait to go to bed so I could wake up and do it again!

20 minutes ago I woke up, put up my husband's coffee, made my tea, fed the cats and did the routine in my jammies. It was quick and relatively easy and already I can feel that it loosened up my neck and shoulders, opened my chest and abs, and stretched my glutes and quads. And I feel really awake.

There's something incredibly liberating about giving yourself permission to twirl as an adult. Probably because it's not something grownups typically do. So you might feel a little silly at first. But as you get into it you realize that it's a challenge that requires focus and balance. And the exercises that follow the spinning sequence are amazingly efficient at opening the body.

Who needs coffee? In the time it takes to brew a pot you can do these exercises. I promise they'll make you feel awake, alert and alive all day!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 21 - We Did It!!!

Congratulations on 21 days well spent!

Well, cleanse friends we’re only a few hours away from the finish line. And typically I’d be counting down the hours, but this time I’m a little reticent about coming to the end of our journey. We've shared so much – funny anecdotes, mini-crises, personal challenges, little victories, discoveries, even poop stories! After our 3-week immersion together, I feel like it’s the last day of camp and I’m saying goodbye to all my cabin mates.

I hope you’re all feeling refreshed and energized and really proud of what you’ve accomplished. Many of you have shed some pounds; most of you have said you’ve felt more energetic and have been sleeping better than usual. And I think we’ve all realized that we don’t necessarily need the habits, behaviors, foods and beverages we’ve clung to as much as we thought we did before this process began.

Many of you have said you felt empowered by doing the cleanse. What a potent word that is! And so accurate! We accepted a challenge, faced it, worked our way through it, and completed it. For that alone, let’s be proud. But more importantly, we’ve learned that by simply modifying our diets for a short period of time we can restore balance in our bodies and create a chain reaction of wellness throughout every aspect of our lives.

The body is so grateful and responsive when we do what it needs. Good health doesn’t just happen – the more active a role we take in our own well-being the better off we’ll be. You’ve all proven that in just three weeks.

This process is the opposite of SAD (Standard American Diet). And it can be daunting and isolating. So I thank all ov you for agreeing to do this together. Your support, caring and kindness have been so inspiring – how wonderful it is when strangers come together, share a goal and support each other as we work toward it! Thank you all so very much for your honesty, your candor, your humor, your words of encouragement and your unfailing enthusiasm (even when the going got tough). Look where it got us! I suspect that some of us may have wondered whether or not we’d make it all the way. But we did! And I believe we did it because we did it together. So thank you all for your valuable contributions to our collective effort!

After our ongoing discussion about what do to on Day 22, I’ll propose this – let’s keep the lines of communication open. After today I’ll be posting on SkinnyPlus once or twice a week. I won’t be sending out the daily emails, but feel free to drop in to the blog any time. Post your thoughts, start a discussion, send an update, ask a question, share a recipe, keep in touch. And tell your friends to visit too!

In the meantime, here’s to our last day of purity together! I am so grateful that you have become my healthiest friends! Thank you for your courage, your determination, your humor, and your support! I have loved every minute of being with you! And I hope to see you next time!

With love,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Where Do We Go From Here? - Day 20

Many of you are giving a lot of thought to what happens on Day 22. Maybe it depends on how you see this photo - is it a sunrise? Or a sunset?

Today is a good time to take an hour for yourself and consider what you’ve experienced during the course of this cleanse. Be honest: What was hard? What was easy? What was challenging? what was rewarding? How do you feel today? How does that compare with before you started the cleanse? What are you willing to change? What are you unwilling to give up?

Whatever you decide, know that you have mastered an essential aspect of your life, your health, and your overall well being: Your diet. You have proven to yourself that you have control over what you put in your body. You’ve shown that you can face temptation and overcome it. And you’ve taken charge of – and responsibility for – your choices. Isn’t that empowering?!

Chances are we'll all go back to certain aspects of our previous eating patterns. How far back you go is up to you. In the past, some cleansers went back to eating meat but didn't care for the taste and texture as much as they did before. Others started purchasing only organic or free range animal products and found them to be just fine. Some people continued to eat all their meaty favorites, just not as frequently. And many started incorporating more meatless meals into their weekly menus.

Try things on for size and see what works for you. Maybe you'll eat fish and poultry regularly but keep beef and pork to a minimum. Maybe you'll continue to use agave or stevia instead of sugar or other sugar substitutes. Perhaps you love real butter and want it back. Fine. But maybe you'll continue to use soy or almond milk instead of cow's milk. These are things you can test and tweak along the way. See how you feel after you eat some of those old favorites - you're more in touch with how food affects your body now; let its widsom guide you as you make your choices.

You don't have to make decisions right away - this is an evolutionary process. And there's no right or wrong; whatever you choose to do is up to you. It's all in your very capable hands.

Isn't it interesting how our choices seemed so limited when we started this cleanse? And now that we're almost done, we have more choices than when we began. That, my friends, is abundance at work! 

I'll post an account of what I did after my first cleanse in today's comment section. And I hope our veteran cleansers will share their stories as well – each one is unique and valuable. Vets, if you’re up for it, please tell us how you've handled Day 22 in the past.

And newbies (who have rocked the f#@% outta this cleanse, by the way!), please tell us how you intend to greet your Day 22. Let’s hear about your fears, your goals and your plans! All thoughts, comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome!

I hope every one of us has the chance to savor a beautiful, peaceful, restful Sunday!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

If It's Good Enough for Bill Clinton - Day 19

By now, you've probably heard about former president Bill Clinton's recent weight loss. But how and why he did it is worth revisiting.

In the link below he explains the two primary reasons he adopted a plant-based diet:

1.)To lose weight;
2.)For better heart health.

You can be sure that Bill Clinton has the most brilliant medical team guiding and monitoring his healthcare regimen. So consider this a validation for what you're doing - you're in good company!

It's our last Saturday on the straight and narrow - savor every minute!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Food Discoveries - Day 18

Lucini Italia Cinque e' Cinque Tuscan Chickpea Frittata
Yesterday I was introduced to Lucini Italia Cinque e' Cinque Tuscan Chickpea Frittata Mix by Dan Blackburn, store team leader at my Whole Foods store. It's a gluten free, dairy free frittata mix that comes in powdered form and made from chickpea flour and rosemary - that's it. It's easy to make - just whisk the mix with water and olive oil, place it in the oven for about 20 minutes, let cool and serve. I tried the Rosemary flavor - there's also Traditional and Tuscan Fiery Chili - and it was fantastic! I'd put it up against a restaurant quality polenta in texture and flavor. And, most importantly, it passed the omnivore spouse test - Mark LOVED it!

Photo from thedailyrawcafe.com
Anyone remember Jello "No Bake Cheesecake?" And can you imagine the preservatives and chemicals in that stuff?! Well, I just found the perfect healthy alternative! I don't even remember how I stumbled across thedailyrawcafe.com, but it's a great blog with some wonderful ideas about preparing raw food. And when I found this recipe for a raw Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake on the site, I had to give it a try. Cashews, pecans, dates, carrot juice, lemon juice, spices, and a food processor are all you need to put this together. I was blown away by the crust - you could serve it alone as a dessert bar or cookie. And the "cheesecake" was pretty tasty too. Vanilla extract and pumpkin spices go a long way to give it a great autumnal flavor. I did not make the candied pecans that top the pie because they need to be dehydrated and I don't have a dehydrator. But I didn't miss them at all. And our cleanse buddy (and my neighbor) Kathleen gave it a try and a hearty stamp of approval. I like it too - in fact, I kept trying it to make sure I liked it. Then I had to toss the rest of it... otherwise all the weight I've lost on this cleanse would come right back! If you're interested in raw foods, this is a fun place to start.

And I realize it's late in the game, but better late than never! For those of you who are not close to a Whole Foods or health food store, here are links to the two protein powders I've found for the cleanse - Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 50 and Rainbow Light Engergizer Rice Protein in Vanilla. I prefer the flavor of the Manitoba Harvest (I use Hemp Pro 50 but there are other selections within the brand - it's entirely up to you).

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 50

Rainbow Light Engerizer Rice Protein Vanilla

Now you know everything I do! Have the weekend you deserve!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Let's have some fun!

It's rainy and crummy in Minneapolis; one of those days when everyone should be required to leave work, curl up in a cozy blanket, take in a couple of chapters of their favorite book and follow that up with a nap.

But our world doesn't work that way so we've gotta buck up and press on through the day. So let's have a little fun...Because we deserve it! This vid makes me really, really happy, especially because of the message that runs at the very end. I hope it brings a smile to your face today! Thanks to Jeannie's husband, Eric, who sent this my way.

Pure Fun

Booze - Day 17

For many of us, giving up alcohol is major challenge – especially when weekends or social gatherings pop up. But oftentimes we mindlessly order a drink in social situations simply because it’s a habit we picked up a long time ago. Most of us started drinking in our younger years when we were awkward and experimental – when alcohol was something new that helped us feel more confident and outgoing. But even after we’ve cultivated our own brand of panache, we continue to say yes to the wine at dinner parties, the drinks with colleagues after work, or the beers cracked during Sunday football games. And we don't even think about it because drinking is just “what people do.”

The habit of drinking is such a big part of our culture that it's deeply engrained in our lifestyles and psyches. And it’s scary to think about upsetting the status quo. The first time I cleansed I didn’t go out until Day 18 because I didn’t think I could sit at a bar or have dinner in a restaurant without ordering a glass of wine. And I didn’t want to make other people uncomfortable (I actually thought that what was in my glass had some bearing on how other people perceived me!). But on Day 19 I was obligated to go to a dinner party. I was certain I’d be the most boring – and bored – person in the room. But no one even noticed that I was drinking water (which I’d poured into a wine glass – probably more as a crutch for me than anything else). And to my surprise I had just as much – if not more – fun as I would have had with a couple of glasses of wine in my system.

That night I realized that my habit of alcohol wasn’t as necessary as I believed it was. I realized that I didn’t need it in social settings. And that made me think about the other times I would turn to alcohol, particularly as a reward for a good day or a pacifier after a bad one. Now I know I can stop and ask myself, ‘Do I really want this?’ Chances are, more often than not, the answer will be no.

This cleanse gives us the chance to retool our approach to alcohol. There may be some twinges or urges to head for happy hour or uncork a bottle, particularly now that the weekend is approaching. But when we feel those habitual pangs we can ask ourselves, ‘Why do I want this drink now?’ And when we have our answer we can ask, ‘Is there anything else I can drink – or do – that can take the place of a drink right now?’ If it’s about relaxation, a half-hour Yoga or meditation session works wonders. As does half an hour with the stillness of a good book.

And if you're in a social setting, try my favorite NA drink, a little cranberry juice shaken with soda water (just like a Cosmopolitan, but without the booze) and served straight up in a martini glass with a twist of lemon. It’s got all the sass without the shlosh!
Going booze-free brings our lives a clarity and balance which can be disturbed by just one glass of wine a day. And one of the greatest things about letting go of alcohol is waking up in the morning. There’s no lag time – no need to recover from the night before – you can start living immediately. And you don’t look like you drank the night before!

There are so many good reasons to put down the glass - cheers to all of you for having the courage to lose the booze! Here's to a swingin' Day 17!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Support Group

Hey, Gang - Suzie sent me this note last night and I'd like to share it with all of you. Everyone experiences this cleanse differently, but Suzie isn't seeing as many positive changes as most of us are. I hope you have some insights that you can offer to make it easier and more enjoyable for her. Looking forward to hearing your comments. Thanks!

Hello, Ivy ...I am dealing with the loss of my fuel--the caffeine. My daily intake was huge--- 2-3 times /day triple Venti at Starbuck's. This kept me wired and of course, a little manic. I thought it was energy.
 The food is not a big problem except that I am not a cook. I pick-up fresh produce at Whole Foods and make gigantic salads or brown rice and oven grilled veggies. I don't do recipes. I do miss chicken and fish. I haven't had meat in 2 years. And, my morning is the shake with the powders, banana, berries, green tea and almond milk. I snack on nuts. I'm not really hungry but definitely missing "good" food--turkey burgers, sushi, occasional pizza, etc. Normally eat out 3-4 days per week.It has been too hard to do this during the cleanse. This staying home is a change in my normal routine and a little depressing.
 Eliminating alcohol--yikes. It was the thing I reached for to relax my busy brain or prep me for social occasions. I don't enjoy going out without my vodka in-hand.

I have only missed one day of exercise since September 7th. I do feel lighter. I vowed not to weigh-in until day #22.
 So, bottom-line. When the cleanse is over---then what? I don't see going back but, I don't see this deprivation going on forever. Wondering what results I should expect and if when it's over if I will just resume my old ways. Have I done this for weight loss and not a lifestyle change?

I don't mind you sharing any of the above with the group. Their insight has been enjoyable and valuable.

Warmest regards,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

146 Reasons Why Sugar is Ruining Your Health

We can always count on veteran cleanser Robin (from Seattle) to make some great discoveries when we're in session. She turned us onto Coconut Bliss vegan ice cream and all sorts of other tasty goodies during a previous cleanse. And she linked us into Macaweb.com, a website with all sorts of organic, raw and super foods. Tonight she sent me this little gem 146 Reasons Why Sugar is Ruining Your Health and it's pretty eye-opening. Like I said to her, "I knew it was bad; I didn't realize it was this bad!" Thanks for sharing, Robin!

Dr. Oz on High Fructose Corn Syrup

How timely! Just found this today... Dr. Oz on High Fructose Corn Syrup

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 14 - Hunger vs. Habit

Many times eating or drinking is triggered by certain events or behaviors rather than by true hunger or thirst. Think about all the times you've sipped a glass of wine while you prepared dinner or lost count of the number of pieces of bread you munched while you waited for dinner at a restaurant.

Some of you may have felt some pangs of desire - almost Pavlovian responses to events or circumstances you encountered. But you've had to overcome those urges - you've been forced to think about them and then deal with them head-on. And I suspect that ultimately you realized that what you were missing was the behavior - the habit - and not the food.

So much of what we put into our mouths is driven by habit rather than hunger. And we think we can't live without certain foods when it's really the behavior we've become addicted to. But you've just gone almost two weeks without alcohol, sugar, caffeine, gluten and animal products - that's everything the Western diet is based upon! So you've shattered a few long-lived myths you've carried about yourself and about the choices you have when it comes to nutrition. You really do have a choice. Isn't it liberating to learn that?

I know it hasn't been easy and I realize that those deeply set habits are difficult to break - when you have years of a certain behavior instilled in your routine and your psyche, and when that behavior involves an addictive substance, letting it go is going to take a while.

Suzie in Chicago mentioned that she's feeling "raw" and that she misses waking up with her cup and winding down with her cocktail in the evening. I'm sure we all can empathize! I said to her, "Even today, after two years of being caffeine free, I feel just the teeniest bit deprived when I sip my green tea. I know it's good for me, and it's warm going down my throat, but it's not a cup of coffee. There's not the smell, nor is there the ritual of making it (what's the fun of putting a mug of water in a microwave?). Even so, it's my new ritual, I know how good it makes me feel, and it's what I choose for myself at this moment."

I guess that's the lesson - that we have a choice, and that our choices directly affect our well being. I hope everyone feels a little more clarity, a little more energized, and a lot more empowered than we did when we started this journey. Congratulations on completing thirteen days of mindful eating!You've all done a great job!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cauliflower, Celery and Green Pea Salad

Doesn’t this look easy, light and lovely?

Cauliflower, Celery and Green Pea Salad

2 C chopped cauliflower florets
1 C diced celery
1 C fresh or frozen and thawed shelled peas
¼ C sliced green onions
1 C Healthy Ranch Dressing (make a link here)
Lettuce leaves for serving, optional
1 C coarsely chopped roasted cashews

Combine cauliflower, celery, peas, and green onions in a medium bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

To serve, toss with Healthy Ranch Dressing, spoon onto lettuce leaves, and sprinkle with roasted cashews.

From “Mariel’s Kitchen”

Ginger and Lemongrass Grilled Tofu

Ginger and Lemongrass Grilled Tofu

1 container of firm organic tofu
1 T chopped lemongrass
1 T chopped ginger
2 cloves chopped garlic
5 scallions, whites cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths and greens chopped
1/4 C light soy sauce (substitute tamari or Bragg’s Amino Acids)
2 T sesame oil
1 T agave
1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Peanut oil, for drizzling
1 small head radicchio, nice outer leaves removed and reserved, rest chiffonade
1 bunch watercress, cleaned
1 lime

Preheat the grill to high.

In a large, nonreactive bowl, combine the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, scallion greens, soy sauce substitute, sesame oil, and agave and whisk well. Add the tofu (cubed, water pressed out) and toss to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes (though the longer the better – in which case don’t turn on the grill til you are done marinating.)

Skewer the tofu, scallion whites, and red bell peppers onto skewers in whatever order you like. There should be 4 to 6 tofu cubes per skewer. Place the skewers on a flat plate and drizzle with peanut oil.

Place the tofu skewers on the grill and cook about 3 minutes per side, or just until the tofu browns.

Place the whole radicchio leaves around the edge of a platter. Mound the chiffonade radicchio and watercress inside the leaves and around the platter. Remove the skewers from the grill and place on the bed of greens. Squeeze the juice of a lime over the tofu.

From GirlieGirlArmy.com

Cauliflower, Celery and Green Pea Salad

Doesn’t this look easy, light and lovely?

Cauliflower, Celery and Green Pea Salad

2 C chopped cauliflower florets
1 C diced celery
1 C fresh or frozen and thawed shelled peas
¼ C sliced green onions
1 C Healthy Ranch Dressing
Lettuce leaves for serving, optional
1 C coarsely chopped roasted cashews

Combine cauliflower, celery, peas, and green onions in a medium bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

To serve, toss with Healthy Ranch Dressing, spoon onto lettuce leaves, and sprinkle with roasted cashews.

From “Mariel’s Kitchen”

Light Chickpea Salad

A tasty lunch might not get any easier than this!

Light Chickpea Salad

1 16-oz. can chickpeas, drained
3 stalks celery, diced
3/4 C vegan mayonnaise
2 T lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t minced fresh parsley
1 T chopped onion
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix the chickpeas and celery. Add the remaining ingredients and season, to taste.

Makes 4 servings

From vegancooking.com

Fried Rice with Edamame, Scallions and Tofu

This dish became a staple for Mark and me early on in my cleansing life. It’s easy and open to modification so consider this an outline for a great stir fry; then create your own variations.

Fried Rice with Edamame, Scallions and Tofu

1 T plus 1 t canola oil, divided
2 large cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, greens included, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 T minced ginger
4 C leftover cooked brown rice
3/4 C finely diced red pepper
3/4 C cooked, shelled edamame
1/2 C fresh or frozen, thawed, corn
6 oz firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 eggs, beaten (substitute 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder, 1 heaping tablespoon oil, plus 1 tablespoon warm water per egg)
3 T Bragg's Amino Acids

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add the garlic, scallions and ginger and cook, stirring, until softened and aromatic, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the rice, red pepper, edamame, corn and tofu and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Make a 3-inch well in the center of the rice mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of canola oil, then add the egg substitute mixture and cook until nearly fully scrambled. Stir into the rice mixture, then add Bragg’s and incorporate thoroughly. Serve hot.

From Foodnetwork.com



2 jars organic tomato sauce
6 plum tomatoes, chopped into eighths
1/4 C olive oil
2 T coconut oil
2 t fresh basil, chopped
2 t salt
1/2 t asafoetida powder
1/2 t cumin powder
1/2 t black mustard seeds
1 small, fresh green chili, chopped fine
1 t black pepper
2 t organic black strap molasses

Heat oils over medium flame. Add your mustard seeds and fry for 45 seconds or until they begin to pop. Add your chili, basil, hing and powdered spices. Fry for one minute and add chopped tomatoes. Cook down 5 minutes and stir until you have a thick paste of tomatoes and spices. Then add sauce and bring to a bubble. Add molasses and reduce to simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve on the gluten free pasta of your choice.

From GirlieGirlArmy.com

Jeannie's Vegetable Stew

Jeannie from Dallas has been kind enough to share her recipe for vegetable stew. Looks easy and delicious – just the kind of recipe we like! Thanks, Jeannie!

Jeannie’s Vegetable Stew
1 T. olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
5 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch asparagus, cut in one inch pieces
1 can artichoke hearts, cut in half
1 C vegetable broth
1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 15-oz. can cannelini beans, drained
1 t dried tarragon, crushed in mortar and pestal
½ t salt
Fresh ground pepper
½ C grated parmesan cheese (unless cleansing)
Cooked rice or pasta, optional (gluten-free, if cleansing)

Heat oil in dutch oven or large frying pan over medium heat. Add shallots and green onions and cook until tender about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute. Add asparagus and cook, stirring, one minute. Add artichoke hearts, broth, tomatoes, beans and tarragon.

Cook over low heat until vegetables are tender, 12-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and serve over rice or pasta. Or serve as stew without rice or pasta. Top with cheese, optional.

Peppered Pumpkin and Potato Ragout

This is one of our all-time favorite soups and it was a hit with the cleansers in the fall of ‘09. It’s restaurant quality and has such a rich, warm flavor - you might call it a thing that makes you go ‘mmm!’

Peppered Pumpkin and Potato Ragout

1 T olive oil
1/2 C chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 C cubed fresh pumpkin
1 C cubed potato, unpeeled
1/2 t salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes , or to taste
1/2 t ground white pepper
3 C vegetable stock or canned broth
1 C peas, fresh or frozen, thawed

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

Add pumpkin, potato, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and white pepper, and toss to coat with oil. Stir in stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until pumpkin and potato are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add peas and cook just until peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Nutritional Information Per serving: Calories: 156, Protein: 6g, Total fat: 4g, Saturated fat: 1g, Carbs: 27g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 80mg, Fiber: 5g

4 Servings

From Vegetariantimes.com/recipes:  Vegetarian Times Issue: January 1, 1998 p.44

African Peanut-Potato Stew

I tried this recipe the first time I cleansed and it became an instant household standard; so much so that we got sick of it! But after taking a break, it’s back in the mix and it’s definitely a dish that will always be welcome at my table. It’s deliciously rich, exotic and satisfying. And note that directions are available for pressure cooker or stovetop preparation.

African Peanut-Potato Stew

1 onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 t minced fresh ginger
1 t minced fresh garlic
2 t ground cumin
1/2 t salt (optional)
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t crushed red pepper
1/4 t ground coriander
2 1/4 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 14.5-oz cans chopped tomatoes
2 14.5-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 lb green beans, cut in 1 inch pieces (fresh or frozen)
1 ½ C vegetable broth
¼ C natural peanut butter

Pressure cooker directions:
In 6-quart pressure cooker, heat over medium heat until hot. Add onion, jalapenos, and 2 tbsp. water and cook about 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed. Stir in ginger, garlic, cumin, salt, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, and coriander, and cook 1 minute, stirring.

To onion mixture in pressure cooker, add tomatoes with their juice, sweet-potato chunks, chickpeas, broth, and peanut butter. Following manufacturer's directions, cover pressure cooker, bring up to pressure, and cook under pressure 5 minutes. Quick-release pressure as manufacturer directs.

Add green beans to pressure cooker. Return to heat and cook, covered, until beans are done, about 10 minutes. Or, return cooker to high pressure and cook for one minute. Quick-release pressure and add additional seasoning as needed.

Regular stove-top directions:
Place 1/3 C water, onion, jalapenos, ginger and garlic in a large pot. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add cumin, cinnamon, salt, red pepper and coriander. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chickpeas, green beans, vegetable broth, and peanut butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Serves 6-8

Nutrition per serving: 358 Calories (kcal); 8g Total Fat; (18% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 61g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 203mg Sodium

From fatfreevegan.com (adapted from other recipes by Susan Voisin)

Tofu & Black Bean Tacos

I LOVE this recipe and have it at least once a week. I cut the recipe in half (because Mark still likes turkey in his tacos), and add smoked Spanish paprika to the mix for a nice, smoky flavor. You can put this "taco meat" mixture on a salad or for a treat, find gluten free corn tortillas. Very, very good!

Tofu and Black Bean Tacos

1 14-oz package extra-firm tofu, drained
1 1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t salt
1 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
12 corn tortillas, warmed
3 cups shredded green leaf lettuce
2 cups chopped tomatoes

Put tofu, chili powder, oregano, cumin, coriander and salt into a bowl and mash together with a fork. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and two-thirds of the green onions and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tofu mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes. Add beans and remaining green onions, stir well and cook until beans are heated through, about 2 minutes more.

Spoon tofu mixture into tortillas, top with lettuce, tomatoes and serve.

Nutrition per serving (2 tacos/299g-wt.): 350 calories (160 from fat), 18g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 30mg cholesterol, 760mg sodium, 36g total carbohydrate (8g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 20g protein

From Wholefoods.com

Ginger-Peanut Tofu Salad

Ginger-Peanut Tofu Salad

1 block firm tofu, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
1/4 C creamy peanut butter
1/4 C thinly sliced scallions
2 T soy sauce (substitute tamari or Bragg’s Amino Acids)
2 T freshly grated ginger
2 t agave syrup
1 garlic clove, pressed
Sriracha sauce, to taste

In a bowl, mash the tofu well. Add the peanut butter, stirring until mixed well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 2 to 3 servings

From vegcooking.com by Julie Hassan

Pumpkin Curry

There are two parts to this recipe: Baking the pumpkin, and then preparing the curry. For those of you who have never worked with fresh pumpkin, this is your chance to add a wonderful new flavor and texture to your cooking repertoires!

I found this recipe on Gluten-dairy-sugarfree.com and the author does a good job of explaining how to prepare the pumpkin – it might not be immediately evident, however, that you use only ½ of a medium-sized pumpkin for this recipe:

“To prepare the pumpkin, first I wash it and then I grab a heavy knife. Be careful here, as cutting any kind of pumpkin or squash is dangerous. Usually I remove the stem first, by scoring a circle around the edge with the knife, then giving it a good pull. Then begin at the top and work the knife down one side, then the other, always keeping a good grip on the side of the pumpkin that is away from the knife. Once you have cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the pulp with the seeds and set it aside. Use a spoon to scrape the inside free of the stringy pulp.

“A medium-sized pumpkin is the perfect size to make both this pumpkin curry recipe as well as pureed pumpkin for baking. I use one half of the pumpkin for the curry and the other for the puree. For the stir-frying-half, I use a strong vegetable peeler to peel the outer skin off the pumpkin. You may have to cut it again in half to reach all angles. Once the skin is removed, I dice it up into one- or two-inch cubes. Place the pieces in a casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake for about 45 minutes.”

Pumpkin Curry

“Now, for the pumpkin curry. While the pumpkin is baking in the oven, I start boiling some brown rice and chopping up some vegetables and tofu for the stir-fry. I use all vegan ingredients:

1 shallot, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 small block firm tofu, cubed
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 bunch thai basil leaves
2-3 T sesame oil
1 t salt
1 can lite coconut milk
2 t curry powder (more or less, to taste)

Heat the sesame oil (I use 1/2 toasted sesame oil and 1/2 regular) in a large skillet. Add the tofu cubes, shallot, and garlic; toss until browned. Add the zucchini and bell pepper, toss for another minute or two. Add the pumpkin cubes, coconut milk, curry powder, salt and fresh thai basil leaves. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until thick and fragrant. Serve over brown rice.

From gluten-dairy-sugarfree.com

Coconut Thai Rice Curry

Here’s an excerpt from an article about turmeric by Sara Novak of Planet Green…

“According to the BBC, ‘an extract found in the bright yellow curry spice turmeric kills cancer cells.’ Tests released by a team at the Cork Cancer Research Centre show turmeric can destroy gullet cancer cells in the lab within 24 hours. That’s no small deal. Now the question is, are you getting your fill?

“Turmeric is a wonderful spice that shows up in a host of ethnic dishes. I use it mostly for curries but it does show up in other recipes. Make sure that your turmeric has not gone bad as can often unfortunately be the case for our lesser used spices.”

From that same article came this lovely recipe…

Coconut Thai Rice Curry

“The original recipe was not vegetarian, but I decided to leave the meat out,” writes Sara. “The dish just doesn’t need it. This dish also highlights the season by including loads of root vegetables that add a sense of warmth. The miso paste is so important to this recipe because it makes it come together like it would in a restaurant.”

10 1/2 oz brown basmati rice
1/4 C organic coconut milk
2 C roasted root vegetables, cut into 1-inch cubes (sweet potatoes, rutabaga, beets, etc.)
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 T finely chopped fresh ginger
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 T curry powder
1/4 t turmeric powder
3 T soy sauce (substitute tamari or Bragg’s Amino Acids)
1 T organic miso paste
1 t cardamom

Cook the rice based on directions.

After about 15 minutes, start cooking the rest of the meal. Warm up the coconut milk along with root vegetables, shallot, garlic, ginger, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick in a medium to large-size pot over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add curry powder and turmeric and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook 3 more minutes.

Add cooked rice along with soy sauce, miso, and cardamom and combine. Simmer for five more minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf and serve.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com.
From care2.com

Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran

Veteran cleanser Jenny found this recipe during a previous cleanse. And Jenny has a very sophisticated palate – if she likes it, it’s gonna be good! Thanks for sharing, Jenny!

PS - Panch Phoran is also known as Bengali 5-Spice – the recipe for it is below.

Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran

1 1/2 C or red lentils
4 C water
1 t turmeric
1 t salt (or to taste)
1/8 t canola oil (or canola oil spray)
1 T panch phoran
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 t red pepper flakes
1 t ginger paste (or 1 tsp. minced ginger)
16 oz diced tomatoes (or 1 can)
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/2 C water

Pick over and rinse the lentils and add them to a pot with the water and turmeric. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the dal is tender, about 20 to 35 minutes. When done, add salt and set aside.

While the dal is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Heat a large, deep skillet, preferably non-stick. When hot, add the canola oil and shake it to spread it around. Add the panch phoran and stir. (You may instead use oil spray; spray before and after adding the panch phoran.) When the first seed pops, immediately add the onion, garlic, pepper flakes, and ginger paste. Stir and cook until the onion softens, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower, and water, and stir. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes.

When the dal and cauliflower are both done, add the dal to the cauliflower mixture. Stir well, and check seasoning, adding more salt if needed. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve hot, over rice if desired.

Makes about 6 servings. Per serving: 193 Calories (kcal); 1g Total Fat; (4% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 34g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 378mg Sodium; 16g Fiber.

“If you want a more assertive panch phoran taste, grind an additional 1/2 tablespoon of it and add it during the last 10 minutes of cooking.”

Panch Phoran

1 tbsp nigella seeds(Jenny says, “also called black caraway or onion seed - I buy from Amazon.com”)
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds

Combine all spices in a jar, store away from heat and light.

Vegan Cashew Fondue

Vegan Cashew Fondue

1 clove garlic
1 t salt
2 C raw cashews
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 C filtered water

In a food processor, pulverize garlic and salt. Add cashews and process until finely ground.

Add lemon juice and mix well. Slowly add water one tablespoon at a time until a smooth, creamy consistency is reached. Serve with fresh veggies or thinly sliced apples.

Serves 4

From VegNews.com

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus With Cilantro

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus With Cilantro

2 red bell peppers
4 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 T tahini
2 T lemon juice
1 T mild cayenne pepper sauce
1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro
assorted vegetable sticks, for dipping

Preheat the broiler. Place the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet. Wrap the garlic in foil and place on the sheet. Broil the peppers 6" from the heat for 15 to 20 minutes, turning until charred on all sides. Broil the garlic for 15 minutes. Place the peppers in a sealed bag and let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, when it's cool enough to handle, peel the garlic and finely chop in a food processor. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel, core, and seed them. (You should have 1 cup of roasted peppers.) Add the peppers, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and pepper sauce to the processor and blend until smooth. Add the cilantro and process just until combined. For best flavor, store refrigerated for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. Serve with vegetable sticks or use as a spread for wraps or sandwiches.

From prevention.com