Hi everyone, and welcome to the first detox edition of the Friday food round-up! As most of you know, Daiku and I have decided to welcome 2007 by following Alex Jamieson's" Great American Detox Diet" to cleanse our bodies from both everyday and holiday overindulgence.
A little bit of background-- you might be asking, if I am vegan and Daiku is mostly vegan, what is there to detox from? I found that I was relying too much on refined foods (such as white bread and pasta). Daiku has a serious coffee habit, and doesn't feel right unless he drinks several cups a day. Both of us have sugar issues- I love baking various fun desserts, and both of us regularly indulge in sweets cravings (think ice cream, cupcakes, muffins, dark chocolate, granola, etc.)
Therefore, we thought that this detox would make us more conscious of our eating habits and their effects on our bodies and moods. We also both liked this specific detox because it is not radical at all. Jamieson's book talks about the nutritious benefits of unrefined, whole foods, but there is no starvation, no eating plan, no fasts, no liquid days, no weird supplements or schedules. This is something that we can not only do for a few days or weeks, but can continue to incorporate into our lives.
We have decided that because we are not detoxing from fast food or animal products (as for example Jamieson's partner Morgan Spurlock was at the end of the film " Supersize Me"!), that we will follow this plan strictly for 6 weeks instead of 8. Now I will show you some of the meals we have had this past week. You will find that the meals are a little bit repetitive, but that is not due to the diet so much as the fact that we have yet to do serious grocery shopping since getting back from vacation! Hence, the reliance on frozen and pantry foods.
The day after new year's day, we slapped our forheads after we realized that, d'oh! We'd forgotten to eat the traditional black-eyed peas for good luck on January 1st! We hope that these January 2nd black-eyed peas will make up for it.
We cooked these peas, along with some frozen mustard greens, onions, and diced tomatoes in our favorite detox find, unrefined coconut oil. I'd never cooked with this oil before, but am glad I discovered it because in addition to all its anti-inflammatory and health properties, it makes food taste great. Even though it smells very coconutty on first glance, the food you cook in it does not really taste like coconut. If you are freaked out by coconut oil because it is a saturated fat, don't worry, because plant-derived saturated fats (in the context of a healthy, plant-based diet) are not nearly as harmful as animal-derived saturated fats.
We had the peas mixture over brown Basmati rice cooked with saffron. I used saffron to cook the rice, because we discovered that the veggie broth powder that we use has maltodextrin in it (a sweetener) and the detox advises against refined or chemical sweeteners.
I can not tell you how delicious this was.
One thing about following this detox is how hungry we have been for the last few days! This is a reflection of how much we had depended on snacks and junk food previously. Without snacks between meals (due also to our empty kitchen), we both really feel it when it is time to eat! Here's a lunch salad we made. A mixture of: whole wheat couscous, cannelini beans, shredded organic carrot, organic sunflower seeds, onions, and organic currants, dressed with flax oil, vinegar, and heaps of dried mint, garnished with basil. This salad was inhaled in a few minutes!
Here is a typical detox breakfast: organic steel-cut oats topped with unsweetened soymilk and a mixture of maple nuts and currants. Daiku had made these nuts the night before when he really wanted a sweet snack: he had taken raw pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds, and toasted them with maple syrup and cinnamon. I learned from the book that maple syrup is a great natural sweetener that is low in sucrose (as opposed to white sugar which is almost 100% sucrose.) However, watch out! Maple sugar or crystals is considered a refined product that is also nearly 100% sucrose. Therefore, your body would react to it in the same way as it would to regular table sugar.
Daiku and I gave ourselves a new cast-iron grill pan (flat on one side, ridges on the other) as our Christmas gift. Here it was being used for the first time to make some grilled tofu rubbed with homemade jerk seasoning, organic shoyu, and lime juice. Look at those grill marks- so exciting!!
The tofu was served on a bed of mustard greens cooked with onions and some lentils that were cooked and then sauteed with some caramelized onions (again, cooked in coconut oil.) This was such a satisfying meal for both of us.
Here are some spices (yellow mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red pepper flakes, black pepper, cardamom, turmeric, and freshly grated nutmeg). These, along with some bay leaves gave the explosive flavor for our...
...potato and okra curry stew. Potatoes, frozen okra, tomatoes, carrots, and onions went into the stew, which we served with Hawaiian Wehani rice (a textured, chewy, and delicious whole-grain rice variety).
Finally, tonight's dinner, which we call "Burrito Pasta Salad." We mixed together: whole wheat penne pasta, black beans, garbanzo beans, frozen corn, shredded carrot, onion, and some spaghetti squash that we had cooked and frozen a few weeks ago. We also mixed in some frozen cilantro, salsa, chopped olives, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes and topped with fresh lime juice, flax oil, and julienned basil. This salad was hard to resist, it was just like a burrito in a bowl, although both of us wished we had some avocado to put in there!
So what has the first week of detox been like?
I gave up caffeine totally, since my black and green tea intake was not that high. However, Daiku has been gradually lowering his coffee intake, as the book suggested. As Jamieson notes, for someone who is used to large amounts of caffeine, going cold-turkey would be unneccessarily painful. Still, both of us went through a few days of unusual irritability, which we attribute to the detox. I also had a low-grade headache for a couple of days and felt that I was coming down with a head cold. These symptoms are also passing. Daiku and I have also noticed how much more we appreciate the taste of food even after such a short time. This evening, we were desperately searching the house for a sweet, detox-friendly snack, and found a bag of unsweetened dried fruit. As I bit into a prune, it tasted like the world'd most beautiful thing. Ultimately, this is what the detox is giving us: a renewed appreciation for the taste of real food. It has also forced us to put a variety of ingredients into use: instead of just olive oil all the time, we are using more coconut oil, flax oil, and walnut oil (All expeller- or cold-pressed, of course). Instead of just bread, rice, and pasta, we are using couscous, oats, buckwheat, and barley. That variety is a good thing.
Another update next week! By then, I hope to have cooked some of the recipes provided in the book (such as scones!) I look forward to hearing any comments, suggestions, or questions you guys might have.