Friday, June 29, 2012

Cauliflower Soup

The cleanse included four days of blended meals/shakes. So, I made a couple of soups with the vegetables I had on hand. This cauliflower soup was one of them, and it was so simple and pretty hearty. I followed the very simple Paul Bertolli's Cauliflower Soup recipe here.

So simple, yet so delicious!

Baked Potato Chips

Baked potato chips I made a couple times for J this week. I used my mandolin to cut the potatoes and tossed the slices in olive oil, sea salt, pepper and a couple dashes of cayenne for a nice kick. Easy. And healthy!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I Am Cleansing: What I've Been Eating

Hello, world. I apologize for the lack of posts. It's not that I haven't been cooking, I've been super busy with work...and life in general.

Today's post is all about my latest and current journey. I decided last year I wanted to do a cleanse (or detox if you want to call it that). I chose to go with the Cambiati Cleanse because a wonderful woman I know tried it and it yielded great results for her.  The program's goal is to empower you to discover keys to a healthier life, teaching you how to eat the way our ancestors ate during paleolithic times, learn how nutrition affects your body, identify food intolerances, and detoxify and cleanse your body.

Today, I am on DAY 20 (eight more days to go!!!). I'm learning to make better tasting shakes. Spices are my new best friend because seasoning is key to blended meals (there are four days of the program that is blended meals only - I'm on day three of the four days of blended meals).

So, what does this cleanse involve? 28 days. YES, twenty-eight days! ZERO sugar, ZERO alcohol, ZERO dairy, ZERO Gluten.  Also no caffeine, which I'm okay with because I cut coffee out last year (except for the occasional cà phê sữa đá when I visit home because I can't say no to my mom when she asks me if I want a glass of cà phê) and rarely drink soda. I'm basically on a paleo diet and all produce is organic, meats are grass-fed, eggs are cage-free. I drink almond or coconut milk in my shakes and use organic olive, coconut or grapeseed oil to cook.

What do I miss the most? Week two, I started craving breads and cheese. I love those things. Week three, I started craving sweets, specifically cakes. Though, I was able to get pass those cravings :P I also miss snacking on chips or popcorn when watching TV. But, that hasn't been much of an issue because I've been busy with work and we haven't had time to watch any TV. Also, it makes you think about why you are eating. When you're snacking while watching TV, you're doing it for the sake of eating something, you're not really hungry, you just want to eat. So, it's a good practice to eat only when you're hungry.

What do I snack on? I'm not supposed to snack in between meals, but if I am hungry, I will eat some seaweed, which I do when I'm not on the cleanse anyway. I also drink detox tea, which tastes like regular black tea, which I also drink when I'm not on the cleanse. I love tea and seaweed.

Here's a look at what I've been eating over the past three weeks:

I ordered all the supplies needed for the cleanse. It took up a lot of space:

Salads: I add all kinds of vegetables into my salads so I don't get bored. If there are leftover vegetables (J doesn't eat all his veggies) at dinner, I'll use them the next day in my lunch salad.

My favorite things to add to my salads are: beets, heart of palm, olives, bell peppers, blueberries, pine nuts, walnuts, pecans (all raw), avocado (only 1/4), and artichoke. Sometimes I'll throw in boiled eggs if I need more protein that day.

Meals: You'll see it's mostly chicken because for the first two weeks, I stuck to chicken - it's easy and I don't have to think about it too much. One of J's favorite was the baked spicy chicken wings I made one night. But I got sick of eating chicken, so I incorporated seafood (salmon, shrimp, crab, ground turkey and then  steak - I'm allowed to have red meat once a week).  For Father's Day, we splurged on grass-fed filets and I made Bisteak, a Filipino dish J's dad used to make. It was delish and so easy!

What about eating out? I work at home, so it hasn't been too much of an issue sticking to my diet restrictions. However, I do miss eating out and last weekend J and I was outdoors/running errands. My eating out treat is the Chicken Salad from Chipotle (without the sauce). I basically get a salad, with chicken, beans, corn and salsa. That's it. I also stopped by Whole Foods and grabbed some veggies. There is a lot of temptation and the key is to remember the goal and stick to it.

Blended meals: Drinking meals is not my favorite thing to do. All the powders make the shakes really gross. But, I've gone through lots of them and am finally learning to make better tasting shakes these days. I didn't think the photos of the shakes were very nice - they're just different colors in a glass - so I didn't include them in this post. My favorite shakes so far are Pumpkin Spice, Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry Almond, and my recovery shake after my workout is a Banana Almond Butter shake (bananas are a high glycemic load fruit, so it's only allowed after working out). BTW, I love almond butter - I've been eating it even before this diet, so no big thing for me :D

I'm having different vegetable soups for my blended meal days:

- Green Bean Soup (I used the same spices I would have used in a chicken masala dish, so it was curry-like and spicy)
- I found Organic Vegan Split Pea soup from Trader Joe's that was delicious. Though I was disappointed they didn't have more selection. I ate these on days when I was out of time and needed to eat.

 Green Bean Soup

I'm planning to makes Cauliflower Soup and Cucumber Gazpacho today. We'll see how it goes.

Side note: I'm such a space-case, I bought a sac of red potatoes, thinking I'd make potato soup, but realized I'm not allowed to have potatoes (sweet potato/yams are okay, so I eat that). So, I baked some potato chips for J. He really liked them. I think we'll go this route in the future - it's so much healthier!

Baked Potato Chips Seasoned with Sea Salt & Cayenne

Sweet Potato Truffle Fries Served in a Red Basket

What are my results so far? In general, I eat pretty healthy and I enjoy vegetables and fruits so eating salads and lots of veggies doesn't bother me. The main reason I decided to do this program is to blueprint my metabolism and the greatest take away for me through this program so far is learning about the right portion size for my body - how much of what to eat to sustain me unti the  next meal, which is great. And, of course there is always room for learning to eat healthy, right? 

I have always been a light sleeper. I hear everything that goes on - the cats' movement, if J is up late working I hear his movements, so I was never fully asleep until everyone else in the house is asleep. I've noticed that since I've changed my diet,  my sleep is much deeper. I am actually sleeping when I go to bed and don't wake up when J gets into bed.  I'm well-rested in the morning, which is always a good thing for J's sake, because I am not a morning person. 

Although I've made an effort to work out more consistently over the past year, I wasn't able to stick to it due to work, the weather or my mood. However, I'm finding that eating healthy gives me more motivation to stay on my exercise routine and I actually want to work out and don't feel very good on the days that I don't work out. I'm still not working out as much as I want to (everyday), but I am working out 4-5 days a week, which is pretty darn good for me. I actually like sweating these days ;P

What am I going to eat after the 28 days? To celebrate, J and I are going to have pizza at our favorite pizza joint, plus they have this really good apple walnut salad that we always get with our pizza. I figured pizza has cheese and breads - two things I miss. It's killing two birds with one stone kinda meal. Although, my cleanse ends just in time for the Independence Day festivities and I'll be at a friend's party so that could be very bad. But, I don't think I'll go crazy with the food - I'm not the kind of person to overindulge, but whatever goodness I do end up eating, I know I will be very mindful of how my body reacts to it.

Overall, the paleo diet is working for us and it's something we'd like to stick to because it promotes longterm health, well-being and longevity. I'm going to do whatever I can today, to be as healthy as I can later. Also, the diet is sustainable and studies have shown vegetable-based diets to be beneficial.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Desserts & Wine, Anyone?

I was in Miami last weekend for my cousin's bachelorette party. We had a great time and it was great to see my cousins who live in three different states. On our last evening in Miami, we had a wine and dessert party to end the fabulous weekend.

We didn't want to spend too much time cooking/baking so we made some easy desserts:

I made panna cotta with a berry sauce, goat cheese stuffed strawberries and put together strawberry shortcake using store bought pound cake, COOL WHIP and strawberries.

My cousin made salmon cream-cheese stuffed bell peppers. We had some fruit and store bough cookies/brownies. Served with Rosé.
It was fun!