Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Juice Cleanse Wrap Up with Collards

Today was my first full day of food.  My 4 day juice cleanse went surprisingly well.  I did not have too many times of hunger and I got to discovered new juices.  My favorite was a combination of apple, carrot, ginger and romaine lettuce.  Yum!  I find it is harder to control cravings for certain foods now that I am back eating food.  The sad thing is I have to introduce foods back slowly so tofu, which I have been really craving today, will have to wait a little longer.  

One thing the cleanse experience taught me was a re-appreciation for healthy food.  It is so easy to reach for comfort food sometimes, even though grabbing healthy quinoa and greens can create a dinner which is both satisfying and tasty.

Quinoa Stuffed Collard Wraps

2 cups cooked Quinoa
1 Tb Olive Oil
1 Yellow Pepper, chopped
1 Red Pepper, chopped
1 small Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 large Tomato, chopped
1 Tb Lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 Collard Green Leaves, steamed

Look for pre-rinsed Quinoa or rinse the Quinoa before use.  Prepare the quinoa as directed; set aside.  Saute the onion, peppers and garlic in the oil until soft.  Add the quinoa, tomato, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Steam the collards and rinse them off with cold water so you can handle them.  Dry the collards with a paper towell.  Place the collard green leaf on a flat surface, with the smooth side down.  Fill the lower, wider section of the leaf with the quinoa mixture, leaving room on the sides.  Fold the leaf sides into the middle and roll the leaf up, similar to a burrito.  Repeat with the rest of the collard green leaves.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vegetable French Lentil Soup

Yesterday I made a soup that was really good. I am very picky with my soups and I am not a fan of lentils which make me liking this soup so amazing. It was a vegetable french lentil soup that I kind of just threw together, so I don’t really have a recipe, per se, but I can remember what I did fairly well.

I decided to make sushi rolls for phase 1 of my cleanse but since I could not have soy sauce, I wanted to create something to dip the sushi in. I decided to try and make a sauce from pumpkin seeds, lime, rice vinegar, salt and dates for sweetness. I did not like how it turned out.

I had already decided to make soup from some random French Green Lentils I had, already cooked and ready to go. I added some veggies to a pot and not wanting to waste the sauce I prepared, I put it in the pot to cook with the veggies. It lent not only a good taste to the soup, but also a really neat color since the sauce was light green. Here’s what I did if you want to try to replicate it.

Vegetable French Lentil Soup

¼ cup Pumpkin Seeds
1 Tb Ginger, grated
Juice of 1 Lime
1 tsp Rice Vinegar
½ tsp Salt
1 fresh Date, pitted
1 cup Water

2 cup cooked French Green Lentils*
2 carrots, thinly slices
1 small Onion, chopped
1 bunch Kale, chopped (I used Russian Kale, my favorite)
4 cups Water
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Black Pepper

For the sauce, add all the ingredients except the water in the blender. Add 1/4 cup of the water and blend until smooth. Slowly add the rest of the water to get a good consistency.

In a large pot, add the chopped onion and sliced carrot along with ½ cup of water and heat on medium high heat. Let this cook for about 10 minutes to soften the vegetables. Add the sauce, cooked lentils, kale, salt and pepper to the soup base and the additional water. Cook for another 15 minutes on medium heat. Add more water depending on the consistency desired.

* To cook the lentils, simply combine 1 cup of French Green Lentils with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cover pot with a lid. Cook about 30 minutes.

I start my juice phase of my cleanse now, so wish me luck!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cleansing Time

My naturopath decided to have me do a cleanse.  This means at least 5 days of a "bulking" diet which I refer to as phase 1, and then 3-5 days of only juice, which I refer to as phase 2.  Today will be my first full day of phase 1.  The bulking diet is mostly just vegetables, with limited amounts of protein (nuts and beans) and whole grains.  This will also be the start of eating 6 weeks gluten free, so my grains will primarily be Quinoa, Millet and Brown Rice.  

It is funny how the moment you know you have to cut certain foods from your diet you suddenly crave them all.  The last two days were my transition days, which consisted of me following the cleanse until dinner time.  There was a new vegan Italian restaurant to check out and a work dinner I had to attend the last two days so it was a great excuse to have transition days.  Now, I get down to business.

I have so far discovered I love the combination of corn, avocado and black eye peas, with jicama on the side.  Today I was reminded of my cat Roy's ability to sense corn in the house when I left my bowl unattended.  Just a few minutes away, I come back to discover him with his head deep inside the bowl isolating the corn.  I decided to give him his own plate so I wouldn't have to fight for my food.  He's been known to swat and meow incisively for the sweet kernels.  During the summer I buy him fresh corn on the cob so I can show my friend's how cute he is while letting him enjoy a treat.

On my cleanse I hope to discover new food combinations and try new ways of preparing vegetables.  I know this will be hard, but I also know by the end of it I will feel a lot better.  Sometimes challenges in life can be a good thing and something to learn from. That is exactly what I hope to gain from this experience.  

Monday, January 12, 2009

Creamy Tortilla Soup

If you look up tortilla soup recipes online, you will find many variations.  Some recipes just call for people to add tortilla chips.  If you want something with more crunch, I would recommend doing this as well.  I decided to use wheat tortillas, cut them into strips and cook them into the soup.  I thought maybe I made a mistake since the next day the tortilla strips were fairly soft.  By the time I finished the bowl, I came to the conclusion that I liked them that way.  I am not a person who likes a lot of spice so I did not add too much.  If you want to see this soup have more kick, I would recommend adding some jalapenos and some cayenne pepper.

Creamy Tortilla Soup

1 Tb Oil
3 Tortillas
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 bunch Green Onion, chopped
5 oz. Yellow Corn
15 oz can Tomatoes, crushed
4 oz can Green Chilies, chopped
25 oz can Pinto Beans
1 cup Water
2 cups Vegetable Broth
juice of 1 Lime
1/2 cup Vegan Sour Cream
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Garlic Granules
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Salt
2 Tb Nutritional Yeast

Cut the tortillas into strips of 1/2 inch by 2 inches.  Saute the strips in the oil.  Add the red bell pepper and cook for a couple minutes.  Add the green onion, corn, tomatoes, pinto beans, green chilies, water, broth and spices.  Cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat.  Turn down heat to simmer and mix in the sour cream and nutritional yeast.  Cook an additional 5 minutes.  

Monday, January 5, 2009

"Buttermilk" Pancakes

Pancakes seem like the simplest of morning foods.  I've had a lot of great ones, and unfortunately I have had lots of bad ones as well.  Sadly, a lot of the bad ones have some from my own kitchen.  For some reason I could never get pancakes right and it drove me crazy.  I could make all these other foods which were much more complicated but my pancakes didn't taste good, or stuck to the pan, or had a bad texture or something else.  

Everyone has different preferences for pancakes, but I have finally come up with a recipe that I think is perfect.  They have a decent rise, but are not too puffy and dry.  They have some elasticity but are not rubbery.  And with soy margarine and maple syrup they have the greatest flavor.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

"Buttermilk" Pancakes

1 cup Soymilk
2 tsp Lemon Juice
2/3 cup Water
1 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 cups Unbleached White Flour
1 Tb Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

Mix together the soymilk and lemon juice; let stand a few minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the "buttermilk" mixture, water and vanilla to the flour ingredients and whisk until mostly smooth.  Pour 1/3 cup batter into a greased pan or griddle.  Heat until bubbles appear on top of pancakes and flip.  Heat another minute until pancake is cooked and golden in color.  Most pans do not need to be re-greased between pancakes.  Makes 7 - 5 inch pancakes.