Sunday, January 31, 2010

Best Meal of the Millennium

As an avid eater of down-home comfort food, I've never cared much for gourmet grub. But then again, I've never really had the opportunity to eat at a fancy-schmancy restaurant since all the ones around here serve nasty meat entrees. But I spent the last several days in San Francisco at an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies conference for work. And while in town, I just may have been converted to fancy foodie-ism at the totally vegan Millennium Restaurant.

I met up with fellow PPK-er/vegan blogger Erin of Vegan Homemade at Millennium on Thursday evening. The only picture of us turned out blurry, but here it is anyway:

As we gabbed about how excited we were to be able to order ANYTHING on the menu, our sweet server brought this Crusty Bread with White Bean Spread to the table:

I'm so used to eating plain bread at restaurants since the butter most places offer isn't vegan. But I happily schmeared this spread all over the chewy, white bread.

Erin and I split a bottle of grenache/syrah/mourvedre. All their wines are organic and vegan! And we chose a couple of appetizers to start with — Fried Oyster Mushrooms with some kind of Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce (I asked for menus so I could blog the formal names, but ended up forgetting to take them):

These mushrooms were the second best part of the meal (I'll tell you about my favorite part in a second). I purchased the Millennium's Artful Vegan cookbook while I was there, and this recipe is included ... so I will certainly be trying to re-create them soon.

We also whet our appetites with this Black Bean Torte:

Smoky black beans meet sweet, caramelized plantains inside a whole wheat tortilla. The torte is drizzled with cashew sour cream and served with pumpkin-habanero salsa verde. So, so good.

I had a really hard time choosing an entree, considering that a) I'm an indecisive Libra and b) I'm not used to actually having more than one or two choices in a restaurant. But I finally decided on the Caribbean Jerk Tempeh:

The salty-sweet tempeh filets were served with coconut and achiote root stew, sauteed kale with caramelized onion and sea veggies, garlic mashed sweet potatoes, and clove-spiced pickled carrots. Absolutely delectable. My favorite part was the coconut stew, but they didn't put much on the plate. Also, the sea veggies (Erin guessed it may have been wakame ... I couldn't tell) in the kale were really tasty.

Erin ordered this Portabello Mushroom dish:

I don't remember what all the side dishes were, but it was served atop some kind of savory chickpea stew with green cauliflower and a millet cake. I took a bite of her mushroom, and it was delicious — smoky with a hint of something like Ethiopian berbere spice.

By the time we finished all this food, we were stuffed. But there was no way we were leaving without dessert. We decided to split something, but our awesome server hooked us up with a complimentary plate of house made truffles, cookies, brownies, and fruit:

So we broke each cookie in half and savored each bite. Then we dug into the dessert we chose to split — Millennium's famous Chocolate Almond Midnight:

This was by far the highlight of my meal. A mocha chocolate filling and super-creamy white chocolate mousse sits atop a crunchy almond toffee cashew crust. The pie is served with a bit of raspberry sauce for dippin'. OMG ... this was heaven in my mouth. Unlike most creamy vegan pies, this didn't taste at all like silken tofu. We couldn't figure out how they made it, but I would make the trip back to San Francisco tomorrow if I could ... just for another slice of that pie!

Well, that concludes the best fancy meal of my life so far. I'll post the rest of my San Francisco food pics on Monday night.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Detox Just to Retox

Now that I'm back to my old cake-eatin', wine-drinkin', coffee-sippin' ways, I guess its time for an Adventure Cleanse Tune-Up wrap-up post. I started my 22-day cleanse (it was supposed to be 26 days, but who's counting?) off with a bang on January 1st — no sugar, no coffee, no alcohol, no gluten, no processed food, and raw meals until dinner.

Green Juices were my morning foundation, and they typically consisted of kale or collards, apple, cucumber, celery, and sometimes ginger. Every once in awhile, I'd throw in a beet to turn my green juice into red juice:

I didn't really mind eating raw until dinner, but I was always very thankful for warm cooked food at night. Honestly, eating a mostly raw diet didn't make me feel much different. I did start to notice my hunger regulate though. When eating all raw on my monthly Raw Food Tuesdays, I tended to stay hungry all day. But during the cleanse, I easily filled up on raw food like this Zucchini Pasta Pomodoro from The Raw Food Revolution:

Or this Walnut Currant Squash "Rice" from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. The rice is made from finely chopped butternut squash!

Eating raw certainly felt clean, but I missed the hell out of bread. Peanut butter and ricemallow creme sandwiches are my favorite thing in the world, but I had to avoid those during the cleanse.

Steering clear of sugar was no picnic either. I swear I swooned at the sight of a piece of candy on the ground in my office parking lot one day. I looked at that half-eaten, squished-up gummi bear and thought, "ooh, candy!" I had to stop myself from picking it up off the crusty asphalt and popping it into my mouth. Yep, it was that bad. Gummi bears aren't even vegan. I don't know what had gotten into me.

And don't even get me started on coffee. All I can say is coffee and I belong together, and we shall never part again. In the past couple of days, since I've been drinking coffee, I finally feel like myself again. I never experienced any detox symptoms unless you count the occasional emotional breakdown over coffee in the first week.

As for alcohol, let's just say weekends are no fun without a glass or two of red wine. And bars are intolerably loud, obnoxious places unless you've got a couple beers in ya ... that's what I've discovered over the past month.

But I'm not totally going back to my old ways. Here are some changes I plan to implement as a result of my ACT cleanse:
  • Since I cannot afford to green juice daily (I spent way too much during this cleanse!), I will substitute a daily dose of Amazing Grass SuperFood powder. It's loaded with healthy green stuff and it's cheaper than daily juicing.
  • I will attempt to limit evaporated cane juice and turbinado (I don't do white sugar anyway) to a couple of times per week. And I'll try not to buy too many products that contain added sugar. Most days, dessert will be fruit or something sweetened with brown rice syrup, maple syrup, molasses, or agave.
  • I will start drinking my coffee with agave and unsweetened soymilk instead of turbinado and soy creamer.
  • I will eat more raw foods. Instead of limiting myself to a once-a-month raw day, I plan to make several raw meals each month.
  • I will eat a salad or cooked greens (or both) everyday, when possible.
  • I will try to only buy vegan wines and drink good beer (no more Bud Light just because it's cheap).
  • I will continue to dry brush daily. I never mentioned this before, but ACT requires that you brush your skin with a bristly brush each morning before hopping in the shower. It sloughs away dead skin and gets your circulation moving.
  • I will continue to work out 5 days a week — some spent in classes (like boxing, spinning, and yoga), others spent training to run.
And that, my friends, concludes this crazy-long cleanse (and this crazy-long post .... sorry about that). I'm headed to San Francisco on Wednesday for a work conference, so I won't be posting again until next Sunday. Have a great week!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Cheated ...

I had red wine, a delicious chocolate cupcake, and wheat gluten (in the form of bread and pie crust) last night. Oh, and I had a cup of coffee yesterday morning. I kinda had to cheat on my Adventure Cleanse Tune-Up since Saturday was my best friend Greg's 30th birthday. I threw the party and there was no way I was going to let Stephanie's chocolate cupcakes pass me by. And then I figured that since I was cheating with sugar, I might as well go all the way and cheat with everything.

And since there were leftover cupcakes when I woke up this morning, I decided to cheat again today. I had more coffee and a leftover cupcake, and then I said, "to hell with this cleanse." Yep, I quit. I only had three days left anyway. But I was growing quite weary of restrictions. I'll do a big post tomorrow on how the cleanse made me feel and what I hope to take away from it.

For now though, I'll share some cheater pics. Greg doesn't like cake because he's obviously crazy. He requested a birthday quiche instead. I made the Caramelized Onion Quiche from Vegan Brunch:

Stephanie's (Poopie Bitch) birthday is the 28th (she'll turn 29), so she blew out a candle on her AMAZING chocolate cupcakes with the world's best chocolate ganache.

Stephanie, my friend Sheila, and I rolled brown rice tofu veggie sushi for the party:

The rest of the spread included injera, hummus, tabbouleh, and noochy fondue with bread, fried tofu and cauliflower for dippin:

Steph's husband snapped a few shots of my cheater moment:

I gotta tell ya, cheatin' felt so good. Twenty-two days is a LONG time to go without sugar. This cupcake moment was among the best moments of my life ... for real.

Oh, and we have a winner in the $50 shopping spree contest! Belle of Off-beat Belle was picked using a random number generator. Yea Belle!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Banana: Two Ways

I haven't had sugar in 21 days, and yea, I miss it. Bad. But soon enough, my Adventure Cleanse Tune-Up will be over and I'll be diving into a delicious cupcake (actually, I'm planning a cheat day on Saturday for my best friend Greg's 30th birthday ... so relief will come soon!). Until then, bananas and dates have kept me sane.

I had this too-good-to-be-raw bowl of Banana Buckwheat Crispies with Chocolate Macadamia Nut Milk for breakfast this morning after downing my daily green juice:

The buckwheat crispies are crunchy like granola, but they're made by soaking and then dehydrating raw buckwheat. The instructions are in Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. The chocolate macadamia nut milk (sweetened with dates) is what I had leftover from making Gena's Chocolate Chia Pudding.

Another delicious breakfast this week was inspired by Chocolate Covered Katie — the famed (and sorta dirty sounding) Banana Hammock:

It's a banana, cut in half, and stuffed with raw almond butter, currants, and acai powder. So, so good. Raw almond butter may just be the best stuff on the planet — ever. I could eat a whole jar with a spoon. But I won't ... cause that would be a little excessive.

By the way, I'll be using a random number generator to choose the winner in the $50 shopping spree giveaway Friday morning (around 11 a.m. CST). I'll make the announcement when I blog again on Sunday, but if you're the winner, I'll shoot you an email immediately. Thanks for participating!

Also, for any readers in Middle Tennessee (or West Tennessee and willing to drive), a few dudes from the Farm (an awesome vegan intentional community in Summertown) are playing a Bluegrass & Blues for Haiti benefit show at the Crockett Theater in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee on Sunday, January 24th from 1 to 4 p.m. Check it out for a great cause.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dinner and Dessert, ACT-Style

Hey guys! Quick post tonight. Just saw Avatar and it was ohmygod amazing! I wanna live in Pandora forever ... however, reality has kicked back in and I must get some shut eye lest I be sleepy all day tomorrow with no coffee to perk me up.

Enough with the coffee whining though. I only have six days left on the Adventure Cleanse Tune-Up (ACT). Thank goddess. At least the cleanse allows me to eat pure deliciousness like this Buddha Bowl:

Sorry for the crappy photo, but it was dark outside and I had to use the flash. My indoor lighting is no good for late-night food photography. But trust me when I say this bowl was yummy. It's quinoa, black beans, steamed brussel sprouts, zucchini, carrots, avocado, flax oil, nooch, Bragg's, and hot sauce. Hells yes. Got the idea from this recipe post on Crazy Sexy Life.

For dessert, I had some Chocolate Chia Pudding from Gena's Choosing Raw blog:

Ya'll, chia seeds are magical. For real. This was my first time using them, and I was totally wowed. You make this scrumptious chocolate macadamia nut milk, plop some chia seeds in, and within minutes, those little boogers soak up all the liquid and get all gooey-creamy. The texture reminded me of marshmallow fluff.

Even if you can't find chia seeds (my Whole Foods sells 'em in bulk), Gena's raw chocolate macadamia nut milk recipe is worth checking out. It's creamy and chocolate-y and tastes like everything good in the world. Luckily, I had some milk left after making the pudding!

Don't forget to enter my $50 shopping spree contest for Check it out here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Flax Cracker Love!

Have I told ya'll how much I adore flax crackers? I don't think I have. If I was stranded on the proverbial deserted island with only one raw food, I'd choose flax crackers all day long. Now if I had a chance to choose cooked foods over raw on that deserted island, I'd probably opt for something else ... but pretend that's not an option.

Since I'm the proud owner of a new Excalibur dehydrator (thanks mama and daddy!), I can make all the flax crackers my little heart desires. That's what I did this weekend. I made these Flax Crackers from The Raw Revolution Diet:

They're made from golden flax seeds, ground brown flax, red bell pepper, zucchini, and lots of spices. The mixture is processed and thinly spread on a Teflex sheet. Then they're dehydrated for, like, ever. I think it took a full 24 hours to make these. But it was so worth the wait. And I made a crap ton so there's plenty for snackin'.

I served some crackers with this Sprouted Lentil Pate with Garlic and Herbs, also from The Raw Food Revolution:

This is a combo of sprouted lentils (which I sprouted in a jar for several days), basil, parsley, garlic, and some other stuff. Very tasty spread on the crackers! And of course, I served it all with a big ole' side salad.

Today marks the last week on my 26-day Adventure Cleanse Tune-Up. It's been fun, but I will certainly be glad when its over. I'm ready to get back to testing recipes for my cookbook, and I cannot wait for a sip of delicious coffee.

Don't forget to enter my $50 Shopping Spree giveaway from Click here for details.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Check Out My Crazy Sexy Guest Post!

Hey guys! I wrote a guest post on veganizing Southern soul food for Crazy Sexy Life, the awesome online vegan health community led by cancer survivor Kris Carr. It's the same website where I got the information for the Adventure Cleanse Tune-Up I'm following.

Please go check it out and leave a comment on their fun site! My guest post also includes a sneak peek recipe for Country Potato Soup, which is going in my cookbook.

When you're done, don't forget to stop back by my site to enter the $50 Shopping Spree Giveaway from Details in Sunday night's post.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Win a $50 Healthy Food Shopping Spree!

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Abby from the online natural products store, inquiring as to whether I'd like to offer my readers a chance at a $50 shopping spree on their website. "Well, heck yea," I said. And not only did they want me to offer the readers a spree, they also gave me a $50 spree. Super heck yea.

It took me a few weeks to nail down exactly what I wanted, as I'm an indecisive type (silly Libras!). The site is loaded with healthy baking goods (like Bob's Red Mill products), gluten-free foods, bath and beauty products, and loads of vitamins and supplements. My goods came in last week. See what I found for $50:

I chose Kiss My Face Rough Thyme shower gel because I'm runnin' low on bath products, and this stuff contains scrubby bits to help exfoliate my dry, dry skin. I've been looking for raw buckwheat groats forever (to make raw cereal) but can't find them in stores here. So I was so pleased to find Bob's Red Mill Buckwheat Groats. The prices at iHerb are super low compared to what I'd pay at Whole Foods, so the Nativas Naturals Raw Cacao Powder was an amazing value. I plan to use the Amazing Grass Green SuperFood powder in place of my daily green juice when my cleanse is over. And the Now Healthy Foods Soymilk Powder will certainly find its way into homemade vegan hot cocoa mix.

Now iHerb wants to give one lucky reader the same opportunity. Here's what ya gotta do: Go to and look around. Come back and post a comment letting me know what product or products you'd most love to score in a shopping spree. On Friday morning (Jan. 22), I'll use a random number generator to choose a winner.

To earn an extra entry, tweet about this contest and link back to my blog. Then leave another comment letting me know you tweeted.

Oh, if you don't have a way for me to contact through a blog, please leave an email address in your comment (if you write it like this — name[at]wherever[dot]com — it should save ya from spammers.

Good luck!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Smoothie in a Bowl

Remember my post about not really digging smoothies in the a.m.? Yea, I like to sit down to breakfast, but I do love the taste (and nutritional punch) of smoothies. I've finally found the solution — raw blended "oats"! And that's really just a fancy way of sayin' "smoothie in a bowl with some nuts and stuff."

All week, I've been enjoying these Raw Blended "Oat" Bowls:

I found the recipe online but adapted it a little. It actually contains no oats at all, but rather banana, apple, cinnamon, flax seed, and a touch of acai powder. The acai is purely optional of course, but I won a bag from Lindsay at Cooking for a Vegan Lover. I've been adding a teaspoon to my "oats" for an antioxidant boost. Tomorrow, I'm gonna swap the acai for some raw cacao powder that I just acquired.

Another plus to smoothies in a bowl — you can add crunchy extras like walnuts and currants! Try drinking those through a straw. Yep, didn't think so.

Here's the recipe ...

Raw Blended "Oats"
(Serves 1)

1 Tbsp. golden flax seed
1 banana, broken into pieces
1 organic apple, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
Add ins: nuts, dried fruits, unsweetened coconut, almond butter, acai or cacao powder, whatever...

Soak the flax seed in 1/4 cup water overnight. The next morning, combine the flax seed, soaking water, banana, apple chunks, and cinnamon (also any powdered add-ins) in a blender and blend until smooth. You may need to add another 1/4 cup of water to make it blend well.

Stir in nuts and dried fruits. Eat in a bowl with a big ole' spoon.


Since I'm at the halfway point in my 26-day Adventure Cleanse Tune-Up, I guess I should give you guys an update on how I feel. Honestly, I don't feel all that different. I have a little more sustained energy in my daily workouts. But I do feel the mid-afternoon crash way worse than before. I blame that on the lack of coffee, which I am still whining about.

And it certainly feels good knowing that I'm eating all kinds of goodness, but I wouldn't want to eat like this forever. I like processed foods, coffee, alcohol, wheat, and sugar (unrefined of course) way too much.

One thing I have noticed: I used to get really shaky and weak when I was hungry. If I didn't get food in me fast, I felt like I was going to die. But since I've been off sugar, I've noticed that my hunger isn't so urgent anymore. I guess all the sugar I was eating was really messing with my blood sugar, but the agave and high-glycemic fruits I've been consuming lately don't seem to have a bad effect. I've been reading a lot about the effects of sugar in Alicia Silverstone's new book, The Kind Diet. That being said, I'm not giving up evaporated cane juice or turbinado when this cleanse is over. I may try to cut back though.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Raw Mashed "Taters" and Gravy

Today marks the halfway point in my 26-day Adventure Cleanse Tune-up! I've had that "Livin' On a Prayer" song by Bon Jovi in my head all day ... "oh, we're halfway the-ere! oo-ooh, livin' on a pray-er!"

Only 13 days of raw lunches left, and though I'm more than ready to bring bread and processed foods (how I miss you, vegan sausage!) back into my life, I'm enjoying the raw goodness while it lasts. Today, I took comfort in this plate of Raw Mashed "Potatoes" with Mushroom Gravy:

The recipe came from Living in the Raw Gourmet by Rose Lee Calabro, and it uses cauliflower in place of actual taters. The cauliflower, along with some garlic, herbs, and olive oil, are processed in a food processor. I've tried other raw mashed cauliflower recipes before, but this one was way creamier ... much more on par with the texture of real, cooked mashed potatoes.

The mushroom gravy is made with a raw almond milk base, raw mushrooms, and some spices. I subbed button mushrooms for the shitakes in the recipe because I don't care for the taste of raw shitakes. And I also added some nooch and Marmite to the gravy for a heartier taste. I'm not sure if Marmite is raw, but it's so tasty and nutritious that I don't really care.

Though a raw dish like this can never quite fill the desire for cooked comfort foods, it comes pretty darn close.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Raunchy Red Lentils & Potlikker

During my 26-day Adventure Cleanse Tune-Up, I'm allowed to have gluten-free cooked meals made with whole foods for dinner. Though I love my raw lunches and breakfasts on the cleanse, cooked food is where it's at for me. Nothing beats a warm bowl of soup on a cold, cold night. Luckily, this recipe for Rauchy Red Lentil Soup from vegan cookbook goddess Sarah Kramer met the criteria for an ACT-friendly dinner:

The recipe came from Kramer's 2010 Go Vegan wall calendar. Each month has one recipe and a kitschy-cute picture of Sarah. Since the January lentil recipe was cleanse-friendly, I figured the universe was trying to tell me to make this soup immediately.

And I'm glad I did. Tender red lentils meet tomato, cilantro, jalapeno, onion, and garlic in this Indian-inspired dish. And it's perfect for warmin' up on a chilly Memphis winter night.

On the side, I had a serving of Brown Rice and Collard Greens:

I made the collards using my own recipe (it's going in the cookbook, for sure!), but substituted agave for the touch of sugar in the greens to keep it cleanse-worthy. When the greens were done cookin', I poured the rich potlikker over the rice to flavor the plain grains. Potlikker is what Southerners call the liquid left after cooking greens. It contains essential vitamins and minerals that may have been cooked out of the collards, and it's damn tasty. No need to waste.

Hey testers! There's a new recipe up on the tester blog...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Raw Falafel!

My friend Cindy always tells this joke: "What did the sick chickpea say?"

Answer: "I falafel!"

Get it? I "feel awful." Cheezy, yes. But clever.

Anyway, today's lunch was far, far from awful. In fact, Gena's (of the Choosing Raw blog) Carrot Falafel recipe is quite scrumptious! Here's a cute little falafel ball, fresh out of the dehydrator:

There are several raw falafel recipes out there, but Gena's is pretty unique. She uses carrot pulp (from the juicer) and ground sesame seeds for the base. That green stuff is cilantro and chopped celery. They're dehydrated for about 4 hours, but Gena provides alternate instructions for using an oven on the lowest setting.

Of course, falafel isn't the same without pita. So I made some Raw Pita Bread using a recipe in Rose Lee Calabro's Living in the Raw Gourmet:

This "flatbread" is made from a base of flaxseed and avocado, blended up and poured onto Teflex sheets on the dehydrator. It made the perfect holder for Gena's falafel and her tangy tahini sauce.

Here's a shot of my whole lunch, with a big ole side salad:

While on the ACT cleanse, I'm eating meals like this for lunch everyday. My raw lunches follow breakfasts of raw breads, raw oats, fruit, or smoothies. And of course, every breakfast begins with a big ass glass of green juice (usually made from kale or collards, celery, cucumber, and apple). My nights are filled with hearty, cooked meals made with gluten-free whole grains, veggies, and proteins (like beans or tempeh).

I only have 16 days left on the cleanse ... and that means I'm 16 days closer to a soy latte, a slice of toast, a cupcake, and a gorgeous glass of vegan merlot. Maybe all at the same time.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I Can Have My Cake ... and Eat It Too

I'm not allowed to have any sugar until after January 26th, when my commitment to the Adventure Cleanse Tune-Up is over. But that isn't stopping me from enjoying cake, cookies, and other sweets.

How is that, you ask? With delicious (and easy-peasy) recipes from Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw for Dessert, my sweet tooth has stayed satisfied throughout the cleanse thus far. Using dates and agave in place of sugar, I've created several desserts from this book. Dates are high on the glycemic index, so they're not recommended for everyone on the ACT, but I figure raw desserts made with dates are the only way to make my sweet tooth truly happy. So I'm eating dates and not worrying about the glycemic index.

Cornbleet's book (published by the Farm's Book Publishing Company) is filled with cakes, pies, tarts, and quite a few lick-smackin' recipes for raw ice cream! Of course, it's way too cold for ice cream right now. But it's never too cold for Ginger Spice Cookies:

Aren't these precious? These bite-sized treats are made from dates, almonds, walnuts, cinnamon, and ground ginger. Though Cornbleet's recipes actually calls for a touch of raw sugar, I subbed agave since I'm avoiding cane sugar in all its forms.

I brought this Raw German Chocolate Cake to a game night at my friend Vaughan's house this weekend:

The rich, fudgey, dark chocolate cake was made with a base of walnuts, dates, and cocoa powder (I didn't have any raw cacao, so I used regular cocoa). The topping is a mixture of dates, coconut, and pecans. It was a huge hit at the party with all my non-cleansing (but mostly vegan) friends.

Cornbleet's recipes aren't all date and nut-based though. This fruity Macerated Citrus dish was a simple guilt-free weekday treat:

It's just orange and grapefruit segments mixed with a little agave and orange zest. No frills, but so tasty. Rather you're raw, sometimes raw, or not-in-a-million-years raw, Cornbleet's book offers tons of ideas for healthy desserts.

By the way, Nora of Pride & Vegudice also just reviewed this book. Head over to her blog to see gorgeous photos of raw truffles, crumbles, and an out-of-this-world raw spice cake!

Coffee Update: Over the weekend, I've felt a little better with the lack of coffee. I'm still bitter about not having it, but I haven't had any breakdowns. And I bought some Mocha Yerba Mate. It's much, much tastier than tea. Thanks for all your supportive comments!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Good, the Delicious, and the Very, Very Ugly

I'll start with the good. I awoke Thursday morning to find a lovely dusting of snow in my backyard. My doggy Datsun was especially excited to play sticks in the snow:

Sure, you can still see the grass poking through, but any accumulation is a big deal in Memphis. People freak out and buy all the bread and milk in every grocery store the day before even the slightest flurry is predicted. And yes, I also freaked out and made an emergency vegetable/flaxseed/hummus run to Whole Foods on Tuesday when I heard that snow was in the forecast. Turns out that it only snowed enough to coat everything. The roads were just fine.

Now for the delicious. The past few nights, I've been enjoying this uber-tasty dish from Go Dairy Free by Alisa Fleming — Sesame Soba Noodles with Calcium-Rich Kale and Tempeh:

Since I'm allowed cooked food at night on the ACT cleanse, this healthy dish made from whole foods fit the bill. I used 100% buckwheat soba since I'm off gluten for the duration of the cleanse, and damn those noodles were expensive! Whole Foods charges almost $7 a package (with only four servings)! But I shelled out the money because food is my number one spending priority. I'll go without new clothes or shoes or whatever, so long as I'm eating tasty stuff. Ah, the life of a poor foodie!

Now for the ugly news. I've been off coffee for seven days now, and I'm really starting to feel the effects. If you're friends with me on Facebook, you've likely read my whiny status updates about not having my daily java. But seriously folks. I'm so addicted. Without it, I'm tired and sluggish. I'm cranky, and I even cried for a second this morning when I dropped some jeans in the floor.

And like a true addict, I cannot wait until the day this cleanse is over so I can go to Starbucks and order a venti soy toffee nut latte (yes, I know Starbucks is evil ... but it's a guilty pleasure ... I promise to follow that visit with a stop at a locally-owned coffeehouse for a second cup). No matter what other long-term changes I make after this cleanse is over, giving up coffee will not be one of them.

For now, I'm allowed green and white tea, as well as yerba mate (which I haven't tried yet). But I've been downing multiple cups of tea each day and it just doesn't cut it. Flavored hot water. That's what it tastes like. Ugh! Coffee, I miss you! Only 19 more days!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside

It's colder than a witches' tit down here! We rarely see temperatures fall below the 20s in Memphis winters, but tonight, the forecast calls for a low of 16 degrees. On Wednesday night, the low is 15 degrees. What, what?! I don't remember ever experiencing such cold weather.

But that's not stopping me from enjoying delicious raw breakfasts and lunches on my 26-day ACT cleanse (see this post for details). Thankfully, I can have warm, cooked food at night ... when the thermometer is at its low. Today's raw lunch was this super satisfying Liquid Gold Salad:

Now before you go thinking this is just a salad, think again. The Liquid Gold Salad Dressing from The Raw Revolution Diet really makes it somethin' special. It's loaded with flax oil and seeds, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, agave, and even a blended zucchini (that reduces the need for adding a bunch of oil). One serving of this dressing provides a day's supply of omega-3 fatty acids, riboflavin, and other B vitamins.

The dressing sits atop a mixture of baby romaine, avocado, bell pepper, carrot, radish, and sunflower seeds. Yum, yum! I could go for another bowl right now.

The Raw Revolution Diet (another review cookbook from the fine folks at the Farm's Book Publishing Company) is jam-packed with recipes for healthy dressings, raw breads, raw cereal and oatmeal, soups, and a yummy-sounding basic nut cheese recipe that I must try!

The front half of the book is filled with practical information about going raw. Authors Cherie Soria, Brenda Davis, and Vesanto Melina offer tips on getting the proper nutrients from a raw diet, as well as how to juice, sprout, soak nuts and seeds, and eat raw on the go. It's certainly worth checking out for anyone remotely interested in incorporating more raw foods into their diet.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Smoothies Vs. Solid Foods

I'd intended to start my days on the ACT cleanse (see yesterday's post for details if ya missed it) with a glass of fresh green juice followed by a thicker green smoothie. I figured the smoothie would be enough to get me through until lunch.

I skipped the smoothie course on day one, but on day two, I enjoyed this Avocado Green Smoothie after my yummy green juice.

I followed the 3:1 veggies to fruit ratio on the Crazy Sexy Life website and used a cucumber, apple, avocado, and some romaine lettuce. It was tasty, thanks to the avocado and the apple, but I missed the pleasure of chewing my food. After drinking a big ole' green juice, I wasn't thrilled about more drinking.

The next day, I made a tastier Banana Almond Green Smoothie:

It consisted of a frozen banana, raw almond butter, kale, and an Amazing Grass SuperFood powder. Very tasty indeed. But I still felt like I was missing something. I really enjoy my sit-down time at breakfast. So I decided to forgo the daily smoothie in place a more substantive raw breakfast.

I'm starting with this Raw Apple Zucchini Bread from Living in the Raw Gourmet by Rose Lee Calabro:

Yum, yum! It may not look very sexy, but this stuff is deeee-licious. I made it in my dehydrator with a mixture of zucchini, apples, raisins, cinnamon, and golden flaxseed. The outside is firm, and the inside is all soft and chewy — not like real bread of course, but still delicious. Here's a slice shot. I ate about five slices like this:

So although I may begin some of my cleanse days with smoothies (probably on the weekends) and I'll certainly have them as snacks (that's how I've always enjoyed them), I'll stick with a good solid raw breakfast with my green juice on weekdays. I enjoy sitting at my kitchen table and reading a magazine (usually VegNews or Rolling Stone) while I eat breakfast, and I can continue this tradition with my raw bread.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Let the Cleansin' Begin!

On January 1st, I embarked on the Adventure Cleanse Tune-up (ACT, for short), an almost month-long cleanse that shuns sugar, alcohol, processed food, gluten, and caffeine. It's from the Crazy Sexy Life website, an awesome online vegan community founded by cancer survivor Kris Carr.

This summer, Carr launched a huge ACT cleanse and hundreds of people signed up to do it together (including my bloggy friend Jessy from Happy Vegan Face). Jessy's posts inspired me, but I wasn't quite ready to jump in this summer. And then my other bloggy friend Leslie of Pixiepine started a variation on the ACT cleanse in November. At that time, I was busy shoving Tofurkey and way too much pie down my throat. By December, I was feeling a little overwhelmed with processed food and sugar. But I scarfed it down anyway and enjoyed every bite.

With the new year however, I'm ready to do some detoxing. As a Level 3 on the ACT cleanse, I'm doing raw breakfasts and lunches, but I get to eat cooked, whole foods for dinner. It's supposed to be a 28-day cleanse, but I'm going to San Francisco for a work conference at the end of the month. So I'm cutting the cleanse off on January 26th.

Day one began on New Year's Day. I woke with a massive headache from all the champagne on New Year's Eve. So I whipped up this Green Juice of celery, cucumber, kale, sprouts, and an apple:

I drank it and went back to sleep for an hour. When I woke again, the headache (and my hangover) were totally gone! Green juice has crazy healing power. Thankfully, the ACT requires that I drink a green juice every day.

Lunch was tasty Raw Veggie Burgers from Living in the Raw Gourmet by Rose Lee Calabro:

These burgers (made from almonds, sunflower seeds, beets, bell pepper, and other veggies) were the first dish I made in my brand new Excalibur dehydrator, a Xmas gift from my parents. They were delicious, and I love the vibrant pink color. I served 'em on romaine lettuce "buns" with a big ole' side salad.

Calabro's book is another review cookbook from the Book Publishing Company. It's loaded with mouth-watering raw goodies, and many require a dehydrator. Until now, most of my raw cookbooks contained recipes that didn't require one, so I'm glad to have Calabro's recipes to try in my new toy. Expect lots more from this book throughout the month.

For dinner, I made Stuffed Cabbage with Black-Eyed Peas from More Fabulous Beans by Barb Bloomfield:

Here's an inside shot (that's black-eyed peas and brown rice peeking out):

I always, always have black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year's Day for health and prosperity throughout the year. Yep, I'm superstitious. But I usually make my own version of Hoppin' John. Unfortunately, my recipe isn't ACT-friendly since it contains processed vegan sausage.

This recipe, however, was totally ACT-safe without any changes. It comes from a great vegan cookbook filled with over 100 bean recipes. Its author, Barb Bloomfield, lives on the Farm (an amazing veg intentional community) in Summertown, Tennessee, and I actually had the pleasure of staying with her on a visit to the Farm a couple years ago. She autographed my copy of her book. I can see this book being a great resource during the cleanse since I'm supposed to focus on getting most of my protein from beans. By the way, it's also published by the Farm's Book Publishing Company.

Day one was so far, so good. I've been working on getting off coffee for about two weeks now, so that wasn't an issue. Instead, I drink green and white tea. It's has a little caffeine, but I think that's okay. I'm not ready to give caffeine up altogether. As for alcohol, I'm subbing kombucha tea whenever I'd normally have a glass of wine or a beer. Though I can't have sugar, I'm allowed to have agave (and I'm also letting brown rice syrup slide too).