I've done the Crazy Sexy Diet a couple times and an earlier version of it called the Adventure Cleanse Tune-Up. I did the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's 21-Day Kickstart one year, and I did Thrive Forward a couple years back. Last year, I did Gena Hamshaw's meal plan in her Choosing Raw cookbook. This year, I'm using Somer McCowan's The Abundance Diet cookbook! I received the book to review months ago, and after flipping through, I knew it'd be perfect to save for my annual detox.
One note: Although I'm calling this a cleanse, I don't actually believe my liver is going to magically rid itself of toxins and my body is going to become some alkaline palace, resistant to disease. For me, a cleanse is more about resetting the mind and the way I look at food. After pigging out over the holidays, my body is craving veggies. And these annual cleanses are the kickstart I need to get some healthy eating habits back.
Each day, I'll share what I ate from Somer's meal plan. Her plan is totally vegan (of course) and free of gluten, white sugar, and processed foods. I'm also cutting way back on booze, though I may allow myself some red wine on a few special occasions this month (red wine is basically fruit, right?). I am continuing to have coffee and tea daily though, because I learned a few cleanses ago that I do not do well without coffee.
Due to an unfortunate printing error, the 28-day menu plan was mistakenly left out of The Abundance Diet. But the meal plans are available online here!
Okay, now onto the food! I started the morning with a 4-mile run in the cold, so I snacked on an almond butter-stuffed date for fuel. Dates make the best pre-run snacks for hop-out-of-bed-and-onto-the-street runs. After my run, I had this Tropical Colada Green Smoothie.
Each day (except for weekends) on the Abundance Diet begins with a green smoothie. This one was loaded with almond-coconut milk, banana, orange, pineapple, and coconut flakes. I added a scoop of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro70 vanilla protein powder since I like to have lots of protein for post-run muscle recovery. This was creamy and tropical and delicious.
The meal plan is structured into five meals a day (and six counting dessert on weekends). There's a breakfast, salad, soup, snack, and dinner every day. So around 11 a.m., I had my "first lunch" of this Falafel Salad with Quinoa Tabbouleh and Tahini Cream Dressing.
Falafel balls made with chickpea flour, onion, and herbs are baked in the oven and served atop a salad of quinoa tabbouleh, red onions, and red leaf lettuce. It's all coated in an oil-free tahini dressing that's just to die for. Somer's book isn't totally oil-free, but it's definitely low-oil. Just so y'all know, I'm not against oil for any reason. Love oil! I'm just trying to eat lighter for a few weeks.
That salad was very filling, but I also had soup to get to. I wasn't even that hungry around 1 p.m. when I pulled this Quinoa Minestrone out of the breakroom fridge, but I knew if I didn't eat it then, I wouldn't be able to eat my snack later in time to be hungry for dinner. So much food! Abundance Diet is a good name for it.
Even though I wasn't really hungry, I wasn't super-stuffed before I ate this soup either. And I realized about mid-way through the bowl of veggie-filled soup that the portion was actually just right. This was probably my favorite meal of the day. It's a super flavorful soup with quinoa, carrots, green beans, spinach, tomatoes, and kidney beans. Perfect for this blustery cold day.
Around 4 p.m., it was snack time! I sat at my desk and worked on writing a quick news story while munching on this Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip with steamed veggies. Wow!! I've made some low-fat spinach dips before that were just okay, but this one was fantastic. It has a cashew base, and it's topped with homemade cashew mozzarella that gets melty in the oven. I reheated it in the office microwave, and the cheese melted all over again. Dreamy.
It's a good thing I had a snack packed because, by the time I finished cooking dinner, it was 6:30. I had a few things to get done around the house right after work, so I got a late start cooking. But that's okay because my snack tided me over just fine. Dinner was this hearty bowl of Roasted Tofu & Vegetable Stir-Fry with Garlic-Ginger Sauce.
Firm tofu is coated in Bragg's (I actually used shoyu) and baked in the oven while veggies — broccoli, snap peas, carrots, bell pepper, zucchini, and squash — are sauteed in a little water on the stovetop. It's all coated in a garlicky, gingery sauce that's thickened with cornstarch. Like Chinese takeout but way healthier. Also, the recipe didn't call for any grain. I considered adding some brown rice, but when I saw how many veggies were in a serving, I figured that was plenty of food. And it was! It's 10:30 p.m. now, and I still feel satisfied.
Loving this diet so far! It has me basically eating ALL DAY, which is kind of my dream come true.