Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bowl Love

Quick post tonight! I'd intended to wax poetic a bit about how much I love bowls and how I'm hoping to make these whole grain-veggie-sauce dishes a staple in my healthier diet going forward.

But Cassi and I saw Wicked tonight at the Orpheum (it was my second time), and we just got home. And it's already past my bedtime. And I can't get "Defying Gravity" out of my head (which is a good thing).

Anyway, rather that using lots of words, here are a couple of pictures of two variations on my fave bowl of the moment — Adzuki Bean, Grain, Kale, & Tahini Bowl. This one has brown rice.

And this one has whole sorghum.

Sadly, the sorghum didn't quite cook all the way through so some bits were crunchy. The Bob's Red Mill package said to cook for one hour, but the grains were still rock hard after an hour. I cooked it for two, and it was only beginning to get soft. But I had to stop the cooking because I was making this before bed the other night to eat the next day. And I had to go to sleep.

(UPDATE: This morning, before work, I threw the leftover still-hard, but slightly cooked sorghum into a pot with about 1/2 cup water, and then I set it on to boil and simmer for about 30 minutes. And the sorghum FINALLY cooked through! I'm glad to know that re-cooking still-hard "cooked" grains works.)

Oh, and the tahini sauce is the Creamy Tahini Sauce from Cookin' Crunk. Not to toot my own horn, but my tahini sauce is kind of the (yea, I'm bringin' that back, don't hate).

Here's the recipe.

Creamy Tahini Sauce (from Cookin' Crunk)
1/3 cup roasted sesame tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Water, to thin

Place the tahini, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, and garlic powder into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir well to incorporate. If the tahini seems too thick, you might want to mix the ingredients in a food processor or blender. If using this as a creamy topping, you may want to thin it out with a little water. Add a few tablespoons at a time to the blender or bowl and incorporate until desired consistency is reached.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Vegan Drinks 7!

I can't believe we've been doing Vegan Drinks in Memphis for seven months! Back in July, I organized the first Memphis Vegan Drinks at Chiwawa in Overton Square, and we had a great turnout.

Each month, though, the core group has dwindled a bit. Today, I sat by myself at the restaurant/bar for an hour before anyone showed up. Granted, I arrived a little early because I had hoop dance class tonight and needed to get my food and drink before 6 p.m. But even still, only Shay, Vaughan, Nicole, and Nicole's daughter Vera came. That's quite a bit smaller than our first meet-up of nearly 20 people.

But that's okay. No matter how small the group gets, I'll keep it going. As long as there's someone to toast with, Vegan Drinks will carry on. (And if you're reading this and you live in Memphis, join our Facebook group, so you can get updates on the next meetup!).

Tonight we met at Evelyn & Olive, a vegan-friendly Jamaican restaurant with decadent cocktails and a nice wine selection. I ordered what I always get there — Black Bean Tacos with Rice and Pigeon Peas.

The name is a bit deceptive. These aren't just black bean tacos. They have tofu in them too, and it's the best tofu I've ever put in my mouth. For real. The marinate it in magic. The tacos have a cabbage slaw and a kiwi salsa. And the rice and peas are delightfully spicy.

I'm typically a wine or beer drinker, but I couldn't pass up the signature Jamaican cocktail list. I went with the Jamaican Rum Punch — rum, strawberry puree, and lime juice. Not too sweet. Just the right level of tangy.

Shay ordered a Dark 'n' Stormy — dark rum and Jamaican ginger beer.

Vaughan and Nicole arrived just as I was about to leave, so I didn't get pics of their food or cocktails. But Vaughan did start with a non-alcoholic ginger beer. These are served warm in the traditional manner.

Because we had a lower turnout tonight, and I know that a few people who couldn't come really wanted to, I'm scheduling a do-over for Evelyn & Olive again for February's Vegan Drinks (Tuesday, Feb. 18th, 5:30 p.m.). If you're local, save the date. They have a number of vegan food options, and their cocktails are among the best in town.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Smoothie Days

There's a scene in Orange Is the New Black (don't worry, this isn't a spoiler, but if you haven't seen it, you should probably remedy that, stat) when Piper, the main character, is on the prison pay phone with Jason Biggs (who plays her husband, but I can't remember his name on the show). Jason Biggs is unloading groceries from Whole Foods in their kitchen while Piper is stuck in prison for a crime she committed years and years ago. When she asks what he bought, he lists off some items and says "I got some cherry juice for my smoothies" to which Piper sighs longingly and says "Oh, God, smoothies." There are no smoothies in prison.

Piper definitely can't get a smoothie in the prison chow hall.

When I watched that episode, I'd only recently broken my foot. And I was getting adjusted to a life of not running. It sucked. Hard. I also wasn't having the three or four Vega protein smoothies a week that I'd gotten so used to having after my runs. No need to waste my expensive Vega stash when I wasn't working out hard enough to need all that protein. But I could relate to Piper's longing for a smoothie.

At that time, I thought I'd be up and running again in a few weeks. The doctor told me my stress fracture was likely to heal in two to four weeks, and he expected I'd still be able to run the half-marathon I'd signed up for in October.

Fast forward to now — five months later. I'm still recovering from the same stress fracture, plus a new one that magically popped up in the same foot last month. I'm still not running, and thus, I've not had many smoothies. I removed my walking boot this week, and although I'm having some residual pain in my foot, I think it's finally getting better.

My crazy bone growth stimulation machine! I have to wear it 10 hours a day!

I'll still have to wait a few weeks before I can even attempt to run. But I'm not waiting around for a smoothie any longer. As part of my post-Crazy Sexy Diet plan, I'm going to alternate fresh juices and smoothies for breakfast. I downloaded Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Juice & Succulent Smoothies for ideas. The ebook is 25 percent off through the end of January if you use the code VIBRANT2014. You might wanna snatch one up now!

I'm not having Vega smoothies yet since I'm still saving my protein powders for when I start back to running again. But I will have fresh fruit and veggie-filled green smoothies. This morning, I turned all of this ...

(Nevermind that brown banana. Frozen bananas aren't very attractive). 
 ... into this Strawberry Fields Smoothie.

It was fruity and refreshing, and it even kept me full until 11-ish. Then I snacked on some almonds. I probably won't be buying the Engine 2 almond milk again though. It only has 2 percent of your RDA for calcium! Who makes almond milk without fortifying with calcium? Seems a little pointless.

But anyway, go check out Kris Carr's ebook! And while you're at it, download the free ebook from Vega's #onechange campaign. It's loaded with recipes using Vega protein powder. I'll definitely be referring to that book as soon as I'm fully back on my feet.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Crazy Sexy Wrap-Up

As I mentioned last night in my celebratory splurge post, my 21-day Crazy Sexy Diet is finally over! Over the past three weeks, I've avoided sugar, coffee, alcohol, gluten, processed food, and fried things in favor of alkaline juices, salads, and whole foods dishes made with beans and grains.

I feel clean! And light! And in fact, I am a little lighter since I lost the five pounds I'd packed on in the past five months of not running (because of my never-ending stress fracture). My jeans fit again, and that perhaps, is the best outcome I could hope for. No one wants to go up a jean size.

I also slept better than ever on the cleanse. I've never really had sleep problems. I'm the kind of girl who falls asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow. But when my diet isn't clean, I tend to be more restless and wake up more times throughout the night. And even though I fall right back to sleep, restless nights just don't result in the same rested feeling the next day.

And it's probably TMI, but I've been pooping like a champ all month!

I want keep feeling great, and I want to keep off those pounds, especially since I won't be running for at least another month. Doctor's orders. Yoga and hula-hopping just don't burn the calories that running does. So here's my plan, and it's reflected in what I ate today on the first full day off of my cleanse.

I will start each morning with a fresh veggie juice or a smoothie. Juicing was my favorite part of the cleanse. I downloaded Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Juices & Succulent Smoothies e-book for ideas. This morning, I made the Lime Shine Juice from that book (green apple, celery, romaine, cucumber, and lime).

But unlike on the cleanse, I won't be having just juice in the mornings. I missed my sit-down breakfast. So I'll have a light breakfast immediately after my juice. This morning, that was Whole Wheat Bagel Thins with Tofutti Cream Cheese and my homemade Fig Preserves.

One commenter, Pam, asked how I felt after bringing gluten back into my diet. The answer? Great! I've done a number of these gluten-free cleanses over the past several Januarys, and through trial and error, I know I don't have a gluten sensitivity at all. Thank goddess.

I'll also be bringing roasted nuts back into my life. Only raw nuts were allowed on the cleanse (something about the oils in roasted nuts being rancid?). But the research on raw versus roasted is still conflicting, and I like 'em both. Today, I had Wonderful brand Sweet Chili Pistachios as a morning snack and again as an afternoon snack.

I'm going to try to stick to whole foods most of the time and save plant meats for splurges (don't worry, I'll splurge a few times each week!). And I want to have salads or cooked greens with meals as often as possible. Lunch today was Chili Sin Carne from Kitchen Divided (leftover in my freezer), which has all kinds of veggies, beans, brown rice, vegan burger, and even cashews!

And I had a Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Carrots, and Dijon Vinaigrette on the side.

When I do eat unhealthy stuff, I'm going to try my best to practice portion control. And then I can have a much bigger portion of a healthy side. For example, my friend Shara gave me some leftover Almond Tofu from Pho Binh the other day when I was still on the cleanse, and I saved it to eat today. There was almost an entire order of this rich dish of fried tofu, savory brown sauce, almonds, and green peppers in the takeout box she gave me. And there was also leftover steamed white rice.

Normally, I'd eat at least half of what she gave me in one sitting, and I'd use that white rice. Instead, I split the takeout into three servings of just a little over 1/2 cup of the tofu dish. I made some brown rice and tossed that white rice in the trash. And then I had a small portion of Almond Tofu and Brown Rice for dinner. And I have leftovers for two more days.

On the side, I had a healthy bowl of Miso Soup with Nori, Carrots, and Onions.

So there's an idea of how I'll change my eating habits, post-cleanse. Of course, I won't have fried tofu everyday. But when I do, I'll make sure the rest of the day is super healthy. As for dessert, I skipped it today since I had a massive cupcake last night. I'm going to try to limit big desserts to once or twice a week, and I may have a bite of chocolate or a small candy a couple times each week on days when I don't eat the big stuff.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I've brought coffee back into my life! I enjoyed three espresso-sized cups of Turkish Coffee (my drug of choice) this morning as I got ready for work. I missed coffee so much!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Crazy Sexy Celebration!!!!

My 21-day Crazy Sexy Diet cleanse is OVER! I officially ended my ban on sugar, gluten, coffee, alcohol, and processed food at 2:30 p.m. today. I probably should have finished out the day, since today is Day 21. But I had some big plans this afternoon that I knew would be the perfect excuse to end it a few hours early. More on those plans in a few.

I started the day off right with a Sicilian Juice (red pepper, tomato, spinach, garlic, celery) and a small bowl of One Degree Veganic Sprouted Ancient Maize Flakes with unsweetened coconut-almond milk, enjoyed in my PJs while Paul and I finished watching Captain Phillips. We both passed out trying to watch it Saturday night.

Lunch was a Giant Everything Salad — romaine, spinach, cherry tomato, carrot, kalamata olives, baked tofu, curried cashews, coconut bacon, currants, and homemade sprouted grain croutons with ginger-sesame dressing.

But that's where the healthy eating ended, and the celebration commenced. First up at around 2:30 p.m., my friend Andy and I went to an event celebrating the life of Lisa McNeil, a bartender at Dru's Place (our fave LGBT bar) who passed away a few weeks ago. Lisa was a special person and the kindest bartender ever. So cleanse be damned, I was having a drink in her honor. Dru's Place has a decent beer selection, but it's not huge. I probably wouldn't have picked a Fat Tire for my first beer in 21 days if local craft options were available. But it was still damn good.

After that, I had very important foodie plans. My friend Stephanie (Poopie Bitch on the PPK) turns 33 on Tuesday, but she wanted to have a birthday dinner tonight at Mellow Mushroom. What perfect timing! Pizza is my favorite food, and I was so very happy for it to be my first non-cleanse meal in 21 days.

While we waited for everyone to arrive, Stephanie and I dove into this Hummus & Pita appetizer. Besides some sprouted grain on the cleanse, this was my first real gluten. I'd forgotten how amazing gluten can be! These little pitas were perfectly toasted, warm, and chewy.

We ordered a massive Jerk Tempeh & Pineapple Pizza with Daiya Cheese for four people to share. Wow! Just wow. Everyone else ate one slice and said they were saving room for dessert. But me? I ate two. I'm a total piggy.

And guess what? I still had room for dessert! No way was I passing up Stephanie's home-baked vegan cupcakes! I'm so lucky to have a professional vegan baker as one of my close friends. She made Pomegranate-Lemon Cupcakes, and they were double-sized!

Other than a couple tiny vegan cheesecake bites that Cassi made me last weekend and a bite or two of dark chocolate now and then, this was my first big sugar splurge in 21 days. And I'm pretty sure I got a bit of a sugar high from eating this. IT. WAS. SO. GOOD. Out of everything I couldn't have on the cleanse, I think I missed sugar the least. I love baked goods, but I'm more of a savory person. Yet this cupcake was just amazing. I needed that.

Today was awesome! But I'm still feeling pretty stuffed three hours later. I probably should have just had one slice of pizza, but you know, I was celebrating! And starting tomorrow, I'm getting back on the wagon. Sort of. Tomorrow night, I'll fill y'all in about my post-cleanse, long-term eating plans. Don't worry — I'm not going raw or anything crazy. But I do plan to maintain a few cleanse-friendly healthy habits.

Oh, and one more thing. I need to give a congratulatory shout-out to my bestie Sheridan and her partner Drew. They also wrapped up their 21-day Crazy Sexy Diet cleanse today too!! I heard they celebrated tonight with vegan cheese fries and beer. Yum.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Crazy Sexy, Day 18

I'm so close to being done with this 21-day Crazy Sexy Diet cleanse! In fact, when you hear from me again on Sunday, I'll be through! I'm ending my cleanse around 2 p.m. on Sunday because I have an event that involves beer in the afternoon and a birthday dinner for Stephanie (aka Poopie Bitch) at Mellow Mushroom. Can't wait!

Sadly, food today just didn't taste good. But it wasn't the food's fault. Something crazy happened to my taste buds! Since last night, I've noticed that everything I eat or drink (even water) has a bitter aftertaste. It tastes great initially, but as it goes down, it leaves a metallic, bitter funkiness. After a little googling, I figured out why. Apparently, bad pine nuts can alter your taste buds for up to a week! And I've been eating pine nuts in my Truffled Parmesan from Crazy Sexy Kitchen for the past couple days. In fact, the bitter taste problem started just after I finished my dinner with the pine nuts in it last night.

It makes me sad because food should taste good. And it also makes me sad that I have to throw out the rest of my truffled parm. It was so good! But I don't want altered taste buds forever. Anyway, despite my mouth problems, I still ate a full day's worth of food — Sicilian Juice in the morning, followed by sprouted grain cereal, and then a banana-strawberry-almond butter-date sandwich with baby carrots and hummus for lunch.

My afternoon snack was especially awesome, even if it was a little bitter going down. I mentioned yesterday that I took a hoopdance class at the new Co-Motion Studio down the block from my house. Well, I didn't mention that, besides offering hooping classes, Co-Motion also sells raw vegan desserts from the Raw Girls, a vegan duo who sells prepared raw foods in Memphis.

I picked up this Raw Chocolate Ganache with Pink Himalayan Salt and Pomegranate Seeds last night, but I waited until today to dig in. Holy crap! This is the best chocolate ever! It's soft and ganache-like, and there are crunchy nibs tucked inside. I was only able to eat a tiny bite though because it's very rich. This hunk will last me a few days.

Dinner was a bit of a challenge. My friend Greg's birthday was today, and although he hates birthdays, I insisted on organizing a dinner at his favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Binh. They're known for their AMAZING fried tofu dishes, but deep-fried stuff isn't really allowed on my cleanse. So while everyone else enjoyed mouth-watering tofu, I had to opt for something a little healthier.

Fortunately, this Vegetable Rice Noodle Soup was really tasty!

Now, white rice noodles aren't really cleanse-friendly, but they're certainly better than a plate of fried tofu. This clear broth soup was loaded with fresh veggies (broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, bok choy, green onions), and it felt like a light, guilt-free meal. I did sneak a couple bites of Greg's and Shara's tofu dishes but only a taste, I swear.

Well, see y'all Sunday. Hopefully, my taste buds will get back to normal before Sunday's pizza party!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Crazy Sexy, Day 17

Today on the Crazy Sexy Diet started off just like every other day this week — with a Sicilian Juice from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. Here's the contents of my juice before juicing in my new Breville: spinach, tomato, carrots, garlic, red bell pepper, celery, and jalapeno.

My morning snack at my desk was another small bowl of One Degree Veganic Sprouted Ancient Maize Flakes with Coconut-Almond Milk. I've been enjoying this gluten-free, coconut palm sugar-sweetened cereal all week.

Lunch was a new recipe — Fruit and Almond Sandwich from Crazy Sexy Kitchen.

This is like a healthier twist on PB&J. There's raw almond butter, homemade date paste, cinnamon, bananas, and strawberries on sprouted grain bread. I'm not the world's biggest fan of fruit, but bananas and berries were so good with the almond butter and date paste on bread. I need more fruit and nut butter sandwiches in my life.

On the side, I had Carrots and Whole Foods Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. I've eaten sooooo much hummus over the past 17 days! But I never, ever tire of hummus.

I snacked on some trail mix late in the afternoon while writing a blog post for work. Then I headed home and had a small bowl of leftover Farmer's Salad (potato salad made with cashew aioli, fava beans, red peppers, and spinach) from Crazy Sexy Kitchen before heading to Co-Motion Studio for my first Beginner's Hoopdance class.

Co-Motion is a new hula-hooping studio just a block from my house. I've been wanting to take a class there since they started offering them a couple weeks back, so I signed up for a five-week hoopdance series. Tonight, we did lots of hand-hooping and spinning the hoop down our bodies from above our heads.

After class, I heated up a bowl of leftover Nana's Marinara, Mung Bean Fettuccine, and Truffled Parmesan from Crazy Sexy Kitchen.

Only four more days to go!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Crazy Sexy, Day 16

I'm in the home stretch y'all! And that means only five more days of the Crazy Sexy Diet before I get my celebratory post-cleanse meal of pizza and beer. And cake. But I can't dwell on that too much yet.

This morning started with another Sicilian Juice (carrots, spinach, red bell pepper, garlic, jalapeno, and celery), followed by a small bowl of One Degree Veganic Sprouted Ancient Maize Flakes with Unsweetened Coconut-Almond Milk.

Lunch was a Hummus Wrap with Kalamata Olives, Roasted Red Peppers, and Cucumbers on a Brown Rice Tortilla. And I had a side of the Farmer's Salad from Crazy Sexy Kitchen (a potato salad made with raw cashew aioli, fava beans, spinach, and red pepper).

When I was at Imagine Vegan Cafe, I picked up this Reallygoods Raw Fruit & Nut Thing to snack on this week.

So I opened the package and ate half as my afternoon snack. This was like a yummy bar made with bananas, raisins, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pecans, and coconut nectar.

It fueled me through a post-work shopping trip at American Apparel, where I had to use a Groupon that expires soon. I bought this!

I was super excited for dinner! A few weeks ago, Explore Asian sent me a box of their noodles to review. Some contained gluten, so I'll review those later. But they sent me a couple packs of gluten-free noodles too. I'd actually tried these Mung Bean Fettuccine Noodles before, so I knew I loved them. These have that light and chewy texture that I love in gluten-free noodles, and the taste is fairly neutral, so they stand up well to most any sauce.

I set some on to boil and reheated the Nana's Marinara from Crazy Sexy Kitchen that I made the night before. It's made with diced tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, and herbs. Simple and soul-soothing. I was inspired to try this recipe after seeing Sarah try it on her blog, Long Island Nerd. I always make as much food for supper the night before as possible, so I have less work to do in the kitchen when I get home. I hate cooking when I'm hungry! It only took minutes to put this meal on the table.

See those yellow crumbles? While I was making the marinara last night, I also made the Truffled Parmesan from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. You take pine nuts, truffle oil, nooch, onion powder, and a splash of water and blend them in the blender. When it's nice and smooth, you spread the paste on a dehydrator sheet and leave overnight. In the morning, when it's all dry and crispy, you crumble it up into parm sprinkles.

OMG. This stuff is ridic. Definitely better than any vegan parm I've had before. The truffle oil really sets this over the top. Of course, it'd be expensive as hell to make if you didn't already have a well-stocked pantry, but I just so happened to have a stockpile of pine nuts, truffle oil, and everything else I needed because I'm a food hoarder.

Oh, and I had a Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette from Crazy Sexy Kitchen with my pasta for dinner. Gotta get my greens and raw veggies!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Crazy Sexy, Day 15

Guess what? I've lost five pounds on the Crazy Sexy Diet cleanse! I'm on day 15, and when I weighed myself this morning, I was back to my ideal weight. Over the past five months, I've only been able to do limited light exercise (yoga, core work, etc.) because of my broken foot. And after the holidays, that lack of running and cycling really caught up with me. I'd packed on five extra pounds, and my skinny jeans were, well, too skinny. I was seriously having to unbutton my jeans after meals just so I could breathe!

But now my pants fit again! And I feel great. I have loads of energy throughout the day, and I'm sleeping great at night. This morning, I got to sleep in because our office was closed for MLK Day. I did some ab work and weights and had this Sicilian Juice from Crazy Sexy Kitchen (tomato, carrot, red bell pepper, red jalapeno, spinach, and garlic).

This is definitely my favorite juice so far. Love the garlic and hot pepper in this! But I was burping garlic all day. I just warned people to keep their distance, which is fine since I have personal space issues anyway.

My morning snack was something new too — One Degree Veganic Sprouted Ancient Maize Flakes with Unsweetened Coconut-Almond Milk.

The Crazy Sexy Diet book recommends sticking with a sprouted cereal if you're having cereal on the cleanse, and I was planning to pick up the Food for Life brand. But that contains gluten. And although I am allowing gluten-containing sprouted grain on my cleanse, I just had to try these new gluten-free maize flakes. They were so good! Light, crispy, and only a tad sweet from the low-glycemic coconut palm sugar.

After lunch (another Nada Curried Tofu Egg Salad Wrap and leftover Raw Harvest Soup, pictured below), my friend Autumn and I drove the hour to Jonesboro, where we had to attend a memorial for our friend Amie Doles, who died in a car accident last Friday. Amie was a bundle of light and hugs, and she'll be missed. :-(

On the way home, we snacked on Brown Rice Cakes with Hummus. And when I got back to Memphis, I warmed up some more leftovers of Chickpea with Root Veggie Tagine and Quinoa.

Well, that's it for today. Only six more days to go!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Crazy Sexy Cheats

I survived another weekend on my 21-day Crazy Sexy Diet cleanse. Wrapping up day 14 now, and that means I've only got one week to go! It's gone by both amazingly fast and tragically slow at the same time if that's even possible.

Friday was more of the same —Gardener Juice, Green "Paint" Almond Butter Dip with Fruit, Hummus Pinwheels, and Chickpea Root Veggie Tagine. I'd planned to grab a raw dinner at Two Vegan Sistas, a high-raw diner in Bartlett. But I'd forgotten that they close at noon on Fridays! Ugh.

But that was okay. I had a dining-out treat planned for Saturday anyway. Our monthly Food Awareness (Memphis' vegetarian/vegan social club) meeting was set for 2 p.m. on Saturday at Imagine Vegan Cafe. Imagine has LOADS of stuff I can't have right now, but I was able to resist the siren song of the vegan Big Mac or their creamy, dreamy vegan mac & cheese in favor of their Spinach Salad (baby spinach, strawberries, pecans, and a balsamic vinaigrette).

Dinner was more Chickpea Root Veggie Tagine on Saturday night. And though I managed to stay strong in the face of temptation earlier in the day at Imagine, I slipped up a tad on Saturday night. Paul had gotten us some free tickets to a Mississippi RiverKings hockey game (Memphis is just 15 minutes from the MS state line). I thought, "Well, that will be a nice way to spend a Saturday night that doesn't involve a bar." How wrong I was!

Paul failed to tell me that we were sharing a suite with about eight of his co-workers, most of whom were young, very drunk guys. They were wild! And I was annoyed. Drunk people are so obnoxious when you're off the sauce. The only way I could handle their silly antics (dancing, spilling beer, etc.) was to take the edge off with a glass of red wine. Thankfully, the hockey arena had some for sale. When in Rome ...

But it was just a glass. And it helped. After the game, I went home, had some air-popped popcorn with nooch and watched Saved by the Bell reruns before retiring for the evening. I had a big fasting day planned for the next day!

This morning was my second half-day juice fast of my cleanse. Kris Carr recommends doing these every Sunday of the cleanse. I technically have three Sundays on the cleanse, but I'm only doing two fasts since next Sunday will be a busy day. I awoke to this big bowl of fruits and veggies, waiting to be juiced.

I had lots of green juice.

And some red (because of beets!).

Although a whole-day fast would probably be optimal, I just can't do that. I have a very high metabolism, and while on these fasts, I stay hungry the entire time. Tummy growling and all. Plus, my favorite art class/club Five In One Social Club was having a potluck tonight. First, before the potluck, I eased out of my fast with a big bowl of Kristin Suzanne's Harvest Soup from Crazy Sexy Diet.

This is a bunch of raw veggies blended in the blender rather than juiced, so it retains the fiber and is more filling. This had zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, celery, garlic, sea salt, and onion power. I'm not always the biggest fan of raw soups, but I LOVE this one. I made it on this same cleanse two years ago, and I just loved it. The soup's creator Kristin Suzanne is no longer vegan though. She's paleo now. It's always makes me sad when we lose our soldiers in the fight for animals. But she can make a damn mean raw soup.

At 5 p.m., I headed to Five in One for the potluck. It wasn't a vegan potluck, so I knew I'd only be able to eat what I brought and what Cassi brought. But that was okay because I needed to eat light after fasting all day.

I made the Farmer's Salad from Crazy Sexy Kitchen — baby red potatoes, spinach (subbed for the nasty arugala in the recipe), red bell pepper, capers, cashew aioli, Dijon vinaigrette, lemon zest). This was amazing and hearty! Loved the homemade cashew mayo.

Cassi made Sriracha Hummus and Avocado Hummus! She brought pita bread for everyone else, but since I'm gluten-free on this cleanse, I packed a bag of baby carrots for dippin.

Now, Cassi knows I'm cleansing and off the sugar. But she made a Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake for this potluck, and without telling me, she made me two tiny cheesecake bites. She said I should probably cheat and eat them.

So I did! Wouldn't you? And they were delicious! Eating these bite-sized cheesecakes made me a little sad that I couldn't have more, but I should just be thankful that I had a great excuse to cheat with sugar!

A few hours after the potluck, I got hungry again! So I just finished a late-night snack of miso soup and a brown rice cake with hummus. I don't typically eat this late, but I was famished. Juice fasts make me feel clean for sure, but they also play tricks on my appetite. I'm glad I'm done with juice fasting for the rest of this cleanse.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Crazy Sexy, Day 11

Only 10 more days to go on my 21-day Crazy Sexy Diet!

This morning started with a Gardener Juice (orange, kale, red bell pepper, carrots, and radishes), the same juice I've had every morning this week. I'm sticking with a weekly juice theme to save money.

After the juice, I whipped up an Aztec Spirit smoothie (cacao powder, almond-coconut milk, agave, vanilla, and spinach). This time, I added some ice for a thicker smoothie. I stayed hungry all morning for some reason, so I snacked on fresh pineapple and Curried Cashews from Crazy Sexy Kitchen at my desk.

Lunch was a new dish — Hummus Pinwheels from Crazy Sexy Kitchen.

This is a Food for Life gluten-free brown rice wrap with garlic hummus, spinach, roasted red pepper (that I roasted myself to save $$$), kalamata olives, and cucumber. Such a great combo! Plus, I have a ton of hummus leftover from last night's full moon party.

I also had a salad topped with the leftover Get Fresh Memphis Edamame Salad that I picked up from my gym Tuesday night. It has sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives in it, and it's so damn good.

Dinner was another new meal, and it's definitely my favorite thing I've eaten on the cleanse so far — Chickpea with Root Veggie Tagine. It's also from Crazy Sexy Kitchen.

This was the first recipe I bookmarked in Crazy Sexy Kitchen. Something about chickpeas and green olives together just sounded awesome to me. And it was! It also has sweet and russet potatoes, carrots, currants, and marinated artichokes. And there are lots of spices — toasted cumin seed, coriander, red pepper flakes, turmeric, and cinnamon. I served it over a bed of quinoa.

I had to scarf down this lovely dinner though because I had to attend a 5:30 p.m. meeting for work. Shelby County Schools is considering closing 13 public schools, and as a reporter, I needed to be there to cover the concerns of parents and students. After the meeting let out, I was kind of hungry since I'd had an early supper. So I whipped up a small helpin' of Banana Soft Serve. That's just a frozen banana ice creamicized (yes, I can make up words) in the food processor.

Well, I've got a Crazy Sexy three-day weekend coming up since we're off for the MLK holiday on Monday. But I'll be back Sunday night with a regularly scheduled recap. Got another juice fast on Sunday, and I'm sure the weekend will be filled with temptations. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Crazy Sexy Day 10

Double digits, y'all! And as of tonight, I'm basically halfway done with the 21-day Crazy Sexy Diet cleanse. I'm feeling great on this cleanse, and it seems much easier than in the past when I've tried it. But I'm not gonna lie — I'm counting down the days until I can have pizza and beer.

Today was a snacky day. I didn't eat many new dishes, so I've combined most of what I ate into picture collages for a quick post. For my meals, I had Gardener Juice (orange, carrot, kale, red pepper, and radish) for breakfast, a Nada Egg Curried Wrap (eggless tofu salad on a gluten-free wrap) and salad for lunch, and leftovers of the Southern Staple (black beans, brown rice, collards, and garlic sauce) from Imagine Vegan Cafe for dinner.

But I also had loads of snacks! At work, I snacked on Strawberries and Bananas with Green "Paint" Dip (raw almond butter with spirulina) and Organic Pineapple (our intern Alexandra brought in cupcakes for her birthday today, and since I can't have cupcakes right now, she brought me pineapple!).

Tonight, I went to a friend's house for a full moon party! I brought a Whole Foods Hummus Sampler and Carrot Sticks. And my friend Sonya made Baked Apples. Her recipe called for sugar, but she left it out and baked them sans sweetener because a couple of us are on cleanses right now. People have been so sweet and accommodating on this cleanse!

There was one new thing! I went to the gym yesterday, and the owner told me they'd started selling to-go vegan food from Get Fresh Memphis (a vegetarian/vegan meal service)! My gym — Envision Memphis —hasn't sold food previously, so I think it's pretty cool that the food they are selling now is all vegan! I picked up this amazing Edamame Salad (it was chock full of sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives).

For lunch today, I tossed some of the edamame salad over romaine lettuce and added a little raspberry balsamic vinegar to coat the greens.