Okay, well technically, I have a few hours left, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to break into my end-of-cleanse reward doughnuts. But I wanted to touch base and show y'all what I ate this weekend. There were LOTS of cheats this weekend but also plenty of healthful, wholesome meals from Somer's book.
Fridays on the meal plan are all about leftovers, so I had another mango green smoothie and more curried brown rice salad, oil-free hummus, and butternut squash soup throughout the work day. But on Friday night, Andy had a little get-together for Stephanie's birthday. It was potluck, but only a few people actually brought food. And that was fine because I tend to overdo it at potlucks. I went the cleanse-safe route and brought the Rawkin' Rainbow Kale Salad from The Abundance Diet.
This has a cashew-based chili-lime dressing, avocado, jicama, carrots, red onion, and cabbage. It's super tasty, and you can't even tell the dressing is oil-free. Of course, my friends all gave me hell for bringing a kale salad to a potluck. Except for Misti, who is also doing a cleanse. She was very grateful and made a giant plate of salad. Misti wasn't cheating on her diet, so that's all she ate.
I, on the other hand, had already planned to have a cheat night for Stephanie's birthday. That was a rule I made at the beginning of my cleanse. But rather than go crazy on the fake meat and gluten, I tried to just sample one of each thing with a generous portion of kale salad on the side. Stephanie brought Pizza Rolls (like cinnamon rolls but with vegan cheese, marinara, & vegan sausage). Andy made Pigs in Blankets with Smart Dogs. And Mike brought two kinds of Vegan Sausage Balls (some with cheddar and some with mozzarella).
Basically, it was a big ole gluten and fake meat fest! My favorite stuff! That pizza roll was my first taste of gluten in 28 days, and man was it awesome. So soft and pizza-y. But I only ate one of those, one pig in blanket, and two sausage balls. As much as I wanted more, I knew that I needed to save some space for the ultimate cheat — Stephanie's Peanut Butter Bomb birthday cake.
Stephanie is a professional baker, so she always bakes her own birthday cakes. This year, she picked my very favorite cake combo — peanut butter and chocolate. I was soooooo excited to have sugar after 28 days of only having natural stuff, like maple, agave, and stevia. But I asked Stephanie to cut me a small slice because I really wanted to be good and eat a modest amount of cake. Stephanie rolled her eyes and told me, "There will be no small slices." And then she cut me a giant slice of this triple layer cake that was probably the equivalent of three cupcakes. It was almost too much cake, if there's even such a thing. But I ate it all anyway, and it was divine. I also had two glasses of merlot that night because a party without wine just isn't a party.
I was stuffed when I finally went to bed around 2 a.m. But I awoke Saturday morning with a growling tummy. So I got back to my cleanse-friendly foods with this gluten-free Carrot Cake Waffle with Cashew Date Caramel from The Abundance Diet. It was sweetened with stevia and flecked with raisins, carrots, and walnuts. It felt pretty nice after my indulgence the night before.
I had leftover kale salad (there was a ton left after the potluck) and some more nicoise salad (leftover from Thursday) throughout the day on Saturday. But I had another cheat planned for Saturday night. Back in December, one of our new vegan friends, Anjali, asked me and a few other friends if we'd like to come over for a dinner party at her house in January. We settled on January 30th, so this was a cheat I'd been planning for since the Abundance Diet began.
I didn't know what to expect from Anjali's menu, but I'd tried some of her dishes at a Thanksgiving potluck, and I knew she was a great cook! And it wasn't really even like cheating since Anjali is gluten-free for health reasons. She made a great spread of casseroles and some yummy (and pretty healthy) Indian desserts.
There was a Tortilla Casserole with corn tortillas, veggies, and vegan cheese. That was my fave! And there was a gluten-free Cashew Cream Pasta with marinara and veggies and a Hash Brown Casserole with vegan cheese, tomatoes, and rosemary. So good! And other than vegan cheese, everything else in these dishes was totally allowed on the Abundance Diet. She sent me home with tons of leftovers, so I'll be enjoying this stuff all week!
For dessert, there was Mango with Tamarind Chutney and Green Cardamom and some Rose-Cardamom Kulfi. She made her kulfi (Indian ice cream) with a base of cashews and coconut cream. I love the idea of having fresh fruit for dessert. That's something I should do more often. And I love, love, love Anjali's kulfi. Rose and cardamom are the greatest combo ever. There was a little sugar in this, but it was much more modest than what I had Friday night in Stephanie's cake!
On Sunday morning, I woke up to another Abundance Diet breakfast — my last breakfast on the cleanse! It was a hearty and healthful Quinoa Banana Berry Bowl with cooked quinoa, cashew milk, cashew date caramel, fresh banana and strawberry, and hemp seeds.
A few hours later, I met Stephanie for brunch at Imagine Vegan Cafe, but I ordered a cleanse-friendly Veggie Stir-fry over brown rice. I typically order this dish at Imagine with added vegan beef or chicken. But I kept it simple with just veggies for the last day of my cleanse. Next week, I'm sure I'll be ordering some plant meat or something fried!
Dinner was leftover grilled veggie lasagna and some more of that kale salad. And I'm about to have my last dish on the cleanse! I made the Lucious Lemon Tarts from the book for dessert. They have a gluten-free cashew crust sweetened with dried pineapple, and the filling is made from silken tofu, lemon juice and zest, and bee-free honee. I can't wait to reward myself with these babies!
Beginning tomorrow, I'm back on gluten, sugar, plant meat, and vegan cheese. And I'm very excited about it! I have some fun meals planned. But I will say that the Abundance Diet has been so rewarding, and I feel better than ever. I lost a couple pounds, which wasn't a goal, but I had put on a few over the holidays. My jeans were so tight I was having to unbutton them when I sat down. So they fit perfectly now.
But more importantly, I just felt great on the diet. I had lots of energy. My digestion was just perfect. I never felt groggy or gross after meals, like I do somethings when I'm eating not-so-healthy stuff. I plan to take some of these healthy eating practices forward and mix them in with daily dessert (whether that's just a square of chocolate or a cupcake or bowl of ice cream). I missed sugar a lot, and I don't want to cut that out.
But I would like to try and eat more salad and whole foods-based meals going forward. I'll add oil back in, but I may try to cut it down some and go easy on fried foods. I typically only eat deep fried stuff in moderation anyway, but I've learned on this cleanse that you really don't even need much oil for sauteeing or making salad dressings. So I can definitely cut back there. As for gluten, well, that's DEFINITELY coming back. I don't have a gluten sensitivity, and I like bread a lot. But I will try to stick with whole wheat breads or sprouted grain at home and save the white stuff for dining out.
The way I ate this past weekend — a healthy mix of wholesome meals and indulgent treats — is actually a pretty good model for how I'd like to eat all the time.