Sunday, January 31, 2016

Abundance Diet Wrap-Up

I made it!! Today is the last day of the 28-Day Abundance Diet, a whole foods-based, sugar-free, gluten-free, low-oil meal plan from Somer McCowan's The Abundance Diet cookbook.

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. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Abundance Diet, Day 25

Thursdays on Somer McCowan's Abundance Diet are typically all about leftovers, which is one of the reasons I love this 28-day plan. I hate food waste, and I can't really afford (financially or time-wise) to cook brand-new meals every day.

So today, I had more of what you've already seen. My morning started with yoga, and then it was time for the Annie's Da Cherry Bomb Smoothie from The Abundance Diet cookbook. But this morning, I tried Somer's Mayan Cherry variation on that smoothie. It has added cocoa powder and cayenne. I loved this cherry-banana-spinach-flax smoothie even more with the chocolate!

Lunch was leftovers of the Green Goddess Spinach Salad and the Cheesiest Potato Soup, which you can see in this post from Day 22. My snack was more kale chips, and my dinner was leftover Chile Rellanos Casserole. I was super-excited to get to eat that chile bake again. So cashew cheesy and creamy!

I've typically been dining out on Thursdays for dinner since they're leftovers days. But I dined out last night at LYFE Kitchen, so I stayed in this evening. But I did get a special treat. I ended up making the Saturday meal plan dessert tonight! On Saturday, I'm going to a dinner party (and probably eating a few non-cleanse dishes), and though I'm not certain what's on the menu, I'm sure there will be something sweet. But I definitely wanted to try the Orange Chocolate Silk Mousse before the Abundance Diet was over. So I enjoyed it tonight in my PJs!

This is a silk tofu-based mousse with grain-sweetened carob chips, cashews, cocoa powder, orange zest, and dates. It's sooooooooo good. I actually licked the Vitamix. Probably my favorite dessert on the cleanse so far. I love creamy mousses and puddings!

Alright, well, we're heading into the last weekend on the Abundance Diet. And I'll go ahead and tell you now that I have a few cheats planned. Tomorrow night, I'm going to a birthday party for Stephanie, and there will be cupcakes and vegan cheese dip. So I'll indulge, but I'm going to try not to eat until I make myself sick, which is what I usually do at parties. And on Saturday, there's that dinner party I mentioned. But the host is gluten-free, so I think some of the dishes will fall within cleanse guidelines. And if not, I'll try everything anyway! I'll check back in on Sunday night with a recap.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Abundance Diet, Day 24

It's the 24th day into my 28-day Abundance Diet, a low-oil, sugar-free, gluten-free meal plan from Somer McCowan's cookbook of the same name. So close! Yet with with a freezer full of chocolate doughnuts waiting for me, the end seems so far away.

Still yet, today was a delicious day that ended with a healthy restaurant meal and a glass of wine. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Today started as usual with a run (five miles this morning) and a green smoothie — the Orange Julius from The Abundance Diet. Oranges, banana, cashew milk, kale, spinach, flax, and a scoop of natural Vega One protein. I thought I might grow weary of smoothies by the end of the diet, but I'm more in love with smoothies than ever. God, I love smoothies.

My lunch today was HUGE. First, I had this Nicoise Salad with Smoky Tofu and Creamy Miso Dressing. Nicoise salads are such fun. I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to stir or mix my food. Like if there's oil atop my hummus, I don't stir it in. Or when I'm eating oats with nut butter, I like to leave the nut butter in a little pat on top and take tiny bites of it with each bite of oats. So eating these salad ingredients separately and dipping them into the dressing with each bite is perfect. Also, Somer's tofu marinade for this recipe is ridiculous. It's smoky (from Liquid Smoke) and savory (from shoyu) and garlicky with a hint of sesame oil.

So I ate all of that salad. I started it around 11:30 and slowly munched on it at my desk for about an hour. I like to drag my meals out as long as possible so I'm basically always eating. As you can probably imagine from the size of that thing, I wasn't really hungry for my second lunch. But I ate it anyway because it was there, and I like eating. I had this Lightened-Up African Peanut Stew around 2 p.m. This was also very, very hearty. So I was pretty stuffed all day. By the way, this sweet potato-tomato-peanut stew was supposed to be made very low-fat by using PB2 powdered, defatted peanut butter. And I usually keep a jar in my pantry because it's great for smoothies, but I was out. So I used regular ole crunchy peanut butter. 

My snack was supposed to be Gluten-Free Cheesy Crackers, but since I'd eaten so much lunch, I wasn't really hungry for my snack in the afternoon. I'd packed 20 noochy crackers, but I ended up only eating about half of them. And I ate them because they were there, not because I was hungry. These were good, but it was my second time making them, and the last batch turned out better. I didn't roll my dough thinly enough, so these weren't as crispy.

According to Somer's meal plan, I was supposed to have the Homestyle Mexican Casserole tonight, but that was a repeat meal from week one. It was delicious, and I would have made it again. But I went ahead and scheduled our monthly Vegan Drinks meet-up for tonight, so I could try the whole eating-out-on-the-cleanse thing. We met at LYFE Kitchen, so it was pretty easy to stay within the cleanse guidelines. Their gluten-free and vegan menu items are clearly marked, and they don't fry anything or use white sugar.

I went with the Quinoa Crunch Bowl, which is totally something Somer would approve of — red quinoa, edamame hummus, cherry tomatoes, arugala (which I typically hate but actually like in this dish), radishes, avocado, steamed broccoli, and hot sauce. The hot sauce really takes the dish to new level. 

I am allowing occasional glass of red wine on my diet, so I ordered a glass of the happy hour pinot. It was my second glass of wine all month! And it really hit the spot.

Tomorrow is mostly leftovers, but I do have a fun dessert planned. I'll be making the Friday night dessert on Thursday. So I'll take pics and check in tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Abundance Diet, Day 23

Wow, these last few days on the Abundance Diet are flying by! And that's good because my dad ordered me some Larson Vegan Donuts as a Valentine's/End-of-Cleanse gift, and they'll be in tomorrow. So I'll be dealing some serious temptation over the next few days. But I plan to pop them in the freezer until Monday, when the 28-day Abundance Diet is over. Also, I'll be cheating on Friday night with a cupcake and a few potluck dishes for Stephanie's birthday.

So I've got all that to look forward to! But for now, I'm still trucking through Somer McCowan's meal plan from The Abundance Diet cookbook. It's low-oil, gluten-free, sugar-free, and processed food-free, and despite all of that, the meals are still insanely delicious and filling. Today started with an Australian Carrot Refresher juice (carrot-apple-celery) from her book. I had it before my Yoga Camp video, but I failed to take a picture (you can see it here, just looks like fresh orange-colored juice).

After yoga, I had the Mango Madness Green Smoothie. I went to two Krogers looking for frozen mango last weekend, and they were both sold out. So I got the Mango, Banana, Strawberry frozen fruit blend and picked out the strawberries. I'll save those for a different smoothie. This also has spinach, cashew milk, and hemp seeds. Super creamy! Tasted like the tropics.

My salad for the day was the Curried Brown Rice Salad. I love a good grain salad, and this one was chock full of good stuff — raisins, cashews, carrots, green onion, and celery. The curry dressing was sweet and savory with a nice kick.

Since the salad was pretty heavy, it was nice to have a light soup on the side. This Cozy Butternut Squash Soup blew me away! I've made b-nut squash soups before, but this is light-years ahead of any similar soup I've made in the past. The squash is roasted with whole onions and a whole head of garlic. And then you add the roasted veggies to a pot of broth and herbs and it let simmer. After simmering, the soup goes into the blender with a handful of cashews, and it's whipped into a roasty, creamy bowl of goodness.

I had a board meeting this evening for Friends for Life, a non-profit that I volunteer with. They help low-income people living with HIV/AIDS access services, food, and housing. I didn't have time to eat dinner before the meeting, so I snacked on my Spicy Peanut Oil-Free Hummus with Raw Cauliflower and Red Bell Pepper. 

I was famished after the meeting, but luckily, I'd prepped my dinner the night before. I had everything for this Grilled Eggplant & Zucchini Lasagna layered into a casserole dish and ready to pop in the oven. 

This is a really unique lasagna because there are no noodles. Instead there are layers of grilled eggplant, zucchini, red onion, roma tomato, lentil-quinoa tomato sauce, and Somer's homemade cashew "moxarella." That white stuff on top is the moxarella. It didn't melt as well on top, but the inside got all cheesy and gooey, like a good lasagna should. It was nearly impossible to take a pretty photo of a slice, but here's my attempt.

Don't worry, I ate way more than that. I just didn't think my giant serving would photograph so well. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Abundance Diet, Day 22

My last Monday on the 28-day Abundance Diet is almost behind me, and as usual, the meals from Somer McCowan's menu plan did not disappoint. I'm following the meal plan from The Abundance Diet cookbook this month as a way to reset my eating habits and get some healthy fruits and veggies in.

I overslept by about an hour this morning — just didn't hear my alarm. I'd planned a long run, but I only had time for a quick 30-minute run. So I made it a speed work run and really pushed myself. I'm hoping to run another half-marathon in May, but I'd love to PR. After my shower, I had this awesome Annie's Da Bomb Cherry Smoothie with frozen cherries, banana, spinach, hemp seeds, cashew milk, and vanilla hemp protein.

For my daily salad, I had the Green Goddess Spinach Salad, a loaded salad with baby spinach, oil-free goddess dressing, artichoke hearts, tomato, carrots, red onion, avocado, raw almonds, and dried cranberries. I love salads with lots of textures, and this had a perfect combo of crunchy, chewy, and creamy (from the delicious tahini dressing). Also, any salad with dried cranberries is a winner in my book.

The soup of the day was the Cheesiest Potato Soup, which I'd heard was awesome before I even made it. My friend Clarita sent me a Facebook message about this soup when she heard I was doing the Abundance Diet. Apparently, she makes it all the time, and her omni husband loves it so much. It lived up to the hype. Super noochy and creamy and potato-y.

I had more of the Nacho Cheesy Kale Chips as my afternoon snack. Love kale chips to death, but they really get stuck in your teeth. I made a big batch of these in the dehydrator a couple weeks ago. Somer's recipe calls for baking, but since I have a dehydrator, I figured they'd get crispier in there.

Dinner was my second favorite main on the cleanse so far! Cauliflower crust pizza was my first fave, and I thought the BBQ tofu spring rolls were going to be my second fave. But then I made this, and I have a new second fave. This Chile Rellanos Casserole with Enchilada Sauce was amazing! Whole green chiles are stuffed with homemade cashew mozzarella, and they're topped with a chickpea flour mixture that bakes up into something that tastes like a corn tortilla. And there's homemade enchilada sauce on top. Served with cashew sour cream and cilantro. So glad I have leftovers for later in the week.

On the side I had this yummy Garden Salad with green leaf lettuce, carrots, mushrooms, red pepper, kalamata olives, and oil-free balsamic dressing (from Somer's cookbook).

Whoa, two salads in one day! I'm on a roll! 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Abundance Diet, Day 19-21

I'm in the home stretch! Only one more week left in the 28-day Abundance Diet. I'm really looking forward to eating sugar again. And GLUTEN! God, I miss gluten. But I do love the way I'm feeling on this whole foods-based, processed food-free, gluten-free, sugar-free diet. I have more energy, and things are moving through nicely if you get my drift.

By the way, if you haven't been following along, I'm working my way through Somer McCowan's Abundance Diet cookbook by using the 28-day meal plan from the book.

This past weekend was a delicious one. As always, Friday's meals consisted of leftovers from earlier in the week. It snowed Friday morning, so I went for a snowy run in Overton Park just as the sun was coming up. And I saw a fox in the snow-covered woods!! He didn't see me coming until he was quite close, and then he froze when he heard my feet fall on the paved trail around the forest. I stopped. He stopped. We stared at one another — him probably in fright, me in awe. And then he hopped over a snow-covered log and disappeared deep into the forest.

We had a snow day from work on Friday, even though we only got a light dusting. Everyone in the South freaks out when a few flakes fall, and everything shuts down. But I still had lots of work to do, so I enjoyed my meals for the day while working from home. There was another Jaffa Cake Green Smoothie, a Chipotle Knock-off Salad, Moroccan Lentil Soup, and Shepherd's Pie with cauliflower mash. But after dinner on Friday, I got to try a new dessert from the book — Peach & Blueberry Tart with Apricot Crumble.

This was definitely my favorite dessert so far on the cleanse! It has a crust and crumble topping made from dates, dried apricots, and gluten-free flour, and I loved the soft and sweet texture. It's baked with fresh peaches and frozen blueberries. I made half the recipe (two servings) and ate them both. Cold, snowy nights are perfect for crumbles.

Saturday morning started with a fun savory breakfast, a nice change from the usual weekday green smoothies on this diet. This was the Apple & Chai Spice Muesli — overnight oats mixed with chai spice (I used Blue Lotus chai powder), grated apple, and almonds. I served mine with extra cashew milk. I would definitely make this for breakfast again when I'm not cleansing. So good!

The rest of the day was more leftovers, including my favorite BBQ Tofu & Avocado Spring Rolls. The Abundance Diet allows for desserts on both weekend days, so there was another dessert on Saturday night. It was more soft serve! Last weekend, I had cherry-banana soft serve. And this time I had Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Soft Serve, again made with a frozen banana base. Also, cocoa powder, cashew milk, and grain-sweetened carob chips.

I got another fun, solid good breakfast on Sunday morning. I had these Bananas Foster Pancakes with Date Paste while watching Making a Murderer this morning (omg, I'm so obsessed with that show!!). The date paste, made from medjool dates and water, was a fun alternative to maple syrup. And the gluten-free pancakes were light and fluffy and didn't taste at all gluten-free. I used the Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour mix rather than Somer's blend from the cookbook because I'm lazy.

When I started this 28-day plan, I told myself that I'd eat out every Sunday for brunch and every Thursday for dinner. But I'd try my best to stay within the cleanse guidelines when ordering at restaurants. On Sunday around lunch, I met my brunch buds at our usual spot — Imagine Vegan Cafe — and I ordered the Veggie Plate with red beans & rice, sweet potatoes, green beans, and garlic kale. It wasn't as decadent as Stephanie's biscuits & gravy or Megan's vegan fried shrimp po'boy. But it was still damn tasty. And I felt good after eating it.

I had more leftovers for dinner Sunday night — the cheesy potato & cauliflower casserole. And that's it for the weekend. I'm looking forward to my last week on the cleanse. I have a few fun outings and cheats planned for mid-week and the weekend, so the time should pass quickly.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Eating Out on the Abundance Diet

Last week, I mentioned that I'd start eating out every Thursday night and Sunday brunch on my 28-day Abundance Diet. For most of the days this month, I'm following Somer McCowan's meal plan in her Abundance Diet cookbook to a "t," but the way the leftover meals are planned out, the Monday meals repeat two more times — on Thursdays and Sundays (so three times total). Meals on the other days only repeat twice.

So in an effort to not have to make 3/4th of a recipe to have enough to repeat three times (each of her recipes makes 4 servings, with the exception of the smoothies and juices, which just serve one), I'm dining out on those days. Eating out on the cleanse gives me a chance to put my healthy eating pledge to the test.

Last Thursday, I dined at Fuel Cafe with my friend Ted and ate the healthiest meal on the menu (the tofu dragon bowl). Tonight, I went by my friend Cassi's Pink Diva Cupcakery for takeout. Lemme tell ya — walking into a vegan cupcake bakery when you're on a sugar-free cleanse isn't easy. I have a ton of willpower, but those cupcakes looked damn good. I've not missed much on this gluten-free, white sugar-free, processed food-free, low-oil diet, but two things I do miss are cupcakes and chocolate. She had chocolate cupcakes. Sigh.

Anyway, I resisted, knowing I only have 10 days left on the cleanse. And knowing that I'll probably get a sweet treat cheat on Stephanie's birthday next weekend. Special occasions allow for cheats on my version of the plan! Until then, though, I'm on the wagon. Pink Diva also has a savory lunch (and early dinner) menu, but most of it isn't allowed on my Abundance Diet (due to things like gluten, fried wontons, plant meats, and tater tots). I really wanted totchos or nachos or a pho-rito (Cassi's vegan pho soup-inspired burrito with hoisin tofu and rice noodles). But nope. Those will have to wait.

Instead, I ordered the only thing I could eat — the Veggie Plate with Spaghetti Squash & Tempeh Marinara, Sauteed Veggies, and Avocado-Kale Salad.

The spaghetti squash was my fave, probably because tempeh. And it's been awhile since I've had spaghetti squash. It's a great gluten-free alternative to pasta.

The rest of my plate involved lots of kale, which is great because I've been mostly using spinach in my green smoothies. And I've been without kale for several days. I'm always a fan of Cassi's avocado-kale salad, which is loaded with sun-dried tomatoes.

And the sauteed veggies — a mix of kale, carrots, broccoli, and tomatoes — were well-seasoned and satisfying. Her broccoli is cooked to perfection — not too hard, not too soft.

Okay, there. I've eaten my veggies! And they were delicious. But next time I go into Pink Diva (once my cleanse is over), I'm getting a cupcake to balance out my kale.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Abundance Diet, Day 17

Remember how I said in last night's post that I wanted to run this morning but I was afraid it'd be raining when I woke up? Well, it was. And I don't mind running in the rain when it's warm, but it was, like, 30 degrees out. But just as I'd resigned myself to staying in and doing yoga instead, the rain let up right at 6 a.m. So I threw on my running gear and headed out. It was cold and damp out, and about 45 minutes into my run, it started sleeting. But it stopped before I even made it back home.

Once I got home, I had some electrolyte water (from a Vega mix) and a scoop of Vega One Berry protein mixed with cashew-almond milk. I typically put my protein powder into my smoothies, but today's green smoothie on the Abundance Diet didn't sound like it'd be good with protein powder. It was this Creamy Mint Mojito Green Smoothie made with cucumbers, lime, spinach, celery, apple, mint, avocado, and stevia.

This was my least favorite smoothie on the cleanse so far. But it wasn't bad! It was just a tad more veggie-heavy than I prefer in a smoothie. I usually opt for sweet, milky, fruit-based smoothies. This one was super-creamy from the avocado (I used a half avocado), and it had a great mint-lime flavor. But I think maybe cucumber in a smoothie just isn't my thing.

By the way, if you've not been following along this month, I'm 17 days into a 28-day detox using only recipes from Somer McCowan's The Abundance Diet cookbook. It's whole foods-based, gluten-free, white sugar-free, and processed food-free.

For my salad today, I had the Ultimate Lentil Salad, a hearty cold legume salad with radish, carrot, raisins, pecans, capers, onion, and a sweet mustard-vinegar dressing. I'm such a fan of bean or legume salads. They're a nice change from lettuce salads, and they're so satisfying. Loved the raisins in this since they added some sweetness. The recipe called for currants, but I couldn't find any in the bulk bins and didn't want to buy a whole box for a couple tablespoons when I had raisins in the pantry.

My soup of the day was Tomato Basil Bisque, a simple soup made with blended tomatoes, fresh basil, onions, and cashew cream. The only thing that could have made this delicious soup better would have been a buttery Daiya grilled cheese on the side. I'll have to make this soup again when I'm back on gluten and vegan cheese.

My afternoon snack, which I enjoyed at my desk at work, was more Cucumber Tzatziki made with homemade cashew sour cream, mint, and dill. I had cauliflower, broccoli, and radishes for dippin'.

Dinner was one of my favorite meals so far! BBQ Tofu & Avocado Spring Rolls!

These rolls are stuffed with homemade, baked BBQ tofu strips, avocado, carrots, cucumber, purple cabbage, mint, basil, and green leaf lettuce, and they're served with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce. I always keep a massive pack of rice paper wrappers in my pantry for quick spring or salad rolls, but I don't make them often enough. Clearly, my wrapping skills leave much to be desired. I'm out of practice.

I had four of these rolls before my community yoga class at Co-Motion Studio this evening. It's blustery cold out! The temp is 33 now, but the Weather Channel says it actually feels like 26. Down South, that's what we call "cold as a witch's tit."

And when it's cold, I don't like to go outside (unless I'm running, and then my body thinks it's about 15 degrees warmer). So as I was leaving yoga, I thought, "You know what would make this cold more bearable? Hot cocoa." And lucky me, I had some healthy hot cacao mix in my pantry that my mom picked up for me at the end of last winter. It contains a little coconut sugar, but that's better than white sugar. Plus, it's loaded with superfoods — cacao, lucuma, mesquite, pink salt.

I'm enjoying this cup now as I type. And I already feel much more warm and cozy. This really hits the spot since I've been having some chocolate cravings over the last couple days. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Abundance Diet, Day 16

Another day of yummy eats on Somer McCowan's 28-day Abundance Diet! For the month of January, I'm following this whole foods-based, low-oil, white sugar-free, gluten-free diet to reset my eating habits after the holidays. And I'm exclusively using the recipes from The Abundance Diet cookbook (with the exception of a few eating out trips).

Day 16 started with a short 25-minute Yoga with Adriene Yoga Camp video and a glass of the Australian Carrot Refresher Juice from the book. I've been exploring the juice chapter for pre-workout snacks before light workouts. This is made with carrots, apples, and celery.

Every week day on the Abundance Diet starts with a green smoothie, so after yoga, I had the Poppy's Jaffa Cake Green Smoothie. "Jaffa" means chocolate-orange, so this smoothie is a blend of cocoa powder, fresh orange slices, banana, kale, and hemp seeds. Chocolate and orange is a winning combo, and this was delicious.

Every day for lunch, you get a big ole salad and a giant bowl of soup. Today's salad was the Chipotle Knock-Off Chopped Salad, which is supposed to be a way healthier version of the fast-casual restaurant chain's chopped salad. To be honest, I've never had Chipotle's salad because, when I'm there, I can't resist the siren song of a tofu sofritas burrito (or tacos). But this actually reminded me of the Taco Bell Cantina Bowls, which I've ordered vegan-style a few times. This has pinto beans, corn, cilantro, brown rice, romaine, cashew sour cream, salsa, and a Southwestern-style creamy cashew-based dressing. I love a good Tex-Mex salad!

For my soup today, I had the Moroccan Lentil Soup made with red lentils, tomatoes, and carrots. It has a generous squeeze of lemon juice that really adds a bright, complex flavor. Plus, it's loaded with spices, like cinnamon and coriander. 

The lunches on this plan so filling that I'm rarely hungry for my afternoon snack. But I always eat it anyway because I like to eat. Today was another batch of Somer's oil-free hummus, but this time, I tried her Spicy Peanut Hummus variation by adding peanut butter and Yellowbird Habanero Sauce. I don't think I added enough habanero though because the end result wasn't spicy at all. It did have a slight peanutty hint though, which was a fun change from my usual tahini. I snacked on this before a board meeting after work.

After my meeting, I came home and got dinner in the oven. I'd prepped everything the night before, so baking this Healthier Shepherd's Pie was a breeze. Just assemble and pop in the oven. The base is lentils, mushrooms, and walnuts, and the "mashed potato" layer is actually made with mashed cauliflower. It's totally potato-free! Not that there's anything wrong with potatoes, but you can eat about twice as much cauliflower for the same calories.

And I did! The portions on this diet are HUGE! I halved the recipe to make two servings and it totally filled this 6-inch casserole dish. And the pie is pretty deep. I ate half of the casserole tonight, and I'll have the other half later on this week.

That's it for Day 16! I'm hoping that I get to run early in the morning, but the weather is calling for rain. And while I love running in warm rain, I'm not a fan of running 20-degree rain.