Thursday, March 22, 2012

My 15-Day Reboot, Part 2

Six days down, nine to go.

The salad pictured here was the last thing I ate last night, besides a banana and an entire grapefruit.  It was big, and it was good.  Spinach, asparagus, avocado, tomato, olive oil and lime dressing. 

So, day one of the juice fast: not as horrible as I expected, but it is only day one.  One of the reasons it hasn't been so hard, I suspect, is that I'm actually taking in more calories by juicing than when I was trying to fill up on regular portions of fruits and veggies.  It's not like anyone ever makes a meal out of an apple, three large carrots, 6-8 leaves of kale, 2 packed cups of spinach and a thumb-sized piece of ginger, but such was my breakfast this morning in juice form. 

Another reason it hasn't been so bad is that I got a call from work saying that I wouldn't be needed this evening due to a low patient census on my unit.  Oh, well - less stress during the fast is better, even though I'd kinda rather have the money.  I made double batches of 2 or 3 different juices this morning so that I'd have at least enough to get through tonight, assuming neverending hunger for something that tastes like food.  After getting the invitation not to work, I bought some more juice fodder and continued juicing.  At this point, I can probably wait until Saturday before I juice again. 

Lunch was a freestyle mix of tomato, asparagus, zucchini and celery.  Surprisingly, it tasted a lot like a V8 and all it seemed to be missing was a shot or two of vodka. 

Mid-afternoon I indulged in a smoothie: not exactly juice, but I wasn't sure if the banana would "juice" well, so I juiced an entire pineapple and then put it in a blender along with two bananas in pieces and about four tablespoons of unsweetened shredded coconut.  Again - ssssoooooooooooooooooooo freakin' good, and all that was missing was a shot or two of rum.  I will most certainly be making a grown-up version of this when the reboot is over.  April 1, I have you in my sights.

For dinner, I sucked down a gazpacho juice I made this afternoon with a couple of cucumbers, four beefsteak tomatoes, a few celery stalks, a red bell pepper, a quarter of a red onion, a bunch of parsley from the backyard and a few tablespoons of lime juice (cheating again, but only because I forgot to buy limes).  My juicer doesn't juice herbs very well, so instead I put the parsley in the food processor, got it down to about a pesto consistency and added it to the juice.  It's really just like having regular gazpacho!

Later on, I plan on enjoying a juice made of kale, pears, strawberries and coconut water.  Probably the weirdest of all the combinations I've tried, but I sampled some after I made it this afternoon and it's pretty fruity and sweet in spite of the kale.

Another thing I'll say before signing off is that I kept half of the smoothie mix in the fridge for Steve in case he'd like to have some tonight, but if he wants it, he needs to claim it soon...

Monday, March 19, 2012

My 15-Day Reboot, Part 1

I'm on a 15-day "reboot" right now, and day 3 is drawing to a close.  The decision to do this was inspired by my recent viewing of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.  For those of you who haven't already seen it (and if you haven't, you should!  Find it on Netflix or check it out of the library!), the film follows a guy named Joe, who suffers from obesity and an autoimmune disorder and embarks upon a 60-day juice fast in an attempt to cure himself of both conditions.  The fast is a success, you see him lose weight as the film is being made, and about halfway through he inspires a random stranger, who is also obese and suffering from the same autoimmune disease, to do the 60-day juice fast. 

Since the film was completed, Joe has started this whole "reboot" concept - learn more on the Reboot Your Life website - which encourages people to embrace healthy eating and lifestyle changes by committing to a "reboot" in which they consume nothing but fruits and vegetables (as in no beans, no nuts, no grains), often in juice form only, so that the body can benefit from daily megadoses of phytonutrients.  I've been intrigued by the idea since watching the film, and I decided before running the Columbia Marathon that the second half of March would be the best time to give it a try, since I'm taking the rest of the month off from running and I just might benefit in ways I don't expect.  Last week I loaded up on protein (soy milk, cashews, big spoonfuls of peanut butter) because my sore muscles needed it right after the race.  Friday night Steve and I went to a St. Pat's pub crawl in the Vista, and my reboot started Saturday morning.  The "Classic Reboot" that I'm doing consists of 5 days of juicing plus eating fresh fruits and vegetables, 5 days of juice only and 5 days of juice plus eating.  I'm making up my own meal plans as I go and consuming however much I want while staying within the parameters of the reboot.

Since I went vegan a couple of months ago, I don't feel like I'm suffering as much as if I ate a lot of meat (or a lot of processed junk), but here and there it's been hard to deal with the hunger pangs.  As a runner - and as one who recently trained for and ran a marathon - I'm not used to letting myself go hungry.  I eat healthy snacks, but as a rule, as soon as I notice that I'm hungry, I take care of it.  At work this past weekend (days 1 and 2), I found myself having to gulp down extra water between juices, fruit snacks and meals in order to trick myself into thinking I was full.  Today I was off from work, so it wasn't so hard to poke my head in the fridge and see what I could snack on (like carrots) and to move around at my own relaxed pace, which I don't always get to do at work.  I'm thankful that I'll be off at least two of the five days of the juice fast, because I have a feeling that it's going to be rough.

Anyway, the Vegetarian Times must have caught wind of the fact that I bought four kabocha squash (similar to acorn squash) at Rosewood Market this morning, because this recipe showed up in my Facebook feed after I got home.  As soon as I saw it, I knew what I'd be making for dinner.  I mostly followed the recipe  but substituted fresh ginger, Rasam powder (a type of curry powder available in Indian grocery stores) and cayenne for the sherry and left the skin on the squash because it's perfectly edible and a colossal pain in the ass to peel when it's raw.  I found that by bringing it to a boil and then reducing the heat, rather than just bringing it to a simmer, it cooked even faster and was ready to go in the blender even before I was done getting everything together for the salad. 

The salad was simple: a couple of handfuls of spinach (one for each of us), about two ears' worth of baked husk-on corn, cut from the cob after cooling, one big, ripe tomato and one avocado.  Just arranged everything on two plates and poured over a dressing made of one tablespoon of lime juice, two tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Yumminess!  Plus I made a double batch of the soup, so there will be plenty more to enjoy during the next couple of days before the juice fast begins!

One nice thing about still being able to consume things like sweet potatoes and winter squash, the usual way or in juice form, is that they provide a little extra bulk and natural sugar, so you don't feel completely deprived.  I've felt pretty okay today, but my fingers are crossed that I'll make it through the juice fast without killing anyone...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Eggplant Tapenade Pasta

After nearly a month of cooking up a storm and forgetting to post about it, the Clock-Racing Gourmet is back!  This past Saturday I ran my first marathon in four years, the inaugural Columbia Marathon, and crossed the finish line after 3:46:26 of nonstop running.  Hells yeah!

My pre-race meal was at the Good Life Cafe, a place I never would have considered back when I still thought that you had to eat a giant mound of pasta - which they don't serve - on race night.  I had their Mediterranean wrap with a big kale salad on the side and their (sugar-free) strawberry shortcake smoothie for dessert.  The wrap - made of flaxseed? - included an eggplant tapenade spread that I really liked.  After the marathon, Steve and I went to Mezza, the new Lebanese place on Gervais (for those of you who live in Columbia).  Now that I'm vegan, the most obvious choice of lunch plate was their falafel wrap with tabouli and baba ghanouj on the side.  So, having had pureed eggplant two meals in a row, I found myself on a roll and wanting to try my hand at eggplant tapenade.  I'd seen recipes before but never gotten around to it.  I knew I had to for the same reason I would no longer consider buying pesto at the supermarket: it's easy to find, but I'd really rather make it myself so that it won't want for flavor.  I mentioned the idea to Steve, and a lovely eggplant and some Roma tomatoes showed up in the fridge shortly afterward.

After perusing a few recipes, I decided that this one was the most straightforward.  I skipped the balsamic vinegar and agave nectar and substituted half a yellow onion (since it really doesn't matter if it's going in the oven first).  I also spaced out and forgot to add the garlic.  Oh, well - next time.

The result?  Truth be told, it came out a lot like baba ghanouj.  Maybe it's because I just hit the Food Processor button and let it go until it was smooth, but I suppose I had looked forward to something a little chunkier.  Flavorwise, it came out well despite the omission of garlic.  I waited until the food processor step to add about three tablespoons of lemon juice, maybe a teaspoon of salt and about 15-20 turns of fresh ground black pepper.  I also threw most of the fresh parsley into the mix because I got a little carried away, snipping it in the backyard, so I had a lot more than a couple of tablespoons to work with.  The shreds that I used for a garnish are but a tiny fraction of what I used altogether.

I mixed this into some orzo pasta because, expecting a chunkier result, I was afraid that if I used bigger or longer pasta, the tapenade would all find its way to the bottom of our plates without really adorning the pasta.  I needn't have worried, so next time I just might use some linguine instead.  I served this over a bed of fresh spinach because I was too lazy to make a salad.  Once it was all plated up, I drizzled a little more olive oil and lemon juice over the top (paying special attention to the visible spinach leaves) and added a little more fresh ground pepper.  Fabulous!

Now that winter's over in SC, I'm already at work on my spring/summer vegetable garden.  I look forward to blogging in the upcoming months about recipes made with the fruit and veggies of my backyard labor!