Snow and Pho

3:58 pm

We’re up to our elbows in snow, and a good four days into our 10-day adaptation of the Food Lovers’ Cleanse. The biggest problem I’ve had (as I suspected would be the case) is that it has been really difficult to make the plan’s suggested breakfasts and lunches work with my weekday schedule, but I’ve also found that the recipes in general have been really hit or miss.

Dinner:  January 9, 2011

I was almost ready to give up entirely after our first dinner, the disastrous Ultimate Winter Couscous, which smelled so lovely in the oven but tasted like a whole lot of unpleasantly-textured nothing on the plate (and I’m still at a loss as to why those vegetables needed four whole tablespoons of olive oil). Mike tried and really liked Heidi’s cinnamon quinoa, the edamame hummus (both of which I look forward to trying), and the tuna with celery root and apple salad, but I couldn’t even smell that salad without gagging (and I love celery root). I ended up eating dry tuna with even drier Wasa crackers.

Dinner: January 10, 2011

On a positive note, we truly loved the salmon in Bengali mustard sauce and the black-eyed pea curry (for which I used yellow-eye beans from Freedom Bean Farm in Maine), both of which we’d happily put into regular rotation.

snOMG

Perhaps my favorite recipe so far, though, is one that does not appear in the original BA Food Lovers’ Cleanse, but one I decided to swap in for the OMG-are-you-serious? on-a-weeknight? Successively Simmered Koya-Dofu and Vegetables, the incredibly aromatic, delicious, satisfying, and – wait for it – easy enough for a weeknight (or any darned time) Vegetarian Pho by our friend Winnie Abramson.

snow day lunch

You toast coriander seeds, cloves, star anise, and a cinnamon stick in a dry skillet until fragrant, add them to some warm vegetable broth with an onion and some peeled and smashed ginger, plus an Indonesian soy sauce (which I couldn’t find, so I used her suggested substitution of brown sugar and tamari). You bring it to a boil, simmer, strain out the solids, chop the softened onion and ginger, then add them back to the pot along with edamame and chopped bok choy. Cook a little longer, add your rice noodles (I even used whole grain rice noodles! Healthy!), and finish with a big hit of fresh lime juice, Sriracha, cilantro and fresh scallions. Easy. Peasy. Delicious. And so nice we ate it twice.

The Cleanse

morning miso

Yesterday morning, Mike and I began the first day of a modified version of the Food Lovers’ Cleanse featured in the current issue of Bon Appetit magazine. Now, we’re not typically proponents of fasts or cleanses as most of them are rather extreme (though trust me, I did my share of both during my teens and 20s), but we both looked at this one and felt that not only was it reasonable, but that many of the meals included were downright appealing. Since we were both feeling the effects of a little too much holiday indulgence, we decided to tailor the plan to our needs and our lifestyle, starting in once we had gone through the bulk of our holiday leftovers.

We spent a lot of time last week going over the parameters of the original cleanse, looking at the meal plans and recipes as well as our schedules and obligations for the coming weeks, and decided on the following:

We’ll stick to our eating plan for 10 days;

We will incorporate many of the recipes from the original cleanse into our meal plan, swapping in a few alternate recipes that are still true to the spirit of the cleanse where it makes more sense for us (i.e., there is no way in heck I’m making a miso soup recipe that is this involved for dinner on a weeknight);

We’ll pare down some of the suggested meals to include fewer or simpler dishes, and swap in local ingredients when possible, i.e., with tonight’s Bengali salmon dish (which Mike is preparing), I’ll make a bean curry using yellow-eye beans we picked up at Saturday’s farmers’ market, as well as simply sautéed kale in place of the roasted butternut squash dish that was suggested;

As I have little time on weekday mornings for most of the suggested breakfast options in the cleanse as written, I’ll continue my new-ish routine of heading out in the morning with an insulated travel mug of hot miso soup to sip as I commute to work (thanks for the tip, Jaden);

I’ll swap in alternate seasonal or organically grown fruit for the citrus fruits (oranges, etc.) that I am allergic to; and

We’ll continue to drink wine with dinner, pairing a specific bottle with each, while eliminating our pre-dinner cocktails or any other spirits.*

*Mike – poor baby – has a rather epic number of scotches to taste his way through and write about this month. Since that’s work, he gets a pass, though it’ll amount to just an ounce or so a day.

snack: avocado tartine

We eased in over the weekend, and for the most part things are going well, though I’ve found I have really had to tweak the recipes I’ve worked from so far (for example, I found their basic vinaigrette way too flabby with olive oil for my taste, and last night’s “ultimate couscous” was inedible, plain and simple). The biggest challenge for me will be not skipping meals – to actually eat (or sip) something for breakfast, and to make time during my workday to eat lunch, preferably away from my desk so I can eat mindfully. We’ll see how it goes – I’ll try to post regular updates as we go along.