Classic Sautéed Green Beans

Classic sauteed green beans are so simple and tasty, they hardly need explaining, or a recipe. But I include this because once in a while, you need a little bit of a jog.

To learn more about buying and prepping green beans, view this Le Chou Fou WTF, CSA? post.

This version was inspired by a recipe in Time-Life’s Foods of the World series, American Cooking: Southern Style. Indeed, a sauté of the freshest greens you can find, beans or leaves, in a little bit of hog fat, pretty much screams classic southern cooking. But I also suggest some variations. In fact, classic sauteed green beans also pair up beautifully with plant-based “bacons”, a variety of which are featured in these vegan bacon recipes from Clean Eating. Just note the slightly different technique.

And now, a step by step walk through, or, if you prefer, jump to the recipe.

  1. Snap or trim the stems off your beans. A generous handful makes a great serving size. Chop some kind of onion, 1-2 tablespoons for each handful of beans.classic-green-beans-recipe
  2. If using bacon, place 1 slice for every two handfuls of beans in a cold sauté pan over medium high heat; this ensures that the bacon browns evenly, and doesn’t start sizzling and burning immediately. If not, heat the pan, then add about 1 tablespoon of oil—olive, canola, or coconut—for every 2 handfuls of beans.
  3. If using bacon, once the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan. Either way, add 1-2 tablespoons of chopped onions, shallots, or scallions to the hot fat and stir for about a minute. Then add the green beans, tossing to coat with oil.classic-green-beans-recipe
  4. After 1-2 minutes of cooking the green beans and onions, add 1 tablespoon of water or broth for every 2 handfuls of beans. Cover the pan tightly and let steam approx 2-3 minutes. When you remove the lid, the beans should be bright green, and crispy but not starchy tasting.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar for every 2 handfuls of beans. Stir for about 1 minute; depending on the quality of the vinegar, it may get a little syrupy.
  6. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of fresh herbs for each handful of beans; I used mint, but dill, tarragon, and parsley are all very fine choices. Top with the cut-up bacon, or your choice of vegan bacon.

It is worth noting that acid, such as in the balsamic vinegar, will turn the beans a dull olive color over time; they still taste fine, but keep this in mind, preferably only adding the balsamic within 15 minutes of serving.

These make a truly lovely dinner with just corn on the cob and maybe some sweet potato fries on the side. Enjoy.


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Classic Sauteed Green Beans Recipe



The Only 2 Kitchen Knives You Need to Cook Anything (or Cut Up Raw Stuff)

What’s that? Only 2 kitchen knives for….anything???i

Yep. Despite the fact that, If you look up “kitchen knives” on Pinterest, you will immediately see massive knife collections.

People, you need two kitchen knives. As in 2. That’s it.


The first one is your big, all-purpose chopper. Professional cooks call them French knives or chef’s knives.

kitchen-knives-chef-knife-lechoufou A French knife has a big blade that’s flat on top, curves down to a point, then angles back up, kind of a rounded triangle. It should have some weight, but not be too heavy; it’s more important that it’s sharp. Also, you can use the blade to lift up all the stuff you just chopped and move it to the bowl (for salad) or pan (for sautéeing). This one cost less than 20 bucks at the grocery store, and I like it tons better than a really expensive knife Steve got from some dopey knife of the month club that we joined for, I think, a month.

I also have this cleaver, which I bought 30 years ago, when I had my first cooking job at Louie’s Backyard in Key West.


A lot of the cooks used and swore by them. Small cleavers are awesome: the rectangular blade makes them super easy to sharpen. They’re also a friendly shape and heft for chopping just about anything, and perfect to scoop up whatever you’ve chopped from cutting board to pot. You can find them, with a little looking, at your local Asian grocers. Don’t opt for the big ones; they’re weird and intimidating and meant to hack bones. You may have to root a bit for the smaller sizes, but, if my experience is any indication, you’ll grow to love it.

You also need a paring knife.


DO NOT chop vegetables with this. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen a kitchen scene in a movie or on TV and someone is whipping up a delicious meal using a PARING KNIFE. I have googled this, because I can’t remember any exact frames, so cross does this outrage make me. But now you know. Just Watch.

Well, obviousy: no, no, no. Perhaps actors, who really can be pretty helpless with the hand/eye coordination at times (says the former actor) simply cannot be trusted. Obviously, they don’t cook much, or they would tell the producers that a paring knife is for small jobs only: coring tomatoes and strawberries, peeling things you can hold in your hand, like a shallot. People used to use them for paring the skin of carrots and potatoes; hence the name, though I greatly prefer a vegetable peeler. (The cheap ones are still the best.) I don’t use my paring knife often, but when I need it I need it.

The most important thing about knives, especially if you have only 2, is to keep them sharp. Sharp knives are safe, dull ones dangerous. Buy a steel, which may set you back more than your knife and will be well worth it.


Give your knife a few swipes at least a couple of times a week; I know cooks who swipe 2-3 times every time they use a knife. I also take mine to be professionally sharpened about twice a year; it’s well worth it if you’re cooking every day.

The other most important thing with knives is the hand that doesn’t have the knife, which must be…..


(*This term comes from a delightful young chef named Chris Ekpiken, who I once interviewed for Ann Arbor Family. His mom is from New Orleans, his dad from Nigeria. Chris started experimenting in the kitchen very young. His parents, both raised in cooking families, wouldn’t raise an eyebrow when he picked up a knife, but his mother would yell “MONKEY CLAW!” to him. It is truly the most accurate description of the ideal non-cutting hand position that I’ve ever heard.)

The monkey claw will keep your fingers safe from cuts. I don’t know a cook who hasn’t cut her/him/themself at some point. It just happens. But the monkey claw—and knowing that onions and peppers are the two most dangerous and injury-producing things to cut—can save you from bloody fingers 99% of the time.

(I did get my son a cutting glove, and he said that it made him bolder in the kitchen, sort of like Dumbo’s feather. So it’s something to think about if knives freak you out a little.)

(Also, do you remember that Bloody Fingers 3 houses away joke from grade school? Or is this just something that used to thrill me because I’m old and we didn’t have things like Saw?)

On the ingredient pages of the website, I give tips for the ways that I’ve found work best for cutting particular vegetables, fruits, and other edibles. The biggest rule is to make sure that whatever you’re cutting has a flat surface to place on the cutting board. You MUST do this with an onion. They are slippery devils.


And the reason peppers cause so many injuries is that people cut them skin side up; the knife slips and takes off a sliver of your finger, which you later find, and which, coupled with your loss of blood, will make you keel over. Not that this has ever happened to me……


Finally, buy a good cutting board on which to use those kitchen knives. Those weird hard plastic ones are awful, and will ruin your knives. I’ve also seen people try to cut right on their marble or granite counters—argh—or on small plates. Invest in a good-sized wooden block, and give it a good scrub with salt and lemon juice to keep it nice and clean.


Consider buying a separate one if you cut meat. In this case the softer plastic boards are nice because you can sterilize them in the dishwasher, or, if you’re a hand washer, basically scrub the hell out of them with some good dish soap and hot water. Because raw meat atoms are killers, people. (That yellow stain kind of vaguely hovering is from fresh turmeric. You have been warned.)


Ok, you got your kitchen knives. You’re ready to cut stuff.

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I am not one to go shrieking, “Carbs mean carnage!!,” as the unstable duck in the movie Babe does about Christmas. As I’ve noted before, I love carbs. So I’m mildly troubled to report that, since embarking on an ostensibly healthier and lower carb overall eating strategy, I don’t crave them. In fact, the idea of eating a pizza crust, once music to my taste buds, now strikes a less harmonious note. The thought of a full-blown pizza crust, most nights, just sounds heavy and unappealing. For those nights, I give you this cauliflower pizza crust.

Cauliflower pizza crust hosts roasted veggies.

It turned out well, even with no cheese on hand. It’s not entirely vegan; I used an egg bc I was too lazy to make a flax version. But there’s zero gluten or dairy, and the carb count is low. You can pile on vegetables like there’s no tomorrow—even as a bold, glorious, unbloated tomorrow awaits you because you’re all gluten-free and healthy.

Keep reading for step by step instructions; or just jump directly to the recipe.

Tip Number 1: Don’t buy that crumbled up cauliflower rice because it’s ridiculously expensive, and, to quote Harvey Milk, you don’t know where it’s been. Just cut up half a cauliflower in even size pieces, about an inch or two sized cubes, then throw it in your food processor and chop, chop, chop your troubles away.

Cauliflower pizza crust starts with crumbling the cauliflower in the food processor

If your food processor is like mine, i.e., old as hell, get out the noise-cancelling headphones; chopping anything, especially cauliflower, sounds like a Mad Max death rally, though blessedly, without Mel Gibson screaming about how sane he is. I just dated myself, because nobody who’s not in their Golden Years even knows who Mr. Gibson is. Meanwhile, everyone knows that the greatest Mad Max of All Time is Charlize Theron.

Charlize Theron is THE greatest Mad Max ever.

Anyway, now you have a big old bowl of cauliflower crumbles. Many a recipe, either for cauliflower rice or cauliflower pizza crust, provides the mystifying instruction to boil the rice, then squeeze out the water. People, don’t add water to food. Just don’t. I mean, I’m sure there will come a time where I’ll say, yo, add some water to those ingredients. But I can’t imagine the circumstances.

However, you gotta do something to soften up the cauliflower crumbles, and as usual, I advocate roasting. Add some olive or grapeseed oil to the bowl, just about a tablespoon, and some salt, pepper, and spices. I always like harissa (the powdered kind), but a Mexican or Italian blend will work just fine. Evenly distribute the oil and spices, spread the cauliflower out on a parchment lined baking sheet, and roast for about 20 minutes in a 400º oven.

Let the roasted crumbles cool about 10 minutes; leave the oven on. Then mix them in the bowl with an egg. A flax egg will probably work if you’re vegan, but I haven’t tested it, so proceed at your own risk. A nice handful of grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese would add crispness and savory flavor. But you might not have cheese on hand, or you might not be a dairy person, in which case you can do what I did for this version: Add a couple of heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Also, some kind of bread crumb, about 1/4 cup for a medium-sized bowl of cauliflower. I used garbanzo crumbs; I’m not quite sure what they are (grated garbanzo beans? toasted garbanzo flour?), but they stood in nicely. Use panko if you want some gluten in your life, a desire for which I will never, ever scold you.

Cauliflower pizza crust, after roasting the cauliflower and adding to other ingredients

Now, scrape the mix onto the baking sheet.

Cauliflower pizza crust ready to rollThen take a piece of wax paper or parchment and press the mixture into an even circle; in a pinch, you can use gloves or your hands, but it’s kinda sticky, so if you use some type of paper, it’s easier and less messy.

Cauliflower pizza crust rolled out and ready to cookYou want it to end up about 10-12 inches in diameter. Remove what you used to push it down, then pop it in the oven about 12-15 minutes. At the bottom, you can see that one little piece of cauliflower that was all, “You can’t crumble me!” Feisty little vegetable.

Cauliflower pizza crust ready for toppings like roasted veggies.

The chickpea crumbles and nutritional yeast imparted a nice saffron-ish color that you’d normally get from cheese. But here’s something you need to be really clear on: If you expect a cauliflower pizza crust to be an adequate sub for regular pizza crust, you will be sad. You can’t rip into a cauliflower pizza crust. You don’t sink your teeth  and tear each bite in that satisfying “I’m a Pizza Pig! Oink! Oink!” way that you can with even a $5 Hot and Ready from Little Caesar’s.

But you can have a nice light alternative that’s more fun than just eating a sturdy, healthy heap o’ roasted vegetables. I piled mine high with an oddball mix of roasted fennel, radicchio, and—yes, this is eccentric—strawberries added for just a minute at the end. Roasted strawberries taste strange and wonderful, but do not overcook them, or you will have some bizarre pale red mush on your plate. Just add them to your pan at literally the last minute if you’re feeling dangerous, as Belle and Sebastian used to say. A few pistachios on top added crunch. #weirdbutgood

Cauliflower pizza crust hosts roasted veggies.

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust: The Recipe

LCF Update 4-3-18: Fasting, Fat Bombs, Tiki!!

This LCF Update 4-3-18 marks a return to something I’ve planned to do from the conception of Le Chou Fou: point to cool stuff I’ve found around the old interwebs and off of it through the week. Welcome back!

Before I get going, I wanted to point to my inspiration for the whole idea, Gena over at The Full Helping. Gena writes honestly and movingly about her life and her relationship, for better or worse, with food. You’ll find her own excellent recipes at her blog, and in her weekly update, other great vegan meals around the web. She also links to thought-provoking articles on food supply, sustainability, the psychology of eating, and many other subjects of interest. So follow that link, sign up, and enjoy a truly outstanding weekly update that is more serious than moi.

So what did I eat last week? I kicked off with a wonderful dinner at Miss Kim in nearby Ann Arbor. I wrote about Ji-hye (pronounced gee-hey) Kim and her awesome Korean restaurant in this Edible Wow piece, and she invited me to a special meal she put together as part of Zingerman’s special dinner series. Steve and Henry tagged along. I had minimal meat; I know that the Zing’s food is all responsibly sourced from top producers, and part of being a food writer is getting outside your comfort zone a little bit. So yeah, I ate a pork noodle made from pork skin, and it was SO MUCH better than it sounds. I mean, I won’t be chasing pigs with a fork….

Max in Where the Wild things are

but let’s just say I spent my pork quotient for the month in a Unique Fashion. I also left off the “skin” when my son asked me what we were eating. “Pork!” I yelled, like some man in drag I saw in some British comedy once. Pythons, I believe, were involved.

Hopefully, this super labor-intensive graphic (I seriously worked for like an hour on this thing) conveys the yumminess.

Miss Kim Ann Arbor as seen in LCF update 4-3-18

On the way to Miss Kim, we stopped at the Ann Arbor Food Coop, and I can never figure out why we don’t shop there more often than Whole Paycheck. Oh, well, there’s parking. Parking in downtown Ann Arbor requires both gumption and awesome parallel parking skills. My possession of the former in significant quantities does not compensate for my complete lack of the latter. And I do try, repeatedly, to get better at it. Alas, it continues to elude me. My daughter’s really good at it.

Anyway, the Coop featured these crazy Easter-egg hued radishes, as much fun to eat as to cut into and put on….avocado toast!! Finest invention ever. Avocado toast makes me proud to have been born in California. (So do some other things, which I’ll leave you to guess.) Fun fact: In Argentina, avocado is called “palta,” not “aguacate” as in Central America and the Caribbean. Other fun fact: Don’t say you’re from “America” when you’re in Latin America. Latin Americans are American too, and they sort of roll their eyes without really rolling them. To prevent this cultural disaster, say you’re from Estados Unidos or Norte America. Meanwhile, grab you a pretty radish, cut it open, and let the palta fiesta begin!

radish from store to avocado toast, LCF update 4-3-18

The LCF Update 4-3-18: What I Cooked

I didn’t cook much last week, but I did post one new recipe, for Deviled Eggs. I will confess that I looked at my Instagram feed and thought, whoa, too green. (This, incidentally, amounted to a curmudgeonly friend’s assessment of Ireland once: “Too green!” Snort. What a nut.) Anyway, I figured fuschia and turmeric would brighten up the joint. Fortunately Steve has exercised supreme discipline in stain-proofing the counter, because beets and turmeric in the hands of Nan Le Chou amount to frightening Agents of Kitchen Destruction and Possible Grounds for a Severe Talking-To Though Not a Divorce. Thanks to my husband, our counters are still a lovely gray. Unlike these psychedelic snacks.

deviled eggs in the LCF update 4-3-18

Also, I provided the skinny on my latest cleanse. It has an enema paragraph. Ha. I’m gonna watch that link tracker shoot sky-high!

raw juice cleanse in the LCF update 4-3-18

I made fat bombs using this recipe from Clean Eating. These lemon chia and raspberry cheesecake versions taste delish. The most difficult part is digging the coconut butter out of the jar. Compared to peeling eggs, that part’s a breeze. Be sure, by the way, to use coconut butter, not coconut oil. Steve likes to eat coconut oil, straight out of the jar. He also doesn’t think oil pulling, one of the grossest cleansing things anyone ever came up with, is gross (and this from a woman who had a colonic). Such a fascinating mystery, this husband of mine. fat bombs from LCF Update 4-3-18

I also made up this avocado-based green goddess dressing from Cooking LIght and roasted some asparagus and dunked it in that. It tasted great, but don’t make more dressing than you’ll use in a sitting, because it turns that icky dud avocado color even though there’s acid in the dressing. Steve eats avocado that’s turned the dud color. We are talking paragon.

asparagus in green goddess dressing from LCF Update 4-3-18

The LCF Update 4-3-18: Some Articles

As a kid, our big family date night consisted of going to Waikiki Village in Los Gatos. One of my first exotic food experiences, and man, did I love that place. As a tiki bar, it tended toward Subdued and Tasteful. This is not as oxymoronic as it sounds, because I was a kid, and at that age you think that a Barbie Hotel is the Epitome of Sophisticated Elegance. I dreamed of going to Trader Vic’s in San Francisco, which one of my older sisters told me represented all the greatness of Waikiki Village with a massive Vitamin B injection. (We didn’t talk about steroids back then. And you know, California. Granola, etc.) So how could I resist an article stating, “If California’s Don the Beachcomber Closes, a Fascinating Chapter in Tiki History Ends.” I mean, the very fact that Tiki History is a thing—not only that, a thing with chapters.

Don the Beachcomber in LCF Update 4-3-18

Photo from the link above.

If you prefer to sober up, this article “Ketchup Sandwiches and Other Things Stupid Poor People Eat” by Anastasia Basil should do the trick. I wish essays like this got as much love as all the damn Roseanne think pieces. Blah blah blah provocative blah blah blah she’s awesome blah blah blah she sucks blah blah blah money. Now Anastasia Basil, on the other hand, deserves your attention. Follow her on twitter.

My latest Edible pieces are out, first one on Master Chef Sean Loving:

master chef Sean Loving in a profile by Nan Bauer

Photo by Jacob Lewkow

…and this one on Tasty Bakery, which bakes gluten- and sugar-free treats here in Ann Arbor, MI. They work hard to make yummy sweets that taste way too good to be healthy, and if you go to their website, you can have them delivered. I really want to do this, but I fear that will move up the next cleanse date. And, well, by now, you should know what that means.

The LCF Update 4-3-18: Entertainment

Finally, I read a fine debut novel, The Misfortune of Marion Palm, about a mousy woman who embezzles the hell out of the private school where she works, and that her daughters attend.

misfortune of marion palm in lcf update 4-3-18

And one day, she just says, I’m outta here. Her husband is kind of a dud avocado himself, so you really don’t blame her. Emily Culliton uses a dry, lean style of prose to tell this twisty, slide-y story. The satire is so sharp, you don’t even feel the cut. Then you look down and go, whoa. Draw blood, Emily.

Deviled Eggs

I’m old enough to have grown up with Easter egg hunts that were 80% dyed hard-boiled eggs. Even though I was a notoriously picky child, I liked hard-boiled eggs. But the vast quantities that resulted from Easter egg hunting daunted even me. Many a hard-boiled egg ended up in the garbage simply because, even with a family of 7, we just plain got sick of them. Mom, to her credit, would go beyond the plain version and into the magical territory of deviled eggs. But there were still masses of the little ovals to get through. Even Cool Hand Luke had a rough time downing 50 eggs. It seemed like my brother and I had raked in 50 apiece.

The candy/egg ratio has flipped; now, judging from the ready-made baskets I see in stores, you may not have any hard-boiled eggs at all. Should that be the case in your neck of the woods, I urge to boil up a batch. To my mind, deviled eggs represent the best possible way to use up the non-sugar portion of an Easter basket, particularly now that people have come to their senses and you don’t have to plow through a few dozen in a week. Additionally, deviled eggs are endlessly variable, as well as super easy. They make a great paleo lunch. Step by step instructions follow, or simply skip to the recipe if you desire exact ingredients and precise amounts.

Last year, I discovered the glorious practice of pickling the shelled eggs in a vinegar brine infused with a color-rich agent. Cooking Light provided this recipe for turmeric eggs, and Bon Appetit provided these visuals, which inspired the beet version. BA keeps the shells on, cracking them, for a beautiful effect.) Turmeric delivers a glorious acidic yellow. Beets create shocking pink to deep purple, depending how long you leave them in the brine. A little pureed spinach or carrot (separate, please) would give you, respectively, green or orange. I would have counseled to avoid a blue egg, because that’s just weird. But the BA one in the link above is quite beautiful in its marbled state. I’m thinking red cabbage might possibly produce a delicate purple. Experiment as you like. Do note that these eggs sat for day and a half in brine, and the dark color of the beet brine went deeper than the skin. Fine by me, but soak for the right amount of time for you.

deviled eggs, dyed in beet or turmeric brine and hollowed out prior to pickling

To make a brine, simply use 1 part cider vinegar to 2 parts water; then add the coloring agent of your choice. Once you’ve cooled the eggs, just gently lower them into the prepared brine, which you’ve poured into a glass mason jar. Close up the jar, refrigerate it, and there you go. Do be forewarned that the longer the eggs sit in the brine, the tarter they’ll become. You get the color you need after just 2-4 hours, if you don’t want a heavy vinegar bite.

deviled eggs, hard-boiled and pickled prior to deviling

An hour  or so before you want to eat your eggs, slice them lengthwise down the middle and scoop out the yolk into a bowl. The vinegar makes the whites sturdy, though not tough, just pleasantly toothy, and you can just pop the yolks out. If they’re stubborn, use a small spoon. As you can see, the back of the yolks on the beet eggs turned magenta…

deviled eggs, yolks removed and ready to devil

…while the turmeric brine wasn’t nearly as aggressive.

deviled eggs, yolks removed and ready to devil

For 4 yolks, use a tablespoon each of the mayo of your choice and something tart, like plain full-fat yogurt or sour cream. Or use 2 tablespoons of one or the other substance. You decide if you want a heaping tablespoon Add a spice that complements the color of the egg. For the turmeric ones, curry powder and cumin were naturals; if I’d had cilantro on head, I would have sprinkled it on top. Beets demanded that I steam one of the slices I’d used for pickling, then smash it and mix it in with eggs, adding horseradish, mustard, and dill, just like I would to a raw beet salad. Should you choose not to dye, mustard, paprika, chives, and parsley are classic additions.

deviled eggs, yolks in the deviling process

That’s it. For best egg serving, those deviled egg plates are awesome, but honestly kinda silly because who, seriously, will use such a thing enough to justify the purchase price? So if you have one, great, but if you don’t, an egg carton works just swell.

deviled eggs, pickled separately in turmeric and beet brines

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Deviled Eggs: The Recipe


My Raw Food Experiment

So the paleo thing didn’t work out so well—at least not the one that I tried. So before detailing my raw food experiment, I report that, in response, Katie over at Athletic Muscle sent me this link. She’s collected 121 recipes that I’m mostly mostly interested to try. (I’ll skip the ones with mammal meat.) Once you’re over at Katie’s site, check out the rest of her offerings, which are plentiful.

Before commencing, allow me to confirm that I don’t have affiliate programs with anyone. No one’s paying me to write about a particular company (I wish). This all happened. So, onward.

I’ve noted before that I cleanse about once a season. Up til now, as you’ll see at this link, I’ve chosen the Conscious Cleanse;  I still recommend it as a good way to get your feet wet in the detox process.

But this time, I decided I’d go for the Ultimate 7-Day Cleanse by Tess Masters and Karen Kipp—really about 12-14 days by the time you factor in prep and post days. I found it through Daily Om, a favorite destination, with absolutely tons of classes that are ridiculously affordable.

I bought the Ultimate Cleanse, gave it a once-over, and thought, well, that looks virtuous. Count me out! Ok, not quite that dismissive. But we were headed out of the country, and it just seemed like a production I didn’t quite feel I could pull off. Tessa and Karen completely spell out the UC for you: what you’ll eat for every meal of the day, as well as suggested bodywork. So where other programs say, do this and don’t eat that but basically make your own choices, UC says, you will eat this today in the morning, and then this, and then this. In situations that could easily induce whining, I like clear direction.

BTW, I offer no recipes in this post; they’re all available in the Ultimate Cleanse if you’re interested.

Here’s how it went.

my raw diet experiment, a fresh cleansing juice

My Raw Food Experiment: The Run-up

The cleanse instructions begin with a big old long list of stuff you’re supposed to cut a minimum of 3 days before you embark on Day 1. It’s basically everything fun. I mean, veggies are definitely my thing, and I like fruit. But…yowza. That said, I was used to this from Conscious Cleanse. I knew I would feel really great after a day or two of whining and being sad that I could no longer scarf down a half a bag of jelly beans when no one’s looking. Yes, beans. Not Jelly Bellies, but super crappy jelly beans where you eat one and you can pretty much feel the dye entering your bloodstream and making you radioactive. I like those. Buh-bye.

I cut sugar about 5 days ahead, then wine, coffee, gluten—always the hard one—soy, eggs, dairy—actually, that may be harder—a day or so later. I will confess, I got a breakfast burrito at Whole Foods the day before I began. It didn’t even sound good. But I dunno, I was feeling like a big baby who wanted a breakfast burrito. I did not like it. I took it as a sign that I was ready to go.

My Raw Food Experiment: The Raw Food Part

I’ve done raw food days before, and I always feel kind of weird about them. It’s just so much damn….chewing. Chomp, chomp, chomp. Are we there yet? No? Chomp, chomp, chomp. I feel like a camel or a horse or something with big flat teeth. Maybe a hippo.

The very first smoothie that I had, following the provided recipe, was ridiculous. It deserved its creamsicle designation. (With one exception, I didn’t photograph the smoothies. I mean, a green smoothie looks like a green smoothie.) Here’s a red one. See? Pretty, but….not a lot of variety.

my raw diet experiment, a fresh cleansing smoothie

But this chia pudding, breakfast on another day, kind of converted me to chia. The trick is to blend it with a big mass of strawberries.

my raw diet experiment, a fresh cleansing chia pudding

For lunch, which I couldn’t eat nearly as much as the recipe  provided. It tasted good, though I won’t be putting it in regular rotation. But look at all those healthy ingredients. I mean, you feel lighter just seeing the picture, right?

my raw diet experiment, a fresh cleansing salad Now dinner definitely, goes into the rotation. Even a fake taco is still a taco, and the raw nuts, seeds, and veggies worked great as a meat substitute. And seriously, how can you not love eating half an avocado?

my raw diet experiment, a fresh cleansing raw meal

The very fine part of all this, beyond the fact that the food tasted good and was completely planned out in advance, was that I didn’t feel hungry. Better yet, I experienced zero cravings. That’s in large part because I did the pre-cleanse getting-ready period. Honestly, if you can’t commit to that, don’t bother, because I’m going to bet you’ll be on the miserable side.

And now we come to…..

My Raw Food Experiment: The Colonic

(In case you’re nervous, there are no pictures for this section. You’re welcome.)

Look. A colonic enema counts as one of those things where you’re completely freaked out by it and yet weirdly intrigued at the same time. I’ve had 2 in my life. The first went pretty well, the second didn’t, and that’s why there haven’t been any more.

On the UC, you can choose to just add juice to the raw food diet or you can do what’s called the Deep Dive, which is only juice for a number of days. Right up to the night before I began the cleanse, I waffled. But then I thought, why not?

Well, in order for the fast to proceed swimmingly—oh dear, the puns may fly fast and…UGH. I’m suddenly terrified of metaphor—Tess and Karen recommend a colonic. I mean, the home enema option also exists, but….well, that’s not a part of my usual routine. So I figured I’d let a pro literally clean out my shit.

A colonic is about the weirdest feeling in the world. I can now verify that any mild titillation I felt at the mention of a butt plug has officially ended. Water flows up your ass for probably 40 minutes, and the therapists presses on your belly. When things start moving, it’s not excruciating, but it’s pretty uncomfortable. Also, it’s just so strange to feel like you desperately have to run to the bathroom and then have to tell yourself that you actually don’t because this thing in your butt kind of IS your bathroom for the next 40 minutes.

And then we came to the end, followed by even more expulsion on a good old regular toilet. This is the poop description part, so either skip to the next paragraph if that grosses you out, or read and learn. I experienced zero diarrhea, which was a thing the last time I had a colonic. That, I know, was due to excellent preparation, including the run-up time eliminating un-cleanse-worthy food and the raw food days. Just this immense amount of waste ended up in the toilet; no straining, just long, smooth cylinders filling up the bowl. I mean, I looked at it and thought, Damn. All that in li’l old me?

My Raw Food Experiment: The Juice Fast

Well, glory hallelujah, I survived the colonic. Afterward, I naturally felt lighter and tremendously clear-headed. And creative! That was a surprise. It probably shouldn’t have been. After all, I basically completely decluttered my gut.

Juice for 3 days was a treat. It helped that I didn’t have to work, and indeed it’s recommended that you block off time so you can rest, due to the hard work of the body as it cleans its own house. The juice was plenty, and knowing I didn’t have to concentrate on anything but healing felt pretty damn luxurious.

my raw diet experiment, a fresh cleansing juice

Oh, and there were juice popsicles and they were seriously genius.

My Raw Food Experiment: Finishing Up and Afterward

Here’s the truly great thing about the Ultimate Cleanse: Tessa and Karen tell you EXACTLY how to gracefully exit. The two days following the all-juice portion introduced food back in very gently and gradually.

my raw diet experiment, a fresh cleansing raw meal

And I found that when it came to eating, I’d had a dramatic reset as far as simply being able to listen to my body. 7 days completed, I’m on my own. Previous cleanse efforts have left me food-righteous for about a week or two. This one has allowed me to truly understand what hunger feels like vs. when my body and mind are tricking me into wanting to eat even though food isn’t the right answer at the time.

5 days out, the pipes are not still figuring out how they’re going to work. But  I don’t feel constipated, just transitioning into the new normal. And by introducing the things I cut slowly, I can feel exactly what’s going on with my body. Cravings are no longer a thing, which amazes me. The primary craving I have is to feel good, which consequently makes fuel choices a lot, lot easier.

my raw diet experiment, a fresh cleansing raw meal

Overall, I feel amazing: high energy, creative, productive, positive. I got rid of a lot more than the literal shit.

Here, once again, is the link to purchase the (extremely reasonably priced) Ultimate Cleanse. Try it if you dare to feel awesome. And also, to get a colonic.

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