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.

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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salad argentina style, heaped on a pizza

Salad Argentina Style

I fall in and out of love with salad. When I make the effort to create a really good one, I wonder why I ever eat anything else. But when I’m lazy and do the same old same old, and I wonder why I bother.

When I travel, I expect hit and miss. Over the last few years, I’ve had great success with simple salads in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Ireland. In Italy, surprisingly, I had some plates of green as depressing as anything I’ve seen in the US. In the Caribbean and Colombia, I resign myself to getting my fresh raw produce via smoothies. The tropics are not conducive to glorious greens; often, the only lettuce I see is a  hydroponic variety devoid of flavor and texture.

So when we decided to hit Buenos Aires for a couple of weeks this winter, I thought, well, I’m not going to expect much. Most people, including many Argentines that we met along the way, equate Argentina with beef. In fact, if you say “carne,” Spanish for meat, in Argentina, beef is assumed. I figured for a vegetable, I’d probably be offered pork.

I have never been so delighted to be proven wrong. Salad Argentina-style, at least in BA, is a glorious, creative wonder. Certainly, it helps that we were there in the height of summer. The climates of Argentina and Uruguay remind me of those in the California where I grew up: sunny, dry-ish, and fertile. Geographically, the soil is rich and good, not needing a bunch of weird treatments. Farmers get respect.

Most importantly, food tastes like it’s supposed to, and salads taste green. My first one arrived not as a salad, but as a pizza from La Pharmacie, a restaurant near our 10-day home. A crisp crust spread with a dense tomato sauce and thin slices of melted mozzarella featured a lush layer of peppery, tender-crisp raw arugula on top. Meaty, fruity olives perched on top. The great thing about this meal: I didn’t think I was ordering a salad, but I got one anyway, and I also began to completely rethink the concept of pizza. Why shouldn’t it just be a crispy base for a ton of fresh vegetables?

Salad Argentina style-a pizza topped with fresh arugula from La Pharmacie in Buenos Aires

I intentionally order a salad from Cabernet restaurant in Palermo. This beauty featured tender crisp mixed greens surrounded by paper-thin, perfectly ripe pears, sprinkled on top with hazelnuts and blue cheese. (Sorry about the light here, but perils of restaurants, etc.)

Salad Argentina style-a pear-hazelnut-blue-cheese-arugula combo

Back at Pharmacie, this Caprese was simple and stunning, with sweet roasted peppers in crimson and saffron, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and plenty of basil. (And, needless to say but I’ll say it anyway, non-optimal light.)

Salad Argentina style-the wonderful simple caprese from la Pharmacie in Buenos aires

Salad Argentina-style: A few guidelines

Here’s what the salads had in common:

  1. A base of flavorful, thoughtfully chosen greens. Optimally, get the best you can find, wash them yourself (rinsing a lot, bc the good stuff is dirty), spin them dry, and pile them on the plate—or the pizza.
  2. Something sweet. Roasted peppers and roasted cherry tomatoes were favorites, but fruit, particularly pears, were frequent add-ins as well.
  3. A little cheese. If you’re vegan, you’ll skip this. But having access to really excellent cheese is one of the reasons I never can quite commit to being a vegan. There simply isn’t a substitute for the creamy yum of farm-fresh cheese.
  4. Something savory. Olives of all kinds, or artichoke hearts, or bamboo hearts (easier to get down here). Or nuts. Usually not all of those things, which allows the flavors to shine.

It’s not so different from the directions in the salad post I’ve already done. The main thing is, Salad Argentina helped me snap my winter-dulled palate back into life. As I get back in cooking mode here, these faves from other cooks can brighten up your late winter kitchen. Because admit it: You gotta be a little tired of soup at this point.

Tieghan at Half Baked Harvest is always rock solid—I actually just typed “rock salad,” which I sort of like. This recipe for broccoli and avocado salad is excellent.

I haven’t tested this vegan salad made from spiralized sweet potatoes (from Laura at The First Mess), but the combo of chipotle with miso seems like a spectacular transition one for early spring—which, they tell me, is coming.

Yotam Ottolenghi creates such glorious, flavorful salads. If you love vegetables, get his book Plenty. This salad introduces what for me was a revolutionary idea: mix herbs with impunity. Don’t worry so much about the grams, just look at the proportions: about 2 parts cilantro (aka coriander) and parsley to 1 part basil and dill, 3 parts arugula (rocket), and 4 parts some type of young lettuce; just be sure you get something with flavor. Play with the nuts and seeds. Know that when Brits say mange tout (it means “eat all”), they mean “snow peas,” because sometimes they forget that they hate the French (which is sort of adorable). Use the recipe as a jumping off point, and discover joy and wonder on a plate.

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new-fashioned cobb salad, lunchfor my paleo experiment

My Paleo Experiment

So here’s why I undertook this paleo experiment:

I will not lie. I love carbs. As a kid, I thought meat was weird: the texture, the smell, the way it looks. But alas, a woman who lives by carbs alone becomes, at least in my case, a low energy woman. Additionally, being a woman of un certain age, as the French so delicately put it—or “cinquenta-misterio” as a Cuban friend says—I don’t love the layer of blub that collects below the ribs.

Regular readers (thank you, by the way) know or have probably guessed that I am not a huge meat fan and that I AM a huge Clean Eating magazine fan. In addition to a lot of very fine recipes, every issue features a one-week menu plan. Ooooh, I’m such a sucker for a menu plan. To this day, I have never followed one all the way through because they usually have a) too much chicken, or b) too many leftovers. Foodwise, I love novelty.

But in the January/February issue, they provided a paleo plan, and I thought, ok. My paleo experiment can begin.

Now one thing you should know is that I decided to tackle this one prior to a road trip. We went to the west side of the state to see S’s family, and we typically bring all of our food, because the part of Michigan that we’re going to isn’t exactly Clean Eating Paradise. So everything was put together the day before and orchestrated to be portable. Since the road trip was Wednesday-Thursday, that’s where I started.

Here’s what I ate, along with a very honest evaluation, and a wholly personal end verdict.

My Paleo Experiment: The Morning

Breakfast: Chia Pear Puddingchia pear pudding, breakfast for my paleo experiment

Can you tell by the way I tried to tart that photo up—flowers, a pretty bowl, photoshop—that chia pudding is just damn ugly? It’s a weird color, a slimy texture, and not much in the flavor department even with a very ripe pear added. The chia seeds are supposed to make this filling, and I guess they do, but you know what? There is way too much good food out there to subject yourself to stuff you don’t like. And I know some people totally dig the chia. They like the way it sort of slips down your throat like an oyster. So, my chia-loving friends, more for you!! I’m not making this one again.

Mid-morning snack: 2 Garlicky Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms with 1 Tbsp. Kimchi

garlic-kimchi-crab stuffed mushrooms, snack for my paleo experiment

I hate fermented food. Steve loves sauerkraut and kombucha and is altogether quite virtuous in the food department, but I think both those things are gross. Kimchi’s a little better, because the spiciness masks the ickiness. As is often the case, it’s a texture thing with me, so I chop the hell out of the kimchi. In this case, I mixed it in with the crab, which was from a can and not an insanely expensive batch of lump crabmeat, which of course I’d prefer, but I’m not insane, which I believe is a requirement if one is going to pay for lump crabmeat at something like 30 bucks a pound. This was surprisingly yummy and filling, so huzzah to a new high protein low carb snack, except I have to have the damn crabmeat. I dunno. I think a lobster tail would be cheaper.

My Paleo Experiment: The Afternoon

Lunch: New Fashioned Cobb Salad

new-fashioned cobb salad, lunch for my paleo experiment

Ok, this salad ROCKED. It’s easy for me to get out of salad mode because frankly to make a good one takes some effort, but this was completely worthwhile. The only thing I changed was to not add the water to the dressing, because as I’ve said before, adding water to salad in any way is dumb.

Afternoon snack: Chocolate Energy Bites and a green apple

chocolate energy bites, snacks for my paleo experiment

I was so satisfied from the salad and mushrooms earlier that I decided to save these for dessert, bc I do like a little sweetness after dinner. Also, obviously, I couldn’t find a green apple. When I did have them, they were also excellent. The recipe for these is at the bottom of this one for Golden Milk Cheesecakes, and those things are ridiculous and you need to make some as soon as you have the ingredients.

My Paleo Experiment: The Evening

So along about dinner time, I’m thinking, hey, I can really get with this whole paleo thing, because so far, everything but that chia pudding has been fine. And then we get to….

Dinner: Roasted Vegetables with Chicken Sausage

roasted vegetables with chicken sausage, for my paleo experiment

And this was terrible. I’m sorry, so sorry to report it. It’s partly my fault. I didn’t skin the sausage, and that’s just stupid. In trying to hew as closely to the original as possible (in the name of SCIENCE), I actually followed a recipe instead of listening to my instincts. I acted, according to the philosophy espoused by moi on the website, completely against my principles. For heck’s sake, I know how to roast vegetables. I also knew that the parsnips I was finding were absolutely horrible, but I tried to cook them anyway.

I ended up with a barely edible mess. Steve and I sort of soldiered through a little bit of it, then put it aside (I did find a way to use it by chopping it fine, which always works, and turning it into a quiche filling) and ate our little chocolate bites later. Though honestly, we weren’t that hungry, so it worked out ok.

My Paleo Experiment: Day 2

Next day: For breakfast, there is no way I’m going to bake an egg in an avocado. Also, I realized how much I hate breakfast that isn’t a smoothie. We all get into these little ruts, but honestly, we stay in some of them because they work for us. So I guess in that case, they’re not ruts so much as they’re nicely-worn paths. But I did have egg and avocado for breakfast. On the road, I had one of those cheesecakes, a reward that  I needed, because I was starting to feel that weird aggressive edginess that I feel whenever I eat too much protein. Carbs make you nicer!!

For lunch, the listed meal was a bag of broccoli slaw stir fried with pork, which I don’t eat (except for that occasional bacon temptation which I can completely live without). I had to use up the extra crabmeat, so I put that in and the result was about as good as it sounds, which is not good at all.

And then we were home, and I said, hell with it.

My Paleo Experiment: The Upshot

So my paleo thing didn’t really work. I imagine you can do vegan paleo but….you know, I just think food’s too fun to get quite that rule-bound.

But still, I have an event coming up and would like to be in a little better fighting shape. So my experiments will continue, and I’ll be reporting back to you. And if you should try this or another plan and get interesting results, please report back to me.

And in response to this post, 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.

 

 

 

LCF Update 1-8-18: Happy New Year

Hello, my adorable paczkis and persimmons! (And if you don’t know what a paczki, prounounced “poonch-key” is, wait til Easter in Michigan, though I personally don’t understand them AT ALL.) This LCF Update 1-8-18 is the first of the year, and the first in a few weeks. If you’re reading this, you survived 2017, and that is truly celebratory.

Yesterday, I whipped up a recipe called The Best Dairy- & Gluten-Free Mac & Cheese, and I can’t find it on the Clean Eating site, so you may have to skedaddle to your nearest magazine purveyor to pick it up. We found it thoroughly tasty. (If you do follow the link above, you will find a veritable trove of very good recipes.) I don’t avoid dairy or gluten religiously, but I figure it can’t hurt to take a break. My primary alteration was to replace half the pasta in the recipe with roasted cauliflower. The sauce needs roasted garlic and squash anyway, so I just added the cauliflower to the sheet.

vegan, gluten-free mac and cheese is part of the LCF update 1-8-18

It’s not my recipe, so I won’t give it away, but it did feature coconut milk (the fatty kind from the can, not the sort of worthless stuff from the box), the pureed squash and garlic, and soaked cashews. Fortunately, we have a Vitamix now; we finally bit the bullet after using a friend’s. I’ve tried to make cashew substitute cream sauces before and they made me sad, and were also sort of grainy messes. This sauce was pleasant and smooth. Here are the veggies and reduced amount of gluten-free pasta before adding the sauce.

Veggies and pasta for vegan mac & cheese, featured in the LCF Update 1-8-18

Served with some coleslaw on the side, we had a dinner we were very happy with.

vegan, gluten-free mac & cheese in the LCF update 1-8-18 I’m on a curry kick at the moment; given the extreme cold we’ve been facing here in Michigan, it’s thoroughly hitting the spot. So you can watch for that in the next few days. Meanwhile, here are the non-cooking choices of the week.

LCF Update 1-8-18: Reading

Just finished Waking Lions, by the Israeli novelist and psychologist Ayelet Gundar-Goshen. The latter half of that job description shows in the character development. The book focuses primarily on three people: a neurosurgeon, Eitan, who runs over an Eritrean immigrant while tooling around in his SUV, then drives away; his wife, Liat, the cop who ends up investigating the hit and run; and Sirkit, the husband of the man Eitan kills, who witnesses the accident and then devises a highly unusual blackmail scheme.

Here’s a fascinating interview with the writer. (And while you’re at it, throw the Guardian a little love if you’re able and inclined. This very excellent publication has become my source of choice, and I’m seeing stories there that simply don’t get covered in the US newspapers.) AGG’s points about how those in places of privilege simply fail to see those decidedly unprivileged are sharp and apply everywhere. As I write, I see that the US is now showing the door to 200K Salvadoreans. Like the Eritreans in Waking Lions, they are being sent into hell. We’re a nation of immigrants, a nation that forgets easily how many of our ancestors were fleeing very bad conditions. Waking Lions serves as a grim if beautifully -written reminder of the desperation that precedes flight, and that so many of us so simply refuse to see.

LCF Update 1-8-18: Watching

It’s always a joy to watch Saoirse Ronan act, and casting her as Lady Bird is one of the smartest moves Greta Gerwig could have made. I can’t rhapsodize about the movie the way everyone else has; where others are going nuts over its simplicity, I find it a little safe. But it’s light years better than Juno, and Gerwig has written some altogether beautiful scenes, including one in which an older nun—not, in probably the movie’s boldest move, a caricature, but a really lovely character—asks Lady Bird if love and paying attention are not the same things. I did miss the brio and love affair with movies evident in Noah Baumbach’s films, particularly the Modern Love sequence in Frances Ha, which Baumbach basically copied almost frame for frame from the extraordinary Leos Carrax movie Mauvais Sang. But I catch myself. Gerwig is herself, and here I am saying, oh, she should do it this way. Lady Bird’s a case where, even though I didn’t love it, I won’t miss the next thing Gerwig writers and directs. May she continue to bloom.

 

Borgen, an LCF Update 11-30-17 pick

LCF Update 11-30-17

So I took a week off, because I’m assuming y’all have plenty of stuff to pay attention to besides my newsletter during Thanksgiving week. In fact, I have a policy of NOT posting photos of my feast. The point, for me anyway, is to share it with my family. And I hope all my readers had as excellent a week and feast as I did, which brings us to this week’s edition of LCF Update 11-30-17.

I decided to do something unorthodox this year. Typically, I spend from about Halloween onwards in a state of ever-declining food debauchery. There’s the candy on Halloween, then the gearing up to Thanksgiving, and then, what the hell, ChrismaKwanzaKah lickety split. So why even TRY to be good?

I think this is a sign that I’m growing up: I now cleanse because it makes me feel better, and I really don’t like the way I feel when I overindulge. My discipline, so effortless in the wake of one of my quarterly cleanses, all too soon begins to slide away. A pleasant glass of wine on the weekends turns into a glass every night, then a glass and a half, then half a bottle. The cleanse’s importance isn’t so much in giving my liver a break—although of course that happens—as in resetting my understanding of what it means to simply and sincerely enjoy my food and drink with calm and clarity.

I’ve been using the Conscious Cleanse program for a few years now. Jules and Jo have put together an excellent user-friendly schedule that lets you gradually get rid of foods that aren’t so great for you. You ease in, dropping one or two non-optimal substances a day: sugar, coffee, gluten, etc.  Conscious Cleanse with Jules and Jo, reco'd in LCF Update 11-30-17

There’s a version on gaia, the Netflix of yoga and meditation, that pairs each of 14 days with a yoga practice; the version from the official CC site is more extensive and offers more support. I really like their 80/20 plan, something a person can actually live with. You only have to eat like a saint 80% of the time, and you can eat like the pig that we all occasionally are the other 20. If you want to give yourself a present just for getting through 2017—truly, something that deserves a Major Award—do this. I have no affiliation with either gaia or Conscious Cleanse, btw. Just spreading the word.

Eating with a palette limited to super healthy ingredients is a pleasure—except when you’re in a restaurant. Steve reminded me that we’re supposed to go out this week, so we changed it to a dinner party. Stumped as to what to fix, I suddenly remembered my good ol’ Holy Mole Bowl; nobody missed the gluten, dairy, or sugar.

Holy Mole Bowl, reco'd in LCF Update 11-30-17

Then I found this mocktail—no booze while cleansing—and hopefully no one will miss the tequila, either. It’s the Restorative Turmeric Elixir from Cooking Light, and really, the sugar was unnecessary.

Restorative Turmeric Elixir, a pick from LCF Update 11-30-17

Photo by Jennifer Causey

This week, Quick Pickled Veggies; I served them aside the Mole Bowl because they truly go with everything. We’ll also be looking into the art of roasting vegetables over the weekend. The variations for roasting veggies are truly mind-boggling, limited, as they say, only by your imagination. I know of no better way to get non-veggie eaters happily chowing down on cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. And cooking them is so damn easy, you really don’t have an excuse.

LCF Update 11-30-17: Reading

I read The Changeling by Victor LaValle in 2 days, despite its 400-page length. An epic about a young, borderline broke Manhattanite who sells used books, it riffs on lots of stuff, but mostly the creepy Maurice Sendak book Outside Over There. I thought I knew where it would go, but it right-turned all over the place and honestly went kind of off the rails at about the 2/3 mark. I finished it because I had momentum, but can still give it a “Good Time, No Alcohol Required.”

Prior to my date with Mr. LaValle, I thoroughly dug The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters, which I read in a few days over the lovely quiet weekend following a hectic last week. Remember that video that went around in the aughts, where it showed an asteroid hitting the earth? Scared the bejeebies out of my son and probably about a billion other people. Well, Winters has made an asteroid hellbent on hitting Terra Firma a character in this detective story. It’s noirer than noir.

The Last Policeman, a pick featured in LCF Update 11-30-17

I like my mysteries mournful. The characters in Last Policeman have reason to be crippled by sadness, and Winters provides us with a tapestry of how people handle the burden. Protagonist Henry Palace decides to just keep doing his job in the face of increasing suicides, one of which he believes was actually a murder. Meanwhile, scientists know exactly when the asteroid will hit, six months from when the book takes place. There’s nothing to be done. Nothing. But in some people, hurtling destruction brings out their best; Palace is one, as is one young woman who simply smiles and says, “I like my life.” On the surface, a light read, but a deeply thought-provoking one that continues to stick with me.

LCF Update 11-30-17: Watching

Steve and I finished the last season, #3, of Borgen, the fine Danish drama set in the world of coalition politics. The show’s greatness completely outweighs the insane dullness of that description. Superb acting, tight writing, and we both smiled ruefully when episode 10 wrapped perfectly and we waved a fond goodbye to Birgitte, Katrine, and Torben. Also, I want to live in Denmark.

Here’s a fun article about the show, though it does have spoilers for seasons 1 and 2. Really, you should just try to track it down, although it’s not that easy to find; we got our copy from the library. Anyway, the producer says that given how few shows Danish TV produces, they felt lucky to get a third season. We feel pretty lucky, too.

Enough for this week. See you soon.