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.