I made it through the wilderness... Somehow I made it through-oo-oo!
That's right, as of today, my two-week detox, cleanse, diet, plan, whatshamacallit is officially complete. I needed to do this because I've been on an eating bender. Imagine that - a food lover loves to eat food. A lot. I wish I was one of those high-metabolism, skinny foodie girls who seem to be able to eat and eat and never gain a pound. Just doesn't seem fair, but I am what I am. If I want to sample all the glorious food this world has to offer, I have to work at staying, well, not gigantic. I'll never be thin - I've just got the wrong genetic makeup.
By the way, I lost 8 pounds! Hip-hip-hooray! I know, it's easy to take off the first 10, but still, let's celebrate life's small victories. Those 8 were making it hard to button my jeans. Today? Jeans buttoned. They're big jeans, but goddamn it, they're buttoned.
The detox diet is something I've done in varying versions before. In 2008, I did a very strict two week "Fat Flush" from a book my mom gave me about detoxing the liver and lymphatic system, a side effect of which happened to be weight loss. Nice, felt healthy, too, not just low-cal. Even earlier, I tried a 5-day detox that nearly killed me - in addition to the usual suspects, I completely gave up both salt and caffeine. If you are addicted to caffeine I don't recommend going cold turkey. The two-day migraine was almost unbearable. And I didn't have my other best friend, salt, to comfort me! In fact, my diet was supposed to be 7 days, but I couldn't imagine foregoing coffee on the weekend. I hope that I never face a life-threatening need to give up my morning joe. After quitting cigarettes, can't I at least have this one vice? Thanks.
For this iteration of my semi-annual detox, I went with a version of the Fat Flush Plan that I did in 2008, but modified to allow me to a.) continue my 4 days/week workouts and b.) didn't drive me crazy with denial. You can do anything for a limited amount of time, right? Wrong. See above under "caffeine addict." So I modified my plan to ensure success. Here's a partial list of my self-imposed "dos and don'ts":
*no alcohol (my cheat here was red wine - I had one glass on each of the two weekends)
*no wheat, potatoes, corn or rice
*minimal salt & olive oil
*yes flax oil
*yes unlimited veggies
*yes lean proteins
*per day: 1 cup of 100% cranberry juice diluted into two liters of water, sweetened with stevia
*2 servings of fruit/day
Does this seem sort of intimidating? It's a lot of work, but I never felt starved. I did have some carb cravings around the middle of the second week, so I satisfied the urge by treating myself to some oven-baked sweet potato fries and that did the trick.
Daily meal plan and recipes after the break:
My weekday ritual went like this:
Breakfast: frozen berry smoothie (recipe below)
Lunch: Salad w/lean protein - usually some combo of greens, yellow or red bell peppers, cucumbers, red onion, a few sliced olives and fresh parsley or dill. The protein was usually either tuna or left-over chicken breast or steak and I'd dress the whole thing with a quick drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.
Dinner: Some favorites: Spaghetti squash with ground turkey pasta sauce, homemade chicken & vegetable soup, stir-fried chicken and bok choy, lamb burger lettuce wraps, steak w/sauteed mushrooms and onions
Snacks/dessert: usually an assortment of dried fruits from Trader Joe's like white peaches, mangoes, apricots, raisins, or apples
On the weekends, I skipped the morning smoothie and made eggs - the first weekend I just did some scrambles with mostly whites and veggies. The second weekend I made a hash with diced sweet potatoes, sauteed greens, onions and mushrooms and topped it all with poached eggs.
Here are a few recipes that worked for me. Most were really tasty, but also versatile - leftover steak from dinner went into my lunch salad the next day, or roasted chicken became soup.
Breakfast Berry Smoothie (from the Fat Flush cookbook/detox plan thingy)
I make this at night and store it in a mason jar to take with me to work the next day. I'm not a morning person, so the less I have to do before heading out the better. The smoothie will settle overnight. Just shake it up again.
1 cup cranberry water (see above for dilution ratio)
1 cup frozen berries (I typically use a mix of strawberry, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
1 scoop protein powder (vanilla or strawberry)
A dash of stevia powder
1 tablespoon flax oil
Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Lamb Burger Lettuce Wraps
I bought my ground lamb at the McCarren Park Greenmarket. It was a bit fattier than what I used to get at Steve's C-Town in Park Slope, i.e. even more delicious. I like to go with Middle Eastern flavors for lamb and just sort of wing it on the quantities. After I mix it up, I fry a tiny little burger to check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. Plus, that little guy is cute!
Makes about 4 burgers
For the burgers:
1 lb. or package ground lamb
onion, finely diced (about a 1/2 cup)
salt - just a little
For the wraps:
butter or leaf lettuce - washed, dried and divided into leaves
red onion, thinly sliced
dill pickles, thinly sliced
Combine lamb, egg, diced onion and spices in a large bowl and mix with your hands until blended. Heat a large cast iron or heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Shape a tablespoon of the lamb mixture into a small patty and fry until browned on both sides. Eat this mini-burger to test for seasoning and adjust the rest of the mixture as needed. Shape into approximately four patties. Fry patties in the pan to desired doneness, about 4-6 minutes per side.
To serve: I put a burger on my plate next to a pile of lettuce leaves, red onion, pickles and a dollop of mustard. Then I just throw a bit of each into a lettuce leaf and chow down. It's a bit messy. You can substitute or add other fillings, of course: tomato, avocado, scallions, mushrooms, etc..
Quick and Easy Chicken Soup
I picked up this chicken the same day as the lamb at the Greenmarket. I could see that it still had the skin, but didn't realize it had been de-boned. Either one should work for this recipe.
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock, or homemade
1 skin-on chicken breast (bone-in okay)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
salt - just a little
1 cup hearty greens (kale, chard, mustard greens) or bok choy, chopped into thin strips (optional)
1/2 - 1 cup whole canned tomatoes (or diced)
Cook the chicken stock and chicken breast in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. If the stock starts to boil, reduce the heat so it comes to an even simmer. While the chicken cooks, dice up your veggies. After about 10-12 minutes, check the breast by cutting into the thickest part with a paring knife. If it still looks underdone, throw it back in for a few more minutes. When done, remove the chicken and allow it to cool. Add the garlic, onion, celery, carrot, cayenne pepper and salt to the broth and bring it back up to a good simmer. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. Shred it into bite-sided pieces with your fingers and return to the pot. Add the tomatoes, breaking apart over the pot with your fingers, if using whole. I tend to use closer to a cup, but use as many as you like. Add the hearty greens if using and cook until tender, about five more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. You could add in some chopped fresh parsley or thyme, or a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavors.