Clean Eating Cleanse Wrap Up: Eating Clean On The Go

All right!  The 10 day Clean Eating Cleanse ended yesterday, and for the last four days of it, I was on the road.  No kitchen and no farmer’s market-stuffed fridge to grab meals from.  How in the heck did I do it?  

Well, I made sure I stayed plenty hydrated.

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I also went to fresh-friendly places, like Mongolian BBQ!  I picked out all fresh veggies like snap peas and broccoli and sprouts, and had the grill masters whip up a delicious stir-fry of vegetables!

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I also made sure to get my work out in!  Running and lifting with old friends was the perfect way to switch up my routine!  A couple runs at the park, and of course a stop by Planet Fitness to get my Lunk on!

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I spent quite a lot of time in the car this weekend as well, and my favorite healthy “fast food” is Chipotle!  I wasn’t mad about it!  Black beans, peppers, onions, tomatoes, salsa, and a big hunk of guacamole! yummmmmmmm.

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I can’t tell you how refreshed I feel after 10 days of unprocessed, homemade meals.  Yes, it was a bit more time-consuming, but I’d do it again in a heatbeat!  Our bodies need to be nourished, and the closer we can get to natural, fresh, REAL ingredients, the better.  As I found out this weekend, those foods can even be found on the go.  I even was able to get fresh juice at a Jamba Juice at the mall!  I can’t wait to incorporate these delicious whole-food recipes into my regular meal plans, and continue experimenting with more!

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Day 6- Clean Eating Cleanse: Stuffed Green Peppers

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What?  No post yesterday?  I know, I’m sorry!  Yesterday was an absolute whirlwind, and I did not stop moving until about 11 o’ clock last night.  It was a kitchen scrub-down kind of day, so I mainly juiced yesterday and focused on the cleaning to be done.  I did get in a solid 3 mile run though, so not too shabby!

Tonight however, I did get into the kitchen to make a little magic!  I diced all my veggies and, after nearly losing a thumb, got down to business and cranked out some KILLER stuffed green peppers! Just to be clear, this wasn’t “mama’s home cooking” stuffed green peppers.  I don’t know how your mama made it, but mine threw in plenty of beef, cream of mushroom soup, and white rice.  I don’t think I have any of those ingredients in my kitchen right now.  I’m on a CLEAN EATING CLEANSE for crying out loud!  I did the next best thing, though.  Quinoa, cooked in homemade vegetable broth.  Garlic, onions, celery, and chopped kale.  Plenty of cumin and just a teeny bit of nutritional yeast.  Oh yeah, now we’re in business.  Tasty AND clean-eating approved!

Side note* It makes things a hell of a lot easier if you prep your veggies in advance!

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Stuffed Green Peppers (makes 10 servings)

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 3 vine-ripened tomatoes cut in half + ½ cup vegetable broth, preferably homemade
  • A few healthy shakes of cayenne pepper (only if you want it spicy!)
  • ¾ cups quinoa, dry
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth, preferably homemade
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 5 green peppers, sliced lengthwise & seeds removed

Cook your quinoa in the vegetable broth and set aside.

Sauté the onion, garlic, and celery for about 5 minutes, and then throw your diced tomatoes and spices into the mix.

Add in your kale, and stir until kale is wilted.  Then throw your nutritional yeast, quinoa & black beans into the mix! Simmer for 10 minutes.  (At this point, if the whole mixture seems a little dry, add an extra quarter cup of vegetable broth to the mixture.)

Preheat the oven to 350 while your mixture is simmering.  It is at this point that you want to add the 3 vine-ripened tomatoes and ½ cup vegetable broth to your Ninja (or blender) and puree the mixture.  Pour contents out onto baking sheet and spread around evenly.

Your pot on the oven should be done simmering by now. Remove from heat and begin stuffing your peppers!  Fill each pepper with a heaping amount of the quinoa/veggie mixture.  I filled 5 peppers (10 halves) with this amount.  Place each pepper onto the baking sheet, on top of the tomato puree.

Bake for 50 minutes.

Enjoy the hell out of your amazing dinner and be proud you made it from scratch!

Not only was my dinner tonight totally healthy (seriously, name ONE thing in this recipe that isn’t good for you!), it was made using all locally harvested ingredients! Minus the canned black beans. It truly was a win-win situation tonight in my kitchen, and the veggie scraps were all thrown into Joey, my trusty juicer, along with a couple apples, to create the perfect cleansing juice!  Now, some of you are probably wondering why the hell am I making 10 servings of this meal when I live alone!  Well, one possibility is that I was extremely hungry… okay, even I couldn’t eat that much, no matter how ravenous I was.  So the only logical explanation is… yep, you guessed it!  I’m freezing the leftover peppers in individual serving sizes so I can have a quick and easy meal on-the-go whenever I want!  Winner winner chicken vegan dinner!

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Green Juice made from kitchen leftovers:
1/2 tomato
2 stalks celery
3 small apples
1 cucumber
1/3 zucchini
2″ ginger
1/2 lemon
3 kale leaves

I would absolutely recommend a clean eating challenge to anyone looking to look good, feel healthy, and just totally RADIATE awesomeness!  I can’t tell you how great I feel, and how empowered I am by cooking from scratch!  Making something out of nothing is a thing of beauty, and it’s just so dang satisfying!  I will admit, tomorrow will be a tricky day since I will be on the road straight after work heading for Toledo.  Eating clean on the road is hard, and fast food or even eating out in general is not my favorite activity.  I may do a post from the road, though, so be on the lookout!

Day 4- Clean Eating Cleanse: Roasted Cabbage and Fresh Salad

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I have to say, one thing I love about a fridge stocked with whole foods is the versatility I have with meals.  Combinations, portion sizes, and prep time are all totally in my control.  Sometimes, I get home and I’m ready to take on that intimidating new ethnic recipe I’ve wanted to try.  Other times, I want to branch out on my own and do a little experimentation.  And other other times like tonight, I just want something fast, light, and satisfying. Cooking from scratch means the fridge is always full, and the possibilities are truly endless.  While I did plan on tackling a particularly interesting recipe tonight, I came home from work mentally exhausted, and was able to throw together a dinner that was much more suited to my mood. 

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Roasted cabbage is something literally ANYONE can cook.  All I did was pre-heat the oven to 375 and toss a couple hunks of cabbage in.  I lightly drizzled some olive oil, and completed the dish with some garlic and onion powder, pepper, and basil.  Pop those suckers in the oven for a half hour and you’re in business!

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I also threw together a salad with produce from my trip to the farmer’s market last Sunday.  Chopped romaine, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, & pepitas with a little balsamic drizzled on.  That’s the stuff.

All in all, dinner took about a 20 minutes to prep (the cabbage obviously took a little longer than that to cook, but prep time was super short!).  Yes, my salad WAS prepared in a pot.  I just threw all my dishes in the dishwasher and had to improvise!  Still tasted amazing though! 

I know foods I post sometimes have lengthy prep times, or seem complicated to reproduce, but hopefully today’s post proves to you that eating a clean, unprocessed diet can be both healthy AND simple! Food is either as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, and tonight I ate a clean, vegan, totally unprocessed meal that I was able to enjoy less than 40 minutes after walking in the door after a long, crazy day of work. 

What healthy meals do you prepare when you’re short on time?

Day 3- Clean Eating Cleanse: Homemade Almond Milk & Juicing with Leftovers

ImageTuesdays are to me what Saturdays are to the rest of the world with normal jobs.  I love my day off, and while it’s usually spent lounging around or moseying around town lazily with friends, I decided that today had to be a productive Tuesday.  I woke up with a mission, and I could almost hear my kitchen’s sharp, anticipatory inhalation as I entered, like it knew it was going to get quite the work out!

To go into detail about every little treat my kitchen spouted out today would take far too much time than I have to document, but in a nutshell, I made almond milk, almond meal crackers, zucchini hummus, vegetable stock, raw avocado soup, and, of course, a big jar of green juice!  Yeah, I wasn’t kidding when I said my kitchen got a workout.  I’m sure my Ninja doesn’t want to hear from me for the next week, and my oven is very thankful to finally get a little rest.

If you don’t already know how, you can read how to make vegetable stock here.  It’s one of those foods that is a totally evolving organism, looking different every time.  I know the recipe I originally posted shows pictures of a deeper colored, reddish concoction, but due to a variation of vegetables (I used pulp from a GREEN juice), this batch came out looking mean and green!  I also threw some more herbs from my garden into it, making my kitchen smell absolutely heavenly.

Now, the soup and the crackers were tasty, but that’s not what I want to focus on.  What I want to do here today is tell you about this discovery I happened upon in my research that I can’t get enough of!  Have you ever made your own almond milk? It’s super easy.  ANYONE can do it, I promise!  It tastes way better than the store-bought stuff, too!

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Almond milk is becoming more and more popular as our population continues to pursue alternatives to dairy milk.  It has entered almost every grocery store you can think of, and is absolutely delicious!  The problem?  Store-bought products like almond milk have additives like refined sugars, preservatives, and other icky stuff that I just can’t deal with while on my Clean Eating Cleanse.  I LOVE almond milk, though, and need it for many of my recipes.  What’s a girl to do?  Make her own, that’s what!  Only 2 ingredients and you’ll be good to go.  Not bad, huh?

Start with a cup of almonds.  Soak them overnight so they get nice and soft and fleshy.

Add the almonds to your Ninja (or VitaMix or whatever!) and pour 4 cups of water in.

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Blend that sucker for about a minute.  In the end, it should look like this:

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Yum.  Frothy goodness.  Side bar: I know my photos show 2 sizes of blenders, but that’s just because I thought the little one would be big enough; it’s SO not! Use the bigger container if possible, so you don’t have an almond explosion on your hands.  That’s one mess you don’t want to clean up! (well, are there any messes you really want to clean up? Probably not.)

Now comes the tricky part.  If you have cheesecloth, it’s not so tricky.  If you’re a broke mother trucker like myself, you’ll have to find a (CLEAN!) cotton t-shirt you’re willing to part with in order to strain out the almond pulp.  I used an old cotton dress:

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Line a bowl with your cheesecloth (or t-shirt, or dress!) and pour the mixture in!  squeeze the fabric to get all the water into the bowl.  Voila! Houston, we have almond milk!  Some people choose to add a bit of honey to their milk, but I’m a “less is more” kind of lady, so I keep it as is.  Make sure to store in an airtight container and use within the week!  Save the almond pulp.  There are so many awesome recipes that call for it, and it’s really expensive in stores!

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Now, in true “juice junky” fashion, let’s talk about my morning juice!  Today I juiced cucumber, celery, grapefruit, ginger, kale, and leftovers.  What are leftovers, you ask?  Well, I had vegetable soup last night, and I saved the ends of the carrots I chopped, the base of the celery stalk, even the top of the onions and green peppers I chopped.  I don’t believe in waste, so I threw it all into a Tupperware container until this morning, when it all went into my tasty breakfast! It turned out pretty great!

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Have you been cooking from scratch lately?  What other kitchen staples would you like to learn to make at home?  I’d love to do some more experimenting!

Clean Eating Cleanse + My First Turnip!

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Where has the summer gone?  It’s already August and that means school, sweaters, and squash season are all right around the corner!  I can’t wait.  Autumn is my favorite time of year, and pumpkins are sort of a small obsession of mine. Pumpkin pies, roasted pumpkin seeds, and, of course, pumpkin smoothies! Yummm.  Okay, my mouth is watering now.  Point is, summer will be drawing to a close, and to quote one of my favorite books, “Winter is coming.”  Fasting and cleanses are pretty much non-existent in the winter thanks to a busy school schedule and cold weather, not to mention the fact that many of the yummy foods I eat during cleanses like cantaloupe, berries, and bell peppers won’t be in season.  Sad face.  Even though summer technically draws to a close in mid-September, us students must wave goodbye early, at the end of August, when classes begin and life gets put on hold until December.  So while I’m definitely excited for my kitchen to transition with the seasons, I’ll be gearing up for another cleanse starting next week in order to get my body one final reboot before my sweater-wearing, snow boot-loving, hibernation instincts take over!

One part of winter I won't be looking forward to is not being able to sit out on the river and enjoy my morning bagel!

One part of winter I won’t be looking forward to is not being able to sit out on the river and enjoy my morning bagel!

I’m still in the process of piecing together the “rules” for this Clean Eating Cleanse, partly because I think rules are silly.  For those that know me, I’m not a believer in mass-produced diet schemes, rather finding healthy alternatives that work for my lifestyle in particular.  That’s what I encourage everyone to do.  I obviously love my juice, but it’s not like I tell my followers “You HAVE to substitute 2 meals a day with juice” or “If you don’t do a juice fast for 10 whole days, you’ll never be healthy.”  That’s just ridiculous!  In my book, every health-conscious decision you make, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction!  Do you make fresh juice every day? Every couple weeks? Once a month?  Good for you!  I won’t lie, some nights I’m just too exhausted after working 10 or 11 hours to make a home cooked meal, and I’ll admit that I DO reach up to the tippy top shelf of my pantry for the Ramen noodles I tried to hide from myself.  It happens.  Health isn’t about perfection, people; it’s about progress.  Baby steps in the right direction eventually turn into miles and miles in the right direction! That all being said, I would like this cleanse to be yet another stepping stone in the right direction.

So what’s the general idea behind this Clean Eating Cleanse I’m about to embark on?  It’s exactly what it sounds like: 10 days of eating nothing but whole, fresh, unprocessed foods.  This means no Ramen (my heart is breaking a little).  This means no Franks Red Hot (I put that s*** on everything!).  This means no Oreos or tortilla chips or Earth Balance.  For a week and a half, I want to attempt a few raw recipes, as well as focus on vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and seeds exclusively.  Oh, and juice of course!  Substituting one meal for a green juice every day is good practice to begin with, so I definitely want to stick to that whilst on this cleanse!  It took me 6 months to fully transition to veganism, and though I’ve been a full-fledged veganista for 5 months and 16 days, I’ve still only scratched the surface when it comes to finding new foods.  Cleanses and special goals like this help expand my world, and I’ve never been one to stand stationary for too long; I love trying and experiencing new things, no matter what realm of life they’re in!

Take tonight for example.  Tonight, I had my first turnip.  Did you know turnips are little white radish-looking things?  I had no idea (says the girl who learned how to cook rice at 22)!  I made broccoli soup for dinner using the recipe my mother has sworn by since before I was born, and threw in some cubed turnips.  I don’t know anyone else’s take on cooked turnips, especially in soups, but in my opinion they almost had a meaty texture, and added some much-appreciated bulk.  I know most people are probably used to the traditional, cream-based, broccoli-cheese soup, but my mother always made us a water-based broccoli soup growing up, and that is what I made tonight. Ahhhh, mother’s cooking.  That’s a blog post all its own though.  For now, I’ll just say that turnips are now about to be a staple during grocery trips and I’m positively delighted about that!

What new foods have you tried lately?  What did you think?

6 cups water 2 tbsp olive oil 3 cloves garlic 2 small stalks broccoli (cut into bite-sized pieces) 5 turnips, peeled & cubed 1 bay leaf 1.5 tsp Old Bay 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper 1/2 onion, chopped Bring water to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. (pasta optional for a bulkier meal.  I like ancine di pepe noodles) Enjoy!

6 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 small stalks broccoli (cut into bite-sized pieces)
5 turnips, peeled & cubed
1 bay leaf
1.5 tsp Old Bay
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
Bring water to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. (pasta optional for a bulkier meal. I like ancine di pepe noodles) Enjoy!

Kale Chickpea Curry & Tropical Smooth Dessert Smoothie

I started off my day right this morning with one EXTREMELY green juice!  Celery, cucumbers, kale, spinach, lemon, ginger, and an apricot.  Holy yum!  I felt great and was ready to take on the day!

No amount of juice could have prepared me for the weather though.  The weather today has been absolutely insane.  Most businesses in the area shut down around 3:00 due to a tornado warning AND a flash flood alert.  The sky turned an eerie green almost instantaneously and torrential downpour stranded me as well as the rest of the city.  Hail pelted relentlessly at my windows and I thought to myself “I had better cook some food while the power’s still on!”  The only question was what to make?

I don’t know about you all, but lately I seem to be on a Middle Eastern/Indian food kick.  Curry powder, cumin, and paprika have been my go-to spice trio for the past few months (My Italian mother is not at all thrilled by my lack of basil, oregano, and thyme).  I ended up throwing together a kale and chickpea curry, served over a bed of brown rice, and what’s better to wash down that tastiness with than a mango-papaya smoothie?  Enjoy both of these recipes.  Whether you make them together or separate, they will taste amazing!

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Kale Chickpea Curry on Brown Rice

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp red curry paste
  • 1 can chickpeas, undrained
  • 1/2 bunch kale (4-6 stems), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
  • Unsweetened coconut shavings, for garnish (optional)

Start cooking the rice while you work on the rest of the dish on another burner.  Once your rice is simmering, pour the olive oil into a separate pan and cook the garlic and onion on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add in the tomatoes after the onions have become translucent, and add in your seasonings as well (curry paste, paprika, cumin, coriander).  Let simmer for another 5 minutes.  Then add your can of undrained chickpeas.  The liquid should give the mixture a stew-like consistency.  Simmer the mixture for 10-15 minutes.  

Right before taking the mixture off the heat, add the kale.  Cook just until it wilts.  

Serve over a bed of brown rice.  Add coconut shavings for garnish.

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Tropical Smooth Dessert

  • 1 cup frozen mango, cubed
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple, cubed
  • 1 cup frozen papaya, cubed
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk

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Add all ingredients into your high-powered blender and blend on high until the consistency reaches that of ice cream.  You must freeze the fruit thoroughly prior to blending for this recipe to work properly.  

Enjoy!