A week ago, one of my favorite bloggers offered up a Clean Food Challenge, based on the book above, to her readers. The idea is to eat no processed food, no alcohol, no sugar, no dairy, and no wheat. In addition to that, you have to drink a gallon of water a day. Unfortunately, a week ago, it wasn’t in the budget for me to do the challenge because I had spent all my “free” money that week on Christmas presents. Instead, I worked on upping my water intake and managed to do the gallon-a-day water intake since that was free (thank you, work). And surprisingly, it really wasn’t that difficult! I did buy the CamelBak that she suggested and that helped; plus, the fact that I’m competitive (even with myself) and love a good challenge, I was determined to drink five of those suckers before I left work. So yesterday I began the entire challenge, the day after Emilie and her friends and readers completed.
This had appealed to me for a couple of reasons. One, the holidays are coming and every year my mom rocks it in the kitchen. Even now, 14 years since I’ve left home, my friends still talk about her treats during Christmas. So reason number one: her bark. (Which I’m going to attempt myself this year, so I’ll post how it turns out…I know it won’t be nearly as good, but maybe I can come close.) Number two: I’m still struggling mentally with how I’m treating my body since the miscarriages. I was hoping maybe doing something like this would help me feel better about myself, force me to focus on my unhealthy relationship with my body. As it has been, I’ve realized that I have been unconsciously blaming my body for the loss of my pregnancies. Intellectually, I know it’s not my fault. My body was just doing what it knew to do. But the grieving part of my brain isn’t making that connection. So maybe doing this and being kind to my body by the food I’m giving it, will force my mind to be kind to it as well. And one week seemed doable…and just in time for the holidays (when I know I’ll want to succumb to all the goodies my mom will undoubtably send to us). For those of you who remember the cleanses I’ve done in the past, a week feels like nothing compared to three weeks. It’s also a little less harsh (I’m still going to drink coffee!), which is nice.
All day on Sunday I spent preparing for this week. In September my parents sent me home with some black beans they had grown in the garden this summer so I set to making those. I’ve never made beans from scratch and for some reason, I was kind of excited (ah, the little things!). They took forever, but they turned out well. A little too al dente for Tim, but I loved them. I made a stew with the beans, plus yams, onion, garlic, organic vegetable broth and green curry paste (I had planned on adding the coconut milk I thought I had bought, but appeared no where in my kitchen). I also made a granola bar that I’ve adapted from this recipe to be vegan and cane sugar free (recipe below). Unfortunately, the vegan/sugar-free version does not stick, so it ends up just being granola. Which is still tasty. So this is what I ate yesterday:
Breakfast – smoothie with banana, blueberries, peaches, kale and unsweetened rice milk; coffee with unsweetened almond milk and maple syrup (which is surprisingly delicious); vegan & sugar-free granola
Lunch – black bean and yam stew (does anyone else hate that word stew? It has to be one of the most unappealing words.)
Snack – raw almonds & clementines; detox tea
Dinner – red & white quinoa with black beans, garlic & green onions, topped with 2 eggs cooked in olive oil
1 gallon of water throughout the day
I even went for a run when I got home (something else Emilie has inspired me to start doing, that I have been doing off and on since September) and it was the best run I’ve had since yet. I’m sure it was related, but it probably also had a lot to do with the fact that I had a crappy day at work and needed to blow off some steam. And it worked! Also, something that I feel is worth mentioning: when Tim and I were eating dinner he told me he really likes eating this kind of food. I replied by saying I should try and incorporate it more into our nightly meals. But then I started thinking about why I don’t and it’s because it’s just not inspiring to make. I hate to admit that, but it’s true. One of my greatest pleasures in life is cooking. I can spend an entire day in the kitchen (see: this past Sunday) and be completely happy. I can safely say that I got it from my mom, that her love of cooking rubbed off on me for sure. But I love trying complex foods, with layers of flavors and ingredients. And honestly, I just don’t find this kind of food to be fun to make. It doesn’t excite my taste buds or challenge me in the kitchen. Isn’t that awful? Anyway, that being said, I do enjoy eating it because of how it makes me feel and will continue to enjoy it for the rest of the week, I am sure. Except all I wanted was something sweet after I ate my meal last night. A chocolate or a bite of ice cream. Or a hot-buttered rum. But I didn’t give in.
Alright, you’ve read enough (if you’re still with me) about my eating for today. If you get a chance, pop over to One Mom in Maine. I can’t remember now how I stumbled upon her blog, but I love getting to visit Maine every day. And can I say how jealous I am that they had a snow day yesterday? I’d give ANYTHING for a snow day. California kids just don’t know what they’re missing.
Granola “Bar” Recipe, adapted from Smitten Kitchen (who adapted it from King Arthur Flour)
1 2/3 cups rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats)
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (which might be stretching the terms of the challenge, but is an alternative to agave, which is acceptable, so maybe it’s okay?)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (oops, I forgot this)
1 cup each dried unsweetened coconut, sliced almonds and dried blueberries (or any combination of dried sugar-free fruit and nuts, equaling to 2-3 cups)
1/3 cup almond butter (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides.
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan.
Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges and a little on top. Cool the bars in their pan on a wire cooling rack. This is where, if you make the original recipe (which I have), they will continue to set once cooled. This recipe above did not set because it lacked the stickiness the original provides, but made really yummy chewy granola.
Store in an air-tight container. Apparently, they freeze well, but mine never last long enough to need freezing. Enjoy!