As I write this, I am on day eleven; I’ve lost 7 lbs so far and the cravings have begun to subside; but with that being said, day one and two were extremely hard. Was it the box of cookies sitting on my counter or the sight of my roommate enjoying a brownie? Who knows, but my will survived and I made it through.
They say the first week is the hardest, but day three was when I thought I had it all together, the cravings had seemingly subsided and I thought I was going to sail through the rest of the cleanse no problem. Then day four hit the skids, I was tired, I wanted coffee with cream and bread dripping in butter- and I don't even like butter that much. It was rough; and in truth I wanted to quit, but since I had written a blog post and told almost everyone I knew that I was cleansing, my pride prevailed- thankfully.
Day five was much better, I went to a movie; but I broke the rules slightly and took 1 ½ cups of air popped popcorn and 1 small square of dark chocolate in my purse. And I even allowed myself 15 kernels of movie popcorn- I couldn’t resist the smell of warm movie popcorn wafting my way, so I savored those 15 kernels like it was my last meal. It all worked out fine, I still managed to weight lose that day- winning! Day six was smooth, no cravings and very few temptations- yes the cookies and brownies were still on the counter, but I had made peace with them on day three.
Day eight I had to work in a restaurant and holy hell that was like being thrown into the gauntlet- I broke. I had popcorn, and it was AMAZING. It was as though there was a sale on it- everyone was ordering it; so I had the equivalent of about 2 cups because sometimes life demands a rule break. Day nine I impressed the hell out of myself; I deejay’d that night and I typically drink my weight in alcohol, but on this, the ninth day, I did not have one drop- not one. I woke up Sunday like a gem and even went to the gym- yay me!
To say that week one was full of ups and down would be a gross understatement; I repeat cleansing isn’t easy. During week one I found myself grocery shopping LOTS. Since my diet consists of mainly salads, lean meats and fruit, freshness is paramount; so for the sake of freshness I’ve come to terms with the fact that the grocery store and I are going steady for the next 2 weeks. It’s fine, he’s cute anyways.
I knew that I would miss certain foods, but, man, I missed sugar like something fierce; enter cinnamon. I’ve started steeping my tea with cinnamon sticks and sprinkling it on my strawberries; and I don’t know if my taste buds are just dying to have something- anything- sweet, but cinnamon adds a nice hint of sweetness. It has been my savior.
Since salad dressing is out of the question and salt is very minimal, I have found that a fresh salsa or bruschetta topping makes for a delicious dressing and topping for fish, chicken or beef; it also reminds me of the wonderful salsa I voraciously devoured in Mexico- minus the chips and guacamole ;)
My mother- who is also cleansing- mentioned that she is bored with food; and I can’t blame her. For myself I have found that I am cooking a lot; and for someone like my mother who doesn’t cook very much it’s easy to get bored and demoralized with options. So here’s what I made in week one to keep myself satisfied. Be warned the stove is going to be your ball and chain, learn to love it.
1 palm sized grilling steak
1 ½ cups spring mix
¼ cup fresh salsa
In a non stick pan heated to medium high heat, sear the steak on both sides- about 4 minutes per side. Remove from heat and allow to rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss greens with salsa and season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice the steak into strips and add to salad.
Chicken with caramelized onions and fennel
1 onion, sliced into thin half moons
1 fennel bulb, core removed and sliced thinly
1 chicken breast, cut into strips
¼ cup bruschetta topping
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/3 cup chicken broth
Season chicken with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. In a non stick pan heated to medium high heat, add the seasoned chicken and cook until chicken is white all the way through- about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cover. Add the onion and fennel and cook for 8 minutes- tossing as needed, so they brown but do not burn. Deglaze with chicken and cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Top with chicken with the onion/fennel mixture and bruschetta mix.
Shrimp Toss- a bit of a rule breaker. I needed carbs so I figured as long as it was a good carb- Quinoa- that I would be in the clear.
¼ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup bruschetta mix
3 spring onions, chopped
In a non stick pan heated to medium high heat, cook shrimp until pink and almost opaque- about 5 minutes. Add the bruschetta and quinoa to the pan. Toss and taste for seasoning. Garnish with spring onions.
Halibut with Roasted Asparagus and Fennel
1 halibut steak (6oz)
20 asparagus spears
½ fennel bulb, core removed and sliced thinly
¼ cup fresh salsa
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt + 1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper + 1 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 400degrees Celsius. And heat 1 tsp olive oil in a nonstick pan on medium high heat.
In a bowl toss fennel and asparagus with 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Place on a baking and sheet and bake in oven- tossing periodically- for about 12 minutes. Meanwhile season the halibut with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper sear on both sides. IMPORTANT the fish will release with it is ready, resist the urge to peel it off to flip it, trust that it will release. When it is ready, flip the fish. The same rule applies for the both sides. Serve the fish with fresh salsa.
Fresh Basil Salsa
1/3 cup (75 mL) olive oil
4 tbsp (60 mL) freshly chopped basil
1/4 tsp (1 mL) white or freshly ground black pepper
6 ripe plum tomatoes
2 tbsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
generous pinches of salt, freshly ground black pepper and granulated sugar
If tomatoes are firm, peel skin using a vegetable peeler. Or cut an X in bottom of each tomato and place in a large saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds. Immediately plunge tomatoes in cold water and peel. Cut into quarters, then remove and discard seeds. Finely dice. In a medium-size bowl, stir remaining oil with 3 tablespoons (45 mL) basil, lime juice, onions, garlic, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir in tomatoes.
Week one-done. Here's hoping week two is just as inventive!