Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Skinny jeans and a recalibration

A couple weeks ago, I made a discovery. I'd forgotten how to eat. 

I know, it sounds silly. I am a food writer, for crying out loud. But recently, as I attempted (in vain) to pull up my "skinny" jeans, I noticed that my body didn't look like it used to. I also realized that over the past couple months, I didn't have the same energy that I once did. So I stopped to think: what changed? 

First let me say, I try not to focus on weight. I did enough of that in college, and I am happy to say that discovering vegetarianism and a love for whole, local foods helped me establish a healthier relationship with food. It used to be an enemy, and today, it is fuel for my body, a hobby, and even a way to relate to people. 

That said, when I realized the pants weren't going to make it up, it was time to think about what I was doing differently than I had been doing for the past couple years. As I sat (sans pants) and thought, I had to admit my diet, over time, had changed. I used to eat mostly vegetables, tofu/beans/fish, and whole grains. Of course, I did occasionally splurge on some good cheese or chocolate when I wanted to, but most of my diet consisted of the good stuff. It made me feel good, and it also made me look better. I realized that overtime, I have been eating more bread, refined grains, snacks, and generally unhealthy things. And cheese. Far too much cheese. 

I also used to have a "no drinking on weekdays" rule that slowly turned into a "no drinking a lot on weekdays" rule. Those two things are not the same. 

As a result, my body was no longer in balance, and it showed. I was slow, less nimble, and lets face it - squishy.

So the week before Thanksgiving, I decided to put my body and my taste buds though boot-camp and detox my system. For one week - I ate only only vegetables, fruits, nuts, and brown rice, with a little wild fish thrown in there so I didn't pass out. No caffeine, no sugar, no alcohol. Lots of herbal tea. Fruit/veggie smoothies for breakfast. As hardcore as I was willing to go. 

I am not going to lie. It was TOUGH, and there are certain things I decided were not worth the pain halfway through. For the first two days, I was exhaused, nauseous, and had a constant headache. I fell asleep at 9pm both night. After that, I did decide that giving up coffee during a week when I had a schedule that included 3:30am wake-up times and a huge project at work to launch was not wise, so I added 1/4 cup of coffee a day. Don't judge. 

After the initial hump, I felt freaking GREAT. I mean, really great. I had more energy, more enthusiasm, and my skin began to glow. After only 6 days, I dropped 3 pounds, and started to look like the strong, healthy girl I used to be. 

But flattening my belly was not the only goal of the detox. Another important goal was to recalibrate my body to eating for health, and not for comfort or convenience. I am finally back to the point where a bowl of brown rice with olive oil and lemon is completley satisying, and I am happy to be here. 

Of course, I am a food writer and enthusiast, so it won't be steamed kale and boiled potatoes all the time. I still love making new things and exploring new tastes, and I have a true appreciation for delicious cheese (see previous blog post), artisan breads, etc. But when I'm not developing a recipe for a magazine spread, or coming up with a new tasty party dish, I will revert back to the clean, simple food that keeps me in balance and nourishes my body.

Anyway, for those of you feeling the effects of Thanksgiving, and dreading the cakes an candies of Christmas, take a week to reintroduce your body to the foods close to the ground. It will leave you feeling renewed, refreshed, and basically awesome. 

I will leave you my favorite smoothie (and new preferred breakfast).

Serves 2

2 very ripe bananas, frozen*
2 ripe pears, cut into chunks
1 ripe plum, pit removed
1/2 cup plain almond milk
1 large handful fresh spinach/swiss chard

Blend all ingredients until smooth. 

*When you end up with over-ripe bananas, peel them and freeze them individually in ziploc bags and keep them on-hand for smoothies. Alternatively, you can use two fresh ripe bananas and a couple cubes of ice. 

Goats! And my friends at Spring Mill Farm.

My latest Burg article was a feature on a local Lynchburg farm I love - Spring Mill Farm. Not only do they make delicious fresch chevre in a variety of flavors, they also make some killer goat's milk feta and even chocolate/goat cheese truffles. Anyway, read the full article here to find out just how awesome they are, and to read about cooking with goat cheese.

For now, I will leave you with one of the recipes from the article - Cremini Tartlets with Chevre. Enjoy!

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ pound cremini (baby portabello) mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
¼ cup dry white wine
Spring Mill Farms Bare Naked (plain) Chèvre

1. Unroll puff pasty sheet on lightly floured surface. Cut in thirds, and then thirds again, until you have nine squares. Place squares on greased cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium high. Sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms begin to brown.

3. Add wine and herbs to mushroom mixture and cook until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat.

4. Spread about two tablespoons chèvre on each puff pastry square, leaving space around the edges. Top with the same amount of mushroom mixture.

5. Bake tartlets until the edges are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Makes 5-6 Tartlets

**This recipe was originally published in The Burg on November 15.