Wild Rose Cleanse; the Mid-point Update

I hope you are all having a relaxing Sunday, doing what you love before the week-work restarts again. I thought I’d take a moment to catch you all up how I’ve been doing on my journey through this cleanse.

I forgot to share in my last post that I started Do You Yoga’s, 30 day Yoga Challenge, to get me back into bendy-shape. I’m currently on day 15 so I’m literally more than half-way through both my cleanse (on day 7) and my yoga challenge, yay me! On work days, I wake up at 6 am and start this yoga before doing anything else. It helps me set my intention for the day and where all the videos are under 20 minutes (some are only a little over 10 minutes), and all my food is already prepped for the work day, I don’t have to get up any earlier than I normally would. Even though I begrudgingly leave my bed most mornings, it truly is a refreshing way to start to start each day. While I’m not sure if I’ll continue with morning yoga practice once the challenge is over, I’ll likely make stretching part of my morning routine to gently wake up my body for the day. Bed yoga anyone?

Saturday (day 6) was by far my most challenging day, mostly due to circumstance. I had plans to go to the market and declined breakfast with the same friends due to my diet restrictions, none of us felt bad so even though it was unfortunate my time with them was cut short, I didn’t feel left out. Later that day I went to see a few of my friends and their baby and after visiting a few hours I was getting pretty hungry. Everyone including my boyfriend really wanted to go and eat, but I knew I needed to get home. I wish I had been prepared with a snack, as I wouldn’t have minded sitting and drinking tea while they ate but I knew I couldn’t make it through a meal then get home and prep food for myself. Because my blood sugar was already dropped I was jones-ing for convenience foods, I curbed it with an apple and almond butter while I made some soup. This was my first really ‘craving’ I’ve had since starting the cleanse. It continued later when I saw my boyfriend was eating cookies from Subway; I had to leave the room for a moment as I just wanted to chew something cookie/bread-like but I made it through without indulging.

Food prep is so important on this cleanse for the above reason, you don’t want to be in a position where you are hungry and you know it’s going be at least another 30 minutes before you eat. This is good advise for any healthy eating plan, however I’ve found on this cleanse that my reduced carbohydrate intake means when I’m hungry, I need food fast. Luckily I’ve been prepared for this and I’m usually at least one day (if not more) ahead with meal preparation. So many breakfasts, lunches and snacks.

Food Prep

I attempted this cleanse as a way to get myself on track after the holidays not about losing weight. The Wild Rose Cleanse doesn’t promise any weight loss, just a more rejuvenated, lighter and energetic you (<– that’s me paraphrasing). Even so, I wanted to keep really good records about how the cleanse and food I was eating was making me feel physically and emotionally therefore I’ve been tracking my caloric/macro intake, energy output, feelings, cravings and energy levels as well as my weight to see if there was any measurable the impact on my body. So far I’ve lost about 4 lbs, although this will likely change depending on my water retention and food intake etc. I’ve continued daily workout but lowered the intensity. I’ve been walking the dogs, doing a lot more yoga, getting lower impact cardio routines in along with some weight training but I also have been cleaning a lot. Meal prep creates a lot of dirty dishes, and since I’m always hogging the kitchen I making meals for the bf too. I have noticed I have a lot of extra energy and when I’m bored, I know I’m bored, not hungry. I’ve replaced mindless eating with cleaning so I guess I may be taking the ‘cleanse’ part too literally? 

As far as meals go I’ve been eating much of the same things I have outlined in my last post. I’ve taken to making omelets packed with veggies and over the weekend I had roasted potatoes twice. I know they are allowed but they tasted so good it felt like cheating. I made up a big batch of Sweet Potato and Carrot Bisque for my work lunches along with the usually fresh-cut up veggies, hummus, an apple and almond butter for snacks. Breakfast this week will be a continuation of overnight oats or smoothies with the added kick of Vega One.

Sweet Potato Carrot BisqueToday was grocery day and I picked up some nori-sheets and brown rice cakes to try out (for when I need carb fix fast). At lunch I turned them into sandwich wraps by adding avocado, grilled tofu (I had already prepped in the fridge), raw red pepper and kale. They were super good and satisfying. Also extremely easy and quick to make up.

Fill it.

Nori Wrap fillingRoll it. Jam in your mouth. Don’t’ forget to chew!

Nori WrapConfession-time, I accidentally cheated over the weekend as I had picked up one of my favorite treats from the market. They are called Ravenous bars which are essentially hand-made nut-bars made with coconut oil, almonds pumpkin seeds, goji berries and almond butter. I love them and devoured my first one and then realized there was some brown rice syrup in it. Not the end of the world by any means but I was really on point until then. Here’s to the next 5 days, I’ll be updating you all with a final review next weekend!

Slow-cooker Chickpea Curry

Happy December first! I hope all my American readers have survived Thanksgiving and black Friday with full bellies and empty wallets. No matter where you are, I hope you are all out enjoying the crisp air outside or are at least tucked away inside cozy and warm. The dogs and I were out for a good 7 km hike this afternoon and I came in craving warm ginger molasses cookies and stew; I think Winter is coming.

photoWith the weather is slowly getting cooler, we have had a few days of mild flurries that have melted before collecting into any discernible snowfall. The holidays are fast approaching and I don’t have anything decorated, or any presents bought, and as always, minimal holiday cheer.  What I can get down for right this minute is easy-peasy recipes that produce comforting, delicious and spicy meals I can eat all week for lunches.

This first recipe I published on V-Spot was a quick and easy recipe for channa masala using canned chickpeas and a skillet. I love healthy one-pot recipes you can make up in a few minutes and I always wanted to revisit that recipe that started this blog. This time I’ve really improved on an old favorite, making it lazy weekend friendly this time it with a slow-cooker.

Slow Cooker Chickpea CurrySlow-cooker Chickpea Curry

  • 2 cups dried organic chickpeas, washed, sorted and topped with 3 inches of water left in the fridge to soak overnight
  • 2 tbs of olive oil
  • 1 stalk of celery, trimmed and diced
  • 1 small red/orange pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, peeled trimmed and diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 inch piece if ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 tsp-1/2 tsp of chili flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds toasted before veggies or 1 tsp ground while sauteing
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 heaping tbs of PC Tandoori spice; it’s a mild one made mainly of paprika, coriander, ginger, onion and garlic powder and a pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 a 5.5oz/75ml can of tomato paste
  • 1-2 tbs Patak’s Hot Curry paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups of water (1 cup is added to the pan before adding to the crock-pot)

Method

The night before rinse and pick through 2 cups of dried organic chickpeas. Place in a large bowl and cover with about 3 inches of cool water. Store in the fridge overnight. The chickpeas should double in size.

When you are ready to cook in the next day, drain the chickpeas and pour into the ceramic portion of the crock-pot.

Soaked and Drained ChickpeasClean, trim and finely dice a stalk of celery, a medium large onion and a red/orange pepper set aside. Mince garlic and ginger and set aside together.

DicedHeat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high. If you are using cumin seeds, add them when the pan comes to temperature and toast until they start to pop. If you are using ground cumin skip this step and add onions and celery to cook for about 3-4 minutes.

Add diced red/orange pepper, chili flakes, cumin and garlic salt, tandoori spice mix and cinnamon and saute for another 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, stirring continuously for an additional minute.

Lower the heat to medium and stir in 1/2 can of organic tomato paste and curry paste and stir well. Make sure everything is well combined the tomato paste will start to stick to the bottom of pan but continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Spicy SauteeOnce all the vegetables are tender and everything is well incorporated taste for seasoning. Adjust with salt and pepper, remember it should be pretty concentrated as you are using it as your flavour base for the chickpeas.

Chickpeas and Spice PasteScrape as much as you can into the crock-pot with the chickpeas. Return the skillet to the burner and add 1 cup of cool water to get the remaining bits from the pan. Pour the seasoned water into the crock pot with the spice paste and chickpeas and stir until everything is incorporated. Add two more cups of water to the crock pot, cover and turn on high. Cook on high for about 3.5 hours until the chickpeas are tender-firm.

Before Slow- to PerfectionAs the chickpeas cool the sauce will naturally thicken some. Like all curries and stews they are always tastier the next day. Serve over brown rice, or with buttered naan bread.

Spoonfull

Sweet Potato and Carrot Bisque

Yesterday I thought it would be a great idea to do a post for the last official day of Summer. I decided early in the morning that living for the last day of Summer (preferably outside) would be better than sitting inside the house lamenting about its passing. It was a beautiful weekend with high temperatures and the sun shining brightly. I started making soup and then decided that while my place was still full of light I’d ring in Fall with a soup post.

Saturday was spent at the local farmer’s market and I picked up tons of fresh produce including some gorgeous sweet potatoes. I should have taken a picture or two to share with you but deciding to make the post was so late minute. Basically I prepped all the veggies and started cooking and realized I should have taken pictures. I tried to convince myself this soup wouldn’t be blog-worthy but I was wrong. It turned out fantastic and I had to share.

Sweet Potato Carrot Bisque

Usually bisques have tons of cream and shellfish that produce a extremely flavourful complex and creamy soup. To get the same texture but made vegan and healthier,  I sautéed local onions and celery in olive oil with cumin and cinnamon and added in organic baby carrots and gorgeous sweet potatoes. I simmered it all in organic vegetable broth until everything was tender then whizzed it all up with almond-coconut milk and tahini paste which made it extra smooth and creamy.This spicy sweet, thick and creamy soup is perfect match for the first day of Fall. In case you are like me and watching what you eat you’ll be happy to know that this soup makes four servings at about 205 calories per serving. To me that means I can have my soup and drink wine too. Enjoy!

Smooth and Delicious

Sweet Potato and Carrot Bisque

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • chili flakes to taste (optional)
  • 2 cups of baby carrots (12 oz/345g)
  • 3 small or 2 medium sweet potatoes, washed peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 a small jalapeno, cut into pieces
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 4 cups (1 container) of organic vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond (coconut or soy) milk
  • 1+1/2-2 tbs of tahini paste
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method

Peel onions and roughly chop. Wash and trim celery and cut into 1 inch pieces.

Heat a 4 quart stock pot over medium high heat. Add olive oil, onions and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with cumin, cinnamon and a pinch of chili flakes, cook until the onions begin to brown and the spices start to stick to the bottom. Add in the peeled and washed baby carrots and stir well. Season with salt and pepper and let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add in sweet potatoes, garlic and jalapeno and cover with vegetable stock.

Bring the soup to a boil and cook over medium high heat until the carrots and potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and add the almond milk and tahini paste and puree using a blender/hand blender until completely smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Dig in

Spicy Charred Corn Dip

I feel like hanging on to the last moments of Summer. Last night I joined a few lovely people to have a Summers-end soiree. But what’s that, September? I see you creeping up into my life.

During end of Summer we see some of the best produce in Nova Scotia, the markets are overflowing with cheap and beautiful produce. August and September bring luscious tomatoes, juicy stone fruit and sweet peaches and cream corn. Corn is everywhere, it’s cheap, it’s sweet and delicious. I’m pretty sure everyone loves it barbecued, with butter, salt and pepper but you can make so many amazing things with it, including this yummy dip!

Summer on a Plate

Traditional corn dip isn’t barbecued, but since this was my attempt at Summer’s last hurrah, I figured I’d go all out. Now I warn you, taking photos of this dip was a challenge and I really feel my photos don’t do it justice in the least. Despite its looks, I promise it will surprise you. The sour cream and cheese makes this dip creamy, the charred corn and veggies mixed with chipotle flavours give it a slightly smokey base. The caramelization of the corns natural sweetness balances the spicy peppers, cumin and hot sauce. To put it simply, this dip has it all. It also had loads of veggies so it’s healthy right? This recipe makes about 5 cups of dip, enough for a crowd of hungry people.

Charred Corn Dip

Spicy Charred Corn Dip

BBQ

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 2 green onions
  • 2-3 jalapenos
  • 2 small bulbs or one large bulb roasted garlic
  • vegetable oil and tin foil

dip base

  • 1 pkg cream cheese (8oz)
  • 2 cups of grated monterey jack, for more heat use pepper jack or jalapeno cheddar
  • one small container of sour cream (250 mls/1 cup)
  • a few dashes of chipotle hot sauce or 1/2-1 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
  • 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp-1 tsp of garlic salt
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • salt and pepper

Method

Open a package of cream cheese and add to a large-sized mixing bowl. Pre-heat your BBQ to medium-high.

Cut the tops off the garlic, brush with olive oil and wrap in foil. Husk the corn, and lightly brush everything with vegetable oil. Fill a medium-sized bowl with ice and enough water to just cover the ice. ***In my photos you will see one ear of corn that wasn’t husked, but for the dip make sure all the corn gets husked.

BBQ

Place all the vegetables on the BBQ and grill. Green onions will only take 2-3 minutes, jalapenos will take 5-6 minutes depending on the size and the corn and garlic will take about 10-12 minutes. Try to get a good char on the corn for extra flavour.

As you take the jalapenos off the barbecue drop them directly into the ice water and cover. As long as you have charred the skin well, you should have no issues peeling it off. Remove the seeds and stem, and set the aside.

Charred Veggies

While the veggies cool, cream the cream cheese and add sour cream cumin, cilantro, garlic salt and chipotle hot sauce and mix well.

Grilled Green Onions and Jalapenos

Grate the cheese; chop the green onions, jalapenos and add to the cream cheese base.

Roasted Garlic

Express and mince the garlic; remove the kernels from the charred corn and add to the same mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.

Charred Corn

Do not add extra hot sauce at this point, this dip improves the longer it sits. I would recommend covering it and letting it sit in the fridge for at least 5 hours before eating (overnight would be ideal).

Getting your Mix On

Before you are ready to eat it, give is a good stir and adjust the heat level to your taste with more hot sauce or more fresh jalapenos. Garnish fresh cilantro, green onion or chopped fresh tomatoes. Serve with organic blue corn chips, flat breads, or pita chips.

Brimming with Goodness

I think this dip would work well heated. You could certainly top with more cheese and bake at 350 F for about 15-20 minutes broiling for the last few. If anyone tries it heated let me know how it turned out! Savour the last bits of summer and all the fresh produce!

Shredded Tofu Summer Rolls

I have a challenge for you out there for the rest of this Summer. It’s simple, it doesn’t cost any money and I guarantee it will improve your health and the way you feel. Ladies, I challenge you to drink 9 cups of water (that’s 2.2 litres) and gents I challenge you to drink 13 cups (that’s 3 litres) of water a day. You may need more if you are more active but the average person doesn’t get enough water. Summer is the best time of year to develop these habits because you want to stay hydrated when it’s warm out.

Summer Rolls

You are probably thinking, I get enough water each day, or close to it, but do you actually know how much you are drinking? Recently I was one of those people so I started tracking and realized I was falling short of a few cups a day. It doesn’t sound like a lot but increasing my water intake to the recommended amounts has given me more energy and helped me de-bloat while staying hydrated.

To add to your challenge, start your day off with 1-2 glasses of water with 1/2 juice of lemon (before coffee, tea or breakfast). It you are feeling really adventurous add a pinch of cayenne at aid in digestion. This will help flush out any toxins your body was working on expelling through the night, and ease your body into waking your digestive tract before breakfast. Drinking a glass or two of water before and between meals will help stop you from overeating, which may help you to lose weight without even changing your diet. To keep you interested in drinking water add sliced citrus fruit, or cucumber. Do not count tea, coffee or juice or soda as ‘water’ for this challenge.  If you are wanting to improve your health and overall appearance and you are feeling overwhelmed this is the perfect place to start. Try it for a week and let me know how you are feeling in the comments section below!

I dip you dip we dip

If I had to pick one perfect summer food, it would be fresh spring rolls (also known as summer rolls). They are refreshing, filling and require only minimal amounts of heat to prepare (warm water anyone?). You can make them up a day in advance and continue snacking on them for a few days as long as they are stored well in the fridge. If not they could dry out and become hard around the edges. The best way to prevent this is to line the tray you are storing them in with lettuce and ensure the tray has a sealed cover or use plastic wrap to create and air tight seal.

Summer rolls are entirely versatile with fillings and dipping sauces ([I’ve made these before -> Cabbage Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce). This time, I really wanted to create a light and refreshing roll that didn’t require any cooking save the rehydration of the noodle sheets.

Shredded Tofu Summer Rolls

Shredded Tofu Summer Rolls

  • 10-12 rice noodle sheets

marinated shredded  tofu

  • 1 package of tofu, rinsed drained and grated
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 sheet of nori or half a package of nori crisps cut into small slices
  • 1 tbs old bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • pepper and salt to taste

additional fillings

  • 1 + 1/2 cups of grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • 1 small pepper, diced small
  • 1 stalk of celery, washed, peeled and diced

simple dipping sauce

  • hoisin sauce
  • vegetarian oyster sauce
  • water
  • sriracha to taste

Method

Rinse the block of tofu, pat dry and use a cheese grater to grate the entire block. Place in a – mixing bowl and blot with paper towel until most of the moisture is gone.

Grated Tofu

Using scissors, cut the nori sheet into four long strips, and then thin slices, add to tofu.

Nori Glory

Add lemon juice, sesame and olive oils and toss gently until all of it is covered. Sprinkle in old bay seasoning, garlic powder salt and pepper.

Marinade Pour

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. You can work on the vegetable preparation in the mean time to save time.

Wash, peel and grate carrots until you have about one and a half cups. Place in a bowl and toss with 1/4 cup of roughly chopped cilantro. Set aside.

Grated Carrot and Cilantro

Rinse, seed and de-pithe the red pepper and cut into a small dice. Add to a separate bowl.

Rinse and peel the outside of the celery. Slice lengthwise and then cut into a fine dice. Add to the bowl with the red pepper and toss. Set aside.

Red Pepper and Celery

Clean and create your workstation. Lay out a cutting board large enough to accommodate the size of the rice noodle. Arrange the remaining ingredients around the cutting board along with a shallow pan filled with warm water. You will also need a casserole dish lined with lettuce to place completed rolls in.

Prep

Add one sheet of rice noodle at a time, rotating it gently with your hand until it has been rehydrated, about 10 seconds depending on how hot your water is.

Gently grab the edges with your fingers as if you were hanging out your laundry to dry on a clothesline and drape over the cutting board. If you have any bumps, or folds, carefully fix once it’s laid out.

Add 1.5-2 tablespoons of shredded tofu, grated carrot/cilantro mix and 1 tablespoon of red pepper/ celery mix to the centre of the roll, making a log shape.

Step Two - Filling

Fold the bottom up to the middle, giving a little bit of pressure. Fold each side over to cover the ends.

Step Three

Pull the middle down gently as you roll up to create a tighter roll. Place seam down in the dish and repeat.

Step Four

Once you have used all the fillings, refrigerate rolls for at least 30 minutes before eating.

annnd Repeat

You can use just about anything to dip these in. Soy, plum, hoisin sauces are all great options. I generally prefer a peanut sauce to dip fresh spring rolls in but to keep things light and to not overpower the marinated tofu I chose to mix a few up together. I also prefer my sauce I little liquidy for easier dipping.

Saucy

To make the simple sauce above, mix equal parts of hoisin, vegetarian oyster sauce and water and season with sriracha to taste. Serve cold.

Ready to Eat