Monday, January 3, 2011

food-lover's cleanse days 1 & 2

So I'm doing this thing for my HEALTH, right? But I'm eating the most yum food ever. Really. It must sound like I'm being endorsed by Bon Appetit or something (ha! I wish). I'm two days in and already I've found three great recipes that I'm definitely going to make time and time again.

Day 1 had me chowing down on a yummy mushroom, thyme and caramelised onion omelet with toast, an avocado tartine, a vanilla-date smoothie that tasted like heaven, and the dish you see above - the ultimate winter couscous. This vegetable dish is incredible. It is full of perfectly cooked vegetables and layers of flavour that reveal themselves one after the other: sweet butternut pumpkin, the tang of dried apricot, warm cinnamon and cardamon, the heat of harissa and an exotic piquancy courtesy of some finely minced preserved lemon that is thrown in at the end. I switched the star anise (was all out) for a couple of cardamon pods and replaced unavailable parsnip with an extra carrot. Next time I make it, I'll do as the recipe says, but I can't imagine it tasting much better than it did last night. Also included in Day 1 were winter vegetable crudités and an orange salad for dessert, but surprisingly, I couldn't fit either of those in.

Day 2 began with a breakfast I'd been looking forward to: the warm and nutty cinnamon quinoa from 101 cookbooks. I didn't have blueberries or red quinoa, so used raspberries and black quinoa. I forgot to put nuts on top, but I had bought hazelnuts for this purpose. No matter though, as it was a double-batch and I get to eat the leftovers again tomorrow morning - with hazelnuts! Not only is it completely delicious, but it seemed to have like, this super-energising effect and I swam 2 kilometers in the pool today and didn't even feel tired. Another recipe to add to the regular rotation. I skipped the fancy salad at lunch today (celery root and apple salad) in favour of a basic green salad with citrus-shallot vinaigrette, in anticipation of a big dinner. I'm glad I left room to appreciate the glory that was Anjum Anand's black-eyed pea curry. It's what you can see in the little bowl below, beside the (yummy but rich) salmon in Bengali mustard sauce, and I know it doesn't look much there, but please trust and MAKE THIS DISH. Despite my passion for making things from scratch and the fact that I really like Indian food, I've not tried making my own curries much at all. This has got to change! The black-eyed bean dish that sits on my kitchen bench is glorious proof that sauteing whole spices, fresh garlic, ginger and tomato until it melts into a rich, fragrant paste is the BOMB.

So far after only two days I feel a bit lighter than I did after a few weeks of indulgence and loads of (albeit excellent) bread. Do you know how much bread Greeks eat? A menu with less reliance on the staff of life is a good thing for me - at least for a bit. I decided that it was IMPOSSIBLE to live without caffeine as I've loads of work on at the moment and just cannot live with massive headaches, but I've compromised and switched to green and white teas. Still caffeinated, but with lots of antioxidants that my morning coffee doesn't provide. I've also come across a couple of other bloggers, like Meg at Harmonious Belly, who are dedicating posts to the cleanse. It's super-ace to hear what others think of the dishes and to see photos of their versions. Food-geekdom, to the max.

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