Damn you Reset, you stole my Crunch!

January 20, 2012

Kale Chips

Sorry to leave you mid-guide the last few days! We’ve got one more meal to go and then that recipe post I’ve been promising. So here we go…it’s time for Dinner…

No matter how much I’ve preached in the past about cooking with “balance”, in terms of taste, appearance, and texture, the latter of that bunch is always the hardest to remember to plan for. But without a contrast in texture, even the most delicious meal can fall flat. And during the Reset, it will become increasingly clear how much you are missing a good “crunch”!

In general, finding ways to enjoy your dinner without meat, wheat, and dairy can be pretty easy actually. There are amazing pasta substitutes that you can buy if you get desperate, but even thinly shredded raw zucchini can sub for spaghetti if you have a craving. Otherwise dining on stir frys, soups, and stews are easy and comforting and plates full of side dishes can be just as filling as your standard “meat, starch, and veg” meal we all grew up on. Ironically enough, you may also find you have more time to enjoy your meal as most of these recipes involve quick cooking ingredients. The point I guess I’m making is, dinners on the Reset can be really frickin delicious and exciting. But you’ve got to get a little creative for your crunch.

Without the wonder of breadcrumbs, crispy bread, flour tortillas, etc. these are the best crunchifier suggestions I’ve got so far…what about you guys? Any good crunch substitutes to suggest?

Kale chips: These have become all the rage, particularly in NYC. My guess is they were the result of a culinary accident but if you haven’t tried these, you have to get on board the train. I like to use dinosaur kale or lacinto kale because the leaves seem to hold up a bit better than your standard supermarket kale. Either way, baking the leaves at 350 with a little olive oil and salt for just a few minutes renders you with some fantastic crispy chips. These aren’t so sturdy to use for dipping but when you need a fix, these are your go to!

Pan roasted chickpeas: A while back, I saw Em’s Mom making a batch of these; a can of strained chickpeas in a cast iron pan over low heat with a little rosemary and salt. While we chatted (and probably drank some red wine) I waited to see what would become of these otherwise boring chickpeas and after about 45 minutes I was addicted. These guys get nice and crispy and their flavor intensifies like crazy. You can mess around with any seasonings you like on this. I love to add curry powder to mine. But I can’t imagine you can go wrong here. Perfect to top a salad or soup!

– Nuts: This may seem like an obvious one, but I’m not talking about simply throwing some walnuts in a beet salad. What I mean is that just like breadcrumbs topping your favorite dish, crushed nuts (particularly hazelnuts and almonds) make for an amazing compliment to a meal. So you might not be able to nut-crust a piece of chicken on the Reset, but roasted over some asparagus or cauliflower, you’ve got yourself a delicious Reset friendly topping.

Baked spring rolls: I made these during my last reset and am actually bummed I didn’t think about them again until writing this post. These remedied my need for crunch then, and they will do the same for you. Using rice paper wrappers ensures you are Reset approved and essentially you could stuff these things with anything. I went a more traditional Asian style last time with cabbage, mushrooms, and tamari but these would work perfectly for other flavor profiles as well. They are little tricky to work with the first time but don’t worry. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be cranking these out like crazy. Just soften the rice wrapper in warm water and then add your filling and wrap. Bake these guys off at 375 until nice and crunchy!

So there it is, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a few great snacks making for a great 10 day Reset. But what about dessert? Don’t worry I’ve got you covered. More thoughts on the Reset and the recipe post coming soon!

 

 

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My Toughest Meal to Reset and the Dreaded Catered Lunch

January 17, 2012

The Catered Lunch

Quick Note: As opposed to embedding recipes into these longer than usual posts, I will post a Reset recipe list at the end of this week. I promise, all of these delicious references will be available in recipe form!

If you work in an office like I do, you too are constantly surrounded by food. The unfortunate thing of course, is this same food that I very often devour, is rarely worth eating. Mediocre catered sandwiches, crappy Italian fare, or even worse, sub-par pizza are always around as “lunch meetings” are organized seemingly as an excuse to purchase enough food to feed an army. “My catered lunch was bigger than your catered lunch” may be the modern day pissing match. But before I get too far into the scary eating dynamics of my own office, I guess I should get back to the point.

During the Reset, there are plenty of delicious and filling ways to enjoy your lunch. And your choices will be dictated by how you view the mid-day meal. For me, lunch in the office is an excuse to step away. Therefore, lunch has to be worth it. It has to be delicious and give me the energy I need to make it through the second part of the day, preferably without feeling hungry. It’s why I knew then, and I have confirmed it during this 2nd 10 day stint, that if I want to succeed during the Reset, I can’t simply cook up a bunch of brown rice or quinoa and call it a lunch. Luckily for me (and you), it’s winter.

The cold and drab winter makes a perfect time to go for the Reset. Big batches of lentil soup and black bean chili not only provided me with some real deal sustenance during lunch, but gave me something delicious to look forward to. While winter comfort food certainly has a tendency to contain meat and wheat, it doesn’t have to. In fact, you will be shocked how delicious and comforting a big bowl of curried butternut squash soup can be. Looking for something a bit on the lighter side? How about a winter kale salad filled with citrus, chick peas, and hazelnuts. All of these and more make for a fantastic lunch. One, you’d be gladly willing to skip the catered crap for.

But what if you prefer a more “grazing-like” approach to lunching? Maybe it’s not about a break for you, and maybe the thought of eating a big bowl of vegetable stir fry and rice seems a bit heavy. Well then you are in luck; because with a little bit of preparation, you can have yourself a bunch of amazing snacks that keep you full and Reset committed. Dried fruit and nut mixes are great for snacking. But don’t go out and just buy a pre-made mix; you are better off making your own. Almost all good groceries store now have bulk food sections and making your own trail mix guarantees you will like what you are eating. Need something a little more savory? How about a little hummus with carrots and cucumbers? As a quick aside, is there anything that has grown so quickly as the love for hummus? Kind of crazy right? But back to the grazing…what’s that? It’s 2:30 and you need another shot of energy. Well don’t forget about that treat

One more piece to the puzzle: Like I mentioned before, lunch has always been the hardest part for me, particularly if colleagues are looking to head out for a meal. In slightly upstate suburbia where Applebee’s, sandwich shops, and crappy Italian restaurants (the same one’s making the crappy catered fare) are more common than I ever thought possible, finding a Reset friendly restaurant isn’t very easy. And while you may be thrilled to be a few days into your Reset, I understand if you are reluctant to explain the details to your colleagues. One of the only good suggestions here is to try suggesting more ethnic fare. Thai restaurants may be the easiest option. Vegetable dishes with a side of rice are more than likely okay and even Indian buffets will provide a decent array of vegetable based meals. The one watch out for Indian is that a few of the most popular dishes are loaded with dairy. I know, I said it was hard. Also, technically speaking, the soy sauce you will probably enjoy in some way or another when dining at these restaurants is not wheat-free and therefore some suggest replacing it with Tamari. My feeling is, unless you are drinking soy sauce by the cup full, it’s okay to let yourself slide here for the sake of sanity.

So that probably seemed like a whole lot to swallow but the reality is, it’s all about preparation. Do yourself the favor to do your shopping on the weekends and prepare a few batches of meals or snacks that you know you will enjoy. Because after only a few days, you’ll without a doubt be thanking yourself! And probably laughing at the hoarders surrounding the sandwich tray…

 

 

 


Break Out Your Blender

January 16, 2012

Mixed Berry Smoothie

Or your food processor for that matter!

Because while on the reset, there may be nothing more enjoyable than a good smoothie. I wouldn’t call a smoothie so much a breakfast or snack or whatever in this case. The smoothie during the reset is more like your “phone a friend” lifeline. Because there are days when some real sweetness is what you’ll crave and luckily for you, fruits and vegetables are packed with reset friendly sugars.

With the exception of the “green drink” I got from our friend prior to the first “reset”, I would say it’s better to avoid worrying about recipes in this case. But there are a few key ingredients that will make your smoothie making a hell of a lot easier:

Frozen berries: We all know fresh is best, but in the case of smoothie making, frozen berries offer two really nice characteristics. First, they are a ridiculously more affordable. Save fresh berries for “non-blended” enjoyment. And second, by using the frozen berries, you can avoid the need for ice making your smoothie, cold and seriously flavorful.

Almond milk (no sugar added): So there are a bunch of good almond milk’s out there but unfortunately some of them are loaded with sugar. Try to avoid these if you can. For me, I’m not a huge regular milk drinker so smoothie’s are the main place of use for the stuff. By adding a bit to your smoothie you’ll have enough liquid to blend the fruits and vegetables smooth without having to go too heavy on juice. Plus it adds some great healthy richness!

Almond butter and coconut water: Two ingredients that will add some variety to the mix!

Spinach and Celery: It may take a little bit to get used to the “green drink” but don’t be afraid to try it. Making smoothies with raw vegetables is even better than drinking their fresh juice because you get all that fantastic fiber. Even if you don’t love it, make sure you try this one at least once. If it grows on you, you’ll be happy it’s in your smoothie arsenal!

Green drink: Blend 2 cucumbers, 3-4 celery stalks, 2-3 apples, 1 lemon, 2 handfuls of spinach, with enough water to thin. Add some pineapple or a banana if you need some more sweetness.

Check back tomorrow for the Reset guide to lunches…the hardest part of my Reset for sure!


Reset Your Breakfast!

January 13, 2012

The Treat!

So here we go. You’ve decided to go for it. 10 days. No wheat, no meat, no dairy, etc. Now what?

Well just like anything, the more you plan, the easier a time you’ll have accomplishing your goal. Because, like I mentioned the other day, if you aren’t in love with your kitchen, it’s true, limiting your food choices to this extent can be really daunting. But that being said, there is one really great reason to do the reset right now. It’s friggin cold out! And soup is your friend.

But you can’t have soup for breakfast (well I guess you can). So don’t worry, I’ll get back to those soups soon. But even more so during the Reset, breakfast has got to be the most important meal of your day. Remember, this isn’t about starving yourself. If you are eating the right things, you shouldn’t feel hungry. So a good and hearty breakfast is your ticket to a good a day.

For me, this is one of the easiest parts of the Reset. Besides my affinity for sausage and American cheese omelets, I’m a pretty easy going breakfaster. My preference towards oatmeal makes for a great daily starting point. And the beauty of oatmeal is in the variety. No, not in the base of course, but in the “toppings”. Dried fruit and nuts may be what you normally find as oatmeal toppings but I’ve got one better for you. Almond butter and bananas! If you haven’t dabbled much with almond butter, now’s the time to start. Peanut Butter is not Reset friendly but after the ten days you may not miss it. And that leads me to “the treat”.

For Em, an avid cereal lover, “the treat”, aptly dubbed after her first bite, has a bizarrely delicious milk like quality. These take a normally doomed snack food (the dreaded rice cake) and transform them into heaven. I actually have found brown rice cakes or even wild rice cakes have decent flavor on their own and after you top it with the almond butter and banana, you will be blown away: simple and really delicious.

So that’s it? That’s all I’ve got for you? Oatmeal and almond butter?

You know that’s not true. Time to break out your blender…smoothie recipes galore tomorrow!

 

 


Is this about going gluten-free?

January 11, 2012

Moroccan Lentil Soup from our Spring Reset

Remember when I referenced “confusion”…

Before I get going into a bit more of the fun stuff, you know, like all the delicious food you can eat during your reset, I wanted to chat quickly about a seriously important distinction. As with so many hot topics, you can find article after article with just a few key terms as tags. Celiac, gluten-free, whole wheat, whole grains, and more have taken over our eating lives…and I’m not sure anyone can say anything with 100% certainty.

Except for maybe two things: (1) Celiac Disease is a REAL but relatively rare intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat and other certain grains. Those with this serious intolerance should avoid gluten in their diet at all costs. (2) This reset is not about going gluten-free.

Rather, the avoidance of wheat products during the reset, for those not suffering from Celiac, is all about inflammation and a term we have all heard at some point in the past: the Glycemic Index. Sounds scary, but it’s actually quite simple. High glycemic index foods are those that break down easily into sugar causing glucose spikes, which we all know prompts a quick trigger release of insulin. When insulin levels are high, there occurs an imbalance of pro-inflammatory compounds. Unfortunately, despite how straight forward this seems, the Glycemic Index was used to tout the well marketed diets of the past (Atkins, South Beach, etc) so I think it’s mention triggers a cautious response.

But the reset is enough proof for me. Removing wheat from your diet (including whole wheat), in large part reduces a huge chunk of high glycemic index foods, right off the bat. Replacing those wheat based foods with brown rice, beans, and let’s say lentils for example automatically reduces inflammation like crazy. And I promise you, you’ll feel it. So much so, you might be inclined to reduce these foods on a regular basis. It’s tough, but it works!

Okay, glad we got that clear…on with the reset!


Canigeta Guide to Reset?

January 10, 2012

As I mentioned last week, Em and I are in the middle (actually now towards the very end) of a little health reset. We did a similar ten day regiment with eye-opening success back in April and felt like it was time for another go around. I hadn’t planned on going into much detail because in large part, I didn’t think everyone would be that interested. But over the last two weeks, I have had more interesting conversations and more inquiries all surrounding two fundamental questions: What the hell is a reset? And why should I do it?

Look, if you want to read scientific literature and/or breaking news findings on the health benefits of this, that, or the other, this is not the place. It’s not that Science can’t teach us a ton, but rather, that Science hasn’t caught up with all of us in terms of communication. Right now people are being bombarded with information, and the net result is not education, but rather confusion. Even still, the notion of removing wheat, meat, dairy, eggs, caffeine, and added sugar from your diet is no random collection of denials.

I plan to focus on the day to day health factors here to avoid getting into a crazy debate on heart disease, diabetes, and more. Those are topics that I won’t claim to be an expert on. So, for now, I’m asking one simple question: How do you feel today?

Plate of BBQ Sides from This Reset

Ironically, this time of year, people are flocking to the gyms, surviving only on juice, and vowing to lose those few pounds. If you focus on weight, you’re doomed. If you starve yourself, you will fail. But if you pay attention to one key component of your daily health, this reset is where it all begins. Your ENERGY is a huge indicator of how healthy you are at any given time. Which is why I’ve always thought the expression “you are what you eat” makes no sense. Although sometimes I do wish I was an Italian Hoagie. But in reality, we should be saying “You feel what you eat”.

This notion really became apparent a few years back when a friend of mine started an anti-inflammatory diet to aid in his recovery from a broken back. I decided to go along for the ride as a curious supporter and within days I was feeling different. In large part, I had removed wheat from my diet completely. It was a challenge. A huge challenge to go away from bread, pasta, and so many more of my favorite foods. But the end result was pretty drastic.

Since then, I’ve done by best to live by the general guidelines of eating to feel good. I’ve reduced the amount of meat I eat, I cut back substantially on bread and pasta (although I go in waves here for sure), and in large part, I eat a ton of vegetables. But as a young and pretty healthy individual, I still eat what I want, when I want it. I shouldn’t have to mention that Italian Hoagie again, should I? The beauty however, is that my experience with the anti-inflammatory diet put the effects of my food front and center. I know what foods make me feel good, and I know what foods make me feel lethargic and stiff.

This is why the reset works so great. For ten days, the reset attempts to remove any and all sources of inflammation/allergens while providing tons of fiber, vitamins, and balance. By the third day it’s hard not to feel fantastic. People have asked, about this effect, and wonder how much of it could be mental? The irony, is that this question is posed as a bad thing, or even as a means to dispute the value of making changes in your eating habits. I’m more than happy to chalk up 20% of that added energy and overall good feeling to a mental effect. Why wouldn’t you?

But if you aren’t eating meat, wheat, dairy, eggs, caffeine, and added sugar, what the hell are you eating you might ask? Well that’s why I’m here to help!

Ramen from the Last Reset

One of the other re-occurring topics from my last few weeks of conversations is that the premise of the reset sounded worthwhile but the actually preparation of meals seemed daunting. And I get that. Particularly if you aren’t in love with your kitchen, preparing meals to keep the ten days interesting and worthwhile can be a huge hurdle. So over the next two weeks or so, I’m hoping to provide a really good blueprint for success. Breakfasts, lunch, and dinner (and a few damn good snacks) will be much easier after going through this little guide and should be a great starting point if you are interested.

The last thing I’ll say is that the guidelines I’ll propose are in large part a combination of previously existing diets, advice, and personal experience. I won’t take credit for any of this and most importantly, I won’t say you are wrong if you choose to do something differently. Choosing to reset your system, and to become more in tuned with your food, is all about you. Do what makes you feel right and you can’t go wrong. All I know is I see value. I feel leaner. I have more energy. And this second time around has been a breeze!

Pass on the link to anyone you feel might be interested and I hope you enjoy!


Screw you Guy Fieri!

January 4, 2012

Plate of Delicious Sides

Em and I are in the midst of another reset and I’ve got to be honest, I’m already feeling great. Our last 10 day experience had been making this one feel pretty easy thus far. That is until I sat in front of the tv and watched a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives marathon. Without going too much into the details again, these resets, I think are completely worth trying. Eliminating wheat, meat, dairy, added sugar, caffeine, and liquor (I made this exception for the sake of the Nobler!), opens your eyes to exactly how food can make you feel, for better or for worse. But I wouldn’t do it, or suggest it if it felt like torture. Drinking only juice for 3 days, or surviving off of rice cakes is not the way I would ever want to start a new year. But even still, smoked meats and BBQ sauce were consuming my brain thanks to that a-hole Guy Fieri…

But then I remembered, one of my favorite parts of good BBQ grub: the sides! The meats are delicious but it’s the sides that keep the meal interesting. So I thought it would be fun and delicious to put together a plate of these guys, inspired by my favorites in BBQ. This proved to be a damn good idea.

Roasted sweet potato wedges tossed in a homemade chili powder are both sweet and savory and almost act as the main attraction here. Paired with an avocado dressed coleslaw with dried cranberries, along with sliced cucumbers with apple cider vinegar acting as the palette awakening pickles on this plate, all we needed was a few simply roasted brussel sprouts tossed with a little bit more of that chili powder to squash that BBQ craving. Awesome meal!


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