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!

Spring Reset: To Health and Triumph!

April 18, 2011

Long Island Clam Paella

I had really been anticipating this post being triumphant. By tackling a diet without meat, wheat, and dairy for 10 days, I thought that I’d be thrilled and victorious. And I guess I am! Just not in the way I had imagined.

Anytime you challenge yourself by removing what seem like staples in your life, it’s considered a sacrifice. In this case, those sacrifices were agreed upon for the greater good: a health reset. But at about the half way point, it didn’t feel like much of a sacrifice. Because through the 10 days, with the exception of a random unwavering craving for a cheese steak, I felt great, without hunger. Meals full of fruits, vegetables, beans, and rice were packed with flavor and sustenance. Light yet somehow hearty lunches helped replace my afternoon food coma, and I was never so consistent with eating breakfast (the most important meal of the day blah blah blah).

So while the reset was designed to re-generate my energy level and my overall sense of heath, the outcome went well beyond that. And while I won’t go on and on about how effective these 10 days were for me, I will say this: the food you eat, unequivocally effects the way you feel. And sometimes we all need a friendly reminder of this.

That being said, it made it a hell of a lot easier to handle going through the 10 days with Em. A daily cereal and/or yogurt eater, her commitment was way more impressive than mine. And I certainly didn’t want to be the first one to crack! So with a little celebration on the mind, I had started to think of meals to break the reset. A juicy burger or maybe a nice steak sounded nice, but a dozen clams and a half dozen oysters sent in by Em’s folks, straight from the LI waters sounded much better. With the oysters shucked and served with our favorite garnishes, and a clam paella that rocked our worlds, we couldn’t have had a better Sunday Supper!

Fresh Shucked Oysters

I’ll be posting some of the great reset recipes this week but if you are feeling inspired to do something similar on your own, feel free to reach out for some thoughts. I’m no dietician, and I’m certainly not an expert, but luckily for us, this isn’t rocket science!

Spring Reset Day 8: Give Me Some Crunch!

April 14, 2011

Baked Spring Rolls

Before starting this 10 day journey, Kelly kept warning me of the her hardest part with this type of reset. And it wasn’t about meat, wheat, or dairy. It was all about crunch! Because when you think about it, texture plays an unbelievable role in how much we enjoy food and for the most part, vegetable and even bean based meals tend to be lacking some crispy, crunchy goodness. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether it is these kale chips that I’m an idiot for not making more often, or these baked spring rolls from last night, I refuse to be denied the crunch.

And trust me when I say: these spring rolls are absurdly easy to make. In a wok (or a large saute pan) quickly stir fry shredded cabbage and carrots with sliced mushrooms and sliced scallions. I love to shred my own vegetables with my food processor but if you are in a pinch, the “cole slaw” mix in the grocery store is the perfect substitute. With just a tbsp of honey, a few good splashes of tamari, and 1 tsp of chinese five spice, you will have an unbelievable filling for spring rolls, dumplings, or even to simply serve over rice. In this case I used rice paper wrappers gently soaked in warm water until pliable to assemble my spring rolls. Simply add a few small spoonfuls of the filling and roll the wrapper like a thin burrito. Bake in the oven at 375 for about a half hour and you will have a delicious snack or even a main meal to be proud of. And while you could definitely fry these, baking them after brushing with olive oil did a nice job of keeping these light all while adding that necessary crunch.

A day and a half to go and I’m not even sure I want it to end!

Spring Reset Day 7: Smoothie King

April 13, 2011

My Morning Smoothie

Normally filled with a piping hot cup of joe each and every morning, my trusty mug has been exposed to a rainbow of smoothies over the last 7 days. And while I’ve always been strong enough to stay away from a detrimental coffee addiction, I like myself some caffeine! The stuff is pretty wild and it’s pretty amazing to think what the world would be like without it. But it’s just as amazing what a little fruit will do for you.

I’ve kept my smoothies pretty standard for the most part relying on frozen fruit (blueberries, raspberries, mango, pineapple, and strawberries in this one) and almond milk for creaminess. And despite my first version which ended up a bit more like jelly after a night in the fridge (no idea how this happened), I’ve really been enjoying my morning meal. And while I won’t equate the brightness of my smoothie to the jolt of a delicious cup of coffee, I think this will be a routine I keep for sure!

Our friend Kelly suggested we try this green smoothie which I’m bummed I haven’t tried yet. I plan on picking up the ingredients today and giving this less sweet version a go.

Blend 2 cucumbers, 3 celery stalks, 2-3 apples, juice from 1 lemon, and two handfuls of spinach. Right before serving blend a banana into the single portion.

Any smoothie lovers out there with some other fantastic recipes?

Spring Reset Day 6: Hungry for Hearty!

April 12, 2011

Moroccan Lentil Soup

Even after only 6 days, it’s amazing how much my perception of “full” has shifted. Over the first few days without meat, wheat, or dairy I admittedly found myself feeling a bit hungry. But now that were inching towards the one week mark, I’m rarely snacking because I’m rarely hungry. All and all, that’s got to be a good thing…

One of the most exciting things that I’ve noticed is how hearty the meals I’ve been working on truly are. Without slow braised beef or salty pork (don’t think I’m not dreaming of those!) you can indeed make bone sticking, flavor packed dishes. Take this Moroccan Lentil soup as a perfect example. Sauteing diced onions, bell pepper, carrots, sweet potatoes with ginger, cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, and curry develops such an intense and warming flavor profile that is soaked up by the simmering lentils. Many online recipes suggest using water but quite frankly, all that water dilutes those wonderful flavors forcing you to load in the salt. With a good store-bought vegetable stock you can really make this soup a winner!

Interestingly enough, as I enjoyed this wonderful soup with a little salad on the side, I had trouble remembering the last time I cooked lentils. Well with a quick search on the blog I realized this morning that it has been almost two friggin years! What is wrong with me! That’s gonna have to change for sure.

One last tip for soup lovers across the world. Nothing finishes a soup like a nice splash of olive oil and some quality vinegar. Particularly for a hearty soup like this one, the acidity from the vinegar helps keep your palate alive and the olive oil…well, what is better than olive oil.

Check back for the recipe card for this one soon!

Spring Reset: Half Way There

April 11, 2011

My Weekend's Tree of Temptation

While my overall energy and general sense of health were cruising high throughout the weekend, it was my will power that was severely tested. 3 of arguably the greatest food creations of all time stood in my way of keeping true to the reset. So how the hell did I get passed the trio of pizza, beer, and bagels unscathed? To be honest, I have no idea.

But to be fair, I found the decision to pass on these three favorites to be relatively easy. It’s easy to get hooked on feeling great. And in fact I noticed a pretty interesting tactic my brain imparted without even consulting me. Because I think we’d all agree that there is nothing more intoxicating than the smell of pizza. The aroma follows those pies in a trail of temptation. But this time around, my brain refused to smell it. Now I know I’m exaggerating a bit, but in all honestly, somehow I convinced myself to ignore it. If I made it past the pizza, I knew I would be okay!

But that leads me to the essence of why we’re doing this reset and why indeed it should be called that in the first place. Will I eat pizza again? Of course I will. But sometimes all you need is a reminder of how good you can feel. So by passing on meat, wheat, and dairy we’ve been able to reset our systems and be reminded of all the unbelievably delicious food we have available that makes us feel fantastic. And maybe we just weren’t getting enough of those foods the last few months. Or maybe (and more likely) we were eating and drinking too much of other. As Em said it perfectly last night, “sometimes you need to go to the opposite extreme to find your way back to the middle”.

So five days to go and a few great recipes left to show! And I promise, when I’m back on the booze, the gin cocktail will be worth the wait!

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