Sunday, June 24, 2012

Beautifying, glowing and going green, all the way

Last week I was talking about embarking on a new diet plan. Not a diet, but a solution! Sounds promising, right? Short story about how I got here: a couple of weeks ago I picked up a copy of Elle magazine from the Sacramento airport before boarding a plane back to Albuquerque. "We tested them all!," a title on the cover announced. "3 diets that really work." I flipped to the article out of sheer curiosity. Let's see what crazy things people are doing these days to lose weight, I thought. The first diet on the list was the Beauty Detox Solution, a nutritional plan created by Kimberly Snyder, a Certified Nutritionist whose knowledge and talent are touted by the creme de la creme of celebrities. Drew Barrymore and Fergie swear by her advice, the article said. So I rubbed my chin in deep thought. I was intrigued, not because the plan was recommended for weight-loss, but due to the favorable review by the Elle staffers: "I love that the focus isn't on counting calories or losing weight but on achieving glowing skin, shiny hair, and healthy digestion." Healthy digestion, eh? Gotta check this out.

So I remembered the name and the book, and a week later I picked up The Beauty Detox Solution from Barnes & Noble. It was their last copy, so I took this as a good sign - it must be popular. I read the book within a couple of days. It's not a heavy read, especially because Kim has a friendly instructive style and explains things very, very thoroughly. Her explanations also make sense, even if one is ignorant of the science behind them. 

For instance, one of the basic rules of the Solution is that fruit must be eaten only on an empty stomach. This was a blow for me, because I often have some fruit for dessert, instead of some starchy pastry or some sugary pudding. I thought this was the right way! But here's why it's not: fruits, according to Kim, are one of the most cleanse-promoting and nutrient-rich foods there are. But fruits also spoil at high temperatures and start to ferment. If we eat fruit after a substantial meal, we are queuing them up to be digested last, after the protein and starches from our main meal have been processed, which could take many hours. The chewed-up fruit will stand in line to be processed by the stomach at the 98.6 degrees inside our bodies. Now, that is a really high temperature to be keeping food. Not only will the fruit lose some of its nutrients while it's standing in line in there, but it will also start to poison our bodies as it starts to ferment. So that is why fruit should only be eaten on an empty stomach, and never after a meal.

Halfway through the book I started to really like Kim. And I decided that I would try to live the Beauty Detox way. It felt right. It also felt like a challenge, and I am always game for those. Unfortunately, in my pantry there are still items that Kim would disapprove of (mostly gluten flours - the Beauty Detox recommends gluten-free), and even though the book advises me to ruthlessly discard anything in my kitchen that's not a beautifying food (let's call these ugly foods), I am not one to throw away food. So little by little, I will try to phase them out by working them into my recipes in small quantities. This past week, for instance, I made a cranberry-banana cake with wheat germ that I didn't even get to take a photo of - it disappeared almost immediately it was so good! 

Here are some highlights of the week, in the spirit of Beauty Detox. Some of the recipes below are from Kim's blog.

This is the Glowing Green Smoothie, Kim's signature beauty drink. I watched Vince Vaughn talking about it on Letterman and then Dr. Oz drinking it on national television, so you understand how I absolutely had to make myself one. What is this concoction that famous people are praising? Well, it's definitely tasty, positively green and pretty filling. I am going to try to have this for breakfast every day for the next week. Stay tuned for reviews!

Ah, millet. The book recommends millet as a wheat substitute. To be honest, I'd never tried millet before. It looks a lot like white quinoa, but it has a softer texture. If you boil it enough and add lots of liquid, you get something that looks and tastes like mashed potatoes. This salad is Kim's recipe and contains olives, tomatoes, green onions, parsley (yet, this reminds me of Tabbouleh quite a bit!) and a delicious tart dressing. Very filling!

Home-made protein bars! Seriously awesome. Also one of Kim's recipes, these are creamy bars made of blended cashews with lime juice and other goodies. You get 10 grams of protein from just one of these small bars! If you like, you can substitute some other nuts for cashews. In fact, I just soaked some Brazil nuts to try a variation of the recipe. The process? 5 minutes to prep and blend, then freeze for 4 hours and ready. Mmmmmm!

Creamy cauliflower bisque - definitely in my Top 10 for soups! And although a blended soup with cauliflower and potatoes has a strong potential to be rather bland, the thyme and cayenne pepper in this one give it unsuspected, satisfying flavors.

cauliflower, 2 small heads or 1 humongous head, cut into florets
potatoes, 10 small (red) or 4 large (russet)
1/2 large onion
1 quart (32 oz) vegetable broth
1 cup evaporated milk (regular 2% milk or half and half will work too)
2 Tbsp butter
garlic, 2 large cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (ground)
1/2 tsp thyme (ground)
parsley, cilantro or green onions for garnish
cheese for garnish (I passed on this, because the Beauty Detox denounces dairy, but if you really like cheese go for raw goat's milk Cheddar)

For slow cooker: layer cauliflower, potatoes, onion, garlic, cayenne pepper and thyme in slow cooker. Pour in vegetable broth and add a little water to cover. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
Blend the soup with a hand blender or regular blender, until almost smooth (I like chunks). Return soup to slow cooker. Add milk, butter, salt and black pepper and stir well. Cover and cook for 30 minutes on high.

If you don't have a slow cooker, just follow the directions and simmer the soup in a large pot, covered, for about 2 hours on low heat.

To serve, garnish with shredded cheese and the greens of your choice.

Recipe adapted from The Soup Bible.

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