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  Read through my blog below by simply scrolling down the entries, or check out the essays below. I've chosen ones that I particularly enjoy--maybe you will too.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 13, Saturday: In Which Our Heroine Passes the Test of Michael and Susan's House

Breakfast: Turkey burger and rainbow chard
Lunch: Green apple and nut butter. When trying to reconstruct what I ate, I actually could not remember what this meal was, it was so boring. I had to sit here wracking my brain.
Dinner: At my brother-in-law's. We had deviled eggs, baked chicken, portobello mushroom, and spinach. Yummo.

My in-laws, Michael and Susan and their kids, are a whole story in and of themselves. I adore them. Their house is a big food trigger for me, because they make excellent baked goods, we spend every Thanksgiving there, and the crazy hijinks that ensue when hubby and his brother get together make me very feckless. That family is full of eaters, which is part of why I fit right in when I married into it (the other part is that I like shouting). I generally eat whatever the hell I want at their house, and there's always plenty of it. Dessert has many courses. At a typical gathering we'll have the following: regular cake. Ice cream cake. Cookies. Ambrosia.* Coffee cake. That's AFTER a huge meal with plenty of hors d'oeuvres! My sister-in-law, Susan, and I both adore dessert. She makes one of my all time favorite desserts: CREAM PUFFS. They're insane! The "puff" part is crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside (ah, gluten). The "cream" part includes jell-o pudding (ah, dairy).

My brother Michael Magenta is an amazing writer. My favorite work of his is a short play called "3-3-3-1-1-1". But I am also very fond of a show he wrote and performs called "Fat Selfish Bastard". Michael has plenty of his own issues with food that he unpacks with humor and pathos in that show. If you want to see it, keep an eye on my FB--I post links to his performances. All of which is to say that when he invited us over for dinner, I knew I could tell him that we're avoiding sugar. Sure enough, the minute, the minute we walked in the door, he presented us with a plate of Detox-approved deviled eggs! That's a supportive family member. Then he served us grilled chicken, portobello mushrooms and spinach. It was fantastic and I had two helpings.

Then...things went downhill. Susan and Lauren, my niece, decided to make chocolate chip cookies for a hike they were taking the next day. They negotiated, in excruciating detail, all the various ways you can make chocolate chip cookies. What kind of sugar to use, what kind of flour, how to load them onto the cookie sheet so that they come out perfect. Then they made them, and you know that there's two factors at play when you're resisting chocolate chip cookies: resisting the dough, and resisting the cookies after they're made. Shockingly, I DID NOT EAT ANY.

...So then when I got home I rewarded myself with a paleo milkshake at like 10:30 at night. Technically you're only supposed to have one piece of fruit a day on the Detox, and the banana in the milkshake made two. But honestly, resisting those cookies was absolute torture, so I give myself an enormous pass on the two fruits thing and celebrate my cookie resistance. I can't believe I did it! It didn't help that hubby had one. He stood right in front of me and shoved it all in at once, licking his fingers and saying "Mmmmmmm! Yummy!", and later told me that it was probably one of the best chocolate chip cookies he'd ever had. Thanks honey!

*Have you ever had ambrosia? Okay, I'm going to describe it, and I know that if you've never had it, you'll think it sounds disgusting. But it's fantastic! Ingredients: minimarshmallows. Sour cream. Mandarin oranges. Pineapple. Shredded coconut. Mix it all up and snarf it all down! I went to a party at Michael and Susan's once and I ate six plates of this stuff. Now I realize that I was basically mainlining sugar. Such good times!

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Day 12, Friday: In Which I Practice Moderation

On this day I felt like I was still recovering from too much meatiness. Or maybe it's that I was exhausted. I hadn't been sleeping well since I got home from Chicago. Ideally I go to bed at 10:30 and lights out 11:00. That way I am ready for the world's saddest "take me out please?" whine from the world's cutest dog at 7:30 am. Unfortunately I have been staying up till midnight and beyond playing Dots, a game that will rob you of your hopes and dreams by eating up all your time for no real purpose.

My appetite continues to be quite moderate. Look at what I had to eat on this day:

Breakfast: 2 slices of turkey, a quarter of an avocado, quarter of a bell pepper.
Lunch: 4 slices of turkey, a half an avocado, half a bell pepper.
Dinner: 2 bowls bacon and egg salad (usually I have three).

No snack. I highly recommend the turkey/avocado/pepper combination--I liked it so much I had it twice!

As you know, yesterday I didn't eat much either. I am already so excruciatingly thin--can my zero-body-fat self continue to live on such poor provisions?! (Lest you think I have body dysmorphia, this is a joke. I'm not overweight, but I am certainly in no danger of being blown away by a stiff breeze.) At the end of the day I felt better than the day before, but still not quite my old self.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day 11, Thursday: In Which I Feel Like an Over-Stuffed Sausage

This day was the day that my falling off the wagon blog went up. And I was shocked. SHOCKED, I tell you! At the responses to my dietary indiscretions. First of all, I was shocked that anyone is reading the blog. (Since then many of you have very kindly offered me compliments and encouragement. Thank you for reading!) Second, I was shocked that some people were outright gleeful at my fall off the wagon! (Okay, just two. One of them was my brother. And the other one was this idiot I know [cough JARED].) Others were sweetly sympathetic and suggested I try again in a couple of months. Which is very kind. But my feelings about it go like this: DISCIPLINE=GETTING BACK ON THE WAGON. Which implies that I will fall off it. When I start any practice, I allow for falling off the wagon, or I will go insane!

You've heard the saying, "perfect is the enemy of good"? Perfection is not a feature of any human endeavor or even a feature of reality. Practice doesn't make perfect for me. Instead, practicing stuff makes me better. I get more confident because I know I can overcome challenges. I get more patient because I know from practicing that everybody makes mistakes. I get nicer because I know what it's like to struggle. In my world, discipline is being okay with failing so that I can try again without feeling like a loser. Are you a person who responds well to self-excoriating internal exhortations like, "COME ON, you WUSS, can't go a single month without a cookie?! Get back on the wagon, pond scum!!!"? If so, hooray for you! That doesn't work for me. I have to treat myself like a very timid puppy.

Back to the business of the current day's dietary adventures. As you know, Wednesday I went to bed feeling like crap. I must admit that the bigass steak I hoovered up certainly played a role, although the idea of me being anything other than delighted by a bigass steak is incomprehensible. I was hoping that the dawn's early light would cleanse me of any lingering ill effects. No such luck--on this day I woke up feeling like an over-egged pudding. Like an over-stuffed sausage. Replete...with meat.

TOO MUCH MEAT. So I didn't eat breakfast till 11:00. As I may have mentioned, I prefer to eat at regular times. As you may have noticed, I almost never do. But my feeling is, if you're not hungry...don't eat. Unless you're going to teach a yoga class and won't be able to eat again till later. In that case, take a snack.

Breakfast: 2 eggs at 11:00
Lunch: Green apple with almond butter at like 2:30
Snack: half a cucumber with a slice of turkey at maybe 6:00
Dinner: sweet potato pancakes* from Diane's book, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted asparagus at 9:00ish.

This day was my experiment with eating very little meat on the Detox. And I did feel better, a very little better, at the end of this day. But not much. I just felt full all day. Is it possible that the Detox is somehow resetting how much I need to eat, and that my habits have simply not caught up with my new, smaller food intake needs? A girl can dream.

*This item will come up again later. Remember it.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 10, Wednesday: In Which Our Heroine Struggles with First World Problems

Okay, you know that the blog is about a week to ten days behind my life, right? So I can tell you that this day began a run of a feeling crappy that did not end for a week.

Feeling crappy is a common occurrence on the 21 Day Sugar Detox. Looking at the handbook last night (more on THAT in a couple of days), I was reminded of all the yuck-o feelings that can come up while detoxing. Headaches, muscle and joint pain, mood changes, diarrhea, nausea, foggy-headedness, fatigue, etc. "Why do it then?!" you may cry. Because it's a detox! Detoxing from heroin feels lousy too. Generally "by Week 2 you should begin to feel only positive changes," says Diane.

This...has not been the case for me. It wasn't the case the first time I did the Detox, and it hasn't now. You remember the train metaphor from yesterday? Generally, when I am well into the Detox, my trains run on time, but they come really quickly through the station, and the passengers bolt off the train. This metaphor is becoming unwieldy, but out of respect for your finer feelings, Gentle Reader, I shall persist in trying to use it instead of just saying what I mean which is that I get diarrhea. Oops! Cat's out of the bag. I also feel kind of foggy and cranky, all starting at the end of Week One and persisting for 7-10 days.

This is really disheartening. The Detox is so hard for me (I know this is a dumb first world complaint. Know what's hard? Starving to death in Africa. Or the USA. That's hard.) that it really bums me out to be putting in the time to clean up my diet only to feel worse than before. The first time around I almost called Diane's mother, one of my yoga students, and asked her to put me in touch with her. Who cares that Diane is a probably-very-busy NYT bestselling author? I wanted to talk to her about Number Two! She would probably not object, actually. There's a whole section in her book, Practical Paleo, about poop--what it looks like, what it should look like, how often, what texture, what you'll see if you have problem X or Y, etc. Who gives a crap? Diane does. However, I refrained, and soon enough, things (ahem) "cleared up" for me, and by the end of my first Detox, I felt great.

The meals I ate on this day, Day 10 of my second Detox, swung me right into the middle of Feelin' Shitty City. Is it because it was Week Two? Is it because these were not good choices for me even though they were Detox-approved? Who knows.

Breakfast: Turkey burger and kale.
Lunch: Smoked Salmon and goat cheese wrapped up in butter lettuce leaves.
Snack: Sauteed apples and nuts concoction.
Dinner: HUGE ASS steak and broccoli for dinner.

By the end of this day I felt like absolute crap.

Breakfast went well. My FB friend G.C. Aloha had given me a tip about getting the kale and turkey burger to finish cooking at the same time--put the kale in before the turkey burger. Duh! So I tried that and it went well. It was good.

Lunch was problematic. I have oodles of issues and strategies around dairy. I love it. As a kid I preferred drinking 2% milk to water. For many years I actually didn't feel that water could quench my thirst like milk could. I adore cheese, cream and butter. I really don't do well with full cow dairy. So I switched to goat dairy. I've ridden the goat dairy train a long way. But I so often feel lousy after goat dairy (might have something to do with the fact that I eat a TON at one sitting?) that I have concluded that at present, I can handle yogurt and that's it. The salmon tasted fantastic but I did not feel great after.

Snack was INCREDIBLY AWESOME. Here's what you do: sautee some chopped nuts in coconut oil with cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Put this concoction over the fruit of your choice. Add a dollop of goat yogurt if desired. EPIC WIN! On this day, I put the nuts over some apples that I had diced and also sauteed in butter with cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. It ended up tasting like apple pie. It was so intensely rich--and sweet!--that immediately afterward I had to lay down.

Dinner rolled around and I was feeling kind of like "blerg" but I persevered with eating too much of the aforementioned big ass steak. Big mistake. After dinner I had to go lay on the couch with a cool washcloth on my forehead. My husband has a name for the hot, sweaty, swollen feeling you get from overeating. It appeared on the TV show "Friends" but Chris was saying it long before Joey Tribiani. He calls it "The Meat Sweats." Which, when you think about it, is a great name for a band.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Day 9, Tuesday: In Which Our Heroine Resists the Dread Beast Chocolate Chip Cookie

An amazing thing happened today. I pleasantly surprised myself. Today was my first time back in our car after hubby's road trip. Things I found there: 1. rotten banana peel; 2. used coconut shell/ghee lanterns that had dripped buttery grease all over the floor of the car and, subsequently, my hands; 3. PACKAGE OF HOME MADE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES MADE BY THE HOSTESS AND SENT HOME WITH CHRIS. They were just sitting there. Looking at me. The edges were lightly browned. The middle looked chewy. There were maybe five left in the knob of tin foil. I looked at them. They looked at me. Then I swept them up with the coconut shells and the banana peel and put them in the dumpster.

Okay, let's get down to bizness:

11:30 am: Homemade green juice
2:00 pm: Goat cheese and prosciutto salad
9:00 pm: Fajita-less fajitas
10:00 pm: Apple with almond butter

Okay, so I have so many things to say about the green juice. First of all, full disclosure: these days I find myself actually thinking about what I am going to eat not just from my usual perspectives (will this make me feel good? Is this good for me? Did this have to travel a long way on a truck to get to me? Is this homemade?), but from the added perspective of HOW WILL MY BLOG READERS PERCEIVE THIS MEAL. This is kind of silly, because the only person reading my blog is my sister, and once the Dorothy Lynch salad dressing references dry up I can't promise she'll keep reading. It's also silly because of this: there are a million different diets out there, and a million people willing to raise an eyebrow at mine. The whole point of my Detox is for me to take care of MYSELF, not worry about whether or not I look like a pig or whether or not the vegetarian yoga mafia is coming after me. So it's silly, okay? Very very silly. And yet, when I contemplated my breakfast this morning, I thought of you, Gentle Reader, and how I really had to redeem myself for last night's travesty of a dinner. So I made green juice!

Green juice sounds like a punishment but it is, in fact, an indulgence. Green smoothies make me feel ill, but green juice makes me feel great, when deployed effectively. Effective deployment means not drinking too much of it, drinking it slowly, not using it as a meal replacement. Ineffective deployment means drinking a lot of it very quickly and going out to teach two classes without any protein under my belt. Unfortunate digestive sequelae* and crashing soon follow. Green juice is very potent and my system needs time to absorb it. If you think about it, we didn't evolve with juicers, and our bodies are used to processing celery juice in the context of all the fiber that goes with celery. Or that's my goofy theory anyway. So I drink it slowly.

I first got into green juice because one of my friends was visiting to teach a yoga workshop. She had brought with her a huge plastic quart container of green juice. Being from New Jersey, I'm used to seeing those containers filled with Chinese hot and sour soup. But this one had a kind of electric green liquid in it, and as she walked past me carrying it, I was entranced by the fragrance emanating from it--it smelled like grass, and summer, and my cells cried, "I want that! Gimme that!"

Here's my favorite green juice recipe: (I use a Breville, one of the numerous fantastic kitchen appliances I have from when my hubby worked at Williams Sonoma. We live in a teeny tiny apartment but man, we have the kitchen appliances of an EMPEROR.)

- Head of romaine lettuce
- Three stalks celery
- Half a cucumber
- Two large handfuls of kale
- A lemon
- Half a head of fennel OR a green apple

The fennel is pretty sweet. (I didn't use the green apple today because I wanted to save it for snack time--as you know I've been relying on green apple and almond butter a LOT during this Detox for snacks.) The lemon gives this a wonderful flavor. So that was breakfast. I didn't have to teach on this day so I didn't bother having anything else, but when I do have to teach I'll supplement the green juice with a handful of cashews or an egg.

I can't remember what I had in addition to goat cheese and prosciutto on the salad, but it was probably cucumber and scallion, my go-to salad ingredients. 'Twas tasty. Hubby liked it too.

Okay, I understand that this picture makes fajita-less fajitas look like a big bowl of featureless glop, but they are one of my favorite dinners currently. They work on the same principle as bunless burgers and bagel-less bagels and lox--just leave out the tasteless bread-y meal component. This meal comes together insanely quickly. I get some Trader Joe's organic chicken tenders, or even better, skinless boneless chicken thighs. Put them on a cookie sheet. Cover them with salsa and salt and garlic powder to taste. Whack 'em in the convection oven on broil, 400 degrees. While that's cooking, I slice up half an onion and a bell pepper, put some olive oil, cumin, garlic, chile powder, salt, etc. in a pan and cook 'em up slowly. When the onion and pepper are soft, I dump in an entire package of sliced mushrooms. While THAT cooks down, I make guacamole. I can't stand store-bought guacamole. Here's how I make it: a whole avocado from a reliable source. (Ashley Market has reliable avocados. They're always ripe but not rotten.) Two medium garlic cloves chopped very finely. Two limes. Plenty of salt. Mush together. By that time, the chicken is done, the veggies are done, BAM. I arrange all three meal components in a bowl. I add a dollop of goat milk yogurt instead of sour cream. Some other time I'll regale you with a tiresome list of all my dairy issues and how I get around them.

Apple with almond butter is becoming my go-to snack on this detox. It was not at all very prominent the first time I did the Detox. The first time around, I ate a lot of cheese sticks. Which really screwed up my train schedule (see asterisk).

*Do I really have to spell out what I mean by "unfortunate digestive sequelae"? Lemme put it this way. People have three types of digestive problems. 1. The trains come too frequently. 2. The trains come too infrequently. 3. They alternate too frequently and too infrequently. I don't spend a lot of time loitering on platforms. Capiche?

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 8, Monday: In Which I Set Forth Principles of Salad

What I ate on this day:

Breakfast: I went for the sliced turkey and yellow pepper again. Super good.
Lunch: Sirloin cheeseburger with fixin's.
Dinner: Bacon and eggs.

The cheeseburger falls under the same principle as the bagel with lox, cream cheese, etc. The flavor is not in the bagel! Similarly, in a cheeseburger, the flavor is not in the bun! The flavor is in the stuff WITH the burger--pickle, tomato, onion, whatever condiments you like. I'm oddly becoming more of a mayonnaise fan, but anything other than homemade mayonnaise is pretty unhealthy and also doesn't taste that good. Mayonnaise is easy to make at home, and I learned how to make mayonnaise from a real French woman in her kitchen in France, but most of the time I am not in the mood to make a mayonnaise. Ketchup is fabulous but it is full. of. sugar! So check out this picture of how I had my burger. On a plate with an array of burger-related veggies and a little mustard. Makes a nice looking plate, in my opinion. Instead of eating with my hands I used a knife and fork and cut up my food and inserted it daintily into my maw. Yummo!

Dinner was supposed to be a little something FANTASTIC that I make called "Bacon and Egg Salad". No, it's not a variation on egg salad. It's a salad with eggs and bacon in it. This sounds pretty run of the mill, and indeed, some may say it is. But I say that making a salad is an overlooked art. The thing is, it's not enough for me to roughly chop up whatever is in my fridge and throw it ice-cold on a plate with some sugar-free dressing from a bottle. Oh no. Or rather, sure it's enough to get the vegetables into my body, but if I want to actually SAVOR the meal, I make an effort to follow these principles:

1. I really think about the ingredients. Will the flavors be harmonious? Am I putting in two things that really don't go together? Personally, I don't care for the taste of tuna with tomato. Not sure why. I find those two foods unpleasant together. In fact, I am not a fan of raw tomato in a salad at all. Similarly, I wouldn't be happy with, say, goat cheese and tuna. I like tuna in the classic Nicoise (PRONOUNCED NEE-SWA-Z!), but not with tomato. You have your own preferences, I'm sure. Respect them.

2. Along the same lines, at any given moment I have about six crunchy salad-appropriate veggies in my fridge. Say I have celery, cucumber, yellow pepper, fennel (great in green juice but more about that later), scallion, and carrots. I've been known to chop up a little of each of these, throw them on some lettuce, add a bunch of savory other stuff (bacon, chicken, egg, goat cheese, avocado, toasted pine nuts, whatever), whisk up some dressing and throw it all together. We are invariably disappointed with these salads. There are too many competing flavors and textures. It's actually better to use fewer ingredients and just use more of each one. Then you've got cuisine instead of food.

3. Cut harder vegetables into smaller pieces (like pea-sized), and softer ingredients into larger pieces. If I cut up a little chunk of goat cheese into a million tiny pieces it blends with the salad dressing and creates a mucus-y coating. Texturally nasty and also you miss the taste of the goat cheese. Larger chunks means actual flavor. Similarly, don't cut an avocado into small pieces. Keep avocado either in slices (I don't really do this but I like it when I go to a restaurant and that's how they have the avocado) or cut into chunks. Cucumber is not rock hard but not soft either, so it should be somewhere in-betweeny. Celery should be very small, like pea-sized, because it is pretty flavorless and quite hard, and in my salads, I either don't use carrots or I shred them. Carrots coins ruin a salad, in my opinion. And I should know. Carrot coins were a big feature of the Dorothy-Lynch-salad-dressing-salads of my youth.

4. Use room temperature vegetables. I can't imagine that cold food was a big feature of life at the dawn of humanity. Probably we didn't start eating cold food for several hundred thousand years. Ideally, I spend the 30 minutes before my meal harvesting beautiful vegetables from my warm, abundant garden in the south of France, wearing a muslin peasant blouse and a big straw hat, placing the veggies in a large straw basket, with my well-behaved dog hovering nearby, no mud or stress or bugs, etc. But usually, when I'm not at my country house (joke. I don't have a country house. I'm a yoga teacher for God's sake!) I pull the stuff right out of the fridge. So I wash it in warm water, and if I'm using bacon and egg, like I do for bacon and egg salad, I don't let them cool before I add them, so that the hot food cooks the cold off the raw veggies.

5. I MAKE MY OWN DRESSING. I cannot emphasize this enough. This is essential to my enjoyment of a salad. Why, why oh why get it from a bottle when you can pour a third cup of olive oil into a mug, squeeze in a lemon, few drops of vinegar, generously salt (maybe a little garlic powder), and you've got something fabulous?

Okay, so here's what I put in bacon and egg salad:
- Bag or two of salad
- Six to eight strips of bacon chopped
- Three hard-boiled eggs
- Entire avocado
- Plenty of scallions
- Plenty of cucumber
- Enough pine nuts to coat the bottom of an omelette pan, where I toast them and then add them warm to the salad
- Sometimes peas

This is a salad that eats like a MEAL, people! It's fantastically satisfying. But last night, my hubby and I got home late. We were exhausted. Hubby had very kindly already prepared the bacon and eggs. So we just ate that: bacon and eggs. No salad. (Sad trombone.)

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 7, Sunday: In Which Our Heroine Feels Glum

On this day I was feeling kind of glum. My foot was bothering me, my husband was out of town, and I had a fight with the dog over taking a bath. (She REALLY wanted me to. I refused. She insisted. We both said things we regret.) Is it a coincidence that this glumness corresponded with the aftermath of a sugar binge? Who knows. I also worked a lot, and kind of forgot to eat.

Breakfast: Turkey burger with kale. If I've had a dietary indiscretion the night before, good ol' TB with greens settles my stomach. But I was in a hurry so I only ate half.

Lunch: remaining TB and kale, plus half an avocado with lemon, and half a yellow pepper.

Dinner: green apple with almond butter (salted, natch). I could have used the awesome Trader Joe's sirloin burger I had in my fridge to make a little something fabulous I like to call "Cheeseburger Salad". I thought about having that for dinner. And I thought about how good and conscientious I would look to you, dear Reader. Then I got home and was too tired. And basically ended up having snack for dinner.

High marks for staying inside the bounds of the detox today. Low marks for eating like a stray cat.

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Day 6, Saturday: In Which I Fall Off the Wagon


Sorry the blog didn't go up last night at the usual time. Wednesday night is always a toughie for me because I teach till 9pm. I was flattered to receive several messages from my rabid fans clamoring for the latest post! Okay, not several. I got one. And actually, it wasn't really "fans" plural. It was one fan, who, full disclosure, is actually related to me. And really, I don't know if you can call it a message--it was a text. Still, I have made it my business this morning to satisfy my sister's craving for my food update and my scintillating prose!

On this day, I fell off the wagon, once on purpose, and once by accident.

Breakfast was pretty stellar, although it was not breakfast food, which I'm not crazy about. A couple of slices of turkey and a half a yellow pepper. I adore yellow and orange bell peppers, but I do feel a bit guilty about eating them because most of them are exactly the opposite of local--they're from Holland or Israel. But man are they fantastic! Sweet, too.

Lunch: my lovely in-laws took me out to lunch because hubby was out of town. We went for Mexican. We had guacamole (fine) and I had fajitas without the tortillas. So steak, onion, green pepper, mushroom, tomato. Should be fine, but afterward I felt a I'm pretty sure the steak was marinated in something sugary.

Dinner: turns out my friend Eyal is in town from Israel (where my peppers come from!) and our mutual friend Nina invited me over for dinner. Now, here's my thing about going over to a friend's house when I'm on a sugar detox: I let it go. If I had seriously dangerous food sensitivities, I would be much more careful. But I don't. So I eat what everyone else is eating. Everyone else was having adult beverages, there was some fantastic corn on the cob, there were grapes, there were cookies and chocolate covered pretzels. Here's what I had:

- Vodka with lime juice. I'd never had this beverage before but it might be my new go-to drink. It was the first thing I had when I got there, and again, because of the detox, it actually tasted SWEET. As anyone who has ever socialized with me knows, it takes a very small amount of alcohol to create lampshade-on-the-head Emma. I have the tolerance of a flea but I drank this slowly and it was fantastic. BOOZE IS DECIDEDLY NOT DETOX FRIENDLY. As you probably know, it's all sugar. Did you know that one factor in alcoholism is that the sufferer is addicted to the sugar? True story.
- Spinach dip. Not sure what Nina put in this but it was spinachy and oniony and cheesy and very tasty. I'm sure it was cow milk rather than goat milk cheese (I generally can tolerate the latter, but not the former so well). I ate it with baby carrots instead of the crackers that were there. It was also fantastic.
- One grape. Then I remembered that I'm not eating grapes, and there were plenty of other tasty things, so I ate those instead.
- Lots of carrots and blanched green beans.
- One ear of corn on the cob.
- Shrimp
- Salad (probably some sweetener in the dressing. There were cranberries but I didn't eat them.)

So far I had been doing pretty well. I'd had vodka and corn, but oh well--vodka is a very clean drink and the corn was from an organic farm stand, so I felt my fall had been gentle and short. THEN the dessert came out. I simply cannot--CANNOT--sit next to a plate of chocolate chip cookies and not have one. I can't do it. They are my number one, number one favorite thing to eat. They are my nemesis. If it wouldn't destroy my health, I would eat chocolate chip cookies and milk* at every meal and never, never get tired of them. The crispy outer edge. The chewy center. The hint of salt. The texture when soaked in milk. The way the chips melt all over you when you eat them straight out of the oven. What I really love is home made, but I'm not picky. I would eat Entemann's if necessary.

So I had one. Then I had another. Then a plate of dark chocolate covered pretzels came out. Thereupon the cookies became a gateway drug for the pretzels. I told myself a very strange story: "Oh, the pretzels aren't cookies so they're not so bad." So I ate four of them. Here in the hard cold light of morning I realize that in fact the pretzels are exactly the same thing as the cookies. Wheat flour and chocolate. Forget the hard cold light of morning--I knew they were the same thing the moment I was eating them! Good thing I skipped those grapes, huh? Wouldn't wanna screw up my Detox with GRAPES when there are COOKIES around!

Sigh. I enjoyed my fall off the wagon immensely. And if you ask me, when doing a Detox, that's exactly the attitude to have. I fell off the wagon, I had a great time, and tomorrow is another day.

*WHOLE milk. That's right. I would dip the cookies in whole milk. Now that's PROFESSIONAL.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 5, Friday: In Which I Cook Cow Black and Blue

Breakfast: Two hardboiled eggs. Are you as tired of reading that breakfast as I am of eating it? Here's the thing about hard-boiled eggs. They are not quick (takes about ten minutes), but they are easy. Pot of water on the stove, put in the eggs, you go jump in the shower while they cook. I actually really love hardboiled eggs, but I eat them a bit too much (in my experience, eating the same stuff all the time creates a sensitivity to it), plus I don't doll them up. Yes, this is again in violation of my own precepts about eating CUISINE, not food. Know what makes a hardboiled egg cuisine? This is the best, the best way to eat a hardboiled egg--PUT PESTO ON IT. Homemade pesto. More on that later. I'm sure the pesto hardboiled eggs will make it onto my detox before the end. They're epic. Really.

Lunch: Turkey burger with kale. I find myself feeling a little embarrassed to tell you guys about my turkey burger lunch. I am afraid you will find it...sad. Regardless, that's what I wanted to eat, so that's what I ate! And it was AWESOME. When I make TB with rainbow chard I can just put it into the pan and the TB and the chard get done at about the same time. The kale takes longer, so I take the turkey burger out and just wait for the kale to cook a little more. I'd rather have a lukewarm TB than al dente kale. I also had a half an avocado prepared in my favorite way: sliced, tons of lemon juice, liberal salt. Avocados are fabulously fatty. I remember reading somewhere several years ago that our bodies digest vegetables better when they are eaten with fat. No wonder so many cultures around the world combine fat with vegetables! So the great thing about eating an avocado with lemon is that the oil and vegetable are all in one--add lemon and viola! insta-salad.

Dinner: hoo-boy, this was a doozy. My husband is away this weekend (at summer camp. Really.) so just to spite him I had a steak (his favorite), and entire bag of baby spinach sauteed (which, as you might expect, cooked down to about a cup), and a yellow bell pepper. Sorry for the lurid quality of this photo. It's a shame--it makes that steak look crappy when it was FANTASTIC. Here's how I like my steak cooked: black and blue. Have you heard of that designation? It means charred on the outside and rare on the inside. Even though everyone in the restaurant business knows what it means, it can be hard to find a restaurant that actually cooks it that way. So really, the best steak I've ever had is at my house.

This brings me to another one of my personal dietary precepts: I like my plate to be one-third protein, one-third cooked vegetable, one-third raw vegetable. Chinese Medicine takes the premise that too much raw food puts a burden on your metabolism. According to this perspective, if you already have a weak metabolism, a raw diet is really not so good. Many of my yoga colleagues urge their students to eat raw. I think this is a lousy idea, a. because of what I just mentioned, and b. because I believe that if you're not a nutritionist you should avoid giving advice about nutrition. Just like if you're not a surgeon you should avoid performing surgery.

Late-night Indiscretion: I didn't fall off the wagon, but I ate this final item later than I wanted to. Probably not a good idea to have a milkshake before bed. And that's pretty much what I had. But it was a SUGAR DETOX milkshake! Wanna know what was in it? A frozen green-tipped banana. Probably 3 tablespoons of unsweetned cocoa powder. Handful of icecubes. Slug of coconut water. Tablespoonish of almond butter. SALT. Salt is THE. KEY. to a good smoothie, in my opinion. Just think about how many processed foods have oodles of salt in them! What makes a Snickers bar so freaking good is not just the sugar. It's the salt! So I salt my smoothies. With very fancy, high end Himalayan salt my dad brought me back from Europe. Mmmmm! Note: would I think this was good if I hadn't been sugar detoxing for the last few days? Probably not. So if you try it at home, don't think I'm crazy if it tastes like crapola to you. Just remind yourself that I'm not a nutritionist. Or a chef.

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Day 4, Thursday: In Which We Enter My Dietary Wheelhouse

Gah! Did a bunch of Dorothy-Lynch related research last night after posting and I'm horrified to find that it's still around! People like it 'cause it's fat-free! The fat was the only thing it had going for it...

Anyway, on to the heart of the matter. The reason why you're here and I'm here. The big reveal.... What did I eat on this day?

Breakfast: Now. We are really getting into my wheelhouse. The very heart of my preferred way to eat. This is why I laugh at anyone who insists we're all meant to be vegetarian. NOTHING. And I mean NOTHING. Makes me feel like a bigger CHAMPION. Than eating the following for breakfast:


I know, I know, it's not really breakfast food, so I'm sort of breaking my own rule. But I imagine the turkey burger is kind of a patty (like breakfast sausage!) and I remind myself of the spinach in Eggs Florentine, and somehow I've managed to convince myself that this is breakfast food. It helps that the chard and the burger are both pretty bland. The first time I tried this I was 23 years old. A woman I worked with said she had taken to eating a TB for breakfast and felt great. I was skeptical--I knew this woman to be truly, tragically mentally ill, and it didn't help that she, in fact, had a history of anorexia. But I tried it. And even then I was BLOWN AWAY by how INCREDIBLY alert, clear-headed, steady, and upbeat I felt, leaving for the subway in the morning with a turkey burger under my belt. Then, caught up in the hurly-burly of my twenties in the big city, I forgot about it. I did some disastrous flirting with vegetarianism and green smoothies for breakfast before I finally returned to my true home, TB.

Here, a word about green smoothies. Everyone in yogaland talks about green smoothies. "Green smoothies are so tasty and nutritious!" "Green smoothies are so easy to whip up in my [vitamix, magic bullet, dishwasher--insert appliance here]!" "Green smoothies are cuter than puppies!" "Green smoothies cured my cancer!" Not actually joking about that last one. I enjoy green smoothies. But every time I made them for breakfast (and I tried 'em a bunch of different ways), I would get sick to my stomach immediately and unfortunate digestive sequelae within 20 minutes. Screw that! Sticking to my TB.

Lunch: smoked salmon, purple onion, a bit of goat cheese, tomato, lemon, salt. Here in New Jersey we are all obsessed with bagels. And for very good reason! When I was growing up in Kansas, a bagel was a frozen item about three inches in diameter. Then I moved to the Tri-state area and learned how majestic a bagel really can be. Toasted, with a schmear of cream cheese, accompanied by a large orange juice--heavenly! And SUGARY.

When I moved to New Jersey and started hanging out with Jewish people, I was introduced to the concept of bagels and lox. Oh, how I pity my young midwestern self, growing up without bagels and lox! It's not just the bagels and lox that makes bagels and lox so fabulous. It's the cream cheese, the capers, the red onion, the tomato that go WITH the bagel and lox. I don't do so well with cow milk dairy, so back when I was eating bagels I would substitute soft goat cheese (this is a pretty good substitution if you get bland goat cheese). Now as a Paleo eater, I've realized that when you have so many accoutrements to the bagel, you can ELIMINATE the bagel. Or at least I can, and still be happy.

Dinner: with mah gals, takeout from Arturo's, which is the best restaurant in South Orange/Maplewood, in my opinion. Sauteed kale and salads with tomatoes, prosciutto (pronounced "prushoot" in New Jersey), mozzarella (pronounced "mootsarelle"), etc. My dining companions also shared a pizza. I avoided the pizza, and then at the end of the night, the hostess invited me to take home the remaining salads. "What, is everyone done with the salads?" I asked. "I'm not taking them home. I'll eat the rest right now!"

Late night snack: apple and almond butter. Dumb idea. Should have gone to bed. One thing I realized on the Sugar Detox is that I'm not hungry late at night because I'm hungry. I'm hungry because I'm TIRED. So if I eat a snack, I end up staying up late. Then I oversleep the next morning.

Otherwise, happy with my day.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 3, Wednesday: In Which Our Heroine Addresses Durkee and Dorothy Lynch

Today I felt that I finally hit my stride, eating approved foods at appropriate times in combinations that were harmonious and satisfying.

Breakfast at a normal hour was 2 hardboiled eggs. Nothin' fancy, but it was quick and got the job done.

Lunch was chicken salad over greens at Grid Iron Waffle House at an appropriate hour with the excellent company of one of my students, Bob.

Snack was green apple with peanut butter. Even here, as early as Day 3, I am seeing the phenomenon that everyone talks about, that I always doubted, but that turns out to be REAL. Normally I hate green apples. By Day 3, that green apple with almond butter tastes so, so sweet, and the almond butter is so rich, that it's an indulgence. Yes, this really happens. In fact, ten minutes after I ate it I was sitting around tasting the remnants of it on my tongue and thought, "Wait--did I slip up and eat a peanut butter cup?" True story.

I actually feel that raw almond butter with salt has a taste and texture that is somehow reminiscent of the raw cookie dough you buy in the tube. Remember when that first came out and it was so, well, miraculous? Now there's cookie dough in so many things the very idea grosses me out (chocolate covered cookie dough drops at Staples, cookie dough ice cream, etc.). Eating the raw almond butter takes me back to Kansas in 1992, when eating raw cookie dough from a tube was still thrilling. Ah, the halcyon days of youth!*

Dinner is one of my favorites from Diane's Practical Paleo: Lemon Artichoke Chicken. I add shiitake mushrooms and garlic to it, and use boneless skinless thighs. I love thighs--because of the FAT. I love chicken skin too (again, because of the FAT), but at TJ's the organic free range thighs only come boneless and skinless. Plus half an avocado with lemon. Yumsville. Could have used some more roughage at this meal but I had about two cups of salad at lunch.

*One day I shall take you down a harrowing memory lane of strange shit I ate on the farm in Kansas when I was a kid. Oh heck, why not today? Just two examples: My sister was just today reminding me of Dorothy Lynch salad dressing. It came in an enormous bottle and it was a lurid orange, with flecks of "herbs" in it. It was sickeningly sweet. I said to my sister, "why didn't we just have olive oil and lemon?" She replied, "we didn't have that stuff then." Lemons? We didn't have lemons? Were we on a clipper ship in the 1640s?

Another strange item: Hot dogs with Durkee sauce. I frequently had this for lunch, prepared with love by me (from age nineish onward) in the following fashion: fry up two hot dogs in butter, turning them so that each side gets crusty and golden. In the meantime, toast two hot dog buns. Remove buns from toaster oven, slather with butter. Then a layer of Durkee sauce, and a thin line of ketchup, put in the dogs and BAM! Awesomeness. The Durkee sauce looked like what you'd get if you combined mustard and mayonnaise together, and tasted a bit like that too, but more vinegary. I would kill for some of it now but I have a feeling it's not on the Detox. Dorothy Lynch dressing can drop dead for all I care. I never want to see that bee-yotch again.

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 2, Tuesday: In Which Our Heroine Eats Half a Hard-Boiled Egg

What I ate on this day.

9:00: 4 slices of bacon
2:00: Half a hardboiled egg
2:30: Cucumber, turkey, goat cheese plate
6:00: Green apple with almond butter (I salted the almond butter)
8:30: Pork chops and broccoli

Another kind of odd day. I'm a little fuzzy about the times that I ate these things, but I will say that I had the half a hardboiled egg (how sad is that? HALF a hardboiled egg? We hadn't gone grocery shopping yet and it was the only egg left in the house, so we split it) at like 2:00. So I had four slices of bacon for breakfast. Again, it was all we had in the house. I love bacon, and I love that eating Paleo means being okay with eating bacon, but even I feel that four slices of bacon for breakfast, and nothing else, is a bit degenerate. However, my stomach didn't hurt and I felt clear-headed and pretty energetic. That's really my barometer for whether or not a food plan, or a meal, is working for me. I am excruciatingly sensitive to sugar. I can feel my blood sugar spike just from eating a banana. Of course the spike is always followed by a crash. So if I were to have, say, a banana for breakfast, or a glass of orange juice with a slice of gluten free bread with jam, I would spike and crash within 30 minutes. When I say crash, I mean that it's really not safe for me to drive in that condition. So that fact that I felt clear-headed and relatively energetic after the four slices of bacon makes it, for me, a win. Not ideal, but a win.

The cucumber, turkey, and goat cheese were the only lunch-esque food we had left in the house. So I sliced them all up, put them on a platter, dressed the cucumber with olive oil and lemon, and voila. Husband was pretty happy and I was too.

The green apple with almond butter: salt makes everything better! I use the Trader Joe's raw, unsweetened almond butter. There's no sodium in it, which suits me fine--they always add too much--so I add my own salt. This makes the snack incredibly decadent.

Another note, this time about the pork chops and broccoli. When I say pork chops and broccoli, you may be envisioning a dry, sad little chop and some soggy seasonless steamed broccoli. NO. Homie don't PLAY like that. We keep the fat on the chops and season them with a ton of herbs. When my husband's done cooking them there are a ton of blackened herbs and oil left in the pan. My husband calls them "leavin's". They are crispy and fantastic! I steam the broccoli to perfect al dente and doctor it with olive oil and lemon and salt. It's AWESOME. We loved our dinner.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 1, Monday: In Which Our Heroine Eats Like a Stray Cat

Here's what I ate on this day.

8:45 am: hardboiled egg on my way to teach 
11:00 am: hardboiled egg after teaching
3:00 pm: two slices of turkey and a 1 by 3 inch strip of goat cheese
7:00 pm: pickles and olives at Falafelly Yours (local Mediterranean awesomeness), followed by mixed-meat shwarma over Greek salad. Hoping whatever they cooked the shwarma in doesn't have sugar.

Okay, not too proud of this day. I had gotten home at 4:00 in the morning the night before (driving back from Chicago) and I was decidedly at low ebb. Consequently, I fell into one of the traps that I try to avoid on any food plan: eating "approved" stuff, but at random times, with little thought put into it, and consequently with no pleasure.

It's not enough, in my opinion, to eat the "approved" stuff. I want to eat the "approved" stuff with gusto.  I want my meals to be home-made. I want to eat at regular times. I want the foods to go well together. I want to eat stuff that is appropriate to the meal I'm eating. Like, I don't want to have meatloaf for breakfast. I don't want scrambled eggs for dinner. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that (I'm not judging anybody!) but eating like that makes me feel like I am one step away from living on the streets. As my yoga history teacher Douglas Brooks says, there's a big difference between cuisine and food. Food is what you COULD eat. Cuisine is what you WOULD eat, what you'd WANT to eat. I may be Sugar Detox-ing but I want cuisine.

Day One did not go so well in this respect. I can't quite put Day One's food into meal categories. I ate at odd times. I ate the turkey and cheese standing at the kitchen counter--BIG no-no in my book. Never eat over the sink! And if you can, use a cloth napkin. Makes a meal so much more humane. I ate the eggs on the way to work which is also a big no-no in my book, and yet is something I do easily four days a week. However, I give myself a pass about all this stuff, because if there's one thing I try to remember about the Detox, it's that I do it to FEEL BETTER about myself. So while I will undoubtedly go against my own rules/preferences during the three weeks, and I will very likely fall off the wagon a couple of times, I don't care. I give myself a big squooshy hug, and say, "way to go, Emma! You didn't use a cloth napkin, but you ALSO didn't spend the entire afternoon eating Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups and napping!" That's progress, folks.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tag Along on My Sugar Detox!

[WARNING: this blog post contains an unusual number of bulleted and numbered lists.]

Okay, Sportsfans, I am 21-Day-Sugar-Fast-ing it again! This is, of course, a total drag. What I would eat every day if I could:

  •  - Raymond's French toast (Raymond's is a local restaurant)
  •  - My recipe for French toast (challah, full cream, cinnamon and nutmeg--you do the math)
  •  - Real French baguette with lashings of butter, dipped in hot chocolate
  •  - My recipe for mac and cheese (includes bechamel sauce--OH YEAH)
  •  - My recipe for cinnamon rolls, adapted from Cooks Illustrated and improved a million times by me
  •  - Beth Collins's chocolate chip cookies and milk (Beth is a family friend)
  •  - Susan Magenta's cream puffs (not my biological sister, but my sister of the heart, especially in matters pertaining to dessert)

Are you noticing a trend in these food items? Are you noticing that they are all pretty much variations on MILK and BREAD and SUGAR? You're damn right they are, and I'm not ashamed of it. Problem is, when I eat this way I feel. like. death. Plus I break out in hives the size of the palm of your hand. Plus I act like a terrible bitch.

The 21-Day Sugar Detox is a program developed by my Paleo diet guru, Diane Sanfilippo, author of Practical Paleo. Let's get the Paleo bashing out of the way, shall we?

  • - "People didn't really eat like that in the paleolithic era!" I don't know what people ate in the Paleolithic era. I can only say that regardless of the anthropology, many years and many food plans have revealed to me that the Paleo diet works best for me. 
  • - "All that meat is bad for you! Look at what happened to Atkins!" Paleo's not Atkins. You eat meat, responsibly-sourced meat. But you also eat eggs fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Dairy and potatoes are a bit of a grey area. Legumes are out. Why? I can't remember. Look it up.
  • - "I'm a vegetarian and I feel great!" That's so great for you! I am so happy to hear you are happy with your food plan! A vegetarian diet makes me feel like crap on a cracker. A wheat cracker. With cheese on it. But that doesn't mean I think you have to eat like I do. 
Paleo is way far from the Standard American Diet (SAD). But the 21-Day Sugar Detox is even farther. On the detox, you avoid all the usual stuff you avoid when eating Paleo and also confine your fruits to one green apple or one green-tipped (i.e., not ripe and less sweet) banana per day. You can find out all the nitty-gritty from Diane's website,, or from her forthcoming book, the 21-Day Sugar Detox. 

I did the detox this winter. I noticed a couple of things: I slept way better, and it was easier than I imagined for me, an avowed sugar junkie. Just to give you an idea of how big a junkie I am: when my friend Bernadette first asked me if I wanted to do the sugar detox, I said "NO." She asked why, and I told her that even though I know giving up sugar would be healthier for me, even though I knew it wreaked havoc on my brain power and relationships, I simply didn't want to stop eating sugar. I liked it too much. You know, like the same reason a junkie doesn't want to give up heroin. Because she really, really likes it. 

Now, I'm back to the detox well again. For a few reasons. 
  1. 1. Bernadette is doing it right now too, and I adore her so I have to rush right out and do whatever she's doing. 
  2. 2. I recently returned from a week in Chicago where my husband and I ate our way through the entire city. Seriously. We ate so much that when my husband told my mother in law we needed to go on a diet she said, "I know, I saw the pictures from Chicago on Facebook, and you were blowing up more and more in every picture!" You know you need to change your food habits when your family is tracking your weight gain on Facebook. 
  3. 3. I was suddenly struck by an attack of nerve pain in my foot three weeks ago, and the only thing that I was doing differently before it struck was DRILLING Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. I've seen a foot doctor, I'm getting an MRI, etc etc, but I'm also a bit curious whether my foot pain will improve when I cut out the sugar. (Note to those who enjoy the TJ's DCPBCs: FREEZE THEM. You're welcome.)
My mom will say it is hopelessly narcissistic, my sister* will laugh at me, but I thought you might enjoy seeing what I'm eating on the detox. So look for a post a day, or every couple of days, filling you in on my progress. Marvel at the surprising VOLUME of food I put away! Sneer when I fall off the wagon! Cheer when I cross the finish line and head right for the Able Baker in Maplewood! 

I started a few days ago. My post about the first couple of days is coming up soon. Stay tuned!

* My sister, by the way, has the world's best line about dieting. She runs six miles a day, and when I said to her, "Geez, six miles a day, isn't that incredibly boring?" she replied, "Nothing is more boring than not eating what you want." It almost inspired me to start running again. Almost. 

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