Clean Cooking & a 21-day Arbonne Healthy Eating Detox – Vegan or Vegetarian Style

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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A bunch of my friends are doing the 28-day Arbonne detox.   Click that link to go to their site & get a pretty thorough overview of the program.  My friends all bought the whole program & committed to a 28 day cleanse.  I was out of town for the first week, working, so – I started a week late.  They all bought the products that assist in the detox – I did not (though I caved & bought the 7-day Cleanse).  Other products they include are a protein shake & detox tea & some other things.  Frankly, the price tag was a little out of my reach plus – I do not buy into the level of protein people in fitness & nutrition seem to be fixated on.  Plus – the diet plan was not going to be especially restrictive for me as I eat pretty clean already.  Here are the things you CANNOT eat on this cleanse (and it is a cleanse – NOT a diet):

  •  Dairy
  •  Gluten
  •  Soy
  •  Peanuts & Peanut Butter
  •  Sugar, Honey, Maple Syrup
  •  Artificial Sweeteners
  •  Coffee
  •  Alcohol
  •  All Fruit EXCEPT limes, lemons green apples & berries
  •  Pork
  •  Farm-raised fish
  •  Non Cage-Free Eggs
  •  Non Free-Range Chicken
  •  All Beef, other than grass fed
  •  White Potatoes
  •  Corn
  •  Nitrates
  •  MSG
  •  Vinegar

And here is the list of things you CAN eat:

  •  Almond, Coconut & Flax Milk
  •  Brown Rice
  •  Raw Almonds
  •  Almond Butter
  •  Coconut Sugar
  •  Stevia, Xylitol
  •  Green & Herb Teas
  •  Non Starchy Vegetables
  •  Organic green apples & berries
  •  Cage-Free Eggs
  •  Wild-caught Cold Water Fish (limit to 1x per week)
  •  Free-Range Chicken and Turkey
  •  Grass fed Beef (limit to 1x per week)
  •  Sweet Potatoes, Yams,
  • Turnips
  •  Legumes
  •  Avocado
  •  Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Coconut Oil, Flaxseed Oil

So – I do not eat beef, chicken or fish & I really try to avoid eggs and I almost never eat sweets.  But, a quick look at the menus & shopping lists found HERE left me confident that I could tweak things easily enough to stay satisfied.  For me – the big challenge is not drinking a bottle of wine every night.  Yes, every night.  Also – my faux chicken of choice, Beyond Meat, has soy in it – so – I was going to try to minimize using it – but for the purposes of this cleanse ONLY!  I will definitely return to it – likely before the end of my first week.  Beyond Meat is just too good & the Quorn (I just realized) has both eggs & sugar in it.  I bought this Quorn stuff to try, instead, though.  It is NOWHERE NEAR as convincing as Beyond Meat but I will be using what I bought – and return to Beyond Meat.  And it worked well in the chicken soup I am posting here.

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Initially, I had no intention to blog about this experience but I did not want to go a month without posting things so – I am dragging you along on my journey.   Because I did not intend to blog about it – I did not take very nice photos of the first dishes I tried – so please forgive the photography.

Oh – because I have a bunch of random vitamins & supplments around – I decided to add them (until they each run out) to my daily regimen.  There is fish oil here because I bought some ages ago to aid my thin hair.  Then I gave up fish – but – fuck it.  I bought them, I have them, my hair needs help – so – I am taking them.  Here is the random collection I amassed:

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The plan suggests having one of their protein shakes for breakfast & maybe lunch, too.  I never eat breakfast & do not believe I need a daily protein infusion so I am blowing off the shakes.     So – I took the week 1 shopping list and spent $200 on everything on it that I did not already have.  Five big bags, stuffed to the brim.  For just me.  For one week?  But – know that the recipes I have made – made an ENORMOUS amount – enough for two – easily.  In addition – they are easy & really very good, so far!  So – if you and your partner want to do this plan – I would not double the recipes.  So – $200 to feed two adults every meal & snack of the day for 7 days seems pretty economical, to me!

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So far – I made their snack suggestion:

Beet Hummus

Serve chilled with carrots, sliced cucumber, snap peas or other favorite veggies or brown rice chips.

INGREDIENTS

2 large beets, peeled and steamed

1 can garbanzo beans, mostly drained

2 lemons, juiced

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. white pepper

2 garlic cloves

2 heaping Tbsp. tahini

¼ cup avocado oil (olive oil works well too)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender and whirl till they have a smooth consistency!
  2. Chill and enjoy all week with veggies of your choice or brown rice chips

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I could not find brown rice chips so – I used those above.

Then I made their

MONDAY

Lunch:

Beet and Avocado Salad

INGREDIENTS

2 beets pre-cooked (or steamed)

1 avocado

1 cup spinach

handful pistachios

Sweet and Spicy Dressing:

1/8 cup agave (I cut this in half)

1/2 Tbsp. siracha (I doubled this)

1/2 Tbsp. EVOO

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cube beets and avocado.
  2. Layer spinach, beets, avocado, and pistachios.
  3. In a blender combine agave, siracha, EVOO and S+P.
  4. Drizzle dressing over salad, Enjoy!

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This salad is a revelation!!!!  I adore everything in it & the dressing was AMAZING!   Plus, it made enough for two – so I ate some more with my dinner.  AND I had it for lunch the next day!

Dinner was their:

Dinner:

Twice Baked Potatoes

*Veg: sub mushrooms instead of ground turkey

2 large sweet potatoes

2 Tbsp. ghee

1 package ground turkey (I used Quorn meatless grounds – which I just discovered are merely vegetarian!)

taco seasoning (see recipe at freshandcleanrecipes.com)

1 cup spinach

S+P to taste

fresh salsa (see recipe at freshandcleanrecipes.com) – I used store bought

½ avocado

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cook potatoes in oven 30-45 min. (or until easily pierced in the center with fork)
  3. Brown ground turkey with taco seasoning and a few tsp. of water.
  4. Cut potatoes in half and scrape inside into a med size bowl saving the skins.
  5. Mix in ghee, turkey, spinach and S+P to taste.
  6. Fill skins with the mixed potato.
  7. Place in shallow baking dish (covered in foil for easy cleanup) and broil for 5 min until top is browned.
  8. Add a scoop of your favorite fresh salsa and avocado.

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TWO large sweet potatoes PLUS a 12 oz of protein?  In my world, that is enough for two.  I did not bother to stuff & cook the potato a second time.  I ate it as above.  I had another entire potato & more than half of the faux meat/spinach mix left over.  I saved the second potato & fed it to my dogs over the course of two days, with their dinner.

The extra meat/spinach I added to the next recipe I made:

Dinner:

Chicken Tortilla Soup

*Veg: substitute veg broth and omit chicken

INGREDIENTS

2 cups shredded chicken

4 Tbsp. olive oil

½ onion diced

1 large carrot; diced

1 zucchini; diced

1-quart chicken broth

2 cups water

1 lime + 1 more lime for topping

S+P to taste

4 Tbsp. cilantro + more for topping

1 can black beans

2 cups your favorite red salsa (fresh recipe at freshandcleanrecipes.com)

I added about 1-2 cups of leftover faux meat crumbles & spinach from the previous day – which was GOOD!

Toppings:

tortilla strips (brown rice tortillas cut in half and then cut into 1/4-inch strips and fried in coconut oil/ or EVOO)

diced tomatoes

chopped green onions

cilantro

½ avocado

lime wedge

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add EVOO to large pot over med heat.
  2. Once oil is warmed, add chopped onions stirring often so as not to burn. Cook approx. 3-5 min until onions are tender.
  3. Add shredded chicken, chicken broth, water, juice of 1 lime, carrots, diced zucchini, carrots, cilantro, black beans, salsa and S+P to taste.
  4. Simmer for 1 hour or longer.
  5. Pour into individual bowls and add preferred toppings toppings

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The only toppings I used were avocado & cilantro.  Frying tortilla strips (and I could not eve FIND brown rice tortillas, anyway) seemed like unnecessary calories.

This soup is delicious!  Especially with the addition of the vegetarian meat crumbles from the previous night’s leftovers.  I had it for dinner, lunch today and I still have more than enough for lunch tomorrow.

So – so far – this plan is great!  I am not a snacker so – I have not indulged in any food outside of the two meals a day except – late night when I get hungry (because I have been way too energized to fall asleep before midnight – UNHEARD OF for me) – a handful of berries & maybe 8 raw almonds.  I have not missed the wine, either, which is nothing short of a miracle!  I will admit, I have become OBSESSED with My 600 Lb. Life!  Mostly, I am amazed by the different shapes various people’s bodies take in an effort to store 600+ pounds.  I would include some images but it feels like body-shaming – despite the fact that the show exists precisely to shock them into their own reality & then try to help them but MY LORD!  The human body is an amazing thing.

So – I will keep you posted on my progress with this thing.  So far – I am giving it an enthusiastic thumbs up.  It might even be better if I could have sprung for all the fun products they offer but I will have to live with this budget version.  If you CAN afford it – and I THINK it is about $300 – and you do it – let me know your results.

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My Most Popular (Best) Recipes of 2016 & of All Time

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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2016 is behind us.  It seems there is a collective agreement that it was just a hideous year.  Too many legends lost, for a majority of voters – a lost election.  For the first time in history, a candidate with 3 million fewer votes than his rival has won the election.  But for me – this year will always be defined by the loss of that gorgeous boy above – my beautiful & perfect Memphis.  He died at 7 unexpectedly & inexplicably.  The scar on my heart is still as raw as it was in June – when he left us.   I am not sure everyone knows this – but your i-phone can make slide shows for you.  Mine made this on Sunday & it left me sobbing.  Memphis was VERY special & losing him has been too brutal for words.

Anyway – I thought I would recap the blog’s top recipes of 2016.   I will post them here from 10 to number 1!  Here they are:

NUMBER 10

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Pasta with Romanesco Cauliflower (Broccoli), Lemon & Chili Flakes (Vegetarian or Vegan)

NUMBER 9

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Vegan Hearts of Palm Crab Salad

NUMBER 8

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Hearty Vegan Beef & Vegetable Stew for the Slow Cooker

NUMBER 7

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Vegan Char Siu or Chinese BBQ Pork Ribs

NUMBER 6

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Vegan Spicy Chicken Enchilada Soup with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce – for the Slow Cooker or Stove Top

NUMBER 5

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Vegan Creamy Dal Makhani Punjabi-Style (Black Gram/Urad Dal & Rajma) – for the Slow Cooker

NUMBER 4

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Vegan Seared Garlic-Balsamic Mushrooms with Fresh Thyme & Creamy Polenta (Grits)

NUMBER 3

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Vegan Big Mac Pizza with Copycat McDonald’s Special Sauce

NUMBER 2

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Vegan Cabbage Rolls Stuffed with Grilled Eggplant, Mushrooms & Spinach

And – drum roll!

NUMBER 1 (sadly – not my own recipe but brilliant all the same!)

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Vegan Rice Paper Bacon

And since #1 was not my recipe – here is the 11th place runner-up:

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Vegan Ash Mash (Persian Mung Bean Soup) with Purple Kohlrabi & French Breakfast Radishes – for the Slow Cooker or Stove Top

And – probably my favorite recipes of the year:

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10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

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10-Minute Spicy Vegan Sriracha Chicken & Broccoli Bowl

and a non-food-related rant:

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And Now For Something Completely Different…Sex, Sexy Selfies & Sexism

And here are the top recipes of all time:

NUMBER 10

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Spicy Southern Fried Cauliflower and Delta Dipping Sauce with Smashed Baked Potatoes and White Gravy and Buffalo Mac & Cheese

NUMBER 9

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Chicken Shawarma with Garlic Paste (Toum) & Tzatziki Sauce (Vegan or Vegetarian)

NUMBER 8

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No-Carb No-Pasta Grilled Garden Vegetable Lasagna with Basil Marinara

NUMBER 7

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ZERO CALORIE ZERO CARB Vegan – Vegetarian Shirataki Pho

NUMBER 6

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Margarita Pizza Quesadilla on Homemade Spinach Tortillas

NUMBER 5

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Grown-up Fireball Whiskey Cupcakes

NUMBER 4

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Vegan BBQ Ribs (Seitan) with Spicy Korean or Spicy Traditional BBQ Sauce

NUMBER 3

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Vegan Gyro (with Homemade Seitan) & Tzatziki Sauce

NUMBER 2

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Spicy Vegan Chinese Eggplant

And the mother of all recipes and monstrously popular –

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Easy Spicy Southern Chicken Spaghetti

Vegan Thai Pad Gra Prow – Spicy Beef & Basil – with Wide Rice Noodles & Bok Choy

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

images (1)download (1)

All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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So – last week on Tuesday – I began a test to see how long I could go without spending ANY money on groceries.  The only cheats allowed would be the delivery of vegetables I get every two weeks from Farm Fresh To You & any restaurant meals.  I eat out VERY seldom so – that second one is not much of a cheat.  Still, I started the challenge out eating that Gardenburger from Carney’s.  That cost me $10 with fries & a drink.  Then, I spent the next week eating things like these:

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Vegans, beware!  The Morning Star veggie sausage is merely vegetarian – not vegan.  If I ever eat breakfast (and I seldom do) – it typically looks like that above.

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I eat tortilla pizzas a SHOCKINGLY frequent amount of dinners per month.  I adore them.  And that cheese there is vegan!    It is Parmela Creamery cheese.  I like it A LOT more than Daiya which – I think – tastes funny & doesn’t melt easily.

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More often than not – I eat a giant, zero-carb, 100-calorie bowl of vegan pho for lunch.  Made with shirataki noddles – it is a wonderfully filly & guiltless soup.

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That is a salad of red lettuce, tomatoes & (I admit) a bit of goat cheese.

I also ate my Vegan Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce and my Vegan Potato, Leek, Fennel & Turnip Soup with Carrots & Pepitas – seen below, respectively, so I had a pretty well-fed week.  In the past when I attempt the pantry challenge – I do not allow the acquisition of ANYTHING if it can be avoided.  Almond milk for coffee & wine being notable exceptions.  In the past, once the fresh produce ran out, I became reduced to frozen leftovers & lots & lots of dry, white food – like pasta & rice.  Panicked friends began delivering fresh produce so – to avoid a full-scale panic – I am allowing (as I stated) a 2x monthly delivery of veggies.

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Well – everything was going great – until yesterday.  I had not spent one cent on food since that burger at Carney’s – 8 days before.  But, yesterday, I got bored.  I wanted to cook.  I wanted to post something on this blog.  So – I cheated & allowed myself a stop in the CRAZY inexpensive Thai market – Bangluck.   Shit is practically free in there but I still managed to spend $52.  Here is the bulk of what I got there:

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Those two jars of gluten look like lab specimens but I could not resist.  Each of those cans of varied mock meats are gluten & all cost under $2.  I bought that tofu above for under $2 each – far better than the price at Gelson’s – about a mile away – below.

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Drunk from my misbehavior & shopping orgy – I drove by Sacred Farts.  Yes.  Sacred Farts.

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I Googled it & I guess it is a dance & yoga studio.  Who knew?

Well, my will weakened, I decided to stop by Silom Market – also in Thai Town.  This place is super sketchy and always has a security guard at the front door.  Armed guard to protect bulk spices?  Sorta seems like Silom might be a front for something else – but I digress.   If you go there & decide to buy some of the fresh items they make & sell there – be sure to check ingredients.  By check – I mean GOOGLE.  Let me recount an experience I had there once.

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In the cooler section – they had what seemed to be a large selection of locally produced pre-made sauces & curries & pastes….sold in the lidded plastic containers delis use to sell you potato salad. I looked at a bunch of them, mouth watering as I thought of how authentic my dishes would taste if I used these expertly prepared flavorings.  I saw one that looked dark & spicy & read the ingredients

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Ingredients: Chili, onion, garlic, mangda, sugar, salt, fish, tamarind paste.  It was called Nam Prik Mang-da.  I love prik pao squid at my beloved Torung & this stuff looked like culinary gold.  I didn’t know what mangda was but wrote it off as an obscure name for a common thing – like my recent anise pepper experience.  $5.  Sold!

Upon closer inspection – I see these curries/pastes are made in-house at Silom!

When I got home – I Googled the name of the chili paste I just bought looking for culinary inspiration.  I was ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIED when the search engine spat out its results.  Here – take a peek and see what MANGDA means – HERE.  Don’t look at the horseshoe crabs.  In fact – here is a stock photo of your garden variety MANGDA:

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Yes, folks.  Mangda means giant water bug!!!!!!  OMG!  I’m gagging just looking at that thing!  And I should have known better.  This isn’t my first time crossing paths with these fuckers.  No!  I pointed them out to you guys in my Bangluck Market post.  You can buy 4 of these guys whole, in the refrigerated section, for $4.49 – and they have 35 calories in the 4 together – 15 of which come from fat.  Yeah – they are nearly 50% fat.  Gag.  Needless to say – I threw the $5 container in the trash and pronto.

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So – I have learned to be a careful label reader in Thai markets.

Anyway – here are some new things I found at Silom:

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It is vegan & it is $5.  It didn’t seem very appetizing so I passed on it.

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 Vegan crispy balls?!  I have no idea what they are but I fucking BOUGHT some!

Then I found fresh, frozen jackfruit but I already had 4 cans from Bangluck – so I passed.

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That is how the stuff is displayed in the freezers at Silom.  I dug into one & pulled out a package almost totally obscured by frost.  I scraped it off & discovered this!

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Vegan strip steak!   And then I found this!

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I was VERY excited by these two discoveries but stopped my impulse to buy the entire stock before I had put them to the taste test.

I also bought keffir lime leaves & some other stuff  (some of the stuff below came from Bangluck):

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So – I dropped another $35.  And – when I got home – I realized I wanted red bell peppers for this beef dish so – I went to Gelson’s.  I had a $5 off a $25 purchase so – of course – I had to spend $25.  I filled my basket with what I guessed would just be $25 but I miscalculated.  It never crossed my mind that two red bell peppers would cost over $6!   I also bought the chorizo below.  Gelson’s has a sorta fun (if very expensive) selection of vegan things.  I bought the chorizo – but here are a few of the other vegan delights they offer.  Anyway – I dropped another $40.  So – there’s that.

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OK!  On to this Vegan Thai Pad Gra Prow – Spicy Beef & Basil – with Wide Rice Noodles!!!  I added fresh noodles that I bought at Bangluck but this would go just as nicely over rice – or in lettuce wraps.  The revelation is this AMAZING S.P.A. vegan beef!  Read that nutrition label above.  Non-GMO soy protein.  This shit is guiltless and looks EXACTLY like slices of steak!  It is pretty innocuous in the flavor department so – like chicken – it kinda just takes on the flavors you add to it. HERE they are on Facebook.  I will DEFINITELY be buying more & more & more of this stuff.   Once my pantry challenge is over.

This dish is very easy & doesn’t use anything especially exotic.  I recommend it very highly!

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Vegan Thai Pad Gra Prow – Spicy Beef & Basil – with Wide Rice Noodles & Bok Choy

SERVES 2 well

INGREDIENTS

A few TBS sesame oil (or olive oil)

7 (or more) ounces vegan beef

12 ounces fresh rice noodles (or cooked pasta or cooked rice)

1/2 red bell pepper – sliced into strips

1/2 small onion – diced

2 jalapenos – diced

2 heads bok choy – cleaned (optional) & chopped a bit

5 garlic cloves – chopped

1 TBS liquid aminos (or soy sauce or tamari) – plus extra

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp vegan oyster or mushroom sauce

1 TBS sambal oelek

1/2 tsp agave nectar (or brown sugar)

1 cup basil leaves (I used a mixture of Thai sweet basil & Thai holy basil but any basil will do – Thai ones being preferred)

GARNISH – lime wedges, cilantro

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DIRECTIONS

If using noodles – separate them under cold running water.  If using pasta or rice – cook it & set aside.

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I did not bother to defrost the beef.  It might be easier if you do.  Either way – heat the sesame oil (2 or 3 TBS) in a wok or large saute pan.  Cook the beef until it is seared on both sides.  Set aside.  (I only used 1/2 of the cooked beef in the noodle dish & reserved the rest for another recipe.)  I covered the beef while it cooked to hasted the defrosting.

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In the same pan – add a bit of olive (or sesame) oil & heat it.  Add the red bell pepper, onion & jalapenos.  Saute until soft.  Add all the other ingredients except the garlic & basil (and the garnish).  Heat the noodles & meat through & let the bok choy wilt.  I added a bit of extra liquid aminos here because I thought the dish needed a tad more salt & moisture.  This is your call.  Once the bok choy is wilted & the ingredients are well-combined – stir in the garlic & basil.

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Serve with cilantro & lime wedges!

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Vegan or Vegetarian Poutine with Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy plus Emily Valentine, 90210, Puddles Pity Party & Chucky!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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It has been an exciting few weeks.  First of all – I attended Rewind Convention in Chicago for an 80’s-90’s TV & film thingy & lotsa the 90210 folks were there.  It was great seeing them!

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It was as cool as seeing the Child’s Play 2 cast – which I did in September.  Coolest of all was seeing the 90210: The Musical in NYC!   It runs thru Dec. 17 so – if you live near NYC & love 90210 – you MUST go see it.  Here is a little peek:

Is that not BRILLIANT?  I have to say – this homage was as surreal as it was flattering.  Truly – a highlight of my career – to have a character I created recreated by others.  REALLY fun.

Then I got to see & MEET Puddles!!!   If you are unfamiliar – you are really missing out.  He is a 6’8″ sad clown with a truly golden voice!   See him if you ever get the opportunity.

So – it has been an incredible fall for me!

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Oh!  And there is more!   I had a few lines on a new TV show!   See above.  Only a few lines but they were with Topher Grace (swoon!) and Ray Romano – so – that did not suck.  Even the 5am call time was made OK because it was at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery!  And Topher Grace was VERY generous & confessed to having been a big 90210 fan, back in the day.  It is always comforting when other actors acknowledge being aware of you and your work.  And I am a huge fan of Topher’s so – yeah.  That was fun!

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So – yeah – a fun-filled autumn.

So – I realized this week that I am becoming a hoarder.  A food hoarder.  I have moth issues so I like to keep all my dry goods (beans, rice, sugar, flour, pasta etc) in the fridge or freezer.  Still – they keep putting that Di Martino pasta on sale for .79 cents a pound!  I cannot afford NOT to buy it!  So – as I was shoving my twentieth pound of overflow dry goods into my pantry – I saw my pantry.  Really saw it.

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Those drawers are DEEP.  I have enough food in there to last years and I live ALONE!  I have every condiment from American standards to those needed for Thai or Indian or whatever-the-fuck food.  There are about 20 jars of Rao’s Arrabbiata pasta sauce and at least 20 pounds of dry pasta & every kind of canned bean & oil or vinegar of whatever you can think of.  If you can name it – I probably have more than one container of it and if it comes in varieties – I will have several.  I even have canned tuna & meats for my dogs.  It is a fucking problem.

Another problem is that I recently watched the amazing Food Choices documentary.  Click that to watch the trailer.  I already eat about 90% vegan – with cheese being my final hurdle.  The movie really drove home, for me, the idea that eating cheese is really no better than eating meat.  It requires the same suffering & death (of baby calves) – making cheese consumption on par with veal.  I would NEVER eat veal & even silently judge those I hear order it.  Yet – cheese is still on my plate.

So – I went to the farmers’ market in Hollywood the past crisp & gorgeous Sunday morning hoping to find the Soledad Goat folks & buy vegan cheese from them.  They were not there (but I discovered & purchased their cheezes online HERE this week & bought several) – but, like an asshole, I let myself be drawn to the local REAL cheese guy’s table.  I have been longing to experiment with a poutine recipe but have never seen cheese curds anywhere.  I was not even sure what they were.  But – he had them.  They are:

From Wikipedia:

Cheese curds, in cuisine or cooking, are the solid parts of curdled milk either eaten alone or used in various regional dishes mostly in Canada and the northeastern and midwestern United States. They are sometimes referred to as “squeaky cheese“.

Cheese curds start off with fresh milk. The milk is pasteurized, much like in the process of creating cheese. During this process, rennet is added to clot the milk. After the milk has been pasteurized, the result is a mixture of whey and the early stages of the curd. This mixture is then cooked. Next, it is pressed to release the whey from the curd, thus creating the final product of cheese curd.

Characteristics

Their flavor is mild, but can differ in taste depending on the process in which it was made. It has about the same firmness and density as cheese, but with a springy or rubbery texture. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, a defining characteristic due to air trapped inside the porous material. This “squeak” has been described by the New York Times as sounding like “balloons trying to neck”. After 12 hours, even under refrigeration, cheese curds lose much of their “fresh” characteristic, particularly the “squeak”.[4] Keeping them at room temperature can preserve the squeakiness.

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While I debated buying those – he insisted I taste his sage-cheddar.  I did.  It was delicious.  I caved & bought the sage cheese & the curds.  Here are some of his other cheeses & some info on him.

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I also headed to the Korean table because they make the MOST INSANELY DELICIOUS TEMPEH!  I bough two of those.  And a fennel bulb.  Then I became overwhelmed by the choices, the number of vendors peddling produce and, frankly, the prices.  These markets are not cheap.  So – I scuttled home with the tempeh, the guilty cheese & the fennel.

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Several years ago, I realized I had stockpiles of food that were getting out of control.  I did an experiment & tried to ONLY eat what I already had, in an effort to spend ZERO on groceries in one month.  I managed to almost do it but I had to spend a few dollars here and there for non-dairy creamer & stuff.  But – I bought no produce so – after a week or so – I was fresh outta fresh produce & was reduced to eating pastas, rices & breads that I had frozen.  As I state in my novel – and all beige diet has consequences.   I will let you guess what I mean but let’s just say it is very different than, say, an all-BEET diet.  My friends knew I was doing this and began panicking.  Two different people delivered bags of produce to my door.  When I attempted this pantry-emptying plan a second time – again – one of those friends delivered produce to my door.  VERY VERY sweet!  But – I was not on a hunger strike.  I was just challenging myself to stop hoarding & being wasteful of perishables.

So – as I launch into my third effort to spend zero on groceries (wine being an exception – and eating in restaurants doesn’t count, either) – I will still allow myself my regular twice-monthly delivery of produce from Farm Fresh to You.  That way – my friends won’t be wringing their hands, terrified that my bones are crumbling & my skin is falling off or whatever it is they fear.   I will attempt to keep a log of what I eat & what money I spend.  Yesterday – I spent just under $10 at Carneys.  I had a Garden burger & fries.  For dinner – a small salad.

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Today’s breakfast.  That is the best almond milk – in my opinion.  And vegans, beware!  Those Morning Star sausages are only vegetarian – not vegan!  Bear with me – these posts will get more and more creative as I am forcing myself to eat what I have without buying anything – for a month!   We will see how it goes.

OK – on to the POUTINE!  I do not think I have ever had poutine but the idea appeals to me.  You can use fresh cheese curds (as I did) or mozzarella or VEGAN cheese – like this amazing stuff below.

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That little bag costs $8 but is the best & meltiest vegan mozzarella I have found – after my own homemade vegan mozzarella – seen below.

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OK – so – you can make poutine using frozen fries & canned gravy & make this very easily.  I opted to MAKE the fries as I describe HERE.  And – I made a new vegan gravy because my other vegan gravy does not have the rich & dark color I wanted for the poutine.

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So – first up – the

Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy

INGREDIENTS

5 TBS vegan butter

2 cups chopped mushrooms

1 leek

ten or more sage leaves

1/2 cup flour

6 cups vegetable stock

2 TBS soy sauce (or tamari or liquid aminos)

2 tsp Kitchen Bouquet

Chives – chopped for garnish (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Finely chop the mushrooms & leek.  I pulsed them in my food processor.  If you do not own one – maybe just blend the finished gravy to make it smooth.

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Heat the stock in a soup pan.  Add the soy sauce & kitchen bouquet.  Simmer.

In another pan, melt FOUR of the five tablespoons of the butter & saute the vegetables until soft.  Add the flour & stir to combine.  Add the stock 1/2 to 1 cup at at time – over high heat – until the gravy thickens.  If it is too thin once you add all the stock – just boil it down a bit.

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Melt the remaining TBS of butter & fry the sage leaves a minute or two.  Drain them on a paper towl & crumble.  Add to the gravy.  Add the leftover sage butter to the gravy.  Voila!

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Vegan or Vegetarian Poutine with Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy

INGREDIENTS

French fries – either THESE homemade, or your recipe or frozen ones

Gravy – either the recipe above or your favorite one

Cheese curds or grated cheese or vegan cheese

Chives or parsley as garnish

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Once the fries are crispy & the gravy is warm – assemble the poutine:  fries, cheese, gravy & some chives or parsley.  Shove’m in your pie hole fast – before they get soggy.  Or – you can just dip fries & cheese in gravy.

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Memphis – RIP

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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To explain my absence here –

All the color has left my house. Dexter & Moxie & I are left to grieve the loss of another best friend. A few weeks short of being 5, suddenly – on June 20th – & with no explanation – apparently in his sleep. My gorgeous, adoring, adored — and deeply loved – Memphis. The not knowing why is only less brutal than the searing loss. Memphis was our salvation 4 years ago – after the similar loss of my son, Grisbi. I looked at Memphis every day – grateful he was so young & that I had the promise of many years ahead with him. He was such a vulnerable, cuddly, needy, handsome, perfect little guy. I cannot believe he has been ripped away from us so so prematurely. None of us could possibly have loved him more than we do. He was our golden angel boy.

I lost the boy who was, perhaps, the baby I have loved the most deeply. Maybe because he loved me with such complete commitment. Maybe because he came to me after having already lived a hard life himself. Maybe because he was the cure to the massive shock & heartbreak here caused by the sudden loss my 4-year old pug, Grisbi. Maybe because my other two dogs also seemed to see something special in him. Maybe because he was bossy & demanding & soft & cuddly. Maybe because he thought every idea I had was the best one. Maybe because his eyes drooped closed from just the expectation of a chest scratching. Maybe because he loved food as much as I do. Maybe because he had a pinky toe that was too short & he hated anyone touching it. Maybe because his tail curled tighter when I spoke to him. I don’t know. The only things that are certain: that I could not possibly have loved him more than I DO – and that he left us a full ten years before he should have. We are left awash in grief & with a deep sense of injustice. We miss you so brutally, my Memphis. So terribly.

RIP, Memphis, my baby. I love you as much as you loved me – times infinity. xoxoxoxox

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Beyond Meat Korean BBQ with Beyond Chicken – Frozen Dinner – Part 1

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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vromans back

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Ever have a bad day?  Flat tire on a rainy night?  Take the blame for someone else’s error at work?  Not get that job you really wanted?  Stuck in traffic for hours?  Diet all week & step on the scale only to discover you have gained two pounds?  Spend the day trying on bathing suits & now you feel like jumping off a bridge?  Run into an ex with their amazing new “other half” and you haven’t showered in two days?   Need a little comfort food to go with your box of wine but you can’t really cook or you are too exhausted, anyway?

Beyond Meat to the rescue!

Beyond Meat has done it again!  Very soon, 4 different, single-serving frozen meals will become available.  They might already be available at Whole Foods in the frozen meal aisle.  I was lucky enough to find one of each kind and I will talk about the Korean BBQ here today.

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Zaps in the microwave in between 3-6 minutes.  It has just the right level of sweet meets mildly spicy & loaded with chunks of Beyond Chicken, rice, edamame & kimchi.   Only 320 calories & it is easy, quick & delicious!  And for those concerned about protein intake – this has 21 grams!   And it is surprisingly filling for such a low calorie count.

Non-GMO & 100% vegan – this is a welcome new dish in the convenience food market.  I highly recommend it!

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Cinco de Mayo Chef’d & Beyond Meat Feisty Tacos DISCOUNT!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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Chef’d is having a Cinco de Mayo SALE on their amazing Beyond Meat Feisty Taco Cinco de Mayo party plan!  Save 15% by using the code TACOS when you order!

The cost for two servings will be $19, the cost for four servings will be $29. Pre-sale will start 4/22 and will end 5/1 at 11a. Boxes will be delivered 5/3 and 5/4 to ensure that all customers have their meal in hand before 5/5. Just as a reminder, they ship EVERYWHERE in the continental US.  Please note that the offer will not be available to order after 5/1.  Order by Sunday, May 1st at 11am PST and your Cinco de Mayo Party Box will be delivered on Tuesday, 5/3 or Wednesday 5/4 depending on your location.
Click HERE to order.

Planning a Cinco de Mayo fiesta?

Chef’d has just what you’re looking for to get into the celebratory spirit.

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Not a meat eater? No problem!  Our BEYOND BEEF® FEISTY TACOS with Black Beans are a perfect choice, and might even convert a carnivore or two.

All Cinco de Mayo Party Boxes come with Garden Fresh Gourmet Chips & Salsa and two miniature maracas. The Beyond Beef® Feisty Tacos come with Chili-Lime Mango to finish the meal.

Order by Sunday, May 1st at 11am PST and your Cinco de Mayo Party Box will be delivered on Tuesday, 5/3 or Wednesday 5/4 depending on your location.  Save 15% by using the code TACOS when you order!

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Chef’d  – no subscription – meaning order what you want & when you want it. Get the same thing every day for two weeks – or just get one thing – different things – a few times a month. Here is how they work:

Choose from Famous Recipes

Browse through hundreds of recipes from your favorite chefs, and cook them in the comfort of your own home!

From Our Kitchen to Yours

Fresh pre-portioned Ingredients delivered to your door. Reorder what you like, when you like. No subscriptions!

Cook, Love, Live

Enrich your life by creating memorable delicious experiences of love through our hand-cultivated recipes.

And look at the various tastes & lifestyles they accommodate

Shop Meals

LIFESTYLES:

FAMILY FRIENDLY
GOURMET
VEGETARIAN
GLUTEN FREE

PROTEINS:

BEEF
CHICKEN
SEAFOOD
LAMB
PORK
TURKEY
VEGAN
HERE is the list of the famous chefs contributing recipes. And HERE are the vegan & vegetarian meals currently offered (impressive – no?). I was given the opportunity to try the service & jumped at the chance. I am a long-time fan of Beyond Meat & the pairing of these two companies is exciting to me. I got the Beast Burger & Tacos & will post about the tacos here – the burgers are in THIS post.
Here is what showed up (for the tacos – enough to feed 4):
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As with the Beast Burgers – I am very familiar with Beyond Meat‘s Feisty crumbles & I am already a fan.  This meal came together quickly & easily & everything tasted fresh & delicious.  In this case – there was a lot of extra vegan cheese (I am not complaining!) and more than enough chipotle Vegenaise (again – not complaining – especially as it came in the tiny condiment jars I am so fond of).
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The recipe called for guacamole with crushed red pepper in it.  I am a guacamole purist (just avocado, lime & salt, please) – so – I opted just to slice the avocado & use it naked and I added all the crushed red pepper supplied (enough for 4 tacos) into the beefy crumbles meant for two (I like spice).
The black beans come together in 5 minutes & the lime & cilantro make them taste light & fresh & clean – not lard-heavy or mushy.
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And the feisty beef crumbles also only took about 5 minutes.  Because I added lots of crushed red pepper – they were also very spicy.  I forgot to add the chipotle Vegenaise until after I had taken most of the pictures but it was a nice flavor layered in with the tortillas, crumbles, lettuce & avocado.
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This meal was flavorful, robust, filling and SO EASY to make!  What a great pair of options for any vegan or vegetarian – especially a newby not sure where to start – and for anyone looking to cut back on meat but not on flavor or protein.
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