Eat Like You're Famous
I spent the better part of the last two weeks feeling lousy. First I felt like I had the flu. I was achy and congested, hot then cold. Just as I would think I was feeling better, I would feel awful again. Part of the problem (I think) was that I wasn't allowing myself to rest. In the midst of feeling sick, I flew to a wedding in Pennsylvania, celebrated and drank all day with family, then flew home the next day to friends visiting Charleston and staying at my place. There were a few late dinners with no shortage of adult beverages, a couple of photo gigs, and another two-day trip out of town. That's when my body finally said, "F*&% you, Amanda".
Not only did I feel terrible, now I also had a really painful little rash around my mouth (ew!). It was officially time to slow down and take care of myself.
I was convinced that whatever was causing me to feel achy and congested on the inside was related to whatever was making my skin look like hell on the outside. It had to be more than an unfortunate coincidence. I was determined to fix my body inside and out.
So, like a good millennial, I dove into the depths of the wellness corners of the Internet. I read everything I could find about allergies and digestive health and while you can't believe everything you read on the Internet, I learned a lot, some of which I wasn't very happy about.
Basically all of the famous people who look amazing are functionally vegans... Gisele, Gwyneth, J. Lo... you name it. As much as people like to hate on Gwyneth, I respect that she admits to eating a mostly plants, vegan-ish diet, but she also admits to loving cheese and wine and bolognese sauce. I too refuse to live in a world where I can't enjoy a little Rigatoni Bolognese.
I also learned that some people, Gisele included, mostly stay away from Nightshades because they cause inflammation. Before last week, I didn't know what the hell a nightshade was. If you're new to the term too, nightshades are a big broad group of veggies with the main culprits being tomatoes, mushrooms, white potatoes, and peppers. At first, this seemed like awful news because 1) it seems ridiculous to criminalize vegetables, and 2) tomatoes might be my favorite food. Few things are better than a vine ripe juicy tomato in the summer.
So, for three days, I ate no meat, no fish, no dairy, no wheat, no alcohol, no caffeine, and no nightshades and at the end of it, felt amazing. (I also completely got rid of whatever the hell was happening on my face). I totally can understand how people can get hooked on eating this way. If you really want to treat your body like a temple, this is one way to do it. God knows how good it would feel to always eat like this - I'd probably have to move to L.A.
I know, for me, it's unrealistic to avoid peppers for the rest of my life, but I did walk away with some discoveries that, I think, will change the way I eat. First, I rediscovered simple veggies like carrots and cabbage. I often pass right by these bad-boys at the grocery store, but have realized that they are not only damn good for you, they can also be delicious, and they're really cheap. I also learned that it's possible to cook with coconut oil - another tip I got from Gisele and Tom Brady's personal chef. (Thanks, Allen!) It's able to withstand higher temperatures than other oils and it's packed with good cholesterol. Who knew?
So, here is one of the dishes I concocted following the rules of no meat, no fish, no dairy, no wheat, no alcohol, no caffeine and no nightshades. It is Asian-Inspired, but is in no way authentic to any particular place.
Still, dare I say it's good enough to eat even when you aren't cleansing...
Sautéed Vegetables over Spicy Peanut Quinoa
(20-25 minutes | Serves 4 | also, vegan & gluten free)
You will need:
• 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1 cup dry Quinoa
• 1 Nub (technical term?) of Ginger, about an inch long, minced
• 1/2 medium White Onion, minced
• 1/4 medium head of Red Cabbage, cut into thin strips
• 1 cup shredded carrots (totally cool to buy pre-shredded)
• 1/2 cup snap peas
• 4 big leaves of Lacinato or regular green Kale, removed from thick stem and cut into strips
• 1/2 Jalapeño pepper, cut into thin slices (optional)
• 3 Limes
• 1 Tablespoon Natural Peanut Butter
• 1/4 cup Organic Rice Vinegar
• 1 Tablespoon Dumpling Sauce (I like Wan Ja Shan Mild Sodium Dumpling Sauce - available at Whole Foods)
• Sea Salt & Black Pepper
What to do...
1. Bring 2 cups of water and a dash of Olive Oil (I think the oil helps the quinoa not stick to the pan) to a boil small saucepan. Once the water is boiling, add 1 cup of dry Quinoa to the water, give it a stir, put the lid on your pot, turn the burner down to medium, and forget about it for 15 minutes.
2. In a large sauté pan, melt a big tablespoon of Coconut Oil in the pan over medium high heat. If you want to, add a little dash of olive oil to this pan too. Once the Coconut Oil is melted and clear, add the minced onions and ginger. Stir them around with a wooden spoon. If onions look to be burning at all, turn the heat down. The goal is to get them soft and translucent. Cook the onions and ginger for about 3-4 minutes.
3. Next add the red cabbage that has been cut into thin strips. Allow this to cook with the onions and ginger for about 1 minute and then add the shredded carrots. Cook this mix for another 3 or so minutes. This is a good time to add a little sea salt and black pepper to the veggie mix. After the 3-ish minutes are up, add the snap peas and lastly the kale cut into thin strips. Just as you've placed all of the kale into the pan, slice one of your limes in half and squeeze all of the juice out of both halves over the top of the veggies in the pan. Kale loves a little acid. It's really important not to overcook the snap peas and kale. Green things are delicate and don't like to be overheated. Continue to cook just until the kale begins to have a nice deep green color - about 60-90 seconds. Transfer the veggie mix to a large mixing bowl.
4. While your veggies are set aside and the quinoa is nearly done, but still cooking, mix the tablespoon of Peanut Butter, the 1/4 cup of Rice Vinegar, the tablespoon of Dumpling Sauce, and the juice of one more Lime in a cereal-sized bowl. Whisk around with a fork until the Peanut Butter is totally combined. Right about now your Quinoa should be finishing up. When you lift the lid, the water should be completely absorbed by the Quinoa. If it is, turn off the heat and dump the peanut sauce mix right into the saucepan full of Quinoa. Quinoa is so healthy, but it can also be flavorless. By adding the peanut sauce right to the Quinoa, you're left with a delicious slightly sweet, tangy, and nutty tasting Quinoa. Top with a little more sea salt and pepper.
5. If you want to add a little kick, add some thin slices of jalapeño pepper to the veggie mix. Oftentimes, jalapeños really aren't that spicy, but add to personal preference. A little fresh Cilantro would also be delicious, but I didn't have any. Serve by scooping a hefty wooden spoonful of the peanutty Quinoa into a large bowl or plate. Spread it around so it's a bit of a thin disc of Quinoa. Top it off with a couple big spoonfuls of the veggie mix. Garnish with a wedge or two of lime. OR, if you're simply making this for yourself, go ahead and dump all of the quinoa right into the large mixing bowl full of veggies and finish by squeezing the juice of the last lime over all of it. This will keep really well for a day or two in the fridge.
Enjoy and tell your body, "you're welcome".