Sunday, March 28, 2010

How to Have a Painless Passover Part 1

OK, so here we go:  First , I started this day with a run.  I did another easy 8K, which amazes me as I was struggling to finish 5K for like 3 years.  But last week, I was re-reading some stuff by Vegan Ironman Triathlete Brendan Brazier and I decided to incorporate some of his suggestions.  I'll write more about that later, but bascially it invloves a pre-workout shake conrtaining:

1/2 banana
1/4 cup coconut milk (or 1 T coconut oil)
2 Dates
1/2 tsp Kelp
1 tsp Green Tea Leaves

And then a recovery shake containing:
1/2 banana
1 orange
1 T flax-pumpkin seed mix
1/3 cup tofu
1 T bee pollen
1/4 cup raspberries
dash Kelp

Those aren't Brendan's actual recipes, just my adaptation of them based on local ingredient availability.  Clearly I am running MUCH better and it might have something to do with this new nutritional lay-out.  I'll explain more about the specific ingredients and why in a later post.

OK, on to PESACH! 

I realize that I am posting this information too late to actually help anyone THIS year.  Sorry!  But here it will be for next year I guess.

Step One:  Do NOT wake the dog!  Clearly she is exhausted and needs to rest:

In my next life... 

she's so annoyed with me for bugging her

Step Two:  Enlist Help
That's the vac attachment, not a weapon despite how he's holding it.  Charming.

Step Three:  Take Super Duper Divine Care of Yourself  (see above)

I just want to say that in the past, I would have let the stress of hosting a holiday meal, totally throw me off my fitness and nutrition plan.  I would have put my own needs way down on the bottom of the list and if I got to everything on the list, I'd tend to myself.  Of course I never got down that far through the list. 

When I began my weight loss journey 8 years ago, that was the FIRST thing to change and I believe it made all the difference.  Now minding my own Temple (exercise, proper nutrition, stress reduction and rest) comes WAY before any other task.  Because if I'm not in tip-top shape, I won't be any good to anyone, now will I?

Step Four:  Get as much done ahead of time as possible.

I'm sure my sister is reading that and cracking up.  Let's just say I had to live and learn this one as well and Big C bailed me out of a seriously under-prepared Thanksgiving dinner a few years back.  Two weeks ago I made my seder menu.  One week ago I started the shopping and cleaning.  Today, one day before, I have almost the entire meal prepared and it's only 4:30pm!  Yay!

Step Five:  Start with the desserts.

We all know that we do great in the first part of the day and lose willpower as the day progresses.  So, make the desserts in the morning when you are strong and have no desire to taste anything!

Amy W's Matzoh Toffee
3-4 whole matzos
1 cup butter or margarine (I use Coconut Oil for Parve Meals to avoid the trans-fats in margarine!)
1 cup dark brown sugar
12 oz chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped pecans (optional.  I do some with and some without)

Preheat oven to 160C.  Grease 2-3 disposable foil pans.  Lay matzo in pans, breaking where necessary to completely fill pan.  In a large saucepan, melt butter with sugar over med heat.  Bring to a boil and boil, stirring constantly for 5 mins.  Watch carefully that it doesn’t boil over.  Pour this over the matzos evenly and place in oven.  Bake 8-10 mins.  Turn off the oven.  Sprinkle chips all over matzos and return to the oven for 8 more mins.  Remove from oven and spread chocolate in an even layer over matzos.  Sprinkle with nuts.  Place in fridge to cool.  When completely cool, break into bark-shaped pieces.  Store in fridge in ziploc bags.  Put them WAAAY in the back, out of your sight.  Trust me on that.

Passover Almond Cake with Strawberry Sauce

1 2/3 cups (8.5 oz) whole unblanched almonds (I used 2 cups dried almond pulp leftover from almond milk making)
¼ cup matzo cake meal or matzo meal
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp almond extract
Dash salt

Preheat oven to 170C. Grease a 9” pan.  Grind almonds, matzo meal and ¼ cup sugar in FP until fine. Set aside.  Whip egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks. Gradually beat in ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff and shiny. Set aside.  Beat egg yolks with ½ cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in lemon rind and extract.  In 3 batches alternately fold whites and almond mixture into yolk mixture.  Pour into pan and bake for 35 mins.  Cool on rack.  Serve slices topped with strawberry sauce.

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
3 dates, soaked
Few drops of lemon juice

Puree berries and dates in FP until very smooth. Add lemon. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Light N' Fluffy Potato Vegetable Kugel
1/2 cup olive oil
6 large potatoes, peeled and quatered (soak in cold water until ready to use so they won't turn brown)
2 onions
2 carrots
2 zucchini
3 handfuls fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup matzo meal
5 eggs, beaten lightly
Preheat oven to 200C.  Put oil in rectangular pan and set aside.  Chop onions and carrots in food processor until ground.  Put in a large bowl and set aside.  Process potatoes, zucchini and parsley in FP until ground and green flecks throughout.  Mix into onion mixture.  Squeeze out as much water as you can.  Add dry ingredients and mix.  Add eggs and mix.  Place pan with oil in oven until it begins to sizzle.  Carefully take it out of the oven and pour the oil into the veg mixture.  Mix completely.  This makes the kugel fluffy!  Pour everything back into the oiled pan and bake for 1 hour uncovered.
Moroccan Mushroom Salad
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 kg mushrooms, quartered
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley

Heat oil in skillet and saute onions 7 minutes.  Add mushrooms and remaining ingredients (except parsley).  Saute, stirring often, until mushrooms are soft, coated with spices and liquid in pan has evaporated.  Serve topped with fresh parsley.

And for the non-vegetarian guests, I made:
Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls
Roast Chicken with Root Veggies
Broiled Salmon (marinated in lemon, garlic, ginger and a bit of brown sugar)

Tomorrow I boil the hard-boiled eggs, make the charoset, set the table, make the green salad, and hopefully RELAX!

until then...

Passover is Coming!

Hi Everybody!  How's it going?  I'm doing great.  I finished my cleanse up before Shabbat and feel absolutely fabulous and very, very energetic.  I had ants in my pants yesterday and my husband and I ended up walking all the way to and then through Moshav Gan Haim!  For those of you who aren't from around here, basically we were walking for over 2 hours and I could have gone more.  The day before, I easily ran 8K, my longest distance in 3 years!  Guess I really freed up some serious energy by eating so much enzyme-rich, easily-digested smoothies, fresh juices and soups! 

I am going to need all this energy heading into the next couple of days, as indeed, we are in the home-stretch before Passover, which begins on Monday night.  I'm hosting the seder here for 14 of my assorted inlaws.  The meal will not be vegan, or even vegetarian.  I'm serving fish, chicken soup and roast chicken and rumor has it my husband is preparing a lamb leg, but I don't cook mammals so he'll be on his own with that.  Of course there will be vegetable-based dishes and I will post them plus recipes. 

And just for the record, I don't eat the non-vegetarian items, although I will be including eggs and dairy in my diet again for the week of Passover.

Husband and I stayed up late last night to finish our cleaning (as did most of the Jewish world, I suspect) and we are now Chametz-Free and the cooking can commence.  But first, FITNESS calls!

I'll be back later I hope with some food pics and recipes...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cleansus Interuptus

I actually got a lot of emails and calls from people who aren't quite comfortable with what I'm writing about cleansing.  The questions ranged from whether perhaps I'm developing an eating disorder to why would I start a cleanse right after finishing the 100 day vegan challenge?

Let me try to explain in a nutshell:  We eat roughly 3 meals a day 365 days a year.  Right?  That's a lot of eating.  It's also a lot of time spent on shopping, cooking, thinking about shopping and cooking, eating and digesting.  Yes, our bodies are meant to do all that eating and digesting.  Yes, we eat three times a day in order to fuel our bodies.  Yes, yes, yes, you are correct.

But what's the big deal about taking a little break from it all?  Almost all spiritual traditions use abstention from food in the way of fasting as a way to purify body and soul.  When you fast (or juice fast or smoothie fast or raw fruit and veg fast or whatever) you step off the hamster wheel of foodfoodfoodfood.  You discover how much time you actually have to DO things and how much energy you have when you aren't digesting all the time.  And if you really want to understand who you are, and what your relationship to food is, there is not a better way to learn that I know of.

We Spring Clean our homes.  We take our cars in for service and change the oil.  Twice a year, at the change of the seasons Winter-to-Spring and then Summer-to-Fall, it's wonderful to do a little maintenance, spring clean and oil change on our own bodies and minds.

Oh, and the vegan challenge was just to see how it would be to go from vegetarian to vegan.  It had nothing to do with cleansing or detoxing.  I still drank my coffee with oat milk and munched on my vegan cupcakes!


This was lunch today

Feel better now?  That's rice and beans and salad and avocado.  It was yum.

Tonight we went out for dinner for my son's birthday and I ate this:

I love me some big bowl of hummus!

Tomorrow I'll probably go back to mostly juices and smoothies for a bit, but by Passover I'll be clean, shiny, fresh, energized and ready to eat some Matzoh Balls!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Liver to me

First of all, it's got to be said:  I am not a doctor or a medical professional.  Whatever you read in this post and on this blog is my OPINION, which in no way substitutes for the advice of a qualified medical practitioner.  'kay?

When we think of our livers, we think of alcohol, right?  Like the above picture.  We have some vague idea maybe that our liver detoxes alcohol from our blood.  But most of us have really no idea how many tasks our livers handle and how really important it is to our overall health and well-being.

So I'll tell you...

The liver is the body’s largest internal organ. It weighs about 3 lbs (1.36kgs), is reddish-brown in color and is located on the right side of the body under your ribcage.  The liver is the body's master laboratory, carrying out more than 100 known functions from the digestion of fats, to control of thyroid hormone levels, to the conversion of glucose to glycogen, to production of cholesterol and urea and certain amino acids and many, many more. It also filters harmful substances from the blood, such as alcohol and toxins, and regulates blood sugar levels.  We literally cannot live without it.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spring is the season to nourish the Liver and Gallbladder.  (The gallbladder sits right below the liver and stores and secretes bile for digestion, especially the breakdown of fats.)

A lifestyle of over-eating and over-drinking, can lead to an enlarged, over-worked liver that is less able to detoxify the blood, leaving poisons in your system.  And an abused gallbladder can get clogged up with gallstones. 

So throughtout my Spring cleanse, I have been focusing on nourishing and supporting my liver and gallbladder by:
-Drinking warm lemon water each morning
-Eating lots of apples and drinking fresh pressed apple juice to help soften gallstones for removal.
-Eating and juicing lots of chlorophyll-rich greens
-Drinking lots of sage and dandelion tea
-And performing a mini liver-flush in the mornings.  This involves drinking warm water with lemon juice, olive oil and garlic followed by fennel seed tea and then breakfast.  (email if you want the exact recipe)

I am toying with the idea of doing a real honest-to-goodness liver flush which involves actually drinking things like epsom salts and olive oil, ack.  Not sure about that yet.

This is a whole liter of Beet Juice Cocktail. The recipe was in Karen Knowler's last newsletter:
1 beet
4 carrots
3 oranges
6 apples
1 bunch parsley
4 strawberries

I drank about 2 glasses of it today and will have the rest tomorrow.  It's yummy!

Also pink but totally different - a Banana-Cherry-Red Cabbage Smoothie

It's better than it sounds.

Must confess I am NOT happy with this new blenders ability to get my smoothies smooth.

Still sad.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Liver cleansing post-poned...

I know I promised to talk all about liver cleansing today and you rushed over here with bated breath, but sadly I'm bushed and need to get horizontal asap.  I'll talk all about the liver and why it might need cleansing tomorrow.  No promises this time.

Here are some of today's eat (drinks):
Banana-Sour Cherry Blast - Yum!

Here is my special detox soup in the making:

The actual recipe is top secret as I share it in my Detox programs, but you can get a glimpse of what is in it.

Here's a hint (that's Tumeric)

Two kinds of seaweed!

Strain most of the solids, add miso and sip all day long!

And...I'm out!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I love Tom Venuto.  He's a hunk, he's a body-builder, he's super smart and he's a good writer.  If he showed up on my doorstep with a Vitamix, my husband would have some serious competition.  Here's the link to his latest and greatest, which I want you all to read, BUT NOT YET.  Read the rest of my post and then scroll back up to Tom.  Please?  Thank you.

OK, so by this point in my cleanse, I am pretty much on just fluids - juices, smoothies and soups.  Here are some of the quaffs I've been quaffing:

Sesame-Almond Mylk

1 cup sesame seeds, soaked overnight
1 cup almonds, soaked overnight
4 cups water
2-4 dates or stevia to taste
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract

Drain nuts and seeds.  Place in blender with 2 cups water.  Blend on high for 2 full minutes.  Strain pulp through a nut milk bag or strainer.  Pour milk back into blender with remainder of the water and remaining ingredients.  Blend until totally smooth.  Store in fridge.  Pulp can be spread on baking sheets and toasted in the oven to be used in baked goods.

Here is a video of my other celeb crush, Karen Knowler, preparing almond milk if you need visuals:

Then we have...

Parsley-Green Apple Juice

Tomato Vegetable Soup with Fresh Spinach

Green Smoothie with my fresh almond-sesame mylk, banana and spinach

Cherry-Gogi Berry Smoothie

1 banana
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup pitted cherries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup gogi berries, soaked and drained
few drops of stevia if you used sour cherries (like I did!)

Them's some serious anti-oxidants!

Tomorrow, I'll be flushing my liver.  Trust me, you're not gonna want to miss that!

OK, now go back to the top and read Tom Venuto's brilliant article on the new "healthy menus" being offered at fast food joints.

bossy, bossy, bossy, i know....

Thursday, March 18, 2010

There's no Rainbow without first Rain

I slept 9 hours again last night!  This is some DEEEEP relaxation I've gotten myself into, babes.

The daily food began with another food processor "smoothie" which really is not very smooth.  Banana, Orange, Date, Water, Oat Milk, Flax and Tahina.  Did you know that I can't even say the word "chunky" without feeling like I'm gonna hurl?  It's a fact, Jack.

Then I biked to the gym for legs, abs and cardio.  It was COLD today!  OK, so not like NY Cold, but colder than the blast furnace of a few days ago.  Came home famished and hit up the rest of the Oat-Date Peanut Balls, yum. 

Lunch was bowl of leftovers:

Roatsted Veggies with Lentil Bolognese

Then, there was a Double Rainbow which was a lovely omen for what was to happen later on (that's some literary for-shadowing, credit to my 10th grade English teacher Mr. Mann, may he rest in peace).

The funny thing is that in the 41 years that I lived in the US, I saw maybe 5 rainbows total.  In the two years we have been in Israel, I have easily seen 3 times that many!  You know what that means, don't you?

Snack was 2 apples, an orange, a pear, a carrot and a pepper = an edible rainbow.  Then I got busy stove-top roasting some peppers and eggplant for the Shabbat salads as part of the cookbook review I keep talking about:

Holy Nightshades Batman!


when that darling man I married 15 years ago in a stroke of absolute genius, returned home from work, he was carrying this:

I lovingly dedicate the follow song to my BFF:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

OK, I'll stop whining about you know what

Day one of my blenderless life went pretty well.  I thank you all who emailed me with your words of understanding.  And I thank the rest of you who think I've got a few screws loose for keeping it to yourself.

So today is my 4th day of Spring Cleansing and it's moving to a new level.  The first few days were full of little slips of this and that, BAD caffeine headaches and lots of grumpiness.  Last night I went to sleep at 9pm and when I woke up refreshed, I knew I was ready to take it up a notch.

First I oil pulled.  Then I drank a glass of lemon water. 

Then a go with the Neti Pot. 

Eleven minutes of sun salutations to loosen it all up.  Dry skin brushing before the shower and then to work.

Breakfast was a super sweet sesame shake made in the food processor.  It doesn't get as smooth with the FP, but it worked OK.

Sesame Vanilla Shake
1 frozen banana
2 dates
2 T tahina
1 cup water
1/2 cup oat milk
1 tsp vanilla

Mid-client snack was a Green Juice

2 apples
1 bunch parsley
4 stalks celery
1 cucumber

When work was done, I went for a jog.  The weather is glorious lately.  The heat and sand are gone and now it's just perfect.  LOVE

Lunch was scrambled tofu leftovers topped with Alissa Cohen's Raw Marinara:

Although it tasted fine, it left me with a bit of an upset tummy.  Alissa's recipes have never sat right with me.  Christy, Mickie and Jenn will all know what I'm talking about because we did a 30-day Raw Detox on Alissa's site a few years ago and they'll remember me whining about those recipes!  Firstly, who can eat raw onions and garlic?  I mean, it tastes good, but not for long, if ya know what I mean.

Anyway, the afternoon was spent Spring cleaning the disasters that my kids call their rooms.  Lots of tea and a few Peanut Butter Oat Balls got me through that challenge.

Dinner was a simple Potato Leek Soup, soothing, satisfying and easy to digest.

Tonight will be another early night in bed with Anna Karenina, hubba hubba.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's Only a Blender

This morning, as I rushed around the kitchen preparing for a 9am cooking session with a client, I clumsily dropped my glass blender on the ceramic floor.  As it broke into a hundred glass fragments, I began to shriek in horror.  My husband came running, ready to save me from whatever terrible calamity had befallen me.  When he saw the blender remains on the floor, he knew enough about my feelings for my blender, to just wrap his arms around me and let me cry it out.  He's a good husband.

Silly?  To be so attached to a kitchen appliance?

I couldn't even get a hold of myself after the mess was cleaned up and my client, seeing me sniffling and watering, said in Hebrew "That all of your troubles should be this bad."  She's 100% correct of course.  It's just a blender.

We can buy another one.

But it won't be THIS one. 

Almost three years ago, as we prepared to leave our home, our conutry, our friends and our family to strike out into an unknown life in a foreign country, I had to replace my trusty, much used American blender with one that would run on the 220-volts that run through Israeli electric wires.  My husband, then working in electronics sales, brought me home this Panasonic beauty.  We packed the blender, along with the rest of our wordly possesions into a shipping container to sail across the seas and meet us on the other side.

My lovely kitchen in NY.  See Blender in spot of prominence.

Kids standing in empty shipping container.  Hi Cocoa!

The material sum of all our years on the planet being squished into said container.

Locked and Loaded.  How sad they look!

Two months later, my new kitchen in Israel awaiting the arrival of the new blender.

It's really like the end of an era for me.  Another string cut from my life of "before" and my new life of "now."  The new machine we will buy will come from here and no doubt we will have our pants ripped off by some fine Israeli electronics scammery, the likes of which NY salesmen can only aspire to.  Who remembers the "Sony Guts" skit??  See what I mean?

Farewell fine machine.  So many people were nourished by the frothy, fruity refreshments you produced.  We will all miss you but no one as much as me!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sometimes Cookies Happen

Today was just to be a second day of no sugar, no wheat, no coffee and no dairy, but I oops-ed the sugar and wheat, so just no coffee or dairy it was.  More on that in a sec.

For breakfast I had a giant smoothie.  Then I had a tough weight workout.  After returning home, I lunched on this (close your eyes if you want me to still be vegan):

Eggs, broccoli with garlic, red lentil hummus on rice cakes.  I don't eat eggs very often but was dragging towards the end of the workout and felt a bit of protein was called for.  It's important to listen to your body.

Then I was multi-tasking you see - testing a recipe for a cookbook I was asked to review AND using up chametz (flour) - when I went face first into the peanut butter cookie dough. 

NOT part of the cleanse

Anyway, I will tell you more about those cookies when I get the book review all finished.  Today, I am dusting the flour off my cheeks and moving on with spring cleansing as planned.

Dinner was a bowl of the Pumpkin Tofu Curry I cooked for the Sugar Detox group last week:

Pumpkin Tofu Curry

1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cups cubed pumpkin or orange squash
3 cloves garlic, minced
One slice of fresh ginger root, minced
1 tsp curry powder or to taste
Pinch red pepper flakes or to taste
Salt and black pepper
250g sugar-free tomato paste or sauce
1 can coconut milk
1 package of tofu, cut into cubes
2 cups frozen peas

Sauté onion and pumpkin in oil. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant. Add seasonings and then tomato paste. Stir, then add coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes until pumpkin is soft. Add tofu and simmer 7 more minutes. Add frozen peas and re-warm until peas and heated through.
Now I'm off to make a giant salad for Bookclub tonight.    See ya tomorrow!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's 90 F, sandy, and dry but Spring is Spring!

Spring is Springing!

There are 2 weeks before Passover and like many Jews I'm a busy cleaning bee!  Most of us use the fact that we have to get all the little yeasty crumbs out of our homes, cars, backpacks, purses etc, as a chance to give the whole shebang a deep cleaning.  I'm going room by room, bit by bit, and at this point everything really looks messier than when I started.  But soon things will come together and get put into their proper places and all will be sparkling and fresh.

What do you know?  So too with my bod!  I began my Springtime Cleanse today.  It's like a Detox, but somehow the word Cleanse fits better because of the connection to all that spring cleaning.  I designed a special cleanse this year to take me right through the Spring Equinox on the 21st and right into Passover on the 29th.  It's a gradual cleanse and I'll be blogging about it as I go.  The middle portion of the cleanse will be a few days on the Master Cleanse and a few days of Juice Fasting on either side of that.  But today we just tightening up my already fairly detoxed diet:  No sugar, no coffee, no wheat and no dairy.  Lots of fruits and veggies. 

But just like with my house above, my body and mind are a bit messier at the moment than they were when I started.  I felt foggy and headachey and generally out of sorts.  I know it's all part of the process though.

I've got a Mind and Spirit component to this Spring Cleanse as well.  I spent 11 minutes this morning on Sun Salutations, then spent some time with my journal, my thoughts and my affirmations.

And now, at the end of my Day One, I am washing my feet and then getting into bed with Anna Karenina.

More cleansing details and picture to come.  No more lame blogger!