Ah, I'm back from my "summer vacation" away from blogging! So what if my vacation went almost two months past the end of summer break itself?! At first, I told myself that I should take a break from the blogs (like I really did any serious blogging anyway!) and then I just didn't feel like coming back. But here we are again and with a recipe to share to boot.
First and foremost in our happy little household is the new DIET that Dylan and I started on Friday. Starting at the beginning of a long weekend seemed less daunting than starting on manic Monday, so we officially started on Friday afternoon. We are doing CLEAN by Dr. Junger, which is not so much a diet as it is a lifestyle change. I first found out about it during the summer, from Gwneth Paltrow's website of all places. (Actually, I ended up at her website after first reading an article about various celebrity diets in a fashion magazine.) So I bought the book and really loved the whole philosophy behind the program. But I am very good at starting stuff that never gets finished, so I knew my own weaknesses before I even read the whole book, and I vowed to get over them so I could go on the Clean program.
My reasons for wanting to do any kind of diet: 1) Lose this middle-aged spread that has been creeping up on me, a few pounds a year over the last six years post-partum; 2) Feel less tired; 3) Eat healthier overall because I'm not 19 anymore! Dylan was willing to try it out with me after I excitedly told him all about the program and read him excerpts from the book on a road trip to Houston. Don't I have a great hubby?!
To prepare for the 21-day diet, I had to get off caffeine, get it out of my system and not crave it day and night like I usually do. Specifically, my love affair with Coca-Cola. I've had as many as 3 Cokes a day in my pre-diet days. I love it so. I weaned myself off my favorite elixir by switching to weak homemade iced tea, brewed from organic loose earl gray tea leaves, flavored with mango juice. After about two weeks or so of iced tea, I was off caffeine completely. Not that I didn't have some serious cravings or headaches, but I survived. I also enjoyed seltzer water with a splash of raspberry lemonade as well as the yummy Izze natural sodas, post-caffeine.
Second thing I did to prepare, and which is in the book, was to start eating some of the foods that are allowed on the program and to start eliminating those that aren't from my diet. This was actually harder to do than ditch the caffeine. Bread, dairy, sugar, alcohol and all the other obvious foods to avoid. My kids aren't on the diet, so I had little incentive during this phase to cook two sets of meals. I went out of town three weekends in a row, making it hard to eat healthy and purposefully. And then I started having second thoughts about doing the Clean program at all.
But sometimes you just have to jump in and grab hold with both hands! So I made the snap decision on Thursday that Friday would be Day 1 of the diet. I bought about half of the different foods we would need (there is no eating out on this diet) to get started and researched some necessary supplements at the Vitamin Shoppe. And we were off! I didn't even tell Dylan the diet was on until Friday afternoon!
I have to say, I thought it was going to be much harder to begin Clean than it was. This past weekend was a primer in avoiding temptation! Day 1 began with me doing two custom cake orders. Staring at cake and frosting for seven hours. Then there was a kiddie birthday party on Day 2, where the hostess offered all the Moms and Dads wine and beer and lovely little croissant sandwiches were served. I drank bottled water and ate nothing. Day 3 was partially spent trying to figure out how to leave the house for an outing or errands without missing lunch, which is the primary meal of the day and must be home-cooked only with the assigned ingredients. (We figured it out.) At the end of the day, Dylan and I were are both a few pounds lighter and very proud of ourselves!
There are lots of recipes available for Clean dieters, and many of them use ingredients that weren't in my pantry or fridge before, so eating has actually been really interesting and adventurous! Agave syrup, cacao powder, kale, chia, tamari. Just a few new staples at our house. The recipes themselves are really delicious too, although Dylan pointed out that a dish's yum factor has a direct correlation to how hungry you are! (You can get kind of hungry on this diet.) Of the seven new recipes we tried this weekend, all were keepers except for one: Mango & Kale Smoothie. Yes, dark green, leafy vegetable mixed with mango. While I didn't hate it, it wasn't exactly the best thing I've ever had, and Dylan disliked it more than I did. But we did love kale steamed with garlic!
We'll be blogging more about our diet as the weeks go on, and tomorrow we're introducing the supplements (probiotics, fiber, antimicrobial herbs, etc.) I have no idea how we'll feel after adding the vitamins. Stay tuned.
Ironically, in the midst of buying all this exotic healthy food on Thursday, I concocted a great new cake recipe! I have been testing new cake recipes lately, and this one was the best. It combines a couple of favorite recipes together, which I also did on the other ones, but the others were merely so-so or just not good. I used this recipe for one of my weekend cake orders for a toddler's birthday.
So since I can't eat cake right now, here is a recipe to share with everyone else who can:
My New Strawberry Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
1 1/2 cup mashed strawberries, with their juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
3 tsp. vanilla extract
**Optional-- 1 tbsp. strawberry gelatin mix (If you want your cake to be a pretty pink color. This will add a little more strawberry flavor to the cake too. I really hate using food coloring if I can just use Jello!)
**Note-- I use powdered dry milk and regular milk, but you could also just use water in place of the regular milk. Milk is just a bit richer.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour cake pan(s); can use two 8-inch or 9-inch round pans or a sheet cake pan.
2. Sift all dry ingredients together. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes longer.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake until cakes spring back when lightly touched (sorry, have no idea how long I baked it!). Cool cake pans on wire cooling rack before inverting cakes onto another rack for further cooling.
5. Frost layers with buttercream frosting or any other frosting that you like.
Serves about 18.
Image from www.cleanprogram.com