Friday, September 20, 2013

Eliminating Excess

After a month of too much traveling, eating out and wine drinking I was feeling a bit sluggish, and not so great about myself. Finally, I have the time on my hands to truly workout on a regular basis, but was sabotaging my efforts by indulging in just about everything put in front of me. That was until I stumbled upon Gwyneth Paltrow's latest book (April 2013), It's All Good, Delicious Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great. I was simply trying to fill up some bookshelves at a Florida rental when I picked this up. I really used her previous cookbook, and was excited to read this one.

What I didn't expect was to hear about an elimination diet plan from a doctor that required committing to no coffee, tomatoes, dairy, shellfish, white flour, soda, artificial sweeter, sugar, corn, alcohol (sigh) or anything processed. And that's the short list. I've seen these types of plans before, usually comprised of a list of 'no-no's' but with little resource on how to make it work. Gwyneth and her co-author actually make the process fun, providing dozens of recipes for different meals that are easily adapted into my kitchen. 
There are also many other recipes that are either vegan or protein
packed (not on the diet) for general good health. The book has been widely criticized for requiring costly ingredients (it does) and not applying to the average person. But, after the initial expense of getting your pantry in order, following the plan is actually quite affordable for us, especially when cutting way back on dining out and the wine cost incurred on those occasions. Yes, a whole totally free-range organic chicken may be $15 rather than the usual $7 for a pre-cooked version. But, in our case, I got 3+ meals out of it, plus made homemade stock for soup and boiling quinoa.

The book includes sections on staples for pantry, refrigerator and counter, which I love. Many products to amp up flavor without process or chemicals as well,  a wide variety of organic produce and spices are not
on my typical shopping list. But now, I'm hooked! 

To do this, you have to completely give into it.  Eat at home as much as possible and be prepared to put in some serious time in the kitchen. The recipes are fun and enjoyable, but they do require whipping up your own salad dressing, hummus and other basics to fully eliminate chemicals. It took me a full day to do the shopping, chopping... and to toss out much of my refrigerator's contents, but it was worth it. My husband agreed to join me in doing this 'cleanse', and has really embraced it, which is surprising for a burger guy (no red meat or pork allowed). Like me, he has more energy and is enjoying trying new things. One of his favorites so far is the white bean, garlic and onion puree that completely trumps traditional mashed potatoes.

The white bean puree is going to be a staple in our house, always. Get the book for the recipe!
The variety of the smoothie and juice recipes has also given us something to play with and look forward to in the mornings. These are some of the most original, gluten and dairy free options I've seen, and each one is delicious. Some are packed with fresh, organic produce while others like the 'Pumkin Pie Shake' (my favorite) are all about almond milk, sweet potatoes and fall spices.

GP initially followed this plan for 21 days and goes back to the recipes on a regular basis. I may break for big food and wine events, but am going to stick as close to it as I can for awhile during the week even after the initial strict phase is over. Not just because I feel better, but because I really enjoy being in charge/concious of what I'm putting into my body. If you've followed this plan or something similar, I would love to know about your experience and to see you comments. Look for clever ways to stick to the plan while eating out on my next post.