Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Experience with the Cooler Cleanse

As you all know by my tweets, Instagram pics, and Facebook statuses, I did the 3-day Cooler Cleanse last month and today I'd love to share my thoughts on the cleanse, the flavors, how I felt, and my feelings before, during, and after it. 

What's the Cooler Cleanse you ask? A cleanse of course, composed of raw, gluten-free fruit and vegetable juices, as well as a few nut milks that provide your body with much needed nutrients, as well as pure energy. It helps rid the body of toxins and gives it a much needed time to focus on itself rather then having to digest endless amount of food. The 3 days were each composed of 6 juices each day, taken every 2 hours or so. Below is an overview of the 18 juices I received!

Juice #1 "Sweet Greens": As the first juice of the day, it pretty much woke me up. The taste is sweeter than I expected, with and herbaceous flavor under the sweetness.

Juice #2 "Watermelon & Lime; Pineapple & Ginger; Grapefruit & Mint":  By far, these were my favorite juice flavors and sipping on them inspired new flavors for me to add to my baking list. Watermelon & Lime was a burst of what summer tastes like, the Pineapple & Ginger had a spiciness and tart sweetness, and the Grapefruit & Mint was...minty fresh with a bitter tartness that was actually very pleasant.

Juice #3 "Essential Green": This is exactly what you'd expect from a green juice. A slight bitterness, it was one of my least favorite but definitely still drinkable. You'll definitely FEEL healthier after sipping on Essential Green!

Juice #4 "Young Coconut Water & Spicy Lemonade": Refreshing and naturally sweet, both of these were perfect mid-afternoon. I felt most hydrated after drinking the Young Coconut Water, and the Spicy Lemonade put a pep in my step! I've had a very spicy lemonades before, and most of them have an artificial lemon candy-like flavor. This was purely what a tart lemon would taste, with a touch of raw agave to balance it out.

Juice #5 "Essential Red":
Consider this your early dinner, and it fills you up almost like a regular dinner. It's a hearty juice that blends the sweet apple and earthy beet, with a touch of lemon and the beneficial qualities of carrots.

Juice #6 "Spicy Hemp Milk; Almond Nut Milk; Brazil Nut Milk": I considered this my treat, my sweet dessert and my reward. My favorite? Hands down the Almond Nut Milk, laced with vanilla bean and blended with dates, it was almost too much to drink! It's thick like a milkshake and I loved it! The Spicy Hemp Milk was a close runner up, with Brazil Nut Milk trailing behind because honestly? Brazil Nuts are my least favorite nuts!

Three Days Before The Cleanse: I stopped drinking coffee, which meant removing 4 cups of caffeine from my diet. The smart way would be to slowly wean yourself off of it if you drink more than a cup, but I went cold turkey and paid for it the hard way. My first day off caffeine was awful: headaches and flu-like symptoms. The next day was much better, and after that I got used to not having coffee. I eventually didn't have coffee for an entire week. I also reduced red meat consumption, as per suggested by Cooler Cleanse and tried to eat more veggies. Sure, I had pasta the night before, but it was like a good bye moment. 

Day One:
As with everything new, it was honestly the hardest day for me. After sipping on the first two juices, I went on a short 30 minute walk and after getting home, felt lightheaded for a good hour. The feeling woudn't shake, plus I started to feel nauseous so I decided I needed solid food. It hadn't even been 24 hours since my last meal! I had some sweet potatoes with cheese, and this small meal would be what carried me through each day. The day continued on, feeling much better after a small meal and my other juices.

Day Two: Other than a slight headache, this day went smoothly and for my small meal I tossed some canned tuna with greens and avocados. Adapting the cleanse to what my body needed made it work for me. 

Day Three: By the end of the cleanse, I was ready for solid food! Small meal this day was a salad with more avocados and quinoa, and the juices were being gulped only when I started to feel hungry (more or less every 2-3 hours). 

Results and Final Thoughts: What did I realize about my body and food intake? First of all, I'm not a mindless eater. I rarely snack much and just really rely on meals. I missed the act of cooking, and realized it was the way I timed my day as to what I was doing and cooking. What surprised me the most was the amount of energy I had, even without the caffeine in my system. I also felt great about what I was putting into my body and could feel it regenerating and taking in the nutrients, which I loved. As for weight loss, I lost about 4 pounds, but for me this was the least important result. The way I felt (after getting used to the juices), was a better result! 

Thanks to the awesome folks at Cooler Cleanse, we have one 3-day cleanse to give away. If this is something you've always wanted to try, here is your chance! Below are ways to enter, be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry you do, as well as a contact email! 

Disclaimer: Cooler Cleanse was provided free of charge in order to facilitate this review. No monetary compensation was received. Before doing any cleanse or detox, consult with your doctor. US mailing addresses only. One (1) winner will be chosen randomly. Prize will be shipped by Cooler Cleanse. The contest ends Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 at 11:59 pm Eastern time. The winner will be announced on Monday, April 23st via email and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen

Friday, May 11, 2012

Quinoa Ragu Lasagna

Sometimes, lasagna is all we crave. Layered cheese, creamy sauces, rich meat, and pasta noodles. What else do you need? We made this before leaving for NYC last month and baked it in a loaf pan, since most of our cooking is for two (with leftovers!) Oh and why quinoa? We had some leftover cooked quinoa in the fridge from a previous meal and decided to load up the lasagna with a nutritious grain that not only added health benefits, but provided texture in an otherwise smooth and creamy lasagna.

Quinoa Lasagna
Serves 2, with leftovers
Fresh or Dry Pasta Noodles, 1/2 pound
large pot of water, salted
1 cup quinoa, cooked

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 pound ground beef/pork/chicken
1 cup diced canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour or cornstarch
2 cups cream
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Set aside the cooked pasta and quinoa. Start by heating the oil in a medium saucepan and saute the onion, carrot, and celery for about 4 minutes. Add the preferred meat and sear.
  2. Add tomatoes, sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 25 minutes, until meat is cooked through.
  3. In the meantime, make a quick Béchamel sauce by making a roux with the butter and flour. Cook for 2 minutes and whisk in the cream. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
  4. When the meat sauce is cooked, fold in the cooked quinoa.
  5. To assemble: Grease a loaf pan with butter or oil. Cover bottom of the pan with 2 tablespoons
    Béchamel sauce. 
  6. Layer with a strip of pasta noodle and then top with meat-quinoa sauce.  
  7. Drizzle bechamel over meat-quinoa sauce and repeat layer of pasta.  Finish with Béchamel sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. 
  8. Bake at 400F for 15-25 minutes, until cheese and Béchamel are browned. Serve with a salad of greens and crusty bread.

    You can make this gluten free by using cornstarch in the bechamel and using gluten-free pasta noodles. We made fresh noodles using Domenica Marchetti's Pasta Recipe and they turned out great in this recipe. Whenever we have the time, we make fresh pasta instead of using dry pasta. The results are noticeably different; the long noodles soak up both sauces and provide structure to the meal.

    How do YOU make lasagna? Links are welcome, so make sure to share your favorite recipes with us!