Oh my god, what a tremendous holiday. Like many of you I have not stopped cooking since November, beginning with Thanksgiving, moving towards our annual Winter Solstice party, followed by the first ever Christmas Eve dinner at my home,followed by our traditional Christmas breakfast , Christmas dinner, never ending plates of Christmas cookies and that was only the beginning. Three days later it was off to New York for a fabulous Black Tie wedding at The New York Palace (Duck breast, steak tartare and lobster ceviche, the most amazing wedding cake and constantly flowing champagne!), Scotch and cigars at Club Macanudo , High Tea at Bergdorfs, Charcroute Garnie at Les Halles and then New Years Eve with my niece in Bridgewater where after yet another even more fabulous High Tea we cooked up a feast of king crab, steak, au gratin potatoes , creamed spinach washed down by copious amounts of yummy Veuve Cliquot .
Thankfully by the time we got to Lexington Mass to see my darling friend John and his equally wonderful wife, they’d decided to cook a traditional Japanese meal for New Years, where I was thrilled to eat sukiyaki , sushi , seared tuna and even learned how to make homemade mochi, something that I’ve longed to do for years which we ate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and crystallized ginger. Delicious and simple…thank goodness because by then my liver was beginning to ache every time I thought about eating.
Can you say Gluttony? I can’t even begin to think about picking up a whisk….
So I’ve decided that it is time once again for a cleanse, a complete food overhaul. So my primary challenge for the next month is to return to culinary saneness. Jim’s on board and I’m thrilled to say that my 24 year son Alex, is on board. He’s agreed to give up smoking (YES!) and alcohol for a few weeks and Jim is giving up alcohol and cigars. I am giving up alcohol , too much sugar , cream and my overall lack of willpower!
I know how to do this having been vegetarian/vegan on and off for years but when you love food as much as I do the holidays make it tough. Of course the goal here is to burn off a few pounds, but mostly to reset the clock. Like I said, I know what to do, I just lack the will. It’s time though , I’m 52 and suddenly noticing aches and pains where there were none. I want to keep sailing through menopause like I have. My son said something very pointed to me the other day. He looked at me when we were out riding and said quite directly, “You know , if you don’t lose that 20 pounds you’re going to shorten your horseback riding life by at least 15 years, almost one year per pound mom.” Now my son is no paragon of virtue but in this case he was right. That would be a disaster for me, riding , cooking and writing being my chosen meditations. Upon arrival at my home I broke out my Vitamix and new Mauviel steamer and banished the kitchen aid mixer to the basement!
If you’ve never heard of a Vitamix trust me when I say that this is the one appliance that would be with me if I were ever stranded on an island. When I am cleansing I use it everyday. It is WAY more than a blender although it does make the best frozen cocktails ever! There’s nothing like it for juicing and because it is so powerful it helps me create incredibly fast soups that are simple, completely fresh and delicious! I've discovered that when I stick to it that consuming a diet rich in whole foods simply makes me feel better and for me is the key to keeping me healthy and happily moving into my middle age. It's easy to prepare wonderful foods when you've got a weapon like this in your arsenal! I make fresh juice that's full of fiber and flavor in under a minute. I can cook fresh soups from scratch andhave them hot enough to serve in just a few moments. Salsa is a snap and so is guacamole, although I do prefer making mine the old fashioned way in a stone bowl. I can make fresh puddings and ice creams that are full of fruit and low in fat in really only 30 seconds. When I make "Cream of anything" soup, before I strain it I give a turn in the Vitamix and then press it through a chinoise. The machine purees so well that it eliminates the need for extra cream (for now I’ll be using mostly unsweetened coconut milk) and gives any soup a silken texture. If I want fresh butter I can make my own using the Vitamix in about 2 minutes. I even make fabulous plant food with it using fish and veggie scraps, coffee beans, eggshells and water!
You hear it all the time now, with even Doctors are finally acknowledging that the key to real and lasting health is to consume more fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day while encouraging us to eat way less meat, fish and dairy. Finally, the return to food sanity is becoming mainstream.
This time instead of going totally vegan which is very hard for us to do in the winter, we’re going to stick to a wonderful Mediterranean diet full of rich sunny flavors. I’ve brought home infused olive oils from New York and I’m ready to use the beautiful new copper steamer that my husband bought me to lighten up the calories without sacrificing flavor. Tons of fresh herbs, way less sugar and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Almost nothing processed. One splurge night a week! Lots of fresh fish, shellfish and very little red meat and lots of slow food. Only real cheese, not processed and absolutely no fast food of any sort. I will allow myself a glass of red wine or champagne if I want it. Practically no sugar, except for maple, agave honey and lots of yoga to keep everything moving smoothly! I’m excited…lots of new recipes to create, lots of wonderful food to eat after several days of creative juicing!
So wish me luck and how about you? What are your tips and tricks for staying healthy, vibrant and fully alive? I need all of the help I can get! Anyone want to do this with me?
Be well, eat well, live and love well,
And..While you're living well here's another wonderful use for champagne that I've used many times and it works!
This article was originally published in Perfume Smellin Things, my favorite perfume blog!