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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dextox Journey: Pico de Gallo, Old World Pilaf, and Veggie Stir-Fry

Pico de gallo, old world pilaf, and veggie stir-fry
This was day 2 of my detox, clean-eating journey. I wanted my dinner to be very filling, hearty, tasty, and nutritional, and I achieved established all those results!

I also knew I had to share what I prepared and ate for dinner with you guys.

So, what did I have for dinner? Well, let's take a look below:

1. Pico de Gallo - Organic lime juice from one lime, diced jalapeno pepper, cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, clove of garlic, white onions, sea salt, and cayenne pepper.
Did you know?: You can also use other ingredients such as mango, bell peppers, celery and so on. The basics of a pico de gallo are the peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and onions. You can put your own spin on pico de gallo according to your tastes and your level of desire to explore with flavor. White onions can be replaced with red onions for a sweet taste, too. I adore onions, so as you can see I added both white and green onions.
2. Old World Pilaf - a mix of red rice, brown rice, black rice., red lentils, yellow lentils, black eyed peas and green lentils all cooked with red peppers, garlic, celery, and white onions. No salt needed. 
Did you know?: Cooking lentils or beans with salt toughens them. If salt is added, it is best to add it after the beans or lentils are cooked.
3. Indian-spiced Vegetable Stir-frya bit of unsweetened, organic coconut milk, extra virgin olive oil, garam masala, sea salt, fennel seeds, eggplant, zucchini, 2 cloves of garlic, green onions, red bell peppers, baby bella mushrooms and celery
Inside info: I love smashing up garlic with the back of a wide knife or spatula to get to the cloves. So fun! Also, although a really high-quality garlic powder blend can make food delicious and is great to have in your spice collection, you simply can't compare it to the grand and lively taste of fresh, minced garlic cloves.
Everything in these three components was organic except for the jalapeno pepper. I couldn't find any organic jalapenos. Their season is in warmer periods (spring and summer), so I am not sure why it was rather difficult to track down some organic varieties, but I am more than fine with what I bought.

Pico de gallo
To make the pico de gallo, I chopped and diced up all of my aforementioned herbs and vegetables, sprinkled in my spices and fresh lime juice, and mixed well. It was as simple as that. Pico de gallo is very easy to make (and extremely healthy -- perfect for those who enjoy eating raw vegan foods), so one should not have any reason for going out and buying a pre-made supply of it. You can make a big quantity of it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for later use. It can be eaten with a large array of foods. I also enjoy it alone, sometimes. Think of it is as a sort of "ketchup," regarding it's wide appeal and culinary applications.

Grain and Legume Combination
I was able to get a lot of different organic grains and legumes from Whole Foods Market's. Whole Foods has a spectacular inventory of these ingredients in their bulk section, so there's lots to choose from. It's not often I come across black rice. It's got quite the distinctive taste, but it's nutty and flavorsome. I get excited about seeking out different rice varieties. There is so much to explore! So if you've never eaten anything beyond your everyday plain white rice, you are completely missing out!

The rices, beans, and lentils were placed in a medium pot and covered well with water, enough to where I knew the mix would not dry out but also not be mushy from way too much water left over after absorption. I left the mix without powdered spices or salt. As I mentioned above, salt toughens legumes when it is boiled with them. In order to add more flavor, I chopped up red bell pepper, white onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, and some celery, and placed it in the water with the rice, beans, and lentils. 

Cooked old world pilaf
Once the old world pilaf was brought to a boil, I turned down the heat, placed a lid on the pot, and let the mixture cook for 25-30 minutes. Once that time was up, I completely cut the heat, kept the lid on, and let the hearty combination sit for 10 minutes to further cook in its steam. 

Keep in mind that brown, black, and red rices will have a chewier texture and more visceral mouth feel than plain white rice has, which is one of the qualities I enjoy about eating them.

Vegetable Stir-fry
The vegetable stir-fry was also very facile. It was simply a matter of chopping up all of my selected vegetables, adding the garam masala, salt, and fennel seeds, heating up a pan with extra virgin olive oil, and placing everything in the pan.

As the vegetables cooked for a bit, I poured in some organic, unsweetened coconut milk. Not a lot, just enough to lightly coat the vegetables and stir it further in. 

I love anything coconut. Coconut milk is also good for use in smoothies, vegetable soups, and fresh juice blends. It's a proper substitute for using dairy-based cream or dairy milk in certain recipes.

I cooked the vegetables until they were tender and still retained some of some of their crunch and texture.  In fact, everything in the skillet could have been eaten raw, but I couldn't resist preparing a succulent stir-fry.

This meal, overall, was so fulfilling. I enjoyed every bit of it and went back for more of everything with food left over for tomorrow's lunch! With these sorts of recipes, you can eat a good amount and not be concerned about consuming too many calories (if that's what you're worried about). This meal was packed with tons of nutrients and had very little fat.

This also shows that if you wanted to become vegetarian or even vegan, you can do it and know that delectable meals and foods are quite easy to prepare. There's a lot of misinformation out there about vegetarian, and especially vegan eating. A lot of people assume there's not much to eat and choose from and that the food tastes unpleasant. That's simply not true. Vegetarian and vegan eating requires that you become far more intimate and educated about your health and food. You need to research properly, understand more about nutrients, and it's an excellent push to explore all sorts of ingredients, dishes, and ways to prepare foods that you probably never tried. As a fellow food explorer, that's never a bad thing.

I can't say that I'd ever see myself becoming exclusively vegan, although the idea intrigues me, because I enjoy eating poultry, dairy, and seafood once in awhile, but I love incorporating vegan eating into my diet. 

Many vegan foods are also perfect for my detox eating regimen. The body digests and metabolizes these foods without a lot of strain and effort. That's got to feel better at the end of the day. I can already feel a difference and I am on day 3 of my detox journey. :)

If you've got any tips, advice or comments about vegetarian/vegan, raw food eating, or detox "dieting" in general, please feel free to share your thoughts! I'd love to hear!

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