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Days 5, 6 and 7: A Food Lover’s New Year’s Plan

As the week came to a close, eating—without flour, sugar, meat or dairy—became a bit more of a challenge. I had a breakfast meeting Thursday where I chose to eat simply: scrambled eggs, potatoes and fruit. Lunch out the following day was a bit more of a challenge; all I could find was a salad and side of fruit. I resisted the bread served with my salad. Then came the birthday cake at work. I managed to decline that too. When I shared my “cleanse” with a coworker, she joked, “What, did Lent come early?” I couldn’t help but laugh. Even though a conscious return to eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains had its limits, it really was not that bad.

One of my best ideas in planning the week was to make stuffed sweet potatoes with the pan-roasted endive, apples and grapes. Cooking the potatoes in the microwave was a huge time-saver. Then I mixed the potatoes with chopped oven-roasted tomatoes, shredded kale, garlic, spices and silken tofu before baking them again. We really enjoyed them, and my recipe is below. The pan-roasted endive is also a new favorite, and Dorie Greenspan’s recipe is certainly a keeper.

By the end of the week, I diverged from the meals just a bit. Instead of the almond-banana smoothie, I opted for frozen banana slices, silken tofu, frozen blueberries and orange juice. And, by the time we finished dinner on Friday night, Sarah seemed a bit, well, hungry. I chalked it up to her lack of eating a fortified smoothie for breakfast, but I promised to make up for it on Saturday. That’s when I decided a potato, onion and cauliflower frittata with a cilantro drizzle would be a better brunch than the wheat and dried fruit porridge.

We finished the week with curried lentil soup, a recipe I had made once before. It’s a great vegan recipe that is both comforting and filling. In looking back, the week was a success: good food, a return to wholesome, nutritious meals and some new recipes too. I won’t say my life changed, but I felt lighter and a little more energized, and I rediscovered that willpower serves us all well.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
4 ounces silken tofu, drained and crumbled
1/4 cup chopped oven-roasted tomatoes (or sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water)
1/2 cup chopped kale
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pierce sweet potatoes with fork several times. Cook in microwave for 6 to 8 minutes until done. Let cool. Cut each potato in half and scoop out potato into medium bowl, leaving skins in tact.

To the potato, add the tofu, tomatoes, kale, garlic and spices and mash until well combined. Fill each potato skin with the filling, mounding it in the middle. Place potato halves in a baking dish and bake 15-20 minutes until very hot and lightly browned on top.

Note: I opted not to cook the kale and garlic first. To mellow the flavors, you could sauté them with a little olive oil for a few minutes before adding them with the rest of the ingredients.

As the week came to a close, eating—without flour, sugar, meat or dairy—became a bit more of a challenge. I had a breakfast meeting Thursday where I chose to eat simply: scrambled eggs, potatoes and fruit. Lunch out the following day was a bit more of a challenge; all I could find was a salad and side of fruit. I resisted the bread served with my salad. Then came the birthday cake at work. I managed to decline that too. When I shared my “cleanse” with a coworker, she joked, “What, did Lent come early?” I couldn’t help but laugh. Even though a conscious return to eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains had its limits, it really was not that bad.

On of my best ideas in planning the week was to make stuffed sweet potatoes with the pan-roasted endive, apples and grapes. Cooking the potatoes in the microwave was a huge time-saver. Then I mixed the potatoes with chopped oven-roasted tomatoes, shredded kale, garlic, spices and silken tofu before baking them again. We really enjoyed them, and my recipe is below. The pan-roasted endive is also a new favorite, and Dorie Greenspan’s recipe is certainly a keeper.

By the end of the week, I diverged from the meals just a bit. Instead of the almond-banana smoothie, I opted for frozen banana slices, silken tofu, frozen blueberries and almond milk. And, by the time we finished dinner on Friday night, the wife seemed a bit, well, hungry. I chalked it up to her lack of eating a fortified smoothie for breakfast, but I promised to make up for it on Saturday. That’s when I decided a potato, onion and cauliflower frittata with a cilantro drizzle would be a better brunch than the wheat and dried fruit porridge.

We finished the week with curried lentil soup, a recipe I had made once before. It’s a great vegan recipe that is both comforting and filling. In looking back, the week was a success: good food, a return to wholesome, nutritious meals and some new recipes too. I won’t say my life changed, but I felt lighter, a little more energized and found that willpower that serves us all well.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean

4 ounces silken tofu, drained

1/4 cup chopped oven-roasted tomatoes (or sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water)

1/2 cup chopped kale

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pierce sweet potatoes with fork several times. Cook in microwave for 6 to 8 minutes until done. Let cool. Cut each potato in half and scoop out potato into medium bowl, leaving skins in tact.

To the potato, add the tofu, tomatoes, kale, garlic and spices and mash until well combined. Fill each potato skin with the filling, mounding it in the middle. Place potato halves in a baking dish and bake 15-20 minutes until very hot and lightly browned on top.

Note: I opted not to cook the kale and garlic first. To mellow the flavors, you could sauté them with a little olive oil for a few minutes before adding them with the rest of the ingredients.

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