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Days 1 and 2: A Food Lover’s New Year’s Plan

I am happy to report that I am on Day 3 of my “foodie cleanse.” We have cooked some delicious meals, discovered a few new snacks and had one huge kitchen disaster thanks to my lack of a blender.

Now, when I say disaster, I am not joking.  It was Day 1, I had gotten up early to grocery shop and returned hungry for breakfast. I intended to make a vanilla date smoothie, which seemed simple enough—yogurt, milk, dates, vanilla extract and ice. I ventured to replace the yogurt with kefir and the milk with almond milk, but when I added the dates and turned on the food processor, yogurty milk went…EVERYWHERE!

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A Food Lover’s New Year’s Plan

Sometimes I am swayed by the power of just slight suggestions. I know I should think of these things myself, or be less apt to act on a whim. But as I read my January cooking magazines and the new cookbooks I got for Christmas, all I could see was my need to end the holiday eating indulgence with a conscious return to all things whole and pure.

As I’m apt to do, I sat down and made a few notes about my menu for the next week, and maybe a week after. No sugar (white or brown), no white flour, no meat and no dairy. The only exceptions are kefir, a little honey and some chocolate. Then I got to work making a plan for my next 21 meals. I took my lead from Bon Appétit, whose blogger Sara Dickerman compiled a two-week food lover’s cleanse. Some of the meal planning was too ambitious, and some required more ingredients than I care to buy. So I simplified it and added a few recipes of my own. In recipes that call for butter, I plan to use olive oil only.

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Shrimp and Green Coconut Curry

Today, we are celebrating our fifth Christmas. A breakfast brunch and another pile of presents await us, and I’m beginning to plan my way out of so much indulgent eating. For the past few weeks, the amount of cheese, bread, cookies, cake and turkey I’ve eaten is quite astounding. It has all been delicious, but I will be the first to admit that I am ready for big plates of vegetables and some lighter fare. A recovery from these holiday indulgences is certainly in order.

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Orange Rosemary Oatmeal Cookies

To wrap up the cookie extravaganza, I was looking to try a new twist on the oatmeal classic. Sometimes I bake oatmeal raisin cookies, or cherry chocolate oatmeal cookies, but I wanted something citrusy and almost savory.  It also needed to be soft and slightly chewy.

I started with an orange-currant-oatmeal cookie from Tartine, by Elisabeth Pruett and Chad Robertson.  While I have not been lucky enough to get a copy of the book, it’s received high praise from other bloggers for adding sophisticated twists to classic desserts. The oatmeal cookie technique is traditional, creaming the butter first, and then adding the sugar, followed by the wet ingredients.  Lastly, you stir the flour in, just until combined and add your oats and currants.

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Cherry Chocolate Biscotti

And now it’s on to the crunchy: biscotti. Besides being the ideal accompaniment to coffee and other after-dinner drinks, biscotti are a great cookie to gift, whether it’s next door or across the country. With a name derived from the Latin biscoctus, meaning “twice-cooked/baked,” biscotti are a dry, hard cookie that will last a week or two in an airtight container (if you don’t consume them with breakfast, lunch and dinner first.)

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Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

Welcome to the season of saccharine and sugar! When it comes to cookie baking, I believe everyone should have a few favorites, a few must-haves and a willingness to try something new. This year, I’ve opted for a classic, a crunchy and a new creation that I am excited to share with you.

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