A Pre-Emptive "Cleanse" for the Holidays

We decided to start the “cleanse” a little earlier this year.  We usually wait until after we return from visiting my family in California, but then we got the January 2015 issue of Bon Appetit and got inspired by the idea of actually eating healthy.  So, we thought: Why wait for two weeks to start something we know is good for us?

We limped through Thanksgiving—though being 3 pounds heavier now than before Thanksgiving doesn’t really sound like we’ve survived that eat-fest—but that was just a sprint.  Now we have an ultra marathon coming.  Friday we have our romantic holiday dinner out (with lots of food).  Sunday, we have our holiday brunch (with lots of food).  Then Christmas Eve we have a long-standing tradition of a dinner out with another couple (with lots of food).  Then Christmas day, Will makes a special breakfast for us (with lots of food).  Then we fly to LA and enjoy/endure seven days of doing NOTHING but eating.  (Yes, lots and lots of food.)  By the time we return to Chicago on New Years day, we're sure to resolve to consume nothing other than water and gruel for two months.

So, for dinner tonight, I thought that maybe some vegetables and grains might be the way to go.  We had a Wild Rice Salad with Pecans and Cranberries (above) we prepared as a side for another dinner, and we parboiled broccolini (below) for a simple room temperature salad with olive oil and lemon juice (or a sherry vinaigrette, if you wish).

Our “main” dish (pictured at the top of post) is one I used to prepare all the time and then completely forgot about.  I don’t even remember anymore, but I think I got the recipe originally from a Moosewood cookbook years ago.  In any case, you slice cleaned portabella mushroom caps into ½ inch thick slices.  Then you whisk together an Asian-fusion style thick dressing of miso, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and a bit of water (to make whisking together easier).  I think I’m the one who added minced garlic—it’s the Korean in me, and I cannot help it!—but I really do like the dish with or without the minced garlic.  Brush both sides of the slices with the dressing and then put under the broiler for 3 minutes, turn after 3 minutes and brush on some more dressing, and broil another 3 minutes until it’s slightly browned.

Portabella mushroom is always a nice substitute for meat, and this meal had everything I could ask for.  Think about the flavors: sweet (cranberry), salty (sea salt in the broccolini), spicy (red chili flakes in the broccolini), tart (lemon juice in the broccolini and also in the wild rice salad), and umami (miso in the mushroom dressing).  It also had so many textures: chewy (al dente rice and cranberries), crisp (parboiled broccolini and the toasted pecans), and soft (mushroom).

If we eat like this all the days we are not gorging ourselves, we might just be able to survive the holidays!


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