August was a whirlwind of traveling, taking me from London to Chicago to San Francisco and finally, Los Cabos, Mexico, before heading back to London. The trip brought me together with dear friends and family, but after almost three weeks on vacation, eating out and drinking almost every day, my body was screaming for a change.
If you're like me, you have approximately one bazillion cookbooks lining your bookshelves, each which inspired you enough at some point to deserve the purchase. I turned to one such title, Good + Simple from the London-based Hemsley sisters, to reference the 7-day reboot plan that caught my eye about a year ago. I had tested and loved several of the sugar- and grain-free recipes already, so I felt confident in testing out the reboot plan as a post-vacation detox. The cookbook landed on my shelf specifically because it wasn't about a fad diet, but rather about nutritious-yet-tasty dishes.
The 7-Day Reboot includes a complete shopping list and meal plan for two adults eating five times a day - breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with two snacks in between. The plan is 100% vegetarian, with vegan options noted. Shamefully I've never purchased so many fresh vegetables and herbs all at once in my life, but I was excited to get started. My husband planned to join me in this one-week detox as much as he could, and we both agreed to avoid alcohol for the week.
Otherwise known as, "what happens when an amateur cook makes every meal from scratch for one week."
Is there a word that combines 'joy' and 'anarchy'? If so, please let me know and I'll file it away. I successfully used every kitchen gadget I own and ran out of refrigerator space. Twice. But I loved every minute. Practice makes perfect, as they say. And keep in mind, this has absolutely nothing to do with the amazing authors and their delightful cookbook, but is simply a result of my beginner-level abilities in the kitchen.
I began with the appropriately named, "Sunday cookoff", during which I prepared or prepped several of the dishes according to the well laid out instructions. This took the better part of a day, but I was thrilled with how many meals were ready to go. Every subsequent dish became easier to prep for and cook as I became more comfortable in the kitchen. While I wish I took Pinterest-worthy photos of every dish, I only captured one smoothie (and it's really not worthy of social media praise, but here you go).
For the first time in a long time, I enjoyed every meal I made. The perfectionist in me is typically disappointed with the outcome of new cookbook recipes, but not with the Reboot Plan. The dishes had plenty of flavor and were surprisingly filling. Eating small meals five times a day felt so much healthier than my usual schedule of over-indulgent lunches or dinners (or both).
I struggled in the early part of the week with symptoms that I can only attribute to sugar withdrawal (see #1 in 'What I Learned' below). But I stuck to the plan and felt better by Day 5. Today is officially Day 7 and both of us feel leaner and have more energy. Weight-loss was not expected given the short time period, but our clothes do fit a bit better. BONUS!
My favorite dishes were varied, from the quick coconut dahl and quinoa kettle porridge to the cream of tomato soup and carob fruit and nut balls. These recipes are only available in the Good + Simple cookbook, but you can find a similar 7-Day Reboot from the same authors online at Red Magazine. Plenty of nutritious recipes are available for free on the Hemsley + Hemsley website as well.
WHAT I LEARNED
- Sugar withdrawal is real. I had headaches on days 2, 3, and 4, and was so irritable on day 4 that I thought my husband might leave me forever (thankfully, love is patient, love is kind). I will be much more mindful of my sugar intake in the future.
- Coconut oil can be used for pretty much everything, in and out of the kitchen. Check it out.
- Chopping millions of vegetables is exhausting, but your food processor will save the day.
- Nuts are digested best after 'activating', which means you soak them overnight to rid them of some acid and then dehydrate them for 12 hours (or roast them at 215F/100C for 20 minutes; thanks, YouTube!).
- There is SO MUCH SALT added to processed/packaged foods. I knew this fact but didn't fully appreciate it until I cooked everything from scratch.
- Soup makes a surprisingly delightful breakfast. Try it out sometime.
- Yes, I CAN easily make nutritious meals without resorting to the pre-made stuff.
- Indulging on vacation is fine as long as I balance it with smaller portions and plenty of veggies.
I'm going to do my best to stick with this new approach to eating, moving on to the regular weekly meal plans outlined in the Good + Simple cookbook. The joy+anarchy feeling may continue for awhile, but I'm confident that this new approach to my diet will mark an important change in my overall health and well-being.