Summer Raw Cleanse and BodyRock

Hello! I’m back after quite a hiatus. In fairness, it was a hiatus that involved a new job, moving across the country and a vacation with the fam. So here I am in sunny Montreal, surrounded by beautiful, tiny, young French girls and I’m feeling the residual effects of Edmonton in my bones. I always become a hermit for the harsh winter, but living where we were, in a basement in suburban Edmonton… I barely left the house if I could avoid it. It was depressing.

I’ve been in Montreal for just over a month now, and if a day goes by without a walk down these old crooked streets I feel like I’m wasting my life away and turn to drink. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But if you knew how good it feels to just exist in this tiny corner of Canada, you’d hate to be trapped indoors by yourself too.

The other great thing about this place is the ample supply of delicious fresh produce everywhere, for totally reasonable prices. The bio (organic) market a block away from my apartment sells produce for better prices than the non-bio produce at the regular grocery store. That, plus the heat and humidity that feel so foreign to my body, are motivating me to eat light. You don’t need to cook tomatoes to death when they taste so good, and the fresh, tender kale is perfect just massaged with a bit of lemon and salt. So, I’m thinking it’s time for a bit of a summer cleanse.

How it works: One week, 80% raw, 95% whole foods, 100% ┬áplant-based diet. 80% raw, because that’s a really reasonable balance of raw to cooked foods to maintain in the summer when produce is abundant, cheap, and tasty. 95% whole foods, cause I’ll use coconut milk occasionally, and oil and salt very moderately- you need fat to absorb nutrients from plants anyway and I don’t have fancy non-stick cookware for my cooked foods. Plus, salt makes food delicious. Also, I’ll throw in a glass of wine or two for good measure. 100% plant-based, because I only eat plants anyways, there’s simply no need to eat anything else! Feel free to join me or try out some of the recipes, and leave a comment if you do- it would be great to hear! I’ll post what I’ve been eating, maybe it will give you some ideas.

In addition I will be doing BodyRock exercises daily. BodyRock offers a free, high intensity, short, daily video workout that’s different from day to day, and can be done in your home with whatever you have on hand. I won’t be doing them in the order they are released, I’ll pick and choose from past workouts, and I will be supplementing them with my usual 20 mins of cardio, stretching and belly dance isolation drills. If you are getting bored with your exercise routine, want a challenge or even if you don’t work out at all and you want to start, try it out! Just do what you can, don’t worry about not being able to make it more than halfway through a set, or doing only half the cardio time. You need to start somewhere, so just listen to your body and work within your limits.

Day 1

Workout- 12 mins BodyRock, 20 mins cardio, 10 mins stretching, 15 flights of stairs, 30 mins drills (do the cardio right after the BodyRock. Trust me, it’s a good idea ;))

Breakfast smoothie with a small banana, frozen blueberries, ground hemp seeds and soy milk.
Post-workout hemp protein shake and some fresh berries.
Mexican salad with romaine, black beans, red peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice, cumin and hot sauce.
Raw kale salad with sauteed criminis, tomatoes, red onion
Raw veggies with salsa
Half an orange

Yum yum ­čÖé

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Lazy Raw Almond Cheese

Lazy Almond Feta Cheese with Herb OilYou guessed it, that’s the lazy grad student’s variation of that wonderful Almond Feta Cheese with Herb Oil recipe that’s been floating around for the past year. It’s a lovely recipe, and I’m sure it’s splendid when made as designed. but who can wait a day and a half for almond feta? Not this lady!

This variation involves a couple lazy short cuts. First, I reduce the soaking time by using smaller pieces of almonds. I usually use unblanched almonds, cause fiber is good for you- obviously, the texture won’t be as smooth, but it’s still just as tasty. Then, I skip the┬árefrigeration step and just toss the mix into a pretty dish. You’ll need the dish to be an inch or so deeper than your cheese, this baby likes to rise (mysteriously). ┬áLastly, I just top the mess with good quality olive oil and fresh herbs- no need to go dirtying another pan. Definitely try the original version, but once you’re hooked and want it all the time, try this quicky version sometime instead. Like when you found the most perfect, fresh-baked baguette at the store, and need something to put on it so you feel less of a freak, eating baguette for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a given day…

Lazy Almond Feta Cheese

1 cup sliced raw almonds, fresh as you can get them, blanched or unblanched
1/4 cup lemon juice, plus more to taste if you’re really digging the lemon (I dig)
2 tbsp good olive oil, plus more to drizzle over
1 largish clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh rosemary, or dried, to sprinkle over (the original recipe calls for thyme too, but if you’re only committed to spending a little bit on fresh herbs, go for the rosemary)

Optional garnish: Flaky salt, a fresh squeeze of lemon, some olives, and some cracked black pepper or crushed red chili peppers (or both!)

Soak almonds in tepid water, out of the fridge, for at least two hours- they should be gummy around the edges. If soaking for longer, toss it in the fridge, but bring to room temperature before draining. Blend in a food processor with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. If needed, add water a teaspoon or two at a time. The less water you have to use, the better. Try and keep it under two tablespoons. Toss in a oven-safe serving dish- larger, shallow ones do better than deeper ones, since the cheese will dry out more evenly that way. Don’t worry if it looks scant. So long as it’s an inch or so deep, once you top it with all those pretty toppings no one will feel like they’re being short-changed on their cheese! Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, or until browning on top. Alternately, skip this step and enjoy raw. Believe me, it’s just as good either way. The warmth of the cheese brings out the olive notes in the oil, so maybe warm slightly in a bain marie if you want to keep it raw, but want some warmth as well. Top it with a glug or two of olive oil, the rosemary, and any of the optional toppings you like. Try not to eat it in one sitting…. though be warned, I have yet to exhibit such self-control myself.