The holidays are fast approaching and we all know we’re going to overindulge a little here and there. So, lets get strict for a couple days first and do some damage control with a new challenge. This challenge should also help your immune system so you aren’t sick during family time!
Here are the simple rules: 3-5 days of soup, salad, or smoothies (or juice) and no refined sugar.
At least one of those 3-5 days should be meatless, it would be cool if the whole thing was, but I won’t make that a rule. NO WHEAT. So that means no croutons or bread in soup, sorry waaaah. It’s freezing outside, so soup is perfect for right now anyway! No pasta in your soup, either. The idea is to fortify ourselves with as much good stuff as we can before we go and eat some less-than-awesome stuff- the good stuff being vegetables and fruits. The exception to the rule of soup, salad or smoothie is that you can have any whole fruits or veggies you want. So feel free to snack on an apple or grapes. Nuts and seeds are fine in salads. If you want a pseudo-grain in your soup, you may have quinoa, millet, amaranth, or buckwheat, but let’s cool it on any other grains.
You have lots of freedom and choice in this challenge, but I’ve included lots of recipes so you don’t get stuck or bored. Pick things you will enjoy! This doesn’t have to be a punishment; think of it more of being mindful of your food. You don’t have to choose any of these recipes if nothing sounds good to you, make it yours! I think the easiest way to go about this is to have a smoothie for breakfast everyday, pack a salad to take to work, or eat a salad out at lunch as its usually easier to find decent salads at restaurants than any other type of food, then soup for dinner. Of course you can switch the order, I don’t care how you do it as long as you do it. You could have juice for breakfast, smoothie for lunch and salad for dinner, whatever floats your boat and is easiest for you to complete. Have as much kombucha, coconut water, or herbal tea as you want. Make sure you’re getting plenty of regular water, too.
+ Kale salad:
The kale salad I make on the regular.
ingredients: 1 bunch kale, juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons, 2-3 cloves garlic, almonds, raisins, olive oil, salt.
Mince garlic and place in a large bowl. Squeeze lemon juice on top. Tear the stem off the kale leaf and discard, while placing torn leaves in bowl. Pour ¼ cup olive oil over all the leafy bits, which are on top of the lemon juice and garlic. Add 1 tsp of salt and massage the kale into the dressing. The salt, lemon juice, and squeezing of the kale break it down and make it less bitter. It gets better the longer it sits, so make this early in the week. Top with almonds, raisins, avocado, tomato…whatever you like.
+ Superfood salad:
I make this guy quite often as well.
Reserve a couple handfuls of marinated kale from your kale salad batch and use it in this next salad. (From the kale salad listed above)
Ingredients: marinated kale, 1 roasted sweet potato in chunks, ½ cup cooked quinoa, 1 can white beans, goat or feta cheese to taste, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Combine cooked, cooled quinoa with cooked, cooled sweet potato chunks, marinated kale and white beans in a large bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle some salt and pepper and stir everything together. Add goat cheese to taste and mix again. Will be good days later in the fridge.
+ Cauliflower soup:
I discovered this just last week and it’s delightful. It reminds you of potato soup, but cauliflower is much better for you.
Ingredients: 1 head cauliflower
1 small onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper
Raw milk or coconut milk
Steam head of cauliflower until soft. Place whole head (green leaves removed) in about 2 inches of water in large pot. Cover with lid and bring water to boil, it will provide the steam to cook the cauliflower. While the cauliflower is cooking, you can roast the onion for a sweeter flavor or leave it raw. Once softened, place cauliflower in high speed blender or food processor (Vitamix is great here) with garlic, onion and enough vegetable broth to get it to easily puree. Transfer back to the large pot and add enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Add salt and pepper and cayenne and taste and adjust. Leave on stove until everything is heated through completely.
+ Spicy Butternut Squash Soup
I think I invented this soup and I’m obsessed with it. Give it a try! A Vitamix is helpful for this one, although an immersion blender would work or you could use a food processor to achieve the puree.
Alright, now all these following links are recipes from my favorite blogs that you could make. Some are a little more involved and some are super simple. Read through, get hungry, and pick a few make your mouth water.
Food Loves Writing is Shanna and Tim Mallon’s blog. Tim is our nutrition guru. If you read through the old blogs, you’ll notice when they met and she started switching ingredients. I haven’t made one single recipe of theirs that I didn’t like. I made the Creamy Comforting Tortilla soup earlier this week and it was a big hit.
+ Creamy Comforting Tortilla Soup
+ Sweet and Spicy Squash Noodle Soup
+ Bosc Pear, Currant, and Hazelnut Salad
+ Winter Lettuce Salad with Roasted Peppers and Feta
My New Roots might be my favorite blog, ever. I love the way she highlights and explains the nutrition of a certain ingredient in each recipe. Most of her recipes are vegan and lots are raw. Some of them have unusual ingredients, but she often gives an alternative. That’s the thing about cooking; you don’t have to follow the rules exactly. Adjust to your preference.
+ Cream of Broccoli and Cashew Soup
+ Rustic Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup
+ Wild Rice, Butter Bean, and Garlic Roasted Carrot Salad
+ Purple Power Salad
The folks over at Sprouted Kitchen do great stuff, too! I’ve made the olivey Caesar dressing and it’s fantastic. It’s great with kale to make a kale Caesar, too. The honey tahini dressing that is included in the butter lettuce salad is simple and delicious and can be applied to any other salad, really.
+ Chopped Salad with Quinoa, Sweet Potatoes, and Apples
+ Olivey Caeser Dressing
+ Butternut Squash Salad with Cider Dressing
+ Butter Lettuce Salad with Tahini Honey Dressing
I like Green Kitchen Stories a lot as well. I just included one recipe here. It’s a new way to think about Brussels sprouts! Trader Joe’s conveniently sells a bag of shredded Brussels.
+ Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
Here are a few more recipes from the Life Fitness Academy blog. Did you know we post recipes there pretty often?
+ Taste Like Summer Green Smoothie
+ Vanilla Cherry Smoothie
+ Urban Juicer’s Chocolate Raspberry with Secret Spinach
+ Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad
If I’m in a super hurry and can’t think or make anything, I’ll have 1 avocado + cucumber + tomato with a little olive oil, squirt of lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Feta or goat cheese is good in there too. Balsamic vinegar + honey + olive oil + squirt of Dijon mustard is my simple go-to salad dressing. It’s good on almost anything.
Now if you need something sweet or grab and go, Lara bars will work. Or, here are a few dessert recipes! You’ll notice they are all wheat-free and grain-free besides quinoa.
+ Avocado Chocolate Mousse
2 large avocados
10 dates (more if dry)
3/4 can coconut milk
1/2-3/4 cup cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla
Remove the pits from your dates first. Place dates, avocados, coconut milk, cacao powder and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust . You may need to add more dates to make it sweeter, or more cacao to make it more chocolate. Alternatively, you can add a bit of maple syrup if you find the dates aren’t sweet enough. Transfer to bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour. The coconut milk will harden slightly giving you a thicker, richer mousse than it appears in the blender. Eat by itself or with berries and nuts on top.
Vegetarian. Vegan. Gluten-free. Dairy-free
+ Gluten-free, dairy-free quinoa brownies
1 cup cooked quinoa
3-5 tablespoons coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla
6 tablespoons melted coconut oil
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Prepare a coconut oiled 8×8 baking dish. Blend all ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth. Add to baking dish and bake for approximately 25 minutes at 350 degrees. This recipe is easy to double for more treats! It usually comes out more like cake than a fudgy brownie, but moist and fluffy and delicious.
1 cup dates
1 cup walnuts
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
Blend all ingredients in food processor or blender and press into 8×8 pan. Freeze for 30 minutes and store in refrigerator. You can ice these with the avocado mousse for a really delicious bite.
+ Raw Cheesecake
I make this all the time, all my friends are obsessed with it. I don’t always do the second layer of blended fruit, you can leave it plain and top with sliced berries if you like.
+ Gluten-free Almond Butter Cookies
These are really easy to make and taste amazing.
Now get to it!