Most of the time I think and write about travel, but this week my thoughts have turned as well to food and cooking. A few years ago, I spent a week in Southern California at an Ashram-style retreat that focused on getting off the grid, recharging your mental batteries, and re-setting your physical health through a de-toxification cleanse. The idea was not to give up forever anything that doesn’t grow on a tree or a vine, but rather to re-focus your appreciation of healthy eating, breathing and living in balance. Along with some morning yoga and meditation, of course.
This week I’m starting to revisit that experience, doing a 21-day cleanse program that involves real food – no liquid diets here! – and gradually eliminating from your meals items such as animal proteins, dairy, grains, and other things that, in excess, can stress our digestive and other systems. The hardest part isn’t giving those up, or cutting out in advance of the program all refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol. (Okay, the caffeine withdrawal is tough – no way to make that sound easy). The difficult part is refocusing how you approach food preparation, cooking and eating.
But when you make it your goal, and you are determined to do it for better health and well-being, suddenly making your own fresh gazpacho or vegetable nori rolls has the same allure as a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. I’ll always like a good hamburger, and won’t pass up a terrific brioche, but there is something meaningful about making all your meals yourself, down to boiling rolled oats instead of reaching for the Quaker instant package.
It may be the thought of hiking in the Santa Monica mountains, or catching a few beautiful sunny days on the shores in Malibu, but I’m thinking of great California cuisine now when I cook – plenty of avocados, tomatoes, basil, lemons, limes, olives, artichokes, peppers and just a hint of ocean salt air. With that in mind, here is one of my new favorites from the “Ultimate Reset” program. It’s simple, so simple you’ll think you should have thought of it yourself, and yet so good and full of California taste:
Cucumber and Tomato Salad
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium cucumber, partially peeled, sliced about 1/8-1/4 inch thickness (you can also dice if you prefer)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leave
Himalyan salt to taste
Whisk together the red wine and balsamic vinegars, lemon juice and oil in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley, basil, salt (if desired) in a large bowl; mix well. Drizzle the dressing over the cucumber mixture and toss gently to blend. Tastes even better after a few hours marinating in a cold icebox.
I won’t be giving up all those more decadent, butter-laden foods forever – the goal of the Ultimate Reset is to cleanse your system and then gradually ease back in those things in moderation. Then you apply the clean eating principles, and the idea of really cooking fresh, healthy food when you can rather than relying on all the additives that come in pre-made meals and many restaurant offerings. All this can then be contemplated while wearing your spiritually inspiring ohm bracelet, and holding a fork.
More information on the “Ultimate Reset” cleanse program can be found at www.ultimatereset.com
—More information about Laura Flippin can be found at www.dlapiper.com/laura_flippin or www.linkedin.com/in/lauraflippin
—Laura Flippin and her blog about travel, “Wheels Up!” can be found at www.lauraflippin.com