Tales from a Juice Cleanse

I’m radiant! I’m full of energy! JK, I want a cheeseburger.
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So green. So juicy.

Is there anything more disgustingly cliché than embarking on a juice cleanse in January? Well, if you saw the amount of butter I consumed over the holidays—an alarming quantity, even given the indulgences required by my job—you’d say it was justified.

So last week, I blocked three days out of my normal eating and drinking schedule to dedicate myself to Juicebox. I have never before done anything like this.

Worth noting: Juicebox isn’t the only option, whether you’re looking for a single post-workout green juice or enough for a full cleanse. At $200 for a three-day supply, it’s definitely not the cheapest (by comparison, the Juicy Café is $185, Pressed is on sale right now for $99 from $129, Jars Juice is $108), but I know the produce there is seasonal and organic and I figured if you’re gonna do this… go big? 

Anyway, I started this with a lot of expectations. I expected to feel hungry and headachy, followed by smugly virtuous and refreshed. The reality was something different. Six juices a day is a lot of liquid to put down. In fact, I didn’t make it through all six any of the days, probably due to my own poor planning—I didn’t take them with me when I was out running around. Still, at no point was I desperately hungry. I only had a minor headache once, though I was tired for days one and two.

Did I ever miss food, though. I found myself lusting after my Instagram account—admittedly full of food porn—like Sylvester eyes Tweety. In fact, it became evident about halfway through day one that I was going to have to give up social media completely to successfully complete this mission. The rest of my life couldn’t be put on hold. I was still scrambling eggs for my kids, writing about food for work, watching TV full of sugary cereal commercials (boy do I want some Cinnamon Toast Crunch now). 

The taste of the juice was… totally adequate. I’m not a fan of celery (I know) and was mildly disappointed that the two heartiest green juices had a pretty prominent celery flavor. Still, I made it a goal to get through those each day, since I figured green was the most vital to cleansing my system (I have no scientific reasoning to back this up). I really enjoyed the carrot, orange and turmeric juice, and saved that for each evening. I drank the almond milk with cocoa nibs, cinnamon and cayenne in the afternoon, assuming the protein would help pick me up in that 3 p.m. slump (again, no scientific proof).

At the end of this experiment, I didn’t feel blindingly radiant and joyous, which kind of bummed me out. I lost about 6 pounds, but I’m guessing they’ll be back as I start eating real food again. I think the most valuable thing I got out of it was a recalibration—I realized how little food I actually need to feel full, and that I don’t need such aggressive salty and sweet flavors to be satiated. We could all benefit from not being a slave to our impulses for a few days, right?

Would I do it again? I’d love to do a one-day cleanse more frequently—I think it’s a more reasonable undertaking for my schedule (not to mention cheaper) and a welcome resetting after a spate of gluttony. For now, I’m just real happy to be reacquainted with my morning coffee. 

Recipe of the Week: Casco Antiguo's Corn Mash

Recipe of the Week: Casco Antiguo's Corn Mash

Serve it as a side dish or eat it straight from the pan
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A little like mac 'n' cheese... but with corn!

Comfort food takes many forms. That satisfying combo of sweet and savory are almost necessary. Plenty of cheese doesn’t hurt. Now here’s a recipe that hits on all the best elements of comforting cuisine, plus a little Serrano chili for heat. 

Casco Antiguo is a Pioneer Square Mexican restaurant best known for its 30-ingredient mole. But it’s this modest corn side dish that’s a favorite among regulars. Owners say it's a play off a traditional Mexican street food called" ezquites," where corn is boiled with epazote and butter, then served in a disposable cup with cheese, salt, lime, chili powder and mayo. 

Since it's damn hard to find fresh corn this time of year, so I used all frozen, and I think the flavor was still good. If you don’t have crema on hand, I used sour cream in a pinch—it was firmer than crema, but I think leant a similar flavor. I used a whole Serrano and was disappointed in the lack of heat, though that’s a fault of the pepper and not the dish. Perhaps leave the seeds in if you want it a little hotter (I will next time). At the restaurant, it’s served alongside everything from braised pork cheeks to baby octopus—I think it would be a great with a Southern-inspired barbecue feast as well. 

Casco Antiguo Corn Mash
Makes 6-8 Servings

1 tbsp canola oil
2 ½ cups raw sweet corn
2 ½ cups pre-cooked frozen corn, thawed
½ -1 Serrano pepper, deseeded and chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ cup cream cheese, softened
¾ cups crema Mexicana (found in Mexican markets or specialty stores)
¾ cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated

In a large sauté pan on medium heat, add canola oil and raw corn. Sauté for two to three minutes. Add the thawed corn, chopped peppers, salt and pepper. Sauté until corn and peppers are tender. Fold in the cream cheese until corn and peppers are thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in the crema Mexicana until the dish becomes creamy in texture. Add the Monterey cheese and continue to whisk until the cheese is melted and the dish is smooth and saucy. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes before serving.