Welcome to my house, please don’t lick the walls…

Almond, banana & cherry smoothie and a different type of mimosa

Almond, banana & cherry smoothie and a different type of mimosa

As if it wasn’t obvious enough that my life is immersed in culinary culture, it is particularly apparent when you see all of the jars of paint samples in my house. See, my husband and I have been trying to agree upon a color for our living room (and kitchen and bedroom) so we’ve been buying sample after sample to test out on the walls.

Our living room now boasts some fun (and delicious sounding) modern art:

tasty sounding paint colors

Oh cornbread…you looked so good on paper, wow, were you ugly on the wall.

After a long uninspiring battle with various shades of yellow, we have changed tactics and moved on to blues. Last weekend my husband suggested I paint an even larger section of the living room with sea salt (so far the front-runner) to see if we both still like it.

To get my strength (and sanity) up, I made a smoothie. A fabulous smoothie, in fact. I based it on the banana almond smoothie from the BA Food Lover’s Cleanse but added a few extra goodies to coax it into excellence.

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Farro & Edamame: A new adventure with an ancient grain

Farro Pasta with Edamame, Almond and Mint Pesto

Farro Pasta with Edamame, Almond and Mint Pesto

I am an out-and-proud farro devotee. For the past few years I’ve been borderline obsessed with the ancient grain — utilizing it in as many applications as possible and encouraging other people to give it a try. So I was pretty excited when my husband recently brought me home a pound of farro pasta (which was especially sweet as he is not as enamoured with farro as I am).

Farro Pasta

Farro pasta — love its pretty color!

The pasta had been sitting in my cupboard, patiently waiting, while I investigated online looking for a perfect debut recipe. Finally I decided on a winner, this recipe for Farro Pasta with Edamame Pesto from The Kitchn. Given how well-known this web magazine is, I felt comfortable trusting their opinion and excited to try something new.

And I’m happy I did because this a recipe I’ll be utilizing again and again. I love different forms of pesto — broccoli pesto in particular, yum! — but hadn’t tried this combination before.

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Things I learned from the BA Food Lover’s Cleanse!

Banana, Almond and Spinach Smoothie = YUM!

Banana, Almond and Spinach Smoothie = YUM!

I’m officially done with the Food Lover’s Cleanse. It was two weeks of post-holiday diet detox and it did my body good. And hey, I even learned a few things about myself:

1. I really do like quinoa. Sometimes I forget how much I like it so I never buy it. But then I eat it and remember it’s delicious. I now have a five-pound bag of red quinoa in my cupboard.

2. That my cravings for Mexican food actually rivaled my cravings for Italian food. As a lifelong pasta addict, this totally surprised me. My first post-cleanse meal involved tacos, a tamale and queso fundido. And soooo many tortillas. And a few margaritas. It was fabulous.

Smoked Brisket Tamale at La Taq

Smoked Brisket Tamale at La Taq

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Butter beans and pomegranate form an unlikely friendship

Butter bean salad with pomegranate seeds

Butter bean salad with pomegranate seeds and scallions

While I have been eating in accordance to the Bon Appetit Food Lovers Cleanse for the last 2 weeks, I admit I did not follow their day-by-day menu plans. Instead I did a lot of mixing and matching depending upon what was on hand at any given time. This is sad only because it means it took me an extra week to discover the unexpectedly delicious coupling of butter beans and pomegranate seeds.

In fact, to be honest, I saw a picture of the salad (made with white cannellini beans) and immediately thought, “Oh hell no. That’s one to skip.” Even though I love a good bean salad, for some reason my brain could just not accept the combination of beans and fruit.

But then I saw reviews for the recipe — both online and on Instagram — and was surprised. People seemed to love it. And almost everyone praised the pomegranates for making the salad a success. After all, take them away and the salad is very, very basic — lemon, parsley, olive oil and green onions. Good, no doubt, but nothing to write home about.

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A tropical breakfast to warm up the chilliest of winter mornings

10-grain cereal with pineapple, coconut and cashews

10-grain cereal with pineapple, coconut and cashews

I’m still going strong on the Bon Appetit Food Lovers Cleanse and I have to say that the best part has been breaking out of my breakfast rut. For the past year my weekday breakfast has involved the same routine: a whole grain English muffin, toasted, slathered with peanut butter and a bit of honey. And it’s done me well — it’s a nice mix of protein, carbs and sweetness to get my day started.

But over the last 10 days, not being able to indulge in refined flours, I’ve had to mix things up.

My first experience with a breakfast from the cleanse resulted in the awesome discovery of quinoatmeal. After I polished off the last of that, I moved onto a new porridge in the form of Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain cereal. This is a blend of everything from millet and barley to brown rice and oat bran. It all cooks happily together in a matter of ten minutes or so.

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Sticking to a cleanse is easier when you’re eating steak!

Seared Striploin, Orange-Parsley Chimichurri with Roasted Beets and Carrots.

Seared Striploin, Orange-Parsley Chimichurri with Roasted Beets and Carrots.

As you all may know, I’ve been participating in the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse. The refined-sugar-and flour-free eating plan has resulted in several dreams involving fudge and bread but so far I’ve managed to make it through without a single cheat. Of course, it’s fairly easy to stick to a cleanse that involves (at least a little) red meat.

Yes, this beautiful steak dinner was still part of the 2014 FLC and it was so satisfying it nearly made me forget about wanting a beer. Nearly.

The recipe was Hanger steak with Orange Oregano Chimichurri but I made a few substitutions. The first issue was that I hadn’t bought hanger steaks from work and trying to find them at the nearest grocery store was totally unsuccessful. I turned instead to another steak known for its leanness, the striploin. In the chimichurri, I used some home-dried thyme instead of dried oregano because that’s what I had on hand. I also added a bit of mint because I live on the edge.

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