Ok, I’ll shut up about this cleanse business soon, I promise. But not today.
One of the main reasons for me doing a juice cleanse in the first place (and for five days) was to reset my current body canvas (I made that up, I think), and break the cycle of my current food routines. I wanted to come out of those five days with a clean slate, detoxed insides, and without the crutch of going back to the same meals and habits as before. For this reason, it was important that this cleanse have an transition plan, an “exit strategy,” if you will.
The last thing I wanted to do was jump head first into a bowl of spaghetti (well, maybe not the last thing). I knew a heavy meal would make me feel like crap, would contain very few nutrients, and would defeat the purpose of making a change that’s supposed to make an impact on my decisions moving forward.
About two days into the cleanse, I started pinning the crap out of veggie-only (and a lot of vegan) recipes. I wanted to transition back into solid food, but stay committed to a plant-based diet until I had a solid grip on some new recipes that were satisfying, filling, and plant-based. Here are a few things I experimented with (and loved!) and where to find the recipes. A few of these are my own, and for the ones that aren’t, I’ll link you to them.
For a much longer list of things I’ve tried and/or plan to try, check out my Veg Out board on Pinterest.
Zucchini Pasta with Avocado Cream Sauce (Raw, Vegan)
To make the zucchini pasta: thinly slice a raw zucchini into long, thin shreds. I used (and actually went out and bought) a mandoline slicer for this, and it makes it super, super easy. If you’re in the market, I bought this one.
I used Angela’s recipe (from Oh! She Glows) for the avocado sauce. I didn’t use any basil (because I didn’t have any), though I’d imagine that would be a really nice addition. And then obviously, I didn’t use pasta noodles, but zucchini instead. I added tomatoes because they’re gorgeous and delicious.
Then, because I had a brand new mandoline and wanted to play with it, I tried a version of this with carrots and cabbage. It worked out just fine.
Doni’s Note: Don’t expect this to taste like Alfredo, because it doesn’t. What it does taste like is a super light and refreshing dish that would make an excellent side for an outdoor BBQ party in the spring or summer.
Zucchini, Carrot, and Red Cabbage Slaw
I came up with this just by shredding some carrots and cabbage and adding them to the leftover zucchini strips I had from the dish above, and then thinning out the avocado cream sauce by adding some olive oil and rice vinegar. Avocado vinaigrette!
Baked Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes
Photo Credit: Roni / GreenLiteBites / Used with permission
I got the recipe from Roni, who blogs at Green Lite Bites. She’s also got a great video on how to cook a spaghetti squash whole (I always sliced it in half and just about lose a finger or two every time), which makes this whole process even easier than I’d expected.
Doni’s note: I added a layer of zucchini and skipped the cheese in place of a roasted tomato + garlic sauce that I made by roasting tomatoes and garlic, and then puréeing them in a blender.
I’d like to try this one again and find better way to get it to all stick together (maybe I will add cheese next time?), because while it tasted amazing, it didn’t quite slice up and stick together like lasagna does.
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes
Speaking of squash. Acorn squash is just as easy as spaghetti squash (if not easier), and the easiest way to serve it is to slice it in half, drizzle it in olive oil, roast it, then stuff it with something savory. I’ve had everything from rice and goat cheese to quinoa and veggies to fruits and grains (see this recipe for Acorn Squash Stuffed with Apples, Peaches, and Quinoa).
Since I was going for a vegan, veggie-heavy dish here, I skipped any additional grains and cheeses, and instead roasted bite-sized chopped parsnips and sweet potatoes alongside the squash and spooned them in when everything was cooked. Top with a little salt and pepper, and serve with a side of your favorite green vegetables.
Breakfast Hash with Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips, and Red Peppers
I had leftover sweet potatoes and parsnips, so the next morning for breakfast, I sautéed some onions and red peppers in olive oil, and then added the sweet potatoes and parsnips back in until they were reheated through.
Creamy (Vegan) Cauliflower and Cabbage Soup
If you follow my food blog, you saw this one on there. I recently discovered that roasted white vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, parsnips, and leeks, make excellent savory, creamy soups without the use of any added cream or dairy products. Simply roast your favorites with olive oil, salt, and pepper, add water or vegetable broth, and blend with an immersion blender (or regular blender, or Magic Bullet) until thin and smooth. Click the image to get the recipe.
These have all made great “transition” meals back into the world of cooked, solid food, and have even become new staples in my cooking routine. Soups, especially, are so easy and so flavorful, but most importantly, I’ve found that the best-tasting meals are often the simplest, letting natural flavors come out with just a little help from some salt and pepper.