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The Reset Button

June 11, 2011

As some of you may know I try and do a little “cleanse” or “detox” in the spring and fall of each year. The theory and methods of cleansing are a subject for another post. Let’s just say, two times a year, I like to hit the preverbial “reset” button on my life and take a week away from things such as processed foods, white sugar, alcohol, caffeine, meat, dairy and gluten. During these weeks, I focus on eating simply. I avoid snacking. I make meals that consist of grains, veggies and just a touch of “sauce.” The sauce is often made from condiments such as tamari, Bragg’s, miso or tahini mixed with herbs. I try and pull food such as mint and kale from my garden. I often cook enough food at lunch so that I do not have to prepare another meal for dinner. 

Why am I talking about cleansing, when I should be talking about Italian cuisine? Quite simply put, most Italians live their lives and cook the way that I do when I am cleansing. OK, I know Italy is the land of wine, espresso, prosciutto (or should I say culatello my new favorite cured meat), Parmesano-Reggiano, and pasta…but aside from all that, my trip to Italy hit my “reset” button in a big way.

Prior to departing for the motherland, I was getting more and more complicated with my cuisine. I was cooking up major meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was making crazy sauces and fancy desserts. I worked on technique. I tried to pack as much flavor into a meal with as many ingredients as I could. In short, I started cooking like a French culinary student. Problem is, cooking and eating like this made both Jeff and I sluggish and let’s be honest…just a wee bit pudgy. 

I expected to go to Italy and gain 10 joyful pounds eating my way through the regional cuisines. In reality, Jeff and I both ate our hearts out, walked miles upon miles, rarely snacked (with the exception being the potato chips and olives served with our afternoon cocktails), consumed very little white sugar and ended up losing weight on the trip. 

What I relearned in Italy?

  • Cook simply…use only a few ingredients and let them speak for themselves
  • Dessert is a treat sometimes…not all the time
  • If you can, cook a good meal for lunch and eat it again for dinner…or repurpose it by adding to the leftovers
  • avoid processed foods
  • an afternoon cocktail along with a dish of olives and chips is a lovely treat
  • experiment experiment experiment with food…if it doesn’t work, at least you tried.
  • Espresso with just a little milk is delightful…no need for 32 oz of drip coffee in the morning
  • fresh salad greens with a drizzle of good olive oil and just a pinch of salt is the perfect way to end a meal
  • siestas are meant to be taken

My reset button has been pushed. Time to start living my life at home like the Italians do.



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