Hippo Manchester
October 20, 2005


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Food: Lunching your way to a less toxic you

The detox diet continues: Pricey organic eats and the weird taste of soy milk

By Michelle Saturley   msaturley@hippopress.com 

Itís day four of my detox diet and Iíve learned a few things:

It takes a little more than 72 hours for the whiplash-inducing caffeine withdrawal headaches (and neck-aches, and eye-aches) to subside. Switching to decaf didnít help, since I take milk and sugar in my coffee. (Dairy and processed sugar are both no-nos.) Iíve migrated to green tea, straight up. Itís slightly caffeinated, but itís still approved for the detox program, since itís rich in anti-oxidants. Since then, things have been going a little better. I actually woke up feeling refreshed this morning. That hasnít happened since 1992.

Organic food is pricey. It also spoils a lot faster and it just doesnít have the same taste and ďmouth feelĒ as regular, pesticide-infested food. For example, the organic celery I purchased was not only $1.35 more (for a considerably smaller bunch), it was also skinnier, wimpier and had this sort of rubbery consistency that you just donít find in the chemically-tainted produce.

Soymilk? Is awful. I can at least get it down when itís mixed with something ó say, in my oatmeal or in a shake mixed with lots of other things like berries and bananas. But alone? I shudder just thinking about it. That aftertaste is a killer.

Still, I know that this diet is eventually supposed to make me feel better, so I guess I will just have to get used to these things.

What has really surprised me is that I donít miss my glass(es) of wine in the evening. I havenít put myself to the true test of going out to dinner with friends yet, but itís kind of a relief to know that Iíve had more trouble giving up coffee than alcohol.

One thing Iíve been missing, though, is the fun I have going out to lunch during the workday. I have been preparing my lunch ahead of time and taking it with me so I am sure to have enough food to get me through the day. But itís nice, once in a while, to go out with a work friend or colleague and break bread together. Only thing is, for the next 26 days, bread is not an option. I can still eat meat, eggs, and vegetables, but they have to be fresh, not processed or from a can.

There are a few places in the area where I can grab a quick, to-go lunch or even sit a while and enjoy a lunch made with organic ingredients, and it wonít cost me my firstborn child. These places also offer alternative fare for people who donít wish to be part of my dietetic experiment.

A Market (125 Loring St., Manchester, 668-2650) A top-notch natural foods store, A Market also offers organic, homemade soups and organic salads to go. Call ahead to find out what they offer, as it changes daily.

Seedling Cafť (9 Water St., Nashua, 594-4002) One of the newest natural food restaurants in the state, this little cafť offers seasonal organic entrees using local meats, produce and fish. And the menu offers a little something for everyone.

The Daily Count (49 E. Pearl St., Nashua, 578-0572) Offers organic salads, with eggs from free-range, vegetarian-fed hens, to go. Call ahead ó supplies are limited and they go fast.

Earthward (Route 101A, Milford, 673-4322) A small health food store that offers all-natural wrap sandwiches and homemade vegetarian soups. Call ahead to find out what the dayís specials will be.

Jewell and the Beanstalk (793 Somerville St., Manchester, 624-3709) Itís going to be tough for me to go into this beloved lunch spot without sampling the bread (my favorite is the Anadama), but there are lots of things on the menu that I can eat, such as the tofu scramble, the fresh vegetarian sandwich and the out-of-this-world baby spinach salad.

Ecos Cafť (Route 101A, Merrimack, 881-9635) I can order the vegetarian special, with farm-fresh vegetables, while my co-workers can order gourmet sandwiches, bagels and homemade soup. Call ahead to find out what the specials will be.

Vietnam Noodle House (138 Main St., Nashua, 886-4566) I can order MSG-free vegetarian or tofu dishes while my co-workers can go for some of the more traditional entrees and appetizers.




The Do-it-yourself Detox Lunch

Being on a diet like this calls for planning, which, to be honest, has never been a priority for me. Sure, I can pack my kidsí lunches and get them ready for school like a champ, but Iíve never quite mastered that whole ďtaking care of myselfĒ thing. But now, Iím getting pretty good at it. And even though Iím on this restrictive diet, I have not gone hungry yet. Here are some of my favorite lunch recipes, adapted from Lisa Allenís cookbook, Eating Clean: 100 Appetizing Solutions.

Mediterranean Chicken with Chickpeas

1 lb. organic boneless chicken breast, sliced into 1-inch-wide strips

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, sliced

1/2 of a green pepper

1/2 of a sweet red pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups prepared chickpeas (not canned)

2 tomatoes, peeled and diced

1 tbsp. basil

1 tsp. oregano

dash of salt (optional)

Lightly sprinkle salt on the chicken pieces. Heat the olive oil in a wok or a deep skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until brown on both sides. Add onions, peppers and garlic. Stir well and continue to cook. Lower the heat slightly. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes and herbs. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Serve with brown rice or a baked potato.

Salad NiÁoise

This recipe is for a single serving, but it can be doubled or quadrupled as needed.

4 oz. fresh tuna (not from a can or pouch), grilled or baked

1 cup organic mixed salad greens

1/2 cup green beans, steamed

1/2 of a tomato, cut into wedges

1 egg, hard-boiled

3-5 black olives such as Kalamari Greek olives

1/4 of a green pepper, thinly sliced

1 tbsp. sweet white onion, diced

2 tbsp. organic vinaigrette dressing

Combine all of the above ingredients, finish by scattering the onions on top as a garnish.