Tuesday, November 19, 2013

158. Healthy Living - I CAN CAN Cleanse... and So Can You! (LA: Arts District)

As an avid food blogger, or a food lover in general, we do our best to try new dishes and eat at different restaurants consistently, but do we put in the same effort when it comes to taking care of our health? Hitting the weights, visiting the yoga studio, or running up a sweat can check your health momentarily, but what gives our bodies a true restart?

Teresa Piro believes that her innovative CAN CAN Cleanse is the routine maintenance that your body needs.  This isn't just another juice cleanse or any other liquid diet that supposedly helps you shed the pounds.  The CAN CAN Cleanse is designed to provide the physical clarity and psychological empowerment to help make a change toward a healthier lifestyle.  It includes hot tea, nut milks, and savory soups along with the vegetable and fruit juices as part of the one, three, or five day program.  Teresa put me on the three-day program with the line of fall cleanses.  This is my experience.


In preparation for the actual cleanse, Teresa suggests that you should eliminate or reduce the following items in your diet about three days prior: caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, dairy, red meat, flour, sugar, salt, bread, pasta, pastries, cookies, ice cream, and other processed foods.  You should also increase your consumption of water, herbal tea, and raw vegetables during this time.  You are definitely not supposed to binge on beer or force feed French fries prior to beginning the cleanse.  Don't forget... you will be able to eat these foods again! It's just the start of a healthier lifestyle.

DAY ONE / The Beginning

9:00 a.m.  (#1) Lemon ginger juice.  It is somewhat of a rude awakening to start with this in the morning, especially when I am expecting my morning routine of juice and coffee.  The cleanse has truly begun.  It's a little tough for me to take down, so I nurse the lemon ginger juice for almost an hour.  I am determined to finish it though.

10:00 a.m.  (#2) Green juice.  This stuff is refreshing in relative comparison to the lemon ginger juice.  It almost soothes my stomach.  It tastes lighter and less chunky than the other green juices out there.

11:30 a.m.  (#3) Rosemary nettle tea.  I'm very cranky without solid food, so I am not looking forward to the next bottle.  I completely overlook the label that suggests to "enjoy hot!" so I drink it straight out of the fridge.  The tea is cold, and my attitude becomes equally as cold.

12:30 p.m.  (#4) Celery root sage soup.  I definitely remember to heat up the soup this time, and while the soup warms up, my mood lightens as well.  I like the soup.  A lot.  I like that it is both hot and savory.  It provides just sufficient sustenance for me to continue on.

2:00 p.m.  (#5) Purple grape juice.  Just when I thought I needed some sugar, the grape juice is there to give me what I want.  I sit with someone during their lunch break, and it is painful to watch them eat a very appetizing Mediterranean meal.  I sneak two tiny bits of chicken, just one olive, one cherry tomato, a slice of cucumber, and a good spoonful of hummus off that person's plate.  Teresa said that if I feel the need to cheat, which I do, there is a list of Permissible Eats that I can use as a guideline. 

4:30 p.m.  More cheating.  A hard boiled egg, a small piece of chocolate with almonds, 25 pine nuts.

5:00 p.m.  (#6) Green juice.  After hunkering down to get some work done, I completely forget that I am hungry until I get home.  Out of habit, it is dinner time, so my digestive juices are flowing again.  The green juice holds me over for a second time.

6:00 p.m.  (#7) Hazelnut almond milk.  I love this.  I doesn't make me think that I am on a cleanse.  It's sweeter than soy milk and not as thick as almond milk.  The cinnamon and nutmeg in it are in the perfect ratio.  I wish this was sold in stores. 

7:00 p.m.  Cheat food.  An apple and two cocktail cucumbers.  Just enough to hold me.

8:00 p.m.  (#8) Rooibos tea.  This hot tea is not as fragrant as the rosemary nettle tea, but this is how I like my tea.  It is sort of cleanses my palate and clears my head for the evening.

Day One was pretty tough, and all I could think about what not having any food.  However, I reminded myself that there are so many people around the world that feel hungry on a daily basis.  To cleanse your body because you have eaten too much for too long is an experience that undoubtedly reminds me of how good we have it here... in America... to use food as entertainment rather than sustenance... to use food as a hobby... to be able to choose what we put into our bodies rather than eating simply to continue living.  Way profound of a thought... but yes, it happened on Day One.

Just in case you were wondering, which people have asked... yes, I had a bowel movement today.  A normal, regular bowel movement.  But I visited the urinal many times... many, many, many times.

Total extra liquid consumed on Day One: 24 oz. of water

DAY TWO / The Trenches

I wake up later than usual.  I am very cranky knowing that I cannot have solid food today.  The ginger lemon juice is still not my favorite, but I take less time to drink it today.

The rosemary nettle tea tastes better warmed up... way better... and the celery sage soup is awesome.  It should be served on restaurant menus.

Right about when I think I'm going to crash from low blood sugar, purple grape juice becomes the saving grace of my day.  Teresa describes it as the much needed happy hour that we all look forward to at the end of a long day.

In the afternoon, I receive an e-mail from Teresa reminding me that tomorrow is the last day.  It is very cool that the owner of the CAN CAN Cleanse has checked in on me (as she does with all her customers) to motivate me to the finish line.  

No bowel movements today.  This is to be expected since all that is being put into your body is liquid.  Once again... many visits to the restroom though... many, many, many visits.  If you end up losing weight, it is this water weight that is being flushed out of your system.

Total cheat food consumed on Day Two: one slice of turkey, one hard boiled egg, three cocktail cucumbers, 25 pine nuts

Total extra liquid consumed on Day Two: 36 oz. water

DAY THREE / The Light at the End of the Dark Tunnel

Teresa designed the three-day cleanse to be long enough to work but short enough that you actually finish it.  I have heard of so many friends and acquaintances that begin an enduring two week program that includes harsh teas that cause frequent and uncomfortable trips to the restroom.  This is nowhere close to that.  I love that the timing is in tune with how your body feels.  You are also free to adjust and arrange the juices, teas, and soup to fit your schedule.

Another e-mail arrives from Teresa telling me I'm almost done.  It's great to hear from her again.  But you know what? Day Three is really not that bad.  This has become routine, and as I knock back each bottle, I feel more accomplished.

By the time the hazelnut almond milk is finished, I am walking around with a silly smile on my face knowing that I've challenged myself to something that I never thought I would ever do.  I have always told friends and family that juice cleanses and fad dieting is so ridiculous, but I enjoyed this experience because I felt the clearness in my head and the lightness in my walk.  I CAN CAN Cleanse.

Total cheat food consumed on Day Three: one hard boiled egg, two slices of deli turkey, 25 pine nuts

Total extra liquid consumed on Day Three: lots and lots of water

See what goes into making the hazelnut almond milk with the Tastemade video app for iOS here:

The ingredients that goes into the cleanses are made from organic, local, fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, purified water, seasonal spices.  Teresa also uses dates to naturally sweeten the beverage so that it does not contain sugar or other sweeteners.  The fruit fibers and nut sediments are strained for a smooth, soothing taste and texture. 

POST-CLEANSE / Cool-down

Although the first thing I want to do on the morning after is bite into a juicy Double Double, I actually headed cheerfully to yoga (something else I thought I would never do)... and continued to watch what I put into my body.  Yes, I caved in on the weekend when all I wanted was some dim sum, but I was more cognizant of the unnecessary carbohydrates, sodium level, and grease on my plate.  Overall, I have been better about portion control (something I desperately needed) and including more raw foods in my diet.  Quinoa? Never before.  Cauliflower? I would never.  But now I can safely say that the CAN CAN Cleanse helped me do a minor maintenance on my body... almost like the oil change your car needs every 5,000 miles.  Well, Teresa suggests to go through a cleanse seasonally to restart your body.  I am taking her up on this offer, and I can't wait to see what is included in the winter season cleanse.  This is something everyone should test out, especially after the holidays.

If you're wondering how much weight I lost, that is not quite the right perspective.  It's not about losing weight with the CAN CAN Cleanse... especially because what you are really losing is water weight.  But with proper diet and a scheduled exercise regimen (weights, yoga and running for me), I have shed 12 pounds in two weeks.

Happy early Thanksgiving, everyone.  Be mindful of all that holiday food going into your body.  Until next time, beware of getting S.O.F.A.T.

CAN CAN Cleanse
826 E. 3rd St.
Downtown, Arts District
Los Angeles, CA 90013

ML - 20131014-16

Friday, November 15, 2013

157. Bay Area - A Sunny Day in SF Calls for Bi-Rite Ice Cream at Dolores Park (SF: Mission)

On the rare occasion that San Francisco is presented with a warm, sunny day, people scramble outdoors for a little warmth, a little ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery, and a little tan at Dolores Park.  That is exactly what Diana and I, and what seemed like the rest of San Francisco, did that day.

We stood in line for ice cream and peered through Namu Gaji's windows.  Exciting.

We secured our ice cream for the park.  I started on my coffee toffee long before we left the store.

I sat and people watched while Diana attempted to finish her ice cream before it completely melted... then I watched Diana lose her ice cream to the sun and the wind.  The elements of nature are not her friend.  There is no image of Diana here because the picture is erotic and/or inappropriate depending on which end of the spectrum your perspective on ice cream eating lies.  For our close friends, I have video... heh, heh, heh...

Until the next time the sun shines in San Francisco, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th Street
Mission District
San Francisco, CA 94110

ML - 20130901

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

156. Bay Area - Gathering for Bo Ssam at Namu Gaji (SF: Mission)

While waiting in line for Bi-Rite Creamery, have you ever peered in through the windows of the restaurant next door to see what those happy hipster looking people are eating? Well, near the windows it is likely that you will find an interesting array of Asian American fusion cuisine based on Korean roots, like a grass fed burger with kimchi relish or a bowl of handmade ramen with 4505 hot dogs.  At the communal table in the center of the restaurant you may find a crowd pleasing bo ssam pork belly dinner.  This is what Namu Gaji is known for.  The dinner feeds at least five hungry hippos with divinely crisp pork belly, raw oysters, fresh local vegetables, pickles, kimchi, and all the lettuce, cabbage, and sauce imaginable.  It is similar to the bo ssam dinner from David Chang's Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York, but unlike Momofuku, it doesn't take forever and a day to get a reservation for the meal.  And rather than just being a hip spot to meet up, Namu offers a nostalgia from the Lee brothers' childhood that gets transcended into the food. 

I gathered my friends from my study abroad program for a little catch up dinner in the city.  It has been five years since we left Shanghai, and it was time for a family style meal for us to share food and share updates on our lives.  Just like old times, Joyce suggested the restaurant, and I did the ordering.  Before we began our extravaganza of wrapping pork belly in various vegetables, we started with the Sichuan pepper chicken wings and the okonomiyaki.  The chicken wings wowed with its numbing peppery spice, and the okonomiyaki awed with its ever eerie dancing bonito shavings.  The Japanese quiche like pancake was more authentic than it was modern Asian, and I can appreciate that.  It was hot in temperature (it comes on a skillet) but warm in the emotion that it was served with.

The homeyness of the food on the menu was just enough to make my friends from Fudan feel comfortable and right at home, which made for an ideal spot to convene and connect.  Until the next gathering, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.

Namu Gaji
499 Dolores St. @ 18th St.
Mission District
San Francisco, CA 94110

ML - 20130903

Friday, November 8, 2013

155. Bay Area - Tony's Pizza Napoletana is Jonas Approved (SF: North Beach/Little Italy)

While romping around San Francisco and all around the Bay, I thought it would be cool to feast with some fellow food fanatics.  Jonas Tamano of Jonas Approved was the first one that I thought of.  A local of San Francisco, Jonas knows the city and its restaurants like the back of his hand.  He introduced me to Tony's Pizza Napoletana in North Beach, and we chowed down on their award winning pizza.

While the menu has an amazing array of authentic pizzas cooked in half a dozen different ovens, we had to go for the one and only margherita.  After all, the margherita pizza is the World Pizza Cup winner, and Tony's makes only 73 of them in their 900 degree wood fire oven each day.  I couldn't pass up the chance to have this rustic pizza made with a combination of imported Italian ingredients and local farmers products.  San Felice flour cooks into a crisp crust.  The real San Marzano plum tomatoes spread into the slightly sweet sauce.  The mozarella fior di latte derived from cows, not the more common buffalo version that we all know, makes for a milky melt.  And the fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt top off the traditional taste.

Jonas and I also ordered the meatball gigante.  I mean, how could we not? Only 25 are made per day, and the veal, pork, and beef meatball comes served with a choice of one of four sauces.  We picked the creamy wild mushroom sauce with pancetta, and robiola cheese.  The server pours the sauce on tableside, and it makes for quite a show as it swirls together with the red tomato sauce.  For those of you who don't think two people can finish eating a giant meatball the size of a very large grapefruit or small pomelo, think again.  We can eat up a storm.  But some words of wisdom... perhaps you should order the regulation sized Italian style meatballs instead of the gigante...

... unless you are Jonas and me of course... because we can still close lunch off with some egg tarts from Golden Gate Bakery.  Follow Jonas' blog or Instagram, especially if you are a big fan of all sorts of Asian cuisine.  Jonas, like myself, collects the various flavors of Japanese Kit Kats as well.  He also visits the Los Angeles area frequently.  Until next time, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.

Tony's Pizza Napoletana
1570 Stockton St.
North Beach
San Francisco, CA 94133

ML - 20130905

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

154. Bay Area - Tasty Indian Pizza and Wings (Bay Area: Sunnyvale)

Tasty Indian Pizza combines the best of Indian fare and arguably the most cherished American food to bring a unique Indian-American perspective on bar favorites like pizza, wings, and nachos.  I like that the name of the restaurant tells you exactly what you are getting.  But hey, if you don't like the insides of a samosa on top of your pizza, then there is good ol' pepperoni for you too.

My friends and I hit up Tasty Indian Pizza not for the pepperoni but for, well, the tasty Indian pizza.  We ordered half of the 3 Idiots and half the Saagar.  The 3 Idiots half of our pizza was adorned with Indian butter chicken, which is really just the dark meat portion of chicken tikka masala, and garnished with chilies and jalapeños, making for a spicy taste that can be easily washed down with cold beer.  The 3 Idiots, as I have since learned, is a major Indian blockbuster that was the highest grossing Bollywood film when it was released.

The Saagar half of the pizza was mainly a creamy spinach pizza with pineapple, jalapeño, red onion, and cilantro.  The pineapple sounds absolutely bizarre in that mix of ingredients, but once that spiciness creeps up onto your taste buds, you'll be glad that the sweetness of the pineapple is there to put out the fire. 

We also order the spicy tandoori wings.  The outside resembles the glowing red chicken fired up in the tandoori oven, but the inside is even more tender than the traditional version.  The skin is just slightly crisp, not enough to produce a real crunch, but one bite into it, and the meat oozes with juiciness.  It is now one of my favorite ways to have chicken wings.  A fair warning though... the chicken is hot in both temperature and spice.  Be prepared to sweat.

What is cool about Tasty Indian Pizza is that not only does it have seriously delicious food, it is also an ideal spot to gather your friends for football and beer.  Sounds like a perfect spot for Sunday, doesn't it? We have already declared we would return for the other pizzas on the menu.

When football season is over, let's get Tasty Indian Pizza take-out and stream 3 Idiots, yeah? I'll take your silence as consent.  Until next time, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.

Tasty Indian Pizza (AKA Tasty Subs and Pizza)
528 Lawrence Expressway
Sunnyvale, CA 94085

ML - 20130906

Friday, November 1, 2013

153. Bay Area - HK Style Chinese BBQ at Cooking Papa / 好煮意 香港大排檔 (Bay Area: Santa Clara)

If you are in the Bay, and all you want is some Chinese food, Cooking Papa in either Santa Clara or Foster City is a good choice.  This Hong Kong style restaurant is not really an eye-opening surprise of ridiculous deliciousness.  It is just good food.  It is quick.  It's affordable.  It's no fancy restaurant, and it's no hole-in-the-wall either.  And it satisfies when you are hungry.  It was the first place that I stopped at on what seemed like a never ending journey through Bay Area.

Cooking Papa makes some solid Cantonese BBQ, referring to the roasted chicken, duck, and pork on the menu (or hanging in the window).  Juicy and succulent, our combo platter of roasted duck and pork (燒味雙拼) fit the bill just right.  This, by the way, is different from Peking duck, which is northern style BBQ.  Northern or Peking style roast duck focuses on the crisping of the skin; the meat is usually not as succulent.  On the other hand, southern or Cantonese style roast duck focuses on the tenderness of the meat.  It is usually very juicy, and the skin is usually not as crisp.

The house special pan fried noodle (招牌煎麵) is on the money too.  It is an authentic take on a Hong Kong style chow mein, frying up the yellow noodles until they are crisp all around... and then smothering the top with sauced up scallops, shrimp, pork, mushrooms, and bok choy.  This is one of those dishes that everyone at the table dives into, and each individual douses their portion with extra soy and chili.

What is spectacular about Cooking Papa is the dessert... and not just any dessert.  The Hong Kong style egg puff (鬆化沙翁), which should be ordered at least ten minutes in advance of your desire for dessert, is particularly dramatic.  These egg puffs are somewhat like waffles, only that puffed up hemispheres of batter take the place of the square shaped dips in a typical American waffle.  They typically fit into a paper sleeve to be held while eating on the streets of Hong Kong, but it looks like the Papa injected some Godzilla portioned steroids into these overly gargantuan super sized monstrosities.  Oh, and then Papa dusted it with some powdered sugar.  Cray cray.  The egg puffs are a sweet way to end the meal.

Until next time, let's get S.O.F.A.T.

Cooking Papa / 好煮意
2830 Homestead Rd.
Santa Clara, CA 95051

ML - 20130831