The Single Girl Dinner Detox Menu

I recently took a week to myself in L.A. to press the reset button on my diet. When I'm alone, I find that: (a) I don't feel as hungry, (b) I usually crave simple foods, and (c) my portion sizes are a lot smaller. 

It was time to get clean.

For inspiration, here's my detox menu:

 

STARTER: DAIKON & LEEK SOUP 

Daikon radish has many health benefits, including enzymes that aid in digesting fats and starches. This soup is soothing and light. I'd recommend adding an immersion blender to your arsenal of kitchen tools. It's absolutely indispensable! 


To make: Chop 1 leek and 1 large daikon radish. Heat a saucepan and add a slick of olive oil. Sauté the chopped leek and daikon radish until softened. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the saucepan from heat and use the immersion blender directly in the pot to blend the soup until smooth. Ladle into serving bowl. Sprinkle with freshly snipped chives. (I added black truffle zest for a touch of luxury!)

 

MAIN: SEARED SALMON IN COCONUT OIL 

As you probably already know, salmon is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which lowers inflammation and helps the cells in your arteries function. Searing it in coconut oil adds a lovely coconutty flavor. In addition to converting "bad" LDL cholesterol into "good" HDL cholesterol, coconut oil is a powerful weapon at killing harmful stomach bacteria. 


To make: Season your salmon filet with salt and pepper. Melt a tablespoon of coconut oil in a hot skillet over high heat. Place the salmon in the skillet and, depending on its size, sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer the salmon to a plate and let it rest for a minute or two before serving. 

 

DESSERT: PAPAYA WITH BERRIES + SENCHA GREEN TEA

I love ending a meal with a small serving of fresh fruit and berries. Papaya contains enzymes that helps break down protein and reduces the amount of free radicals in your body that contribute to the development of cancer; blackberries and blueberries are excellent sources of antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. Add a mug of hot sencha green tea on the side as a metabolism booster. 

FitMix Studio

FITMIX STUDIO
323.800.7715

La Brea Location
601 N. La Brea Avenue at Clinton Street
 

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Atwater Village Location
3104 Glendale Boulevard

 


A grave reality of being in my thirties: My metabolism ain't what it used to be! Something had to be done to kick my booty into gear since my usual hikes and runs just weren't cutting it, so I researched the fitness studio scene in L.A. and stumbled upon FitMix Studio. They offer two group classes: Endurance Pilates (55 minutes on their customized Pilates reformer) and The Mashup (25 minutes of high-intensity intervals on the treadmill plus 30 minutes of Endurance Pilates). The real draw for me was The Mashup because you could effectively kill two birds with one stone–cardio and total-body conditioning–in less than an hour. 

Back in the early 2000's, I took private Pilates sessions when it was still under the radar, thanks to a magazine article in which Gwyneth Paltrow swore by it. Determined to obtain Gwynnie's long and lithe figure, I found an instructor on the Upper East Side who was trained by Romana Kryzanwoska, Joseph Pilates' trusted protégé who then carried the torch for Classical Pilates onward. After my first session, my posture was noticeably improved; after three weeks, my body looked leaner and more toned. At $85 per session, though, this was not a feasible workout regimen to maintain for the long-run, especially not for an everyday civilian like myself. I'm so thankful that Pilates has gone mainstream because now you can take group classes which are way more affordable. 

FitMix has a great, authentic vibe. It's rather bare-boned compared to Equinox, but no less clean and efficient. Be forewarned: This is a challenging workout. You will be pushed outside of your comfort zone and you will sweat, but it's totally doable. After the very intense 55 minute-session, you'll walk out feeling lighter, more positive and more motivated to return as soon as possible. I was converted into joining after trying the first class, which is offered at the no-brainer price of $10. If you can get a friend to join with you, as I did, you both get unlimited classes for the first month at $125. I'm already seeing results after seven sessions which is making me think that the regular monthly unlimited price of $219 might be a worthy investment after all.

On the Dukan Diet

Pictured here is a griddled beef patty on top of a green salad from Bill's Burger—no dressing

Last year, I decided to try the Dukan Diet, otherwise known as "The Kate Middleton Diet." It's a four-phase protein-centric/low-carb diet that has garnered a reputation as France's long-time secret to staying slim. There are two steps for losing the weight and two steps for keeping it off forever. I had heard about it from my friend Ashley.

"It's so amazing, Jess," said Ashley, as she divulged the details over one of our #singlegirldinners, "I've lost five pounds so far. For breakfast, I'll have a Greek yogurt and boiled egg. At lunch, I'll have a steak, and, for dinner, grilled fish with a green salad."

Well, that sounded reasonable enough, so I bought the book and went to DukanDiet.com to figure out my customized plan. It generated a chart that outlined a 42-day plan to get to my true weight. For me, it was a matter of losing four pounds. For others, their customized plan may take hundreds of days and even years in order to achieve their true weight, as this diet was originally designed for the obese. 

My meals looked something like:

Breakfast

Fage Total 2% with strawberry

1 boiled egg

2 slices of bresaola

2 slices of lean ham

Lunch

Sliced steak with charred scallions

6 sticks of surimi 

Beef jerky

Dinner

Shrimp cocktail

Tofu shiratake noodles with bolognese sauce

or

Grilled salmon with a micro-greens salad

I lasted all of 21 days. (I believe it was a corn dog at Nathan's Famous in Coney Island that pushed me over the edge.) The hardest part for me was giving up on pasta–I would dream of oodles and oodles of noodles. To this day, I'm shocked that I made it that far without succumbing to the spaghetti carbonara at Otto. Shocked, I tell you.

But it did work. I was able to maintain my new weight of being three pounds lighter while I was doing it. (I know three pounds sounds measly, but it makes such a difference on my frame.) This was, of course, in conjunction with regular exercise and other stipulations in the diet, such as eating oat bran daily. I was on a mission. My body looked leaner, tighter, and toner. I even saw it in my face.

While I didn't complete the 42-day plan, my big takeaway from the experience was that the secret of maintaining weight loss lies in:

1. Making lean protein and non-starchy vegetables the basis of a regular diet

2. Incorporating regular exercise

3. And, this can't be underestimated, you have to really want it

Simple as that. Just something for me to think about as I enter 2013. After all, New Year's Day and diets go hand-in-hand.

A Novel Thanksgiving Dinner

An Instagrammed film still from "Zergüt", a gorgeous film by Chayka Sofia

Growing up in Texas, my family always held a Thanksgiving potluck extravaganza that included three different types of turkeys (traditional, smoked, and deep-fried), cornbread stuffing, cheddar biscuits, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes with giblet gravy, a variety of pies, and much, much more. This display usually took up at least three dining tables. It was a lotta food, but, then again, there were also a lotta people to feed. Thanksgiving was the one day to truly gorge. Let's be thankful for this bounty, we thought, justifying our inevitable food coma. After all, when's the next time I'll be having that autumnal trifecta of turkey, stuffing, and gravy?

My friend Natasha called yesterday and told me that her family was planning a Thanksgiving meal of raw food recipes prepared with vegetables from the farmers' market. They're doing a celebration of wellbeing and health, if you will. I pictured vibrant colors and beautiful compositions; fresh, crisp, and light. I found it incredibly refreshing that the spotlight had been taken off the glory of overstuffing of oneself. With that in mind, I promised myself to tone it down at Thanksgiving dinner this evening by eating smaller portions slowly, so that I will be thankful for not going home with that double-chin feeling. 

I can do this, right?

Happy Thanksgiving!

*To see a trailer of "Zergüt", a film that Natasha's studio Chayka Sofia made, please click here.

Equinox - SoHo

 

EQUINOX – SOHO
69 Prince Street at Crosby Street
212.334.463


Equinox-SoHo's atmosphere is more boutique-y than other locations and feel more like a well-kept spa than a gym. Cold eucalyptus towel after your workout? Yes, please! ...Ooh! There's Kiehl's products in the locker room, too! If I had to admit to one hang-up, though, maybe it's that some of the classes get really full, but that's only because they're such great classes, taught by instructors who really know what they're doing. A few of my favorites include: Barre Burn, ViPR, Kettlebell Cardio, Monster Cycle, and Purgatory Bootcamp. After you're done, pop down to Juice Generation on the street level for a fresh smoothie!