Taco Cleanse: Reader Letters

We have some reader mail today. I’ve been getting lots of these questions  (send ’em to lonestarplate (at) google.com), and I thought I’d share my answers here so they could help a larger audience.

Dear mollyjade,

My family won’t let me taco cleanse. They think it’s extreme. My mother says eating so many tacos can’t be healthy. And my father is worried what the neighbors will think. I know taco cleansing is right for me, but I’m not sure if I can keep up with it with all this constant criticism.

Sincerely,
Lonely Taco Eater

Dear Lonely Taco Eater,

It isn’t easy living with people who don’t understand taco cleansing, but it’s important not to let others’ fears hold you back from being your best self. In my experience, the fastest way to get your parents to stop criticizing you is to stuff a taco in their mouths. It’s hard to talk and chew at the same time. I recommend keeping a few tacos around at all times so you’re prepared.

In the meantime, try eating your tacos before family meals or holding your taco behind a large loaf of bread so your new lifestyle isn’t always confronting them. You don’t have to hide who you are, but you don’t need to share that side of yourself at every possible opportunity.  When you do eat tacos in their presence, be sure to make extra loud yummy noises. Who knows, your positive example may rub off on them?

Yours in tacos,
mollyjade

Dear mollyjade,

Is a taco cleanse appropriate for children? My infant doesn’t seem very interested in tacos yet.

Sincerely,
Think of the Children

Dear Think of the Children,

The taco cleanse is appropriate for all stages of life. You might need to puree tacos for a younger crowd if teeth haven’t come in yet. Or do the chewing yourself like a penguin mother. Up to you. Adding an extra amount of fat and sugar may help your young tyke learn to enjoy the many benefits of tacos. Start with a choco taco and see where things go from there.

If this doesn’t work, you might want to start over with a new baby. Yours may be defective.

Yours in tacos,
mollyjade

Three Reasons the Taco Cleanse Isn’t Working for You

Sad Taco

Image by Sin Amigos. Licensed under creative commons

People have been asking me lately, Molly, what’s up with this taco cleanse thing? I ate a taco once and nothing happened? What’s the big deal?

Don’t give up if you don’t see results right away. Here are some of the most common taco cleansing problems and how to avoid them.

1. You’re not actually eating a taco. Filling + condiments + tortilla = taco, right? Not exactly. There are many taco-like objects out there waiting to trip up the novice taco cleanser. The most common of these is the burrito. You can recognize a burrito by its multiple folded edges (versus a taco’s single fold) and its generally large size. Burritos often require a two-handed hold, whereas the average taco only requires a single hand (which hand you use is up to you).

Burrito
taco

Lazy Smurf has made a valuable video to help you recognize this important distinction if you need more help distinguishing between tacos and burritos.

Solution: eat a damn taco!

2. You’re not cleansing long enough. At any level below “mild” (one full day of taco meals), you’re unlikely to see any visible changes. You can’t just supplement one taco a month and expect to see big results. You get what you put into the cleanse. See Lazy Smurf’s post about the four levels of taco cleansing for more information.

Solution: eat more tacos!

3. You’re not alive. Taco cleansing is not recommended for zombies or the undead.

Solution: None. There’s no point in trying to live a tacoless existence.

 

Why Taco Cleanse?

Today Lazy Smurf posted about her inspiration for taco cleansing. It made me look closer at my own reasons for taco cleansing. I’ve put together this tacovation collage. I’m going to hang it on my fridge for when things get tough.

Are any of these people crying? Are they tearing out their hair? Cussing at postal workers? Leaving passive aggressive notes for their colleagues? No. Because tacos make people happy. They give you the strength and courage to put up with your annoying coworkers who leave dishes “soaking” in the sink. They inspire you to rise above the petty issues of the day. They even get you elected president.

Lazy Smurf said it best. Tacos change lives.

Taco Cleanse: Day Two

Migas tacos

Migas tacos and vegan queso from Kerbery Lane. Panang curry tacos not pictured. They were tasty but very unphotogenic.

I’m well into my second day of taco cleansing. So far my detoxing symptoms have included sleepiness nightly at around midnight and a strong thirst when I’ve been gardening in the Texas heat. And I think my hair is growing a touch slower than usual the last two days. Hopefully this will all pass soon as the toxins leave my system. Otherwise, I may need to change the date of my next hair cut appointment.

In order not to strain myself during this trying part of the taco cleanse, I ate all my meals out today. Brunch was migas tacos with queso at Kerbey Lane. Those kept me going strong until dinnertime when I assembled panang curry tacos with the help of the folks at Pad Thai (tofu dishes are made without fish sauce there, FYI).

Taco Ingredients

Taco Ingredients. Am I missing anything important?

Later in the day, I gathered enough strength to check my taco making supplies. Hopefully these will be enough to get me through this first week.

Taco Cleanse: Day 1

Buffalo Chik'n Tacos

Buffalo Chik'n Tacos from Whole Foods Cart. Photo by mollyjade

Today kicks off the taco cleanse. I’m a bit nervous starting out. Who knows how this will change my life?

We had breakfast at the Mueller Farmers’ Market today. And there weren’t any vegan tacos. But I pushed through and convinced the nice employee at the Whole Foods cart to make me a Buffalo Chik’n Wrap using corn tortillas instead of the flour wrap. The day was saved! I’m so glad I can eat out of the house without compromising the cleanse.

A few hours in, I’m feeling energized and alert. I’m not constantly thinking about food because I know exactly what I’ll be eating. Tacos. And this morning an amazing thing happened. My husband got stuck on the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. Could I help? I picked up the puzzle and immediately saw that the answer was taco (69 across). With my help, he flew through the rest of the puzzle. I’m pretty sure this is a sign that I’m on the right track.

Look out for more taco cleansing from these blogs:

Other folks are posting their cleanse progress on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with the hashtag #tacocleanse. Later this month we’ll host a few taco meet ups. And the whole thing will culminate in a Taco Cleanse Zine.

Vegan MoFo 2013

Vegan MoFo will be in September this year, which is just six days away. I wasn’t sure if I would participate this year, but I’ve decided to go for. You should, too. Sign up here by August 28 to participate.

For the month of September, vegans from all over the world will blog daily about vegan food—anything whatsoever to do with vegan food. Here’s a list of ideas if you considering joining us.

I’m embarking on a taco cleanse with a group of guinea pigs here in Austin. Hopefully by the end of September we’ll have glowing skin and super powers. Keep reading to find out.

Follow the fun with the #tacocleanse tag on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and see our taco cleanse Pinterest board for inspiration.

Happy MoFoing everyone!

Sourdough Pancakes and My Dad

Small children sometimes mistake my dad for Santa Claus. He does nothing to discourage this. Source: mollyjade

I got a love of food from both my parents. But there’s no question at all that my mom is chief the cook of the family. Dinner on the table every night. Specials meals for holidays and celebrations. Damn fine baked goods. My father’s cooking style is more experimental. He eschews recipes and wings everything. The results can be…unexpected. But when he stumbles on a hit, it’s his for life.

One example is his jarred chipotle peppers in tomato sauce, a sort of faux chipotle in adobo. Jalapenos roasted in his smoker, chopped, and then cooked with tomatoes from the garden. He makes this every year now with his glut of jalapenos, and the jar in my fridge is one of my prized possessions.

Sourdough pancakes Dad-style. Source: mollyjade

After a recent camping trip, my dad acquired a sourdough starter. Keeping it alive was his first goal, and it’s lasted several months so far. Lately, he’s moved on to actually cooking with it. The man who gifted him starter makes pancakes out of it by adding a bit of oil and “maybe one or two other things.” My dad thought that sounded a bit unnecessary. He just uses the starter straight from the jar. It works for him!

The resulting pancake tastes strongly of sourdough. But, think how nice it is to wake up with ready-made pancake batter in the fridge. Thanks for the breakfast and the fearless cooking, Dad!

***

Are you a “wing-it” sort of cook? What hits have you discovered by ignoring all the best advice and going with your gut?

Texas State Veggie Fair 2012 Recap

No fair is complete without a wristband! Source: mollyjade

I had a lovely time at Riverchon park on Sunday. The weather was beautiful, if a bit muggy, and the park was crowded with families. I couldn’t stay for long, so I focused on my goals. See Ginny Messina talk. Eat at Zombies food truck. See as much else as I could.

Ginny Messina with a sample vegan meal plan that incorporates Asian and Mediterranean food patterns. Source: mollyjade

Ginny’s talk was in the rec center gymnasium. There was a small crowd of people there to learn about vegan nutrition. A few take home messages: Make the majority of your diet fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. But, nothing plant-based should be off limits. To protect your bones, get enough calcium (same amount recommended to average American, 1000mg), get enough protein, and load up on fruits and vegetables. And, as always, anyone on a vegan or nearly vegan diet should make sure foods fortified with b-12 or b-12 supplements are a part of their routine.

Zombie's Food Truck. Source: mollyjade

Aftewards, I joined the long line for Zombie’s Food Truck. The line moved surprisingly fast. They had one or two people taking orders and money, and several others preparing food. Sadly, they were out of the dish I wanted, the Buffalo Joe. In fact, the person in front of me AND the person behind me tried to oder it, too! Just means we’ll all have to come back another time.

Source: mollyjade

Instead, I tried the Bratwurst plate: a handmade veggie bratwurst, potato salad, sauerkraut, and a roll. I’m not sure I’ve ever had German potato salad before (I know!), so I can’t say how this compares to traditional. It was a tad sweet, which surprised me, and the potato chunks were on the small size. The bratwurst was really good dipped in mustard. By far, the best part of the plate was the sauerkraut. I let my mom steal a bite, and she agreed. The roll was unfortunately a bit dry and bland, but I didn’t come to the Texas State Veggie Fair for plain bread. Instead, I saved room for samples.

My mom tried the PB Chocolate Crunch cupcake from Capital City Bakery and declared it better than both her birthday cakes from the day before. (Some birthdays call for two cakes.) But everyone knows vegan cupcakes are the gateway food.

Utpon's Naturals hickory seitan. Source: mollyjade

For the exhibitors, I loved the samples I tried from Tasty Bite. The portions were generous, which is good because I couldn’t get enough of the eggplant dish. They also had these neat little cardboard serving utensils which we all spent a few moments marveling over. Upton’s Naturals was sampling a new hickory smoked seitan. The seitan was really good, though if they’re going for a bacon imitation, the texture is not quite there. But this seitan would work perfectly in bean dishes.

It was a really nice event and I enjoyed overhearing people say things like “wait, this is vegan?” or “This is the best corndog I’ve ever had in my life.” Congrats, TSVF on a successful event!

Big Tex and the Texas State Fair

Source: LostinTexas

Early this morning, Big Tex, a 60-year-old Texas icon, caught fire due to an electrical problem. If you’ve never met Big Tex, he’s the friendly giant at the Texas State Fair who greeted fairgoers with a hearty “Howdy, folks!”

I probably went to the State Fair every year as a child (all school children receive free tickets and a day off school in October). Big Tex, along with the giant ferris wheel, the new car showroom, the butter sculptures, and the people in the exhibit hall (think As Seen on TV) who magically made my glasses steamproof, was a part of my childhood and my identity as a Texan.

While I have ethical problems with much of the State Fair these days (animal cruelty is a prominent feature of the fair), Big Tex wasn’t part of that. He’ll be missed sorely.

***

This weekend, I’ll be traveling to Dallas for the Texas State Veggie Fair, the ethical response to the traditional fair. I hope you’ll join me there. If you visit the traditional fair as well, check out this list of healthy food at the fair, much of which is vegan.

Central Austin Steeping Room

The new location of the Steeping Room on North Lamar opened on Monday. Steeping Room is one of my favorite brunch locations in Austin. I’m thrilled to have a location closer and, well, less associated with the Domain. Unfortunately, the Steeping Room is easing into its new location, which means no brunch for now. They want to get everything running well before they start serving the most important meal of the week.

I took this as a sign that I needed to branch out and try nonbrunch meals. I went in for afternoon tea on Tuesday after a doctor’s appointment. The rainy weather and the gloom of doctor’s office seemed to cry out for a hot cup of tea and a scone. So I obliged.

Pot of Monaco Premium with almond milk and a currant scone. Source: mollyjade

The atmosphere at the new location is a bit less cosy and a bit more strip mall. But there’s an upside to “less cozy.” The tables at the Domain location are so crammed together, meals often feel communal. At the central location, you can have a juicy gossip with your fellow diners without including the strangers on your right and left.

The tea pots at the Central location are metal, which isn’t quite as charming as the ceramic pots at the Domain. However, they seem to hold much more tea. I was drowning in Monaco Premium well before the tea pot was anywhere near empty. I asked for almond milk with my tea, though soy is also available. The scone, as always, was wonderful. Some baked goods aren’t yet available at the new location, but the vegan scones were effected.

Tofu and tempeh bacon sandwich with cashew Caesar salad. Source: mollyjade

I enjoyed my afternoon tea so much that I came back for dinner with my husband. We split a pot of herbal tea between us. My husband got the vegan soup of the day and a (nonvegan) scone, a great deal at $5.75. I had a tofu and tempeh bacon sandwich and cashew Caesar salad. The dressing on the salad was nicely tangy and it came with, wonder of wonders, croutons. Vegan croutons are so rarely available, this was a real treat. The tofu in the sandwich was the Asian-style marinated tofu they use in their tofu scramble. I was expecting something a bit more like a tofu club sandwich, so the Asian flavors of the tofu and the basil vegenaise took some getting used to, but eventually I warmed up to it. Midnight found me polishing off the leftovers in front of the fridge. (The sandwich usually comes with arugula, but they were out that day.)

Cup of lentil soup and a nonvegan scone. Source: mollyjade

The restaurant was a bit empty both times, so even though they’re still working out a few details with missing ingredients and baked goods, now is a good time to visit.

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My friend Megan at Henry and Zelda really loves the Steeping Room, too. Check out her posts about it here.