It is that time of year where many of us are eating leaner and perhaps looking at getting healthy or losing weight. I know in my house we are doing a cleanse, which basically means cutting out all the good stuff — no alcohol, sugar, dairy, meat, coffee or fatty foods. What is left to eat, you might ask? Well let me tell you there’s more than you think. For instance, we had a terrific meal last night — a buffalo burger (buffalo is not part of the taboo red meat category) with caramelized onions and avocado served over some really delicious wasabi mashed potatoes (sans cream, milk or butter!) with roasted curried cauliflower.

I tell you, after a meal like that, who feels deprived? Yes, it would have been nice to have a glass of wine or a beer with the meal instead of water, but hey, it’s not so bad.

So this is my fourth day on this diet and it actually feels pretty great to have a lot of energy and not be craving sugar. To feel satisfied after eating but not that stuffed, full feeling is quite a pleasure. I find that it is important to eat fruit, nuts and have the occasional handful of raisins to stave off any niggling urges that creep in especially at the end of the day or around 4 p.m.

I thought I would stick to this for two months to see if I feel so fabulous that I become someone who is permanently transformed. Wish me luck!

Here are a few recipes that might help motivate you to improve your diet. Enjoy!

Amanda Cushman is a culinary educator who has cooked professionally for 25 years. She teaches privately for groups of two to 20 students. She has developed hundreds of recipes for cookbooks as well as food magazines and Web sites. She can be reached amandascooking@gmail.com.