The Chirba Chirba Dumpling Truck just pulled up outside my office, and I couldn’t resist the charm of its mascot. Painted on the side of the yellow truck, the smiling, plump, cartoon dumpling seemed to say “please eat me… I am so scrumptious and cheerful.”
Chirba Chirba’s menu is short and sweet, featuring three types of dumplings – two meaty, and one vegan. Called “Veggie-lings,” the vegan dumplings are moist and savory, containing seasoned mixed vegetables, mushrooms, and soy sheet. A pineapple salsa tops off the dumplings, adding a sweet complementary flavor. The truck also offers a vegan side item, máo dòu, which is your typical salty edamame appetizer. Several complimentary self-serve sauces allow you to customize your meal.
I spoke to Chela Tu, one of the truck’s four co-founders, about the beginnings of Chirba Chirba. She said the truck was the brainchild of her group of friends, all of whom have strong ties to China and a love of dumplings. They chose the name “Chirba Chirba” because it means “Eat, eat!” in Mandarin Chinese, sort of like the expression “Mangia, mangia!” in Italian. The truck is only about ten weeks old, and the Durham-based group is still getting the hang of things in the food truck world, but already has plans to expand the menu. The next addition will be a gluten-free dumpling option, Tu says.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting my BFF, Sarah, in Atlanta. We had an amazingly fun time preparing for her wedding with spa pedicures, sorbet, and a delicious meal at Atlanta’s premiere vegetarian/vegan restaurant, Cafe Sunflower. The cafe offers a wide variety of international vegetarian cuisine, serving everything from Jamaican Black Bean Cakes to Wild Mushroom Fettuccine. To start, Sarah and I ordered the Rainbow Pancakes – “crispy wedges of carrot-scallion flour pancake with a sweet plum dipping sauce” – a scrumptious appetizer that reminded me of moo shu. For our entrees, Sarah ordered the Spicy Pad Thai Noodles and I had the Sweet and Sour Soy Chicken. The portions were huge and the food was amazing. What really blew my mind was when our waitress asked if she could bring out the dessert tray. Um, YES you can! There were several different cake options, like gluten-free chocolate, vegan cheesecake, and coconut cake, but we had our sights set on the raspberry chocolate mousse slice. It was so decadent, and did not have a hint of “fake” flavor that vegan desserts sometimes have. I highly recommend this restaurant if you are in the area!
Sunday night, I had my final Kickstart meal – a bowl of Hearty Chili Mac and a side salad. I felt like celebrating, or like it was Christmas Eve, because finally I could eat dark chocolate, beer, sugar, and potato chips again. I’m really glad I stuck it through, though. I think the kickstart helped me break some cravings, and it was eye-opening how much added fat there is in certain meals, not too mention how filling beans and whole grains are. I also learned a few great new recipes that I will be adding to my “go-to” dinner rotation from now on. I’m even eating one of the recipes right now, the Southern Beans and Greens. I lost a total of five pounds, and my boy lost an incredible 11 pounds. I’m going to try to incorporate this way of eating into at least one meal a day, if not more. It makes you feel great, centered, focused, energized, and light. But man I am glad to be able to kick back with a beer!
Here are links to some of my favorite recipes during the cleanse:
And if you’re thinking about following the 21 day meal plan yourself, I would strongly advise you to steer clear of these items: Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes, Facon Bacon, and Chocolate Raspberry Mousse. I followed those three recipes to a T and they were pretty much gross. But don’t let those three gross foods scare you away from this diet! You can always substitute other meals if you don’t like the sound of what they suggest.