Once or twice a year I find myself feeling sluggish, and that, to me, is my body telling me it’s time to give my liver a break and detox. I have been doing a once or twice a year detox now for about ten years, and for me, it seems to “reset” my digestive system. When I started I went truly hard core for two weeks, and I have to admit, it was the toughest two weeks where all I could think about was “bad” food. I realise now after years of tweaking with new recipes and ideas, that everyone needs to plan their own detox programme according to their own lives – you need to factor in that ideally some of the detox recipes will end up working their way into your normal eating habits.
There are tons of detox programmes out there – the one I use follows these basic principles:
1) No meat – red or white
2) No processed food – white sugars, breads, cakes, biscuits etc
3) No alcohol
4) No caffeine
5) No dairy
What you can eat:
1) Any fruit, vegetable, legume etc (you know, the healthy stuff) – go for brightly coloured vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, peppers and avocados etc and you can’t really go wrong
2) Brown rice, whole grain breads, brown rice/corn/buckwheat/quinoa pastas, steel cut oats (if you can’t get these then try normal oats, just don’t ever eat the instant oats as they have been so processed that all the goodness of the oats is stripped away)
3) Raw nuts (the good fats in nuts can go rancid once they are cooked) like almonds and cashews and macadamias
4) Tofu and soy milk – look for non GMO products
5) small portions of fish if you want
6) Herbal teas – peppermint, dandelion, fennel
7) Start each day upon rising with a big mug of warm water with a good squeeze of lemon. This really helps to kickstart your metabolism.
8)You need to take two spoons of psyllium husk three times a day to really flush out your system and drink lots of water. Try for 2L a day
Now ideally you’re meant to be on this programme for 2 weeks, but I have found that that is simply too long for someone who loves food so much – to the point where detoxing becomes a real chore and I’m likely to cheat, or quit and start hoovering steaks and cakes and guzzling bottles of wine. I find that a week is enough to get to the point where you are just enjoying eating clean, healthy food, and you can feel a difference. Stick to the basic principles as much as you can, my best advice is to plan plan plan – your social life, your grocery shopping, your meals. At the end of the week, you should feel energised (not in need of a coffee to start the day), less bloated…overall, just healthier. A plus is you might even feel some weight dropping off – basically it’s not the healthy food so much as you tend to simply consume less calories, but hey, can’t hurt.
I thought I’d share some ideas for meals below. Good luck, try your best and just enjoy eating healthily for a week.
1 can chickpeas (you can cook from the dried beans if you have the time – soak 100g overnight and simmer until tender)
100g sesame seeds – lightly dry toast them and finely grind in the food processor
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
Chuck them all in the food processor until smooth – you need to add enough lemon juice so that you can taste it but it doesn’t overpower the dip. Serve with a sprinkling of paprika and chick peas and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Use as a dip with crudites as a snack, or use as a spread in sandwiches, on top of whole grain crackers with tomatoes and avocado or if you’re feeling very healthy, alfalfa sprouts.
Gently fry onions until soft
Add chopped carrots and celery and fry until coated
Add vegetable stock
Simmer 20 mins
Add a bay leaf and harder vegetables (like beans) and simmer for 10 more mins
Add softer vegetables like chopped spinach, zuccini just before you take off the heat.
You can also add some quinoa for some texture and protein.
Some other great simple soup ideas:
Carrot and ginger
Watercress (you can thicken with a potato if you want)
Potato and Leek
Soak dried wakame until soft, add to lettuce leaves, cucumber, tomato and silken tofu.
Make dressing with some tamari (or soya sauce if you can’t get tamari), sesame oil, rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
Other salad ideas:
Quinoa salad – cook quinoa and fluff, add chopped cucumber, red onion and red capsiscum. Dress with mixture of 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts olive oil (basically a couscous salad)
Tuna nicoise salad (minus the egg) – add tuna on top of bed of lettuce and french beans, dress with olive oil and lemon juice
You can get dried organic brown rice pastas from health food stores and make all sorts of vegetable sauces:
eggplant and tomato with basil
spaghetti aglio e olio