SPRING AWAKENING! Cleansing 101

My JourneyWe are an obese nation and the situation is getting worse, so there’s no need to bore you with statistics. No one is immune to developing or falling back to poor eating habits, especially under stress or handling a super-busy schedule. As a trainer, yoga teacher, owner of a “cleansing food delivery program”  and vegan – that’s me - needed to find a way to get back on track in terms of eating healthfully as my mind and body is shifting to a season of NEW BEGINNINGS!

When you’re spring cleaning, the goal is to remove yourself from addictive ingredients like sugar, wheat, caffeine, dairy, and yes, alcohol. Then come back to eating freshly grown ingredients. Only eat and drink things that remove the toxins in your body, cleansing your system. When done properly, a cleanse can actually eliminate your cravings for the bad stuff.

I studied the effects of different cleansing techniques. It wasn’t an easy journey: I tried the Master cleanse, a juice cleanse, a raw food cleanse, even the cabbage cleanse.  I learned about and tried them all and wasn’t pleased with the results.

My clients and I wanted to reach healthier goals, lose weight and, most importantly, develop good eating habits that fit into our various lifestyles. But when it comes to cleansing, it’s hard to know is fact and what is fiction.

FICTION: Stick with an all-liquid or raw vegetable diet. I lose the weight, right? It’s incredibly difficult and an extreme way to cleanse — I think that it’s so hard that it must be working.

FACT: All the weight you lose is just water weight that comes right back on within a week if not quicker.
FICTION: Stick with an all-liquid cleanse and I will be healthy!

FACT: An all juice cleanse raises your sugar level, deprives your digestive organs, and teaches nothing more than how to drink empty calories.

Ideas on what you can do now to start spring cleansing:
  • You can incorporate the same ingredients that are in cleansing juices into a daily meal plan with whole foods or blended whole ingredients. In fact, you will get
    greater benefits because of the added roughage in your system.
  • Dehydrated foods provide fiber, but there’s not enough information to know if they are actually better for you than raw foods!  Have a little but make sure your body subsists on vegetables with their healthful fluids still in them.
  • Morning meals are important. You need to give your body protein and fiber but, unfortunately, most people don’t have the time to think through the ingredients and prepare breakfast. Make sure you have a square meal to start off the day.
  • In a food cleanse you can easily incorporate an apple and some nuts (raw, that have been soaked overnight so that harmful enzymes are broken down) into your meal plan.
  • Of course fresh pressed juices are fantastic for you, but a meal in the afternoon, when your energy level is decreasing, is nice too.
Some things you can do to cleanse on your own with food:
  • Take some vegetables, steam them, make soup, add some legumes for protein and pumpkin seeds and olive oil for healthy fat.
  • In the evening I want to chew. When I do my food cleanse, I always start with a vegetable broth, then add chunks of  vegetables and spices so my soups are chewy and delicious. You can  make creative textures and shapes with your vegetables, even marinate them in turmeric and a little cayenne, both of  which have great anti inflammatory powers!
  • There are vegetables that I recommend you not have during a cleanse.  These are called Night Shades.  They can cause inflammation in the body if eaten excessively.  Some of these vegetables are eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes  and peppers.
  • I always believe that training, eating healthy or taking any other disciplined action gives me a chance to enjoy an indulgence. During a cleanse it’s not okay to grab a cupcake or bagel, but a cacao niblet is always nice.

When you decide to do a cleanse it’s probably because you need to hit the restart button.  Decide what your specific reason is for doing the cleanse — is it to get rid of the coffee habit, because you’ve been eating way too much sugar or you’re retaining too much water? Whatever it is, a cleanse is necessary because we all need a time out once in awhile. Give your system a break!

Some ingredients to use for cleansing are yams, garlic, turmeric, Himalayan or Celtic sea salt, goji berries, cayenne, whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, lentils, and chickpeas.

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Here’s some of my favorite easy to follow recipes for a day of cleansing:

Asparagus Soup  Can be eaten room temperature

1 lb. (roughly 8 stalks) of asparagus, trimmed and chopped

4 large sweet potatoes, baked and chopped into large chunks

2 cups home-made vegetable broth (recipe below)

Combine vegetable broth and asparagus in a 4qt pot and bring to a boil. Add potatoes. Puree in food processor.

1. Cover and simmer on medium heat until asparagus and potatoes are tender, approximately 15 minutes.

2. Once vegetables are tender, remove from heat and reserve a few of the tips for garnish.  Carefully puree vegetable mixture with a hand blender or in a blender until smooth.

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Stuffed Collard This is a new spin on an old favorite. It is delish whether you’re detoxing or not, plus it helps keep cravings in check.

1/2 cup quinoa

1 cup water

1 collard, with center cut out

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup canned lentils, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 370 degrees. Add water & quinoa into 4qt pot cover and cook for 30 minutes. Drain and mix with lentils. Steam pepper for 10 minutes, then place on oiled baking dish or sheet. Stuff with quinoa and lentil mixture. Bake for 15 minutes.

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