Happy 2015, dear friends!
I wasn’t sure about doing a detox post this year simply because it seemed predictable, but over the past couple weeks, my body told my brain to stop thinking so much and just do what I feel. Smart body.
There are many reasons people feel the need to press the reset button this time of year. Overindulgence, chronic stress, feelings of fatigue or sluggishness are the usual suspects, but there are also positive grounds for clearing out the cobwebs such as wanting to gain more energy and increase vitality, achieve higher levels of clarity, and realign with our internal guidance systems. I know the telltale signs for myself, and they usually involve a slight disinterest in eating (sounds crazy, I know), along with the desire to examine my food-body-mind relationship. Since I am often cooking everyday for a living, I can sometimes lose sight of the total magic that food is. If I slice open a head of red cabbage and fail to swoon, or that pomegranate doesn’t bring me to my knees in awe, I know it’s time to take a break, simplify, and make space for those feelings again.
But how can we make this really easy? I’ve gotten so much positive feedback from my past cleanses and detox programs for Oprah magazine and Whole Living magazine, (all of which are still online here, here and here), but one thing that people mention is how much food there is! Taking that into consideration, I thought I would design a super-simple plan this year with only two recipes and you can make the decision how long you want to go for.
One smoothie. One soup. Both are alkalizing, filling yet detoxifying, mega green but super tasty. In fact, I’ll wager that you’ll love both of these recipes so much that you’ll be enjoying them long after the cleanse is over! The Ginger-Mint Pear Smoothie is luscious, sweet-and-spicy with cooling mint and creamy avocado. The Cilantro Spinach Sweet Potato Soup is like eating a crazy-delicious hug.
It’s true that certain foods and herbs can aid in the detoxification process, but what else can we do to boost our cleansing process on a daily basis?
Exercise: Moving our bodies is essential for balance and overall health because it creates the conditions to breathe deeply, stretch, circulate the blood and lymph, and sweat. The more we move, the more efficient our body becomes at circulating and flushing out toxins. Gentle, low-intensity exercise such as yoga, stretching, or walking is best during a juice fast or reduced-calorie diet (such as this weekend cleanse), while high-impact exercise is recommended at least 3 times a week once you are back to eating a regular, healthy diet.
Dry skin brushing: Dry skin brushing helps stimulate your lymphatic system, which is responsible for ridding the body of toxins. Skin brushing improves the surface circulation on the skin and keeps the pores of the skin open, encouraging your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes, and resulting in an improved ability to combat bacteria, plus helping your skin to look and feel healthier and more resilient! Skin brushing also strengthens the immune system and helps aid the digestion system, both of which are greatly involved in the detoxification process.
Take a sauna: Although it is a major eliminative organ, most people’s skin is very inactive. Sweat is a most important elimination route for toxins. Repeated use of the sauna can help slowly restore skin elimination. Viruses, toxin-burdened cells, and tumours are weaker than normal cells and tolerate heat poorly. The heating of the tissues, which takes place in a sauna helps the body heal from infections and disease more quickly. I make it a habit to go to the sauna once a week for a deep, cleansing sweat. It feels amazing and does a body good!
Below is a sample plan for the Winter Weekend Cleanse. You can do the program for just one day, but I would recommend at least two to really feel the benefits. You can also go longer if you like, and include one or more of the recipes from my previous programs to compliment the new one, just so those taste buds of yours stay excited! Drink as much water as you feel like / need, but consume at least 1½ liters throughout the day. Always begin the day with warm water with lemon, as this will assist in flushing your digestive system, preparing your tummy for food by increasing stomach acid, and alkalizing your entire system. Herbal teas are acceptable, but choose ones that are particularly detoxifying. Burdock, cleavers, chickweed, yarrow, nettle and plantain are some of my favourites. I also have a wonderful Detox Tea Blend recipe here.
You can eat your smoothie for breakfast and afternoon snack, but it also fills in for a lunch if that is all you feel like. You can make up the entire batch for a day (the recipe makes about 3 cups / 700ml) if you know you’ll be on the go and sip on it when you need a pick-me-up. Or you can divide the ingredients in half and make it fresh if you’ll be near a blender.
Since we are in the colder months of the year here, I’d encourage you not to use frozen fruit, as it’s important to keep warm when the weather is not! I like to enjoy this smoothie at room temperature, and I promise it’s just as delicious as its cold counterpart.
The soup can be eaten for lunch and dinner or as a snack too. I really like it blended, but feel free to keep it chunky too!
Winter Weekend Cleanse Plan
Upon rising: warm water with lemon
Breakfast: Ginger-Mint Pear Smoothie
Throughout the day: water! Aim for 1½ – 2½ liters a day (about 6-10 cups), depending on your activity level
Lunch: Cilantro Spinach Sweet Potato Soup
Snack: Ginger-Mint Pear Smoothie
Dinner: Cilantro Spinach Sweet Potato Soup
Repeat on the following day, for as many days as you like.
Things to Avoid: caffeine, sugar, alcohol, tobacco, computer time, television, stressful situations.
Things to Embrace: sleep and rest, time outdoors, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, sauna, dry skin brushing.
Winter Weekend Cleanse Recipes
Ginger-Mint Pear Smoothie
Makes 3 cups / 700ml
Ingredients (all organic if possible):
1 avocado, flesh scooped out
1½ cups / 35g firmly packed baby spinach
1 cup / 250 ml water
2 tsp. minced ginger
1 ½ Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
10-20 mint leaves (to your taste)
1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy.
Cilantro Spinach Sweet Potato Soup
Makes 6.5 cups / 1.5 liters
Ingredients (all organic if possible):
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 medium onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
3 cups / 700ml water
2 medium-large sweet potato, scrubbed and cut into 1” cubes
1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
pinch – ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (to your taste)
2 cups / 60g cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
2 cups / 50g firmly packed baby spinach
1. Heat coconut oil in a large stockpot. Add onions and salt, stir to coat and let cook until onions have softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, stir, cook 1 minute. Add sweet potato and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 12-15 minutes.
2. Place soup contents in a blender. Blend on high until smooth, then add spinach, cilantro, lemon and cayenne. Season to taste. Serve and enjoy. Store cooled leftovers in the fridge.
I hope you all find your own reasons for trying out this simple cleanse, and that it proves to be as helpful as it is delicious! Remember to take things slow, set realistic goals for yourself and be celebrate each small victory! I truly wish you all the best for 2015 – this year is going to be the cleanest, greenest yet.
Love and light,
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Check out my interview with the gorgeous McKel over at Nutrition Stripped!