A lot of my readers have been asking about post-holiday cleansing, and I’ll be honest, even I admit that a really good detox is an amazing antidote to the requisite holiday sweets and fatty foods I partook in over the past few weeks.
Though there are a lot of different types of cleanses out there (see my article: How to Detox or Cleanse the Right Way), the winter season slightly limits us when selecting the most healthful options. Though a straight up, strict juice cleanse is the most detoxifying of all cleanses, it can be a really big strain on your system this time of year. In the winter, our bodies naturally need more warm, cooked, fattier foods, which a raw juice cleanse would clearly not provide. People who embark on juice cleanses in the winter find themselves weaker, colder, and more drained of energy than they would be doing the same cleanse any other time of the year. To maximize the benefits of a winter cleanse, without the debilitating side effects, I highly recommend a modified liquid cleanse consisting of a juice or smoothie for breakfast, a blended soup for dinner, and a detoxifying, fiber-rich, vegan, allergen-free, solid food lunch. This 4 Day Cleanse is a shorter version of my signature Two Week Guided Cleanse that my clients have so much success with! Because you are eating solid foods at lunch, you’ll be getting enough energy to sustain your energy throughout the cleanse, while still cleaning out and detoxifying your system. Before we get to the recipes, here are some general guidelines for cleansing that will really enhance your experience:
- The day before you start your cleanse, avoid eating anything too rich, fatty, sweet, or salty, and finish the day off with a really light dinner (preferably something like soup or salad).
- Start every cleanse day off with a glass of hot water with lemon (real lemon! Not the store-bought, bottled kind!). This balances your body’s pH and starts to unblock your adrenals.
- Though hardcore exercise during a cleanse is definitely not recommended, you will definitely get the most detoxifying benefits if you partake in some light exercise every day while you’re cleansing. Yoga and pilates are both great, moderate forms of exercise that won’t over-exhert your system. If you opt for yoga, make sure to do a lot of twisting postures, which literally wring our your organs and aid in the detoxification process!
- Throughout the cleanse, avoid ALL toxins and allergens. This includes: meat, sugar, wheat (or any kind of gluten), dairy, soy, peanuts, coffee, any artificial colors or flavors, and processed foods of any kind. Stick to whole foods, fruit, vegetables, and gluten-free grains (for lunch). Obviously, opt for organic foods whenever possible throughout your cleanse.
- If you have a coffee addiction and experience withdrawal symptoms during your cleanse, you can drink green tea. Otherwise, opt for detoxifying herbal teas throughout the day, like dandelion tea, burdock root tea, ginger tea, or a detox tea blend like those by Yogi.
- Drink tons of warm or hot water throughout the day. This will aid in the detoxification process, and also help you feel more full between meals. If you are starting to feel hungry at any point, drink a big glass of warm water (with lemon, if you wish), and you should be fine until the next time you eat. Just remember, no snacking!
- Take it easy during your cleanse. Don’t schedule lots of activities for the days of your cleanse, beyond work and your necessary daily activities. And definitely don’t put yourself in social situations where it will be difficult for you to stick to your guns! Going to a bar or a dinner party may be best postponed until after you’re done!
- Lastly, come out of your cleanse gradually. Breaking your cleanse with a cheeseburger and a couple of beers will pretty much undo all the hard work you just did! Rather, break your fast on light foods like steamed veggies and brown rice, and add less healthful foods and drinks back into your diet gradually…if at all!
Now that you’re ready to go, check out four full days of recipes below. If you’d like to go longer, feel free to improvise (within the parameters above) and make your own recipes for the following days. Of course, if you’d like some ideas, just leave me a comment! Happy Cleansing!
Breakfast: Mixed Berry Smoothie with Green Powder
1/2 cup mixed organic, frozen berries
2 cups almond milk
2 scoops Perfect Food Raw Green Powder
1 tbsp raw, organic almond butterBlend ingredients together, enjoy with a cup of herbal tea or hot water with lemon.
1/2 cup organic carrots, cubed
1/2 cup organic celery, cubed
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 can organic chickpeas
1/2 cup diced organic red bell pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (white and light green parts)
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
A pinch of sea salt
Pepper to tasteCombine all ingredients together in a bowl, toss with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
3 organic cucumbers, peeled
1 organic lemon, peeled
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cups pure, filtered water
1/4 cup fresh, organic mint leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oilBlend everything except fresh mint together until smooth — about 3 minutes in a high-speed blender. Add mint and blend for 15 seconds. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprig of mint or dill. Serve chilled.
Recipe adapted from Whole Living.
1 1/2 cups soy-free almond milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
4 leaves organic kale or swiss chard, coarsely chopped
1/2 avocado 1 cup mango chunks (frozen or fresh)Blend together until smooth.
2 cups of brown rice, cooked
2 organic carrots, thinly shaved or sliced
1 medium head of organic broccoli, broken apart into bite-sized pieces
1/2 an organic zucchini, cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
2-3 tbsp organic, gluten-free tamariHeat grapeseed oil in a wok or large pan. Turn down to medium heat and add garlic. Add broccoli and toss, saute for 5 minutes. Add carrots, saute for another 3 minutes. Pour in rice and tamari, stir. Cook until heated through. Garnish with sprouts or scallions.
3 large tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 stalks of fennel (not the bulb), with leaves
1/2 jalapeno pepper
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup water or vegetable stock
Sea salt to tasteBlend or food process all the ingredients, add a little water if you need it for consistency. Garnish with basil or cilantro. Serve chilled, or at room temperature.
2 medium organic carrots
1/2 white cabbage
1 medium sized organic beet, washed and scrubbed
1 cup organic watercress salad
3 stalks organic celery
1 organic granny smith applePress all ingredients through a juice extractor. Stir, and drink immediately.
1 2 in. strip kombu (a seaweed found in most health food stores)
4 cups water
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 medium organic carrot, cubed
10 brussel sprouts, cut in half
Organic, gluten-free tamari, to taste
1 package thin rice noodles
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
Chili oil to taste (optional)Place the kombu in a pot with the water, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. In the meantime, cook rice noodles according to instructions. Heat grapeseed oil in a small saucepan. Add carrots and brussels sprouts, saute for 5 minutes. Remove the kombu from broth. Add carrots and brussel sprouts to broth, season with tamari. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add rice noodles. Heat 1 minute. Serve with a few drops of chili oil.
1/2 a pineapple, diced small
1 and 1/2 avocados, diced small
1/2 to 1 jalapeno chile pepper, seeds removed and chopped fine
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup coconut milk
Juice of 1 and 1/2 lime
Garnish with mintCombine all ingredients except garnish in a blender and blend. Add a little water if thinner texture is desired. Garnish with mint, and serve chilled.
Winter Dinner Alternative: Blended Butternut Squash-Apple SoupServes 2 Ingredients
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch squares
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
3 organic carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 organic apples, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3 cups purified water
A handful of fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, all work great), chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp nutmegPreheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast squash until tender, approximately 40 minutes. In the meantime, sauté the onion and garlic with a splash of olive oil in a large soup pot. When the onions are nearly translucent, add the water, 1 cup of the broth, carrots and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cover. When the squash is cooked, add it to the soup. With a hand blender, begin to blend the soup, gradually adding the remaining stock and the chopped herbs. Alternatively, you can blend the soup in a Vitamix or other high powered blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with grated nutmeg before serving.
1/4 cup raw, organic almond butter
2 cardamom pods or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups organic almond milk
1 cup organic frozen peaches or mangoes
1 to 2 teaspoons agave syrup (optional)
1/2 cup iceBlend together until smooth.
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup (3 ounces) quinoa
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 organic yellow bell pepper, ribs and seeds discarded, cut into
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish (optional)
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 medium organic zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 large organic celery stalk, diced
1 organic lime, halvedOn a heated skillet, toast almonds until crisp, lightly browned, and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Remove from stove and set aside. Meanwhile, place quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear; drain well. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add yellow pepper, garlic, scallions, and red-pepper flakes; cook until the pepper is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in quinoa, thyme, 1 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 7 minutes. Stir in zucchini, cover, and cook until quinoa is tender but not mushy, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Remove the saucepan from heat. Stir in celery, almonds, and remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, season with salt, and fluff with a fork. Eat right away or cool to room temperature before packing into two containers and refrigerating. When ready to eat, squeeze lime over salad, if desired.
Adapted from Whole Living.
2 organic green apples
2 stalks organic celery
2 leaves organic kale
2 leaves organic Swiss chard
1 small head broccoli
1/2 medium cucumber
1 lemonPress all ingredients through a juice extractor. Stir, and drink immediately.