Happy New Year!
Time to start 2015 off with a healthy, cleansing start! Sunday is DAY ONE of our cleanse (our fourth year doing it) and I thought I would post some tips to show you it’s not as hard as it seems. First off, what is the cleanse? The one that we do is based off Dr. Junger’s 21-day cleanse as a way to reset your body and to notice the way certain foods may affect allergies, lethargy, weight gain/loss, inflammation and various other issues related to food. We don’t do it to lose weight AT ALL but for the way we FEEL while we are doing it and to find out if any food affects us negatively, which turns out some did. It isn’t until you eliminate and then re-introduce things back into your diet that you will really start to see how your body responds. It truly does make you feel great and is designed for people on the move who want to remain active and cleanse at the same time. People, this is not drinking lemon water for 5 days straight ;)
You can either go hardcore
or you can just focus on eliminating the foods that are known to cause the most allergies and issues
in people all over the world (the Elimination Diet), which is what I do. The main culprits are things like dairy, caffeine, nightshade plants, wheat, soy, peanuts, alcohol, sugar and red meat. I know what you are thinking, “What’s left???!!!” LOTS.
Fresh fruits (see list on link above), veggies, almond milks/nut milks, brown rice/quinoa, rice pastas, fish, chicken, beans and legumes, teas, coconut waters…the list is pretty extensive and over the past four years of doing this, we’ve gotten good at turning what seems like a negative into a positive. The key is just getting creative. I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in addition to snacks in between, so in terms of eating, I never feel deprived. And, as I like to cook, for me the fun is finding those substitutions for a craving that actually taste good!
My goal is to share some of my favorite clean recipes, snack ideas and easy ways of baking, marinating or preparing things. It may seem a little intimidating at first, but every year we do it gets easier. Especially as we’ve pretty much cut out all dairy, caffeine and definitely scaled WAY down on wheat over the past few years of doing this. Be on the lookout for some tasty recipes over the coming days.
When starting out, the first thing we do is go into our pantry and eliminate anything that doesn’t fall into the guidelines of the elimination diet. We typically just take everything out, place in large heavy-duty brown paper bags and put it in a closet til the cleanse is over. If you can’t see it, you can’t eat it! ;) If you are thinking of doing the cleanse, we suggest cleaning out your fridge the week before by eating/freezing or throwing out anything that will go bad over the 21-days. Any condiments can stay, just don’t use the non-approved ones and you’ll be fine. Once the panty and fridge are cleaned out, it’s time to hit the store. If you have a good organic market, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods near you, head there first. If not, you will still be able to go to any other grocery store and do just fine. Need some ideas of what to even buy and make with your ingredients once you pick them up? See below!
- Rice or Quinoa Noodles: Perfect with pesto sauce, shredded chicken, lemon zest, spices, fresh basil OR mix rice pasta with spinach, leeks, peas, pesto or any other veggies you like.
- Almond/Coconut Milk: We use these everyday in smoothies for breakfast or mixed in quinoa with cinnamon and nuts for a breakfast “oatmeal” without the oats!
- Fish/Chicken: Buy what you like on the approved list!
- Tuna steaks: Marinate in garlic, ginger, lemongrass, red pepper flakes, olive oil and lime juice, salt and pepper
- Mahi Mahi: Marinate in garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, basil, salt, pepper
- Cook delicate fish in parchment paper with veggies, olive oil, lemon slices, salt and pepper
- Shred rotisserie chicken into pasta dishes, add to soups with rice or beans, or top your salads
- Teas: A great one I have found in Get Clean Tea by The Republic of Tea. It is an herbal tea for detoxing and cleaning out your system. I love it. But any tea you like that is non-caffeine is great: chamomile, green teas (decaf), fruit teas, the choice is yours.
- Berries: Throw in shakes, top salads, use as snacks.
- Nuts/Almond Butter: Mix almond butter into shakes, eat almonds, walnuts and other nuts as snacks, add chopped pecans to brown rice with herbs for dinner side dish.
- Brown Rice blends: Great for a side with dinner – mix in veggies, nuts, herbs etc. to change the taste each time.
- Vegetables: Roast carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme at 425 degrees, greens for salads and sauteing (kale and spinach), add to shakes (spinach becomes tasteless), roast, saute, steam to your hearts content.
- Apples: Great as a snack, added to salads or served with some almond butter.
- Watermelon: delicious sliced, cubed or even frozen. It hits the sweet button every time.
- Rice Cakes: Top with almond butter for a crunchy snack.
Get adventurous and try this site for inspiration or ideas:
: Simply type an ingredient or idea into the search button and see what comes up or just scroll through the pages for ideas!
Once your kitchen is cleaned out and your shopping taken care of, it’s game on. Remember, just because you are eating clean, doesn’t mean you are depriving yourself. A cleanse doesn’t have to be torture. I know for many people the thought of giving up that piece of chocolate a day, glass of wine at dinner or juicy steak does not sound like their idea of a good time. Change your mindset. First, tell yourself, it’s only three weeks. Trust, me you can do it. The first week will be a little difficult especially if you are used to waking up with a hot coffee every morning (try a hot chai tea with almond milk and a hint of coconut sugar instead). Don’t worry, over that first week your body will slowly adjust and some of the hunger pangs or things you THOUGHT you couldn’t live without begin to fade away a bit.
Use your time on the cleanse to instead focus on all the things you will be adding to your diet on a daily basis…things that 80% of the time or more, don’t make it to our plate, or at least in the daily amount they should. And focus on how this new way of eating makes you feel. I’ve noticed I don’t get sick a lot anymore, especially in the winter. Maybe eliminating certain things from my diet has helped out in that department.
Think about the rewards . . . maybe some lost pounds, clearer skin, better sleep, less aches and pains, renewed energy and more to keep you going when it gets tough. It really does get so much easier after that first week and you honestly feel great by the end of it. Once it’s over, slowly incorporate things back into your diet to see if maybe you have any food allergies or issues that you weren’t aware of. Over the past two years, we’ve scaled back on the amount of wheat we eat, added almond and nut milks to our diets, cut down on the processed food and tried to incorporate new and different foods into our diets as often as we can. The clean way of eating can be a lifestyle or it can be a three-week re-charge. It’s up to you.
Wishing everyone a healthy start to the New Year!