Detox Time!

It’s that time of the year folks, it’s February. The worst month of all time. It’s nasty, brutish and short if you ask me. It’s also the time when I usually stop exercising, stop caring about doing things and just spend most of my time wishing it were spring. I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve been doing some cooking, certainly eating a lot and feel like it’s time for a detox. And who better to turn to then the macrobiotic-loving, shiny-skin toting, Mario Batali friending Gweneth Paltrow. Okay, so I don’t HATE her food and lifestyle website, GOOP. She gets a lot of flack for saying silly rich celebrity things like, “this is one of favorite cozy and affordable places to stay in Tuscany.” Sorry Gweneth, 900 euro a night is not affordable to the rest of us. I can excuse her for slight oversights like that because she does actually have great recipes, pictures and thoughts about to live a healthy and happy life. One thing she’s known for is her detox diets/fasts/cleanses. I’m not a huge fan of this sort of thing, but to be honest…if you can stick to something as strict and grueling as a detox diet even for a few days, you will not only feel great physically but also proud of yourself for sticking to something. Okay, now I sound like Gweneth so I’ll get down to the real deal. Cleansing is hard. It’s especially hard when you have a full time job and a social life and when you live in New York City where at every corner there is something trying to lure you away from your path to feeling better. But, it can be done.

You can find her whole 7 day detox plan online and by all means, have at it. But, I’m going to walk you through my version that I’ve tailored for a normal busy person with a budget. I will give Gweneth credit for a few things.

1.       Her idea to have a glass of water with lemon upon rising is brilliant. As a caffeine addict, often my first thought when I wake up is…how long till my first cup. But with this little beverage, I have to slow down, take in the morning, and enjoy the warming sensation of hot lemon without the drug-like effects of caffeine. I have a glass of lemon water before my coffee sometimes even when I’m not detoxing, it’s just a very pleasant way to wake up.

2.       When I first did this detox back in 2009 I failed after three days. I was in college and not in the right place. However, the combination of fresh pressed beet, carrot, apple juice had stuck with me and is one of the most delicious, healthy tasting substances on the planet.

3.       Carrot Ginger Dressing. Three words you need to have in your vocabulary, preferably strung together in that order. Her recipe is simple, tastes amazing and really will get you through this miserable week of hell and deprivation and in your future post-detox life is a good thing to have in your repertoire for healthy week day lunches.

So, like me, you’ve decided you want to give it a shot. First, decide the length of your detox and be realistic. I chose to start today and do it for six days because I know that I don’t have much going on this weekend and am leaving for LA on Tuesday, where there will be gorging, not detoxing. As bad as this sounds, you actually might have to cancel dinner plans…because trust me there isn’t anything on the menu you can eat. It’s only six days out of your long, happy life…make plans for next week instead. Ohh…and don’t drink…might want to revamp that Netflix queue because you’re stayin in.

Here are the guidelines with some nice polite tips thrown in:

1.       No sugar, salt, carbs, caffeine, alcohol. Stick to the meal plan EXACTLY or a close variation of it. Trust me I know life is unpredictable, but for a few days, be predictable. The basic principal is mostly vegetables during the day and some protein for dinner.

2.       Do not cheat. Once you cheat, it’s all over.

3.       Do not try and make your own juice in a juicer as Gweneth suggests. It’s expensive and annoying to clean up. Seriously, just splurge and buy it. I guarantee that if you live or work in Manhattan or Brooklyn, somewhere near you is a place that will sell you delicious, fresh squeezed vegetable and fruit juice for about 5 dollars a glass. If not, there are those horrible Odwalla alternatives…but no cheating remember.

4.       Buy lot’s of yummy herbal teas. Since you will not be eating sweets or salty things of any kind, you need something to look forward to. I rely heavily upon my 3:30 snack of pretzels or sour patch kids or potato chips on a particularly slow day, but during this detox all you have is TEA. Try to vary it: I like lemon, chamomile, peppermint and ginger. Remember, no caffeine! Drink as much tea as you want.

5.       No caffeine. Okay, that is just completely absurd. I literally cannot function without it, so I’m allowing myself Green Tea. Two cups a day and not after 3pm.

6.       Buy a bag of unsalted almonds (or better yet…those individual packs at Trader Joe’s which are only $5.00 for fifteen or something.) You are going to be hungry and almonds are very satisfying and crunchy. But don’t eat too many, Almonds contain arsenic.

7.       Plan your meals ahead (like days ahead) and do all the shopping beforehand. You don’t want to encounter the delicious things in the grocery store once you have started.

8.       You can eat meat! This is not a fast. It’s designed to make your stomach and intestines work a little harder and leave you a bit peckish…not starve you to death. You should probably stick with chicken and fish because steak doesn’t exactly scream detox and hey…have a burger to celebrate when you’re done.

Let’s get down to the meal plan. I’m going to be overly detailed, both for my own sake and for yours. At this moment, I’ve just finished day one and just begun day 2….we’ll have to wait and see if I follow through.

Day 1

7:30 am Glass of hot water with 1 Tbs lemon juice

8:00 am peppermint tea

9:00 am Veggie juice from cart with carrots, spinach, lemon, apple, kale

10:00 am Green tea

12:00pm Raw kale with Carrot Ginger Dressing and one small avocado

1:30 pm small bag of almonds

3:30 pm small box of blackberries

6:00 pm snack while making dinner: hummus and raw green beans

6:30 pm ¼ pound chicken breast, cooked with only pepper, ginger, garlic, a tiny bit of soy sauce and sesame oil. Steamed green beans.

Keep Reading for the recipes and Day 2!

Day 2

7:30 am Glass of hot water with 1 Tbs lemon juice

8:00 am peppermint tea

9:00 am Veggie juice from cart with carrots, spinach, lemon, apple, kale

10:00 am Green tea

12:00pm ¼ chicken breast with green beans (leftovers)

1:30 pm small bag of almonds

3:30 pm apple

5:00 hummus and carrots

9:30 pm cucumber avocado soup with hummus, butter lettuce and carrot ginger dressing.

Carrot Ginger Dressing

Gweneth gets all the credit for this one, but I’ve made some adjustments.

You will need:

8 baby carrots, roughly chopped
1 large shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup roasted sesame seed oil

1. Mix the carrots, shallot and ginger in the bowl of a food processor. Chop until finely ground, then slowly add the liquids. Keeps for up to a week in the fridge.

Detox Chicken

Again, the inspiration comes from Gweneth but I had to work with what I could find.

Makes 2 servings:

You will need:

3/4 lb chicken breast lightly pounded out and split into two portions

1 scallion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 Tbs ginger, 1/2 chopped, 1/2 grated

2 Tbs soy sauce

2 Tbs sesame oil

1 Tbs vinegar (rice, sherry, balsamic….really anything will work)

Method:

1. Marinate the chicken with everything, reserving 1 Tbs of sesame oil. 20 minutes will suffice, but feel free to do it overnight if you have the time.

2. Preheat over to 375. In an oven-proof skilled heat the reserved sesame oil. When the oil is hot, pour the chicken and all of it’s marinade into the pan. No not disturb the chicken for 5  minutes, then flip and cook the other side.

3. You will then transfer the skillet to the oven. The time will depend on the thickness of your chicken. Very thick = 10-15 minutes, less times if you think its done.

Detox Hummus

Makes 4 servings

You will need:

1 can chickpeas, drained (some liquid reserved)

1/4 cup sesame oil

2 Tbs italian parsley

1 garlic clove, chopped.

Method:

1. Pulse all dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor with a tiny bit of the can liquid. It will be very slow going and the food processor will appear to be working very hard. When the chickpeas are almost completely chopped, add the sesame oil and continue to blend until very creamy.

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