January 15, 2012

a lesson in detox

Last year, I told you about the two week cleanse I did that felt amazing and helped me to understand how my body interacts with certain foods. If you've never done a cleanse, I highly recommend it. I'm a firm believer in the body's ability to heal itself. In order for it to do what it's supposed to do, it's important to take a temporary break from all the foods that can cause harm and irritation. It's like giving your body a vacation at the beach. It will thank you later.

After eating about twice my body weight in food when I was home for ten days in Missouri over Christmas, I was craving a little detox. The program I followed last year is called Clean, and it's a great plan - but it's very regimented and can be tough to pull off, especially if you live with someone who's not so keen on the idea of pureed raw squash "soup" for dinner. What I learned from that experience is you have to make it work for you. And doing a little bit of good for yourself is better than no good at all. I find now that if I can do little mini-cleanses (3-5 days) several times a year, not only can I shed a few pounds if I need to, but I can actually pull it off and do something nice for my insides.

This time around, I picked up a copy of the January edition of Whole Living Magazine focusing on detox. Their plan was really similar to Clean (no dairy, wheat, nightshade plants, alcohol - all the allergen-inducing foods), but it's a bit more realistic. I took advantage of Jason going out of town to do a 5 day mini-cleanse. It was totally do-able and it was the reset I needed after all the holiday excess.

This is the general idea:
- Clean smoothie for breakfast (example: 1/3 cup mango, 1/3 cup pineapple, coconut water) + green or herbal tea
- Kale slaw for lunch
- Spiced butternut squash soup for dinner
- Snacks throughout the day, like dried mango, apples, and avocados.

I discovered some new recipes in the process that I could eat anytime, not just when I'm trying to be super healthy. Who knew raw kale slaw could be so delicious? I sliced it thinly and mixed it with red cabbage and a bunch of other herbs, and doused it in a vinaigrette. I used chopped roasted almonds instead of the seeds. 

My favorite new recipe is spiced butternut squash soup. In the winter, I need something warm for dinner, but the fact that it's blended still gives your digestive tract a break while you sleep. It's super easy to make (especially if you own an immersion blender), thick, spicy, and very comforting.

spiced butternut squash soup 
adapted from a recipe by Whole Living Magazine; makes about 6 servings
This soup is seriously good, and it has a secret ingredient: apple. You'll need either an immersion blender (much easier option) or a blender to puree all the veggies at the end. 

2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T fresh ginger, grated or minced
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cardamom
pinch of ground cloves
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tart apple, peeled and chopped
1 whole medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
3-4 cups of water
salt + pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat; add the onion and garlic and cook until tender (6-8 minutes). Add the fresh ginger and all the spices and cook for about 1 minute. Add all the veggies, water, salt, and pepper. Cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat, let cool for a few minutes, and then carefully use an immersion blender to puree the soup. If you don't have a hand-held blender, a traditional one will do; just blend the soup in batches and return it to the pot.


  1. I'm going to have to make this Butternut Squash Soup recipe. I have a good one too but I like the apple! Also, I need that Kale Slaw recipe, Kale has been my main squeeze lately!

  2. the kale slaw is soooo good. here's the recipe: http://www.wholeliving.com/151383/kale-slaw-carrots-and-peppers.

  3. I've stolen the kale recipe as well- minus the onions.

  4. hey meagan! i saw this post on FB awhile back and meant to stop by sooner... but anywho, we're green smoothie drinkin peeps here too so i thought i'd check to see if you had any recipes. i can't wait to try out the kale slaw and butternut squash soup. thanks for sharing, hope you're loving life in san fran!

  5. hi jamie! the recipe for the green smoothie in the photo is here: http://www.wholeliving.com/151382/green-machine-smoothie. one of my favorite is 1 cup frozen mango, 2 cups rinsed, raw kale, 1 T almond butter, 1 T honey, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and enough almond milk to blend until smooth.