So, what do I eat on my month-long clean-eating reboot? Anything I want, provided it’s free of meat (first week only), dairy, gluten (first two weeks only), sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
OK, here’s some nitty gritty.
I do a fresh green juice, or lemon juice, every morning. I do this every day, detox or not. It’s become a habit and I can notice the change in me when I don’t do it. I don’t do a fruit juice though. I keep it green to reduce the sugar-load and boost the alkalising effects. At the moment my favourite combo is cucumber, lemon, parsley, celery, ginger with a small chunk of green apple. Otherwise, the juice of half a lemon in a glass of tepid water is a great kick-start to the digestive system before I eat in the morning.
Green smoothies are amazing – again, not with much fruit, the focus is on the greens. Big handfuls of kale, spinach or silverbeet with half a banana, water, half-to-one spoonful of coconut oil, all mixed up, is a basic recipe you can use. There are a kazillion different versions you can do – the key is to make it light on the fruit and heavy on the greens for the most alkalising effect. They’re great for a mid-meal boost, or for a liquid breakfast on the run, or with lunch.
If I need a snack between meals, I go for a handful of nuts and/or seeds, a nut-ball, hummus, avo dip, an apple or other fruit, seaweed strips, olives or the good old green smoothie. Homemade crackers – this recipe is a great one – are well worth the effort to make to have with the dips or a nut butter, like cashew or almond. A plain old carrot doesn’t go astray either.
Salads are a mainstay for me – for lunch and dinner. I add in everything I can, especially foods that will aid the digestive system. So grated raw beetroot and carrot are the old favourites to add some sweetness, but I’m loving sprouts now – especially buckwheat, sunflower and radish. They’re loaded with nutrients, as are fresh herbs (coriander and parsley are especially beneficial for your liver). I use quinoa to turn a salad into a whole meal. It’s high in protein, so great for the meat-free two weeks.
If salads are my right hand, then soups are my left. I keep one made in a saucepan in the fridge and re-heat it every day for lunch. I use dashi stock and vegetables for my lunchtime version. For dinner, it’ll be lentil and veggie versions, or vegetable soup with brown rice added in.
Some soups morph into stews –again, using lots of veggies and sometimes beans and legumes will be thrown into the mix. Same for stir fries and curries – I adjusted my usual recipes, replacing meat and other ingredients with vegetable based ingredients, so I didn’t have to search for new recipes.
I use eggs to beef up salads when I feel the need, for frittatas for dinner or lunch (adding in lots of veggies), for breakfast with spinach and mushrooms sautéed in garlic, or even on their own as a snack.
I use chickpeas, cannellini beans, red kidney beans or adzuki beans in salads and soups. Lentils are incredibly versatile and a mainstay all the time here.
Tofu – it’s had a bad rap all its life, from being a hippie, tasteless food, and now for its reputation for hormone interference (because it’s a soy product). I’m OK with tofu as long as it’s organic and GMO free. It’s a fermented soy product, so a different beast to the many highly processed soy derivatives added into food-products these days.
And finally, a word on grains. Brown rice and quinoa (which is actually a seed, not a grain) are my go tos. Gluten free, wholefoods, they’re also easy to cook and include in most meals and recipes where you would use either white rice or pasta.
So there you go, that’s what I eat and how I eat it. Nothing fancy or complicated, just fresh and as natural as possible.
Next up tomorrow: Pantry must haves and extras I use; plus a less intense version for those who’d like to dip their toes before they jump in the deep end.
And on Thursday: Strategies to use when cleaning up your diet act.