Sunday, July 14, 2013

Herbal Cleanse

Have you ever done a cleanse? It's not just for spiritual gurus. It's a way to give your body a bit of a break and rid itself of toxins that store up over time, making you feel tired, cranky and generally lethargic. When I first starting looking into doing a cleanse, I found lots of info on the internet - and some of it was downright kooky. There was the ever popular juice cleanse or one where you drank water, lemon juice & cayenne pepper. Give me a break. I wouldn't last a day on that. I need to eat! If I don't get nourishment, I get extremely fatigued, and get terrible headaches. My search continued throughout stores in my city. There were some crazy Jillian Michaels chemical concoctions I saw, but that wasn't what I was looking for either. Then, in the health food section of my local Fortino's, I happened to see an herbal detoxification kit that included a diet plan with lists of foods to eat and ones to stay away from. Upon further investigation, this sounded like what I'd been looking for. And, to make it even better, it's a Canadian product!

So this is what you get in the box - drops to put in your water that are to help with cleansing of the urinary tract, and three bottles of herbal supplements that you take twice a day with meals. One is a natural laxative and since ridding the body of toxins is the focus of a detox, where do you think they're going to go? Not that I want to talk poop, but it is part of the cleanse. I found these very mild, but they did help to keep things easy and regular. Another one of the supplements is to help cleanse the bloodstream and the third helps the liver and gallbladder.  

The list of "can't haves" was a bit daunting at first. I was thinking "What have I gotten myself into?"  My no-no foods - dairy of course, flour products - that means bread of any kind, pasta, processed cereal, all fermented foods because yeast is a major ingredient in these foods and we're trying rid the body of excess yeast. No fermented foods means more than just sauerkraut my friend. Try vinegars, soy sauce, black tea, miso and certainly no alcohol. In avoiding yeast that also means not eating foods that have naturally-occurring yeasts or molds that appear on their skins. Things like peanuts (and peanut butter), mushrooms (no loss there - blech), grapes, oranges or grapefruits. Also, no sugar or sweetener of any kind or dried fruit because that's what yeast thrives on.  So then that also leaves out tropical kinds of fruits because they are much sweeter. "Domestic" fruits are acceptable, but not too much. 

Still with me. Yea...what the heck am I going to eat? Coffee is allowed, but black, and herbal teas or green teas are allowed. One thing I did learn - black and green tea come from the same plant, but black tea goes through a fermentation process and green tea does not. Because of the fermentation, black tea is off the list. Bye-bye Chai! Even though oranges and grapefruits are out, lemons and limes are in. Thank you! The booklet gives a list of protein foods, starch foods and neutral foods and recommendations of what to eat lots of and what to eat in moderation. 

So....I did this cleanse back in the fall and after the first few days, I started to feel great. I had more energy, I was sleeping better and as an added bonus, I even lost a few pounds. I tried to keep eating well, but then I had some tragedy in my life and eating properly wasn't really on the top of my list of priorities. I indulged in "comfort eating", then sort of went right off the rails and after a while I started feeling all crappy again. So I decided it was time for another cleanse. Jim's doing it with me this time to see if it helps to ease the pain of his arthritis and increase his energy level. 

When I started this I didn't bother taking pictures of what I was making and eating. I didn't figure anyone would be interested, but it turns out some of my friends are interested. Some of what I'm eating is bland and kind of boring and nothing that's really picture worthy. For breakfast I'll have eggs and rice cakes with nut butter or Bob's Red Mill 5-Grain Cereal that I add cinnamon to and grate in some apple before cooking. Sometimes I'll throw in a handful of blueberries. Add an apple, a peach or some berries and my day begins. 
I did make a stew that we had for a couple of meals. It was adapted from this recipe, but I added a bit to make it more filling and satisfying. Sadly, I didn't take a picture but there are pictures of the original dish if you click the link for the recipe. 

Chickpea, Quinoa, and Tomato Stew
adapted from The Vegan Chickpea

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red or yellow pepper, cut into small chunks
½ tsp. dried sage
2-3 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
½ tsp. salt (see note below)
freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups vegetable broth *
½ cup dry quinoa, well rinsed 
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved
1 (19-oz) can chickpea, drained and rinsed
1-1½ cups fresh or frozen green peas
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan. Saut­√© onion and carrots until onion has started to soften. Add garlic and red pepper and saut√© until fragrant, about 3 or 4 minutes.  Add the herbs, salt & pepper and stir for a few seconds, then add vegetable broth and reserved tomato juice and bring to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 20 minutes.  Add in tomatoes and chickpeas, cover again and simmer for approx. 15 minutes. Add peas and cook for an additional 5 minutes. If necessary, season with more salt and pepper to taste. 

Serves 6 

* Vegetable broth (and bouillon cubes) can contain yeast and/or sweeteners of some kind. On this cleanse neither is allowed. I was able to find a few options though. Imagine makes one as does Pacific, which it the brand I buy. I also will use bouillion cubes. The only one I could find that was yeast free was made by Go Bio. It's got a pretty good flavour and I actually prefer it to regular bouillon cubes. 

Note: If you do go with the cubes option, you may not need to add the salt. The first ingredient listed on almost all bouillon cubes is salt. I would leave out the salt and adjust, if needed, at the end of the cooking time.  Or let you're hungry eaters salt themselves. 

** If you want more information about the detox program, you can find it at Wild Rose D-Tox.

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