I know that 'cleanse' can be a buzzword, so bear with me... when I talk about a seasonal cleanse, I mean a very low-key elimination diet based on cutting out foods that tend to cause inflammation or that people tend to be sensitive to, and replacing them with healthy, whole foods. I take some supplements for liver support and antioxidants. I can't speak to the juice fasts or intense cleanses that some people choose to do because I've never tried (and probably never will) do something that extreme. My fall and spring cleanses are a way to clear out any junk that has built up in my liver or digestive tract from eating processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, sugars, preservatives in pre-packaged foods, etc. Our livers work so hard... sometimes they need a break!
I learned about this type of cleanse from Dr. Deborah Epstein, a naturopath who specializes in digestive health. She recommends about 10-14 days twice per year of the elimination diet. She also makes her own rad liver cleanse supplement and herbal tea. (Disclaimer: If you have more serious digestive or health issues, this may not be for you. It's also great to get guidance from a doctor if you are thinking of trying a cleanse.)
I usually look forward to my cleanse time. For one, I have an excuse to say no to all the parties and bar-hopping I've been invited to (yes, I'm an introvert), and for two, I love actively pursuing new and delicious recipes. So many doors open up when I get away from my lazy-food lifestyle. I am usually in awe of the delicious flavors and creative foods that I can eat when I start looking for 'cleanse-friendly' food. In my normal life, I forget about coconut oil, tahini, cashew cream, mung beans, coconut milk, shredded beets, fennel, chia seeds (... OK, maybe that list doesn't sound delicious... but seriously, I'll share some delicious recipes). I even found a replacement chocolate bar recipe!
Chocolate Bar (cleanse-friendly)
Recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie.
1/4 cup carob or cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 T honey
Optional: shredded coconut, dried fruit, nuts
Mix ingredients together in a bowl, spoon into a sandwich-size ziploc baggie. Smoosh flat, and freeze until solid... doesn't take long! YUM!
The elimination diet involves cutting out the following foods: processed foods, refined grains and sugars (ie white rice), alcohol, caffeine, gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts, and factory-farmed meats. Though this may seem intimidating, there is SO MUCH flavorful and filling food that is outside of this list. There is no limit on the amount of food during a cleanse, you shouldn't feel hungry, snack as much as you want. I find that I stay fuller longer and feel more satiated when I'm eating delicious (and fibrous) cleanse food vs the processed, packaged alternatives.
This morning I started the day with delicious refrigerator oatmeal adapted from Oh She Glows.
1/3-1/2 cup organic oats (steel-cut is best)
1/2 cup organic (unsweetened) almond milk (other non-dairy milks are fine here... just look out for additives)
1 T chia seeds
1/4 t cinnamon
1-2 t honey
1/2 t vanilla extract
Toppings: fresh berries, pecans, pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, banana, or whatever strikes you
Mix all ingredients in a small mason jar or tupperware (I use a little magic bullet container). Shake. Refrigerate overnight. The next morning, adjust the milk and honey and top with toppings.
This is so delicious and satisfying! I drink a cup of green or green chai tea sweetened with honey or stevia (a little caffeine in green tea is OK because it's so full of healthy antioxidants!) and I am good to go until my mid-morning snack of bananas and almond butter :)
I'll post more recipes this week. Happy fall!