Why detox? And what does it mean?
It’s about cleaning up. Toxins enter your body through the air, water, conventionally produced foods, chemicals in cleaners, plastics… and the list goes on. Over time, these toxins build up in the tissues, organs, and blood faster than your natural cleansing organs (the kidneys and liver) can handle. That’s when your body benefits from an intentional boost: a detox.
This kind of cleansing program can be anything from a full-on fast to a light eating plan that includes lots of vegetables and whole grains with nutrients that help your body eliminate toxic elements. Hard-to-digest proteins, fats, and refined-flour products are minimized, and sugar is all but eliminated to give your body a break from this nutritional pitfall.
How long should a cleanse last?
People who eat a healthy, mostly plant-based diet usually cleanse for one to three days (personally, I grow a bit weak if I detox longer than that). But if your diet is less than healthy, a cleanse can be maintained with no ill effects for up to two weeks; even at its longest, it’s not harmful. When detoxing, you’ll soon find that you feel lighter and you’ll probably lose weight in the bargain; afterward, you’ll likely feel more energetic.
All the recipes here can be used at any time of day. I typically start with juices for a full day, then move to the consommé and solid food, with Detox Green Rolls as a refreshing snack any time I need an energy boost. And remember, any cleanse is temporary; before long, you’ll reintroduce foods like whole-grain breads, avocado, lean protein, olive and other oils, all worthy elements in a richly flavored and healthy diet.
Serves 6 / Chilled, these beauties make a refreshing snack. You’ll find yourself whipping them up whether you are cleansing or not! Prep tip: After detox, add some good fats with a strip of avocado in each roll. View recipe.
Serves 2 / Jam-packed with nutrients and supportive of your body’s cleanse action, this juice can prevent the fatigue that sometimes accompanies a cleanse. Apple adds just a touch of sweetness. View recipe.
Carrot, Lemon, and Wheatgrass Juice
Serves 2 / You’ll love how you feel after downing this vitamin-C-rich drink. Ingredient tip: Look for wheatgrass juice in the freezer section of a natural food store; it’s generally sold in 12-packs of 1-ounce shots. View recipe.
Daikon and Shiitake Consommé
Serves 4 / This clear, hydrating broth is a great starter course for any meal, so keep this in your repertoire even after your detox is over. Deeply cleansing and relaxing, this delicate soup keeps your body at its peak. Prep tips: You can add chile spice or cayenne to this soup to stimulate circulation and intensify your cleanse. Just a scant pinch while the soup is cooking does the trick. To make a heartier meal post-detox, add edamame, cooked brown rice, or tofu cubes. View recipe.
Green Tea-Scented Quinoa with Corn
Serves 4–6 / Quick cooking, high in protein, and loaded with flavor, quinoa will become your go-to grain, whether cleansing or not. This recipe is packed with antioxidants and nutrients to get you through your detox with strength. Prep tip: Brew the tea lightly so that it does not turn the quinoa bitter during cooking. View recipe.
Garlicky Greens with Lemon
Serves 4 / Leafy greens are high in chlorophyll, crucial for protecting the liver and ridding the body of toxins. They’re also rich in nutritious antioxidants called carotenoids. An ample dose of garlic boosts circulation and increases liver enzymes that remove toxins. Recipe by Lisa Turner. View recipe.
Carrot Salad with Sesame Seeds
Serves 2 / This fresh, simple salad is loaded with fiber to promote regular elimination; and carrots and parsley contain abundant carotenoid antioxidants. Parsley also acts as a mild diuretic to flush out toxins. Recipe by Lisa Turner. View recipe.
Christina Pirello is a natural health expert, Emmy Award–winning host of the national public television series “Christina Cooks,” and author of five cookbooks, including Cooking the Whole Foods Way (Penguin, 2007). Her nonprofit Christina Pirello Health Education Initiative (christinapirello.org) helps children improve their relationship with food through school programs and lunch reform. Visit her website at christinacooks.com