The fruit-n-veggie “cleanse” experiment
For three days, my Instagram feed, typically resplendent with photos of meat-centric entrees, turned very green. My husband and I — to help kick off his I-rolled-my-ankle-now-back-to-the-gym “diet” — decided to try just veggies and fruits for a few days. Originally, we thought we might last a week. We didn’t do a lot of research, which is odd for me, but mostly had just talked to enough people who thought it was a good idea, people who regularly worked veggie smoothies or juicing into their diets to tap into those elusive micronutrients.
We’d seen the movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead a while back and had always been curious. In the movie, the host Joe loses 100 pounds by juicing for 60 days, and he recruits a morbidly obese truck driver, Phil, to do the same. We weren’t actually trying to lose weight on our kick, but just to kick off a new “lifestyle tweak” with a foundation of fibrous fruits & vegetables.
Oh, and I was keen on trying out my new kitchen toys, a hand blender with a half-dozen attachments, including one that proved just right for making smoothies. We decided not to run out and buy a juicer, or even borrow one from the many people we found who have one they don’t use. We wanted the fiber, too (or we thought we did) and smoothies just sounded easier. Not wanting to miss out on the healthy fats that are vital to, well, functioning, we added in chia and flax seeds… and avocados (usually in the form of guacamole, which is not bad on carrots!)
In the mornings, we’d have a massive smoothie (recipe below) and I’d save half of it for a post-workout snack. I also kept having my black coffee in the mornings (basically, I don’t do well with diet restrictions — and I don’t do well without my coffee.) My husband was far more strict than I was, having juice for lunch as well. I’d usually do a salad of some sort or a pea soup. And at dinner, we’d both forsake the raw veggies and cook something to sink our teeth into. Roast cauliflower and carrots with a side of wilted greens or roast turnips, leeks and other wintry goodies. One night, we cheated a bit and roasted sweet potato chips to dip in our guacamole. Sweet potatoes are a vegetable, right?
I wanted to be able to keep working out and teaching my fitness classes, but it was a lot harder than I expected on this stint. I had gobs of energy the second day, but by my 9:30 a.m. class on day three — with a belly full of smoothie and little else — I wanted to pass out. I’ve been told this is pretty typical of any sort of fast or cleanse, that day three is the killer. I know we could have pushed through, but the eggs in our fridge started calling our name. So we listened, and eased back into eggs and lean proteins for the rest of the week. (Then my birthday hit and we splurged all weekend, from fried chicken and waffles to poppyseed fritters.)
Longterm, we’re hoping to really scale back on our dairy intake and any processed grains. I know my stomach feels far better without both. We’ve been having veggie-and-fruit smoothies every morning instead of a side of toast with our eggs. And lots more sides and meals that look like this:
So what’s your veggie story? Anyone jumped in with a full raw or juicing diet? What did you find to be the benefit of either a cleanse or working juicing in longterm? And, has anyone gotten a killer cold on the tail end of such a diet (because that’s exactly what happened to us)?
Here’s a quick recipe for the smoothie we now make most mornings, with a hand blender and a pitcher…
Morning Glory Smoothie
Approx. 4 servings.
- One pear, seeds removed, cut in chunks.
- One orange, segmented.
- Half a banana, can be frozen for a chilled effect.
- A quarter head of kale, stems removed and torn in pieces. (about 2 cups total)
- Two big handfuls of baby or regular spinach.
- One cup of apple juice.
- As much filtered water as is needed to immerse blender.
- 2 tsp of chia seeds
- 2 tsp of flax seeds
Pile ingredients into blender and smoothie it up. You can add as you go with a less powerful blender. I like the chewiness of the kale and flax seeds, which our blender doesn’t disintegrate like a Vitamix would, but my husband wasn’t a fan. Play around with different fruits and flavors, but the greens are the key. Try it instead of your breakfast carb or as a mid-morning snack.
Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day. Cheers to being healthy for those you love!