Musings from a Seattle personal chef
Archive for November, 2008
What is it about so-called “detox diets” that holds such allure for me? My rational mind says it’s all a bunch of hooey — after all, isn’t that what our spleens and livers are designed to do? — but for some reason the thought that eating certain foods can magically clean your system of every toxic substance sounds very appealing.
Some of the claims are outright absurd: drink a concoction of maple syrup, cayenne and lemon juice for 10 days straight? Puh-leaze! And don’t even get me started on the multitude of “supplements” being peddled, promising everything from detoxification to weight loss to increased sexual drive. I’m probably more turned off by the fact these are sold through multi-level marketing schemes (Amway, anyone?) than by the absurdity of their supposed health claims.
However, there’s something to be said for eating “clean.” As a marathoner I’ve become much more aware of how certain foods affect my performance. When I first started running, my long runs were an excuse to splurge on burgers, beer, fries and potato chips. No more; while I still allow myself certain indulgences, I aim for moderation.
That is, until September comes along.
I’ve written about this before — my holiday orgy that starts with the caramel apples and ends with popping champagne corks on New Year’s Eve. It happens without fail, despite my best intentions. I’m not sure which is worse: the inevitable weight gain, or the lethargy brought on by rich foods and far too much alcohol.
This year I swore I wouldn’t succumb. Sure, when I spied the Honey Crisps in the grocery store I soon was swaddling them in a gooey layer of caramel, but I thought I dodged the Halloween candy bullet. I resisted the urge to buy a bagful of candy corn, only to find a dish taunting me at one of my clients’. Since my darling and I spent All Hallow’s Eve at the Herbfarm, there was no need to buy candy to hand out to the neighborhood urchins; alas, the same client had purchased far too much and pleaded with me to take some off of their hands.
So as my 45th birthday approached, I knew I had to take some defensive action. While at my sister’s place on Vashon the weekend before I perused one of her cookbooks on whole foods cooking. It included a 10-day “detox” regimen, but this one seemed more reasonable given its reliance on “real” food, albeit in smoothie form. I knew there was no way I could follow it for 10 days (I’m in perpetual training, after all), but perhaps a couple of days’ of smoothies for breakfast and lunch, coupled with a lowfat dinner of lean protein, would be just the thing to cleanse my system of the holiday sugar.
I made my first smoothie from what I had on hand: frozen berries, vanilla soy milk and bananas. But for lunch I wanted to add some greens, so I picked up a bunch of organic kale at the market. Knowing I’d be “dining” on these for a couple of days, I decided to make a starter batch that I’d simply add to. While I’d recommend buying the freshest of ingredients, I figured this would be a great way to empty the contents of my crisper. A wilted bunch of cilantro? Why not? A couple of flaccid stalks of celery? What else am I going to do with them? A few carrot sticks? They’d provide a nice balance of sweetness. The dregs of the organic carrot juice? Ditto! They all went into the blender, along with a cup of kale, some ginger, orange juice and a handful of almonds.
I knew I’d be adding more fruit to this concoction, but I was curious to see how it tasted as is. It was quite vegetal, but not bad (the carrots and orange juice provided much-needed sweetness). The almonds were rather chunky still, but I didn’t mind the texture too much (I’ve now decided eating the almonds separately is the way to go). I Dinner that evening was herbed chicken en papillote with lemon. I continued to add to the concoction each day until it resembled swamp muck. But what tasty muck it was! My energy returned and I was thrilled to see I lost a couple of pounds to boot.
Of course, once my birthday rolled around and I started hitting the lemon drops, I was back to square 1.