Clean Program Wrap-Up and Raw Green Soup Recipe

January 29, 2012

My 21-day Clean Program cleanse is complete, and I’m happy to report that it went great!  I lost 6.5 pounds, and over 3 inches from my waist, hips and thighs. I continued to do cardio 5 or 6 days a week, but this wasn’t the time to ramp up the exercise so the weight loss wasn’t due to more workouts. Weight loss was not the main goal, although it’s nice to be rid of that post-holiday puffy bloaty feeling that most of us end up with in January.

The main goal was to detox; to get rid of all the nasty free radicals roaming around, along with the mucus (sorry, gross) that is formed by the body to try to isolate the toxins. I feel great, as Dr. Junger promised. My achy knees are happier, I’m sleeping much better, I have better energy and mental clarity, and I feel calmer. I can’t explain it all, but it’s all documented in Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself, and everything that Dr. Junger said would happen, did happen.

The only problem is, I want to stay on this program forever! I love it. One of the things I love most about it is the Raw Green Soup I had for dinner almost every night, and am now totally addicted to. I’m still making it a couple of times a week even though the cleanse has been officially over for a week. SisMama said she would upchuck if she had to eat this, but I promise it’s delicious. It does take a slightly adventurous palate to try it for the first time, but after the first taste I think you’ll agree. It’s yummy and addictive.

I based my soup on a recipe from Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Brazier, but I tweaked the flavors quite a bit since I like a little zippety-do-dah in my food. It’s essentially spinach blended with water, avocado, lemon, protein powder and some seasonings. I know, I know, I know! It’s sounds like it would be horrible. I can’t explain it, just trust me. Here’s my version.

Raw Green Soup

1/2 large avocado (or 1 whole small one)
2 cups baby spinach, very tightly packed
3 cups water
2 tblsp hemp protein powder
1 tblsp hemp oil
2 tblsp raw unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 raw garlic clove
1/8 to 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or to taste; I use a lot)
2 tblsp fresh chives
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce to taste
Dash sea salt
Dash black pepper

Pile all ingredients into a blender and whirl around until it looks creamy and you don’t see any dark green spinach bits spinning by.

This recipe makes 2 servings. Store leftovers in a glass jar in the fridge and use the next day if possible. It doesn’t darken, but the avocado will start to take on that old guacamole taste.

Note: I use my KitchenAid blender to make this and it works like a champ.You don’t need an expensive Vitamix to pull this off. A good blender or food processor should be fine.


Detoxing with the Clean Program

January 8, 2012

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope your year has gotten off to a fabulous start!  Did you resolve to do anything differently this year? I don’t call myself a resolution maker, but I do like to take a quick look back to see what worked the previous year, and what I’d like to do better. Maybe that’s the definition of making resolutions, and I’m just kidding myself that I don’t go there?

Anyway, the main bugaboo in my life for the last few weeks has been devouring things I don’t usually eat, in addition to getting less rest, and succumbing to a lot of holiday stress. You know what that all adds up to…time to detox!

Clean ProgramI personally love a good cleanse, and have done several over the years. The detox of choice this year is the Clean Program. It’s a 21-day nutritional cleanse based on the best-selling book Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself by Dr. Alejandro Junger.

You might have heard Gwyneth Paltrow talk about this book, like I did. I’ve had the book for a while but just pulled it out on New Years Eve as I was deciding on which cleanse route to take. I know; I’m quite the party animal, right?

I’m not gonna lie; the Clean Program is not for the faint of heart. I’m wrapping up my first week, and it’s going surprisingly well, but you have to get your mojo on before you start. I absolutely believe that this program is at least 50% mental, if not more!

Here is my amateur paraphrasing of the rules:

  • Eat none of this bad stuff: dairy, eggs, soy, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, gluten, evening nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers), strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, grapes, peanuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pork, beef, veal, processed oils, etc, etc, etc. The list is long and a little daunting!
  • Have liquid meals for breakfast and dinner: soup (preferably raw to maintain the healthy enzymes), fresh juices (from allowed fruits and veggies), or smoothies.
  • Enjoy one solid meal each day at lunch. That’s right; I said ONE.
  • There must be a twelve-hour fast between dinner and breakfast.
  • Additional goodies: eat a raw garlic clove each day, take two tablespoons of olive oil before bed, brush your skin each day (exfoliation helps the toxins exit), drink a TON of water, and exercise moderately every day if you can (walking’s great). You also have to make sure you do a #2 every day (make SURE you do, even if you need some “help” with it. You know what I mean.). If the released toxins linger in your system, you could re-absorb them, and you definitely don’t want to do that!
  • If you haven’t purchased the official Clean kit ($425), you’ll need to purchase some supplements to help your body with the detox. I already had a lot of this stuff so I didn’t buy it. I’m using ground flaxseed, rice and pea protein powders, Maca, Chlorella, a powerful probiotic, Milk Thistle, PGX and Oil of Oregano.

What’s the POINT of all that and what CAN you actually eat?  Good questions!

The point is to take as much stress as you can off your body, including the work of processing a bunch of stuff that gets in the way of effective digestion and elimination. You want your body to spend that energy getting rid of the toxic garbage that causes a host of problems like fatigue, joint pain, constipation, and food cravings.

The supplements help your body to release the toxins and get them out of your system as efficiently and completely as possible. Did you know that a water or juice fast can help release toxins, but the nasty little buggers are best whisked out of your system when they can bind to (take a ride on) protein? I didn’t.

Another bit of news to me is that the olive oil helps your liver release bile, which is really helpful since your poor stressed liver is going to be working overtime to process all these toxins that are hopefully taking the fast track out of your bod.

So what can you actually EAT, you ask, for cryin’ out loud?

  • Gluten-free grains (sometimes called pseudo grains), like amaranth, teff, millet, quinoa and brown rice
  • Fruits with exceptions noted above
  • Vegetables with the exception of corn and nightshade family
  • Dairy substitutes like almond milk
  • Vegetable proteins: split peas, lentils, beans, spirulina, blue-green algae
  • Water, water, water!

As I said, the Clean Program isn’t a walk in the park. It’s serious about doing some seriously important work for your health. You’re eating pretty darn CLEAN for three weeks, and you have to be extremely motivated for better health, otherwise you’re going to be resentful and feel deprived. I was hoping to get a jump-start on losing some holiday poundage that crept up on my backside. More than that though, I wanted to get away from the sugar and salt cravings I’d given in to during the holidays, as well as getting back to only one cup of coffee a day rather than two or three. A little extra energy would be nice too.

To be fair, eating this way isn’t as hard for me as it might be for some folks since I’ve been vegetarian for over seventeen years and vegan for two years. I already do a morning smoothie and make fresh juices, and I try to eat intentionally. But even so, I still have LOTS of room for improvement. I eat too much processed stuff, too much soy, too much faux meat, too many crackers, too much caffeine, and during the holidays/bake sale time I consume too much sugar. And I can always improve on the amount of fresh veggies and fruits in my diet. Plus I’m exposed to toxins like everyone else from pesticides, exhaust fumes, smog, chemicals, stress; you name it.

So how’s the cleanse going, you ask?  The first three days I had a pretty bad headache, but surprisingly I haven’t been hungry at all, even at night when I tend to snack on crackers and nuts and whatever else I can get my tired hands on after work and a workout. I’ve definitely experienced some detox symptoms like tiredness, a mouth sore, and an inflamed/coated tongue and roof of mouth.

Some signs are good though!  I’m starting to feel clearer and strangely calm. My scale needs a new battery so I can’t quantify it, but I absolutely feel like I’ve lost some weight; probably a lot of bloaty water and maybe a pound of fat. I hope, I hope! I don’t have any cravings, even though I haven’t had a cracker or a single piece of bread in a week. Cool, huh? I feel very in control of what I eat right now, and not at the mercy of every bon bon or chip I walk by. That’s a huge improvement!

I still have fifteen more days to go, and I’m excited to see how it shakes out!  So far, I’m feeling pretty good about it and feel like I can go the distance. I’ll report back on the events of the next two weeks!

Note from BigSis added on 1-10-12: At the end of week one, I lost 4 pounds!  Yippee!  Hopefully more to come…