I love to cook and entertain, especially during the holidays. I believe in indulging friends and family with delicious food, drink and desserts. But after a couple of months of holiday parties and admittedly, overdoing it, I am ready to start the New Year with a “clean” slate. That calls for some detoxing. However, detoxing doesn’t have to mean starving yourself or adhering to a liquid diet. To cleanse the system the goal is to stimulate liver enzymes, effectively empty intestines of waste, and help the kidneys eliminate toxins that build up in your tissues, organs, and blood. It’s caring for your digestive system, and good for every part of your body. When possible, I enjoy going to a spa where meals are prepared to help detoxify, but you don’t really have to go to that length to get the benefits. There are delicious foods that help stimulate your digestive system and will make you feel healthy and new.
The first step toward an effective detox is to eliminate hard-to-digest foods such as meat, cheese, fats, soy, chocolate, sugar, and salty foods, according to Christopher Vasey, ND, author of The Naturopathic Way (Healing Arts, 2009).
Next, you’ll need to drink plenty of clear liquids and eat mostly high fiber, plant-based, organic foods to stimulate your lower intestines and prevent the absorption of new toxins. By focusing on these delicious detoxifying foods, you’ll find that you’ll feel better, have more energy and maybe even take off a little weight. In any case, it’s a great start to the New Year.
This edible flower boosts the function of the body’s filters– the liver and kidneys. It’s rich in cynarin, which stimulates the liver and gall bladder. Artichokes contain 10 grams of fiber and only 65 calories. To enjoy, steam and serve with a roasted red pepper sauce or use drained artichokes from a jar in salads and pasta sauces.
This spicy root has a distinctive flavor. It’s used to help clear mucus from the body and contains a group of cancer-fighting chemicals called glucosinolates including glucobrassicin. Chewing daikon releases an enzyme that converts the glucobrassicin into a compound that neutralizes some of the harmful effects of estrogen. Try my recipe for Daikon Radish Salad or slice for dips or on sandwiches for a crunchy texture.
High in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds also contain lots of fiber. Add flaxseeds to cereals, smoothies and baked goods. My recipe for Meatloaf with Flaxseed is meatloaf infused with Mediterranean flavors and ingredients.
I just can’t say enough about garlic! It’s a global remedy and one of the oldest medicinal foods known. An effective antibacterial, garlic encourages production of glutathione, a potent detoxifying antioxidant, which enables the liver to complete its detox function. It’s high in sulfur-containing compounds and antioxidants that protect cells from damage. It also lowers cholesterol and helps prevent blood clots. Use garlic to flavor soups, sauces, stews and stir-frys.
The powerful theaflavins in green tea make it a strong antioxidant with vigorous anti-inflammatory properties. It also supports the liver and increases detoxifying enzymes. Drinking green tea is a great way to start the day, but to get more green tea in your diet, try cooking soba, udon or ramen noodles in it. Green Tea Noodles with Edamame is a simple tasty recipe containing fiber, omega-3 and sulfur compounds to help cleanse.
Choose spinach, arugula, collards, kale and watercress for a wealth of benefits. All are alkalizing and full of chlorophyll, which can help prevent cancer. The best part is that leafy greens are so versatile! Add to sandwiches and soups or create colorful salads like my Spinach and Grapefruit Salad, which contains iron from the spinach, vitamin C, potassium and a good dose of fiber.
Long used in folk remedies, lemons balance acidity caused by excess animal protein, sugar and grains. Lemons also loosen mucus as well as having positive effects on the liver, bile and digestion. Drinking hot water with lemon will help maintain hydration and take the edge off hunger.
Rosemary helps to increase bile and eliminate toxins. It’s also a good source of carnosic acid, a compound that helps the body produce detoxifying glutathione. The wonderful pine scent adds flavor to roasted root vegetables, salad dressings and even lemon-herb water.
Seaweed is loaded with valuable minerals and trace elements that are essential for good health. They contain vitamins, amino acids, iodine, calcium and iron and are effective for detoxifying the body. As a group, sea vegetables provide effective protection against environmental pollutants. Use sea vegetables as you would herbs. They add a briny flavor to soups, stews and Asian noodle dishes. Of course you could wrap nori around lightly cooked vegetables to create your own vegetarian hand rolls.
This beautiful golden spice is one of my favorite flavors. It’s one of the most distinctive ingredients in Indian curry. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and contains antioxidants. Curcumin—the active ingredient in turmeric—increases the liver’s ability to neutralize toxic chemicals as well as boosting bile flow, reducing inflammation in the liver, and maintaining colon health. Turmeric is delicious on scrambled eggs, for flavoring rice dishes, in sauces as in Turkey in Turmeric Sauce and added to juices and smoothies. Try some in orange juice or make my Fresh Turmeric Juice for a healthy and more exotic wake-up drink.