Vegetable Cleanses

[This is the second post in a series. Check out the introduction post on cleansing diets here.]

Now let’s take a look at some specific cleanses. These are all cleanses I have tried, or a close family member has tried, so what I share is just my personal opinion and experience, is not medical advice, and should in no way replace the recommendation of your trusted physician.

Vegetable and/or Fruit only Cleanses, including:

  • Vegetable juicing: using a juicing appliance to extract the juice from vegetables and fruits. A great deal of vegetable nutrients can be consumed in a small amount of juice, however the tendency to use sweet veggies and fruits (i.e. carrots and apples) can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes and exacerbate candida overgrowth.
  • Raw Vegetables: mainly a raw vegetable  cleanse, can include raw juices. Some people eat “raw” as a lifestyle, and often include nuts and raw dairy, which are often avoided for a cleanse. The idea is to benefit from the live enzymes in the raw veggies, which help to break them down. However, raw vegetables can still be difficult to digest in persons without sufficient supply of enzymes for breaking down fiber and other plant carbohydrates.
  • Vegetable soup cleanses: another variation on vegetable cleanses. More vegetables can be consumed than in a raw cleanse, but enzymes are destroyed in cooking. More fiber than a juice cleanse.
  • Grape cleanse: when only grapes and water are eaten. The high sugar content may exacerbate candida or other fungal overgrowth.
  • Seneca Indian 4 day cleanse: a combination of all the above: day 1 raw fruit only but no bananas, day 2 herbal teas with maple syrup only, day 3 vegetables of all kinds: juice, raw or in soup, day 4 rich vegetable broth only.

Unless you are using organic vegetables, you can forget it as a detox. Other than the detox properties of the cleanse (with organic only), vegetable cleanses seem to focus cleansing on the colon. Since this organ stores and then moves waste out of the body, it would seem a logical organ needing a periodic cleaning. A few days to a week has been more than sufficient in my experience, however every body is different. Note that “cleaning out the colon” does not mean that flora imbalances are corrected: if you have overgrowth of Candida (fungal) or harmful bacteria, this kind of cleanse will not correct that (you will likely need a combination of herbal and/or pharmaceutical medicines and probiotic supplements supervised by a doctor, with follow-up testing to confirm efficacy). Vegetable cleanses are excellent for breaking food cravings.

Cleansing and/or detoxing while pregnant and breastfeeding is not recommended, since toxins will be mobilized and could harm a baby in the womb or at the breast. This can be very frustrating for women in the middle of childbearing years, especially when they plan to nurse beyond a year with each baby, and find breastfeeding and pregnancies come back to back. I have been told by a Midwife whom I trust that the only “cleansing diet” she recommends to her moms is a raw vegetable/salads with lemon diet for one week while nursing (not pregnant). However, this should only be done after the milk supply is well established (perhaps after 6 mo. postpartum of full-time nursing). I did try this with my first baby, but had a hard time feeling satiated/getting enough calories, so I gave it up after 2 days.

There is no doubt: vegetables are good for us. However, I do not advocate vegan or vegetarian diets as healthy: they just haven’t held up to science or to my own experience. And don’t think that only vegetables help us detox; meat protein contains many amino acids not found in veggies . . . amino acids which detox certain kinds of chemicals accumulated or manufactured in our bodies. So (as I state in the intro post on this topic) the best cleanse is a long-term clean balanced diet.

Your body is detoxing every single day, whether you are on a special diet or not! Another way to approach the long-term detox lifestyle is to purposefully include more of the detox powerhouses into your diet:

Foods that enhance liver detox:

  • asparagus
  • grapefruit
  • artichokes
  • all dark leafy greens: kale, spinach, romaine, chard
  • onions
  • garlic
  • olive oil

Foods that enhance kidney detox:

  • cranberry
  • lemon
  • water, water, water (only purified)
  • cucumber

While systematically removing detox blockers from your everyday diet:

  • any kind of heated vegetable oil, such as found in fried chips, baked chips, french fries, box cookies
  • refined sugar
  • conventional dairy

Up next: some fasts and more specific cleanses.

Soup and Scones Weather

Mmm…raindrops on the window, and soup on the stove. Fall is so cozy.

The secret to really rich soup? Sautee the veggies long and low in butter, onions first. The carmelization of the sugars in the veggies will give the broth wonderful flavor when you add the stock and/or water.

I love biscuits with soup, and have a fabulous gluten free recipe which I’ve developed. I make them as scones, since it’s faster/easier/cleaner than rolling them out.

Here’s the GF Biscuit-Scone recipe:

In food processor, with blade add:
2 cups My GF All Purpose Flour -scooped, not sifted (equal parts sorgum, brown rice, and tapioca flours)
1 TB baking powder
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Whir together, then add:
7 TBS cold butter, cut into pieces

Whir to cut butter into flour, then add:
1 egg
1 cup plain yogurt or kefir

Whir until combined, should resemble wet biscuit dough.

Turn out as a solid lump onto a baking stone, or a grease cookie sheet. Press into a circle, about 9 inches in diameter. Using a butter knife, cut the dough like a pizza into 8 equal wedges. This scoring will allow the biscuits to be divided after baking.

Bake 22-25 minutes at 350.

Serve hot with good butter, jam or honey.

French Onion Soup

Mmm . . . what could be more comforting on a dreary winter evening than a bowl of cheese-encrusted French Onion Soup? Made with a base of homemade Beef Bone Broth, it’s also a immune boosting, gut healing, blood and bone building elixir. The addition of steak is optional: I landed on it as a great way to use day-old steak, and my husband loves finding hearty meat in his soup!

4-5 yellow onions, sliced
3-4 shallots, sliced (if unavailable, use an additional onion)
5 T. butter
1 quart strong beef bone broth, tallow removed
2-4 cups water
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 bay leaves
day-old steak, sliced thinly against grain, or shredded roast (optional)
1-4 tsp. unrefined sea salt (see note)
crusty bread for topping, artisan soudough or french bread is good
sliced cheese for melting, such as Havarti, Jack, or Gouda

Melt butter in a large heavy enameled dutch oven. Add sliced onions and shallots, stirring to coat with the butter. Cook uncovered over Medium-High heat for 15 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes with a wooden spoon, or until onions have turned a dark brown as they caramelize. Cover and cook another 25 minutes on Medium-Low, stirring occasionally. Onions will shrink during cooking.

Add broth, water, thyme, bay leaves, pepper, meat if desired, and half of salt. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves, and add salt to taste (see note). This soup has a lot of sweetness from the carmelized onions, so I like it best when I’ve salted just enough for my tongue to tell me “savory” rather than “sweet/bland”. (Since the homemade broth isn’t pre-salted, you may be surprised by the amount of salt it will need.) I can not overemphasize salting correctly, as this brings out the delicate onion/shallot flavor, bringing it from frumpy to fabulous.

Set oven to Broil. Toast bread, unless it is the ends, then slice into 1 inch strips. Ladle soup into oven-proof bowls, and top with toast slices, then top with sliced cheese. Place bowls on top rack of oven and leave door open slightly so you can watch them; they are ready when cheese melts and bubbles, with light brown edges.

Serve straight from the oven to the table; warn your family of the hot bows and set potholders at each spot to protect your table top.

Note: different salts have differing amounts of saltiness. Unrefined salt (usually grey, red, or another color because of the minerals still in it) is less salty than refined salt, which has additives (including aluminum -yuck!) for dryness and easy pouring which give it a harsh or bitter flavor and dextrose sugar to cover this flavor. Unrefined salt is the better choice, but you will need to adjust the amount you add according to taste. If the salt you use is the moist coarse kind (such as the wonderful Course Sea Salt from Trader Joes), wait a few minutes after adding salt to the soup pot before tasting. Since it has large salt crystals, it takes a little longer for it to dissolve; it would be easy to oversalt it in haste.

Beef or Game Broth

Each year, we invest in a quarter of beef from a local ranch which humanely raises cattle on a grainless diet (grass fed). The butcher offers the bones to us, and I always say yes, as these “discards” are my little nutrient goldmine! The bones, all shank or knuckle/joint bones, are cut into 2-5 inch lengths and bundled in bags.

Maybe you’ve had similar bones in your freezer, and you’ve wondered what on earth to do with them. Here’s what you do:

Place one large, or two small, beef bones into a large crock pot. Fill with enough purified water to cover bones by 1 inch (3-5 qts?). Add 2 Tb. red wine (vinegar can be used, but I find that it fights the beef flavor); this acidifies the water and causes more leaching of minerals from the bones.

Turn the crock pot on high. After an hour or two, when you notice that the water has heated thoroughly, turn down the crock pot to low, and let slow cook for 24-48 hours. If you see skum form on the top of the broth during cooking, carefully skim away and discard. If the marrow of the bone is exposed from the bone cut, you will notice after a day that it has become soft. Scoop it from the bone, mash into the broth, and continue to cook it down.

When the broth is finished, you should notice that the bones have seemed to shrink slightly in size, and that they appear quite porous as so much of their minerals have been leached into the broth. Remove bones with a slotted spoon, and discard. Place a sieve over a funnel fitted into a quart size glass canning jar. Ladle broth through sieve into jar, leaving about 1.5 inches at the top. Continue to fill additional jars until all broth is stored; cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, you will notice a hardened white layer at the top in each jar; this is fat, and may be removed with a spoon and discarded. As you remove it, you’ll notice that the broth under it is actually Jello-like in consistency. This is caused by the minerals and gelatin which are suspended in water.

Freeze all the jars of broth which you will not use within the next 2 days. Defrost in the refrigerator 1 day prior to use.

Beef broth is the basis for beef flavored soups, including my favorite, French Onion Soup, and can be used for sauces, glazes, and gravies.