Tag Archives: Detox Journal

Digestion Holiday 2012

. . . I can see it now, my stomach, large and small intestines, chillin’ somewhere on a Thai beach, with very little to do but drink up shakes and juice concoctions . . . .

It’s detox time again!  After coming back from India, not only was  my belly was in a questionable state, I also seemed to have a persistent (and rather unsightly) skin issue goin’ on in the jawline area.  From what I’ve read, this can be pretty common, coming back from developing nations where who knows what’s lurking in the water and food.

It’s been over a year since the last “digestion holiday” in Abu Dhabi . . . time to give all those bits that make gustatory enjoyment possible a little rest – and clear out whatever India nasty is lurking in there . . .

Already 9 days into the 14-day stint, I have a few choice recipes to share, whether you’re detoxing or not.  If you read the previous posts, you might recall we’re working with a relatively limited selection of foods for the palette.  But limitation breeds creativity!  I’ve kept it simple, due to time constraints, and always being running from one class to another, but hopefully there’ll be a gem in there you might want to recreate at home.

If you have any suggestions, feel free to add them in the comments.  I still have 5 days to go (not that I’m counting … sweet Godiva! ;))

Lawd Have Mercay Taro!

  • Taro (mouth-watering purple root found in most tropical climates.  The best starch – ever.)
  • Southern greens
  • Garlic
  • Chilli pepper
  • Crushed nuts of your choice
  • Nut oil for drizzling
  • Optional: Oregano, cumin

Boil the taro with the skins already removed.  In a separate pan, cook the southern greens on low with garlic, chilli and your choice of oregano, cumin or both.  Drain both thoroughly when done.  Once they’ve cooled a bit, combine the ingredients, sprinkling your choice of ground nuts and a drizzling of oil on top.  Mmmhmmm…!

 

Salad a la Summer

  • 1 bag of arugula (rocket, if you’re British)
  • 1 orange, peeled, fruity bits removed from white bits
  • 1 fig, raw, sliced
  • 1 fig, dried, sliced
  • Fennel (preparation directions here)
  • A handful of crushed walnuts
  • Dressing: Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup (chives & garlic optional)

Toss ‘n serve – a flavah sensation.

Kerala Plantains

  • 1 plantain, sliced thin
  • Agave nectar (or something sweet and unrefined)
  • Garam masala

Massage the sweet of choice into your plantains and put them on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle garam masala on top to taste and place under the broiler for 20 min or until they reach your preferred crispiness.  This recipe calls for no oil because it’s a detox version, but if you’d like to cook it in coconut oil or some other oil of choice, that’s also a nice/naughty option!

Salad for the Homesick

  • Fresh green mix (Waimanalo if you’ve got ‘em!)
  • ½ of a super juicy ripe mango, preferably from Hawaii
  • Garden/farm-grown cherry tomatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 peeled cucumber
  • Black sesame seeds

After peeling the carrot and cucumber, use the peeler to shave them down into a pile of long thin pieces.  Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, and the mango into cubes.  On a bed of greens, layer each ingredient, saving the sesame seeds for last.  As a dressing, I used a ginger-molasses-apple cider vinegar-sesame oil-olive oil mix.  Beauty in simplicity.

 

Ginger Shnap

  • Almond milk, unsweetened
  • One ripe banana
  • ¼ avocado
  • Molasses to taste
  • Finely shredded fresh ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Optional: 1 tsp of coconut oil

Throw it all together in a blender and, voila!  Super healthy cookie-like deliciousness.  I also added a few ice cubes because it was a pretty hot day and this is a warming drink with all the ginger and spice.  A shake to savor, but it’s damn hard not to guzzle down.

Decadent Fruit Salad

  • Strawberries, quartered
  • Raspberries
  • Avocado (either slivered or whipped in a blender to make a pudding)
  • Figs, slivered
  • Walnuts
  • A smidge of raw honey

And yes, that is Richard Simmons in the main photograph!  Fabulous!

That’s all for now!  I’m off to nibble on some kabocha steamed in the micro.  No recipe required, just kabocha, cubed and amazing. :oP

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Sattva & Renunciation in Cleansing

So the cleanse is over <insert satisfied grin here> and with closure comes perspective!

Cleanse schedule - it's been through some times!

I can’t help but think about how dietary cleansing fits into the big picture.  Clearly, there is a complex mind-body connection, but does food play an integral role in a spiritual life?

Fasting is a typical practice in Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Judaism, Baha’i Faith and Sikhism.  Before I left the UAE, colleagues were preparing for Ramadan, 30 days of fasting from sunrise to sunset with no water, by fasting twice a week.  Not an easy practice through the hot summer days.  Nothing is to pass the lips of the devout, not even a kiss.

To abstain from some or all food and drink for certain periods of time in the name of appreciation for the Divine is as old as the faiths themselves.

Even if you’re not a particularly religious or spiritual person, there are obvious physical and psychological benefits to fasting from some (or all) foods for a certain amount of time – in the safest conditions, of course.

As far as the fasting-spirit connection goes, I’d think logically, if you believe in a Divine or a spirit, if it’s good for the mind-body, then it must be good for the soul.  They’re all part of the same continuum.

A contemplative end to my detox - Abu Dhabi sandstorm brewing in the distance. Cheesy, I know.

For me, all acts in life are, in as much as I am able to be consciously be aware, ideally executed as an offering to something greater than myself.  In this way, each act is also a means for personal growth – acting with awareness ain’t always easy!  If something is to be done with consideration, sensitivity, kindness and grace, laziness is hardly an option.  But as anyone who knows me will attest, that’s more of a goal than a reality most moments!

There’s a part of me that finds comfort and joy in paying homage to the Divine – and if such a thing exists it must be ever-present both within and around me.  Sometimes, I see the Divine simply as a concept, a human construct of sorts, to try and better understand the Universe, in all its beauty, its sometimes confounding sense of “fair,” and of course, the ever-dangerous question “why?”

But this is the subject of another blog/rant!  Back to the cleanse . . .

The oft overused statement “Your body is a temple,” as much as it may initially connote conceit to some, can be very valuable as an approach to nutrition.

If you met God, would you offer her a twinkie?

A Yogic Diet

According to traditional yogic nutrition guidelines, yogis are to consume only “sattvic” foods, that is, foods that provide healthful energy and lead to a balanced state of clarity.  Sattva is one of three kinds of “gunas,” or tendencies of nature; the other two are “rajas,” and “tamas.”

Rajasic foods are those that over stimulate the body or mind, like coffee and tea, eggs, garlic, onion, meat, fish and chocolate, as well as most processed food.  Where there’s an active lifestyle, it may not be detrimental to one’s peace of mind to consume such foods, though it should be done in moderation.

The chocolate section in the Frankfurt Airport convenience store - rajas galore.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the tastiness of this group (except for meats), so abstaining can be tough.  It’s easy to give up garlic and chocolate when it’s not available, if you’re in an ashram or a spa.  But in everyday life, it ain’t so easy!

After the two-week cleanse, I took my first bite of chocolate – a dark blend from Lindt with whole roasted hazelnuts.

Chocolate. Manifestation of the Divine? As close as we'll probably ever get ;o)

I had a quarter of a bar – followed by such an extreme reaction, I’m a little scared to nibble again!  Dizziness, inability to write, and a full body high I’d not experienced for a long time!   Whew, somebody pass me some water . . .

On the opposite end of the spectrum are tamasic foods, those inducing a heaviness of the body or a dullness of the mind.  This would include alcohol, leftovers, and overripe or spoiled foods.

Sattvic foods include all fruits and vegetables, which is perfect for this cleanse, as well as nuts, whole grains, legumes and dairy.  Generally, if it’s fresh, agreeable and nutritious, you’re in the sattva zone!

Traditional Egyptian fare - 100% sattvic.

So my cleanse has certainly fallen under the category of “sattvic.”  And with a few exceptions, and the occasional boogie juice, I generally eat a sattvic diet on a daily basis.  Eliminating dairy, grains, legumes, and most nuts on this cleanse was the big change – and this is where “renunciation” came into play.

It is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built upon a renunciation of instinct.
Sigmund Freud

Renouncers in yoga are called “sannyasins,” practitioners of the “casting down” or “laying aside” of all worldly concerns and attachments.  It’s an attitude to life at the margins of Indian society, acceptable in the post-householder final stage of life, after children have left and the material world becomes less of a necessity.

Much to the dismay of Hindu authorities, the practice is often adopted by younger practitioners, leading to abandoned families and fields, as well as kingdoms of the past.

An early-stage former-sannyasin . . . now married to a German lady!

There are two ways to approach renunciation: followers of a Mythic tradition would leave everything behind without any concern for the future, while the Tantric, Sahajayana and Integral schools allow for a metaphorical renunciation as an inner, or mental act.  The practitioner lets go of all attachments of the mind, including the ego, but is free to remain a householder.  (Feuerstein, 2008)

Some would say the cleanse isn’t “renunciation,” as defined from a traditionally yogic point of view.  I didn’t leave everything behind to eventually become a wandering sannyasin.

Sill, I have adopted, over the years, an attitude to life, which is healthily detached from many things – availability (or lack thereof this year!) of particular foods, the absence of a kitchen, or with whom I share my meals.

I’m happy to eat with people or alone whatever is available and not torture myself by thinking about what meals I could be having instead.  In a social situation, I sometimes fall into the old habit of fanaticizing about meals I’d like to cook, share or munch.  But that’s more a means of relating than actual attachment to the food.

Oh, creme brulee. I don't technically need you. But I do appreicate when you're around!

Fact is, I’ll never stop being a foodie and find endless delight in the art of cooking!

It’s a Wrap

Day to day, I’m clearly more of a renouncer of the metaphorical bend.  And that’s all good.

Both approaches have seen praise and criticism, but Krishna, in the Baghvad Gita, makes a much stronger case for the metaphorical approach.  Mere abandonment indicates a practitioner still thinks the senses abide in the sense objects.  That by eliminating them, she is somehow eliminating the act, and therefore the desires themselves.

But the practitioner who continues to act, and simply assigns all actions to the Absolute ,“is not defiled by sin, just as a lotus leaf is not stained by the water.”

In that case, I think I’ll just have me some ice cream, and do it in the name of the Lawd! 😉

Recipe: Vegan Custard Tropicana

Turning limitation into inspiration, this is the fifth in a series of recipes born of a 14-day cleanse. Living in a hotel, with no kitchen appliances save a kettle, a borrowed blender and a knife, in the middle of the Western Region deserts in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, where grocery shopping leaves much to be desired. And yet, we’ve come up with some pretty tasty treats!

Rich, creamy, and free from animal products – a true detoxer’s delight.

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 mango
  • 1 banana
  • coconut oil or milk
  • optional: vanilla extract, almond milk
Miss Vivienne diggin' on the custard!

Steps

Throw all ingredients into the blender and . . . blend!  For a chunky dessert, take it easy on the blend time; alternatively, add some almond milk for a silkier style.

FYI: Cleansing Food Guidelines

Yoga Psych & Cleansing

Shakes n’ pills n’ veggies, oh my! How, if at all, does dietary cleansing relate to yoga, a practice traditionally concerned with the ultimate goal of Realization? Enhanced focus, fine-tuned internal awareness, the sattvic preference, and a touch of renunciation all play important roles in both yoga and cleansing.

In yogic psychology, there are five conceptual layers of self.  Looking at my detox from that perspective . . .

Annamaya Kosha – the Physical Layer of Self

Translated directly as the “sheath of food,” the annamaya kosha is the outermost layer of the Self. This is the first theoretical layer, though direct translations of the terms “maya” (appearance) and “kosha” (sheath) reveal the underlying Vedantic idea that even these five layers of self are illusory. In this vein of thought, although the koshas are important for self-examination, the true self is ultimately formless consciousness-bliss.

You’d think the physical aspect of cleansing would be the most important, and even the most dominant, in terms of results, right?

Well, to start, the cleanse resulted in a huge increase in the number of “number 2s” in my day! All the herbs and psylium husk we ingest made sure of that. But it wasn’t until Day 9 when I started to see visible changes in the gross body. My torso shrank a wee bit, making the jeans -wiggle a thing of the past! The skin on my face almost totally cleared up, though I’m still having sensitivity reactions to the desalinated water up in here. In fact, my face in general looks noticeably more slender, especially in my chin and neck. And as a sweet little cherry on top, my asana practice has benefitted big time.

An advanced asana video I frequently use while living abroad felt just a hint more physically strenuous, one hour into the practice, but I found I was able to hold the most challenging postures for longer periods of time. Twists, likely thanks to the shrunken torso, are deeper than just a week ago, which has the exponential benefit of a more intense massage on the liver and kidneys – detox galore!

Pranamaya Kosha – the Energetic Layer of Self

At the very start of the cleanse, I remember lying in bed and feeling a warm rush surge through my body. It started in a wave from my stomach and slowly coated my entire body to the very tips of my limbs. Immediately I thought of the cleanse, how this experience marked the beginning of a turning point of some kind. It might sound hokey, and believe me, I was just as surprised as you probably are suspicious (or perhaps weirded out!), but it happened!

The pranamaya kosha supplies energy to the entire body through breath and vital life force, or “prana.” The Hawaiian equivalent to the concept of prana would be “mana,” in China “chi,” and in Japan, “ki.” Sometimes, I just like to call it my mojo, baby, yeeeeah! Somewhere at about Day 4 I sensed a subtle shift in energy. My mood lifted considerably, making the days go by much faster than before. The sensation increased as the detox days rolled on.

The five koshas of yogic psychology.

Manomaya Kosha – the Layer of the Mind

All the physical & energetic benefits aside, the psychological effects of cleansing have to be the most remarkable, in both their transformative powers and long-term sustainability. In that same asana session, I noticed my focus had improved significantly. There was no shaking my concentration, in even the most demanding of positions. I kinda felt like a super yogi! This is the layer of the five senses and the ego, the cause of diversity, and the root of all concepts involving I or mine. If, as yoga schools propose, humans are indeed trapped by the bondage of the mind, it is also through the mind our liberation is possible.

Yogah chitta vritta nirodaha, as the Sanskrit reads in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Yoga is the cessation of mental fragmentation.

The benefits experienced through dietary cleansing within the manomaya kosha include:

• Increased clarity

• Heightened focus

• A new appreciation for each food’s unique taste

• A humble sense of accomplishment

• Subsequent empowerment

• The discovery of your relationship to food

• The breaking of bad habits

• An honing of your ability to tune in to the internal language of your body and mind.

Tuning in to Your Rhythms

All this “tuning in” to my body’s internal language – the effect of the herbs, the strange lack of hunger, the subtleties of new flavors – I’m reminded of the yogic concept of “nada,” which translates to “sound.” When meditation reaches a certain depth, practitioners are said to tune in to the inner sound, sometimes, though not always, manifested as “om.”

One of the skills yogic practice develops is one’s sense of inner self, your ability to hear the signals and patterns of your body and mind. Internal awareness becomes even more proficient, allowing you to hear what your body needs and when it needs it. Instead of running on auto-pilot, and allowing your brain to tell you, “There’s a bag of chips on the counter, eat it,” you become more conscious of whether or not you’re actually hungry.

This enhanced awareness even serves to make eating a more enjoyable act. Everyone participating in the cleanse with me this year remarked on a more developed appreciation for food. What few items we were allowed to eat were like little nuggets of rare experiential gold. A new spice could instantly make our day! That’s a powerful benefit on many levels.

Three of the 300 types of dates from Saudi Arabia - a saving grace through the cleanse!

In previous cleanses, I consumed only liquids. – so in those cases, my mindspace was freed of planning, shopping, preparing, serving and eating the food. But this cleanse required a very strict diet, to be eaten 1-2 times per day. I constantly had food on my mind, and yet, I still experienced improved concentration.

I can’t say I know exactly how it works, on a bio-chemical or neurological level, but it does work. Forgive me if I sound like an infomercial! But every cleanse has given me greater insight into the experience of nurturing through diet. I can’t help but sing its praises!

The Innermost Koshas

Working our way ever deeper through the layers of yoga psychology, we find ourselves at the Vijnanamaya and Anandamaya koshas – the sheaths of intellect/wisdom and bliss. Though I couldn’t speak to the effects of a dietary cleanse on the layer known as “reflection of the Atman, bliss absolute,” I can say with some certainty I’m all the wiser for having completed it!

I think of cleanses as “pressing the dietary reset button,” and the ripples of your effort are felt for months to follow. You make better decisions when shopping for food, and have probably learned new methods of preparation and combination you’ll always have in your culinary skills toolbox. Communication with your digestive system is improved, and this more intimate relationship means you’re better able to discriminate between nurturing and destructive foods to provide.

And if that’s not wisdom, I don’t know what is!

Recipe: Butter Bean Pate

Turning limitation into inspiration, this is the fourth in a series of recipes born of a 14-day cleanse. Living in a hotel, with no kitchen appliances save a kettle, a borrowed blender, and a knife, in the middle of the Western Region deserts in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, where grocery shopping leaves much to be desired. And yet, we’ve come up with some pretty tasty treats!

Salads are grand and steamed veggies are nice, but there must be more to this detox menu!  For an idea of exactly what we’re working with in this two-week experiment, check out the list below:

So, to satisfy my craving for something with a bit more bite, I decided to make a vegetarian pate of my own, using what ingredients I had in the fridge and a special bag of butter (also known as LIMA) beans.  These beans are cholesterol-lowering, blood-sugar regulating, high in fiber, protein, iron and antioxidants.  Not too shabby, Mr. Bean, not too shabby.

Here’s the concoction I came up with . . .

Ingredients

  • 4 cups raw lima/butter beans
  • 1  box of mushrooms of your choice
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of olive oil
  • fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 – 3 sprigs of green onion
  • a pinch of dry seasonings of your choice.  I used an Italian blend with sage, thyme, parsley and basil
  • 2 – 4 cloves of garlic
  • optional: sea salt, pepper, chilli peppers

Steps

  1. Soak the beans over night in cool drinkable water. Make sure the top is covered enough so no unwanted visitors can get inside.
  2. Place chopped garlic, rosemary and herbs in the olive oil and allow the flavors to mingle overnight.  This gives your ingredients the chance to really compliment one another ;o)
  3. If you’re detoxing, boil the mushrooms in enough water to cover the lot.  Keep cooking until the mushrooms are almost dry.  If you’re not detoxing, you may want to sautee the mushrooms in olive oil or . . . if you’re feeling naughty, butter.
  4. Blend the oil mixture with the spring onions and cover.
  5. Boil the beans for 45-60 minutes, or until soft.
  6. If you’re cleansing, allow the beans and mushrooms to cool before adding to the blender.  This ensures your food won’t be cooked by the oil.  Alternatively, you may add them after they’ve cooled just a little, to make for a warm pate.

This pate is lovely on celery, carrots, crackers, breads, or even served atop another bean!

Not the prettiest of pates (but what pate really is?) best dressed up nicely with some fresh herbs and cut veggies.

FYI: Cleansing Food Guidelines

Recipe: Killer Detox Salad Combo

Turning limitation into inspiration, this is the third in a series of recipes born of a 14-day cleanse. Living in a hotel, with no kitchen appliances save a kettle and a knife, in the middle of the Western Region deserts in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, where grocery shopping leaves much to be desired. And yet, we’ve come up with some pretty tasty treats!

This recipe is actually for two salads & a side sweet: Apple Cabbage Zinger, Delish Dill Avocado & Zucchini, and Decadent Date Rolls.  I was feeling a touch gourmet this evening ;o)

Apple Cabbage Zinger Ingredients

  • apple slices
  • finely sliced cabbage
  • green onions
  • apple cider vinegar
  • optional: raisins, raw soaked nuts

Steps

Thinly chop all ingredients and toss together.

Delish Dill Avocado & Zucchini Ingredients

  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • three sprigs of dill
  • olive oil
  • optional: sea salt, garlic, onions

Steps

  1. Thinly slice zucchini and toss into recently boiled water for 10 minutes.  (The water should not be on heat at this point, so you get the most nutrients from the zucchini).
  2. Add two sprigs of finely chopped dill leaves.
  3. Drain the zucchini and add to the sliced avocado.  Throw a few more sprigs of dill on top to taste.
  4. Drizzle olive oil to taste, and if you’re not detoxing, add pepper and salt.

Decadent Date Roll Ingredients

  • date goo
  • grated ginger
  • coconut oil

Steps

Roll date goo, coconut oil and grated ginger into balls.  It’s just that easy!  They go perfectly with carrots, apples, pears, or, if you’re not detoxing, on a big fat pancake :oD

When I put these salads together, I added a few carrots to eat with the date rolls.  Presentation style optional!

Who said it's not OK to play with your food??

FYI: Cleansing Food Guidelines

Recipe: Desert Berry Smoothie

Turning limitation into inspiration, this is the second in a series of recipes born of a 14-day cleanse. Living in a hotel, with no kitchen appliances save a kettle, a borrowed blender, and a knife, in the middle of the Western Region deserts in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, where grocery shopping leaves much to be desired. And yet, we’ve come up with some pretty tasty treats!

So what makes this recipe particularly Desert-y, you might ask.  The base of the drink is rose tea, commonly found in the Middle East.  With a hint of fresh mint and summer’s finest strawberries, it’s a potpourri of  refreshment perfect for a hot day.  Don’t forget to check out the health benefits at the end of the recipe . . .

Ingredients

  • 1 box of seasonal berries – I used strawberries
  • a few sprigs of fresh mint
  • 5 rose tea bags
  • optional: agave nectar, honey, molasses, or date syrup to taste

Steps

  1. Brew 5 rose tea bags in a kettle of one pint of freshly boiled water.
  2. Allow the tea to cool.  You may want to place it in the fridge or freezer to speed up the process.  If you prefer a frozen smoothie, pour the rose water into ice cube trays.
  3. Wash and prepare the strawberries and mint and place them in the blender.
  4. Add the rose water, once it’s cool, and blend.
  5. Add sweeteners to taste.

The mint in this drink is great for soothing an upset belly,and as we all know, strawberries are a great source of phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamin C, especially when consumed within two days of picking.  Additionally, strawberries are fantastic fruits for diabetics.

According to the World’s Healthiest Foods website,

“…scientists have recently discovered a fascinating relationship between intake of strawberries, table sugar, and blood sugar levels. As you might expect, excess intake of table sugar (in a serving size of 5-6 teaspoons) can result in an unwanted blood sugar spike. But you might not expect this blood sugar spike to be reduced by simultaneous consumption of strawberries! Yet that’s exactly what researchers have discovered. With the equivalent of approximately one cup of fresh strawberries (approximately 150 grams), blood sugar elevations from simple sugar intake can be reduced.”

Add the claimed health benefits for rose tea, and this is one spectacular smoothie!

FYI: Cleansing Food Guidelines