Namaste. I am cleansed.
A couple weeks ago, I did a raw food cleanse at the invitation of a friend. A local health cafe, that also moonlights as a social enterprise, puts on the cleanse every month. It’s five days. No dairy. No meat. No caffeine [dramatic pause for sighs of horror]. No sugar. No bread.
Whenever I nurse my food blog addiction, I’m always intrigued by stories of elimination diets, be it for health, wellness, cleansing or complete lifestyle overhaul. I have a soft spot for “OMG, I feel SO amazing” type talk. What does this ‘amazing’ feel like? Is this truly the only way to get there?
I eat relatively healthy on a consistent basis and given the hot temps and rug rats going around here, I eat for energy and stamina. Suffice to say, I generally feel good on a daily basis give or take a high or low. So was it possible to feel any better than I already did by eliminating something from my diet? Seemed harder to give up just one thing than everything all together.
Plus, did I mention they prepare and deliver 3 meals a day to me all week? No excuses.
Around 7am on Day 1, a medium sized box was delivered. Prior to its arrival, I received an email detailing what I would be consuming that day and what purpose the individual foods served as part of the cleansing process. So when the box came, I had an idea of what was inside.
Each day started with a booster – something to get the engines going and pistons firing. Everyday something different: chlorophyll, ginger juice, lemon juice with cayenne, and coconut oil. The booster was followed by “breakfast” – always a fresh fruit juice, perhaps with added flavorings like mint, basil, ginger, turmeric.
That’s all I had to get my day going. Around 9 or 10am, it was time for my [dreaded] green juice – a base of cucumbers, blended with other green things that changed daily (celery, spinach, basil, green apple, lettuce). A little to healthy for my tastes.
By noon, that’s when the fun started. I was introduced to this new world called raw cuisine (and no, there was no sashimi or carpaccio). It wasn’t just carrot sticks and lettuce. On Day 1 I had a raw “pizza.” The base was made of almonds and flax seed (finely ground and shaped into a 4″ wide thin disc). It was topped with spinach leaves, tomato sauce, then a bruchetta-like tomato mixture and finished off with cashew “cheese.” Sound weird, I know. But really, it was so delicious and satisfying. Then I got to eat dessert – raw cheesecake.
By 4pm, I would drink either almond milk or coconut water. Dinner around 6pm, things like zucchini “spaghetti”, rainbow salad, raw falafal, raw pad thai. No repeats, dessert everyday. Cleansing = deprivation? Definitely not!
As the week drew to a close, I obsessed over how I would break the fast. I wasn’t having any strong cravings in the plate o’ nachos direction. In fact, I was just drawn to my routine home cuisine of simple, whole and mostly-healthy. But after a week of meals delivered, I sure as Shirley didn’t want to cook it myself! Oh, hello takeaway menu…. I ended up getting grilled sea bass but the delivery boy (cough, Roger) swapped out the steamed veg on the side for fries. Who was I to complain?
Over the course of the week, I felt pretty much great. Not ‘OMG Amazing’ but just regularly great and not a big difference from my normal state. Guess that means I’m not too toxic overall. Although I didn’t feel a whole lot different, what I most enjoyed was getting to know the raw cuisine and how flavorful it can be. So little of it tasted like health food.
The raw cuisine is well developed and there are no shortage of blogs and chefs out there sharing their recipes. It seems the key to the raw cuisine is a dehydrator, a really good food processor and a diversity of nuts. It’s unlikely I will adopt raw cooking full scale, but some things, definitely, especially when the superhot season rolls around and I can’t turn on my stove lest I slip and break my neck in my own puddle of sweat.
Were you wondering if I cheated at all over the week? Busted! On particularly hot days, I popped a few extra coconuts. I was still cooking dinners for the rest of the fam, so I snuck some blanched veggies here and there. Misdemeanors for sure. Unfortunately I made the felonious mistake of cooking some insanely good pork chops one night so, yep, had to get a bite of that action as well. What’s a little rogue pork chop when I’ve got rivers of toxins already flowing out?
I didn’t get many pictures of my food over the course of the week because I was usually too hungry to patiently stage a photo, but this will give you an idea of what things looked like: