Gluten Free For Good


More About Melissa

Archive for April, 2009

april showers bring may flowers?


Today is April 27, 2009. It’s almost May.

I took this photo at 6:45 AM this morning after finishing my early morning yoga class. This scene is about a block from the yoga studio and on a clear day, the Flatiron Mountains near Boulder are visible off in the distance. No such luck this morning as the low hanging clouds and snowfall obstructed the view. With no color variation from sky to ground, everything disappeared into a blanket of grey. It was beautiful, even though snow hasn’t been on my wish-list lately.

In lieu of working on my garden preparation (which I’ve been anxious to do), I think I’ll make a nice beef stew instead. Hopefully this is my last “hearty” meal of the season. After all, aren’t we transitioning to spring greens and fresh asparagus (information and recipe on asparagus here)? If it’s nice where you live and you’re about to make yourself a grapefruit salad and some sun tea, you can save this one for next fall.

Hearty beef stew
what you need

• 1 pound natural 100% grass-fed beef, cut in 1-inch pieces
• 3 to 4 tablespoons coconut oil (or whatever oil you saute with)
• 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
• 4 medium sized carrots, chopped
• 4 stalks celery, chopped (including leaves)
• 1 small onion, diced
• 4 red potatoes
• 1 or 2 fresh tomatoes (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
• 1 32 ounce container “Imagine” GF organic beef broth or home-made broth
• 5 or 6 mushrooms, chopped
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
• 1 can pinto beans
• herb choices: parsley, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf

what you do
1. Wash and boil red potatoes until almost done, drain and set aside (reserve one to thicken stew). You can also wash, chop and add them uncooked to the stew, but I like having a pre-cooked potato available to use as a thickener.
2. Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium/high heat. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides. Salt and pepper to taste and put in crock pot or slow cooker. Add onions and garlic to skillet (and a touch more oil if needed), sauté and add to slow cooker.
3. Add beef broth to slow cooker.
4. Add garlic, onions, carrots, mushrooms, celery, potatoes, jalapeno, beans, tomatoes (reserve a small tomato or half the can to thicken stew).
5. Pour 1 or 2 cups of water into the skillet you used to sauté the meat, onion and garlic (the skillet is turned off but still on the burner). Whisk water and pan drippings to create a thin gravy-like mix.
6. Pour cooled pan drippings into a blender; add reserved cooked and chopped potato and the reserved chopped tomato or canned tomato. Process in blender until it’s a thick, creamy consistency (this is such a good way to thicken soups and stews without using flour; use a blended potato mix instead).
7. Pour into crock pot, stir well and cook on low for several hours or all day, stirring occasionally. Taste periodically and add things (sea salt, ground pepper, herbs).

* This is usually better the next day after it has “settled” overnight in the refrigerator and the flavors have blended and infused.

nutrition profile
Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation. Organic, 100% grass-fed beef is higher in omega 3s than regular beef. Raw is normally better than canned, but canned tomatoes actually provide more absorbable lycopene than raw, so don’t hesitate to use organic canned tomatoes in stews and soups. Canned beans retain their fiber and anti-cancer flavonoids. I did a complete nutritional breakdown of this stew and found it to be very high in vitamins A, C, K, and B-12. It’s also high in iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. Normally, it makes for a nice transition into the heartier and more savory fall and winter foods, but even though it’s almost May, I’m craving some today.

I think I’ll build a fire while I cook.


stand by me


I’m going to do something totally against my character and keep my verbiage at a minimum today. No sighs of relief, please. I can hear them through my cable connection.

This is well worth watching and it’s only about 5 minutes long. We’re building friendships and communicating with each other from all over the world — here’s some music to go with it.

Turn up your speakers and enjoy. This is well worth your time. In fact, it will give you chills and make your day. Click below, sit back and celebrate life.

Stand By Me . . .


dried fruit vs fresh fruit


Yes, I admit it. I bought some dried goji berries. I’m a nutritionist, I have to know what they taste like, don’t I? Despite all the health claims, I think I’ll pass from now on. In fact, I’m going to pass on the whole noni, goji, mangosteen thing. And rainforest acai as well. While I’m all for healthy food, this frenzied “miracle cure” marketing blitz for exotic fruit is a bit over-the-top. Everyone is selling the stuff in one form or another — it’s becoming the Amway of the produce world. Plus, it’s very expensive!

I’m also working on eating local and pilfering the rainforest or ransacking the Himalayas isn’t exactly within my 100 mile radius. Although I stray from my range (I even stray from my state), I want to at least try to stick to food grown in the USA. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always do it (coffee from East Aftrica?). But it is on my radar and as soon as my own personal organic farmers start harvesting their crops, I’ll be eating very local once again. Other than my coffee, coconut milk, avocados, cinnamon, Thai chiles — hey, I’m trying.

How do I do this? I’m already off task.

This post is for Miles, who asked me about dried vs fresh fruit. Is one better than the other? Good question. Miles also puts up with much silliness from the women commenters on his blog. I feel like we owe him one, so here goes.

I make a habit of eating both, but when buying dried fruit, I choose organic sources with no added sugar. If it is certified organic, it cannot contain sulfur or other chemical preservatives which are often used to increase shelf life. Preservatives also keep the fruit from darkening as it ages, so organic choices may not look as “pretty” as the chemically laced ones, but I’m okay with that.

Depending on what you read, dried fruit can either be more nutritious or less nutritious than fresh fruit. What does that mean? It depends on the fruit and the drying method, but in general, what you lose is moisture and not so much nutritional content. Calories and sugar are far more concentrated, so you have to be careful not to over-eat the dried stuff.

Using my professional quality food scale, I determined that 26 rather large raisins equaled 1 ounce. Those 26 raisins fit in the palm of my hand and were about 85 calories worth. It’s very easy to scarf down a handful of raisins.

Raisins are dried grapes.

Eight grapes equals 1 ounce, which is about 25 calories — one cup is about 85-95 calories. So, do I want 1 ounce of raisins for 85 calories or 1 cup of grapes? The calories and the sugar are concentrated in dried fruit. It’s the same amount of each per unit, but it is much easier to eat 6 dried apricots or a handful of raisins than it is to eat the fresh versions. You don’t realize how much you’re eating. It’s unlikely that you’d eat 6 fresh apricots in one sitting, probably more like one or two. But this illustrates how you can over-do the calories and sugar with too much dried fruit.

Now, on to the nutritional piece. I’ve heard it both ways. Dried fruit has more iron. Fresh fruit has more vitamin C. Dried fruit more antioxidants (but wait, vitamin C is an antioxidant). Raisins have more calcium and protein than grapes. How can that be? Wait, there’s protein in grapes?

It’s all confusing.

The bottom line (in my mind — for whatever that’s worth) is that both are nutritious and should be part of a healthy eating plan. I do prefer fresh fruit for the most part, but dried is perfect for certain uses. I dried lots of fruit and enjoyed the benefits while hiking the Colorado Trail last summer. There’s no way I would have lugged around a bag of fresh apples with me, but I ate dried organic apples daily while on the trail (check the link for apple nutrition and dehydrating tips). There are some nutrient losses with processing, but low-heat dehydrating doesn’t alter the nutritional content all that much. It simply pulls a good part of the moisture out, making the finished product more stable. Some moisture remains, that’s why dried fruit is chewy.

I often use the USDA National Nutrient Database for research. Check here to see the nutritional value of 100 grams of raisins and here to compare the nutritional value of 100 grams of grapes. If you want to read a scholarly article on fresh verses dried fruit, check here. It’s interesting reading — if you’re a total dork like me. Otherwise, skip it and trust me that both are healthy (especially organic). Just keep in mind there’s a calorie and sugar difference in a handful of raisins and a handful of grapes.

Go forth and eat fruit (fresh or dried)!

cleanse/detox wrap-up


All clean.

Now, pass me a cup of my favorite breakfast blend, please. Don’t forget the full-fat coconut milk.

Yes, I had a cup of coffee this morning. Yeah! Actually, it was half coffee and half coconut milk and it was divine.

I’ve been on my spring detox/cleanse for well over two weeks now and other than a couple of itty-bitty exceptions, I stuck with it the whole time. Okay, okay, so I had a piece of bacon at Easter brunch. If it’s any consolation, I regretted it five minutes later. Sort of. Well, not really, but at least I didn’t eat any more or have anything other than fresh fruit and a scrambled egg (from an organic, spa-pastured chicken). I rarely eat bacon during my normal life, why would I fall prey to it now? I don’t know, the smell maybe.

Other than the bacon, a few sips of a wonderful red wine and some home made chicken broth I used for a soup base, I didn’t stray from a diet of organic fresh fruits, vegetables, brown rice, and pastured eggs. I feel refreshed, energized and ready to keep at it with some minor modifications. Honestly, my friends, this is the way to stimulate the body’s natural defenses, boost immunity, normalize weight, clear the brain fog and increase strength and vitality. Not only that, but it puts you on track to renew your resolution to live a healthier lifestyle. Each time I do a cleanse I wonder why I ever stray from this type of clean living. That was a rhetorical question as I do know why. Because I enjoy a glass of wine while reconnecting with old friends. I want to try my own version of Cid’s chocolate macaroons or Miles’ chorizo sausage with potatoes or Shirley’s flourless peanut butter cookies. That’s why.

So, the question is, how do we find a healthy balance between a sincere quest for better health and what goes on in real life?

I’m lucky — I have celiac disease, which makes is easier for me to make healthy choices. No fast food, no junk food, very little processed food. It’s not hard to live a gluten-free lifestyle if you stick to whole, fresh food and learn the simple art of preparing it. I take that back, it’s not always simple to prepare a simple meal. But it’s fun to experiment and the essence of good cooking is starting with good ingredients.

I have learned that the most nourishing foods for me are also the tastiest and most pleasurable to cook with. Thankfully I’m not limited to what’s in the produce section at my local market. I have my farmer friends at Grant Family Farms who carefully grow, harvest and deliver produce that has transformed my cooking. It’s a privilege of which I am most grateful. Not only does this food assure my wellbeing, it also contributes to my value system.

Blah, blah, blah. How do I get off on these tangents? On to a summation of my detox/cleanse.

The benefits
• To start with, I like feeling good, both physically and mentally, and a periodic cleanse is a perfect way to renew that commitment to myself. My wellbeing is my responsibility and I like to be reminded to take it seriously.
• Increased energy throughout the day. No energy slumps in the afternoon.
• Higher quality sleep, a lack of which is my downfall. After about 10 days of cleansing, my sleep quality gradually increases and now I’m sleeping a full eight or nine hours with maybe one brief stir during the night. Uninterrupted sleep is SO important to good health. Eliminating foods that interrupt that pattern and nourishing the body with foods that enhance rest and rejuvenation is part of my goal with this — and it works!
• My favorite jeans fit again. Yeah! Okay, so vanity does play a role here, but it’s not all about that. I lost 5 pounds and feel better about myself, but it’s also a lot easier to stand on your hands and do arm balances in yoga when you weigh less. In my case, I’m more likely to “work out” in ways that strengthen my bones and enhance my health if I lighten my load. I don’t like going to the gym and working out with weights, but I do understand the need for weight-bearing exercise. I use my own weight as my weights. Does that make sense? There’s a tipping point with what I’m able to “lift,” so losing a few pounds makes a big difference. My type of cleansing is a good way to lose weight in a healthy and lasting manner.
• My liver and its buddies (pancreas, gallbladder, intestines, etc.) are very happy.
• My skin is clear. I have DH (dermititis herpetiformis), which is the skin manifestation of celiac disease so my skin is sensitive to all kinds of things. Detoxing clears it up.
• No more carb cravings. None, honestly. I don’t care about sweets. Right now, anyway, which shows me how much they play a role in my biochemistry.
• This is a perfect time for me to play with some foods I think I might be sensitive to. I’ve in essence been on an elimination diet for almost 3 weeks, now I’ll slowly introduce a couple of foods I’m suspicious of and see how I do.
• I’m doing my own version of genetic nutritioneering, or modifying the expression of inherited traits. Cleansing gets me back on track with improving my genetic odds. Celiac disease is genetically predisposed as are some of the associated conditions that can go with it. I’ll spare you the details, but I have some autoimmune risks that I want to diminish and some age-related diseases I want to totally avoid.
• Whether you’re male or female, hormonal balance is key to good health and vitality. Cleansing helps normalize those ups and downs. With the right foods, your attitude improves and mood swings diminish. Plus, you age more gracefully. Detox, don’t botox.
• My hair looks healthier. Seriously, it even seems like it grew faster the past month.
• I have a tendency to have some joint and connective tissue aches and pains and food makes a huge difference in my range of motion. I’m more bendy, twisty and pain-free. It’s amazing.
• Bottom line? I feel healthy, revitalized and ready to take on my spring and summer outdoor activities. Plus, did I mention my favorite jeans fit again!

The pitfalls
• It takes time and commitment to understand the mix of nutrients necessary to sustain your body while detoxing. My activity level required a little more protein than I was getting the first few days of my cleanse — I had to make adjustments.
• Occasional dizziness, irritability and a couple of mild headaches the first few days. Those are detox symptoms, but like I mentioned above with the protein, some of that is caused by low blood sugar, so I tweaked my meals accordingly.
• Not drinking enough water. I had to constantly remind myself to increase fluid intake.
• The detox tea (although it was herbal and contained no caffeine) made me restless and affected my sleep if I drank it in the evening.
• I ate only foods that I prepared and for some people, this can be too time consuming and difficult to figure out. Plus, it gets boring.

Symptoms and problems vary greatly depending on the general health of the person doing the cleanse. Consult your health care provider before embarking on a detox program. If you’re interested the progression of this series of posts, please refer to the following: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6 and part 7.

Go forth and cleanse your body of icky things!
P.S. I took the above photo last summer on my 240 mile trek of the first half of the Colorado Trail.

cilantro, the detox herb


I’m in the midst of my spring detox/cleanse and because of its super-star status, I’ve decided to recycle a past post I did on cilantro and add it to this series. If you care to follow along on my spring cleanse, please refer to the previous 6 posts. There’s a lot of good cleansing, detoxing and nutritional information amidst my rambling. Plus a few good recipes.

Last week I did a whole post on detoxing herbs, but I wanted to dedicate a separate post on cilantro because of its versatility and healing properties.

Cilantro refers to the leaves of the coriander plant. They look similar to flat leaf parsley. The seeds of the plant are ground and called coriander spice. Cilantro has a vibrantly fresh smell and it adds a distinct flavor to foods, especially southwestern fare. I love the stuff and always have a batch on hand.

It’s especially important during cleansing as it’s rich in all kinds of beneficial phytonutrients, flavonoids, detoxing substances, and antimicrobial compounds. One of which has been found to have twice the antibiotic power of the commonly used drug, gentamicin. In fact, researchers have found several different antibiotic substances in fresh cilantro, suggesting its use as a potential food additive to prevent food-borne illnesses (of which we’ve been hearing a lot about lately). According to other studies, cilantro helps to normalize blood sugar levels and stabilize lipid levels. Not to mention the fact that 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro contains less than 1 calorie. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this little gem. I’ve been adding it to everything from salads to smoothies lately. Cilantro and burdock root are at the top of my “favorite detox nutrients” list.

In good health!
P.S. I’ll be back to normal (whatever “normal” is) posting in a couple of days. Two weeks of cleanse posting is enough! Hey, I heard that sigh of relief.

sweet cleansing potion (day 9)


This is an ongoing series on spring detox cleansing. To catch up, refer to part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5. I’m on day 9 of my cleanse and although I’ve had a couple of minor incidents, overall I’m feeling great and I’m even starting to see these changes in the way I look. When you focus on eating fresh, unprocessed, wholesome ingredients and you eliminate the foods that cause your body stress, you start to see it in your eyes, your skin, your attitude (most of the time) and your energy levels. A transformation slowly takes place in which you gain renewed strength and vitality. There are ups and downs along the way, just like everything else in life and (news flash) there are no quick fixes or miracle cures (darn) no matter what you hear on the radio or read in magazines. But if you really care about your health and are committed to making positive changes, better health can be yours in fairly short order. A mild cleanse is a good place to start (consult your healthcare advisor before starting any cleanse or detox program).

Having said that, I WANT some chocolate. Stomp, stomp!

Here’s my recipe for a healthy treat to soothe the soul when collard greens and bok choy just don’t cut it. We all have those days and rather than taking a high-speed nose-dive off the detox wagon and downing a bag of peanut M & Ms (you know who you are), my healthy cocoa dipping sauce is just the remedy. And yes, this treat is okay occasionally and in moderation while cleansing — at least in my world. Sorry, Miles, but the sauvignon blanc is still off the menu as a detox drink. Not forever though, so don’t despair, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Pure cocoa is a healthy ingredient. Its high flavonoid content makes it a great treat, but product quality is important. Cocoa is a processed food, which I don’t normally consider detox-worthy, but if you choose a good quality organic version, I think it’s a fine option on occasion and in small doses. Non-organically processed cocoa may contain some icky by-products, so go with the good stuff and use it sparingly.

Healthy and tasty cocoa dipping sauce (gluten-free & vegan)
6 mejool dates, pitted
3/4 cup filtered water
1/4 cup almond butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 small packet of stevia (1 g packet, which is .o35 ounce or about 1/4 teaspoon)
sliced apples, pears, pineapple, oranges, jicama, or strawberries

Soak pitted dates in filtered water for an hour or so. Put soaking water, dates and the rest of the ingredients (other than the fruit) in food processor and pulse until you have a sauce-like consistency. Store in glass jar in the refrigerator. Dip sliced apples (or other fruit) into sauce and enjoy!

One serving consists of one sliced apple and 2-3 tablespoons of dipping sauce.

* I use NOW organic natural cocoa powder. There’s nothing else in it and it’s only 55 calories per 1/4 cup. See photo above, which is a plate of NOW cocoa powder.

Go forth and choose healthy treats (no peanut M&Ms)!
P.S. The little skeleton box was a gift from a dear friend and is part of a rather colorful El Dia de los Muertos skeleton collection I have.

the cleanse chronicles (day 7)


This post is part of an ongoing series about detoxing in a healthy way. To catch up see part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4. Part 1 is a rambling introduction to detoxing and part 2 consists of some basic guidelines (what to avoid, why to choose organic, pastured eggs, etc.). Today’s post will be another daily menu sample, including recipes for smoothies and egg salad wraps.

Melissa’s cleanse menu (ignore my weird sleep patterns)
4 AM
Warm water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and a touch of stevia, followed by herbal tea
4: 15 AM
Small bowl of homemade applesauce (made with Fuji apples and blood oranges), topped with chopped walnuts (yum!)
5:30 AM
One hour of yoga, water throughout the day
8 AM
Fruit smoothie (recipe below)
12 Noon
Egg salad lettuce wraps (recipe below), detox tea
3 PM
Raw carrots and celery, 2 mejool dates, water
6 PM
Bowl of kale and brown rice soup, raw flax crackers, “sleepy time” herbal tea
8:30 PM

Blueberry smoothie
1 cup unsweetened coconut water
3/4 cup plain goat kefir
2/3 cup frozen blueberries
1 small ripe banana
3/4 scoop chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

This is a guideline — depending on what I have on hand, I make my smoothies different every time. Put all ingredients in blender and mix well.

Egg salad lettuce wraps
Because I don’t eat regular bread, I make most of my sandwiches into lettuce or cabbage wraps. It’s a healthy way to eat sandwiches.

2 hard boiled eggs, peeled
1/4 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced cucumber
2 tablespoons diced onion
2 tablespoons chopped sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
fresh lettuce or napa cabbage leaves (washed/dried)

1/2 avocado
1 teaspoon Annie’s organic dijon mustard (no sugar, no additives, no gluten)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Put chopped salad ingredients in medium-sized bowl, set aside. Put dressing ingredients in a small bowl, lightly mash and mix ingredients and toss in with salad. Salt and pepper to taste.

Makes one serving, double it for two.

In good health,

detox rejuvenators (burdock root rocks)


This post is part of an ongoing series on cleansing. To catch up, read part 1, part 2, and part 3.

I’m into day 6 of my spring “healthy eating and detox” cleanse and was inspired by a reader (thanks, Laura from Chicago) to focus on some specific detox nutrients. To be on the safe side, I’m going to stick with food sources and skip talking about specific supplements. We’ll keep it natural, gentle and simple.

I won’t go into too much detail, but the liver is considered the most metabolically active and important organ when it comes to detoxing. It filters blood at a rate of about 1.5 quarts per minute (you read that right). There’s a lot of action going on throughout the body when we detox, but the liver is the workhorse. There are two blood sources to the liver, one that carries newly absorbed nutrients, drugs, microbes, toxins, and other icky things from the gastrointestinal tract. It detoxs alcohol and chemically alters or excretes thyroid hormones and steroid hormones (estrogens and aldosterone). The liver has to “decide” what to do with all these substances, so keeping it in good shape keeps us in good shape. Here are a few simple and effective detox rejuvenators to help us do that.

*Again, check with your health care provider before embarking on a detox cleanse or before taking these products. Just because they are natural doesn’t mean they’re always safe. There may be conditions in which you should not take these products and some should only be taken for a short time. Many herbal products should not be taken during pregnancy — please consult your physician if you are pregnant or nursing.

Detox rejuvenators
The following organic herbs are believed to help support the digestive tract, liver, kidneys, blood, and/or lungs to promote healthy detoxification.

Sarsaparilla root gives root-beer it’s root-beery flavor (what would you call that flavor?) and promotes the excretion of fluids and increases energy (Chi) flow.

Milk Thistle (also called wild artichoke) stimulates new cell growth in the liver and helps protect it from toxins. It also protects the gall bladder and kidneys, both of which are involved in detoxing. Milk thistle is also good for adrenal problems, psoriasis and helps boost immune function.

Ginger root is protective to the liver and stimulates circulation. I chop, mince, or zest whole ginger root and put it into all kinds of things, including my tea.

Dandelion root (celiacchick Kelly mentioned this in my first post on cleansing) stimulates bile production. The liver helps break down and eliminate toxins by producing bile, which is stored in the gallbladder. Bile is part digestive secretion and part excretory product. We want healthy bile flow. It’s rather unattractive looking camo-colored goop, but it’s very important.

Red clover helps support liver and kidney function and has anti-inflammatory properties. It also boosts immune function and helps with skin disorders.

Rosemary leaves help detoxify the liver, stimulate circulation and digestion, and provide antioxidant protection.

Fenugreek seeds stimulate and lubricate the intestines and act as a laxative.

Garlic enhances immune function, improves circulation, supports liver and digestion, and helps detoxify the body.

Cilantro will have its own post in a few days.

Burdock root (I saved my favorite for last)
I’m actually not sure why, but I love burdock root and have been using it (whole) for a long time. It’s unattractive and isn’t all that tasty, but I use it on a regular basis. I sauté it in coconut oil and pureé it with stock to add depth and thickness to soups and stews. Because I live gluten-free and never add flour for thickening, I use things like cooked potatoes or burdock root, which provide a healthy alternative.

Burdock root acts as an antioxidant and aids in the elimination of excess fluid and toxins. It helps purify the blood, supports liver and gallbladder function, stimulates digestion, boosts immune function, helps with skin disorders, and may help relieve PMS symptoms. It can also be used as a rinse to promote hair and scalp health. Good stuff all the way around. I prefer getting my nutrients through organic food sources (rather than supplements) as it’s easier to know what you’re getting and control what you’re ingesting.

Burdock root can interfere with iron absorption if taken internally as a supplement, so, “ask your doctor if burdock root is right for you.” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

*The above photo shows a piece of brown burdock root (carrot sized) alongside coin shaped pieces I cut from the root. These are ingredients I used to make burdock root soup a few days ago. This is one of the mainstays of my detoxing routine. I don’t really have a recipe as it’s something that comes out different every time I make it (depending on what I have on hand). If any of you are more interested in that, I’ll make some, pay attention to what I do, and create a real recipe.

There are numerous herbal adaptogens, but I’ll stick with this short list of the ones I feel may help with this type of cleansing. Most of these come in organic herbal tea form, so they’re easy to find at your local “natural” market.

Go forth and do some spring cleaning!

the cleanse chronicles (day 5)


Everyone has different biorhythms and mine are a bit strange. I’ve always been like this to some degree, even as a baby — much to my mom’s dismay. My college roommates found it annoying as well. I’ll be posting several sample menus during my cleanse. Ignore the weird circadian cycles as I’m not a big fan of sleeping. It’s probably a genetic wiring hitch on one of my chromosomes. Or, more likely, an overly enthusiastic suprachiasmatic nucleus. That little BB-sized thingamabob in the hypothalamus (region of the brain) controls our patterns of waking and sleeping. Mine is afraid it’s going to miss something. With the exception of the first 4 or 5 hours of sleep, I could skip the rest. I find it boring.

Having said that, I’m also an advocate of lots of sleep because I have a fairly good idea of what’s going on while we’re off in la-la land. We need good quality sleep, at least 8 hours per night. Deep, uninterrupted rest helps restore the body and regenerate the mind. Not getting enough sleep is one of my downfalls and something I have to consciously (unconsciously?) work on all the time.

Melissa’s cleanse menu
4 AM

Warm water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and a small amount of stevia, followed by a cup of herbal tea
4:30 AM
One sliced apple and with a couple of tablespoons of almond butter
5:30 AM
One hour of yoga
7 AM
Blueberry and goat kefir smoothie (I’ll post the recipe in the next day or so)
11 AM
Fresh BIG salad (lettuce and napa cabbage, raisins, roasted sunflower seeds, raw beets, broccoli), detox tea
2 PM
Avocado salsa (before photo above, after photo and recipe below) raw crackers (sea vegetables and flax seeds)
5 PM
Detox tea, Bosc pear
6 PM
1 cup burdock root and vegetable soup, “sleepytime” herbal tea with lemon and honey
7:30 PM
4-5 walnuts
8:45 PM


Avocado Salsa (I made this up out of ingredients I had on hand)
1/2 avocado
1/4 cup shredded zucchini
2 tablespoons diced green onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped pumpkin seeds
1 small minced garlic
shredded carrot (about 1/2 carrot)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
squeeze of lemon
Celtic sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Mash and serve with raw crackers.

Serves — uh — uh — one.

Onward (without my coffee and coconut milk, whine-whine),

the cleanse chronicles (day 4)


(Day 1 of the cleanse chronicles can be found here.)

Okay, who decided coffee was off-limits while detoxing? Whoever it was should be smacked upside the head with a wet collard green. Or a bunch of beets.


Normally I have one cup of coffee each morning, no more — and 1/3rd of that is coconut milk. Even though I’m a nutritionist, I’m not part of the “coffee is evil” crowd. My coffee of choice is a nice mellow, organic breakfast blend. It’s light and bursting with aroma and high mountain zing. Aaahhh.

As much as I like my morning cup, I think it’s important to skip it right now. But I miss it and thoroughly enjoy having that warm, creamy drink each morning. I’ll do a whole post on coffee and why I don’t think it’s a bad thing if you keep it to one cup a day. And I don’t mean those Starbucks mega-grande-ginormous versions.

More on that later. For now I’ll share with you some of my basic principles of detoxing. I like my spring cleanse to be pleasant, and for the most part it is. Nothing extreme, nothing weird, no reason to take time out from life to camp out on the bathroom floor and be totally miserable. I don’t want to weaken myself — I want to lose a couple of winter pounds, look and feel better, strengthen my immune system, boost my energy levels, lighten my toxic load, sleep better, and recommit myself to choosing clean, nourishing foods.

Again, make sure you consult your health care provider before starting any detox program. I do this quite often, so other than some minor things, it’s not terribly unpleasant for me. But depending on your current lifestyle and over-all health, even what might be considered a mild cleanse can be unsafe if not monitored carefully.

Vibrant health maintenance doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Avoid things that cause harm and give your body what it needs to thrive. Let it do the complicated stuff, all you have to do is safely and effectively support the process. Here are a few of my tips (a loose guideline) on how to safely cleanse, lessen your toxic burden and regain strength and vitality.

1. Organic (check here for a prior post I did on organic food)
Organic food is free of chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics and is generally easier for the body to break down, absorb and assimilate. Some studies show organic foods to be higher in nutritional value, but what they lack is almost more important to me, especially while cleansing. The point in detoxing is to get rid of the nasty stuff from your system, not add to it. We’re living in a different world than our ancestors did and are exposed to 40,000 – 50,000 chemicals that didn’t exist decades ago. The average American (eating the Standard American Diet, also known as the SAD diet) ingests in one way or another, around 120 pounds of additives per year. So, choose organic foods whenever possible.

2. Avoid
Eliminate all gluten grains (whether you need to in normal life or not), dairy (with a few exceptions), most soy foods, sugar (with a couple of exceptions), caffeine, soda, alcohol, meat, all processed and packaged foods, fast food, and some vegetables. I’m cutting way back, or eliminating, starches (most grains, potatoes, yams, peas and beans) and most nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant). I do have a few minor exceptions to these rules, but for the most part, I avoid everything on this list. Don’t panic, there are lots of wonderful foods on the “choose” list.

3. Choose
Eat any combination of fresh organic vegetables, a good portion of them raw. Goitrogen foods (cruciferous vegetables) should be lightly cooked. I’ll do a separate post on cruciferous vegetables and thyroid function later. Use olive oil for salad dressings, coconut oil for cooking and ghee for other uses (if you like ghee, which is clarified butter). Unfiltered raw honey, raw agave (use sparingly), or stevia can be used for occasional sweetening, but go easy on it. Pastured organic eggs are fine in moderation.

4. Rough it up
Eat lots of whole, high-fiber foods. Fiber in the form of raw veggies and fruit is instrumental in helping to move toxins out of the body. For a detailed post I did on the benefits of fiber, check here. Fiber is high on my list of important substances, with all kinds of valuable health benefits, but add it slowly or you’ll explode (and it won’t be pretty). At the least, you’ll be feeling icky until you get used to the sweeping effects on your digestive system.

5. Flush it out
I’m in the process of creating a separate post on water, so I’ll keep this brief (famous last words). Drink lots of water while cleansing, especially since you’ll be increasing your fiber intake. Water, water, water! Divide your weight in half — that is the amount of water in ounces you should drink daily. If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 75 ounces of water per day, which is about nine or ten 8-ounce glasses.

6. Turn up the heat
Not in your house, but in your body. Exercise daily and sweat it out. I love yoga for detoxing as it’s bendy and twisty and stimulates fluid movement in the body and helps wring things out. This deserves a separate post as well — yoga for detox and digestion.

7. Eat less
According to my Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition book, if you live for 65 years or longer, you will have consumed more than 70,000 meals and disposed of 50 tons of food. FIFTY TONS OF FOOD?! Oh my gosh, that’s almost creepy. Actually, it is creepy. Okay, I will admit to eating more calories than I need a good part of the time, but spending a little less time at the trough makes us realize that we’ll not only survive, but we’ll be much healthier if we don’t super-size everything.

8. Just say no to stress
Now? While the economy sinks to new depths? Yeah, right. Well, at least do the best you can as stress can undermine all your good intentions.

These are my basic cleansing guidelines. Tomorrow I’ll start posting detox recipes, and good ones, at that. Remember, I said I wasn’t into starving myself or feeling totally deprived. Except for the coffee thing. Grrrr!

Go forth and get rid of icky things.
P.S. Darn it, I “talked” too much again. I need a word-count cut-off program.

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
recent posts

my book
(co-written with Pete Bronski)

stay connected
Gluten Free For Good on Facebook Gluten Free For Good on Twitter Gluten Free For Good RSS Feed

Subscribe with Bloglines
Add to Feedburner
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to Google
Add to NewsGator
Add to MyAOL