I had been feeling a bit sluggish, and wanted to kick-start some proper healthy eating - to get out of the habit of eating salami/cheese toasties for lunch at work, guzzling down coffee, or inhaling oven chips for dinner after a tiring week.
We decided on the following diet based on our existing knowledge of diet/nutrition and other bits and pieces we heard from friends and researched ourselves.
It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway:
I am NOT a nutritionist. This is a detox I designed for personal use and does not take into account your own nutritional needs and circumstances. This post is deigned to provide information and ideas on healthy eating, not to be a prescriptive diet. If you plan to do a diet or go on detox, do your own research and consult your relevant healthcare professional.
Haha, how much do I sound like a bank employee!
For my detox, I had no caffeine, alcohol, excess fat, meat, dairy, eggs, white rice, potatoes or flour. I also decided to go low-wheat, and still eat fish (it's good for you and I hardly eat it at all these days). When I told my friends I was doing this, the most common response was, "Well what CAN you eat?"
I present you the answer, in blog-form.
For BREAKFASTS I had smoothies made of soymilk and fruit (e.g. mango, banana, frozen berries, kiwi fruit), or black rye sourdough toast with tahini. (The black rye toast has some wheat flour in it, but this didn't bother me as I was going "low-wheat", not "no-wheat".)
As an ALTERNATIVE TO COFFEE/TEA, I drank chamomile / rooibos tea. I also drank heaps of water.
For SNACKS I ate fruit, tinned tuna (Sirena rocks!) or small soy smoothies.
Preparing LUNCHES and DINNERS is where I got to exercise some culinary creativity. I didn't cut out salt or sugar completely (you will see honey popping up here and there). I thought, perhaps optimistically, that if I wasn't going out to restaurants or getting take-away during the week that I'd be cutting down my salt intake a lot anyway. I also made larger quantities of the evening meals, so I could take leftovers to work the next day for lunch.
The first thing I made was Nigella's caramelised onion and lentil pilaf, substituting brown rice for the basmati she suggests.
The rice and lentils...
The recipe made enough for me to take a bowl to work for Monday's lunch, and to share it with my family as an accompaniment for dinner later that night.
For dinner that night we had the pilaf, with Bill Granger's watercress and green bean salad (Every Day), and roast pumpkin and red onion with honey dressing.
The salad was stunning - so simple! It's just cooked beans with watercress, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I'd love to eat this any night of the week, detox or no.
I wasn't too sure if honey was bad for detox, so I only used a scant amount of the dressing. I've made this before for dinner parties, and it always goes down a treat.
The next night I made a fabulous baingan bharta (eggplant curry) that I saw on Cindy & Michael's blog last year, and have been itching to make ever since.
As much as I adore eggplant, it can often be very greasy and definitely not detox-friendly. No such danger here, as the eggplant is cooked until mooshy in the oven. No huge amounts of oil required!
The recipe is linked to on Cindy & Michael's blog, so I'll just give a brief rundown. You cook up onion, garlic and ginger, (I only used a tiny amount of oil), then add spices, a chopped chilli and tomato. The recipe uses yoghurt, but I omitted it as I was going dairy free.
Then you add your eggplant mush and cook for a bit longer.
I thought this curry was amazing! I absolutely loved it, and it just seemed to get better over the next few days. I ate it with plain brown rice, but during more relaxed times, I think basmati rice or naan would be perfect.
Other dinners we ate but didn't photograph include Bill Granger's puy lentil soup, and a mixed veggie & tofu stir-fry (again with brown rice).
Now, WORK LUNCHES. Apart from leftovers, I made some lunches specially. They had to be tasty and filling so that I wouldn't get tempted by the vending machine!
Below we have a cold soba-noodle salad with tinned tuna. The soba recipe comes from Nigella's Forever Summer, and consists of cooked and cooled soba, with spring onions, coriander and toasted sesame seeds. The dressing contains soy sauce, sesame oil, a drop of honey and some rice wine vinegar.
It was, of course, delicious, but I was surprised by how filling this was. I'll definitely be repeating this recipe for future lunches.
This salad contains watercress, cherry tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, lemon juice, olive oil and finely chopped chives and red onion. Chives are brilliant for adding low-fat flavour!!! I ate this one with a small tin of Sirena tuna.
So many nutrients.
Next up is a sandwich (I slapped the other slice of bread on after taking the photo). More of that dark rye bread, some avocado, the remainder of the watercress and some sliced tomato.
So, how did it go??
It actually went really, really well! I did find myself craving sweets (cookies especially!), but giving up everything else wasn't too bad. I think it helps that I actually like soy milk and brown rice. I was scared I'd get caffeine-withdrawal headaches and be exhausted, because I do love my coffee! (Those who have been following my blog for a long time might remember I tried a stricter detox some years back and gave up shortly after). But I was actually fine! I had slight headaches on the first evening, and was exhausted on Monday night, but I felt much better for the rest of the week. I got tired on my early morning starts at work, but managed to push on through, and I found that I had heaps more energy overall! Couldn't believe it. I'm not sure if it was the caffeine or the fact that I was eating lighter food in general, but I felt great.
Because it made me feel so much better, I've decided to keep up eating healthy food, especially during the working week, and use the weekends to enjoy myself a bit. I also plan to dramatically reduce the amount of coffee I drink. (The coffee in my building SUCKS anyway!) This way I can really enjoy great coffees when I go out to cafes, rather than just guzzling it down to stay awake.