Maybe it’s the anticipation that the all-too-brief cherry season is about to hit, but I’ve been on a major kick with dried and frozen cherries lately. I am loving the “black forest” flavor of cherries and chocolate, as evidenced by my last blog for cookie dough balls. While I always try to incorporate as many detoxing and antioxidant rich foods into my diet, that’s especially important now, as I’ve recently embarked on a healing journey from chronic carbon monoxide poisoning. I’m doing hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and it forces toxins out of your cells as it forces oxygen into them. Unfortunately, even though I have my Chronic Lyme Disease in remission, it still inhibits my body’s ability to detox, so toxins being pushed into my system = me feeling even worse. Therefore I am embracing antioxidant and detoxifying foods with extra vigor… but of course I still want them to taste good. With this smoothie, I’ve combined red kale with organic frozen cherries, protein, and cacao powder into a shake that tastes more “dessert” than “detox.”
Note that while I’m big on drinking smoothies, I am less big on making them, and I like to use a lot of ingredients, so I generally make enough for 2-3 servings at least. This recipe yields 36 oz, enough for two meals and one snack.
Black Forest Bliss Smoothie:
1 cup milk of your choice
1/2 head red kale
6 oz frozen cherries (a little over 1/2 a 10 oz package)
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1/3 of a medium banana (enough to add texture and flavor, not enough to make the smoothie a sugar factory)
3 scoops chocolate protein powder
3 tbls cacao powder
1 tbls coconut oil
1-2 droppers chocolate-raspberry stevia
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
In the VitaMix, prior to blending
Today I passed the miserable, headachy, hungry, bitchy, lightheaded, don’t-even-think-of-trying-to-have-a-rational-conversation-with-me part of my juice fast, and woke up straight on the fast track to a happy day. Sometimes the early, icky part can take people 3-5 days to go through; mine may have been quicker because I’ve done these things many times before, or because I tend to eat, as previously mentioned, like a SugarNaziHealthFoodFreak. In terms of detox, my waking life includes many tasks, supplements, and foods consumed regularly both to keep me healthy and to keep my Lyme in remission. The goal of this cleanse is specifically to get my body to stop being a hormone factory, as I’ve been gaining hormone-specific weight (boobs, thighs, hips) and felt very off for months now, ever since I took a supplement for progesterone prescribed by a naturopath. From what I’ve researched, the best way to get overproducing hormones out of your body is to clean up your liver. And the best way to clean up your liver is to let it take time off from dealing with food digestion and give it lots of nutrients.
Anyway, today I got all happy and stopped being starving and thought about how I’ve done this whole juice fasting thing at least three or four times before, and I decided that that pretty much makes me way more of an expert on this than the average person. So I thought I’d share some of the techniques that get me through the duration of a cleanse.
1. Variety: you NEED variety to stay with a juice fast. Do not drink the same juice combo daily! Change up your veggies, change up your spices, so you don’t get bored. Fresh herbs like parsley and basil are super healthy- and cilantro if you don’t hate it like I do- and their juices are cleansing/detoxifying. For instance, lots of basil, a couple cloves of garlic, and the juice of a lemon or two added to your green juice = Pesto Juice. Far more comforting than you may be thinking, right now, trust me. Also, change up your cups and glasses. It seems silly and trite, but it helps.
2. Tea: almost a subset of variety, tea is very important because not only will it make you more able to drink all the water you need to be drinking in order to flush the icky stuff that’s leaving your organs out of your system, but also because Tea Has Taste. It has all kinds of tastes, depending on what kind of tea it is! It just needs to be herbal or rooibos or gynostemma or any other naturally decaf or made-into-decaf type to be beneficial.
3. Fats: Bodies eventually go into starvation mode when you don’t feed them much, and you want to avoid that. You also want to keep your liver functioning as well as possible, and livers need oil to do so (something I only learned recently). I’m taking krill, borage, and evening primose oils daily, and also putting about two tablespoons of coconut oil total in my teas. This helps with hunger, makes tea taste surprisingly rich, and prevents issues like your hair and skin drying out while you fast.
4. Chew something daily. Within two days of a juice fast, you’ll start to notice that your teeth don’t feel right. You might also notice that the saliva in your mouth is a strange viscosity. This is because mouths were made to chew regularly, and you have upset nature by suddenly halting that practice. Chew something every day, even if it is just an almond or two. You should be getting some kind of fiber, so make that chia or flax as thick as you can rather than diluting it in lots of water nightly, and chew the hell out of it. You’ll thank me later. I had a terrible time after my first Vita-Mix cleanse, when I ate nothing but pureed veggies and superfoods for 14 days. My jaw muscles got so out of practice that it took at least a week before I could eat like a normal person. I don’t recommend gum, partially because I hate gum, and partially because it creates stomach acids in anticipation and the last thing you need to do is give yourself a tummyache.
5. Groceries: avoid the grocery store for at least the first 3-4 days by stocking up on the produce you’ll need to get you through the first days beforehand and getting any other items you or your s.o. will need, THEN begin fasting. Do not just pop into the store a day or two in and think you’ll be ok. You won’t. You will be looking lustfully at a million products you’ve never tried, tried and didn’t like, or, worst yet, really DO care for, and you will want to cry. During my last three day fast in October, I almost had a breakdown over animal crackers. Have I eaten animal crackers since I was like 10 years old? Of course not. I dealt with this by promising myself that if I still wanted them after my fast, I could come buy them. I didn’t. But still, no point in making yourself sad, is there?
6. Free time: take the time you’d normally spend eating (drinking is quick) or cooking (juicing takes time in the morning, then you’re done for the day) and do something for you. Anything from taking a walk to finishing a project you started ages ago will help you feel less deprived.
7. Scheduling: start on a good day, like a Monday. That way, either you do a five day fast if you’re looking for a short one and are ready to socialize on the weekend, or if you’re doing a longer one you’re already feeling good and will be less likely to give in to alcohol and food when out. I’ve gone to bars 10 days in to a juice fast, not drank anything, and still had a good time, because I was feeling so good from the cleanse.
8. Sugar: skip the sugary and starchy veggies, and fruit entirely, at least at first. Carrots, beets, apples, etc., are all good for you, but their juices spike your blood sugar a lot and you will end up with major crashes. If you do want to incorporate these foods, wait until a few days in when your body is steadily burning fat for fuel. If you’re doing a juice fast for weight loss, it’s better to skip them the whole time. If you’re just doing it for general health and rebooting, beet juice is an excellent blood cleanser and can be added without issue later.
9. Oxygen high: it will kick in, and it will be GREAT! It may take a couple days, it may take a whole week- just depends on your body and how much bad stuff it’s full of. The more you’re a bacon and vodka loving donut eater, the longer it’s likely to be, but it will happen. And when it does, it is really lovely. You’re taking in scads of raw nutrients that your body can easily assimilate, and it is gonna make you feel awesome. Pinky swear, it happens every time.