Spring Cleaning Detox

(This is my first Walla Walla Lifestyles magazine article, printed in the March 2012 issue)

Spring is almost here! Almost instinctively during this time of year, we clean out closets and open windows to bring fresh air into our homes and lives. For some folks, thoughts turn to cleaning out their physical body as well, through detoxification. Over the winter we accumulate toxins in our bodies, through long hours indoors breathing stale air, less exercise, and heavy winter foods.

From March to May, our bodies crave the fresh, clean, rejuvenating energy of spring. Spring foods are naturally detoxifying, as they grow in wet, muddy conditions. Low-fat, low-mucus foods like sprouts, greens, and berries give our bodies a much-needed break and stimulate the kidneys, liver, and digestive tract. A detox can brighten complexions, strengthen the immune system, and revive energy, while help drop excess winter weight and eliminate built-up toxins.

The body produces toxins as a result of normal metabolism, which can be harmful if left to build up. But the most damaging toxins come from the environment; from the food we eat, the water we drink, products used on our skin and in our homes. For most people, small doses cause cumulative damage rather than immediate symptoms. Continued exposure can compromise natural detoxification systems, causing the body to store toxins rather than eliminate them. Accumulation of toxins in the body can lead to general malaise or chronic health problems including fatigue, hormone imbalance, decreased mental function, skin problems, digestive problems, food and chemical sensitivities, and joint or muscle pain. Clearing toxins from the body can relieve symptoms and renew wellness and vitality.

For those new to detoxification, it is simply a removal of toxin substances from the body. This is done by eating less, removing certain foods in the diet, and supporting the body during its natural detoxifying process. There are many different ways to go about a detox, from complete fasting to cutting out a single food. The detox can last one day or many months. Here we will focus on warm, light spring foods, purifying herbs, lots of fresh clean water and supportive activities for one week. For those folks who can’t imagine a morning without a cup of coffee, or an evening without a glass of wine, you will need an extra week to ween yourselves slowly from caffeine and alcohol before starting this detox.

The 7 Day Detox

(*Disclaimer-For those with special dietary restrictions, medical conditions, or unsure if detoxing is right for you, contact your physician before beginning.)

Yes: fresh, organic, local fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans, water, herbal tea, cleansing juices

No: Sugar, alcohol, caffeine, meat, wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, white flour, peanuts, artificial sweeteners, processed foods

  • Focus on fruits, vegetables, beans and whole-grain(other than wheat) breads or pastas.
  • Eliminate all white sugar, refined flours, white potatoes, white bread and white pasta.
  • Avoid processed foods and ready-made meals, even if they are organic, vegan, or “healthy”.
  • Try to have a minimum of one dark green food per day and one orange food. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, local and organic when possible.
  • Include the “good” fats: monounsaturated fats such as extra-virgin olive oil and avocados, omega-3 fats such as flaxseed oil, almonds, walnuts,and fish oil. Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory and help to improve the look of skin, hair and nails.
  • Eliminate hydrogenated fats from the diet completely.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, preferably distilled water or detox tea. The body relies on water for proper elimination, optimal digestion and basic cellular function. During detoxing, waste is being released from the cells and require proper hydration to be flushed out of the body.
  • Reduce your exposure to toxins by using only natural products on your skin and for household cleaning.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise, but gentle exercise is beneficial. Yoga, tai-chi, brisk walking or bouncing on a trampoline are good.
  • Brush your skin every day towards your heart with a dry brush, to help circulate the lymph. A complete body massage during the detox week is nice as well.
  • Support the elimination of toxins through sweating in the sauna or hot shower. For the hardcore, consider colon cleansing with an enema or drinking Smooth Move tea.
  • Avoid TV, as food commercials might tempt breaking the detox. Instead take a nice leisurely walk, play a board game, or catch up on a good book.
  • Think positive thoughts, like how strong and focused you are for committing to a detox, how amazing your body is that it can cleanse and renew itself, or how beautiful you are no matter where you are in life.

Menu suggestions

I find it easiest to plan fully ahead, write a menu, post it to the fridge door, and stock the fridge/pantry for the upcoming week. For those with a full-time job, consider cooking and prepping your meals over the weekend and midweek for best success. If you are lost and have no idea what to make with the limitations, find some vegan or vegetarian recipes online or at your local library.

Breakfast Ideas:

homemade hot cereal with flax seeds and berries

fruit and greens smoothie

Lunch Ideas:

Large green salad with assorted spring vegetables(asparagus, carrots, green beans, beets)

Brown rice with steamed vegetables, lentils, parsley and cumin

Black bean and quinoa salad with corn, cilantro and tomato

Dinner Ideas:

Large vegetable salad topped with a handful of sprouts

Spring tonic soup with rice crackers

Cauliflower curry with coconut milk and cilantro

Snack Ideas:

fresh or dry fruit & nuts

celery & almond butter

snap peas & hummus

kale chips

rice crackers & hummus

plain rice cake & almond butter

steamed veggies & nuts

avocado with sea salt.


Spring Beet Soup

1 tsp olive oil

1 onion, cut in thin crescents

1 clove garlic, minced

3-4 cups water

1 bunch spring beets, cut into matchsticks, reserving green tops

1 carrot, cut into matchsticks

¼ head cabbage, shredded

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp tamari

Heat oil in soup pot. Add onion and garlic. Saute until soft. Add water and vegetables and bring to a boil. Lower heat, simmer, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until veggies are tender. Meanwhile, wash beet greens, remove tough stem and cut into think strips. Add greens to soup, along with lemon juice, and tamari. Simmer another 3-5 minutes and serve.


Beta-carotene Energizer


2 carrots

2 celery stalks

1 apple

1 cup of sunflower sprouts

…add 1 teaspoon ground cumin, stir and enjoy.
For an additional boost:
Juice a 1-inch piece ginger, then stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and a pinch of cayenne. Add to Energizer and enjoy it’s diuretic cleansing power.

Liver-Cleansing Vegetable Cocktail

In a juicer, juice two or three carrots, one large beet, and one apple. Add 1 T. spirulina powder and a glass of water, mix well.


Ginger & Apple Juice

Juice two apples and some ginger. Add a cup of water to dilute.


Colon Cleansing Smoothie

In a blender, add one cup of water, half a cup of fresh or frozen raspberries or strawberries, half a banana, one tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and 300 mg magnesium powder. For extra fiber, add one teaspoon of chia seeds, hemp seeds, psyllium, and/or spirulina.


Urinary System Cleanse: Potassium Broth

In a large pot, add a cup of potato peelings, a cup of carrot peelings, one chopped beet, a cup of chopped onions, a head of garlic (peeled and roughly chopped), two chopped celery stalks, and a handful of dark leafy greens. Add enough water to cover the vegetables and simmer on low heat for one to two hours. Strain and drink throughout the day.


Post Detoxification

To get the most from your detox, it is best to introduce animal proteins slowly and gradually back into your diet and chew thoroughly. Start with a little organic plain yogurt topped with a spoonful of honey on the first day after the detox.

Meat is more difficult to digest, especially after a week-long break. Start with a small amount of organic chicken or wild salmon, and chew it well.

Hopefully, during the detox, new healthy habits were made and some will continue on. Taking a break from certain foods and cleaning out the body of toxins does a body well. If the detox was successful, think of trying it again in a month or two, and maybe going for a longer period of time. In the fast-paced industrial world we live in, there are more toxins around us than ever before. We owe it to ourselves to take time to honor ourselves and nurture our bodies like the temples they are. Namaste.

Interested in learning more?  Follow Melissa along as she chronicles her spring detox day by day, starting March 5th.  or check out another blogger‘s journey into raw veganism, with lots of ideas on what to make while detoxing.

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Categories: around walla walla, check this out!, joint food blog projects, nutrition


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2 Comments on “Spring Cleaning Detox”

  1. March 1, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    I’ve been wanting to do something like this. Thanks for sharing!

  2. March 1, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    Great article! I look forward to seeing it in print!

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