If you're looking to detox your diet in time for spring, no matter what your current diet or philosophy is (unless you're allergic to a specific food), there will be certain foods that you should avoid and certain foods that will be encouraged. These are the foods that either contribute to or rebuild a toxic system.
You'll want to buy vegetables, especially leafy greens like kale and spinach; fruits such as berries, apples, and lemons; wheat- and gluten-free grains; beans and legumes; nuts and seeds. You'll also want to stock up on unsweetened nut milk (almond or coconut work well).
Superfoods and spices are great items to add to your shopping list. Some ideas for superfoods: ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, spirulina, and hemp seeds. For spices, opt for turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. Not only do they add flavor to your meals, but they add huge amounts of nutritional value.
You'll want to avoid animal products (including dairy, eggs, and meat), sugar, alcohol, most soy, gluten, and caffeine. Remember: you won't be avoiding all of these foods forever; this is just a way to reboot your system so you'll notice which of these foods you really enjoy and how much you actually want them again after the cleanse.
Foods to include:
The king of the leafy greens! Kale packs more nutrition per bite than any other food around. You'll use kale in many of your recipes, including your juices and smoothies.
Tofu is a protein-based substance made from soybean curd. When organic, it is free of pesticides and is a fantastic source of protein and iron, especially if you are used to eating meat regularly.
Another soy-based product, tempeh is made of fermented soybeans and sometimes mixed with brown rice or other grains. It comes as a solid block and is great for slicing into cubes or strips for recipes. (Make sure it is gluten-free, as some brands add barley and rice to the soybeans.)
Tamari is a gluten-free soy sauce. Most traditional soy sauces also contain wheat, which is not gluten-free.
5. Nutritional Yeast
Also known as "cheezy flakes," nutritional yeast can be found at most health foods stores and often in the bulk bin section at these stores. It is a flaky substance that can be sprinkled onto your dishes or made into a sauce for cheese-type sauces and dips.
6. Raw Agave Nectar
When raw, agave is a naturally, low-glycemic sweetener, which means that it sweetens without spiking your blood sugar.
A grain-like seed, quinoa can be used in any dish that would normally call for rice. It's a complete protein, which is rare for most plants. This means that it is high in protein and contains all the essential amino acid building blocks your system needs.
Tahini is sesame seed paste. It can be used in many recipes to replace any nut or seed butter, and also in salad dressings.
9. Chia & Flaxseeds
These tiny seeds are full of healthy fats. They can be used in baked goods or in certain recipes as a binder, because they become gelatinous when soaked in liquid.
Chlorophyll is abundant in all green vegetables and is what allows the plants to feed and grow from the sun. It packs your green vegetables full of vitamins and nutrients, making them superfoods and energy-builders.
A blue-green algae that is high in protein and B vitamins, spirulina can be found in a powdered form, which can be added to smoothies, protein bars, and other recipes.
Adapted from Detox 101: A 21-Day Guide To Cleaning Your Body Through Juicing, Exercise, And Healthy Living from Skyhorse Publishing, February 2015
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