Perfection isn’t Possible
You may have picked up this book in the hope of a prescription, as if I am going to inform you how to solve all of your problems by telling you what to eat. I’m not, because I don’t know.
We are all completely different. How profound right? Not only is our individual genetic makeup completely different from each other, we all live in unique environments and have distinct lifestyles, habits, and desires. Detoxing isn’t that simple. You can look at the obvious and start to eliminate processed and refined foods. You can take it to the next level and eliminate (or cut back on) animal products. You can read every book under the sun, study every herb on the planet, obsess about every morsel that goes into your body and it will still not eliminate toxins from your body. Why? Because there are a bazillion other factors out there that aren’t under your control. The more you obsess, the more toxic you are. Having everything under control is the closest step to being completely out of control.
Having things in balance and recognizing the ebbs and flows of emotions, environments, and routine is as close to the answer to wellness as I have. If you must eat something not in the queue of optimal health—enjoy it if possible and wake up the next morning and follow up with something healthier. Dietary perfection isn’t possible. Perfection is the passion of control freaks. In a society where control is a commodity, we are constantly bombarded with the idea that we can be perfect. We look to gurus, leaders, and celebrities to tell us what to eat, how to live, how to look, and how to behave. The optimal diet—or perfection—is completely individual. Embrace your individuality and live your life in a way that makes you happy.
Savor the Experience
This is not said to be discouraging or to disregard the importance of nutrition. The food you eat has a huge effect on your health and happiness, and it is often under your control. When you make the conscious effort to put healthier foods into our body, you will notice a major difference in how you feel. Fresh, flavorful, beautiful, life-giving foods make you feel just that—more fresh and alive! It’s no secret that we are essentially killing ourselves through our stomachs. Being loated, lethargic, and stuffed with crappy food feels like crap. Not only is it not good for your physical wellness, it also blocks your creative energy and mental clarity. Really, who wants to feel that way? This energy that we get from food is not only from what foods we eat, it is also how we eat them. Eating is such an instinctual act; we forget that it is often one of life’s greatest pleasures. It is a necessary pleasure! How delightful is that? How many other things qualify? Not many. Making a conscious effort to experience a meal in pleasure is just as important as what is on the plate. This means that you must be mindful. Dim the lights, eat with real utensils, chew your food, and SAVOR the experience. Have a glass of wine, and if you’re saying no, drink your water or juice out of a real glass. Those people who are pounding smoothies in fluorescent lighting in front of their computers are completely missing something, and it is where the French and Italians get it right. Hovering your greens is gross, and gives you gas. Sip, relax, and enjoy! This book is created to respect the fact that most of us don’t have endless amounts of time for food preparation, or time to eat our food in the manner described above. It’s not always realistic to get out the fork and knife, and even if it was, it’s important to give your body the digestive break. These dishes are simple to prepare, and even if you are sipping your smoothie in your car on the way to work, breathe deeply, turn on good music, and enjoy. When you focus on the pleasure in the little things—the foods that you eat, the company you have, a moment of silence—then you have real health. Savor the moment. Cheers!
Live Your Lifestyle
The practical matter of detoxing your diet can seem completely overwhelming and the results usually last for one meal. Many get so fixated on an all-or-nothing approach that it makes food craving ten times worse and then they give up. Unfortunately, detoxing is usually nothing more than a crash diet that doesn’t last. So now that we’ve lost the detox and lost the diet, what do we have? We are back at square one. You may have noticed, but the new posh diet word is lifestyle. Living this lifestyle—that lifestyle—I’m a vegan, I’m a vegetarian, I do yoga . . . I’m a raw foodist! In order to be healthy you need to join some trendy cult, or have a lot of money. This doesn’t have to be the case. There are people out there who don’t necessarily want to join the lifestyle cult, but might actually be interested in healthier food as a viable, luxurious cuisine. We all want to be healthier. We all want to “detox” to some degree. We are also all human, therefore we aren’t perfect and there will forever be an instinctual desire for the “forbidden fruit.” Of course living a healthier lifestyle and incorporating more clean, healthy, and delicious foods into your diet is the goal. Eating an apple a day won’t necessarily keep the doctor away. You should probably eat more than that, but eating more fruits and vegetables is irrefutably a good idea. It doesn’t mean that you have to only eat fruits and vegetables.
Design Your Detox
Every recipe in this book provides a level of detox. Whether you want to cleanse for a day, a week, or just simply exchange one meal. These recipes are designed so that you don’t have to do a complete lifestyle overhaul. Yes, these recipes are all raw, completely dairy free, vegan, gluten free, and free of refined sugars. Although we utilize nuts in some recipes, they are only used as garnish or to enhance a dish. None of these recipes are heavily nut based. The absence of dense nut bases and high sugar content is by design, not by compromise.
Other detox books may advise you to buy a new line of kitchen equipment. Relax. What you have in your kitchen right now will work fine. The beauty in much of raw food is the simplicity. Although there is a place for the gourmet, once you start incorporating more raw foods into your diet you will start to find satisfaction in some of the simplest dishes—an apple with raw almond butter, sliced avocado with sea salt and lemon, high quality lettuces drizzled with olive oil. It may sound so basic right now, but the cleaner your diet is, the cleaner the foods you start to prefer. However, since this is a cookbook, you’d probably be disappointed if I told you to just eat an apple with a few almonds. In order to make most of these recipes, I recommend three simple kitchen tools.
For a reasonably priced, readily available option, we recommend the Breville Juice Fountain. The Elite is our preferred model, but any of them work well. Breville is a sturdy machine that is easy to clean and looks good on your counter.
Vita-Mix and Blendtec are both excellent high speed blenders. They are an investment and not totally necessary for the majority of these recipes. If you need to choose between a juicer and a blender, choose the juicer. You can make most of these recipes work with a standard blender.
Tri-Blade Vegetable Spiral Slicer
This is an odd little garnishing tool. It can easily be purchased on Amazon and costs less than $50. It is a fun and easy piece of equipment to have around. Making vegetable noodle pasta is one of our favorite and super simple raw food dishes.
Why Raw Food?
We believe that raw food is one of the most pure, delicious forms of cuisine. Although every restaurant menu has a salad of some form, and most people DO eat some raw food every day, somehow the raw food movement got hooked on the lifestyle cult and missed the category of part of a balanced diet and a unique culinary expression. People enjoy all types of cuisine—Asian, Italian, French, Moroccan, and the list goes on, but for most people, raw food cuisine isn’t on that list. Raw food is in fact a delicious part of a healthy, balanced diet. This cuisine is one of the most exciting, fascinating, and ultimately health giving ways to eat, and this book is intended to make that easier. Just like you might pick up a book on cupcakes and decide to bake some cupcakes, we hope that you will pick up this book and decide to make some recipes because they sound good (or interesting), will undoubtedly taste delicious, and will make you feel better.
The battle between health and sickness exists constantly within us. By doing an occasional detox, you give your body a break from fighting the bad and allow it to be supported with the good. There are many reasons to detox—general health, specific minor issues, or chronic illness. Almost all illness is an expression of inflammation or immune deficiency—from the common cold, to skin issues, or even more serious diseases. They can all be connected. When you remove foods that are the primary causes of these inflammatory conditions and imbibe in nutrient dense foods, you are allowing your body to heal. You will be amazed at the internal healing process that can take place. All of these dishes support
that healing process.
What Is Detox?
Detoxing is the process of removing all foods from your diet that can interfere with the natural healing of your body. When you eat a detoxifying diet, you remove the emotional and physical barriers of highly processed food, common allergens, and concentrated proteins.
By removing these obstacles, you allow your body’s internal healing mechanism to kick in. The recipes in this book are designed to supply your body with an infusion of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When you focus your diet on whole plant-based foods you are giving yourself a little extra boost of health insurance.
Without getting too scientific, there are some basic principles of common allergy causing, inflammatory, and hyperimmune response foods. These foods should generally be avoided whenever possible. Although, you might not have an allergy, it is never a good idea to constantly tax your body with foods that are commonly hard on others. It is possible to develop a negative response over time. If you are constantly bombarding your body with yeasts, sugars, and acid forming foods luck might not stay with you forever. Even if you don’t have a severe allergy, when you start removing these foods (or eating less of them), most people always feel better.
What Are Those Foods?
We recommend spending two weeks without any of the foods below. You don’t have to avoid them forever, but try to leave them out for two weeks. We guarantee that you will feel the difference. If and when you reintroduce them into your diet, focus on quality and limit your portions.
The Wheat Feast
Once a health food, wheat is now a highly processed industrialized food. Most wheat currently available is poor quality and makes its way into the most unusual places. Vegan and vegetarian meat alternatives are almost always wheat. If you are eating a vegan diet with wheat-meat on wheat bread, consider that you are having yourself an imbalanced wheat feast. Although it may be cruelty free, this is not healthy, and it is cruel to your system. If you eat some wheat, we always recommend sprouted wheat, or suggest you use other grains like rye, barely, rice, or quinoa as an alternative.
Gluten Isn’t Great
It may seem like everyone has a gluten allergy these days. The truth is most of us probably have some degree of gluten intolerance; our reaction might just not be as severe. Try filling up the baked good, cracker, and bread space with more fresh fruits and vegetables. We do not recommend replacing your gluten foods with sugar-laden, highly-processed gluten-free alternatives. That being said, just like wheat, all gluten isn’t created equally. So if an artisan loaf of rye bread is on the table, a slice certainly isn’t a crime, unless, of course, you have a severe gluten allergy. There are some nice gluten-free products available, just make sure to read labels and avoid ones with a lot of sugar. Less is always more when it comes to an ingredient list.
Dear Ole Dairy
Dairy isn’t the devil, but dairy is an inflammatory food and very hard for many people to digest. About seventy-five percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products. Lactose is common, and lactose intolerance is even more common. Industrialized cow’s milk is a foreign food to our bodies. Although the USDA promotes dairy as beneficial in the fight against osteoporosis, the acidic quality and concentration of animal protein may actually contribute to bone loss. Cows’ milk is one of the only foods that are specifically linked to acne. When you see that teenager with bad acne eating a sugar and dairy-laden ice cream cone, ask yourself which comes first, the chicken or the egg? If you eat dairy, goat or sheep products are always a better alternative. If you do choose to eat cows’ milk, it should preferably be raw, and from grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free cattle. Fermented dairy is always better than milk or cream.
Coffee and Booze
We should all limit our caffeine and alcohol consumption. We love our tea or coffee, and a glass of wine at night is an essential luxury. Try going without for two weeks to break the addiction, and give your body a break. If you go back to it, limit to one small cup of each a day—a small cup equals 4 ounces. Why? Caffeine and alcohol are stimulants and they heighten immune response. For people with inflammatory diseases like arthritis, eczema, and psoriasis, stimulants increase your body’s reaction and can make symptoms worse.
None of our recipes contain garlic, onions, shallots, or other members of the allium family. Moderate consumption has very powerful anti-inflammatory benefit that has been shown to improve cardiovascular function, blood sugar balance, and aid in cancer prevention. Although they do have some recognizable benefit, we choose to exclude them completely. This exclusion is due to the fact that alliums are classified in the rajasik—or energetic food category. This category also includes chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol. Alliums are powerfully stimulating to the system, and yet we foolishly consume them all the time. The same potency that gives them their health benefit, is also responsible for dulling the mind and the senses. Just like any other stimulant, garlic and onions should be treated with caution and consumed in moderation.
Sugar Isn’t Sweet
Of all the foods on this list to avoid, processed sugar is probably the worst. Not only is sugar full of empty calories, it is addictive and ultimately unfulfilling so you tend to overeat it. Although empty calories are good to avoid, that is probably the least of sugars’ evils. Sugar suppresses the immune system, promotes inflammation, increases cellular oxidation (makes you age faster), raises insulin levels, and promotes the growth of yeast which contributes to candida and other fungal issues. The list of alternative “healthy” sweeteners grows by the day—agave, coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, and others. While all of these sugars have their place, and some nutritional benefit, we don’t recommend eating them a lot. The safest sugar is from pure, fresh fruit.
The Golden Tickets
So now that you have read the bad list, what is on the good list? Healthy Fat Is Where It’s At We are healthy fat freaks. If you lived through the 1980s, you may have spent a few too many years on the fat-is-bad bandwagon, so it’s good to make up for lost time. If you want to “get the glow,” healthy fat is where it’s at. These healthy fats can be found in the plant-based form of nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, olive oil, and others. Good fats help nutrient absorption, cellular function, nerve transmission, and prevent inflammation along with many other bodily functions.
We all know the word “antioxidant” but few of us may really understand what antioxidants do. Antioxidants are the weapons against cellular destruction and molecular oxidation. When cells in our body oxidize, they create free radicals. Free radicals expedite the aging process causing tissue degeneration, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more superficial problems like wrinkles. Antioxidants attack these free radicals and protect our cellular functions.
The issue and importance of minerals in our diet could fill another book. The modern diet is lacking in minerals because of the inorganic conditions that much of our food comesfrom. Historically, our diets were rich in minerals from the soil and earth. Now we eat highly processed food that is produced in highly manufactured conditions. Food-based minerals are the core nutritional value of the food we eat—from macrominerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium to trace minerals like copper, manganese, and selenium—they are all important. To increase your mineral consumption, make sure to buy organic, preferably local, and seasonal produce.
The Ten Detox Commandments
Although all of the recipes in this book are easy to make, recipes aren’t all you need. There are some simple life skills that help you live and eat in a more pleasant and detoxifying way. I have said before, it isn’t just what you eat; it is how you eat—and changing a few bad habits can be hugely beneficial.
1. Water plus lemon. Before you do anything in the morning, have a glass of filtered water with lemon. One lemon in one liter of water is a great way to get moving first thing (literally). This is the best thing that you can do for yourself. Sleep is very drying and the water with lemon is a powerful boost of hydration plus vitamin C. This is our number one routine.
2. You’re not a turkey. Don’t Stuff. People love to “stuff” themselves full. Full of greens or full of junk food—it doesn’t matter. Don’t stuff. When you stuff yourself you are stretching your stomach, your blood sugar gets out of whack, you torture your digestion, and you add stress to your body and lines to your face. If you are eating something heavy, eat less. Chew slowly, and savor. If you start practicing awareness when it comes to the quantity of food you eat, it will change your life. You may have heard the old advice, eat until eighty percent full. Well, you heard it again, eat until you are eighty percent full. Stuffing yourself full of healthy food won’t make you healthy. Our idea of portions is terribly skewed. Please don’t supersize me. Thanks.
3. If you aren’t hungry, don’t eat. One pet peeve is when people feel like they need to eat when they aren’t hungry. If you aren’t hungry, it is often your body’s way of telling you “give me a break.” Skipping a meal won’t kill you. These mini fasts can be very beneficial to your health. Airplane travel and other nutritional wastelands are great places to eat less and drink more water. Of course we advise this within reason. If you are underweight or have a nutritional deficiency, consistent nutrition is very important. Please use good judgment.
4. Move. Yes, exercise is important. This doesn’t mean that you have to go to boot camp seven days a week. Moderate exercise or just moving around more can make you feel so much better. Next time you are hungry, tired, and crabby—stretch up high and then bend over to touch your toes. You will feel a jolt of new energy.
5. Don’t eat fake food. We could steal the phrase, “Eat Real Food, Mostly Plants” and ok . . .we will. This is the best advice. Substituting vegan this and gluten-free that is not detoxifying. Eating more fruits and vegetables is. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet is the key. Fake meat for real meat isn’t necessarily healthy.
6. Use silverware. This might sound crazy as part of the Ten Detox Commandments, but it is true. When you eat with real silver, you tend to eat more slowly, thoughtfully, and carefully. Stabbing food with a flimsy plastic fork does not have the same mental satisfaction that eating with a proper service does. Eating with silverware also eliminates eating in the car, on the subway, while walking, and other various ways that we see people awkwardly eating.
7. Embrace the ritual. So much satisfaction comes from awareness. Being in the moment when you consume is important to health and happiness.
8. Don’t eat if you have to go. Go where? To the bathroom. If you have to go to the bathroom while you eat, you cannot judge how full or satisfied you are. You will eat faster and uncomfortably. People actually do this.
9. Schedule snacks. Snacking within reason can be very helpful to maintaining a healthy diet. Becoming ravenous and overeating is definitely not healthy, but grazing all day long doesn’t give your body time to digest or properly metabolize. It may seem ridiculously obvious, but keeping a few almonds or an apple around is a great balancing snack.
10. Take a seat. Take the time to sit down and eat your food. All of the above will be much easier if you take a seat.
I am not a nutritionist, scientist, or medical doctor. My authority on this subject is solely based on personal experience and our own research. I do not believe that there is one answer for everyone. I do believe that introducing more whole fruits and vegetables into your diet is healthy. Processed foods can easily make their way into any diet—vegetarian, vegan, gluten free—it doesn’t mean that it’s nutritious. Even a raw food diet that is full of nuts, sugar, and dehydrated food is extreme in the negative direction. A whole foods diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle, no matter what your dietary inclination may be. The less processed the better. Unfortunately, in our fast-food, fast-paced society, many of us don’t even know how to make a healthy meal, and especially don’t know how to make them easily delicious.
My greatest talent is probably pleasure seeking, and I find it in the small things. Part of appreciating pleasure is finding balance. I eat a little chocolate every day, I drink a little wine almost every day, I drink tea every day, and I try to find healthy ways to savor moments. I don’t believe in extremes (unless it is for an artistic expression) and all-ornothing diets definitely aren’t the answer. Finding pleasurable ways to incorporate healthy food into your diet is what this book is about. Design your detox and learn to savor the moments when you nourish yourself the best.