Cleansing for food lovers

‘…you can’t die of boredom for the cause of a good detox.’

During our spring Fitness for Foodies program, we talked about making the switch from heavier, more indulgent winter meals to the lighter, cleaner flavours of spring, incorporating many more vegetables and a variety of grains and legumes in our cooking. Well, over the past couple of weeks, we felt the need to take things up another level by embarking on our very own ‘spring detox’. It’s something we like to do at least once or twice a year, and goes a long way to helping to maintain that sense of balance that we strive for.

However, if you (like me) have always shuddered at the thought of cutting out all the foods you love and that it might be all too hard and boring, fear not, as you won’t find a lemon detox style regime here!  Since meeting the lovely Jan Purser some years ago and being introduced to her detox program and cook book, I actually look forward to it. Deprivation? Not a chance!

Jan is a high profile naturopathic nutritionist, health writer and award-winning author. Lucky for us, she is also a self-confessed ‘foodie’, having started her career as a recipe developer and editor of cookbooks for the Australian Women’s Weekly. She has a no-nonsense, down-to-earth approach when it comes to spreading the word on how to eat well and help her clients achieve great health.

To get us started, Jan has kindly agreed to share some of her gentle wisdom and experience with us by answering a few questions about detoxing…

The obvious question first –why detox?

I recommend following a detox program twice a year to give your body a rest from common allergen foods, to improve digestive health and support liver function. It’s an excellent way to break bad habits and keep your weight and health on a good track.

Your detox book is called ‘cleansing for food lovers’ – why and how is it different to the traditional fasts and detoxes that we might be more familiar with?

Your body requires protein for good detoxification and many detox diets eliminate protein foods which might be counterproductive. I wrote the book with Kathy Snowball who was the food director of Gourmet Traveller magazine for a time. We both agreed that you can’t die of boredom for the cause of a good detox. The food must be delicious and inspiring and that was our aim.

In your opinion, when is the best time to detox and how long for?

I usually detox after the festive season and after my mid year/spring holiday. Mainly because I get right off track during these times and I might have a bit more alcohol and overindulge a bit. Essentially you can detox any time but usually when you have a less busy social calendar or you don’t mind following some restrictions when being social.

What are the main foods to avoid during a detox regime? What should we be eating instead?

The basic list of foods to avoid are gluten, dairy, yeast, citrus, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, additives and pesticides. Instead have: dairy replacements (rice milk, organic unsweetened soy milk); lots of lean organic or free range protein foods (poultry, fish, lamb, eggs, tofu and a little beef); nuts and seeds; organic vegetables and fruit; some legumes; and, gluten-free foods (quinoa, 100% buckwheat pasta, Serafine brand gluten free sour dough bread, basmati rice, rice noodles) .

A detox is a great opportunity to try new foods and experiment with flavours – can you suggest some less common ingredients that would be worthwhile incorporating into a detox?

Quinoa, spice mixes from Herbie’s Spices (fantastic quality that really make a difference), poultry such as quail and duck, konjac noodles, and curry leaves in Indian based dishes.

What foods or recipes do you personally look forward to eating while detoxing?

Mostly the recipes in the Detox Cookbook and the detox friendly recipes in my Eat Well Cookbook. I love focusing more on protein food with vegetables and less on starchy carbohydrate foods because this really makes a difference with the waistline and energy levels.

Can you share some of your best tips for a successful and easy detox?

Plan your detox and shop for the ingredients, tell everyone you’re detoxing for XX amount of time, and that you won’t be drinking and so forth. If you’re drinking coffee or regular tea, spend a week or so cutting down slowly and have a cup of green tea per day instead (allowed on the detox, I like green tea chai with soy milk). Cook some sensational food from the Detox Cookbook so you feel like you’re on a gourmet retreat.

Thank you for your time Jan, great advice! I’ll be back next time with a de-brief on how we went with our detox, as well as a couple of recipes for you that Jan has kindly shared with us (including the Stir fried lamb with asian greens and rice noodles, pictured above right.)

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