The Healthy Girl Gentle Dietary Cleanse: A Complete Meal Plan


You may have read my recent entry about beginning a gentle cleanse to get back on track after too much unhealthy eating. The intention behind this five-day project was to give my body a rest–and thank it for all the amazing things it does for me!–by feeding it only the most nutritious, easy-to-digest foods. That meant avoiding:
meat
fish
dairy
soy
wheat/gluten
caffeine
alcohol
processed foods
all chemicals, including preservatives

…and enjoying plenty of:
fresh and dried fruits
veggies
beans and legumes
nuts
eggs
gluten-free grains like quinoa and brown rice
caffeine-free, all-natural teas
kombucha! (an expensive delight I allowed myself to splurge on during my cleanse)

Though a little higher in fat than the diet I normally try to eat, my cleanse diet consisted of heart-healthy, easy-to-process fats (like the unsaturated kinds found in nuts, which are thought to lower cholesterol.) I feel the need to mention that the elimination of gluten is completely unrelated to the carb phobia that has plagued our culture in recent years; I simply avoided this natural element during my cleanse because it takes more work for our bodies to process.

What follows is a five-day meal plan that you can use (and tweak to your needs, mind you) if you’d like to embark on the Healthy Girl Cleanse! Please remember that I’m not a medical professional, so you may want to check with your physician to make sure that this cleanse is right for you. Also, please don’t feel that anything about this cleanse supports starvation as a means of toxin-flushing; I’m skeptical that such claims hold any merit, and would never encourage you to go hungry. My meal plan is designed around eating smallish amounts every 3 hours or so in order to feel satiated and energized at all times. If you find that the portions I list below are filling you up too much or leaving you really hungry, listen to your body and give it what it needs–every body requires a slightly different amount of fuel!

Finally, don’t be discouraged if you feel that a gentle cleanse is not right for you. Perhaps just integrating a few snack or meal ideas into your repertoire would be fun! My meal plan includes many recipes that you can find on Healthy Girl, along with others that are self-explanatory (I hope.) Please see the shopping list for an easy grocery store guide; keep in mind that I’ve tried to include a lot of variety in this meal plan, but by remaking a few recipes you’re really into, like I did, you can make this cleanse more budget-friendly. As always, feel free to comment publicly or email your questions, comments and criticisms to healthygirlcooking@gmail.com. I hope to hear from you…happy cleansing!

Day 1

Breakfast

Apple-Spinach juice
Hard-boiled egg with freshly ground pepper and kosher salt

Snack 1
Sliced banana with chopped red apple, 2 TBSP walnut pieces and a squeeze of honey

Lunch
Egg in a Quinoa Nest

Snack 2
Handful of almonds with 5 pieces dried apricot

Dinner

Mexican-style baked potato with black beans, roasted corn, steamed broccoli, and salsa

Snack 3
Fresh pineapple slices

Day 2

Breakfast

Creamsicle juice (juice oranges first along with one extra orange, setting aside the extra orange juice to use in a smoothie later)
Handful of almonds

Snack 1
1/4 cup hummus with carrot and cucumber slices
Lunch
Quinoa and Roasted Veggie Salad, dressed with 1 tsp olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice

Snack 2

Smoothie with fresh orange juice, banana, and pineapple

Dinner

1 cup cooked red lentils with roasted broccoli, zucchini and squash (make extra for snack tomorrow)

Snack 3

Baked sweet potato topped with honey and cinnamon

Day 3

Breakfast
4 egg whites scrambled with sauteed mushrooms and sliced tomato
Banana

Snack 1

Leftover lentils with veggies

Lunch
Mixed greens with sliced avocado, shredded carrots, black beans and salsa

Snack 2

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Brussles Sprouts

Dinner

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers (omit veggie sausage and add extra beans; make extras for lunch tomorrow!)

Snack 3

Peach and/or pear slices

Day 4

Breakfast

Egg in a Quinoa Nest

Snack 1

Creamsicle Juice

Lunch
Leftover Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

Snack 2
Roasted sweet potato with brussles sprouts

Dinner
Lentil Burgers

Snack 3
Peach or pear slices


Day 5


Breakfast

4 scrambled egg whites with sauteed mushrooms and tomato slices
Peach or pear

Snack 1
Sliced banana with chopped fuji apple, 2 TBSP walnut pieces and a squeeze of honey

Lunch

Hummus and Veggie plate with carrot and cucumber slices, raw broccoli florets, mixed greens drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice, and 1/2 cup hummus

Snack 2

Handful of almonds with 5 dried apricots

Dinner
Bowl-o-Burrito

Snack 3

Pineapple slices

Other additions you may enjoy:

*Peppermint, ginger, chamomile, or any of your favourite caffine-free teas (iced or hot)

*Kombucha, a refreshing, cleansing drink made from mushroom-like cultures

*Hot water with lemon and any combination of the following: cayenne pepper, honey, cinnamon, ginger root (as suggested by a very helpful reader!)

*Popcorn–but only the homemade kind, involving nothing but corn kernels and a little olive or canola oil!

P.S. If you’re a coffee freak like me, it may be less torturous to ween yourself from The Sauce prior to beginning your cleanse. You can do this by cutting down and/or switching to green tea. I wouldn’t wish going cold turkey on my worst enemy.

The Healthy Girl Cleanse: A Complete Shopping List

Below is a shopping list for the meal plan above–a plan bursting with variety (read: a little rough on the ol’ wallet.) This shopping list is meant to be a guide that you can tweak to your liking and financial needs. I was perfectly happy repeating the meals and snacks I like the most, and I encourage you to do the same to get the most bang for your buck!

Fruits
3 large oranges
2 granny smith apples
3 fuji apples
5 bananas
1 pineapple
3-4 pears and/or peaches, or any other fruit you’d like to snack on
1 package dried apricots
1 large lemon
ginger root

Veggies

1 10-oz packages fresh spinach
2 medium tomatoes, or 1 pint cherry tomatoes
2-4 bell peppers, depending on size
2 avocados
1 baking potatoes
3 medium sweet potatoes
2 large heads broccoli
1 cucumber
3 zucchinis
3 summer squash
2 bags whole carrots
about 8 button mushrooms
about 10 brussles sprouts
1 package frozen corn
1 package frozen spinach
1 bag salad greens
…in many of my recipes, these veggies can be swapped for others you might prefer (try asparagus with scrambled eggs or roasted eggplant on a salad, for example; don’t be afraid to experiment!)

Beans, Nuts, Legumes & Eggs
1 dozen eggs
1 can black beans
1 package black lentils
1 package red lentils
1 package walnut pieces
1 package raw almonds

Grains
1-2 packages quinoa
1 bag brown rice (if you’d like to substitute rice for quinoa in some recipes)

Packaged Goods

1-2 containers organic hummus*
1 jar organic salsa*
1 bottle agave or raw honey
cinnamon
Lara bars (HG’s favourite raw, vegan, gluten- and soy-free bars for easy on-the-go snacking!)

*Buying organic packaged goods ensures that they are preservative-free.

Time-saving tips for the kitchen:

*When you have time to spare–even 10 minutes–check out your meal plan and do a little prep work for tomorrow. Chop your whole pineapple at once and store the pieces in a covered container in the fridge; that way, you can grab a handful for your smoothie or throw together a totable snack. The same strategy goes for cooking: this meal plan involves a lot of roasted veggies, so when you have time, chop 2 days worth of veggies and roast them all at once, storing the leftovers in air-tight containers or ziplock bags. I also included a lot of quinoa, which I like to make in big batches and draw from all week long.

*Keep a big ziplock full of nuts and dried fruit (or several individual ones, if you have trouble with portion control) in your purse, car or desk drawer for easy pre-made snacking.

*All of the prep work and cleaning involved in juicing can be time-consuming, so do anything you can beforehand, like peeling carrots and oranges and washing spinach. Prepped veggies and fruits can wait for you overnight in the fridge.

The Fatigue Continues…

Even my bones feel exhausted this week. Is it just the caffeine withdrawal, I wonder, or am I missing some essential energy-boosting nutrients? My protein intake has been lower than usual, so today I’m going to eat plenty of egg whites, lentils and beans, and see if that makes a difference. Hooo boy, am I looking forward to my cup of Reward Coffee on Friday morning!

Death by Coffee Deprivation


I have to be honest: I was not expecting a week of no caffeine to be so horribly miserable. I began my cleanse on Sunday morning, with a long day ahead of me. Getting through the morning was the easy part; I felt like I was on sedatives. It wasn’t until late afternoon that the caffeine withdrawal headache began, and I felt icky all evening. I mentally repeated my mantra: “this headache is the toxins leaving my body.” When I finally got home, I melted into bed. After almost ten hours of sleep, I was still so exhausted from caffeine withdrawal that I could barely haul myself out of bed on Monday morning! Willpower is not my forte, so I am giving myself mad props on my third day of coffee deprivation. It’s becoming easier, ever so slowly, but I still feel exhausted. Kombucha, while an expensive splurge, has been a delicious and natural aid for my fatigue. If you’ve never tried this delish tea fermented from a mushroom-type organism, you should give it a try; the health claims, which date back to early Chinese dynasties, include digestive, metabolic, and cleansing properties. Though it is caffeine-free, I feel a gentle kick in my step after I drink a bottle!

Cleanse Your Bod with Healthy Girl!

The whirlwind that has been my life over the past two months has not been kind to my body; I’ve been taking advantage of my free shift meals at work (which generally involve an abundance of meat and cheese, with hardly a vegetable in sight,) hardly finding time to exercise and sleeping restlessly. I need to get back on track, and the best way to do so is to give my body a break from the insanity I’ve been putting it through. This means avoiding everything that takes hard work to process: wheat, dairy, soy, meat, caffeine, alcohol, and preservatives and other chemicals. What does that leave, you ask? Fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts, eggs and quinoa. You’d be surprised how much variety you can squeeze out of this list!

Make no mistake: the Beyonce lemonade-and-cayenne-pepper “cleanse” is not my style. This regimen has gained a lot of popularity lately, much to my dismay. Supposedly, drinking nothing but water with lemon, maple syrup and cayenne can flush out toxins; I know people who have done it for a week or longer and swear by it. I can’t get beyond the scientific fact that when you don’t consume enough calories, your body goes into emergency mode to conserve its resources. How is telling your body that you’re dying a cleanse?? No, no, I can’t get behind that at all; it looks far too much like anorexia to me. My cleanse is about achieving satiety from the highest-quality, easiest-to-digest foods. Consuming organic, locally-produced food is always best, of course.

This week I’ll be sharing my notes as I collect ideas for cleansing recipes and meal ideas. Next week, I’ll create a week-long meal plan and shopping list that you can follow if you want to do your own cleanse. I’d love to hear all your thoughts and questions about cleansing!