I was seriously considering trying a juice cleanse. You know, one of those three to five (to seven!) day restrictive regimens of nothing but super-nutrient-packed vegetable and fruit juices, meant to cleanse, reset and restore your body’s system. Celebrities and health gurus extoll the virtues. People swear by it.
I completely fell for the glamorous, healthful message of cleansing. Heal yourself. Cleanse the toxins maliciously intent on draining your energy. Start anew. The basic theory is that by cutting out everything from your diet but the very healthiest and nutrient-rich produce for a few days – essentially giving your body and digestive system a rest – your body is restored. It seemed easy enough. Lately, I’ve caught myself yawning more frequently. Feeling sluggish. Slipping in an extra cup of coffee mid-morning. Life has been busy – the good kind of busy – but I haven’t been taking care of my body like I should be, or taking time for myself. I’m starting to feel it. A few too many of these and a few less trips to the gym will do that. I began to think that I just needed to press the reset button with a cleanse. I could get back to a healthy baseline.
That is until I did some research and quickly realized that a three day cleanse would cost upwards of $150. That may work for cleansers more dedicated than me, but spending that much to give up eating solid food for three days was neither plausible nor justifiable. The sticker shock alone catapulted me back to reality. Maybe the high cost was a good thing. It was at least cause for some serious reevaluation. Maybe my focus should be less about swinging the pendulum in the absolute opposite direction – and expecting a collection of perfectly concocted, cold-pressed juices to be my cure for malaise – and more about simply finding a better balance.
Instead I’m embarking on my own version of a cleanse. One to improve my life/work/health balance. One that involves simply making healthy living and eating a stronger priority, but still leaves plenty of room for daily indulgences (like my morning espresso). Little changes, like taking a break from meat for awhile, and focusing even more on fresh, seasonal produce. Pushing myself towards extra morning workouts. Even when it’s cold, and the bed is oh, so cozy. Finding my own, best balance.
And my secret cleansing weapon? Starting off my day with a homemade, vitamin-and-nutrient-packed green drink. That’s my real takeaway from this cleansing saga. Tons of healthy, raw, superfood goodness blended to verdant oblivion in a tasty juice. Admittedly, this plan is nowhere near as intense as a professionally-designed juicing program, but that’s kind of the point. I’m also bound to receive a lot less eye-rolling from the Honey than if I happened to casually mention, that, oh by the way, “I’m doing a cleanse…”
I go through phases with what I add to my standard green juice recipe. The base ingredients stay pretty much the same: baby spinach and kale or Swiss chard, cucumber, apple, fresh herbs, coconut water and a squeeze of lemon or lime. The add-ins depend on what’s in season, or, more often than not, what’s in the freezer. I like to add a bit of fresh ginger, and a handful of frozen blueberries or blackberries. Sometimes I’ll switch in frozen pineapple or mango chunks. You can even sprinkle in some chia or flax seeds if you’re feeling especially healthful.
Full disclosure: If you add berries to the recipe, which I often do, it will quickly lose its bright, green color. The deeply pigmented juices of blueberries and blackberries easily overpower the colors of just about every other ingredient in the blender, leaving you with a very healthy, deep mauve drink. Not quite as eye-catching, but I promise you, still delicious.
And if juicing/cleansing/green-drinking isn’t your thing? Not to worry, Lovelies! I have many, many traditional sweet and savory winter recipes bouncing around in my head for this holiday season (and not a blender in sight!).
Basic Green Drink
- 1–1/2 to 2 cups chilled coconut water
- 1 cup (packed) baby spinach leaves
- 1 cup (packed) kale or Swiss chard leaves, removed from stem
- 1 apple, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 English cucumber, roughly chopped
- small handful fresh mint leaves
- small handful fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves
- juice of one lemon or lime
Optional Add-ins (Mix and match, to taste)
- 1 tsp fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries and/or blackberries
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple and/or mango chunks
- chia or flax seeds
- Add all of the ingredients to a blender, and blend on high-speed until the mixture is smooth and well combined, about a minute or two. When the drink reaches your desired consistency, pour into glasses and enjoy immediately!
This recipe is really just an ingredient baseline. Feel free to experiment and find your favorite combinations and ratios. More or less of each ingredient is perfectly fine if it suits your taste!
Optionally, you can strain the mixture through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve, to reduce the amount of pulp in the beverage, and reach a more juice-like consistency. If choosing this route and also adding any superfood seeds to the mix, add them after straining.
This juice is best enjoyed immediately, and can be stored in the fridge for up to a day. Some of the pulp may separate – simply shake or stir to mix before drinking.