The question of cleansing

Prior to Christmas we started to see an emergence of a new, young and vibrant health-conscience community in the food world. Deliciously Ella was about to break away and become one of the biggest food blog success stories of recent years, and a fascination for new ingredients and techniques such as cocao nibs, cold-pressing and chia was becoming commonplace in our vocabularies (and store cupboards). On being asked what the biggest trend for 2014 would be, there was no doubt in my mind that this emerging knowledge would take hold of the food, health…and instagram…community and have a huge influence on the coming year’s food focus.

Fast-forward three months and it’s well underway, with every Tom, Dick and Harry replacing cows milk for almond milk, wheat and gluten for rye and chia and olive oil for coconut oil. It’s an exciting time, especially considering the ongoing concerns in the UK around obesity, excessive meat eating and the more recent studies into sugar consumption. Amongst the furore, the heart of this new health-conscious community, and what I believe was the real stem of the ‘fad’, was and still is juices and smoothies, and the cleanses that inevitably come hand-in-hand with them.

After the excesses of Christmas and having religiously followed the new health pack, as well as using my Netflix subscription to watch virtually every vegan and diet documentary going, I decided to give smoothie detoxing a go (replacing two meals a day with vegetable and fruit smoothies). Here’s how I did…

Day 1 – off to a very green start

This morning I kicked things off with a smoothie adapted from a Deliciously Ella recipe. Having never really ‘smoothied’ before, I’m not too sure what ingredients are going to work well together, so I was in need of some inspiration. I blended one avocado, one apple, one pear, the juice of one lemon and some water. The avocado added a creaminess without needing any dairy, but I probably put too much in, as it was impossible to drink through a straw!

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Following a good wonder around the Venn Street Market in Clapham, I was back for lunch armed with a huge variety of fruit and veg. My lunch smoothie included one apple, one stick of celery, a big handful of spinach, a chunk cucumber, a big spring of mint and some water. The smoothie tasted great, with the mint adding a lovely refreshing element, but it could have done with something to make it little more palatable especially as I had to sip it whilst my housemate grilled some chorizo and trout.

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The morning had been quite easy, I suppose I don’t tend to eat a huge amount in the mornings and my first smoothie was quite late anyway. In the afternoon, however I really started struggling and caved in to some roast sweet potato before dinner.

Day two – a new discovery

Last night I ate a vegan-friendly dinner at 6pm (I couldn’t wait any longer) and followed it by copious glasses of mint and lemon water inspired by Nutrition Stripped. Surprisingly, when I woke up this morning I wasn’t too hungry, so leisurely sipped a cup of hot lemon and mint whilst preparing the first smoothie of the day.

This consisted of half an apple, half a pear, 3 large pieces of frozen banana, one stalk of celery, a handful of rocket, a handful of spinach, a knob of ginger and cold water. The rocket and ginger gave it quite a kick, which knocked my body into some sort of shock. It wasn’t unpleasant, but a far cry from yesterday’s creamy and pedestrian start.

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I then had to go to an appointment and fearing I would need a snack (and not wanting to carry around a smoothie) I opted for a packet of radishes and a clementine, which I figured would be ok. I had read that if you needed to eat, raw veg was best. Following this I made smoothie number two including half an apple, half a pear, a handful of spinach, a carrot, a knob of ginger and some Rude Health Almond Drink.

I have never really looked into dairy alternatives seriously before. My flatmates and I have previously tried lacto-free and soya, but reading the ingredient lists I was surprised by how much rubbish goes into them. Filled with stabilisers, gum, flavourings and acidity regulators they really aren’t a natural substitution for dairy milk. However, Rude Health’s Almond drink is actually the only one on the shelf that is. Containing only five ingredients –  spring water, organic rice, organic almonds, organic cold-pressed sunflower oil and sea salt- it both tastes great and is a fantastic addition to smoothies without adding anything unnatural to my detox.

Day 3 – a sweet start to the week

Today I am starting to struggle with the detox. I suppose the Monday morning blues were making me a little worried as to whether a smoothie was going to be able to sustain me throughout the working day. I therefore opted for a sweet start to the day with 4 pieces of frozen banana, one apple, one pear, Rude Health almond milk and cinnamon.

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The morning at work was really difficult. Despite being very busy, working in the food industry meant that I was constantly distracted by samples appearing in the office. It took all of my will-power to last through to lunchtime, when I had a smoothie made with a quarter apple, celery stalk, handful of spinach, handful of rocket, cucumber, almond milk and ginger that I’d prepared earlier (and had to bring in in an old vodka bottle – another difficultly of a liquid diet). One major positive of this is that my fruit and veg intake is really high at the moment, which can only be a good thing, despite it being really difficult to ignore my colleagues’ lunches.

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Day 4 – feeling guilty…

Today I woke up really really not wanting to drink another smoothie. However I persevered with a tasty combination of half an avocado, a small apple, chunk of cucumber, juice of half a lemon, sprig of mint, handful of spinach and a splash of almond milk

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When I got to work I was feeling quite miserable. There were pork pies. Lots and lots of pork pies. And I threw caution to the wind, chowing down on disproportionately large chunk…or three…

I am realising that a smoothie detox is not a realistic thing to do, in fact I think I am doing more illegal snacking that I would usually do. After all, I am essentially eating two glasses of cold soup during the day. Put like that, I don’t think half of the smoothie detox enthusiasts would touch it. However, despite pie-gate, I carried on and had another smoothie for lunch, containing a quarter of a pineapple, 3 frozen banana pieces, handful of spinach, small handful of rocket and almond milk.

Day 5 – the end.

Everything has gone to sh*t. Last night I went out for drinks and probably consumed the same amount of wine calories that my total smoothie consumption this far has contained. On top of this Iate way too many chocolates after a client sent in a thank-you box.

That’s it. Enough is enough.

In hindsight, I didn’t approach this in the right way. Smoothies are a fantastic way of getting loads of nutrients into your diet in a convenient, fast and easy way, but substituting two meals a day for them is not so smart. If you are looking into doing a diet or detoxing using juices and smoothies, I suggest trying out a company such as Plenish or Radiance, who have nutritionally-balanced pre-made cleanses. But really, the best thing to do is use all of this new, exciting information that is appearing on our twitter, instagram and blog feeds to help create a balanced diet for yourself, without making too many radical changes. Safe to say, I won’t be trying this again, but have definitely adopted the occasional smoothie into my diet, maybe leaving the rocket and ginger at the door…

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