When it comes to Latinas and food, many of us defend our culture’s diet with a hint of resignation, as if our bodies are defeated for eternity by our rich, savory recipes. For instance, when I tried to advise C.R., a woman from the Dominican Republic on revising her eating habits, she replied, “Well, you know how we [Latinos] eat. It is all fried, carbs and processed sugar, “a Latino diet“. “I cannot change that. It is part of my culture, of who I am.”
Indeed, food is an integral part of Latino culture: It defines our roots, history and cultural background. Yet, when it comes to take care of ourselves, changing our eating habits can be challenging for many Latinas, as we tap into some dormant areas of our lives, both physically and emotionally.
But what C.R., and many Latinas alike, don’t realize is that you don’t need to give up tostones forever to regain and feel like your best self. All you need is a week to detox your system. A detox diet is not a full-on fast. Rather, it’s a way to simplify your diet for a short period of time. By detoxing for a week, you can reap some extraordinary benefits. A cleansing can chase away the blues and lethargy, clarify the mind, restore the skin’s glow, ease insomnia and rev up your energy. Oh, and you might lose weight! And, here’s the best part: Detoxing can be quite delicious. Yes, delicious!
But now you’re thinking of the H-word: How can I possibly detox during the holidays? For many, it’s a hectic time, not to mention filled with temptation. Holidays can have so many different denotative and connotative meanings. But in actuality, now is the perfect time for a gentle detox, including a juice-fast. And also to allow ourselves to cleanse, release and detox both our emotional and physical system to be armed during this stressful time.
Though there are different approaches to detoxing, one thing is certain: You don’t have to sacrifice fun and flavor to regain and enjoy good health, feel energetic and gorgeous. A week of clean foods is perfectly doable and should get you back on your path to good health.
The simple thing to remember about a detox diet is to stick to fresh fruits and vegetables (raw or lightly sautéed, steamed or baked), whole grains, raw or sprouted seeds, and legumes. During your detox, avoid simple carbs, acidifying foods (meat, dairy, sauces) processed foods and sugars. Also, avoid combining too many different types of foods together, especially proteins with starches or fats, or fruits with anything but leafy greens.
5 QUICK TIPS TO ENHANCE YOUR DETOX DIET
1. Start each morning with a cup of ginseng tea or mate to gently wake up your system.
2. Take a brisk walk to jump-start your circulation.
3. Try yoga. Regular yoga practice will help you to balance and detoxify your body deeper and faster.
4. Drink plenty of purified or spring water and replace your regular infusions with warm water with lemon.
Eat four to five small meals a day to help boost your metabolism. (Design your meals using the list of purifying foods below.)
5. If you want, chronicle your detox week by keeping a food diary, making special note of how you feel each day. As your week progresses, your body will send you little messages. Pay careful attention to these messages.
As your body detoxes, you might feel some temporary physical discomforts such mild headaches, sluggishness and body aches. Remember, always consult your physician for questions or guidance on medical problems or conditions.
If you suffer from sluggish digestion, cap off the night with a honey-laced sweet potato puree, which, for me, works like magic. Simply blend sweet potatoes in a little bit of their boiling water and lightly drizzle with raw honey or agave nectar, cardamom and cinnamon (spices optional).
PURIFYING FOODS FOR A DETOX DIET
Choose from the foods below to craft your “clean food” week to maximize nutrients and restorative benefits.
Fruit: apples, apricots, chestnuts, figs, coconut, grapefruit, ripe bananas, oranges, persimmon, nuts, plums, watermelon
Vegetables: broccoli, beets, celery, cabbage, corn, lentils, eggplant, cucumber, lettuce, parsnips, potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, squash, peppers
Protein: fish, tempeh, tofu, chicken, lean pork (avoid red meats altogether). For more radical results, try going vegetarian or vegan for your entire cleansing.
Grains and Seeds: barley, black sesame seeds, brown rice, wild rice, sunflower seeds, soybeans or edamame
Condiments and Extras: raw honey, agave nectar, milk (almond or soy), sesame seed oil, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, fresh herbs, calming spices such cardamon, coriander and cinnamon.
Morning Detox Juice Recipe
This fresh vegetable juice combines the cleansing power of beets with the refreshing, anti-inflammatory properties of cucumbers, the alkalizing benefits of spinach and the antioxidant benefits of carrots. All ingredients should be fresh an organic if possible. No sugar or honey is necessary, but if you would like to sweeten it a bit, add some raw honey or agave nectar. (Serves 2)
2 ounces fresh beets
3 stalks asparagus
8 ounces spinach
1 cucumber (peeled)
3 stalks celery
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root (or a fingertip-sized chunk of fresh ginger)
Optional: handful of watercress, alfalfa sprouts and parsley
One by one, add ingredients to a juicer, adding the carrots or celery last to help push all ingredients smoothly through the machine. Drink immediately (TIP: Fresh juices lose their healing, nutritional properties after 20 minutes.)
Healing Ginger Chicken
This recipe makes a healthful meal for your cleansing week. Not only does ginger aid digestion, it helps stimulate your “chi,” or energy, in the body. Serve the chicken with basmati, brown or wild rice. (Serves 4)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red, or green, pepper
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
1 pound skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium)
1 orange, juiced
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
11/2 teaspoons brown sugar
11/2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, toasted
Sea salt and fresh grounded pepper to taste
Ribbons of fresh basil (or chopped cilantro), to garnish
Heat an empty wok over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the vegetable oil and let warm through. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté together. Add the onions, peppers and any extra vegetable you chose to add.
Once the aromatic mix is golden, add the chicken and stir-fry to sear the edges.
Splash in the soy sauce and orange juice and sprinkle in the brown sugar. Add the sesame oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
Add the mushrooms. Season to taste. Stir-fry for another 2 minutes or so.
Remove from heat. Sprinkle sesame seeds over chicken and garnish with basil strips. Serve with rice.