detoxing, vegan girl style

the detoxing gal’s beverage of  choice

OK. So I know that the idea of doing some sort of detox or cleanse after the excesses of the silly season, Christmas and New Years isn’t exactly original. But just because something is cliché doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good idea. There’s usually a very good reason why a movement is adopted by the masses. And really when you get down to it, sometime a girl just needs to give her liver a rest.

As a reformed winemaker, to say that I like a drink is something of an understatement. There are few things I enjoy more than hearing the noise of a Champagne cork popping, or for that matter, the increasingly more common crack of a screw cap being liberated from a crisp young Riesling. I love the sound of glasses being filled, of toasts being raised, of glasses cliking.  But as most fellow winelovers know, it’s all too easy to get carried away and end up with a serious case of over indulgence.

To keep things in check, I used to have an alcohol-free Monday policy which meant that no matter what was happening, I’d have at least one day a week without a drink. It was kinda working until my clever and not-so-little brother pointed out the error in my logic. As everyone knows, Monday tends to be the toughest day of the week so really it’s the day that you should be allowed a glass or two of vino. Alcohol-free
and Monday just don’t make sense. He’s right you know, and since I abolished alcohol free Mondays late August last year, I’ve been on much better terms with the first day of the week.

The only problem with my new regime is that alcohol free days seem to have fallen by the wayside, which is where the idea to do a detox came in. While the thought of doing ‘Famine February’, as my flatmate Kate calls it, crossed my mind for a nano-second, I quickly settled on a much more manageable seven days.

To be honest, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it. So this is where you, dear reader, come into the picture. I had the bright idea that if I made it a project for stonesoup, then I would be publicly committed and far more likely to last the long, dry distance. But this is a food blog, not a 12 step program, so just to make it more interesting, ‘vegan week’ was born.

As a girl who loves her cheese, her meat, her eggs, and for that matter, her honey, becoming a full time vegan just isn’t an option. But as a girl who also loves her fruit and veg, it was kinda fun to try it on, just for a week.

The thing I was really struggling with when it came to planning detox week was breakfast. While fruit is the logical option, there are times when something more substantial is required. With yoghurt and milk off the menu, cereal and muesli just aren’t appealing, until I remembered good old bircher. Made with just water, the oats still take on a satisfyingly creamy texture to serve as a backdrop to toasted seeds, nuts, dried and or fresh fruit. Yum.

For lunches and dinners, I had the bright idea to use my Christmas gift, Jamie at Home as the prime recipe source. With the cheese and proscuitto omitted from a few dishes, things came together well. The ‘mothership’ tomato salad was a great start to the week with toasted almonds making a great crunchy substitute for buffalo mozerella.

Jamie’s ‘humble home cooked beans’ were so good that I renamed them ‘bloody good beans’ and was glad I had cooked up a big pot to last me for lunches through the week. Tuesday night’s roast carrot salad was surprisingly moreish, the sweet carrots and their punchy citrus dressing playing the prefect foil to the rich smooth avocado.

Wednesday night was, as we temporary vegans say, a ‘holiday’ from vegan world. I had forgotten that I’d been invited to dinner by my mad friend Rhys and his new love Antonio. Having already rescheduled on them once, I could hardly do so again, neither could I call and say that this week I was a vegan. So being the polite girl that I am, I kept the date and although I declined all offers of delicious wine, I just had to partake of the soft nutty jamon, not to mention the best roast pork that has ever passed my lips. I wonder if it tasted better because it was ‘forbidden?’

Blind dates are tough under any circumstances, but try throwing in that you are only drinking water and eating vegetables. Surprisingly enough the man in question did show up on Thursday and while he enjoyed some pinot gris, I sipped on sparkling mineral water as we swapped travel and flying stories. Now eating out as a vegan is far tougher than any blind date but we managed to find enough on the Bentley bar tapas menu to keep us from starving.

A quite Friday evening at home proved to be the most challenging from the alcohol aspect, there’s something about relaxing after a hard week at the office that really demands a glass of wine. The food side, however was a breeze with Jamie’s tomato stuffed roast capsicum, a little sourdough and brazil nut stuffed olives to finish it all off.

As my downstairs neighbour Dave kindly pointed out, it is positively un-Australian to be abstaining from alcohol on our national day, not to mention not eating copious amounts of BBQed meat. What was I thinking? A slip-up on the planning on my part but trust me, I made up for it on the Australia Day public holiday Monday.

Weekends at my Dad’s farm are always relaxing and proved just the thing to finish of my week of abstainence. My sister even humoured me by going along with the vegan thing, only to comment that every thing I made was OK but would have been much better with bacon. So much so that I think she has a new hypothesis that the definition of vegan food is something that would taste better if you added a few pork products.

So yes, I managed to make it a whole week without a drink or, with the exception of the pork fest, devouring any animal products.  As I sit here recounting the tale of my week, feeling slightly virtuous and sipping on the best tasting glass of Riesling I’ve had in a long time I’ve come to the conclusion that detoxing is like banging your head against a wall…it feels so good when you stop….all good things.

a vegan girl’s detox week menu(s)

monday:
breakfast  -stone fruit salad with oat bran
lunch       – the ‘mothership’ tomato salad with toasted almonds
yellow peach
dinner     – marinated barossa olives
bloody good beans with wilted beet tops
fresh dates & detox herbal tisane

tuesday:
breakfast  -tropical fruit salad with oat bran
lunch       – bloody good beans with oxheart tomato & basil
mango
dinner     – roast carrot salad with avocado, cavalo nero & toasted seeds
fresh dates & detox herbal tisane

wednesday:
breakfast  -basic bircher muesli with toasted seeds
lunch       – leftover roast carrot salad with shaved zucchini
blood plum
dinner     – the ‘pork-fest’ @ rhys & antonio’s
‘hammahon’ jamon with mahon cheese & shaved fennel
best ever roast pork with witlof & roast Jerusalem artichokes
caramelized figs with rosewater crème fraiche & pistachios

thursday:
breakfast  – basic bircher muesli with toasted seeds
lunch       – bloody good beans with wild rocket
white peach
dinner     – tapas @ the bentley restaurant & bar
excellent mixed olives
pimentos al pardon (roast green chillies with garlic & balsamic vinegar)
chickpea ‘chips’
fresh dates & detox herbal tisane

friday:
breakfast  – basic bircher muesli with dried figs & toasted seeds
lunch       – avocado & green salad with mojo
tropical fruit salad
dinner     – marinated barossa olives
roast red capsicum stuffed with tomatoes & herbs
green salad & spelt sourdough
fresh dates stuffed with brazil nuts & rooibos tea

saturday:
breakfast  – basic bircher muesli with super ripe yellow peach
lunch       – shaved red cabbage & white bean salad with dad’s full flavoured tomato fresh from the vine
dinner     – char grilled mixed mushies
brown rice salad
dried figs

sunday:
breakfast  – mango cheeks with passionfruit
lunch       – bloody good beans with green salad
dinner     – char grilled veg with babaganoush
quick plum sorbet

 

basic bircher muesli
makes approx 4 servings

This isn’t the first time that bircher muesli has appeared on stonesoup. I used to mix in all the flavourings before soaking but have since realized that if you make a basic batch and add the extras as you serve you can customize and have a different muesli experience each day with the added bonus of keeping your nuts and seeds crispy for textural contrast.

If you happen to be all out of oat bran, feel free to replace with rolled oats but you’ll be missing out on the extra fibre.

1cup rolled oats
1 cup oat bran
½ teaspoon cinnamon, optional
2 cups milk, skim milk, apple juice or water
1-2 pears or apples

Place oats and oat bran in a large ceramic or glass bowl. Stir through cinnamon and then add your chosen liquid.

Wash pears or apples and place on a chopping board. Using a sharp knife, cut fruit in half lengthwise and then cut each in half again to form four wedges. Place one wedge on the board skin side down and cut out the seeds and core leaving as much flesh as possible. Coarsely grate or finely chop fruit and stir into the oat mixture.

Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight or up to about a week.

To serve, scoop a generous amount of muesli into a bowl and top with any combination of the following ingredients that takes your fancy:

dried dates, chopped            toasted seed mix**
dried figs, chopped               almonds, chopped
sultanas, raisins or currants  cashews, chopped
dried apricots, chopped         walnuts, chopped
banana, sliced                       honey (only for the non vegans)
mango, chopped                   brown sugar
peaches, plums or apricots, chopped
your favourite jam
extra oatbran

***toasted seed mix
Combine 1/4C each of sesame and linseeds* with 1/2C each pepitas and sunflower seeds and 1C of chopped nuts. Lightly toast under the grill and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

*note. My Dad happened to visit a linseed farmer recently and  he was complaining about what difficult things they were to grow and how many sprays he needed to apply…a very good reason to choose organic linseeds wouldn’t you say?

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{ 11 comments }

Ben January 28, 2008 at 12:11 pm

” There’s usually a very good reason why a movement is adopted by the masses. ”

Are you /sure/ about that? Of the top of my head how about Nazism, Atkins, Creationism and c.

In regards to detox diets there is no scientific evidence which suggests they are even necessary, or produce any benefit from the obvious advantages of eating more fresh fruit. The idea of excessive ‘toxins’ in the body is naive and sophistical at first and ultimately incredible.

Not that you’re suggesting this, but I’ve just heard it mentioned so earnestly so many times…

On a (un-)related matter, one of my best friends is two-term Baxter HP. Small world, no?

Eva January 29, 2008 at 1:35 am

Wow, your detox week seems to have been positively delicious! I’ve only tried once for a day to eat fruit and veg only (raw and blanched, no condiments) and that was the hardest day in my life, food-wise. Started to crave for bread and noodles straight away… If I ever consider to detox again, I’ll think about your menu!

Em January 29, 2008 at 10:12 am

Hey Jules,
Congrats! You’re definately my food hero, but I’m really glad I didn’t have to share your bed with all those beans and other veg on board.
PS. Sourced the smoked paprika, so mojo is on menu for weekend!

jules February 1, 2008 at 1:32 am

ben
yeah..you have an excellent point there…the nazis…excellent example of why I should stick to food writing and not social commentary

lovely to hear from someone with a connection to good old baxter

thanks eva,
the food part of detox was definitely more fun than the alcohol free side of things…

good luck with the mojo em

Pat February 1, 2008 at 4:55 am

I gave away the wine for a couple of weeks on the South Beach diet about 3 years ago. You’re right about the end-of-the-week unwinding tipple being a hard one to give up. These days I just take milk thistle to give the liver a hand :)

Y February 2, 2008 at 9:09 am

How interesting! Don’t think I could ever go vegan – there’re too many little things in life I love that I’d find hard to give up, like fish sauce, shrimp paste, good old fashioned butter and pork anything. I love bircher muesli and love vegetables, but I think balance is probably the best answer. There’s only so many beans or dates I could eat!

junglegirl February 3, 2008 at 1:45 am

There is a historical tradition of eating bitter herbs every spring to cleanse the body of toxins that build up over winter. And, actually there is tons of new research for those who prefer science to confirm time-honored traditions.

I use milk-thistle also. And I once met a recovered alcoholic who had researched his condition and found that nearly all people who relied regularly upon alcohol (regardless of the degree) are deficient in the B complex and calcium/magnesium vitamins, specifically.

Great, inspiring post, thank you!

Cis March 4, 2008 at 7:32 pm

We did a detox for a whole month! No flour, sugar dairy or fermented products … no WINE! We each lost about 7 lbs and I have to say, I felt more energized by doing this. But, for an all the time basis … I love my pastas and breads too much … and wine with a meal is awfully nice. Sigh. But sugar wise … we have really cut back on a whole since doing these detox programs.

Rooibos October 13, 2009 at 7:49 pm

I must try the “fresh dates stuffed with brazil nuts & rooibos tea”. I love Rooibos tea anyway so this might by my new revelation.

Loz November 26, 2010 at 1:11 pm

First of all, I love your blog. Steadily trying things out :)

Secondly, your detox is one of the few that I’ve heard of that is actually healthy. I mean, I see so many people doing ‘lemon-juice’ or cutting out everything but one food, and there is no way the lack of nutrients in those kinds of things is good for you in any way…
I’d struggle with going vegetarian, let alone vegan! Kudos for (almost) lasting a week.

jules November 26, 2010 at 4:10 pm

thanks loz glad you’re enjoying stonesoup.

cis
yes wine is my weakness too!

jungle girl
some interesting ideas there -t hanks for sharing

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