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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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